Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Determining the Best Technology for Your Students, Your Course, and You

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The number of technologies available to both higher education institutions and individual instructors seems to grow each day. With tools that promise to increase engagement, communication, interaction, efficiencies, and learning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to make bad choices — choices that could result in wasted money, time, or learning opportunities, all the while causing undue frustration for students and faculty alike.

During the recent online seminar Selecting and Using Technologies in Online & Blended Courses, Tony Bates, an elearning and distance education planning and management consultant, offered some insights on what to consider when making technology decisions.

Bates, author of Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning, recommends the SECTIONS model, which examines a variety of factors for determining the most appropriate technology to bring into a classroom. Some of the larger questions you need to ask are, “How will this technology benefit the students? Does it make learning more accessible for the students? Does it increase their flexibility? What kind of students are you reaching—or, more importantly, could you reach who you’re not reaching already—with this technology?,” Bates said.

The SECTIONS decision-making model
Students – What are the demographics of the students in your course? Do they work? Do they live on or near campus? What is their preferred learning style? Are they motivated learners?

Ease of use; portability – There’s nothing more frustrating than technology that doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, so whatever technologies you choose, they must be easy to use, easy to maintain and reliable. Training should be available for anyone who needs it.

Costs – The costs involved could be fixed or variable, and go beyond the actual cost of the product to include instructor time, instructional support, media production, and maintenance.

Teaching – What is your teaching style?

Interaction – What technologies will engage and motivate your students?

Organization – Does the institution support the use of learning technologies?

by Mary Bart.

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How Important is Technology in Education

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The mere fact that technology is the order of the day is sufficient to highlight the question, ‘how important is technology in education’. It’s probably scary to imagine a life without all the technology around us, as we’re so much habitual to it. Using technology in education has become an intense topic of debate, as many scholars and experts are concerned that teaching computer and technology to school going students can give them access to inappropriate material and they may become over dependent on technology to learn new things. On the contrary, some believe what if they’re not taught the advancement in latest technological developments they will be unable to compete in the information and communication dominated age. The solution to this debate will clear up after you have read the importance of technology in education, in this article.

Importance of Technology in Education:

In case, you’re wondering, ‘how important is technology in education’, then take a look at our past generations and compare the life we’re living today. Had our forefathers not made revolutionary discoveries and produced series of technological breakthroughs, would our life had been same as it is today? Would it had been possible for us to gain so much knowledge and exchange information with everyone across the globe? And as our world is developing and global communication is taking a new dimension, technology has a great impact on our society, environment and life. Without making our children adapt to these growing technological advancements, won’t we make a grave mistake?

Since our children are the builders of tomorrow, they must be in sync with the pace with which our society is transforming. When we focus on the history of technology in education, we find that children who have basic computer literacy and are aware about fundamentals of technology, perform better in their college and graduation years. It is a misconception that technology should only be studied by students who are studying technology related subjects. The mere fact is that use of technology in education has spread in every sphere of subjects, be it arts, commerce or science. And while a computer science engineering student needs to be aware of computer programming, an art student is not expected to know computer programming but certainly the art student has to be aware about using computers easily.

Moreover, to understand how important is technology in education, one has to understand that technology provides rich and varied experiences to students. Online education has become possible only due to the extensive use of technology in schools and colleges. Obtaining online degree programs has become easier by signing up for some simple certificate courses. A study conducted by an educational organization suggests that interaction with technology for students in the early years of life is better, as kids have an inherent ability to understand and grasp things faster. Moreover, reading, writing, analytical and visual skills of children have been found to improve after they’ve been trained in technology.

The importance of technology in schools can be attributed to the fact that through interactive video lectures, power point presentations and live explanation of science topics, kids have been able to develop a better understanding of various subjects. Video conferencing has made it easier for various schools to help their kids listen to important lectures by their teachers if they are not physically present in classrooms. Special education has become easier after introduction of technology in educational system for candidates who are unable to be taught some subjects due to physical limitations.

by Kundan Pandey.

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Wikis in the Classroom: Three Ways to Increase Student Collaboration

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I’ve long said that professors who want to explore teaching with technology should begin with a social media tool rather than a Learning Management System. Web 2.0 tools are simple to use, invite student collaboration, and are usually less administratively clunky and complex than an LMS.

One of the easiest and most powerful tools is the regular old wiki. Wikis are simply web pages that can be edited by their users. Instead of only carrying content from the administrator, they harness the power of crowd sourcing to create a powerful communal resource.

I use a wiki as the electronic hub of my face-to-face courses. The uses are varied:

Course Information
All course information —syllabus, course schedule, assignments, handouts, etc. —is posted on the wiki. This means that students can check in to get information at any time without the multiple login steps of an LMS. I also find it much easier to update content on the wiki than the LMS. Plus, students considering taking the course can check out the syllabus before registering. It is beyond me why most colleges still only provide a name and short generic description of their courses to guide students’ decisions. Why not at least require instructors to put their syllabi into an online database?

Resource Repository
I like saving current articles that relate to course content. For instance, I am constantly running across advances in genetics that fit perfectly into my medical ethics course. I put links to these articles into my wiki. Importantly, I encourage students to do the same so that they feel a part of a knowledge community that is exploring the topics together.

One interesting section of the wiki is called “Just for Fun.” This is a place for students to load links to funny stories or videos related to course content. You would be surprised how much is out there.

Student Projects
One of the biggest mistakes we make in education is keeping the good work our students do hidden from the public. While professors are supposed to make public their research to advance understanding in their field, student work is only seen by the instructor and the student. Why not make the best work public? Not only does this encourage students to do better work, but also makes that work a resource for future students. Other students can benefit from the work, and it can serve as a model of what the instructor wants from students.

by John Orlando, PhD in Teaching with Technology.

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Advantages of the Internet in Education

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The Internet is the largest set of computer networks that use the Internet Protocol. The invention and development of the Internet was the biggest discovery by mankind in the 20th century that lead to a revolution. Today, the Internet is used by more than 50% of the world population as its applications are found in nearly every fields of life: be it communication, knowledge, news, shopping, marketing, entertainment, education, etc. Here we will see more on the importance or advantages of the Internet in education. So how exactly does the Internet technology benefit the students for education? Let us take a look at it in detail.

Advantages of Using Internet with Education

The fast and relatively low cost access is one of the major benefits of Internet to people and students all over the world as getting an Internet connection is easy. Communication and information are the two most important advantages of the Internet in education. Secondly, information can be updated or modified at any time and for any number of times, which helps in learning and better understanding. Let us take a look at the role of computers in education.

Easy Contact
As mentioned above, communication is one of the biggest advantages of the Internet in education. Students can contact other students or their teachers via the E-mail if they have queries about any information. Sharing of information, discussions on a particular subject, etc. can be easily carried out using the Internet. At the same time, teachers can also contact the parents and guardians easily using Internet.

School / College Projects
The Internet can be most useful for completing projects in schools and colleges. As the Internet is an ocean of information, covering nearly all subjects known to man, one can literally find information, research work, etc. required for one’s projects. Going through the information on the Internet is definitely faster than reading an entire book on the subject. Home work is also made easier with the help of the Internet which is also one of the important use of computers in education.

Sometimes, encyclopedia may not always be available to students and they may have difficulty in gaining access to the books in the library. In that case, the encyclopedia of different subjects available on the Internet can be helpful. This is more useful for students who belong to communities not having English as their mother tongue. Kids and younger children can also be benefited by the Internet by using the pictures, videos, etc. which is one of the major advantages when thinking of textbooks versus computer teaching.

All the latest news are constantly updated on the Internet on different news sites which is one of the major advantages of the Internet in education. Students, learning politics, can have an access to all the current affairs through the Internet in the school campus, at home, or at any other place. Historical accounts like speeches, biographies, etc. are also easily available on the Internet in detailed and accurate versions. This is one of the biggest use of Internet in education.

Online Learning
Another positive effects of Internet in education is the onset of distance education or online learning. With this facility, you can take up short term courses with the course material available online, learn and give exams. One of the benefits of online learning is that people from any part of the world can gain knowledge on different subjects, complete courses, etc. with the help of online learning.

by Madhura Pandita.

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Social Media Usage Trends Among Higher Education Faculty

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The popularity of social media and its rapid ascension into our daily lives in nothing short of astounding. Sites that weren’t even around 10 years ago are now visited every day. What’s more, 56 percent of the faculty survey said they expect their use of social media to increase this school year.

Do you friend your students on Facebook?

Do you tweet, or use Twitter in the classroom?

Do you network on LinkedIn, and participate in its groups?

Does your college or university have a social media policy?

For the past two years, Faculty Focus conducted a survey on Twitter usage in higher education. This year we expanded the survey to include Facebook and LinkedIn, while adding a number of new questions as well.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all have their strengths and weaknesses, and each are better used for some things than others. But how are the three being used in higher education today? It’s our hope that these survey results provide at least some of the answers while lending new data to the discussion.

Here are just some of the findings from Social Media Usage Trends Among Higher Education Faculty, a 2011 Faculty Focus survey of nearly 900 higher education professionals:

  • Facebook is the most popular social media site for the people who took this survey. Nearly 85 percent have a Facebook account, following by LinkedIn at approximately 67 percent and Twitter at around 50 percent.
  • Thirty-two percent have “friended” an undergraduate student on Facebook; 55 percent said they wait until after the student graduates.
  • Eighty-three percent allow students to use laptops in the classroom; 52 percent allow smart phones.
  • Thirty percent said their institution doesn’t have a social media policy. About 40 percent weren’t sure.
  • Sixty-eight percent have talked to their students about managing their online reputation.

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Is Technology Destroying More Jobs Than it is Creating?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

We now have technological innovations that have gone as far as creating robots you can interact with and give orders to. If I am not wrong, you can now even get yourself a robot girlfriend if you have failed to find your perfect woman. Do you remember the cartoon show ‘The Jetsons’? Well, then you must certainly remember the flying cars and Rosie, the robot, from this futuristic animated kids’ show! That’s the world of future that Hanna-Barbera wittingly portrayed in this show. Everything becomes automated. Sounds so exciting but is technology becoming your new rival to score a job? It could be.

Machines may be very well replacing humans and creating a wider rift between the number of job positions available and the number of applicable candidates for it. Humans created machines and now machines are threatening their jobs. They were supposed to make life easier for you. But, apparently they are making life for your employers so easy that they don’t need much human resources now.
Is Technology Ruining Employment Opportunities?
The world is quickly industrializing and globalizing everywhere. All countries have been influenced by the new technology available at hand. And every single day, we are only trying to outdo ourselves by creating the kind of technology you would have never imagined to be possible 10 years ago. The accelerating technology in our new automated world is quickly becoming the number one reason of the rising rate of unemployment around the world. Or maybe it already is. Take this scenario for instance:

In the 1950s, automobile industry was a flourishing industry in city X and provided employment to most of the residents including African-Americans. The jobs in this industry were respectable, paid well and even provided perks. However, all of this changed after the development of new technology that led to the automation of assembly line. This resulted in the displacement of many workers in the industry and this phenomenon spread like wildfire among all other cities, home to automobile factories, around the country. This is a story of a city that was once ranked amongst the top five largest cities of its country that housed more than 2 million people. This is the story of the “Motor City”, Detroit.

Outsourcing to technology reduces the scope for human error to almost zero. Add to that, the advantage that machines don’t complain of fatigue and take leaves. It’s efficient and reduces training costs, employee retention costs and increases the pace of work multifariously. Don’t you know, technology is soon becoming the new BFF of all profit-aiming companies. Industries predicted to follow this trend are agriculture, food processing, education, oil-refining and public sector holdings.

Has Technology Increased Employment?
The counteracting point of view is that advancement in technology has helped increase the level of output, requiring more labor to produce goods and service at such high levels. This has significantly improved levels of employment. This theory dismisses any authentic correlation between technology and unemployment. According to the supporters of this theory, technology may cause a structural change in the composition of employment, however it does not cause any negative effects and leads to absorption of workers in other industries. Citing a proof to it, is the example of the telecommunications industry. It comprises of cellphone manufacturing, network services and the Internet. The telecommunications industry provided 1 million jobs to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled American labor in 2008, even in the face of the then ongoing situation of recession.

Structural Change
Post Industrial Revolution, the Luddite movement began as a mass protest against the automation of the textiles industry. Skilled artisans and weavers were replaced with machines to produce textiles, that were operated with unskilled labor. Although, the technological advancement with mechanization of work did lead to employment opportunities, it simultaneously took away the means of livelihood of several people employed in the art of textile making. If these people were to take up these jobs as machine loom operators, it created significant reduction in their income with less pay. Such a phenomenon of shift in employment, despite possessing specialized knowledge or skills, is often seen in many industries and is called structural unemployment.

Technology and Unemployment
Let me make this even more simpler for you to think over. Did you pay attention to the background story of the movie/novel “Up in the Air”? George Clooney is a corporate down-sizer whose job is to fire people. Ironically, he loses his job after he is replaced by video-conferencing! Umm… yah, the company discovered that they don’t have to pay for his traveling and hotel stay expenses, plus they will save up on his salary and cut down costs too if they start firing people over video-conferencing. It’s not just you on your treadmill, companies have tightened up their belts and are losing the flab too, the smart way… err… by firing people.

Frankenstein was a warning to all mankind about the impending consequences of technology. Constant evolution in the world of technology is quickly ending the game for most people with manual labor jobs or average jobs that have no significant contribution to the development and financial progress of companies. Even non-corporate jobs are under fire. Word of advice, better buckle up now and become an important part of your company that it cannot do without before it disposes you more unexpectedly than the next price hike. You may soon not see any cashiers in supermarkets and waiters or waitresses in restaurants with the advent of new technological innovations, for billing and placing orders respectively, that will replace the need for employment of human resources at these places.

by Urvashi Pokharna.

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How has Technology Changed Education

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

This millennium stands testimony to the fact that human mind is one of the new frontiers which we are trying to conquer. Breath taking technologies are being introduced almost every year and it seems we’re on the way to make our life easier and more comfortable. Education – that is a reflection of the development of a society and is the foundation stone of the bright future of a nation has undergone drastic changes in the last fifty years. How has technology changed education? This question will be critically analyzed in this article.

Positive Effects of Technology on Education

Talking in a positive sense, the impact of technology on education has been phenomenal. Using Internet and computers as en effective medium to establish communication between schools, teachers, students and parents; educational institutes have been able to handle many issues that were previously not handled with ease due to geographical limitations or lack of adequate training technologies. Here are some of the most positive aspects of technology in education, in this segment of the article on, ‘how has technology changed education’.

Enhanced Teaching and Learning
Technological developments like digital cameras, projectors, mind training software, computers, PowerPoint presentations, 3D visualization tools; all these have become great sources for teachers to help students grasp a concept easily. It has to be understood that visual explanation of concepts makes learning fun and enjoyable for students. They’re able to participate more in the classroom and even teachers get a chance to make their classes more interactive and interesting. The importance of technology in schools can be understood from the fact that it empowers the educational system and produces better students.

Confidence Booster
Being exposed to technological wonders like computers and the Inter net and learning to operate them from an early age, students are able to develop a sense of self esteem and confidence. There are many things that students are able to do on their computer that their parents aren’t even aware of, this helps them create their own special world and this gives them a feeling of being special. This makes them believe that they stand strong in global competition.

Increased Cooperation Amongst Peers
A majority of teachers have stated a very surprising fact that introducing technologies in classroom has increased peer to peer interaction. Many kids who’re comfortable in handling computers come out to lend a helping hand to students, who face problems in working on computers. Reading more on how important is technology in education will help you know more about role of technology in education. The importance of technology in the classroom goes beyond computers and Internet. They’re now, just as important as notebooks and school bags.

Increased Knowledge
Teachers have reported that students who sincerely complete their research projects by referring to the plethora of information available on the Internet are able to develop good analytical and research skills. By referring to a large number of resources, a serious student utilizes his or her common sense and judgment skills to choose the best material and use it as an advantage to complete the project. By getting exposed to numerous ideas for their assignments and the creative ways to finish them, students develop excellent research abilities. Certainly, ‘how has technology changed education’ needn’t be a question that is difficult to answer.

No Geographical Limitations
With the introduction of online degree programs there is hardly any need of being present physically in the classroom. Even several foreign universities have started industry oriented online degree courses that aspirants can join. Distance learning and online education have become an integral part of the education system now a days. Certainly, the value of off-campus education may never be equal to that of on-campus training but for diploma and other courses, when the student is thousands of mile away from the educational institute, these online courses can be of great advantage.

Negative Effects of Technology on Education

Teachers and scholars across the globe have unanimously stood for integrating technology in education. This is owing to the fact that just like students, even teachers find it easier to circulate study materials by using Internet as a communication tool. Technological developments have made life easier for teachers and students. However, there is a certain negative impact of technology that needs to be analyzed in order to understand how has technology changed education.

Poor Teacher – Student Relationship
Many teachers have a common complaint that negative habits of students are more exacerbated due to the use of technology. In countries like the US, where assignments and homeworks are required to be submitted online, students tend to forget common email etiquette like salutation and sometimes, even adding texts in the attachments! Moreover, the trend of last day submissions has now transformed into last hour, last minute submissions. Students submit their assignments even hours after the time for submission is over and their emails don’t contain any explanation or a note of apology.

Moreover, questions, queries and problems regarding any topic in assignments that should reach to the teacher within 24 hours of submission of the homework, remain due for days. Not many students are even bothered to get their queries cleared. Those few who raise questions want them to be answered online which is not always possible, as teacher – student interaction is something that is vital to understand intricate topics. The trend of blackboards wherein, teachers post online notes, lectures, assignments and other information has cultivated the habit of skipping college lectures amongst students.

The belief that Google is always there, has made students disorganized and impatient. They just want to copy and paste the information, so that they can finish the assignment. Going to the college library, searching for information from books or even online library facilities seems to be a daunting task for students. Teachers have expressed concern that not many students are productively utilizing technology for their growth. Teachers are also concerned about the fact that students don’t fix appointments with them to seek answers to queries or to know something more about the subject. This is one of the negative ways of how has technology changed education.

Increasing Incidents of Cheating
Technological developments like graphing calculators, high tech watches, mini cameras and similar equipments have become great sources to cheat in exams. It is easier for students to write formulas and notes on graphing calculators, with least chances of being caught. While vigilance can curb this problem, there seems know clue as how issues of plagiarism and ‘cut- copy – paste’ will be dealt with. Students pick up any one website and the contents in the exact manner, as given in the website.

Lack of Focus
SMS or text messaging has become a favorite pastime of many students. Students are seen playing with their cell phone, iPhones day and night, right from crossing a street, or driving and very often even between lectures. Being ever-connected to the online world has resulted in lack of focus and concentration in academics and to some extent, even in sports and extra curricular activities. It is certainly not possible to read a difficult subject and at the same time, chat with a friend, and remain logged in on facebook. These are very obvious distractions that have eroded the sense of mental focus, peace and concentration ability from students’ life. Video gaming for instance has become the greatest distraction for students. Teenagers are easily influenced by any new gadget and technology being introduced in the market and this has also made them splurge unnecessarily.

Poor Reading and Writing Skills
Reading seems to be a lost hobby in this age. While there is a plentiful of information in the form of free ebooks available on the Internet, anybody who likes reading will agree that reading a book online and reading a printed form of book certainly has some prominent differences. Even if students were reading books online, it would have been fair but the fact is that owing to bombardment of information, the moment a teenager opens a website, he is lost elsewhere, either searching for new games or opening his or her facebook profile. Since assignments are mostly done online, hand writing skills of students have become pathetic.

It is understandable that in this age of computers, there is hardly any requirement of hand writing skills but still, a good hand writing is an integral part of learning. It improves our eye to hand coordination, makes us more focused and gives us an opportunity to express ourselves, more profoundly. Writing skills also convey deeper aspects about our personality like our organizational abilities and ability to express our ideas in a refined manner. Certainly, typing on a keyboard doesn’t impair creativity in writing (in fact they’re useful, as using a backspace, one can easily change previous sentences). Nevertheless, hand writing skills are certainly an integral part of good education.

by Kundan Pandey.

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Wired generation

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

ANYTHING new always invites assessment; more so if it comes via the Internet (which itself has passed muster and entered the mainstream, and is thus no longer referred to as The Internet or The Net). Social networking sites less than a decade old, like Facebook (7 years old) and Twitter (5 years old) in particular, are scrutinised not only because of their galloping popularity (Facebook has grown by about 100 million users a year and currently has 750 million users, and Twitter has over 200 million users), or because they highlight the limitless possibilities of the Internet, but also because of the grip they have on those who swear by them.

The phenomenon of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has drawn concern and criticism by behaviourists, social scientists, and pharmacologists. For instance, some scientific studies have concluded that people who spend too much time on Facebook are narcissists, people who tweet daily have shorter relationships, and people who depend on online relationships are socially awkward in real-life situations. Other studies, however, suggest that because social networking sites give space for social interaction of sorts, they might help people with low self-esteem. Last week, Baroness Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, opined that use of such sites could result in shorter attention spans and a constant need for instant gratification and self-affirmation.

What to make of these concerns? Does the ability to multi-task really translate into an inability to focus on one single task? With a phenomenon that is less than a quarter of a generation old, is it feasible to accurately assess that social networking sites can “rewire” the brain, resulting in reduced concentration? And while some speculation has been scientifically obtained but others are merely unscientific opinion, should we really be concerned?

Such findings do not have to spell the end of social networking; it serves as a warning that, as with anything else that may infatuate us, too much of anything is not a good thing. But, used appropriately, these social networking tools can help people stay more wired to the world, more connected, more informed. Live-tweets from online news portals allow the public to follow an important court trial in real-time — word for word, nuance by nuance. It allows government to reach out to the connected public via non-mainstream methods.

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Benefits of Educational Technology

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Today, everything that we come across has some technological connotation to it. Be it at home, school or workplace, technology has found a comfortable niche and has become an integral part of life. With the use of technology, several arenas are seeing changes and education is also one of them. The birth of educational technology has proved to be a boon to students the world over. Not only in the regular setting, but also in educating students with special needs have known to be benefited with the introduction of this modern invention. Let us now discuss the uses and benefits of educational technology in this modern day setting.

What is Educational Technology?
The term ‘educational technology’ has a broad perspective and is also referred to as instructional technology or learning technology. This method plays a vital role in enhancing the learning process of students and also assists teachers in communicating with the students in an easy way. Educational technology can be a classroom affair, or can be even taken out of the classroom. This technology has successfully transformed the stereotypical image of classrooms into a modern and more interesting one. Thanks to this modern development, classrooms are no longer a boring place and learning is actually a fun experience. With the use of computers and software programs, which provide learning materials, technology has changed education to a great extent.

Educational Technology Benefits
There are a number of benefits of introducing technology in the field of education. There has been a positive impact of technology on education. Virtual classrooms have made learning easier for the student community. With the potential use of technology, the learning speed and style have undergone a sea change and communication has become more easier. Here are some of the benefits of educational technology.

  • One of the benefits of educational technology for students is that it helps them improve their learning capabilities. Since it is one field which is constantly changing, new updates can be easily introduced to the students and class plans can be prepared with the help of the software.
  • In the earlier days, education was considered to be mostly for the elite class and people under other strata were quite ignorant of it. With the introduction of educational technology, there is no discrimination and everyone is equally accessible to get educated.
  • The information can be portrayed in various ways with the help of study materials. Knowledge has become easily accessible to students in every part of the world with the implementation of technology in the field of education. Online classrooms help students to interact with other students belonging to the same stream, but located somewhere else in the world.
  • Since the Internet is the main medium and other things like handheld tablet PCs and smart boards have entered the arena, students do not have to carry heavy backpacks loaded with books. They can walk in comfortably to the classroom where these equipments are already placed.
  • With the birth of virtual classrooms, the instructor from any part of the world can teach the learner (or learners) who may be living at the other end. The reach of this technology is quite far and students living in the remote parts can also avail it with ease.
  • In special education, the educational technology has brought about a sea change where the needs of students are catered to in a different manner. With the introduction of the software which teaches students with special needs, the appropriate study materials are designed so that learning is comfortable.

by Mariene Alphonse.

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Study: The Internet Helps You Make More Friends, Be More Social.

Friday, June 17th, 2011

It’s the kind of news you can use next time concerned parents bring up the idea that the internet is making people more withdrawn and closed off from the rest of humanity: A new study from the Pew Research Center has found that online social networks actually seem to make people more social.

Pew polled 2,255 Americans during October and November last year, and of the 1,787 internet users in that group, 47% used social networking sites. Facebook was used by 92% of the 975 people that used social networks, with MySpace in second place, with 29%. Linkedin and Twitter trailed behind, with 18% and 13% respectively.

(PHOTOS: Life Inside Facebook Headquarters)

That’s almost twice as many as in 2008, when the survey was last held. But more interestingly, there’s also been a rise in the number of close friendships people are reporting when compared with 2008—2.16 close friends on average, compared with 2008’s 1.93—with that increase being lead by those online, who reported an average of 2.26 close friends to the offline respondents’ 1.75. It gets even better when you look at those using social networks, who reported 2.45 close friends on average.

The study even looked into the number of social ties internet users and non-internet users have, and found that online Americans tend to have 664 ties on average, compared with an offline average of around 506. That number goes crazy when you start to plug in different social networks, however: Facebook users average 648 social ties, but Twitter users have an average of 838.

by Graeme McMillen.

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