What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the expression “high- tech” in the context of higher education? iPads? Blackboard? Notebook computers? Online classes? Course lectures on iTunes?
In this era of budget cuts, smart schools do whatever they can to keep efficient. Yesterday’s “Story of the Day” from NPR showed how a couple elementary charter schools in California make use of blended learning to improve instruction while saving money.
Blended learning, as the name suggests, is a combination of a computer-based lesson with traditional classroom instruction. When schools need to raise class sizes, one way to preserve individual attention is to divide the class into two parts—one on self-guided computers, the other in a small group with a teacher—and then swap half the time.
Not long ago we talked about the relative lack of academic credibility on Wikipedia.org. It’s clear why: Anyone with a computer and internet connection can edit Wikipedia articles. And while some scholars have lent their expertise to the site, a large number still read without contributing. Wikipedia is looking to attract more authoritative authors, and it looks like they’re getting some help from the Association for Psychological Science:
A New York Times article today looked at teachers who use Twitter and other “backchannel” technologies in the classroom to enhance participation. While most people (and educators) might be skeptical of the merits, Trip Gabriel points out the benefits that some teachers see in the form of increased student participation. He cites one high school class in Detroit where participation in a class of 30 was thought to be up around 66% when backchannels were used.
The other answer to the skeptics’ fears that having Twitter in class would negatively affect learning—as cited in a recent Pearson survey (PDF) by the Times—you are more likely to keep students on task if they are engaged with the technology for an educational purpose. The big argument of pro-backchannel users is that you harness students’ interest through technology instead of prohibiting it. While the hope that giving students freedom to do classwork through Twitter would make them less likely to use the technology for non-class purposes is a bit defeatist, it does strike me as a realistic way to properly incorporate social media in school. Instead of being afraid of technology or going retrograde in a society and economy where digital communication is increasingly important, everybody wins.
A while ago we talked about the Khan Academy, a free online education resource:
If I’d known about the Khan Academy in college, math class might have been less of a drag. The Khan Academy, which is now available as an iPhone web app, is a collection of video lessons primarily focused on mathematics, with a few other subjects thrown in. Salman Khan, the founder of the Academy, teaches most of the lessons, which range from quadratic functions to banking principles, and even brainteasers.
Mr. Khan recently appeared at the illustrious TED Talks to promote his idea of education through video. Watch:
Check out more posts on technology in education here.
Every so often, this blog takes a look at various websites that use Education 2.0 (read: web-based) technologies to provide learning opportunities and communities for students and teachers. Today, we look at TeachStreet, the self-described “online community for people who love to learn.”
What it does It allows would-be students to find thousands of courses in whatever subject interests them (cooking, piano, GMAT prep), either by connecting them to local teachers or online classes. Teachers are also given access to potential students and can post profiles and their subject areas of expertise. For added teacher marketing power, three different subscription options exist for recruitment and lead-generation. Students can see upcoming classes in their area (one sampling is at the bottom of the home page): Fitness, particularly yoga, seems big in Cleveland.
Your personal computer is one of the most important items you’ll bring to college (after an EasyBake Oven). You’re going to use that computer for everything, everyday, for four years, so it’s important to get the right one. And don’t forget to ask about student discounts.