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Six Uses for Augmented Reality in Primary and Tertiary Education

Image: Eric Rice
Image: Eric Rice

Educators have taken to exploring the educational possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) in the classroom and the very real opportunities afforded by this sense-expanding technology. A generation in love with gimmicks, AR has taken the public fancy. The cutting edge technology has been gradually working its way into our collective conscious through such hi-tech marvels as Google Glasses, AR business cards, and the GE Smart Grid. As AR gains recognition, however, educators are finding that this form of pseudo-realism technology can be applied toward a higher purpose: enhancing the educational experience. The use of AR in the classroom is nothing short of a revolution in our learning culture.
At a basic level, there is no doubt that the use of AR in education adds a layer of attraction to a student’s studies. Knowing that coming to classes means a chance to play with cool hi-tech toys means that students are less likely to play hooky or skip first class on Monday after partying hearty. Students who have AR in the classroom actually enjoy coming to school—they are motivated.
Memory Aid
Furthermore, since AR involves a number of senses, students will by definition be more engaged in their studies. In one study, AR was used for specific learning activities, for instance problem solving. The technology applied to these lessons provided for a level of interactivity that had not previously been experienced by the students. As a result, the lessons were pleasurably engraved on their long-term memories. (1)
AR is nothing if not flexible. Augmented reality spans the generation gap and can be employed with students of all ages, making it useful for preschool, elementary, high school, college, and postgraduate studies. AR also has a wide application in that any and all subject matter can be enhanced with AR technology. In addition to this consideration, AR can be used to tie seemingly disparate subject matters together.
For example, students studying The Diary of Anne Frank might “travel” from Frankfurt, where Anne was born, to Amsterdam. They can “tour” the attic hideaway of the Franks, and see what route Miep Gies might have taken to bring food to the residents of the Achterhuis. Students can “walk” past Nazi Brown Shirts and “converse” with them in German. They can see the indigenous flora and fauna of the areas in which the story takes place. They can “experience” a gas chamber.
The use of AR in this study unit would offer an interdisciplinary exercise melding social studies, history, geography, biology, literature, German language studies, and more, in a way that would impress upon the minds of the students, the entirety of the Anne Frank story forever. This type of study breaks the tidy mold of compartmentalized studies and offers a potent delivery system for learning retention.
AR system software is portable and easy to install in just about any setting. Using the software is as easy as walking and talking. There is almost no learning curve to the use of AR, while AR itself can be a bridge to enhanced learning and learning retention.
Independent Problem Solving
AR changes the learning culture so that instead of acting as compliant sponges for teacher-imparted information, students perform as scientists. Acting as researchers, students investigate topics with an open mind and with an eye toward building knowledge and solving problems. Cook examined this aspect of augmented reality in his 2010 work, Augmented Contexts for Development (ACD) which expanded on Lev Vygotsky’s seminal education theory, Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD). (2)
In his work, Cook described how architecture students created a “vlog” to record their impressions of a field trip. The students employed physical as well as digital representations of structures at one and the same time, synchronizing these tools to better inform their interactions with the subject matter and with each other. The students pooled their combined knowledge from this exercise to round out their perceptions of the material, answering their own questions as they arose, from examining AR overlays and experiencing situated visualizations.
Sense Substitutions
Haptic interfaces can offer tactile feedback for blind students or those with vision impairment. An example of such an interface is the Haptic Lotus, a handheld device shaped like a flower. The petals open and close to offer clues about the environment. Sound-rendering systems can be used to change visual data about locations and objects into aural information. Those students with hearing impairments, on the other hand, may experience the sounds and rhythms of music by way of color visualizations set to the beat of a song.
Once upon a time, augmented reality was seen as the newest futuristic technology. Something for fun perhaps, with little application to real life situations or need. Over the past decade, however, AR has begun to prove its worth as something that can add texture and context to our everyday lives and enhance and augment the learning experience. As educational institutions increasingly promote the use of AR, educators will expand their own knowledge of this technology and learn new ways to use this adaptable, engaging, and multipurpose tool in the classroom.

Varda Epstein is a journalist and researcher specializing in education and a Communications Writer for Kars for kids, a car donation charity whose proceeds underwrite educational programs for children and adults. Write to Varda at Varda@kars4kids.org
(1)  Luckin R, Stanton Fraser D. Limitless or pointless? An evaluation of augmented reality technology in the school and home. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning. August 2011; 3(5): 510-524.
(2)  Cook J. Mobile phones as mediating tools within augmented contexts for development. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. 4 October 2010; 2(3): 1-12.

Is Online Education Going to be Free in the Future?

* Money
Image: Tax Credits

One effect of computer and Internet technology is the dramatic change in the way students communicate, learn and interact with their peers. This change paved the way for online education. Over the years, online education has gained enough ground for becoming a mainstream educational approach in the overall learning process.
The Trend of Free Online Education
In order to seek online education, students from around the world pay a specific amount of money to register for a program and take the provided courses live or recorded. There are assignments to complete and tests to assess students’ progress. Once the program completes, only the passing students get their degrees. Today, the main approach of online education is changing as well. There are a few companies, offering online education for free. In the beginning, very few of such services existed teaching a limited set of concepts to online students ranging from secondary to higher education levels. But presently, due to the active involvement of professors of internationally renowned universities, that are offering complete university courses online for free, it is inevitable to suppress the idea that the future might hold an opportunity for free online education.
Limitations of Free Online Education
From the successful response to the free online courses, one point is clear that the idea of free online education is acceptable to the people worldwide. However, the idea is rather impractical. Firstly, these free of cost courses do not offer a degree in the end. This is because of no thorough way to assess the real progress of such a massive student’s body. The idea behind introducing such free online courses was generally to expand the horizon of delivered knowledge. By seeking solely the certificates from the instructors, a student cannot apply in a traditional education system. Furthermore, online courses need a lot of investment to arrange for the required resources. Therefore, the companies offering online courses need a way to generate revenue to balance out the content generation expenses. Therefore, such services cannot stay absolutely free of cost forever.
Business Models for Free Online Education
Various business models are under consideration to generate revenue out of such massive open online courses.
Free Education Models
One business model is to use these courses for advertising. The idea is that the courses get sponsored by companies. This means that the students enrolled in a course would become the target audience of promotional campaign messages or banners. A second business model is that various companies buy these online courses and train the internal employee free of cost. Furthermore, these sites can seek commission by serving as a matchmaker between the companies seeking qualified team of employees and the outstanding students looking for jobs. Such approaches serve to keep the education free.
Non-Free Education Models
In the non-free business model, the advertising approach would be such that the first part of the course would be kept free. In order to complete a course, the student will have to pay a small amount of fee. It could also be that the students completing a course pay a fee to get the certificate. Alternatively, the course is free but to acquire a degree, students would have to pay a small amount of fee. Thereafter, the students would have to take a test in order to qualify. The idea of free online education is fascinating, yet, not entirely possible. It can, however, serve as an effective tool for advertising a course at an affordable price or help the student body get in touch with the employers. In case a company manages to keep up the motto of free online education for the welfare of students worldwide, it is not likely that all online education would be free in the future.

About the Author: Trever P. works as a professional writer for a college paper writing service at http://www.solidessay.com where he consults students on how to appropriately structure their essays, research papers, and dissertations.

20 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

Apple with USB cable pushed in

Here are twenty tools that you can use to help you plan and teach your class. Some tools are good for organizing your class and others are good for organizing online projects. Some of the tools are good little teaching aides. The list is in no particular order, and many of them could be used by students too if they were technologically literate.
1 – Animoto
This allows you to create video-based lessons and presentations for your classroom.
2 – Capzles
You can use this to gather various media such as videos, images and documents. It makes teaching in a modern classroom a lot easier. It is also good for online projects.
3 – Creaza
This tool allows you to brainstorm, edit videos, edit audio and create cartoons. You can do all of this in order to prepare for your classes and present your class to your students.
4 – Educreations
This is an online tool that teachers and students can use on their iPad. The teacher my create videos on certain topics. The students and the teacher can show off their knowledge via this tool.
5 – FunBrain
This is full of a collection of fantastic educational games. It is good for teaching students reading and math.
6 – Glogster
This is a social site where the students are allowed to mix up photos, videos and music, so that they may show them off to their friends. It is good for teachers to encourage creative student projects.
7 – Google Docs
A teacher can store documents online and share presentations and spreadsheets. A teacher can share this information with other students and teachers.
8 – Khan Academy
A lot of teachers use this tool because it is full of science, math and finance quizzes and lectures. Teachers use this tool to supplement their usual classroom materials.
9 – MangaHigh
This is a math tool that has lots of resources for game-based learning.
10 – MasteryConnect
MasterConnect allows you to track and analyze various elements of your students’ performance.
11 – Mentor Mob
This allows teacher and students to create learning play lists. These are a collection of very high-quality materials that students can use to study and that teachers can use to teach.
12 – Planboard
This is a great little lesson organizer and planner.
13 – Prezi
This allows teachers to build presentations so that they may teach their students more easily. It is an online tool that allows you to save your presentation online.
See our recent article
14 – QR Codes
QR codes are known as quick response codes and are the newest trend in education.
See how to use them
15 – Quizlet
This allows a teacher to create learning tools for their classes and for their students.
16 – Teachers Pay Teachers
This tool allows teachers to create learning tools and then sell them on to other teachers. You can even share your lessons if you like. It gives teachers access to a few high quality resources.
Read more
17 – TED-Ed
This is a place where teachers can find inspiration. It also has quite a few videos which are organized by subject. It has materials to help you teach your students a wide variety of subjects.
18 – Timetoast
This allows students or teachers to create timelines. The timelines can be used to plan projects and track the progress of projects.
19 – Wordle
This is good for language classes as it allows you to create word clouds.
20 – YouTube
There are plenty of tutorials and TV shows on YouTube which can be used to teach students things via video.

Alice N. Alice is a writer for top essays services review website. She contributes articles to educational portals and blogs.

5 Ways to Stay Organized and Focused as an Online Learner

Woman getting organised
The modern student’s life is tied to technology, but sometimes technical challenges can disrupt study plans. Students who spend hours researching and working on their computers know how difficult it can be to stay focused and organized. The temptation to check Facebook or browse Buzzfeed can be hard to resist. A hard drive crash or a lost USB storage device can be devastating. Luckily, the Internet community has banded together to provide students with ways to survive and resist the pitfalls of technology.

1. Backup it up!

That’s right, you gotta back up that data, boys and girls. If your hard drive crashes, you will be lucky to recover your information at all, and even then, it could be days or weeks before you can access it. Backing up your data is absolutely necessary, whether it’s to a separate hard drive or to an online cloud storage unit like Mozy where you can get 2GB totally free . The cloud storage unit offers even better protection under the grim circumstance that your computer should be stolen.

2. Show a little restraint.

When using your computer in class or for research, it is easy to become distracted by the millions of entertaining titbits floating around the Internet. I secretly suspect that even professors get distracted by their favourite blogs and YouTube videos, but I have no proof to support this. If you feel like you need some help avoiding the temptation of Facebook or other sites, you can download restriction software that will temporarily block certain sites from your browser. There are a different options for PC and Mac users, but SelfRestraint and SelfControl come highly recommended.

3. Take a break.

You over-achiever, you! Okay, so even if you’re not an obsessive perfectionist, you might be up to your eyeballs in a last-minute project or other time intensive study session. One of the most important things about studying and researching is to take breaks. It sounds a little crazy, and maybe too good to be true, but it’s the truth. Without rest, your brain will cease to function properly, and your quality of work won’t be as high. Using a timed break application can keep you rested and focused, but it can also help you keep track of your time investment. Focus Booster for Mac and Tomighty for PCs can help you

4. Get organized.

There are a lot of ways to get organized, but one of the newest organizational sites on the Web is called MySocialCloud. (Those of you who are addicted to Facebook and Twitter, beware! This site allows you to merge notifications from both sites!) This site allows you to save passwords for all of you accounts, but it’s real stand-out feature is its organizational web browser bookmark tool. Students can bookmark course Websites and articles, which makes keeping track of online research content extremely convenient.

5. Drop it.

Once again, cloud storage comes to save the day! Dropbox is a file sharing and storage cloud system that allows you to share and edit files between other users. This is a great tool for collaborative projects, but it’s also an alternative for USB devices and email attachments. Students who don’t have access to a printer in the dorm room or the apartment can move their documents to Dropbox and access them from a campus computer lab. You never have to worry about losing important documents again.

Kate Willson is an energetic education writer who specializes in college life. She shares her many tips for students and recent grads at collegecrunch.org. You can reach Kate by leaving her a message in the comment section. She loves hearing from readers!

4 Must-Have Apps Every College Student Needs in their Phone

Hands holding Mobile Phones
There are tons of apps out there geared toward students. But, not all of them offer exactly the support that students need most. When it comes to academic life, function is often much more important than looks and perks, and way too many apps neglect the basic things students really need. Because most of us don’t have the time to download every academic app and see which work best, I’ve collected some of the apps that have seemed to stand the test of time and have also received rave review from students across the world. Here are some top apps for college students that will always be worth the download:
1. Evernote
For students looking for an app that will help them take and organize notes, this is by far one of the best. Students can sync Evernote to their mobile devices and personal computers and take notes from anywhere. It helps organize current thought processes and find old notes quickly and easily. It also records audio notes and includes tons of features designed especially for students. Check it out for free here.
2. Diigo
We all love being able to access study materials, textbooks, academic articles, and all other research materials in an online format. The only problem is it makes it harder to physically take notes, highlight and organize our research materials. This is where Diigo comes in handy. Users can read and highlight within text and image files, so it makes it easier to take notes in the same way as you would with physical documents. It’s also great for organizing and sharing resources. Try it here.
3. Wikipanion
This is an absolute must for any college student who does a good amount of writing and researching. This app brings Wikipedia straight to your mobile device and is specifically designed to streamline access on a mobile. Students have access to open source information on the go and it’s really handy to use during class. Download the free app here.
4. Rate My Professors
Whether you need info on a current professor or would like to check out your options for future courses, the first place to go is RateMyProfessor. Designed for both Android an iPhone devices, this app allows students to have access to information about any professor in the database while on the go. Perfect for quick searches during course registration. Try it out here.

Caroline Ross is a former educator who writes for www.accreditedonlineuniversities.com. She is an avid reader and advocate for global education and equality. Please submit any comments or feedback in the section below!

Is Online Education the Future or the Last Resort?

In a recent episode of All Things Considered, NPR highlighted the University of the People, an online institution that claims to be “the world’s first, tuition-free, non-profit, online academic institution.”  It helps individuals like Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez who, due to a motorcycle accident, can neither physically attend nor financially afford a university education.
Sounds dreamy, yes?  In the words of one commenter, “the concept tickles peoples (sic) utopian fantasies.”  This is perhaps why it didn’t take long for the generally unruffled comment thread generated by NPR faithfuls to get a little derisive—even rightfully so.
Surviving without profit
UoP isn’t actually the first non-profit online institute—Khan Academy beat them by three years in 2006.  Since Khan and UoP, numerous institutions have sprung up, including for-profit Udacity and Coursera and non-profit edX, a venture by MIT, Harvard, and other leading universities.
It seems, however, that this pie in the sky is having trouble manifesting.  Despite partnering with Hewlett Packard and Yale, UoP is catching heat for going back on its promise for a free education.  Starting in September, new students of UoP will pay $100 for every final exam.   Even its supporters are concerned.
“How are we going to make this work, while keeping it tuition-free and not having any onerous fees that would at all restrict access to the world’s poorest of the poor, yet at the same time keep the organization growing?” asks Dalton Conley, New York University’s former dean of social sciences.  Conley goes on to quote Shai Reshef, the founder of UoP, “We’re not the future of higher education, we’re the last resort.”
Philip Altbach, head of the Center of International Higher Education at Boston College, says, “[It’s] a nice idea,” but adds a caveat, “I think it’s a bit half-baked at this point.”
Plagiarism in the online eLearning community
Altbach cites another difficulty with massive online learning: plagiarism.  “How, for example, will you figure out that the admirable woman in Peru is taking the tests herself?”  (Note: one commenter proposed biometrics.)
Coursera has recently come under fire—by its own students, no less—for such cases of plagiarism found in peer-graded essays.  Laura K. Gibbs, a lecturer teaching online courses at the University of Oklahoma and a student of Coursera’s fantasy and science fiction class, lamented the incidents on her blog.
(In case you’ve forgotten, here’s TeLS’s previous infographic and article on 10 types of plagiarism.)
eLearning has a disadvantage in that instructors don’t always look at students’ work, but their students also hail from across the globe.  Many universities boast eclectic student backgrounds, but not all institutions remember that some students plagiarize because they don’t know it’s culturally unacceptable.
“If we really are trying to teach the world, including people from other cultures,” says Coursera professor Charles Severance, “we have to take a responsibility to educate people about plagiarism, not just vaporize people for it.”
A ghost-writer comes clean
If Daphne Koller’s sense that plagiarism doesn’t happen more frequently than in regular classroom environments isn’t enough for some skeptics, they might consider picking up a copy of The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat by ghostwriter-come-clean Dave Tomar.  After feeling alienated and cheated out of a quality education at Rutgers, Tomar wrote papers for cash at bachelor’s through doctoral levels.  What’s more, he sees himself for what he is—“Even if I can rationalize what I’m doing, I can’t take any pride in it…I’m trash”—but also sees everyone in the college institution as a “co-conspirator.”
Tomar goes on, “When I started doing this job, I was so angry over my university experiences and just over the direction of our culture in general….  We are so deeply entrenched for a lot of economic reasons in this cost structure where colleges have inflated their costs so dramatically, but the return on it is completely static.”
Perhaps University of Michigan and Coursera professor Eric S. Rabkin feels a similar cynicism after years of deep entrenchment in this kind of dollar-signs culture.  “I’m not interested in proving this could substitute for the University of Michigan,” he says. “What I’m after is seeing if we have a way of capitalizing on a large group of people with smart software and a clever system that can make a community that has guidance and can teach itself.”

Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for www.badcreditloans.org, where she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.

eLearning by the Numbers: A Comparison With Everyday Life

eLearning is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. With more than 30% of training hours delivered online, companies who waste the opportunity to become more capable with online training are saying goodbye to more than revenue – they’re writing off employee satisfaction and innovation. As you contemplate using online training to accomplish your organization’s goals, keep these metrics in mind.

  1. $130,000,000,000 is not just the amount of money spent on fastfood in America, it’s the size of the American training market. Few people know that the training sector is bigger than the video game, book publishing or recorded music markets.
  2. While companies blow $53,000,000,000 on on travel and lodging costs for traditional, in-person training every year, Americans spend that many minutes on Facebook every month. Lost productivity on both sides!
  3. Can you believe companies spend $1,014 on each employee’s training each year? That could pay for groceries for 4-5 weeks for the average family.
  4. If you connect your employees to online training, you’ll do more than save money on travel – you’ll save energy and reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. Online training uses 90% less energy than in-person training – coincidentally also the percent of the world that is right-handed.
  5. 61% of parents have spied on their children’s Facebook accounts (probably good parenting!), which is the same proportion of mandatory or compliance training that is currently conducted online – saving both parents and companies considerable time, energy and headaches spent resolving bad behavior.
  6. On average, employees spent 40.1 hours in training in 2010 – time that could be reduced with online, self-paced training. Or, you could spend the same amount of time walking across the Golden Gate Bridge 59 times.
  7. Online training improves employee retention by demonstrating your commitment to their continual improvement and satisfaction. Companies who use online training experience a 40% decrease in turnover rates – the same proportion of 9-1-1 calls in NYC that are pocketdials.
  8. With the $38 in savings per hour per employee you’ll achieve by using interactive online training instead of traditional training, you can buy a waffle maker.
  9. Two Rabbits / Zwei KaninchenEvery 3-5 years, 50% of employee skills become outdated. Meanwhile, the average rabbit lifespan will have come and gone – while your organization falls behind its peers unless you invest in training.

eLearning is more than a quickly expanding industry and more than a promising alternative to traditional in person skill training. It’s a cost-effective, efficient, engaging way to provide the training that you and your employees need.

Ben Graziano is a content developer at OpenSesame, the world’s marketplace for buying and selling online training courses. Ben is a senior at Babson College and loves soccer, hiking and weight liftin

13 Great Free Screencasting Tools for Creating Tutorials

For those of you who don’t know what screencasting tools are, they are tools that allow you to capture and record what you are doing on a computer screen so that you can play it back or show it to others. Screencasting tools are perfect for creating tutorials or presentations for students. With these tools, you can record what you were doing on the computer screen, play it back, and then go over whatever you are demonstrating step by step to a classroom. Here are some great, free screencasting tools that will allow you to record pictures, video and audio from your computer, edit them, and then use these recordings as teaching aids that will make it much easier to teach larger groups of people about procedures and operations that are performed on a computer.
With these free tools, you will be able to quickly create tutorials and lessons for your students or presentations for staff members that are professional looking and easy to follow.
Goview lets you record video of your screen and audio coming from your computer, edit the content, and then host your tutorials with no bandwidth limitations. You can also upload your screencasts to other sites and even protect them with passwords when storing them at Goview so no one but you and your students can access them. See their video.
Krut is better than most of these screencasting tools because its interface is so well-designed. The buttons on the interface allow you to quickly and easily record videos, take screenshots or change the area of the screen you want to record. You can also edit in sound later with Krut.
This is a free screencasting tool that is web-based and works for both Windows and mac users. As we said in a previous post If you are looking for a great screencasting tool that does not require any software installations, this is one of the best choices. You will be able to record your videos and then share them in a variety of ways. For example, you can share them as flash-based projects, or you can upload them to YouTube.
With this free tool you can create either avi videos or bitmap images. One of the best features of Aviscreen is its “follow the cursor” feature, which allows you to make a video of capture a screenshot of a smaller dimension while following all mouse activity happening all over the screen.
If you are looking to make high-quality tutorials, then Camstudio is one of the best free tools to use. It can record all screen and audio activity on your computer and produce high quality videos that at the same time, don’t take up a lot of bandwidth. The interface is also very simple to get a hang of and you can add annotations and other customized features to your videos as well.
Yet another tool that lets you make screencast recordings without having to download and install anything on your computer. It is very easy to use. Once you are ready to start, just click on the “Create” button, adjust to get the part of the screen you want to record into the shot, and start making your recording. See their video.
One of the best things about this free screencaster is that it allows you to drawn on what you have recorded and add notes and HTML pages to it. It also enables you to quickly and conveniently distribute your tutorial via email.
A pretty basic screen capture tool, but it does allow you to easily add text to your screencasts. It is also easily linked to your YouTube or Google Video accounts.
One limitation that Jing has is that you can only record for five minutes at a time. However, you will be able to edit these sections together later with no problem. It is great tool for quickly capturing video, audio and screenshots, because it is always present on your screen and ready to use. Jing allows you to add arrows, notes, and other visuals to your screencasts as well.
This is another free screencasting tool that helps you create presentations in the avi format, though you can also convert them into flv if you prefer that video format. The recording process is simple and the editing process is just as convenient and easy to grasp.
Screen jelly
This is a pretty simplistic tool that lets you record up to three minutes of screen video or computer audio at a time, and then share it via email or Twitter.
Oripa screen recorder
An excellent screen recorder for Windows users that can record your real time screen activity and then save it as a video file. You can even use your PC microphone and record your own audio to create a tutorial in real time without any editing needed.
One of the best features of this tool is that it has a zoom button that allows you to zoom into areas of your screen in order to enhance your presentations and tutorials.

David Lazar is a blogger at CometDocs.com. With a background in journalism, he enjoys writing about and following a variety of topics, including careers, technology and new media.

8 Ways to Make Friends In Your Online Classes

Make Friends online

Just because you’ve taken the non-traditional academic route by going to school online doesn’t mean you can’t still bond with your classmates and form meaningful friendships with them. Even though students engage in online discussions and talk in chat rooms every week, they don’t have the luxury of sitting in a classroom where they can meet dozens of interesting people. Making friends in online classes can be just as difficult and daunting as trying to motivate yourself to study, but it can be done and here are eight ways to make it happen.
Full Text: 8 Ways to Make Friends In Your Online Classes | Online Classes.