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Should we ditch traditional lectures?

With the rise in technology, flipped learning, hand held devices, wide scale wifi access, 24/7 learning. Should we ditch the traditional lectures?
The Guardian’s Donal Clark thinks we should;

“Intelligent people leave their brains behind when it comes totechnology,” says Diana Laurillard, professor of learning with digital technologies at the Institute of Education.

I would say that very intelligent academics and researchers leave their brains behind when defending what has become a lazy and damaging pedagogy – the face-to-face lecture.

Imagine if a movie were shown only once. Or your local newspaper was read out just once a day in the local square. Or novelists read their books out once to an invited audience. That’s face-to-face lectures for you: it’s that stupid.

What’s even worse is that, at many conferences I attend, someone reads out an entire lecture verbatim from their notes. Is there anything more pointless? It’s a throwback to a non-literate age. I can read. In fact, I can read faster than they can speak. The whole thing is an insult to the audience.

Here are 10 reasons why face-to-face lectures just don’t work:

1. Babylonian hour 
We only have hours because of the Babylonian base-60 number system, which first appeared around 3100 BC. But it has nothing to do with the psychology of learning.

2. Passive observers
Lectures without engagement with the audience turn students into passive observers. Research shows that participation increases learning, yet few lecturers do this.

3. Attention fall-off
Our ability to retain information falls off badly after 10-20 minutes. In one study, the simple insertion of three “two-minute pauses” led to a difference of two letter grades in a short- and long-term recall test.

4. Note-taking
Lectures rely on students taking notes, yet note-taking is seldom taught, which massively reduces the effectiveness of the lecture.

5. Disabilities 
Even slight disabilities in listening, language or motor skills can make lectures ineffective, as it is difficult to focus, discriminate and note-take quickly enough.

6. One bite at the cherry
If something is not understood on first exposure, there is no opportunity to pause, reflect or seek clarification. This approach contradicts all that we know about the psychology of learning.

7. Cognitive overload
Lecturers load up talks with too much detail, with the result that students cannot process all the information properly.

8. Tyranny of location
Students have to go to a specific place to hear a lecture. This wastes huge amounts of time, especially if they live far away from campus.

9. Tyranny of time 
Students have to turn up at a specific time to hear a lecture.

10. Poor presentation
Many lecturers have neither the personality nor skills to hold the audience’s attention.

Most of these faults can be addressed by one simple adjustment: recording the lecture and delivering it online – a well-established model in distance learning courses.

An effective alternative

The recorded lecture has some straightforward practical advantages. Students can rewind if their attention has lapsed, or if they don’t understand what they’ve heard, or if English is not their first language. They can pause to take better notes or if they need to look something up.

Students can also choose to watch the lecture when they’re in an attentive state, rather than when they’re feeling tired or distracted. They can watch again for revision or improved retention, or fast-forward through anything they’re already familiar with. They don’t need to waste time travelling to or from the lecture hall.

There are also deeper pedagogical benefits. Paradoxically, a student watching a lecture online may be able to forge a closer connection with the lecturer than one watching the lecture live.

One advocate of the recorded lecture is Stanford University professor of mathematics Keith Devlin, who delivers his “introduction to mathematical thinking” module as a massive online open course (Mooc). He arguesthat a recorded lecture gives students control over the lecture, making it a “self-evidently better” method of teaching.

Devlin believes that many students lack the confidence to ask academics questions face-to-face and that, for students who are more shy, the ability to ask questions via social media helps them to perform better.

He writes: “The fact is, a student taking my Mooc can make a closer connection with me than if they were in a class of more than 25 or so students, and certainly more than in a class of 250.”


It’s not just students who benefit. Recording lectures can free up lecturers’ time to spend on research and to take part in higher quality teaching experiences, such as seminars and tutorials.

It can also improve a lecturer’s performance, as the act of being recorded encourages them to raise their game.

Student feedback can be used to improve future lectures. Research shows that students are more likely to watch a recorded lecture than attend a lecture in person.

So why retain the face-to-face lecture when its value as a pedagogical tool is so limited? There seems to be no other reason than the old justification: “We’ve always done it this way.”

Donald Clark is the chief executive of PlanB Learning. You can read his blog here. Follow him on Twitter @donaldclark.

More and better maths: Khan Academy announces partnership with creators of SAT exam

mooc logo

Institutions in the U.S., Rwanda, France and many other countries are partnering with MOOCs and elearning platforms in order to fulfill their mission to provide education to the masses. Now, Khan Academy prepares a new set of “state-of-the-art, interactive learning tools” to help students prepare for the SAT exam. They are partnering with the College Board and are actually going to help them redesign the exam.
MOOCs to learn and grow: online education news bulletin #10 – 28th of March, 2014
Quote of the week: “Let’s level the playing field for SAT prep
The SAT, according to Wikipedia, is a standardized test for most college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a private, nonprofit organization in the United States.
Elizabeth, Content Lead at Khan Academy, announced on the 20th of March that “Khan Academy is partnering with the College Board so that all students who want to go to college can prepare for the SAT at their own pace, at no cost. The College Board just announced that they’re redesigning the SAT for 2016, and we’re partnering with them to make free, world-class prep materials.”
More information is available on the Khan Academy site.
In other news, Cornell Report Notes Promise of Distance Learning but Cautions Against Overtaxing Faculty. Said report is available here and is worth a read if you are an academic involved in MOOCs.
* New courses due to start on Coursera on the 31st of March – 6th of April week:
High Performance Scientific Computing (University of Washington via Coursera)
Organizational Analysis (Stanford University via Coursera)
Introduction to Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai via Coursera)
Dynamical Modeling Methods for Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai via Coursera)
General Game Playing (Stanford University via Coursera)
Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) (University of California, San Francisco via Coursera)
Fundamentals of Digital Image and Video Processing (Northwestern University via Coursera)
Introduction to Public Speaking (University of Washington via Coursera)
Globalization and You (University of Washington via Coursera)
Poisonings in the Home and Community: Assessment and Emergent Response (University of California, San Francisco via Coursera)
Common Core in Action: Literacy Across Content Areas (New Teacher Center via Coursera)
Global Warming: The Science of Climate Change (University of Chicago via Coursera)
The Science of the Solar System (California Institute of Technology via Coursera)
International Human Rights Law: Prospects and Challenges (Duke University via Coursera)
Cryptography I (Stanford University via Coursera)
AstroTech: The Science and Technology behind Astronomical Discovery (University of Edinburgh via Coursera)
Developing Your Musicianship (Berklee College of Music via Coursera)
Everything is the Same: Modeling Engineered Systems (Northwestern University via Coursera)
Re-Engineering Your Science Curriculum (Exploratorium via Coursera)
Perceived Education Value: many positions in most fields require good communication skills. For this reason only, Introduction to Public Speaking seems to provide an excellent opportunity for learning skills useful in all kinds of situations. Teachers or salesmen, for example, need to master public speaking.
Do you need more ideas of courses to follow? Check our MOOC dictionary, updated weekly.
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How Tablets are Changing the Face of Education

Tablets and Education

Tablets on Campus: The Changing Face of Higher Education

2010: iPad is launched by Steve Jobs. Life will never be the same.
4 years later: a projected 103 million tablets (iPads and others) are projected to be sold
The Amazing growth in sales of tablets
• 2011: 19.5 million sold
• 2012: 54 million
• 2013: 103.4 million
• 2014: 103 million (projected)
• 2015: tablets will account for 23 percent of the global personal computer market.
Tablet ownership among college students and college-bound high school seniors has more than tripled from a year ago.
Ownership of college students
• 82% own Computers (Desktop/Laptop)
• 80% own Smartphone
• 52% own MP3 Player
• 47% own Digital Camera
• 18% own Tablets
• 14% own E-Reader
90: percentage of all tablet owning college students that say tablets are valuable for educational purposes
35: percentage of college students owning both a tablet and an e-book reader.
46: percentage of tablet owners who say that they intend to buy another tablet within the next 6 months
6 in 10: college students say tablets help them study more efficiently — and better in class.
63%: Of College students believe tablets will replace textbooks within the next 5 years.
83: percentage of students think tablets encourage them to buy digital textbooks instead of print textbooks.
8 in 10: college students say tablets make learning more fun.
7 in 10: Have read digital textbooks. One year ago, it was 6 in 10.

Tablets vs. Smartphones

75 percent of reading sessions occur on tablets
23 percent occur on smartphones.
2 percent occur on E-readers and game consoles
3X Users read three times as many pages on tablets as they read on smartphones

Best Tablets, 2013

1. iPad Air
2. iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display
3. Google Nexus 7
4. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
5. LG G Pad 83

Did You Know?:

The Brazilian government bought 500,000 tablets for local teachers.
94: percentage of the educational market for tablets held by Apple…says Apple

What’s so cool about an iPad

• Driving Games and Super Monkey Ball are awesome on it!
• It’s the world’s best digital frame
• it’s nice to touch
• it’s nice to play with.
• The iPad Air is lighter and faster than the iPad 2, with a better screen to boot.
Why students Use tablets.
Accessing educational apps
Web browsing/checking e-mail
Accessing online courses
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Reading ebooks
Taking notes, tracking data, events or observations
Productivity tools (reminder, calculator)
Recording audio/video

5 Great #EdTech Twitter Chats

* Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are probably the aspect of Twitter that I find to be the most interesting and most useful. I follow a lot of different people on Twitter for a lot of different reasons (I can easily find out what’s going on in town, what cool restaurants are opening, if my favorite online shop is having a sale, etc), Twitter chats give you the chance to focus on a specific topic with a like-minded group of people.
Especially for professional development, this can be immensely helpful. You can connect with other educators around the globe who are doing what you’re doing. You can learn from their mistakes, share your experiences, get advice, and quite generally, learn from everyone around you. There are about a gazillion educational Twitter chats that happen regularly, but we thought we’d give you some information on a few of the big ones.
You can participate whether you’re a Twitter pro or a Twitter novice, all you need to do is follow along and add to the conversation with the appropriate hashtag. Many of the chats virtually meet at a certain day and time, where users agree to chat about a particular topic at that time. Don’t worry if you can’t make it, though, because the Tweets will still be there later for you to read by searching that hashtag. Many of the hashtags used for these chats are also added to Tweets written at any time that add to that conversation, so make sure to check in on your favorite discussions regularly!
via 5 Great #EdTech Twitter Chats – Edudemic – Edudemic.

Crowdfunding for your EduProjects

Jaime Wood and Kevilina Burbank, both veteran teachers from Portland, Oregon, have created a crowdfunding platform specifically for educators. IncitED launched in April as an online space to help teachers raise funds to put their good ideas to work.
“We know a lot of passionate educators with great ideas, but they keep running into the roadblock of money,” says Wood. She and Burbank were talking about that challenge one day when out for a walk. They were familiar with Kickstarter Kickstarter (2) the wildly successful platform for crowdfunding creative projects. “And we just thought, why not a Kickstarter for education?”
Why not just use Kickstarter? After all, the platform has raised more than $600 million since its launch in 2009. Some educators have run successful Kickstarter campaigns. Emily Pilloton, for instance, raised more than $16,000 on Kickstarter to help her students design and build their own classroom out of shipping containers at Realm Charter School (3) in Oakland, California.
But Kickstarter is selective about the projects it accepts. Wood and Burbank worry that some worthy education projects would be turned down by Kickstarter.
Then there’s DonorsChoose (4). It has a teacher focus, “but it’s strictly for public education,” Wood says. “We wanted to think broader and feature ideas that are outsi
Read more: Educators: How to Give Your Great Ideas Wings (and Cash) | Edutopia.

The Secret to Highly Effective eLearning

Figure with arms raised in front of a laptop

Most people in the workforce today have had the experience of attending online or web-based training at some point. Many of us have taken college courses, job training courses, or had some other learning experience that involved information being delivered to us via a computer screen. And it’s probably also safe to say that some of our experiences were good, some were marginal, and some of them may have felt like a complete waste of our time.
So what makes an eLearning course good? Or perhaps a better question, what can make it great?
Here are some secrets to creating an eLearning environment that is effective, engaging and yes, even great.
Read More: The Secret to Highly Effective eLearning.