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Gmail Played a Role in Changing Higher Ed

Gmail celebrated its 10th birthday on April 1st. Reflecting back, they altered higher education more than we know according to Inside Higher Ed.

Transitioning from enterprise platforms to consumer platforms, Gmail is helping the technological world retreat from centralized technology control with a slick, free platform that any higher ed institution can use. UW Bothell has already gone aboard to using Gmail and other Google apps.

This transition is especially great for students who prefer to utilize their own technology at school. Remember only 10 years ago when schools rolled out carts of uniform laptops loaded with the same software? Now students have the option to stop relying on Outlook or Microsoft Office and use the wonders of Gmail, Google Drive, and other online applications. Because of these programs, schools no longer need to worry as much about mandatory software and their updates.

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MOOCs Have the Potential to Change How Instructors Handle Classrooms

According to an article by the Chronicle of Higher Education, MOOCs have the potential to transform the way instructors’ handle their classroom by turning a traditional lecture based classroom into a ‘flipped classroom.’ Lectures oftentimes “masks a lot of disinterests” amongst students, causing only those interested in the subject to succeed.

In a flipped classroom, students typically watch video lectures provided by MOOCs as homework then save interactive discussions and projects for the classroom. Doing this provides students more time to communicate with their instructor in rich conversations. It also causes the instructor to act more as a guide working with students rather than working for students.

The biggest concern about integrating MOOCs into a classroom is instructor control. In traditional classrooms, instructors get total control of the classroom whether its material use, presentation, or assessment. When instructors switch to a flipped classroom, they need to work their discussions, projects, etc. around the MOOC lecture they have students watch.

It’s a large risk for instructors to make the switch, especially if they have insecurities. But with instructors like Douglas Fisher, who was mentioned in the article, making the switch was  necessary in order to take the next step in higher education.

Kerika: A Task Board Designed for Distributed Teams

Group projects, when looked at as a whole, are a great idea. They call for collaborative teamwork, idea contribution, and utilizing individuals skill sets and experiences. Most of the time students learn from their group experiences, while with others, something went wrong along the way.

Oftentime the biggest factor in the flop of group work is the lack of communication. With our diverse population at UWB having different life schedules, it is hard to find face to face time to get together with group members. Students then rely on email, texting, Google Drive, Facebook, etc. but conversations become scattered as different layers of group projects reveal itself on different outlets of communication.

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The Stylus is Mightier than the Sword

Let’s say you’re having one of those days where you bring in your tablet to class and nothing else. You think it is going to be alright- I mean, you have your textbook and notebook in that magical box right in front of you, so nothing can go wrong.

That is, until you feel that sense of nostalgia kicking into the pit of your stomach. The tapping and snapping of classmates’ pens around you make you feel the urge to join in on the sweet feel of the oh so vintage pen rubbing through your fingertips. You miss the smell of it’s ink, and even the marks they used to leave on the palm of your hand. But it’s too late, nothing can be done now as you have already made the transition into the modern world by purchasing your tablet.

That my friend, is where you are wrong. You are forgetting that modern companies have created the new modern pen: the stylus. While the stylus may not replicate the old pen in it’s entirety, the look and feel are irresistible.

Here are some stylus’ reviewers from the Verge thought were useful:

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Laptop Multitasking Hinders Users and Peers Alike

Laptops have been commonplace in college classrooms for many years now. Students bring their laptops to follow along with a lecture as well as to take notes; during that time it is not unusual for a student to multitask and check email or visit social media sites. What effects, if any, are these seemingly innocuous distractions having on student grades?

In a study conducted by Computers & Education and reported on by the Huffington Post, they take a deeper look into the repercussions laptops can have on student performance.

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