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The Problem in Adding New Software to Classroom Learning

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(photo from newswise.com)

As a Learning Technologist I’m normally excited when it comes to learning about new technology or software designed to make the learning experience a smoother process. I am positive that not all professors share this sentiment, and who can blame them? It seems year after year teachers are asked to update their knowledge on the technology/software used in class and while this is a necessity in higher education, the process by which it happens isn’t always the smoothest. This in turn ends up affecting the students in a negative as well.

Author of 5 Components Necessary for A Successful School Environment, Lisa Nielsen points to five reasons where the process of learning and teaching new software/technology can fail. Nielsen states “Lack of Vision, Skill deficit, Lack of incentives, Lack of Resources and No Action Plan”(Nielsen 1). Each of these issues adds a level of imbalance to the learning curve. For example having a lack of vision for what the software or technology can be/will be used for leads to confusion on why the software is a necessity to begin with. A professor who is not the most technologically inclined may experience anxiety and pressure to learn or teach new software provided to them. The negatives associated with this are obvious, but are easily combated with skill development workshops and tutorials. The goal of the universities should be to accommodate and provide professors with resources and reasoning necessary when implementing new software or technology in the classroom, otherwise what at first seem helpful will prove otherwise.

managing complex change
(Photo credit Lisa Nielsen)

Why upgrading to SmartBoards could be beneficial to classrooms

Why upgrading to SmartBoards could be beneficial to classrooms

Several schools still use the traditional whiteboard or chalkboard, but they may not be aware of the advantages that they can gain by upgrading to digital boards. Both teachers and students would have easier classroom experiences with the SmartBoard.

Lisa Buyer defines SmartBoards as “a wall mounted white-board that merges the familiar blackboard concept with data retrieval, information sharing and storage attributes of a computer.” With it, teachers are able to move their text around without a hassle, nor restriction to board space, and easily edit or delete their writings on the board. Imagine sitting in class, furiously taking notes of what your instructor is writing on the board, but he is going too fast for you and erasing things that you may have missed. The SmartBoard would help in that case as you could ask the teacher to scroll up to what they have previously written. Teachers will also be able to save their work so that they could send it to students to review after class.

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(http://www.ware.k12.ga.us/news/2010/020110_1.shtml)

Teachers are also able to project images and typed documents onto the SmartBoard and write on top of them, as shown in the image above. This could make the flow of the class smoother and faster because teachers would not have to drawing and writing everything by hand.

Buyer states that the “Smartboard has helped to develop visual learners, while supporting aural and logical thinkers.” This is an important concept to keep in mind as students in a classroom have different ways of learning. The SmartBoard can share information through visual and aural ways, which accommodates for multiple learning techniques, and ensure that students understand what they are learning, and more importantly, enjoy it.

However, there are also a couple of downsides to having SmartBoards in classrooms. One of them is the high cost of each board. Just one SmartBoard can cost thousand of dollars which could accumulate to an exceedingly large amount for multiple classrooms. Institutions then have to decide which classrooms would need a SmartBoard as it would not be feasible to install one in every room. There would also be a trade-off between spending a large amount of money on these digital boards or on other important costs for the school.

Another downside of having SmartBoards in classrooms is the technical difficulties it could cause. First of all, instructors who have little experience with technology would have to go through some training to be able to use the SmartBoard to teach their class. Even with some training, it is not guaranteed that the SmartBoard will function perfectly without any glitches. When I was in high school, a handful of my teachers would struggle with calibrating the SmartBoard because the projector would get moved around constantly. The lack of maintenance and updating of the software could lead to delays and pauses in lectures as well.

Source:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=4278772

 

 

 

Social Media in the classroom: A Barrier or an Aid to Learning?

social-media-in-education-thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down.jpg (Photo credit to weareteachers.com)

 

Technology has taken gargantuan steps in becoming the primary focus of our lives today. People cannot often be seen without their phones, tablets or laptops. Of course social media is intertwined within all of these outlets of technology (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) The questions that begs to be answered is “Is social media a distraction or something beneficial for students in the classroom?” Initially the correct answer would seem to lean towards the side of a distraction, as students often use social media for interaction with other students, family or friends, leaving no room for classroom learning via these tools. Social media has also proved to diminish students’ ability to focus in class when they’re tempted to constantly check their phones or tablets for the latest on these social media websites.

With that said social media is not going away anytime soon and it’s assimilation into the classroom is important especially for the students growing up in the era of social media domination. Author of Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom Karen Lederer brings up excellent examples of how teachers can integrate social media into their lesson plans without engaging the distracting aspect of it. For example Lederer brings up using Facebook or twitter to post something that was discussed in class and why it was pertinent to the lesson as a way to earn participation points. Lederer also discusses using class time to create LinkedIn accounts for students, as a way to prepare them for successful employment in the future. These are merely a couple of examples from a comprehensive list of ideas of how one can integrate social media into classroom learning and I believe we need to take a deeper look into making social media a part of learning curriculum’s, particularly after elementary and middle school.

Lederer, Karen. “Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom.” Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom — Campus Technology. Campus Technology, 01 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2015.

For The Best Audio Software, There Can Only Be One

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Picture by: hitechp23 and Oğuz Demirkapı

When trying to decide what software to use for audio files the biggest battle seems to be between Adobe Audition and Audacity. TLC  Media Design, the author of this debating blog, does a great job of laying out the two programs and doing a face to face comparison. This blog will show you the pros and cons of both softwares and for which type of audience tends to fall for certain ones.

When doing the comparisons between the two softwares, one will always have a certain feature that the other does not. But still even with the different features don’t seem to have a big effect on the decision between the two either. For they are both very user friendly. Though, it is said that if you are an adobe fan or follower that Audition will be the more comfortable software. But if you are new to both of the programs, they are both fairly simple to comprehend and both also contain easy to follow tutorials on their websites and YouTube.

When it all really comes down to when doing the comparison between the two there is actually very little difference between them. The biggest difference is the price. Though, this blog also talks about what the users say and some people carry some very interesting claims regarding both softwares. Find out the differences yourself, by checking out this blog and decide for yourself, which software you believe is better.

Welcome to the future of collaborative learning with technology

The future of classroom learning is here…

rsz_adaptive_learning_dsc_0006 (Photo by Sandra Leander) (https://asunews.asu.edu/20130923-online-learning)

 

 

How do professors approach both learning and working with new software? Do they dive right in and begin training hands on? Does the technology help or hinder the students’ ability to learn? These are just a couple of questions tackled in John K. Waters’ article titled The Great Adaptive Learning Experiment.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Arizona State University’s Dale Johnson conducted research on technology based adaptive learning within Arizona State’s teaching department. This involved teaming up with a tech company known as Knewton, which runs an online math assessment program. The Knewton program in tandem with the teacher’s lesson plans allowed for the development of math skills tailored to the students’ needs. In fact, according to Waters Knewton “provided instructors with real-time reports that allowed them to detect gaps in knowledge, create adaptive study plans for each student and focus lessons around concepts where students need the most help” (Waters 2).

There are benefits seen outside of the classroom as well, particularly on the university’s wallet. During the time this program was in place ASU increased pass rates by 18% and dropped student withdrawals by 47%, for an overall savings of 12 million dollars in what would have been lost tuition. While 12 million is quite an astounding number it’s important to realize that while this program does seem beneficial for the student, the teacher and the university there may have been other factors that helped boost the pass rates and lowered student withdrawals. One cannot assume that these numbers are solely due to the Knewton program and the teachers who designed their lessons around it. With that said due to this project classroom learning may be evolving into a more hybrid classroom learning environment which may or may not prove as beneficial as the Great Adaptive Learning Experiment. Only time will tell.