Category Archives: Education

Students: bring your own technology to uni

laptop in library

Asking students to use their own tech in lectures could save money, but will it damage attention spans?

A few years ago, if a student got their phone out in a lecture, this was quite a clear sign that they were no longer paying attention. But today, using a phone or tablet in the lecture hall is actually encouraged by universities, many of which are asking students to use their own technology to access learning resources.

As the discussion by many establishments to investigate BYOD continues, The Guardian discusses 

eLearning News 13 Apr 2014

Round up of the news this week:

Upside Learning celebrates 10th anniversary – Training Press … Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:16:03 GMT

Upside Learning, a leading provider of learning technology solutions, announced today that April 2014 marks the company’s 10 year anniversary of its founding.

Read more …

UEW to increase study centres | citifmonline Sat, 12 Apr 2014 08:02:34 GMT

The University of Education, Winneba (UEW) will soon establish three new study centres in Ho, Sunyani and Somanya in line with efforts to increase enrolment on its distance learning programmes. This will increase its …

Read more …

eLearning Africa Conference kicks-off end of May, to focus on innovation – Ventureburn Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:14:02 GMT

VentureburneLearning Africa Conference kicks-off end of May, to focus on innovationVentureburnIn an effort to unite developers, researchers, techies and teachers, the eLearning Africa Conference will be taking place from 28 to 30 May in Kampala, Uganda. An annual event, this year the conference will run with the theme of Opening Frontiers to …

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The Rising Power of MOOCs: Now, everyone can learn at Harvard (or Yale, or…)


The Rising Power of MOOCs: Now, everyone can learn at Harvard (or Yale, or…)

3 years ago, MOOCs were an idea. Now….
5 million: number of students signed on to MOOCs, around the world
33,000: the average number of students that sign up for a MOOC

The Dream: MOOCs Can:
• Offer Ivy League Courses at non-Ivy League prices (free), thus….
• Lifting people out of poverty
• Unlock billions of brains to solve the world’s biggest problems

And yet
1 in 4: Americans don’t even know what a MOOC is.
They are: Massive Open Online Courses.

Who Takes MOOCs:

• 37% have a B.S. degree
• 28% have a Master’s degree or profession
• 27% high school

Majority of those taking MOOCs tend to be young, male and employed, from highly developed countries.
• Over 40% of students are under 30 years old
• Less than 10% over 60
• 88 % of MOOC students are male
• 62 % are employed
• 13% are unemployed…or retired

Comparison of geographic location of students, by self identification and IP address
• U.S. 34% of MOOC students
• India: 7.28 %
• Brazil: 4.37 %
• Great Britain: 3.89%
• Canada: 3.4%
• Spain: 2.7 %
• Russia: 2.5%
• China: 2%
• Australia: 2%
• Germany: 1.7%

• Student: 17.4%
• Part time employed: 6.9%
• Full time employed: 50%
• Self employed: 12.4%
• Unemployed: 6.6%
• Retired: 6.8%

Why do students Participate in MOOCs?
• Gain knowledge to get degree: 13.2%
• Gain specific skills to do job better: 43.9%
• Gain specific skills to get a new job: 17%
• Curiosity: 50%
[Those surveyed could pick more than one answer]

Requirements for successful online learning:
• Quality of material covered in the course
• Engagement of the teacher
• Interaction among students

Accredited Online (only) Schools offer MOOCs

edX: Courses from:
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Harvard
• University of California Berkeley

Coursera: Courses from:
• California Institute of Technology,
• University of Washington,
• Stanford University,
• Princeton University,
• Duke University
• John Hopkins University, and many others.

Udacity: Partner companies include:
• Google
• Facebook
• Bank of America

Udemy Free courses from:
• Dartmouth,
• the University of Virginia
• Northwestern and others….

iTunes Free Courses
• Apple’s free app. Right in the app, they can play video or audio lectures. Read books and view presentations.

Top Universities offer MOOCs:

• Stanford Free Courses – from Quantum Mechanics to The Future of the Internet.
• Stanford’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: 160,000 students from 190 countries signed up to Stanford’s Introduction to AI” course, with 23,000 reportedly completing.
• UC Berkeley Free Courses. Check out Berkeley Webcasts and Berkeley RSS feeds.
• MIT Free Courses: MIT’s RSS MOOC feed, and MIT’s Open Courseware.
• Duke Free Courses – Duke offers a variety of courses on ITunesU.
• Harvard Free Courses: Get a free Harvard education. No application required.
• UCLA Free Courses
• Yale Free Courses – Check out Open Yale
• Carnegie Mellon Free Courses – “No instructors, no credits, no charge”

Pros and Cons of MOOCs:

Pros: By design, MOOCs are….
Incredibly flexible
Diverse in their range of subjects
Open to anyone

And Downs:
No credit for completion
Lack of hands on learning
100,000 or more to 1, student to teacher ratio
High dropout rates of up to 90%

Flipping the teacher

If I’d suggested flipping the teacher while I was still at school, I would have been in serious trouble. Given my reputation though, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary.

I once spread a rumour at primary school that my tyrant of a head teacher had died (wishful thinking), and when he came back from sick leave, I wasn’t the most popular child in the school. Having said that, many of the kids began to believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Once, during a chemistry lesson in secondary school, I was larking around and accidentally burnt a big hole in my teacher’s pretty floral dress with concentrated acid.

He was furious.

I got into a fair few scrapes and a lot of mischief, but suggesting that we ‘flip the teacher’ would have been the last straw.

Today, the idea of flipping the classroom is a familiar one. Flipping teachers may not be so familiar. Don’t panic though – I’m not advocating violence, nor am I suggesting children use obscene gestures. Flipping teachers is about swapping roles. I have already written about this in previous posts. The idea that teachers should become students so that their students can act as teachers may still be contentious and problematic, but I believe that as we see more flipped classroom approaches, the argument for also flipping the role of the teacher will become more compelling, and eventually more acceptable.

A little history: Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann developed the term ‘flipped classroom’ by considering the time spent by teachers with their students in classroom. They wished to maximise this time, and developed a number of strategies that involved instruction taking place outside the walls of the classroom. Inside, with the teacher present, students were able to explore their learning in more depth and detail, capitalising on ‘face time’ with the expert. The work of Harvard University professor Eric Mazur supports this approach, because, as he says – instruction is easier than assimilation, and advocated coaching rather than lecturing as early as the 1990s. This is not new of course. For centuries, innovative teachers have been trying to find other more effective methods of pedagogy that can take the place of lecturing and instruction.

If we are at all serious about promoting student centred learning, then we should at least reconsider the roles teachers traditionally play at the centre of the process, and begin to discover how we can help the student replace them. This does not mean that teachers relinquish their responsibilities or shirk their obligations. What it does mean is that teachers should seriously consider new forms of pedagogy where students are placed at the centre of the learning process, and have to spend some time ‘teaching’. We learn by teaching. If you have to teach or present something for an audience, you will make damn sure you go away and learn it thoroughly so you don’t make an absolute ass of yourself. This is the same principle we see when we flip the teacher.

Here are just five ways you can flip the teacher:

  1. Ask students to peer-teach. This form of paragogy ensures that all students need to know something about the topic before they teach it, and can also learn from each other during the process. Even better, get them to teach you something you don’t already know about.
  2. Give your students a problem to solve. Ask them to come back later to show how they solved the problem, and get them to defend their solution. If they all have different solutions, the fun can start.
  3. Students create a self-directed project that encapsulates the principles or facts of the topic they are learning. It can be in the form of a video, or presentation, or role play, or even a blues song (be creative). Just as long as they ‘perform’ their work in front of an audience.
  4. Act as a student, and ask your students awkward questions about what they have learnt. Challenge them to explain clearly what they know. This approach ensures that they must think more critically and reflectively about what they have learnt, and that they need to justify their decisions.
  5. The age old seminar is a great flipping method. Ensure that each student has time to study a specific aspect of the course, and prepares teaching materials. They then get to present their work in front of you and their peer group, and are also tasked to encourage discussion by preparing some key questions.

I gratefully acknowledge Max Brown for giving me permission to use his most excellent cartoon that depicts flipping the teacher.

Graphic by Max Brown

Creative Commons License
Flipping the teacher by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Teachers still needed with self-paced blended learning

Some teachers initially view self-paced blended learning as a process where the “computer does the teaching” and the role of the teacher is diminished. Practical experience with this style of learning with middle school students over several years indicates that this is not the case.

The teacher is still very important; however, the role changes. In short, this change could be described as a teacher moving from a lecturer to a facilitator, explainer to intervener, generalist to specialist and thus from content focus to content skills and mind-set focus.

Some evidence now supports this view.

Students involved in these middle school courses have been surveyed over the past few years. Results of the surveys have been consistent. The classes were operated by some teachers experienced in a blended learning classroom and some who were not. A recent survey produced varying results. The most significant differences in results were investigated further.

more Teachers still needed with self-paced blended learning | eSchool News | eSchool News.

Successful eLearning begins with well-prepared teachers

*Apple on keyboard
Gardner-Webb University began delivering its new online curriculum using Teachscape’s professional learning system in fall 2013.


Preparing future teachers for success helps drive the success of the students they will teach.

When the state of North Carolina dramatically reduced textbook funding, yet decided it would implement the Common Core State Standards, our School of Education at Gardner-Webb University decided to fast-track a program to make all teacher preparation courses textbook-free.

We did this with the goal of preparing our students for the environment they would experience when they enter the teaching field, as well as to better equip them to meet the digital expectations that will be asked of them once they graduate.

In addition to going textbook-free, we also wanted to find a way to better capture student data in order to track student progress and focus on accreditation and continuous improvement.

To address the needs of this two-pronged initiative, we chose Teachscape’s online, video-based tools, because they would allow our student teachers to access courses online, view best practices of teaching in action, and reflect on their own teaching—all of which are essential in preparing future teachers for success in the field.

More Successful eLearning begins with well-prepared teachers – eCampus News | eCampus News.

Just Google It: How Google Has Changed Research for Grad Students

Google It

94: percentage of U.S. students who equate research with using Google, or other search engines.
75: percentage of students who use Wikipedia and online encyclopedias.
87: the percentage of all US adults using the Internet who also use search engines.

2 billion: Or nearly 30 percent of all humans, use the Internet

A history of online research

1962: J.C.R. Licklider of MIT has “Galactic Network” concept, a globally interconnected set of computers where everyone could access data from any site.
1989: Demonstration of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.
1990: Public release of the World Wide Web.
1990: First search tool for the web (Archie) was created.
1993: First web crawler (Wanderer) was created.
1993: First graphical browser (Mosaic).
1994: Netscape browser launched.
1994: Development of first popular search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite and Yahoo)
1995: Internet Explorer launched.
1995: First public video-conference took place.
1996: Instant messaging services launched.
1997: Google released
1997: First weblog (blog) is attributed to Jorn Barger’s Robot Wisdom Web site.
1997: is launched. Often seen as the first social networking site.
Paid placement ranking: Goto morphed into Overture and Yahoo. Ranking depended on how much you paid.
1998 +: Link based ranking pioneered by Google
• Blew away all search engines except Inktomi; meanwhile, Goto/Overture’s annual revenues were nearly $1 billion.
2000: 400 million people across the globe use the internet.
2001: First commercial launch of 3G (Third Generation) mobile phones.
2001: First Access Grid developed at the University of Manchester.
2003: Myspace launched.
2003: Yahoo acquires Overture (for paid placement) and Inktomi (search)
2004: Mozilla Firefox web browser released (the 2nd most popular current browser after Internet Explorer).
2004: Facebook launched.
2006: Twitter launched.
2007: iPhone launched.
2008: Google Chrome browser launched.
2010: iPad launched.
2011: Number of internet users estimated as 2 billion world wide.

Percentage of people who go online, then use a search engine:

Millennials, age 18-33: 92 %
Gen X (34-45): 87
Younger Boomers (45-55): 86
Older Boomers (56-64): 87
Silent Generation (65-73): 82
G.I. Generation (74 plus): 72
All online adults (18 plus): 87

The battle of the Search Engines (as of 12/13)

Google: 66.7 percent of all searches
Microsoft sites (Bing): 18.2 percent
Yahoo: 11.2
Ask: 2.6
AOL: 1.4

Number of searches (worldwide: 18.3 billion in Dec. 2013)
Google: 12.3 billion of the 18.3 (or 66.7 % see above)
Microsoft (Bing): 3.3 billion
Yahoo: 2 billion
Ask: 452 million
AOL: 234 million

Online research tools used by students

• Google or other online search engine: 94% of those surveyed
• Wikipedia or other online encyclopedias:75 %
• You Tube, or other social media sites: 52%
• News sites of major news organizations (i.e. NY Times): 25%
• Textbooks, electronic: 18%
• Databases, such as EBSCO, JSTOR: 17%

Google Research tools

Google Scholar ( : for search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles.

Google App Engine: Google funds projects that create tools, applications and curriculum that can be used by other educators in their own teaching environments.

Google Book Search: ( Search the latest index of the world’s books. Find millions of great books you can preview or read for free.

YouTube EDU: Resources for learning, from English lessons to real-life math.

Chrome’s FlashCards extension: to learn languages faster, prep for exams

Google Earth: with thousands of aerial and satellite photos, dozens of layers of information: city names, country borders, airport locations, road maps.

Google Play: has millions of FREE books readily available


The Pew Reseach Center’s Internet and American Life Project Online Survey of Teachers

Tips on technology integration for apprehensive educators


In my new role this year as a technology coach for the high school in which I work, I have found myself primarily involved in two separate but equally important activities: reflecting on and learning from my past challenges and successes with technology in my classroom and trying to motivate skeptical teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms.

Consequently, the following suggestions garnered from my recent experiences will hopefully provide some general ideas and guidelines to clarify the process for reluctant teachers, so they will be motivated to embrace educational technology and all of its inherent benefits.

via Tips on technology integration for apprehensive educators SmartBlogs.

The Classroom and the Cloud: A Bright Forecast for 2020

* future

What will the classroom of 2020 look like? As I look ahead, many of the trends we’re seeing today will continue to expand learning beyond the classroom walls to connect educators, students and real-world experiences. These trends are being driven by pioneering teachers and their students, and are fueled by technology — especially the Internet and the cloud. With more than 40 states adopting Common Core and with increased focus on deeper learning and developing creativity, I see exciting movement to a more personalized and collaborative education. Together with the proliferation of devices such as smartphones and tablets, teachers and students will have unprecedented access to tools for creative expression, and will find it even easier to share, to co-create and to experiment with new ideas.

more The Classroom and the Cloud: A Bright Forecast for 2020 | Edutopia.

Technology revolution in special-education assessment

In most autism programs, data collection and graphing are daily tasks for teachers and therapists. These tasks are a vital component of a program based on applied behavior analysis and are critical for teachers, supervisors and parents to monitor student progress. While educators typically recognize the importance of data collection, it is frequently viewed as tedious and time consuming, and as a result sometimes avoided.

Standard practice is to collect data using paper and pencil, then graph by coloring in dots and connecting lines. This scenario is played out in autism classrooms and therapy sessions, but there is another way. The solution for special education is one that incorporates technology directly into service delivery, which can allow for a more efficient means to complete data collection tasks. To accomplish this, Eden Autism Services, where I am the the director of clinical services, developed a learning management system that has digitized the paper and pencil method.

Of course, there can be some initial hesitation, concerns and trepidation when incorporating new technology. This is understandable, considering how long most educators have been operating with paper and pencil. Change is always difficult, but, when new technology is involved, people tend to be even more apprehensive. I am happy to say that this apprehension often is very short lived as staff begin to experience the benefits of having more time and, more importantly, seeing that time reflected in the success of their students.

via Technology revolution in special-education assessment SmartBlogs.

E-learning styles ‘vary from person to person’

With any form of education, people naturally adopt different learning styles and techniques – and it is no different for online training.

Learners could exhibit a wide range of behaviours when accessing web resources, and it is important for both employers and providers of this kind of education to take into account the varying needs individuals have.

As research from Virginia Commonwealth University states, “good teachers recognise that individual learner differences can affect the outcomes of educational experiences”.

If people do not receive learning tailored to these distinctions, it is likely that the education delivered won’t be as effective or long-lasting.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development blog has pointed to a whitepaper outlining several different e-learning styles that are beginning to emerge, showing that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is out of date and unreliable.

via .

Helping students self assess

*Students with hands up

Giving quizzes allows teachers to examine data and see what students understand and where they may need more practice. Ideally, quizzes should provide the same experience for the students themselves — allow them to reflect on what they know well and where they could improve. However, as any middle-school teacher will tell you, most students will look at the grade and then either proudly bring it home to mom, or — more likely — toss it in the recycle bin.

The ability to reflect on performance and use this information to improve oneself is a skill that can enhance one’s success. It is, therefore, a skill that I want to teach my students. To do this, I teach my students to reflect on their quizzes in order to learn from their mistakes. I use this as a math teacher, but it can be adapted to other subjects as well.

Quiz reflections come in all shapes and sizes. However, for me, there are three important aspects of reflection: examining the problem, analyzing the error, and learning how to perform the skill correctly. My quiz reflection form is a simple three column chart, but there are tons of ideas out there for teachers to modify and adapt.

more Helping students self assess – @PaulineZd SmartBlogs.