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Posts Tagged ‘class’

The pedagogical model termed “flipped classrooms” refers to a scenario where homework and lectures are reversed. Typically, students come to class to hear lectures and then go home and complete the application of that lecture (e.g., homework).  In flipped classrooms, students watch a short video before coming to class, and when students come to class, they apply the lessons taught in the short video. This approach allows instructors to use time in class to build skills and for collaboration.

Educators are adopting this model anytime students watch or listen to lectures before coming to class and then do workshops in class. In one approach, teachers may actually set up a series of videos with intermittent quizzes to test knowledge acquisition. A series of videos may help to ensure that students have a certain level of knowledge before coming to class. While potentially helpful in all classes, this approach seems to have a great deal of potential for career and technical classes (CTE).

Career and technical instructors have struggled with e-learning because CTE classes demand that students spend time in workshops and laboratories to ensure they are applying theoretical knowledge. A hybrid approach seems to work well in CTE classes. Further, the flipped classroom is a technique that may help students be efficient and teachers be more effective.

In the traditional classroom, students often focus on transcribing lectures rather than understanding what is being said. A pre-class video format allows students to view the lecture material as many times as they need in order understand the material. Students that need extra time to understand material (i.e., accessibility issues) may find this approach very helpful. In addition, teachers may be able to detect errors more efficiently in this model because more class time is spent on the application of material. Collaboration and informal learning may also be facilitated in flipped classrooms.

The flipped model does require more preparatory work for both the teacher and student. Teachers must be very organized and sequential in this approach. Students must spend time viewing and reflecting on the videos before class. However, students may get frustrated if their technology equipment is slow or incapable of loading the videos (e.g., dial-up internet).

Moving the videos used in flipped classrooms to mobile devices makes this model even more attractive. Students could access lectures anytime, anywhere and just in time for training. Business and industry may actually begin to think about adopting this model for training incumbent workers. Ultimately, this model places more responsibility on students to learn material before class and affords them the opportunity to reflect on and apply this information on their own. Flipped classrooms allow students to master material rather than just being exposed to knowledge.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010a, January). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf

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EDUCAUSE produces a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  I describe the emerging technologies showing the most potential for education below in chronological order by year; the year 2005 through the present is covered in successive blogs.  The years do not necessarily represent the year of creation but of emergence.

  • Social Bookmarking.  Bookmarking occurs when a user saves the URL address of a Web site to a local computer.  Social bookmarking takes place when a user saves a bookmark to a public Web site and “tags” each location with keywords.  The ability to tag information resources with keywords and access these bookmarks through the Internet has the potential to alter how individuals find and store information.  Knowing where information is found may become less important than knowing how to retrieve information using a collaborative framework designed by colleagues (EDUCAUSE, 2005a).
  • Clickers.  Class size and human dynamics have traditionally restricted student engagement and feedback (e.g., a limited number of students dominate the interaction).  Clickers help to more efficiently facilitate engagement and interaction, which can be modified to any discipline and most teaching environments (e.g., small groups or partners).  A clicker is a small device that uses radio frequencies to communicate with a centralized computer in a classroom setting, such as the teacher’s or presenter’s computer (EDUCAUSE, 2005).
  • Podcasting/vodcasting.  Podcasting describes any hardware and software amalgamation that automatically allows audio files to download to an MP3 (i.e., Motion Photographic Experts Group Audio Layer 3) player.  This ability allows users to listen to or watch digital media content at their convenience.  Educators can use Podcasting as an asynchrounous learning tool that students can use anywhere, anytime.  If users add a video to a Podcast, then it becomes a Vodcast (EDUCAUSE, 2005c).
  • Wikis.  Wikis are powerful tools to promote collaboration.  The term “wikis” refers to Web pages that an individual can view and alter through Internet access and a Web browser.  This technology supports group collaboration and asychrounous communication (EDUCAUSE, 2005d).
  • Video blogging.  Similar to a blog, a video blog (vlog) employs video instead of text or audio.  Obviously, educators can use this technology to record lectures or special announcements.  In some instances, video blogs are used as an outlet for self expression or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005e).
  • Blogs.  A blog is simply an online journal, and viewers of a blog can respond.  The  technology is similar to e-mail.  Students usually employ blogs to complete assignments and for self expression.  Educators use blogs to support teaching and learning, promote dialogue, and express ideas or opinions (EDUCAUSE, 2005f).
  • Augmented reality.  Augmented Reality focuses on real space or objects and uses contextual data to expand students’ knowledge of that space or object.  It differs from virtual reality in that it does not generate a simulated reality (EDUCAUSE, 2005g).
  • Instant Messaging.  Instant Messaging (IM) allows for real-time communication through mobile computing devices or personal computers using the Internet.  IM now supports communication in the form of text, audio, video, images, and other attachments.  While IM has been around since the late 1990s, the functionality of IM is now ubiquitous with the advent of many new applications and mobility.  Learners using IM appear to feel connected with the faculty and peers in a way that is difficult using other multimedia.  Higher education has the opportunity to embrace this new medium of communication that requires little cost (EDUCAUSE, 2005h).
  • Collaborative Editing.  Collaborative editing allows several individuals to edit a document simultaneously.  In other words, this tool allows a user to edit a file or observe someone else editing the file in real time.  This technology is similar to instant messaging in that changes are seen instantly, and it resembles a wiki in that all participants can delete, change, or add content.  Collaborative editing provides a good platform for supporting groupwork in a distance learning environment; students can work together despite being separated by time and space (EDUCAUSE, 2005i).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005a, May) 7 things you should know about social bookmarking. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005b, May) 7 things you should know about clickers. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7002.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005c, June) 7 things you should know about podcasting. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7003.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005d, July). 7 things you should know about wikis. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7004.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005e, August). 7 things you should know about videoblogging. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7005.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005f, September). 7 things you should know about blogs. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7006.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005g, October). 7 things you should know about augmented reality. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7007.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005h, November) 7 things you should know about instant messaging. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7008.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005i, December) 7 things you should know about collaborative editing. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7009.pdf

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Web 2.0 has only been on the technology scene for a few years, since around 2004. However, this new body of Web applications has transformed the way people interact with the Internet and each other. The focus of IT 780, Seminar in Instructional Technology was to expose students to current Web 2.0 applications. In addition, Dr. Yuen insured that students were immersed in the practical employment of these tools rather than just studying about them.

Content within the first generation of the Web was developed for communication and information sharing, and usually an individual or group created these Web sites.  Web 2.0 differs in that it is based on interactivity and collaboration, and users develop these new applications. The genesis of Web 2.0 has given rise to the popularity of social media, which I will discuss in five broad categories: communication, collaboration, multimedia, reviews, and entertainment.

Communication tools (e.g., blogs, microblogs and social networking systems) have garnered the most attention among all Web 2.0 tools. Most notably, social networking systems (SNS) are immensely popular. For example, Facebook would be the third most populated country in the world if compared to existing countries. Dr. Yuen covered communication tools in four ways. First, the IT 780 class was primarily taught through Ning, which is a SNS. Second, we had reading assignments that presented research on SNS, and each member of the class had to create a Ning Web site designed to teach a class. Third, going a step beyond normal Web site creation, Dr. Yuen assigned a project that asked each student to generate an original mobile Web site. Fourth, the blogfolio that you are now reading serves as an example of a Web 2.0 communication tool, and this blog represents the final project for the IT 780 class.

Collaborative tools allow groups of people to accomplish projects together and include such items as social bookmarking, wikis and news. Social bookmarking allows users to bookmark Web sites, tag each site with keywords and save the bookmarks to a public Web site. A wiki is simply a Web page that can be edited and viewed by anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser. One of the reading assignments for IT 780 focused on social bookmarking. Also, the IT 780 class was divided into small groups, and each group was responsible for creating and designing a wiki. The development of the wiki was informed by two reading assignments on wikis that were given by Dr. Yuen.

A myriad of Web 2.0 applications have been produced for multimedia, which includes photos, videos, audio, livecasts and presentations. Flickr and Picasa represent Web 2.0 tools designed for photos and graphics, and podcasting represents an example of an audio application. In fact, one of the reading assignments and a project for IT 780 focused on podcasting, including the creation of an RSS feed. Dr. Yuen also assigned a project that employed the use of an online presentation tool, Slideshare. This presentation tool allowed each student to upload and share Adobe PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations online. I underestimated how many individuals would view this site. For example, I uploaded two presentations, and both of them have over 700 views in just a couple months. Obviously, the potential of such devices is enormous.

Dr. Yuen also asked the class to read an article that gave a general overview of Web 2.0 technologies. This article addressed many of the applications mentioned above. The focus of the IT 780 class was to expose students to Web 2.0 tools, specifically as it related to education. In light of this exposure to Web 2.0 technologies, Dr. Yuen asked each member of the class to make a presentation on a Web 2.0 technology that he or she found useful. Therefore, we did not spend a great deal of time on Web 2.0 applications designed for reviews (e.g., products, business or community) or entertainment (games, platforms or virtual worlds). However, these tools were mentioned in various class discussions.

IT 780 has been an incredible adventure of discovery in the Web 2.0 world. As Dr. Yuen says, many technologists read or talk about these applications but never immerse themselves in the tools. This class forced students to gain a functional knowledge of Web 2.0 tools. As a result, I feel prepared to discuss current Web 2.0 technologies with authority. In addition, exposure to these technologies has been a catalyst for personal and professional change. For example, I will certainly change several approaches in teaching and learning as a result of this course. When a class motivates one to make life changes and challenges previously held beliefs, then I would argue that it has been a great success. IT 780 is certainly in this mold.

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General thoughts.

These two chapters were thoughtful and riddled with research. Specifically, I appreciated the brief discussion on the research related to group activities. Quite often we pursue methods based on experience or pragmatism, but it is always healthy to employ methods that are researched-based approaches. In this, we give credence to our cause and find solid ground upon which to stand, even if challenged by students, colleagues, or supervisors.

These chapters discussed the deep learning that is often associated with group work. I must admit that I had never thought about group work in this way. I have tried to accomplish many goals through group work (e.g., interdependence or collaboration). However, I have never considered that the “wrestling” that takes place in the dynamics of group work can actually produce a higher quality product and deeper levels of thought than individual work.

How could teachers/educators use wikis/wikibooks?

“We have entered a participatory learning culture wherein the emphasis is on engaging learners in building, tinkering, remixing, and sharing” (p. 131).

If this is so, then wikis and wikibooks offer a great deal of potential in teaching and learning. I shared the frustration of others in our class while reading Chapter 8 in that I wanted to “see” a wikibook, so I went and reviewed the authors’ wikibooks. After reviewing these examples and reading a few chapters from their wikibooks, I have a deeper understanding of what they are describing. If you have not been to see their sites, then here are the url addresses:

WELT-http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Web_2.0_and_Emerging_Learning_Technolo…

POLT-http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/The_Practice_of_Learning_Theories

Better Example-http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Learning_Theories

Best Example- (In my opinion) http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

After viewing these sites, it is easy to see that the authors are merely describing a large, glorified wiki site. There are both positives and negatives associated with wikibooks. I will only address two questions below, and I will focus on the idea of wikibooks rather than wikis. I am admittedly going off the main path here.

In what context does a wikibook make sense?

I like the idea of the wikibook project, and I think it has enormous potential in education. However, a wikibook project would not work in every class because some classes are more suited to this than others. For example, this would probably not work in welding or choir, but it might work very well in music appreciation or English composition.

Likewise, for collegiate classes, I think this project is best suited for hybrid-type courses, yet it would work in any structure. Many students taking traditional classes are enrolled in traditional classes precisely because they are not ready for advanced computer technology, which is why they do not take online classes. Conversely, explaining this project to online students with little experience in online coursework could cause a great deal of frustration for teachers and students. This reality is exacerbated by the fact that the online teacher has no face-to-face time with the students. Keep in mind; this would be a perfect fit for technology classes because students are usually tech-savvy upon entering the class. But this may not be the case for a general section of World Civilization.

The use of a wiki site, as opposed to a wikibook, lends itself too much greater flexibility.

Is this the best wikibook we can produce?

My other contention is in the final product. Admittedly, my artistic tendencies are surfacing in this concern. Here is the fact: Our students, and we ourselves, are becoming used to a high quality product with minimal effort. Quite often this leads to mediocrity of content, but that is a different subject altogether.

Let’s take music concerts for example. Concerts 20 plus years ago sounded dramatically different than recordings. This was because the technology did not exist to reproduce what was done in a recording studio while in a live venue. Presently, music technology has advanced to the point that it sounds as good, if not better, in a live setting than on the recording (automatic voice tuning and all). All this while the level of musicianship has generally gone down.

Similarly, students are accustomed to engaging with visual media that is stimulating and invites interaction. So what does that have to do with wikibooks? In my opinion, for wikibooks to really take off, the final product must be much more sleek and inviting. (I am basing my opinion on the wikibooks presented by the authors’ of the chapter) I would work much more diligently on a product that I could be proud of both aesthetically and in regard to substance. However, the interface to manipulate the wikibook should remain just as simple as it currenlty is.

I do understand that the ends justify the means in this case. I also understand that the point is not to produce a production-grade textbook. So the purpose of the wikibook is certainly a key issue. If the point is solely student learning, then certainly the exemplified wikibooks work. But why not kick it up a notch? Why eat on a paper plate when you could be using fine China? (You don’t have to wash the dishes for one)

As Web 2.0 technologies continue to develop and invade all aspects of the web, these possibilities will soon come to fruition. In fact, our class wiki sites seem to be much more aesthetically pleasing than the wikibooks presented by the authors. Thank you Dr. Yuen for directing us to a free and powerful wiki-producing site.

Final thoughts.

These two chapters were excellent. I feel armed to defend group work with solid research. Also, these chapters have evoked a great deal of reflection on how I might incorporate wikis/wikibooks in courses. These are exciting and promising Web 2.0 tools that will probably see more adoption in coming years.

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