Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Techno wizardry enlivens classes

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

The clever use of technology in the classroom is a sure-fire way to increase interest in learning among today’s tech-savvy students.

AS an educator, I have always been a great believer in John Dewey’s famous quote: If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow.

So it is our duty to teach our students in such a way that we prepare them for a better tomorrow.

Our students have already beaten us when it comes to technology.

My teenage son has taught me loads about technology and is still my biggest and quickest source of information when it comes to technology; what’s new, what works best, installation, and all about the social media out there. Now, we teachers need to catch up with our students on technology.

It is crucial to acknowledge the importance of technology integration in classrooms these days. Let’s look at the benefits of technology integration in the classroom, the technological content knowledge teachers should have, and most importantly the implication for teachers.

Classroom technology

Technology integration in the classroom brings about a more student-centred approach. When teachers use technology in the classroom, their approaches seem to be more student-centred.

Students tend to work together more while using technology; for example, to search the web and create multimedia presentations.

Hypermedia and hypertext increase their understanding. Hypermedia environments are dynamic and interactive and create a non-linear collection of information.

by Dr. Termit Kaur Ranjit Singh.

Read more @

Does PowerPoint Help or Hinder Learning?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

I’ve had some nagging concerns about PowerPoint for some time now. I should be upfront and admit to not using it; when I taught or currently in my presentations. Perhaps that clouds my objectivity. But my worries resurfaced after reading an article in the current issue of Teaching Sociology. I’ll use this post to raise some questions and concerns about the role of PowerPoint both in the classroom and in student learning experiences.

Too often we forget how significantly teaching practices shape learning experiences and PowerPoint is a perfect example. It has redefined “what a lecture looks like, consists of, and how it’s experienced,” according to one source quoted in the article (p. 254). Add to that how regularly PowerPoint is used these days. Sixty-seven percent of the 384 students surveyed in this study reported that all or most of their instructors used PowerPoint, another 23% said that at least half their instructors used it and 95% said that their instructors who used PowerPoint did so in all or most class sessions.

The article reviews studies that have looked at the influence of PowerPoint on performance in the course and course grades. Most studies find that PowerPoint has “no measurable influence on course performance and minimal effect on grades.” (p. 243) Yet students often report a favorable view of PowerPoint, saying it helps them with learning, content organization and note taking. The students in this cohort confirmed these positive effects.

What students in this study said they liked about PowerPoint is part of my concern. When asked to identify those features of PowerPoint they found most helpful, about 80% said the software organized lecture content and indicated which points were most important. Eighty-two percent said they “always,” “almost always, or “usually” copy the information on the slides. Does copying down content word-for-word develop the skills needed to organize material on your own? Does it expedite understanding the relationships between ideas? Does it set students up to master the material or to simply memorize it?

And then there’s the potential of PowerPoint to oversimplify the material. What students need to know is reduced to a bulleted list of five items described in five words or less. (I know, not always.) That does make complicated material more manageable for students and perhaps that’s beneficial, but does it fairly and accurately represent the nature of the material we are asking students to learn? Do the lists convey any sense of context? Do they hint at the complex relationships that exist between and among items on the list?

I also worry that using PowerPoint encourages passivity. Well-designed PowerPoint presentations can be graphically impressive. They do add a great deal of interest and without question make it easier to listen and follow along. But do they encourage interaction? Do they promote critical thinking? Possibly, but often they make having discussions more difficult. The lights are partially dimmed and the seats arranged so that everyone focuses on the screen. Those aren’t features that foster the vibrant exchange of ideas.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Read more @

A ringing problem

Monday, July 30th, 2012

ANY move to allow children to take handphones to school was bound to be controversial. Even though the handphone has become mainstream in the last decade, the fact is unlimited access, even in the hands of adults, is controversial.

Admittedly, there are very few places to which adults cannot take their handphones (some government offices and foreign embassies are among them), but there are many places where the use of handphones is prohibited;  hospital wards, cinemas, airplanes, petrol stations and university examination halls, to name a few.

But, of course, just because there are large signs, announcements and even laws specifically stating that handphones are not to be used does not mean that adults, who should know better and be more disciplined, abide by them. So, it would be reasonable to assume that enforcing similar rules on children in schools would be about as difficult, if not more, given that school is where children are just learning about rules, and obeying or breaking them. So, when it was proposed that handphones be permitted in school starting from next year, teachers were right to be concerned about how to regulate its use. Teachers have enough difficulty getting students to concentrate on lessons, without the added communicational avenue the handphone provides. The deputy education minister says the move is to “provide a virtual learning environment so that students can use their gadgets to learn”. But it would be naive to assume that that is all the students will be using their phones for. In any case, in the cyberworld, learning cannot be limited to what is in the school syllabus. So, the ministry must realise to what it is consenting, and the burden it is placing on schools.

But still, the move is not without support. In a society where schoolchildren are out of their parents’ supervision from morning until early evening, the handphone may be the only way for parents to check on their children outside of school hours. But if this is the purpose of allowing handphones in school, then the rules for this privilege must be tailored for it. Students should only be allowed to have basic handphones, whose only function is to make calls and to send and receive SMSes. The phones should not have any camera, video or voice-recording capabilities, or Internet access.

Read more @

Use Of Mobile Phone In School Has More Negative Effects On Students – Perbit

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Mobile Phone Owners Association (Perbit) is not in favour of allowing students to use mobile phones in schools because it has more negative than positive effects.

Its president, Ali Ibrahim, said besides disrupting their studies, there was a possibility of students having telephone with Internet access abusing it to watch pornographic materials in school and this could encourage unhealthy activities, as well as bring negative effects on the society.

He said students would feel that they were free to surf the Internet and to contact anyone they want to.

“It gives a negative impact on students as there is a tendency that they will be carried away by the various forms of entertainment which can be found in the telephone.

“This may result in the students neglecting their studies,” he told Bernama here Friday.


Read more @

Safer technology in schools

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

IT IS important that we implement safe school policies and practices, in order to safeguard the health and development of children and help boost their interest in learning.

More scientists and medical doctors, many of whom work on the biological effects of wireless technologies, have voiced their concerns about the safety of wireless devices for schools.

The Austrian Medical Association, for example, recommended WiFi-free school environments.

Based on a report – Safe Schools - published in June, Dr Gerd Oberfeld, from the association, said WiFi environments would lead to high microwave exposure for students and teachers.

He added that it could also increase the burden of oxidative stress which in turn could slow down the energy production especially in brain cells. This could lead to concentration difficulties and memory problems in certain individuals.

Dr Igor Belyaev, the head research scientist, Cancer Research Institute, Slovak Academy of Science, Slovak Republic, said that the usage of WiFi and mobile phones in the classroom should be either forbidden or reduced as much as possible.

Several authorities have already advised limiting the usage of mobile communication by children and have called for their protection from wireless technologies.

In an appeal in 2002, medical doctors in Germany requested that a ban be imposed on mobile telephone and digital cordless telephone use in both preschools and schools.

This included a ban on mobile telephone use by children and restrictions on use by adolescents. They also called for education of the public, regarding the health risks of electromagnetic fields.

Prof Dr Alvaro Augusto A. de Salles of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, said that responsible governments should act firmly to avoid the use of mobile phones and WiFi in schools.

The reasons he said were due to the scientific evidence already available in various publications like the Bioinitiative report, Pathophysiology 2009, Interphone report, showing health risks even at low-level exposure to the non-ionizing radiation.

Instead of a wireless connection, he recommended other fixed connections such as twisted pairs, coaxial cables and optical fibres that should be made available for each student.

Read more @

A tough call to make

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

While the use of mobile phones in schools was allowed and later withdrawn some years ago, current feedback from students, teachers and parents has been encouraging although some parties have reservations.

THE ONE thing that Form Five student Marissa Rahman (not her real name) remembers to do when she arrives at school every morning is to switch off her smart phone after her parents drop her off at the school gate.

Then she walks over to keep the phone in a locker, one of many that were built after the ban on mobile phones in Marissa’s school was relaxed two years ago.

Marissa and her schoolmates who bring mobile phones to school, strictly abide by school rules as otherwise their phones will be confiscated.

The students are only allowed to retrieve their phones from the lockers, which are secured by two padlocks and monitored by three CCTV cameras, when school ends each day.

Despite the strict regulations imposed, Marissa believes the rules are fair since the students are allowed to bring their mobile phones to school.

“Having my mobile phone around gives me a sense of security as I can contact my parents easily whenever I have to stay back in school.

“We only have one public phone in the school compound which breaks down all the time and is not calibrated to accept new coins,” says Marissa, who is studying at a government school in the Klang Valley.

The principal of the school says the decision was made after taking into consideration the concerns of parents who worry about the safety of their children.

“The location of the school is in a secluded area and it gives me peace of mind to know that students can use their mobile phones to call for help if anything should happen to them,” says the principal.

The recent announcement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong to allow students to carry mobile phones and IT gadgets to school from next year has drawn mixed reaction from stakeholders such as teachers, parents, students and even the school administration.Students would be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school after rules and regulations under the Education Act 1996 were amended, he said.

The move, he said, was in line with the implementation of the virtual teaching and learning programme, dubbed 1Bestari which offered free WiFi services.

by Karen Chapman, Tan Ee Loo and Kang Soon Chen.

Read more @

No Mobile Phones To School Please! – PTA

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: — The Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) is against the Education ministry’s proposal to allow students to bring mobile phones to school, contending that it would have more negative than positive implications.

Its national chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan said students should not be allowed to bring any electronic gadgets to school, including mobile phones or iPad because this would not only distract them from their studies but also create an unhealthy ’show-off’ culture among them.

He further pointed to the possibility of such gadgets being illicitly used to make recordings, besides adversely affecting the students’ health in the long run.

“Mobile phones should not be allowed during school hours. If it is after school hours, that is up to the parents or guardians,” he told Bernama here, when asked to comment on the ministry’s decision to allow students to carry mobile phones or iPads to schools, beginning next year.


Read more @

Students can take handphones, IT gadgets to school from 2013

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

PUTRAJAYA: Students will be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school from next year after the rules and regulations under the Education Act 1996 are amended, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said Monday that such changes needed to be made to encourage educators and students to embrace information technology in the 21st century.

He said the move was in line with the Education Ministry’s move to implement the virtual teaching and learning programme – “1Bestari” – nationwide.

Based on a survey conducted by the Education Ministry, initial findings had showed varied views from the stakeholders such as principals, teachers, parents and students.

“When the 1Bestari is in place, you will get free wifi. We want to provide the virtual learning environment so that students can use their gadgets to learn and do their revision.

“The world is totally different now. This is a trend. We can’t stop that,” he told reporters after chairing the student discipline committee meeting in Putrajaya.

Currently, students are not allowed to bring mobile phones to school.

Dr Wee also invited the public to voice their views and opinions via the Education Ministry’s official Twitter account @1KemPelajaran.

Dr Wee said the draft of the amendments would be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers within a week, and that a “stringent” guideline on the use of electronic gadgets in school would be set up by the Education Ministry.

“The teaching and learning process must not be disrupted. The guideline will outline how we allow and when we allow the students to use the gadgets,” he said.

He added another factor that came into the picture was the safety of students, because parents would like to use mobile phone to contact their children after school.

by Tan Ee Loo.

Read more @

Turn on the light

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Like flipping on a switch in a dark room, the right use of technology in education can do wonders to produce great minds and holistic individuals.

OBSERVING a trainee teacher teaching during her practicum one day, got me thinking again on how schools and teaching have hardly changed. From the time I was in school many decades ago, till this day and age where everything is going “e”, teaching has yet to embark on real change.

When my trainee teacher took out her laptop, connected it to the projector, and started her PowerPoint presentation, I was glad to see how she used a simple application and made it “powerful” from the very start of her class.

Her induction set incorporated music, attracted her students and got them all interested. She then went online to explain a concept for her lesson that day. “Wow!” I thought, “Now that’s something!”

The students were engaged in the lesson which was conducted in a more interesting manner than the usual chalk and talk method.

Active engagement

Effective technology integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows can deepen and enhance the learning process.

In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts.

Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.

Technology changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means. It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student.

When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach.

by Dr.Termit Kaur Ranjit Singh.

Read more @

Use Of Computers In Education

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Computers, over the years have changed the way the world works. They have proved to be an asset not only for the corporate sector, but also in other sectors such as medicine and education. They are machines which help us do our jobs much quickly and accurately, as compared to physical work. Many people are keen to know the advantages and disadvantages of computers in education. In the next paragraph, let us understand how the use of computers in education has opened up brighter prospects and faster learning for us.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Computers in Education

Computers are the best way of teaching subjects to students. These days, all schools and colleges have computer labs where they receive practical training from their teachers. Computers assist teachers in teaching their students easily and quickly. With the help of computers and the broadband Internet facility, students can search for the concepts or things which they wish to know, by referring to relevant websites. The Internet is an ocean of information and surfing daily will increase the knowledge of these students greatly. Another advantage of computers is that the students will be able to gain knowledge of various subjects and things which are other than their school syllabus. Such form of receiving education is considered to be more effective than only learning from textbooks prescribed by the authorities. Understanding the role of computers in education is a must for all of us.

Use of computers in the classroom can help teachers to teach much more than they can do without them. The students can be shown charts, diagrams and figures while teaching practical oriented subjects such as Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Biology or Botany. Teachers can give many assignments to students which they can complete with the help of computer packages. Introduction of computers in educational institutes can help students learn different computer software and hardware, under the guidance of their teachers. For example, students will come to know which are the important parts of the computer, what are their functions and how does a computer actually work. They can learn the new packages and software tools early in life so that they can grasp vital concepts in higher studies comfortably. Importance of computer education is highlighted with the fact that computer literate students have a greater chance of grabbing the best jobs in the industry than those who do not have the required computer knowledge. Students need to be aware of all computer uses for their own benefit.

Use of computers in education does not end here. Many times, it happens that students are not able to enroll for degree courses which they are interested in due to lack of money or because the institute is far away from their residence. The introduction of distance learning has solved all these problems. The distance learning programs or online degree programs, which involve learning with the help of computers provides education at much affordable costs than the costs incurred on full-time training. Also, students living far off, in remote areas, need not travel several kilometers and come to the city as they can now learn from the comforts of their home provided they own a desktop computer with an Internet connection.

However, there are certain disadvantages of use of computers in education which we must beware of. Firstly, doing all calculations with the help of software and calculator can affect our own mathematical ability. In simple words, computers can make us a bit lazy and this can cause problems while giving examinations which are not conducted online, but need us to do all calculations by ourselves. With ready-made information available on the Internet, students will not take any interest in reading reference books and searching for information using other sources. Reading less can hamper their progress and educational future.

by Charlie S.

Read more @