Archive for the ‘Educational Technologies’ Category

Head in the Clouds? Ten Free Web 2.0 Tools to Support Faculty Research

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Twenty-first Century research is increasingly becoming reliant on information and communication technologies to address systemic and distinct educational problems through greater communication, interaction, and inquiry. Research is an interactive inquiry process. In many instances this involves interaction with people. We also interact with technology and through technology to improve our educational practice. Practitioner research seeks to understand the underlying causes enabling personal and organizational change (Reason & Bradbury, 2001).

Increasingly more researchers are integrating Web 2.0 technologies with research methods (data driven instruction) as they examine barriers and potential solutions for systemic issues in their individual educational practice. However, while there are a multitude of tools, which tools are appropriate?

Web 2.0 refers to a second generation of web development and design that facilitates communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A central characteristic of Web 2.0 or “Cloud Computing” is the ability of the users to own and exercise control over the data on the web (Page & Ali, 2009). Web 2.0 tools are enabling people from the distant corners of the globe to effectively communicate and construct knowledge, troubleshoot common enigmas, and collaborate in ways that give their previously unheard voice more than a mere echo or some false illusion of truth on the horizon.

Practical examples of researchers integrating Web 2.0 technologies include music educators who combined action research methods and technology to describe the experiences of students and teachers, Welch, Howard, Himonides, and Brereton (2005). Meanwhile, Strong-Wilson (2008) used action research methods to explore how the role of new media technologies and innovative pedagogical approaches in professional development. These teachers were promoting a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and were encouraged to share their thoughts on the adoption and resistance of technology.

by G. Andrew Page, PhD.

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Virtual Classrooms: A Combination of Technology, Fun and Enhanced Learning

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

There have been innovative concepts introduced in the field of education so that learning becomes all the more fun and the learner has a sense of achievement. With the increased pace of World Wide Web, education is no more limited to a small classroom. The whole concept of education has observed a change of how learning was imparted. The confines of a classroom no more exists, education is now a global phenomenon wherein a person sitting in any part of the world can have access to educational institutes or colleges situated thousands of miles apart. The advent of Internet has surely revolutionized education and learning in a big way.

Are You Aware About Virtual Classroom/Virtual Education?

Education imparted through the means of Internet can be broadly referred to as virtual education. The characteristic feature of virtual education is that the teachers as well as the learners are separated by geographical constraints and lessons are imparted online or in a virtual classroom. In a virtual classroom, traditional classroom education is combined with technological advancements to give a product called e-learning or online learning.

Features of Virtual Classroom:

Virtual classrooms have certain important underlying features which makes it all the more unique. They are as follows:

  • Established on a virtual environment, World Wide Web, therefore rightly adjudged as ‘virtual’.
  • Education is not confined to the area of a classroom.
  • Omnipresence, as far as the Internet can reach.
  • Ease of learning.
  • Reach out to high number of people.
  • Blend of technology and traditional classroom.

In a virtual classroom the lecturer / teacher can deliver the lectures, conduct exams enter into an interactive question and answer session with the students undergoing a particular course. So, virtual classroom acts as a platform that brings together, teachers as well as students from different locations. So the learner has the benefit in a virtual classroom that he could choose the best teachers for a particular online course.

The virtual classrooms are conducted in the same manner as the traditional classrooms are carried out. In a virtual classroom, the student has the freedom to interact simultaneously to many students unlike the traditional classroom. So virtual classes are more interactive than their traditional counterparts. The graphics, animations of the lectures in the virtual classroom make it interesting and high on fun quotient. As a result of this, the effectiveness of the online education is more. It makes the complex topics very easy to comprehend and remember.

Real time learning is the keyword of virtual classrooms, although students can submit the routine tasks or assignments by mailing them to the concerned teacher. Virtual classrooms make usage of discussion forums, chat groups, social media and various blogs to enhance interaction between students and teachers. Virtual classrooms are best for those people who do not have the time to go and attend the regular courses or are working but have the intent to study further.

Virtual classrooms are beneficial for the students as well as the teachers in the sense that, all the lessons imparted, tests, discussions and course related documents are all recorded and stored. So it becomes easy for a student to refer to what was discussed or taught on a particular day. So accessing information becomes easy. Also, the student can refer to any course material any number of times. Virtual classrooms can include both synchronous learning and asynchronous learning.

Synchronous learning is when the teacher and the student are present real-time. Live lectures, online chat come under synchronous learning. While in asynchronous learning, interaction is not real-time but rather it is through e-mails.

Education through virtual classrooms has its own advantages. A student can at any point of time and anywhere have access to the course and content. In case of absenteeism, a student can refer to what was taught in the classroom session as all the sessions are recorded. Through a virtual classroom a teacher finds it easier to monitor the progress of the learner, so as to understand whether more training is required or not on a particular topic. Assignment submission has become all the easier with the advent of online learning.

by Ian Bell.

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How Technology Can Improve Learner-Centered Teaching

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

For faculty looking to create a more learner-centered environment there are always a few bumps in the road. First they need to get used to no longer being the “sage on the stage” and then there’s the adjustment period for students who aren’t used to being active participants in their learning.

In many ways, technology can help pave the way for both faculty and students, but only if the instructor “is adept at creating a course that capitalizes on the pedagogical benefits that technology facilitates in helping students meet the desired learning outcomes for the course,” said Ike Shibley, associate professor of chemistry at Penn State – Berks. In other words, technology for the sake of technology is never good.

In the recent online seminar Learner-Centered Technology: Aligning Tools with Learning Goals, Shibley provided a roadmap for matching technological tools to course learning outcomes. Grounded in the five core principles of learner-centered teaching, Shibley explained specific ways technology can be used to get students to interact with course content in an engaging and productive fashion.

Here are some of the ways technology can help satisfy the goals of a learner-centered classroom:

1. Shift the balance of power toward the learner: Interactive online assignments can help facilitate the transfer of power and give students opportunities to practice mastering the material at their own pace. The technologies that support these activities could include wikis, online quizzes, blogs and discussion boards.

2. Use content to organize activities: Students appreciate a structured, logical flow to their courses, and how you organize your assignments and activities can go a long way in minimizing confusion. The technologies that support how you organize and communicate course materials and expectations could include an online syllabus, the learning management system, and email notifications of important due dates.

3. Think of teaching as facilitating learning: Teaching with technology enables the instructor to create learning experiences that complement each other whether the students are working on an assignment online or meeting in a face-to-face environment. The technologies that support this goal include online homework, clickers and surveys.

4. Responsibility for learning rests with the learner: Learner-centered teaching means creating assignments that allow students to practice building connections with the material, and evaluate their learning. The technologies that can be used to help students take ownership of their learning include blogs, wikis, online quizzes, and VoiceThread.

5. Evaluation provides a way to foster learning:

by Mary Bart.

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New online supplement from Maxis

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

MAXIS Bhd and the Education Ministry recently embarked on a smart partnership to provide secondary schools with free access to Maxis’ education service.

The service, which utilises available school ICT infrastructure, is a supplementary online learning service which encourages different learning styles. Its content is based on the official education curriculum.

The partnership was initiated at an inaugural three-day workshop in Kuala Lumpur recently, which was attended by 120 principals and teachers from 30 schools.

During the workshop, teachers and principals experienced and explored Maxis’ learning solution and were shown ways to integrate it into their day-to-day teaching.

To create more excitement around the service, Maxis also introduced a challenge for participants, divided into two categories: the school challenge and student challenge.

The challenge, scheduled to end on March 1 next year, will see winning schools presented with prizes worth up to RM10,000 per school and RM1,000 per student.

The programme will initially be implemented at 100 schools, with plans to extend the service to 2,300 schools nationwide.

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Educational Uses of Facebook and Twitter

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Social networking seems to be absolutely everywhere. Students these days can’t seem to go five minutes without checking their Facebook or Twitter streams. Harnessing this technology can be difficult for teachers, especially because they didn’t grow up with it themselves, but it can be a necessary tool for success in the classroom. From simply sharing information to creating projects using these sites, social networking in the classroom is powerful and should be used.

Spreading Information

Students are signing into their Facebook and Twitter accounts more than they’re checking their e-mail, and definitely more than they’re checking the school website. If you can create an account that your students can follow, you can share information and important reminders with them quickly, and you can be sure they’re getting the message. Facebook and Twitter allow you to upload videos, link to documents, and share other great resources with your students. They’re checking it already, so why not add a bit of education to your students’ streams? If they need help in doing their homework, they can go to your page and find a video tutorial you’ve uploaded. If they need an extra reminder to study for a big test, they’ll get it by looking at your updates or checking a message from you. If they have a question that isn’t answered on the site, they can easily tweet you on Twitter or message you on Facebook. With all the mobile apps available, this can be useful for students without computers or teachers who can’t stay logged in to their e-mail all the time.


Using Twitter and Facebook to create projects can be really fun, and can require more critical thinking than other projects or even writing a paper. For English teachers, a favorite project is to have the students create a Facebook or Twitter profile of a character in a book. This can be a great group project, too, if each student in the group takes a different character and creates different profiles. Then, they can friend or follow each other and comment or respond to the updates. This shows they truly understand the characters and their use of language. This project can be easily adapted for history, as well, by having the students choose an important historical figure they have studied in class and doing the same thing. For science, math or other subjects, you can use this as a research project for students to research famous scientists or mathematicians and create their profiles.


As a teacher, you will definitely want to use caution when employing social networking. If you have a personal Facebook or Twitter account, you will want to think about creating an account just for teaching and keeping it separate. Your students definitely do not need to know about your personal life, and keeping that separate can be very important to not blur lines in the teacher-student relationship.

by Buzzle Staff and Agencies.

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Tablet Computer Tips for Educators

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Many schools are giving teachers tablet computers to help them in the classroom. Tablet computers are like laptops, so teachers can take them home to work. This is a great benefit for many teachers, especially if they do not have regular access to a computer at home. It can allow teachers to take work home, or email students from home, or just spend some time planning and perfecting lessons. It is certainly a great convenience for teachers to have these computers, and if you do have one, you definitely want to make the most of it.

What makes a tablet computer different from a regular computer?

Tablet computers are very similar to normal computers in that you can use them for the Internet, word processing, and for saving files to the hard drive. You can also install programs on them that will allow you to do everything a regular computer would allow you to do. However, tablet computers usually do not include a CD or DVD drive, but you can connect one of these externally through the USB ports. Tablet computers also have touch screens, which means you can open programs and scroll through web pages with your fingers. Finally, on tablet computers, you can flip the screen around and lay it flat over the keyboard which allows you to use it like you might use an iPad. Tablet computers come with a stylus, and you can use this to draw or handwrite in one of the programs on the screen.


The handwriting feature can be used in many ways in the classroom. You can have students email you papers or homework assignments, and you can write directly on them without having to waste paper or carry around stacks of homework. You can also take notes on the screen as the students are calling out suggestions or answers, similar to how you would do it on a whiteboard, but with the tablet computer, you don’t have to ever turn your back to the class. Also, once the notes are complete, you can save them and upload them for students to check later, or you can print them out for those students who were absent.

Wireless Connectivity

If you are fortunate enough to have wireless connectivity to a projector in your classroom, you can take notes on your tablet computer while walking around the room. This will help you keep an eye on your students while ensuring they are engaged in the lesson. You can also do PowerPoint or Prezi presentations from all around the room, rather than sitting behind your desk. This can be essential in keeping students with you and learning at all times. If you have wireless connectivity to a projector, you can also pull up many different programs and create multimedia lessons that your students will really enjoy. These wireless connections are very expensive, though, so if you have it, you are fortunate.

Tablets for Students

Students can also benefit from tablet computers because they can do all of this and more with them. They can take notes during class and save them on the computer. Then, their documents are searchable. They will no longer have to deal with messy or nonexistent folders in their backpacks with papers sprouting every which way.

by Buzzle Staff and Agencies.

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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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