Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Education Remix: Unlocking Creativity to Boost Learning

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

When considering the major advances in communication — from the printing press, to the telephone, to the television — each medium shared the characteristic of allowing either one-to-one communication or one-to-many communication. But social media changed all that. For the first time in history “many” can speak to “many,” and this has radically changed our world.

People are just starting to understand the fundamental transformation in communication that has occurred during the past five years, and some educators don’t believe in the power that social media can bring to learning. They think of social media as students sharing personal information on Facebook. But many students are well beyond that in using social media as a combination entertainment/learning device.

One example is through the new remix culture. Not only do ordinary people create videos that are viewed by millions on YouTube, but when they become popular others soon create remixed versions that interpret it in their own way. For instance, there are scores of remixed versions of “Charlie Bit My Finger” floating around YouTube. Each revises certain elements to apply the central themes to some other area, such as work, sports, etc., thus making it their own.

While fun to create, a remix also can be used as a learning activity. A group of medical students did a remix of Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” that they titled “Diagnosis Wenckebach.” Wenckebach is a cardiac arrhythmia, and the resulting video has been viewed by millions. It is now being used by medical students around the world to learn about the condition.

Creating the video was a learning activity. The students who developed it had to fully understand the condition and how it is treated in order to create a coherent and accurate narrative that fits the melody, as well as elements of the original theme.

Remixing is also a fundamentally creative process, as the creator must develop links between two different topics. The process forces the creator to see the topic from new perspectives. This gets to the very heart of creativity, and even genius. Many great scientific breakthroughs were a result of connecting seemingly dissimilar elements. For instance, Einstein came up with his General Theory of Relativity when he saw workers on a roof outside of his window and imagined what would happen if one fell off.

One simple way to use remixing in your classes is to provide extra credit to students who develop a short video that reinterprets some part of popular culture in a way related to the class subject. The original can be a song, commercial, movie, etc. Students can also remix elements of photographs or text.

Consider how remixing can foster engagement, creativity, and learning in your classes.

by John Orlando.

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The Trouble with Facebook’s ‘See Friendship’ Feature

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Facebook normally catches flack for making private information available to advertisers. But last month, the social-networking site with half a billion users quietly added a feature that makes your private information available to the friends of your friends, which may be a much more nefarious group. A button called “See Friendship” aggregates onto a single page all of the information that two friends share: photos both people have been tagged in, events they have attended or are planning to attend, comments they have exchanged, etc. To see this stuff, you need only be “friends” with one of the people. So let’s say I’ve turned down an ex-boyfriend’s request for friendship; he can still peruse my pictures or trace my whereabouts by viewing my interactions with our mutual pals.

The “See Friendship” feature was launched by Facebook developer Wayne Kao, who credited his inspiration to the joy of browsing through friends’ photos. “A similarly magical experience was possible if all of the photos and posts between two friends were brought together,” he wrote on the Facebook blog. “You may even see that moment when your favorite couple met at a party you all attended.”

(See pictures from inside Facebook headquarters.)

The problem with that, according to the more than 3,800 users who have joined a Facebook group demanding to be given the ability to opt out of the feature, is that the couple might not want friends of friends seeing that moment. They might not even want many people to know they’re a couple. Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto professor who studies social networks and real-life relationships, thinks Facebook developers don’t understand the fundamental difference between life online and offline. “We all live in segmented, diversified worlds. We might be juggling girlfriends, jobs or different groups of friends,” he says. “But [Facebook thinks] we’re in one integrated community.” (Comment on this story.)

In this era of “media convergence” — when GPS and wireless devices are colluding to make one’s offline location known in the virtual world — friendship pages allow you to see an event your nonfriend has RSVP’d to or a plan he or she made with your mutual pal. At best, “See Friendship” is an invasion of privacy (one disgruntled user likened the feature to having sex on a football field in broad daylight). At worst, “it brings cyberstalking to a new level,” says Kevin Wright, a professor of computer-mediated communication at the University of Oklahoma. “We’re just beginning to see the toll this is taking on people.”

(Watch a video of quick and easy Facebook tricks.)

And then there’s the already gnawing problem of Facebook, one this new feature will only exacerbate: seeing all the fun your friends are having without you. “You’re making a normally ambiguous situation very concrete,” says Wellman. “People don’t call you up and say, ‘Hey, we’re not calling you.’”

by Lisa Selin Davis.

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Get noticed with a projector

Sunday, October 24th, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: Whether in a classroom, training room or auditorium, a projector can help enhance presentations and captivate the audience.However, how do you select a projector that can take you a long way in terms of usage?

Look for a model with an advanced LED light source such as Samsung’s F Series projector, the F10M, said Yap Chee Chen, Samsung Malaysia’s product manager for large format display.
“LED provides bright, high-quality light which is important when you want presentations to be vivid to everyone in a room. The F10M performs at an 1,000 ANSI lumens offering brighter, clearer and more colourful projection.”

Also, he said, it does not require lamp replacement and is mercury-free, making it eco-friendly as well.

“The F10M has the lowest total cost of ownership with 50,000 hours of lamp life.
“The LED light source is capable of maintaining its brightness over the entire life of the projector. Powered eight hours a day, the projector has a lifespan of more than 10 years.”

Another advantage of the LED technology, Yap said, is that the projector needs less time to warm up and cool down, enabling a safer operating temperature for the duration of its life.

“The projector also takes less than three seconds to turn on and off which is crucial when you need to present information.”
Projector noise is another vital point to consider, said Yap.

“You certainly don’t want your presentation to be hindered by a noisy projector. This is another reason why the F10M is ideal.”

To ensure perfect projection, it features Auto Keystone Correction which automatically adjusts image distortion and stretching due to incorrect projector placement.

The F10M, optimised for business purposes supports various formats — PDF, TXT, HTML, MPEG, JPEG, Power Point, Word, Excel and movies — and has a variety of features. These include office viewer, remote management, convenient screen controlling and easy picture adjustments. It has eight user-setting display modes — dynamic, standard, presentation, text, movie, game, bright and user to provide clear and lively image quality.

Users can easily select the optimal display mode with the remote controller. Users can hook up all their multimedia gadgets with input options that include 1HDMI, S-video, USB, and PC ports.

by Chandra Devi Renganayar.

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ICT to be prime mover in teaching process

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday launched the Information, Technology and Communications in Education Policy which aims to make ICT the prime mover in the teaching and learning process.He said the policy would be carried out through a centralised management programme to co-ordinate all ICT in education initiatives.

In ensuring its effectiveness, Muhyiddin said the new policy would be supported by four components, which include Third Party Outsourcing, Public-Private Partnership, the involvement of Communities of Practice as well as Extended Communities.
The policy is already in place in many developed countries and their benchmarking tool would also focus on eight main areas of education.

“These practices, which will be used as benchmarks, will ensure that all components of ICT in Malaysia’s education system meet international standards.

“This policy, which is a continuation of the Smart School initia-tive, emphasises the use of technology as the tool to promote creati-vity, learning through cooperation, critical thinking and problem solving.
“It will merge and coordinate with all existing ICT initiatives, such as the SchoolNet, the Computer Laboratory, the EduWebTV, Access Centre and also other ICT initiatives which would be implemented in future with the aim of raising the performance of the students,” said Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, after launching the policy here, yesterday.

by Farrah Naz Karim.

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SchoolNet bridges digital divide

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Schools are being connected to the broadband infrastructure as part of the Government’s efforts to develop a world-class education system and produce a knowledge-based nation.

BACK in 2004, the then Energy, Water and Communications Ministry mooted the idea of setting up SchoolNet, a virtual private network that provides broadband Internet connection to schools in the country as the latest approach to provide learning facilities beyond the classroom. This initiative was part of efforts to realise the Govern­ment’s aspirations to develop a world-class education system and produce a knowledge-based nation. It was also meant to bridge the digital divide and information gap between schools in urban and rural areas.

GITN Sdn Bhd (GITN), a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia (TM) which offers infrastructure, hardware and software to government agencies, was mandated as the project manager to roll out SchoolNet via its Internet Virtual Private Network.

Since then, five SchoolNet schools in Cyberjaya, 20 in Putrajaya and one in Muar have been wired up via fibre optic (Fibre-to-the-School or FTTS) infrastructure, which provides a broadband connection of 10Mbps. The teaching and learning applications riding on the 10Mbps Internet connection include podcasting, video conferencing and SchoolZone Portal. In future, the infrastructure is expected to be expanded to accommodate 10 gigabyte speeds.

The SchoolNet infrastructure is delivered through three technologies – asymmetric digital subscriber line, wireless and very small aperture terminal technology.

As the broadband infrastructure provider for the project, TM also showcased teaching and learning applications such as podcasting and video conferencing with Sekolah Seri Puteri and the SchoolZone portal. It also demonstrated how to manage a local area network, which is a computer network covering a small area.

SchoolNet’s applications include e-mail and newsgroup, remote access application, file transfer application, information distribution application and information search application.

It provides quick access to online education information as well as interactive communications, enabling students to exchange data and information with other users in the network.

The teachers in all SchoolNet schools can use the infrastructure to provide a richer, more effective, more interactive and advanced experience for students.

The webportal for SchoolNet, known as SchoolZone, was introduced two years ago.

Students and teachers can look for information on other schools and SchoolNet, enhance the sharing of information and news about their schools and communicate with each other as well as optimise the role of specialised teachers in the country. The portal also enables teachers to share their teaching and learning modules with each other.

To ensure full utilisation of SchoolNet, a school adoption programme called GITN TechnoGogy Learning in Schools (GTL Schools) was initiated in collaboration with the Education Ministry two years ago. GTL schools have SchoolNet facilitators who educate students, teachers and communities on ICT applications and how they can use ICT to teach and learn.

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Many in the dark over content code

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
MANY Internet users are still oblivious to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code.

The Content Code provides detailed guidelines for different media from advertisement to Internet and was released to the public in 2004. It contains several general principles including making sure that the content will not be indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person as stipulated under Section 211 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The code also stressed on respecting diversity.

Another no-no is spreading materials that can offend good taste or decency; be offensive to public feeling; encourage crime, lead to disorder or is abusive or threatening in nature.

It also stated: “There should be no discriminatory material or comment based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status or physical or mental handicap”.

The code does acknowledge that every person has a right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms as stipulated in the Federal Constitution and other relevant statutes.

Still, no one is above the Malaysian laws as legal action can be taken against offenders, including those involved in sedition, pornography, defamation and breaching of intellectual properties.

For any complaint found to have breached the code, the Complaints Bureau may impose fines and other penalties, namely issue a written reprimand, impose a fine of not more than RM50,000 and/or require removal of the content or cessation of the offending act.

The bureau may also refer the offending party to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for further action deemed necessary.

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SchoolNet enables the sharing of knowledge

Monday, September 27th, 2010
THE SchoolNet network infrastructure was implemented in 2004 to equip up to 10,000 schools with broadband Internet access through a virtual private network.The then Energy, Water and Communications Ministry mooted the idea.

GITN Sdn Bhd (GITN), a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia (TM) that offers infrastructure, hardware and software to government agencies, was mandated as the project manager to roll out SchoolNet via its Internet Virtual Private Network.
GITN provides the infrastructure through three technologies — asymmetric digital subscriber line, wireless and very small aperture terminal technology — and provides broadband connectivity.

SchoolNet’s applications include email and newsgroup, remote access application, file transfer application, information distribution application and information search application.

It provides quick access to online education information as well as interactive communication.
Students can exchange data and information with other users in the network.

The teachers in all SchoolNet schools can use the infrastructure to provide a richer, more effective, interactive and advanced experience to students.

The webportal for SchoolNet, known as SchoolZone, was introduced two years ago.
Students and teachers can search for information about other schools and SchoolNet, share information and news about their schools and communicate with one another.

Teachers can also share their interactive learning and teaching modules with each other.

The schools can use the portal to communicate with other communities in SchoolZone.

A SchoolZone facilitator will train information technology teachers to use the portal.

To ensure full utilisation of SchoolNet, two years ago, a school adoption programme called GITN TechnoGogy Learning in Schools (GTL Schools) was initiated in collaboration with the Education Ministry.

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E-readers are good news for bookworms

Monday, September 13th, 2010

PETALING JAYA: Good news for bookworms – you can now read up to 2,000 books or more at any one time.

This is made possible through the availability of many brands of electronic e-readers which are not only environmentially-friendly but space-saving too.

MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Donald Kee said e-readers could help resolve the problem of students having to lug heavy school bags.

“E-readers are popular in many advanced countries. It is common to see people reading them on public transport,” he told The Star.

In Malaysia, most buyers are urbanites aged between 25 and 35 years.

Malaysian Nature Society president Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor however said it is a misconception that e-readers protect forests because books are usually made from trees grown on plantations,

“We support e-readers as it’s good to use less paper.

“However, many older people might prefer reading from a traditional book,” he said.

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Gainful gaming

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Computer games need not be just an after-school activity — it could also motivate students to learn.

The past decade has been the decade of online social networks, where Internet users could connect with each other, wherever they are.

The next decade will see the rise of what is called game dynamics.

Game dynamics has always been a part of our lives and for a long time, has been determining many of our actions that we assumed were independently and consciously made to suit our own purposes.

Petrol stations attract repeat customers by giving prizes and rewards to those who accumulate points to a certain level, using an aspect of game dynamics called Progression Dynamics.

Bars and hotels control your movements so that you are present at a certain time and at their premises in order to enjoy the benefits of happy hour, banking on Appointment Dynamics.

How can we apply game dynamics to subtlely infuse new ideas and motivations that will transform our education system?

Let’s start playing with game dynamics and discover how it could change the way students view and interact with education.

Appointment Dynamics can be used by teachers to ensure students actually revise and look through material that had been learnt in the classroom.

For example, a small window of a few hours can be given after school, during which students could SMS or email with answers to specific questions that are sent during that window.

Students will need to have access to their learning material at home in order to answer these questions.

The points derived from just participating could lead to a chance to further improve their standing on a class or school achievers list.

This is based on Collective Intelligence (CI), which harnesses the collective brain power of team members to solve problems and create novel knowledge.

This coming decade will see very innovative software taking over the roles of consultants and advisors, and providing real time, just-in-time intelligence for decision makers, based on automated CI software.

In other words, what I am talking about is not just games as an after-hours activity for students. With the right support, this powerful brain and learning-shaping tool could be brought directly into the classroom.

Just imagine, instead of teachers chasing after students and punishing, bribing, rewarding, scolding them to learn, students will be chasing after teachers to explain lesson modules that they need to understand in order to solve quests.

From a neuroscientific point of view, learning occurs best when the brain is not trying to learn.

The focus becomes the game itself, and the content mastery becomes a tool that has to be utilised for one to progress to the next level.

Even though this will sound very fishy to old-timers — who will say, “I studied with no technology and I turned out fine!” — remember, this is the 21st century.

by Dr. Theva Nithy.

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How Internet habits can change the brain

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

DOES the medium massage your brain or is your head just changing shape?

There’s a growing debate about the Internet, how it shapes or doesn’t shape your brain. This concern has been growing since research shows that the Internet opens new pathways in your head. And what is it actually doing to it?

This is a serious question now that we are so constantly glued to the screen, even if it’s a tiny one. People are constantly twittering, and constantly pulling over to the lay-bys of conversations without as much as a by your leave vis-a-vis the person he or she is talking to in order to answer a text message, and the younger ones are deep into something on their newfangled all-connecting mobile phones when they are out lunching with adults, perhaps they are checking ingredients on Wikipedia, perhaps they are interconnecting on their Facebook. Last Friday I caught a man stealing furtive glances at his silenced mobile phone while the imam was sermonising in the mosque; he was probably expecting a message from God.

Of the fears expressed by those who have looked at the Internet’s effects on the mind — Nicholas Carr most notably, in his book The Shallows — the one most often expressed is the loss of our ability for deep thought. Our brain is a neuroplastic blob, we have long been aware of this, its hundred billion cells are constantly sending charges through synapses that become strengthened through constant exercise. Take London cab drivers for instance, they have to do what they call in their parlance the Knowledge, and this means taking into their minds a complete road map of London, knowing every shortcut, every landmark and prominent place. No surprise then when Eleanor Maguire, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of London, discovered that they have all developed a bulge in the saptial memory department of their hippocampus.

The Internet leads to a new way of looking up information, with its lures and sidetracks and hyperlinks that take you from A to Z and then back to D. It may develop new pathways in the user’s brain, for instance the ability to look at many things at once. But if you cast your eyes — and mind — over a wide range of things all at once, how many things can you really look at in depth?

Carr’s concern about the Internet is exactly that: that it turns its users into shallow thinkers. By jumping from one topic to another, from one link to the next, the user’s mind is often entangled in unconnected thoughts, multitasking, not focusing. You do not multitask in that way when you are reading a book. Carr said in an interview that he was “connected” while writing the book, but it made his work very hard.

“So, I abandoned my Facebook and Twitter accounts and throttled back on email so I was only checking a couple of times a day rather than every 45 seconds. I found those types of things really did make a difference,” he told Mark Egan of Reuters.

Many people will be familiar with the withdrawal symptoms from doing just that. Carr said that his mind became “befuddled” after he disconnected, but fighting it gave him back the ability to stay focused for a sustained period and finish his work.

The Internet is not an entirely bad thing, of course. It has given us short cuts to many of life’s work, quick access to instant knowledge. Dr Gary Small who conducted some research with a team of psychiatrists at the UCLA found that even in old people the brain responds to stimulation to this new technology. And then he says (as quoted in last Friday’s Guardian) something that may well be the nub of Carr’s argument: “If you have repeated stimuli, your neural circuits will be excited. But if you neglect the other stimuli, other neural circuits will be weakened.”

by Wan A. Hulaimi.

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