Tag Archives: learning

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Are online courses more effective?

The Department of Education’s analysis pointed to blended learning–a combination of online and in-class instruction–as the most effective teaching method, which has since been echoed by the findings of Marc Loudon, a professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue University, who once doubted the effectiveness of online coursework. Loudon examined the performance of 226 organic chemistry students in fall 2009. Those that engaged in online homework on top of their class lectures and textbook homework had a full-grade higher average than their peers who studied without the aid of the online tool.

Loudon, who authored the textbook but had no hand in the creation of the online material, checked to see if the students who did the extra work online were more driven, or perhaps better students overall, but found no correlation between their organic chemistry grades and those they’d previously received in general chemistry. “Students are highly engaged when they work online because they get instant feedback,” he says. “The degree of benefit surprised me–I hate to admit it. The study convinced me of something that I didn’t believe would happen.”

via U.S. News & World Report

Cellphones stepping up in class

Seattle Times Newspaper

October 15, 2010

With the election weeks away, Fremd High School teacher Jason Spoor asked students in his government class, some of them first-time voters, to research local candidates vying for office.

They would have 15 minutes and one learning tool: their cellphone.

“If you are driving down the street and headed to vote, you don’t have a computer at the touch of a hand. You have a cellphone,” Spoor told his students last week.

The lesson would have been impossible in the past. But with cellphones tucked in the book bags and pockets of three-fourths of today’s teens, many high schools are ceding defeat in the battle to keep handheld technology out of class and instead are inviting students to use their phones for learning.

Under a teacher’s guidance, students might record themselves speaking a foreign language, text an answer to an online quiz or send themselves a homework reminder.

“It’s one of those things — if you can’t beat them, join them,” said Jill Bullo, principal of Wheaton North High School, which plans to review its policy this year.

Full article available at http://goo.gl/EgqAg

Tech-savvy kids play teachers

At Williamsville North High School, the students are teaching the teachers.


October 15, 2010

Tech-Savvy Kids Play Teachers

The gym at Williamsville North High School was packed. Tables with computers ringed the room as teachers went from station to station, quizzing students and reviewing projects.

But students weren’t learning anything. They were teaching.

At one station, a high school French teacher was asking 12-year-olds how to apply the digital poster program Glogster to her student assignments.

At another, a fifth-grade teacher grilled another set of middle-schoolers about how cheat-proof electronic clickers were when kids use them to complete classroom tests.

In an evolving era of interactive white boards, screencasting and wikis, teachers everywhere are finding it more and more challenging to keep up with the technology applications that are capable of reaching computer-savvy students in ways that pen and paper never could.

“There’s some teachers who really have a good grip on the technology, but there’s others who don’t,” said Bayli Schlierf, a seventh-grader whose group was showing teachers how they used screencasting to help peers solve a complex math problem. A classmate added, “Some teachers don’t even know how to turn on a projection screen.”

There’s no denying that a technology gap exists between students and their teachers, nor is there much debate about how much more interested students are in learning when digital tools and social technology principles are integrated in classroom lesson plans.

Full article available at http://goo.gl/xL1Vp

How music teachers got their groove back

Students today are interacting with media, especially music, in entirely new ways. They carry around thousands of songs on their phones and iPods. They watch and comment on artist videos on YouTube. They play along in Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Read on to find out how some educators are embracing technology as the means to reach a new generation of music education students.

THE Journal

October 1, 2010

How Music Teachers Got Their Groove Back

Carol Broos is on a mission. She is determined to appeal to the estimated 80 percent of students who do not enroll in traditional school music programs—band, orchestra, and choir. “I want to change the way that music courses are taught,” says Broos, who teaches music to students in grades 4 through 8 at Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, IL, about 20 miles north of Chicago. “I want to change music education from a performing art to a creating art.”

The only way to do that, Broos recognizes, is by doing nothing short of reinventing her profession, which means acknowledging and incorporating the way students interact with music today—digitally.

“Music educators need to reexamine themselves,” she says. “Why are we not engaging kids? Why are we not reaching 80 to 90 percent of the student population? Students are listening to more music, creating more music, and playing more music, but we are not involved. It’s happening at home, on their home computers.”

Full article available at http://goo.gl/FJs3

The best college course ever?

Technology, particularly over the past decade, has changed very rapidly. New forms of media are emerging and evolving. Now a doctoral student at the University of Florida is using a computer game to teach 21st century skills. What do you think? Is this silly or innovative? Sound off below.

eCampus News

September 13, 2010

The Best College Course Ever?

Playing the real-time strategy video game StarCraft isn’t just for frittering away afternoons in students’ dorm rooms. It’s now for college credit, too.

University of Florida (UF) education technology doctoral student Nathaniel Poling is teaching the eight-week, two-credit class, “21st Century Skills in StarCraft,” this fall, using the internationally beloved computer game to hone students’ on-the-go decision making skills, resource management skills, and penchant to analyze ever-changing scenarios in the complex game’s platform.

Poling’s course will be conducted entirely online and is limited to 20 students who have, at the very least, “basic knowledge” of StarCraft, a game that pits three species battling for supremacy in the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The StarCraft course doesn’t offer a step-by-step strategy for mastering the game—which has sold more than 11 million copies since its release in 1998—but it helps students develop skills that would serve them well in the modern workplace, according to Poling’s class outline.

The class isn’t all about video game analysis, however. Poling’s students will be required to complete weekly game play that will be viewed and scrutinized by classmates looking for the best ways to adjust strategies on the fly and beat opponents who were slow to adapt or doomed by a misconceived plan.

“In this course, learners are in an immersive real-time environment,” Poling said in a Sept. 2 UF blog post. “They are constantly forced to gather, analyze, and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources and act in a high-pressured, fast-paced environment.” Those are the same skills that employers covet in today’s information-based economy, the thinking goes.

Full article available at http://bit.ly/bMpF2h

What is a degree good for?

A thought-provoking article at Inside Higher Ed challenges readers to think of the value of a degree as more than a paycheck.

Inside Higher Ed

August 6, 2010

More Than a Paycheck

Excerpt: I am sitting in on an orientation to a vocational program at an urban community college that draws on one of the poorest populations in the city. The students in this program have had pretty sketchy educations, and they read, write and calculate at a ninth grade level or below. The program will both help them improve those skills as well as provide occupational training. If ever there was a population suited for the economic appeal, it is this one. They desperately need a leg up.

The director of the program stands at a desk and lectern at the front of a large classroom. The walls are bare, no windows, institutional cream, clean and spare. Behind her is an expansive white board; in front are 25 or so students sitting quietly in no particular order in plastic chairs at eight long tables. The students are black and Latino, a few more women than men, most appear to be in their early 20s to early 30s, with one man, who looks like he’s had a hard time of it, in his mid-40s.

“Welcome to college, “ the director is saying, “I congratulate you.” She then asks them, one by one, to talk about what motivates them and why they’re here. There is some scraping of chairs, shifting of bodies, and the still life animates.

The economic motive does loom large. One guy laughs, “I don’t want to work a crappy job all my life.” A woman in the back announces that she wants to get her GED “to get some money to take care of myself.” What is interesting, though — and I wish the president and his secretary could hear it — are all the other reasons people give for being here: to “learn more,” to be a “role model for my kids,” to get “a career to support my daughter,” to “have a better life.” The director gets to the older man. “I’m illiterate,” he says in a halting voice, “and I want to learn to read and write.”

Full article available at http://bit.ly/dfam9i

The Virtual Sabbatical

Some faculty who have trouble traveling, or being away from home, are finding new and interesting alternatives to a traditional sabbatical. Technologies such as Skype, YouTube, and Facebook are making it easier than ever to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. They’re also facilitating new learning experiences for faculty and students. How have you used technology for personal or professional development?

Wired Campus

September 1, 2010, 05:53 PM ET

The Virtual Sabbatical

By Paige Chapman

Patricia Easteal took a sabbatical in England last year—without ever stepping foot outside her front door in Australia.

The University of Canberra law professor took the digital trip as part of a research project exploring a different take on the hoary academic tradition. She relied on Skype and YouTube to communicate with Durham University students and faculty members.

Could the sabbatical of the future be virtual?

“We did not undertake this project with the intention of advocating it as a replacement,” Ms. Easteal said. “We were simply testing it as an alternative, especially for groups that have difficulty traveling and/or being absent from home for a long time.”

Her one regret? Not having the chance to listen to the grand organ music at the nearby Durham Cathedral, a place BBC reported to be the country’s “most beloved building.”

Though she isn’t aware of other universities trying something similar, she hopes the idea will catch on.

“Hopefully, this will help people think outside of the proverbial box,” she said. “They can, indeed, develop international collaborations, networking, and be a visible part of another university community without leaving home.”

Online education “convert” honored for excellence in distance education

Entering the world of distance education can feel like an overwhelming prospect to some faculty members. Below is an article about Ruth Schafer, an adjunct instructor at Drury University in Springfield, MO, and her award-winning journey into distance education. In the article, Ruth shares her experiences with distance ed, the challenges she faced, and some advice for other instructors who teach online.

eCampus News

By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor

Aug 10th, 2010

Ruth Schafer thought she would miss the look of understanding register on a student’s face during her move from the traditional to the online classroom. But after being recognized as Missouri’s top distance educator, Schafer said the virtual setting made her find new ways to explain lessons in unmistakable detail.

Schafer, an adjunct English instructor at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., was awarded the Missouri Distance Learning Association’s (MoDLA) Educator of the Year award July 27 after five years of teaching composition fundamentals, expository writing, and business communications at the 3,500-student school.

Web-based teaching wasn’t Schafer’s first choice, but Drury officials told her that online courses were the only available position when she applied to the university in 2005.

And with no experience in the online classroom, Schafer wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence.

“I was really reluctant to do it,” said Schafer, who taught English classes at Missouri’s Willard High School and Missouri State University before her time at Drury. “I didn’t see how I could be myself and communicate with my students the way I had always done in the traditional classroom. I just didn’t think I could do it.”

Full article available at http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/online-education-convert-honored-for-excellence-in-distance-ed