Tag Archives: tablets

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.

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.


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.


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.

Any Place – Anytime – Any Device

As educators we need to recognize that communication is changing in some very fundamental ways and to consider what this means for our students and our own approach to teaching and learning.

Texting - CC-BY-NC-SA by Adam Fagen on Flickr

CC-BY-NC-SA by Adam Fagen on Flickr

Our instructional design team was discussing fall workshop offerings the other day and the topic of online communication tools came up. When we first began using LMS we had fewer options: email, chat, and discussion board.

That has certainly changed today.

We no longer need to be logged into our LMS to communicate with our class. By subscribing to announcements and messaging, as well as discussion threads, blog posts, and by integrating social networks  such as Twitter or Google+ we’re effectively connected from everywhere – all the time.

Perhaps the biggest changes have not been in the communication features but in the devices themselves. Smartphones allow us to be connected not only via voice and text at anytime from any place, but to any and every device as well.

The lines of communication are blurring.

Last fall, our help desk began using Google Voice to permit customers to text their requests. Our help desk staff can now respond to SMS from their computers via chat or Hangouts. The other day I shared a link from my WiFi connected iPad via text messaging to a colleague’s smartphone, effectively blurring the lines between email, text, chat, phones, tablets, and desktops.

For years we advised instructors to post in Blackboard when and how often they will be checking their email and when students should expect a reply. But do we in fact even “check” our email these days? Our mobile technologies permit us to be alerted wherever we happen to be, any time a message is received regardless of whether it is email, or text, social networks, etc.

Maybe its time to revise our communications statements to better reflect our always on, always connected lifestyles?

“If I am available I will try to respond to your messages between the following hours… By the way, I am traveling on these dates and may not be able to respond to your messages until…”

What do you think?

Replacing Google Reader

I see that Google has announced they will no longer support Reader as of this summer.

I have been using Google Reader for the past several years in an attempt to stay informed with Educational Technology in these times of constant change.

So now what?

I’ve decided to give Flipboard a try.

Flipboard is a mobile app – designed to keep people informed and up-to-date with news and social media. It works with your  iPad, iPhone, or Android device. One thing I like about Flipboard is the ability to import Google Reader feeds.


Google Reader – Feeds & Folders set up on Flipboard

To get started, install the app and create an account. Click on the search icon and select the services you wish to import (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) – in this case, Google Reader. Your feeds will be displayed from the drop down “Feeds and Folders” menu and you can select the feeds you wish to add individually.

As far as sharing goes… after clicking on a story in Flipboard, open the original article and you will find a share link icon displayed in the upper right corner of the window. – here is where I link my Twitter account to Flipboard – making tweeting using Flipboard very convenient.

That’s it – as far as setting up Flipboard to replace Google Reader. I actually prefer using my tablet over my desktop – I find it much easier to read and share.