Conclusion

In conclusion, digital media plays a crucial part in people’s everyday lives, thus it has also impacted upon education.

Only time will tell whether children will continue chanting Pink Floyd’s classic “Another brick in the wall”, sitting behind a desk with four walls around them, or maybe learn by themselves from interactive Apps on tablets. One thing is sure – the digital world has changed society and school needs to adapt to the new pace of development, in order to still keep the attention of children and prepare them for life – and this will preferably happen with more visual content, interactive tools and personal contact through collaboration and group work.

The following video is my favourite one about education and changing the system:

 

I enjoyed writing a blog over the semester and may continue to do it. It has been a fascinating experience and I got acquainted with numerous other blogs and writings. This allowed me to gain more in-depth knowledge of the subject, learn new and interesting facts and get to find out about more platforms and opportunities. So in personal practice and experience, I can conclude that blogging has a positive effect on the learning of an individual.

Thank you very much for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Mariya

Educational Blogging

Blog – according to the Oxford dictionary, it is defined as “a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis”. Coming from the words ‘web’ and ‘log’, it is essentially a regular post uploaded online.

 

 

 

With the advance of new technology and the Internet, the public has transformed from a consumer (just taking in information, not giving feedback) to a creator or a contributor. User-generated content is rising (Pewinternet), making it possible to people to express their opinions, expand their social networks. And according to a Pewinternet statistic, 14% of users who create content are bloggers.

Naturally, this type of writing has been adopted also in education – in fact, this blog is my coursework for the Digital media platforms and practices module at my university.

 

As the table shows, 40% of surveyed teachers said that they make students develop and write in websites, wiki and blogs. In the same research 64% of the English/languages educators informed that digital tools have made teaching writing easier than it was before – it shows the way students are thinking and it encourages them to edit their own and their friends’ writing, thus improving their skills through practice.

Also, according to responses by students in this article, many of them would not have an issue turning in a poor paper to their tutor, however, if they know their peers are going to be able to read what they have written online, pupils will do their best. This contributes to the general quality of writing.

Since blogs feature a person’s chosen angle on a topic and their own opinions, children would generally be more interested in reading around the subject – something that cannot always happen with regular essays, hand-written on paper. Keeping a blog will thus be helpful in order for the students to deepen their knowledge on the specific subject and think of creative ways of expanding the content and enhancing the reader-experience with enjoyable varieties of media.

Examples for blogs with creative topics and presentation are of some of my course mates: Ana’s focuses on consumer generated content, Robert’s, whose topic is books and Iulia’s, which centres on travel.

Sources:

http://www.aweber.com/blog-newsletters.htm

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/02/11/vala2010-connections-content-conversations/

http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/07/16/part-v-teaching-writing-in-the-digital-age/

http://learningthroughdigitalmedia.net/blogging-course-texts-enhancing-our-traditional-use-of-textual-materials

http://julesdigitaltrip.wordpress.com/

http://books-go-digital.blogspot.co.uk/

http://annahalat.wordpress.com/

 

Further reading

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/educational-blogging

http://learningthroughdigitalmedia.net/socializing-blogs-a-guide-for-beginners

http://learningthroughdigitalmedia.net/when-teaching-becomes-an-interaction-design-task-networking-the-classroom-with-collaborative-blogs

Collaboration and group work

 

As discussed in our lecture about collaboration, making decisions together and working in groups gives better end results – the arithmetic average of all the guesses in the lecture hall about the number of liquorice candy in a jar is a lot closer than more than 90% of the individual ones. That is why cooperation is important – more opinions will be heard, bringing more diversity and urging students to seek compromises. Also, a written submission or a proposal by one person can trigger an idea in someone else’s head and they can then elaborate further on it, bringing more depth to the final result.

Blogging is one way of making students work together in groups. This guide to group blogging in WordPress is very useful and shows how to establish a blog of this kind. Blogger has the same function. People can have different roles, separated in hierarchy – the administrator is the blog owner, the authors can publish their posts in it and contributors can submit their writing to the administrator for review. If the teacher of the class assumes the highest rank, they can monitor the work process, seeing the amount and quality of work each member submits. That is why it is of benefit that in a blogging group work everyone participates and contributes to the overall achievement. By following the progress, an educator can fairly distribute marks between students.

Google Docs is also a good way of working in a group with classmates – documents are easily shareable, anyone can edit them. As well as blogging, people can contribute from their own houses and whenever it is suitable for them. The chat at the side allows for quick discussions of posted material.

Overall, collaboration skills are crucial in our society and digital media is making group work simpler for students – thus they are more easily learning to work as a team.

 

Sources:

http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/group-blogging-guide/

http://createyourownblog.wikispaces.com/Collaborative+Blogging

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/4-essential-rules-of-21st-century-learning/

 

Further reading:

http://www.faronics.com/en-uk/news/blog/collaborative-learning-in-a-digital-age/

https://chronicle.com/article/Collaborative-Learning-for-the/128789/

http://lisaneale.ca/creating-a-collaborative-learning-culture-in-the-digital-age/

Thought about the future: Digital Aristotle

This is a very interesting video, focusing on ideas about the future of education. It suggests that an AI software is created, helping students with their education by an appropriate selection of learning material from a virtual library.

It is quite a thought-provoking idea. Many will argue that human contact should not be lost and kids should learn from an actual living person. Others may bring up arguments that today’s school system has many flaws and is too teacher-centric – a digital programme only focuses on the child and its personal needs, thus making it more suitable for teaching purposes.

 

It may solve the problems of standard exams – people have different learning habits, pace. Some are better at writing, some at speaking.

In order for this software to be a successful substitute of a teacher, the library will need to include many types of recorded media – video, sound, still images, text. As mentioned by the speaker, different people learn in a different way – this means that the Digital Aristotle will have to generate enough unique methods of delivering information to a student to ensure that as many children as possible can benefit from it.

However, it would be difficult for an Artificial Intelligence to judge a child’s writing skills, quality of arguments and creative ideas. Another challenge are oral examinations – without a teacher evaluating the answers, it may not be possible to conduct such exams, even if some students excel at them. That is why I believe teachers should stay in education. They can be trained to promote logical skills, help children develop critical thinking abilities and use their creativity.

Nevertheless, it is an innovative approach which may be used very well as a specifically developed App for educational purposes. It has a great potential to be useful for learning of facts, principles and theory and can also test students on their knowledge. Digital Aristotle could be helpful tool to both teachers, who will have constant access to statistics about pupils’ advance, and to children, who will be able to learn facts based on their own ways of studying.

Developed in the right way, Digital Aristotle may change the education system for good.

 

 

TEDtalk about future of education:

 

Sources and further reading:

http://mymorningmeditations.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/judging.jpg

– http://www.cgpgrey.com/blog/digital-aristotle-thoughts-on-the-future-of-education.html

– http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ai-lab/?friedland:aimag04

– http://www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/insights/learning-without-teachers/

Educational Apps

Applications for tablets and smartphones are popular among the owners of those devices. According to Pewinternet data from 2010, the average adult has 18 apps on their phone.

 

 

A research conducted a year later has shown that downloading of Apps tends to steadily increase.

Applications for educational purposes have also been developed. While the majority of the best-selling ones are targeted at primary school children and even younger (Source), there are a few that will be of interest for an older audience:

 

Along with the ones mentioned in the video above, there are a few more that are worth checking out:

Khan Academy

It’s a free App, which provides more than 3000 education videos on many topics, including physics, biology, maths, history, geography and many more. It is perfect for anyone interested in sciences – from students, teachers or other professionals. People can also download videos onto their phone and watch the offline later.

 

Star Walk

It is an interactive astronomy App. It enables users to point their iPad to the sky and the App will tell them the names of stars and constellations, also providing additional information. People can also search for a star and it will point it to them. It costs £2.99 and is available for iOs and from December 2013, also for Android users.

 

TED

This free App provides over 1000 videos of talks on broad topics – science, education, business, technology. It is suitable for people interested in those areas and searching for different opinions and inspirational speeches. Just as Khan Academy, TED allows users to download videos and save them for later, when people have more time or no internet access.

 

Unfortunately, there has not been extensive research on the way Apps impact upon literacy levels, but rather smaller surveys. Their findings can be found in this article. According to it, students have enjoyed working with iPads, have participated more in classes and enjoyed writing homework. When assessed in Algebra, pupils who used the iPads scored higher proficiency levels than students who learned from a textbook – and the difference was by 30%! If more extensive and in-depth research shows similar data, introducing tablets with Apps for learning may be the next revolutionary step in the classroom. They are engaging and interactive, providing necessary knowledge without the fear of distraction by social networking sites.

However, more research on the impact Applications have on children’s learning ability in the long term, but also on attention span and concentration skills, will need to be conducted before using tablets in schools on a mass principle. It is also rather expensive and not all institutions will be able to afford the needed technology. For now, Apps are a very informative and pleasant way of self-education, providing fun and knowledge to everyone interested in additional learning.

 

Sources:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/09/14/the-rise-of-apps-culture/

http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/11/02/half-of-adult-cell-phone-owners-have-apps-on-their-phones/

http://readwrite.com/2012/04/22/how_the_ipad_is_changing_education#awesm=~oD3jmILVvPYhqe

Further reading:

http://www.educationalappstore.com/

http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/WhataretheBestEducationalApps.aspx

http://readwrite.com/2012/04/22/how_the_ipad_is_changing_education#awesm=~oD3jmILVvPYhqe

YouTube and Education

 

Today’s blog post will focus on YouTube – the most popular website for uploading and watching videos (1). Examined will be content with focus on teaching generated from users, educational institutions and organisations.

 

User-generated content

If a person does not understand a certain principle or theory, they can easily go on to the website and search for it – whatever the question is, there will most probably be a video with an explanation, uploaded by another user – as is the example of the video above where multiplication and division of algebraic fractions is explained.

 

Educational institutions

Educational institutions also upload helpful videos on their YouTube channels. MIT’s Open Courseware’s channel can be found at the following link, where many full lectures have been uploaded in full length. The lectures and the paper content provided on their official website (please see previous post) complement each other, ensuring a complete learning experience.

 

Organisations:

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation. They have a large library of educational videos posted on YouTube and also featured on their website. The topics of the videos include maths, sciences, economics, humanities and computing. They also offer test preparation help (i.e., for SAT). The difference between KA and educational technology platforms as Coursera is the fact that Khan Academy doesn’t offer full university courses, but rather focuses on short educational videos on school level – i.e., groups of videos that explain ratio and proportion in maths or stars, black holes and galaxies in astronomy. There are also questions between the videos on the website and users may test their knowledge level. Khan Academy’s primary YouTube channel has over 4000 uploaded videos and more than 1.7 million subscribers. The overall number of views of their videos exceeds 350 million. Everyone who has access to YouTube can watch all of their filmed tutorials – they are suitable for students, adults, professionals who want to deepen their knowledge, but also for anyone who would be interested in some of the subjects.

 

TED-ed

The very famous TED talks also have a YouTube channel dedicated to education – TED-ed. The channel has almost 750 000 subscribers and the around 800 videos have been viewed over 60 million times. Talented educators often voice over animations on various topics – from science, through humanities and to arts. The combination of speach and moving image and the fact that the videos are relatively short and easy to understand makes them more accessible for all audiences. The mixture of sound and visual artefact can be used to teach difficult theories and principles to kids and they will be able to remember them more easily – as children will also use their sense of sight, they will see how those principles actually work and will be able to effortlessly apply them to other situations (example of a video on “How atoms bond“).

The channel also features talks from inspirational individuals – on educational subjects, i.e., of astronomy – SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), and on topics of the current state of the education system and how it can be improved. A powerful example is Bill Gates’ talk, in which he argues that teachers need smart feedback, in order to further develop their skills and become better educators themselves.

 

YouTube itself also features an official Education channel, where popular and fascinating videos on the topic of learning are collected and presented. The individual themes of the videos are of various types – i.e., there is a video on the maths of Star Trek.

 

According to Nielsen (cited in YouTube), the website reaches more male adults aged 18-34 in the US than any cable network. More than 1 billion unique users visit the site each month and more than 6 billion hours are watched. Every minute, over 100 hours of footage are uploaded by users. Because of its nature and popularity, YouTube is a very suitable tool for sharing educational videos, making them accessible to a wide public and viewership from various backgrounds.

 

 

References:

1 – http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ798652.pdf

http://rameyagency.com/ramey_2014/youtube-hits-without-talking-babies-or-shaking-booties/

https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html)

Educational technology

The Internet and increased usage of new media technology has brought many innovations to the field of education in the 21st century. Many course materials by leading universities are being offered online and very often – for free. This has enabled more effective distance learning – “linking of a teacher and students in several geographic locations via technology that allows for interaction” (Daniel and Stevens, 1998, p.162). In this post I will present 5 of the most popular websites that offer full or partial courses and course materials – suitable for distance education and self-studying. The video featured at the end is a TED talk by Daphne Koller – co-founder of Coursera, who speaks about the benefits of online education.

 

Coursera

Coursera is an educational technology platform that provides free courses from 108 partner institutions. Everyone with access to the Internet can sign up on their website and enrol in any course they wish. The founders’ vision is to help people from all around the world have the possibility to access highest-quality education, in order to be able to improve their lives. The number of registered users is currently over 7.5 million and they have choice to learn from 643 courses delivered by top universities. There are many categories to choose from – arts, sciences, business, IT, law, and classes exist in 14 languages. Because of the large numbers of students, assignments are reviewed by peers and can be discussed on forums – in that way ‘students’ are able to meet new people from different backgrounds and establish friendships.

 

edX

edX is another online platform cofounded by Harvard and MIT, which offers many classes from the world’s best higher institutions. It offers over 400 faculty and staff teaching courses (with discussions online) and over 150 self-paced courses in areas of the humanities, sciences, arts and many more. edX also has tools, videos and game-like labs – i.e., people can build virtual 3D molecules. The self-paced courses are open at any time and at the end of a successfully finished series of classes, users earn a Certificate of Achievement. With peer-to-peer social learning tools persons can connect with others as well.

 

Udacity

Udacity offers more practical approach to their courses. They are taught by industry leaders from successful companies – i.e., Google, Facebook, Nvidia, at&t. The courses are specifically from the field of computer science. Users have personal coaches which help them throughout their studies and give them feedback on projects. The certificate received upon completion of a course is recognised by the industry. However, they are not free – prices for having a personal coach and receive a recognised certificate start from 150$ a month.

 

MIT Open Courseware

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers virtually all of its course materials online, featured on the MIT Open Courseware – its web-based publication. While it is different from the three above mentioned platforms, it still provides content for free and it is available to anyone. They store resources of more than 2150 courses, which every person can access. Students from the university also benefit from the Courseware, as it delivers additional information for them as well.

 

Stanford

Stanford University’s online platform delivers part of its courses for free, for anyone to join and learn from them. They have both session classes, which run for a specific time, and self-study routes. They have many courses in medicine and health, engineering, education, humanities and more. Again, students from the university are also welcome to join and expand their knowledge on preferred subjects.

 

 

References:

Daniel, J., and Stevens, A., 1998. The success stories: The use of technology in ‘out-of-school’ education. In C. de M. Moura Castro (Ed.), Education in the information age (pp.156-167). New York: Inter-American Development bank

All information on the platforms is taken directly from their websites