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Gaming In Education

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Educational video games have become a hot topic for several years now. Barry J. Fishman, a professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has borrowed elements of gaming to develop GameCraft, a learning-management system that lets instructors organize their courses in a ‘gameful’ way.

GameCraft provides students with many assignments to choose from, so any student who does poorly on one can find plenty of tasks to redeem themselves. GameCraft treats unsuccessful assignments not as failures but as learning experiences.The ‘grade predictor’ helps students figure out what they need to do to reach the classroom goals they set for themselves.

Giving students the freedom to decide which assignments to complete and when to complete them can be difficult for the instructor and students to keep track of. This is why Mr. Fishman created GameCraft to help professors organize their course. GameCraft provides an engaging way to pass the class by allowing students to independently map the course work they want to complete. In order to unlock more assignments, students have to complete certain assignments to move forward, similar to passing levels in video games. Mr. Fishman has noticed that students are more engaged with the course and their work because they have the opportunity to choose the assignments that interest them. 

Currently about 2,000 students in 19 courses in Michigan have used GameCraft. Of course GameCraft can be scary at first for students and creates more work for professors, but nearly all the instructors who experimented with the system want to use it again. Mr. Fishman hopes the system will grow beyond his own institution. Mr. Fisher explains that he doesn’t define what he’s doing as gameification, but as a ‘gameful’ design that brings a positive attribute of gaming systems, like establishing clear goals and giving players multiple routes to success – to the classroom.

For more information on this topic visit the link below.

Fabris, Casey. Want to Make Your Course ‘Gameful’? A Michigan Professor’s Tool Could Help. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 15, May 2015. Web

 

When Actors Replace Instructors as On-Camera Talent

The traditional method for creating online lecture videos is for professors (or Subject Matter Experts) to lecture straight to the camera. However, Purdue University decided to use a different technique by using professional actors to give the lectures instead.


(Photo Credit: Campus Technology)

Students gave feedback regarding this approach and said that they enjoyed the videos with the actors more than the videos with SME. The project management team at Purdue also shortened the videos to under seven minutes since research has shown that adult learners stop learning more information after point. The team could not just use any actor to fill in the position of a lecturer; the actor had to speak in a way that wouldn’t distract the students from learning the content.

According to Vickie Maris, former director of professional development programs, it is easier to update courses with this approach because videos can be inserted and removed when needed. If the video does not seem relevant or useful to most students any more, than they can be replaced with another one. Maris also noted that it is important to not date videos by mentioning the date it was filmed or events that are happening at that moment so that it could last longer.

There are pros and cons for using SME vs Professional Actors for these videos.

SME know the topics well enough to not have to read off a teleprompter or script. Thus, students find them more reliable. However, actors never state that they are the instructor in the videos and just go right to the content to avoid the students feeling like they weren’t getting the “real thing.” Actors are also more comfortable in front of the camera and can capture the students’ attention more effectively.

Cost is a factor for both SME and actors. An actor can charge between $891 – $1056 on the first day, but some professors charge an hourly rate that can end up being more expensive than an actor (Schaffhauser)

After a beta course that used both actors and SME in their lecture videos, students stated that they still preferred the actors more. The team is using this feedback to develop new course series and update videos and other content delivery methods.

For more information on this topic visit the link below:

Source: http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2015/05/13/When-Actors-Replace-Instructors-as-On-Camera-Talent.aspx?Page=1

Open-Source Learning: Next-Gen Knowledge

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In 2006 a man by the name of Richard Baraniuk introduced the idea of open-source learning during a Ted Talk presentation. Baraniuk does not hold sole ownership of the idea, however what he presented was an alternate avenue by which the way we learn could evolve. Open-source learning is defined by Baraniuk as a database in which teachers across the world can share course-materials, lesson plans and data while constantly being peer-reviewed by their professional colleagues. Baraniuk envisioned a world where not only the cost of learning would be greatly reduced but the efficiency of learning and the scope of students learning would be raised substantially.

Fast forward into 2015 and the landscape of learning has changed drastically. Online classes have been integrated into most community colleges and universities, student textbooks can now be found online and information has definitely become more free-flowing between both professors and students alike. With that said Baraniuk’s vision is far from being realized. The idea of open-source learning was built on the premise of being a free route (emphasis on free) to educate and develop philosophies, so that those in underdeveloped regions with limited access to resources could in fact receive a similar education to those in well developed areas. Of course in the U.S. where a capitalistic system reigns, free is never truly free.

Today there are plenty of websites that promote open-source learning, which is a positive increase from where education was in 2006. With that said the system is not without its flaws. Often times an open-source website allows for free use, however in order to access certain features one must pay a certain amount per month, going against the whole idea of “free”. Some websites provide a basic design layout for teachers to use however if not satisfactory to the teacher’s needs then a third party coder or designer would need to be brought in to deliver a new design and regularly update code which can prove costly. These are just a couple of drawbacks open-source learning has come to encounter over the years. As students, educators and people who are overall hungry for knowledge what do you think of open-source learning? Will it improve? Will costs be raised? Lowered? Please leave thoughts or comments as this may very well be where education in the future goes.

For more information on this topic, visit the link below.

http://www.academyofmine.com/open-source-learning-management-system-lms/

 

Learning on a Cloud

 

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In education, to incite the mind into thinking deeply about a topic is to in fact learn. This has remained unchanged throughout the course of time, yet somewhere along the way educators lost sight of that. The education system began to place an emphasis on exams and regurgitated knowledge, rather than the actual experience of learning. In 2013 educational researcher Sugata Mitra decided to flip that by introducing SOLE within the classroom via Cloud based learning devices.

SOLE stands for “Self-Organized Learning Environment”. Within that, what is necessary for success includes collaboration between students, answerable introspective questions, an Internet connection and an educator’s influence. What entails is a learning environment wherein students not only learn through their spark of curiosity, but also gain insight on posing questions that develop their understanding. For instance, Mitra posed this question to a group of nine and ten year old students “Why do human lungs breathe? What happens to the air we breathe? What followed was an in-depth analysis of the lungs, diaphragm and respiration system developed solely through student research. In connection with the Cloud, these answers and developments would then be added to the pool of research, allowing for access amongst all Cloud-based education systems.

Designing a new future for learning at the elementary and middle school level allows for more advanced topics to be understood at younger ages, thus allowing for students at the university level to focus their learning/career path earlier. The purpose of the Cloud is to gather and hold all of the learning tools (i.e. the big questions, answers, development strategies, etc.), essentially SOLE’s provide the setting or atmosphere within a classroom and the Cloud provides the tools. Mitra’s vision of a cloud-based school took form in 2013 and since then has grown to five different classrooms across the U.K. and India, including an independent location in Korakati, India. The future of eLearning continues with the introduction of the School in the Cloud.

For more information on this topic visit the links below.

http://blog.ted.com/sugata-mitra-opens-first-independent-school-in-the-cloud-in-india/

http://elearningindustry.com/how-can-we-build-a-school-in-the-cloud-sugata-mitra-ted-talk

Picture Credit: http://edtechreview.in/news/877-world-s-first-school-in-the-cloud-opened

Adapting to College Through Social Media

College is thought to be a very impactful time where students will make lifelong friends and build the support group they need, especially for those students living away from home. Many people believe social media has created a barrier for student development. The truth is students are now spending more time on social media than ever before. More students are making social media, such as Facebook, part of their daily routines.

Collin Mr. Ruud, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, has been observing the effects of social media for years. During the time social-networking sites first started to take off Mr. Ruud was a residence-hall manager. He was immediately interested in how it might affect student development.

Social Media Class

Social Media by Mkhmarketing

For his most recent research, Mr. Ruud conducted online surveys, collecting 159 responses from undergraduates at an unnamed flagship university in the Midwest. Mr. Ruud identified a strong link between social-media use and feelings of belonging to the broader campus community.

For students who moved away from home Mr. Ruud found that they feel more connected to their colleges when they continue to interact with friends from high school. Social media, such as Facebook has helped create a support network for college students with high school friends who are going through the same process of adapting to life on other campuses, Mr. Ruud said. Now that students have easy access to social media, all a student has to do to feel support is log on.

Fabris, Casey. “Post Navigation.” How Social Media Helps Students Adapt to College. Wired Campus, 19 Apr. 2015. Web. 06 May 2015.

For more information on this topic visit the link above.