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From video marking to Second Life, technology is transforming the options for online students

Via The Guardian:

From video marking to Second Life, technology is transforming the options for online students There’s not a red pen in sight when Russell Stannard marks his master’s students’ essays – but it’s not because the students never make mistakes. Stannard doesn’t use a pen, or even paper, to give his students feedback. Instead – and in keeping with his role as principal lecturer in multimedia and ICT – he turns on his computer, records himself marking the work on-screen, then emails his students the video. When students open the video, they can hear Stannard’s voice commentary as well as watch him going through the process of marking. The resulting feedback is more comprehensive than the more conventional notes scrawled in the margin, and Stannard, who works at the University of Westminster, now believes it has the potential to revolutionise distance learning. “It started when I began to realise how useful technology can be for teaching,” he says. “I wanted to help other teachers, as well as general computer-users, to learn how to use tools like podcasting, PowerPoint and BlackBoard, software that a lot of schools and universities use to allow teachers to provide course material and communicate with students online.” Follow the mouse So he set up a site to teach people how to use the technology, providing simple, video tutorials where users watch Stannard’s mouse pointing out how to use the software, with his voice providing constant commentary. He used the screen-videoing software Camtasia, and the site rapidly took off: it now receives more than 10,000 hits a month. Then he started considering integrating the teaching style into his own university work. “I was mainly teaching students on master’s courses in media and technology, and I realised that while I was talking about the benefits of new technology, I should be making the most of the opportunity to use it,” says Stannard. “That’s when I had the idea of video marking. It was immediately well received. Students receive both aural and visual feedback – and while we always talk about different learning styles, there are also benefits to receiving feedback in different ways.” Stannard says the technology is particularly useful for dyslexic students, who appreciate the spoken commentary, and students learning English as a foreign language. “I started my teaching career in language learning, so I quickly realised that students learning English would benefit from video marking. They can replay the videos as many times as they like and learn more about reasons for their mistakes.” Stannard also believes video marking is “perfect” for distance-learning students. “It brings them much closer to the teacher,” he says. “They can listen, see and understand how the teacher is marking their piece, why specific comments have been made, and so on.” The technology is already being used for informal distance learning, as Stannard uploads the videos he makes for his lectures at Westminster to multimedia trainingvideos.com.

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From video marking to Second Life, technology is transforming the options for online students

Colleges stumble on to the Twitter scene

Via The Guardian:

Further education colleges are starting to catch on to social messaging. Sort of Are you a member of the Twitterati? You’ve heard of MySpace and you’re probably a whiz when it comes to Facebook, but it seems that we should be all of “a-Twitter” now. Twitter is the website on which users post statements called “tweets”, which can have up to 140 characters. More than 300,000 tweets are already sent every day in the UK. The actor Stephen Fry is one famous exponent, and MPs have jumped on the bandwagon too. Jim Knight, the schools minister, is a regular tweeter, whose recent posts range from the inane “realised I never had that pancake yesterday – does that mean I can ignore Lent?” to the more waspish “wondering for how much longer we’ll have to listen to Michael Gove”. The further education minister, SiĆ“n Simon, has just started tweeting and the higher education minister, David Lammy, even appeared on the BBC’s One Show extolling Twitter’s virtues. Now even a few further education colleges have caught on. Sort of. When it comes to writing succinctly, we further education sorts do struggle. We’re used to using eight words when one would do, and flabby paragraphs with 50-word sentences. And we do love our jargon. Twitter pioneers include Deeside College, Havering College, Regents College, Sunderland College and my own college, Cornwall. Breaking news News of the Chinese earthquake last year broke on Twitter, as did the first images of the US Airways plane that had to crash-land in New York’s Hudson river and last week’s crash at Schipol airport near Amsterdam

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Colleges stumble on to the Twitter scene

The secret to e-learning

Via The Guardian:

Online courses are on the rise as firms continue to cut training budgets and the newly redundant update their skill sets Your desk may overlook the desolate edge-of-town business park and the only lunch venue is the canteen, but look on the bright side: you could spend your meal break browsing a book from the New York public library, absorbing an Oxford University lecture on the fall of the Roman empire or taking a short course to enhance your mastery of Excel. Immobilised office workers can nowadays roam the intellectual world courtesy of the internet and can foster passions or update skills in brief, instant gobbets when their in-tray allows, instead of committing themselves to a strict academic timetable. Now the economic downturn has forced firms to reduce staff training and the newly redundant have to rethink their skills to impress potential employers, online resources are likely to become crucial. “This is the time when people are thinking about their skills sets, either because they want to get a better job or because they want to learn more about, say, Renaissance art,,” says Adrian Beddow of Learndirect , which offers a range of downloadable e-courses covering corporate skills from IT to employment law

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The secret to e-learning

Teachers must think internet-first

Via The Guardian:

Giving everyone digital skills is a key factor in tackling long-term unemployment, argues Martha Lane Fox Last week, the CBI pressed the government to apply the same rigour to tackling long-term unemployment as it has shown to reducing the deficit. The scale of the challenge certainly warrants such a focus. In the UK, 2.46 million people are unemployed; 5 million people of working age are on benefits and 2 million children live in households where nobody works. These statistics carry a huge economic and social cost: for society and government, for families and for the individual.

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Teachers must think internet-first

Which? panel questions brain training claims

Via The Guardian:

Evidence for games is weak, says Which? report

Experts say they are no better than a crossword People who spend money on “brain trainers” to keep their minds agile may get the same results by simply doing a crossword or surfing the internet, according to research published today. A panel of experts, including eminent neuroscientists, found there was no scientific evidence to support a range of manufacturers’ claims that the gadgets can help improve memory or stave off the risk of illnesses such as dementia …

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Which? panel questions brain training claims