Smart Learning In The Digital Age

Smart learning bases its foundation on smart devices and intelligent technologies. By tapping on these resources, we can create effective digital learning environments that offer convenience to learners and keep pace with the changing demands of the digital age. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Reasons Why You Should Conduct Assessments Online According To Students

More and more educators are transitioning from the traditional pen-and-paper exam to online exams in keeping up with the times. Not only does this benefit the teachers in making their jobs easy in correcting assessments and giving feedback, but the benefits are also equally shared by students who take them. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Helping Teachers Integrate Technology: The 5J Approach

How can we help teachers (or any novice technology user) better integrate technology into what they do? This article, written by Mary Burns several years ago, and based on research conducted by Mary and colleagues, promotes 5 strategies to promote better technology-related professional development. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Recommended Reading Summary: A Chapter of “Emerging Technologies for the Classroom”

In October, I posted some recommended reading that complemented one of my classes on gamification.  I’ve since started writing chapter summaries (here is the last article) so people can “preview” some of the great books out there and hopefully end up reading them!

Below is this month’s chapter summary.  Google Scholar features most of the chapter for free.  For the full text, here’s a Springer Link, which is free with subscription, or you can purchase the chapter or book.

Chapter 9: “Like, Comment, Share: Collaboration and Civic Engagement Within Social Network Sites,” by Greenhow and Lee, in Emerging Technologies for the Classroom: A Learning Sciences Perspective.

Social media and social networking sites allow individuals and groups to collaborate and learn together.  Social media has a different impact on the learning experience, compared to technology that is often utilized in the learning environment.  Students often use technology in the classroom for independent study or for research purposes.  Social media on the other hand supports research while also encouraging a learning process that is rich with peer to peer interaction.  Teaching and learning practices benefit from the collective knowledge that social technology provides.

Social media practices can facilitate new forms of collaborative knowledge construction.  It encourages civic engagement in broader communities of practice.  And social media can encourage an environment of trust, where individuals share information about themselves and their interests.  Establishing a level of trust within a social group can make the learning process more effective.  And cultivating a professional network can lead to opportunities above and beyond the learning experience.

A social networking site (SNS) is a web-enabled service through which individuals can maintain existing ties and develop new social ties with people outside their network.  Other examples of social media include media-sharing services like YouTube and Flickr, collaborative knowledge development through wikis, and creative works like blogs and microblogging.

There are opportunities to use social networking in both formal and informal learning settings – meaning social networking can be used regardless of whether learning objectives are determined for an experience.  Cultural and technological trends have sharply increased the amount of interest in social media, and access to technology is increasing as well.  Social network sites can bridge the gap between the formal learning environment of the classroom, and informal environments like afterschool programs or communities of practice.  They can also help instructors better understand the interests and backgrounds of their students, making it easier for them to cater to the students as individuals.

Social media can facilitate learning experiences through debate, allowing students to compare their opinions against those of a broader community.  It can also allow students more direct access to communities outside of their familiarity, such as people in other countries or industries.  This access can provide students with context and a better understanding of how the information they are learning applies to the world as a whole.

Students can use social media sites they are familiar with outside of school – Twitter and Facebook for example – to discuss what they are learning and gather information.  Using familiar social media tools may allow students a greater level of comfort during the learning process.  Instructors can also use specialized applications, such as learning management systems, to provide a more structured environment.  Instructors can use students’ activity feeds to monitor levels of engagement and adjust the curriculum accordingly.

The use of social media and social networking sites to facilitate learning aligns with the constructivism approach to learning design.  Students, teachers, and other parties take a flexible role within the social media space, often acting as mentors and mentees within the same setting.  All participants are encouraged to express interests and creativity, and collaborate to reach a collective goal.

Social media supports the exploration of realistic, complex problems because learning is taking place in the real world.  Learners can provide feedback through multiple channels and post questions or comments whenever they feel the need.  Research can be self driven and may incorporate multiple social media platforms if the learning environment allows it.

Using social media to facilitate a learning process comes with obstacles that educators should address in order to ensure the learning experience is successful.  It’s important that social media be applied with intention and vision, if it is meant to facilitate specific learning objectives.  Administrative vision and planning are critical.

Also critical is addressing online privacy and security concerns that relate to student usage.  Students may need to be taught how to responsibly and ethically use social media platforms.  The school culture must be accepting of collaboration and group activities in order for social media usage to be effective.  The evaluative environment in particular should emphasize digital literacies and competencies that align with the use of social media.

Instructors may choose to overcome challenges by partnering with library media specialists who have a greater familiarity with technology integration and information technologies.  It may also be beneficial to involve youth workers and other adults who can assist in extending instruction into the community.  Instructors may need to persuade school administrators to change policies involving social media – or instructors may choose to have students only use technologies outside of school hours.

Instructors may find it useful to prove the effectiveness of social media by collecting data related to learner engagement and the effect on desired outcomes.  Results can be shared with administrators and other parties in order to generate discussion about how a school’s policies and educational approaches should evolve to accommodate changes in technology.

If you need a learning technology platform that encourages social learning, check out Adobe Captivate Prime, which you can try for free.

The post Recommended Reading Summary: A Chapter of “Emerging Technologies for the Classroom” appeared first on eLearning.

Why A Chatbot Transforms The Learning Industry: Could Your Next Learning Buddy Be One?

Chatbots have become a part of our daily lives and they are already game changers in many industries such as healthcare, customer service and finance industries. They also have the potential to transform the education industry, including the way we learn. Could your next learning buddy be a chatbot? This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Moving on up

A few of my recent blog posts have started with a lyric from a track I’ve listened to on the radio or on my iPod. This is no different. This morning it’s the turn of the 1993 hit ‘Moving on up’ by M People.

‘Cause I’m movin’ on up, you’re movin’ on out
Movin’ on up, nothin’ can stop me
Movin’ on up, you’re movin’ on out
Time to break free, nothin’ can stop me, yeah

While I’m sure the original message of the track has nothing to do with my work, January or the winter blues, it did make me think back to the last 31 days of January. For me it’s about a tough (and very long) January moving on, a new (and cold) February arriving and being able to put some things behind me and concentrate on some new, invigorating work to come.

Here are a few thoughts and articles I’ve read and/or talked about:

  • Foldable phones … will these have the same hype afforded to curved TVs, and eventually be seen for what they are: technologically advanced, but actually pretty useless?
  • I started following and reading articles by Melissa Milloway on LinkedIn, in her series ‘This Side Up’. Her latest one is a list of seven resources she finds useful when looking at and thinking about eLearning.
  • Details of the Senior CMALT (#SCMALT) scheme was released in January, which is of direct interest to me in my new role(s) … it is “aimed at more experienced professionals and those whose role includes management/leadership or research focus.”
  • I had a couple of days intensive workshops with colleagues from a partner institution at the Australian Deakin University, working on our joint fully-online PG Cert in Entrepreneurship. Wonderful to meet face-to-face and spend time with people who so far have only been on webinars, skype calls or emails. While working and collaborating remotely together can be very productive and useful (see below), nothing beats being in the same room!
  • The topic of remote working, working from home, or ‘location independent working (LIW)’ keeps coming up again and again. The recent bad weather (by the UKs standards) has meant the need to be flexible in whether myself or colleagues can get to work, so we need to carefully consider how we’ll continue to work and collaborate when not in the same room.
  • This from Australia, posted to the WonkHE website, discusses the themes and benefits (or pitfalls?) of microcredentials“The world of education is changing and changing fast. The era of the microcredential is upon us and now governments and regulators have to scramble to catch up. But as far as I can see, it’s good news for consumers who will not be hidebound to a particular institution or qualification and will be able to mix and match courses to suit their interests, budgets and emerging careers.”
  • I thought about meetings, and whether they’re always necessary or useful. What are your thoughts?
  • Is there a correlation between learning design and student wellbeing?
  • Reading Lorna Campbell’s post learning to love your blog, which led me to revisit an old idea, and . …
  • A new idea for a series of blog posts, maybe one a month or maybe even more regular. More soon as I flesh out the ideas …
  • My last highlight is this, posted by Jane Hart, about three smart things top performers do to stand out at work.

How was your January?

Image source: Roel Wijnants (CC BY-NC-2.0)