Category Archives: Emerging Technologies

Innovation and adoption of technology for teaching and learning

Students ask for more video with their learning

A few years back we invested in the streaming video service – Films on Demand. The service integrates with our campus portal and the Lakeland Library to permit faculty the means of integrating educational video into their course materials. Compared with the former system of ordering individual media (VHS, DVD), this has proved to be a very good investment. Nevertheless, the level of adoption has been less than expected.

Fims on Demand - Collections

Films on Demand – Collections

In our recent survey of online learners, students reported that they would like to have more video content in their online courses. Streaming video is becoming an extremely popular way for students to view content as is evidenced by the rate of adoption of such services as iTunes U and Khan Academy.

According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed reporting on thePearson Higher Ed Survey on Student Mobile usage

“Eight in ten (83%) college students regularly use a smartphone, up significantly from 72% in 2013.  Smartphones are now close to laptops (89%) as the mobile device students are most likely to use on a regular basis.”

Perhaps the increased use of smartphones by students helps to explain the demand for more video content. Although I enjoy reading journal articles and other text-based material on my iPad because of the size and orientation, I am not a big fan of reading text on my iPhone. That being said, the iPhone works great with streaming video – especially with WiFi available both at work and home.

iPhone CC-BY-NC-SA by Alex Bartok on Flickr

CC-BY-NC-SA by Alex Bartok on Flickr

Films on Demand is available to both faculty and students and although we have promoted its use primarily with the faculty – demonstrating how to search for relevant content from among the more than 15,000 titles and 200,000 plus segments – students also may access these materials and find value in searching through the collections themselves.

Gamification and Student-to-content Interactivity

Learner engagement is considered to be an effective predictor of student success. We can increase learner engagement by focusing on interactivity in course design.

Dice CC-BY-NC-SA by Daniela Hartmann on Flickr

CC-BY-NC-SA by Daniela Hartmann on Flickr

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University published a paper on the topic: Predicting Online Student Outcomes from a Measure of Course Quality (Jaggars & Xu.) The purpose of the study was to gather empirical evidence regarding the link between online course quality and student outcomes.

The study looked at four main areas:

  • Course design: organization and navigation
  • Learning objectives and assessment
  • Interpersonal interactions (student-to-instructor & student-to-student)
  • Effective use of technology

Much of what was learned through the research reaffirms what we have shared here before – that there exists a positive correlation between student-to-instructor interactivity and student success.

What the study did not reveal was a correlation between student success and online course design, or for that matter, between student success and the alignment of learning objectives and assessment. That isn’t to say these aren’t essential considerations when designing the online course – they are. But rather, that the study did not provide evidence that these factors are directly related to student achievement.

Another interesting finding was that although student-to-instructor interactions showed a positive correlation to student outcomes, this was not necessarily the case with student-to-student interactions. In fact, students indicated their experience with online discussion and group projects was, to paraphrase, pretty much a time sink.

Initially, the findings appeared to support a relationship between the effective use of technology and course grades, but after controlling for student characteristics the relationship became less apparent. Most quality assurance rubrics and accepted practices in online delivery suggest that educational technologies need to be current or state-of-the-art. However, this study suggests when designing rubrics for online course design…

“…quality ratings for technology may wish to focus on not just the use of “current” technologies but how these technologies are used to support user interaction, confidence, motivation, and learning.”

It occurs to me that interaction, confidence, motivation and learning can all be supported by the introduction of games or gamification in learning design.

The use of games in education has gained momentum in recent years. Games can be very motivating (perhaps even addicting). In a game we interact with the medium, often are given problems to solve or challenges to overcome, make choices, and as we progress in skill we become more confident.

Tools like Respondus StudyMate and Quia can be used to turn objective type quizzes into word games: (matching, hangman, crossword, fill in the blank). This is especially helpful when learning new terminology. After integrating games into her Medical Terminology course a couple of years ago an instructor reported significant improvement in student test scores as students began to spend hours reviewing the content as they played games and tried to improve their scores.

The learning is not necessarily the learner’s primary goal when playing a game, but rather accomplishing a task, mastering a certain level, gaining points or credits, and ultimately to win. Of course learning happens as an outcome in the process. Games are by definition, competitive – we may compete against the computer, chance, ourselves, or others (bringing us back to the earlier discussion about student-to-student interactions).

According to Karl Kapp, “Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.”

“Through the careful application of game elements—such as the freedom to fail, interest curve, storytelling, and feedback—in learning programs, ordinary content can be made more engaging without the development of a full-fledged learning game.” – Karl Kapp

By looking for ways to implement game elements into our courses we may be able to repond to the several questions brought up in the study, including student to student interactions, and effective use of technology (student to content interactions).

For more information about gamification, check out Karl’s article Getting Started with Gamification on ASTD.org.

Will Google Classroom be your next LMS?

Google is inviting educators to apply for a free preview of their “Google Classroom”.

The initial roll-out of the learning management system (LMS) includes several of the basic tools we are accustomed to seeing in other systems, including assignments and communications tools, along with a grade book.

Google is inviting partners to participate with the development of additional integration tools. Perhaps some of the features we have come to expect (e.g. plagiarism prevention, quizzes) will be made available as these partnerships evolve.

The trend over the past several years, has been for LMSs to become increasingly more complex with myriad connections / integrations behind the scenes and a never-ending stream of updates and patches that challenge both end-users and administrators time, skills, and patience.

Some of the initial criticism of Google Classroom is that it isn’t as sophisticated as the more established commercially available platforms.  However, according to Clayton Christensen, disruptive innovation “takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market…”

Keeping in mind that Google already has a foot in the door for many educational institutions with  Gmail serving as the primary email system for millions of students throughout the world – meaning students already have access – they’re already logged in.

Ready-or-not, Google Classrooms is scheduled to be rolled out in September of this year. If they can keep it simple, affordable, and accessible – who knows?

 

 

What will the active learning classroom look like in the not-so-distant future?

There are a number of emerging trends in classroom technology that will likely shape the way we teach and learn in the very near future.  These trends include mobile technologies (BYOD), improved wireless connectivity, and an increased demand for flexible learning spaces.

LearnLab @ Holden University Center, Lakeland Community College

Learn::Lab @ Holden University Center, Lakeland Community College

The Learn Lab at the Holden University Center is an example of an active learning classroom. With three interactive projection whiteboards placed strategically around the room, students are able to connect and to share their work using interactive screens and their laptops. The instructor can display content for all students or small groups from anywhere in the room. The direct line-of-sight configuration creates an optimal environment for student-to-student, student-to-instructor, and student-to-content interactions.

When this classroom was built a few years ago it was considered “state-of-the-art”.  With the current configuration tables are outfitted with hubs that are wired into the interactive projection screens. Students plug in with their laptops to collaborate with their group. In the short span of a few years we have seen the rapid adoption of tablets and other hand-held technologies. Students are now bringing their personal technology into the classroom with the expectation of using them in support of their own learning.

We are now at a point when wireless technology permits students and faculty to connect and share their devices: laptops, iPads and other tablets, as well as smartphones. This mobility will change how we interact with classroom technologies. It means no longer having to place tables in a fixed location – resulting in greater flexibility. High definition monitors with build in Wi-Fi (or connected devices such as Apple TV) will likely replace interactive projectors and whiteboards as the preferred projection surface – with content from our apps on our hand-held devices.

The next generation interactive classroom…

1) will support students bringing their smartphones and tablets (BYOD) into the classroom. Students can expect to interact with their peers and the content / media on-the-fly, at the same time, discovering new ways to use classroom and web-based technologies to support their own learning.

2) will be increasingly wireless. Apple TV is already being used in classrooms where students and their teachers share their assignments and class projects on high definition TV screens. Emerging wireless technologies such as 802.11 ac, mean faster connection speeds and improved quality of shared media.

3) will mean classrooms are more configurable around the people using them rather than the fixtures and technology in the room. The use of multiple surfaces fosters collaboration, creativity and design, permitting students and instructors the ability to display, capture and share these interactions.

New learning spaces are emerging as a blend of the formal and informal – with flexibility driving design. I envision the classroom in the not-so-distant future will require multiple screens, myriad writing surfaces, configurable and mobile furniture with high speed Wi-Fi and the ability to connect and project from the student’s device of choice.

Sounds messy.

 

Can digital badges increase capacity for online learning?

According to the ITC Distance Education Survey 2013, the number one challenge administrators face regarding distance learning faculty is ”engaging faculty in development of online pedagogy”. – Instructional Technology Council (ITC)

Too much coffee, Luigi Anzivino, CC-BY-NC-SA

The problem is one of Capacity! Too much coffee, Luigi Anzivino, CC-BY-NC-SA

Like many colleges, online and blended enrollments continue to grow even as overall enrollments decline. The demand for more flexible learning options outpaces our capacity for online delivery, in part because we lack enough faculty with the training and experience in teaching online.

This past year we began offering the Teaching Online Workshop Series – a series of twelve hands-on, competency-based, professional development workshops designed to prepare instructors for teaching online.

The Teaching Online Workshop Series consists of four units:

  • Extending your Course with Blackboard Learn
  • Teaching with Blackboard Learn
  • Designing the Online Course
  • Teaching & Learning Online

The first unit of three workshops is designed to introduce the LMS and provides basic use as far as navigation, file and folder management, setting up a grade book and using common communication tools. The second unit (workshops 4 – 6) focuses on implementing assignments, quizzes, and online discussion. The third unit (workshops 7 – 9) introduces the Quality Matters standards in areas of learner engagement, measurable outcomes, and assessment. Finally, the fourth unit of three workshops focuses on design, especially in regards to accessibility, usability, and student support resources.

The hands-on, competency-based model is a natural fit for digital badges.

…digital badges [are defined] as “credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, or other activities.” – Alliance for Excellent Education

according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Mozilla Foundation.

The report, “Expanding Education and Workforce Opportunities Through Digital Badges,” examines how digital badges can be used to improve student learning and outcomes. It explains what digital badges are and how they work, provides examples of digital badges that have already been implemented, and speculates on the future of the system.

According to the report, digital badges are “credentials that represent skills, interests, and achievements earned by an individual through specific projects, programs, courses, and other activities.” They provide a digital hyperlink to information about the badge’s associated skills and the projects or tasks the badge holder has completed to earn it.
Read more at http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/08/29/report-digital-badges-help-learners-demonstrate-accomplishments-need-documentation-for-credibility.aspx#vmPxWhPzwJZ4ALYM.99

We considered three digital badge systems: Mozilla Backpack, Open Passport, and Credly. While all three require that awardees open an account with their system in order to accept their badges, Credly provides a preview of the badge at the time it is awarded. For this reason – and that they host the badges on their own server – we decided to go with Credly. We also liked the ease for sharing the awardee’s successes on social media including Mozilla Backpack, for which there is a building block in the next version of Blackboard.

We put together an organizational account for Lakeland Learning Technologies. The pro account permitted us to have a “verified account” – adding a certain level of authenticity. Awardees can share their badges on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Mozilla Backpack. We will be looking at integrating the badges with Blackboard in the next service pack upgrade.

Lakeland Learning Technologies on Credly

Lakeland Learning Technologies on Credly

Earlier this week we began offering the full Teaching Online Worskshop series in a HyFlex format to all full and part-time Lakeland faculty. In an effort to increase capacity we intend to recruit future workshop facilitators from those who have successfully attained a certificate of completion for the entire workshop series.

 

Smartphones and Voice to Text

Most of our students have smart phones and while they work great for looking things up on the web and playing YouTube videos and social media, writing using handheld technology can be cumbersome at best.

How to type diagram CC-BY by Crossett Library Bennington College on Flickr.

How to type diagram by Crossett Library Bennington College on Flickr.

The technology of voice-to-text is actually improving over time. It’s quite possible to effectively participate in a discussion or post an essay using a smartphone or tablet with just a little practice.

“Writing” from your smartphone maybe done using voice-to-text but it takes a little getting used to. If you simply dictate into your phone you’ll spend a good deal of time correcting words, breaking out paragraphs and inserting punctuation, capitalizing the first word of each sentence, etc.

With a little practice you can get the job done and potentially in less time than it takes to write an essay. By ending sentences with “period” or “question mark” and starting a new paragraph by including “new paragraph” in the dictation, the outcome is much improved. If you make a mistake, you can repeat the sentence and simply delete the error.

Dragon dictation is a free app I downloaded to my iPhone and iPad. I find it does a much better job of interpreting than a lot of other voice-to-text solutions. Because it makes very few mistakes dictation can be significantly faster than typing using a keyboard.

Phablets?

My colleague got a new smartphone and it’s kinda huge. I said to him, “that’s the biggest phone I’ve ever seen”. “Its an android”, said he. He showed me the display and all the stuff he had on it and I have to admit, its pretty cool. But still… seems like a lot to lug around.

On the other hand…

It appears Bluetooth might be the answer.