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Simplicity for International Teaching

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Comprehending a new language can be difficult, but luckily there is a tool that can help anyone pick it up.

The University of Washington Bothell has been building a large and diverse campus over the years and provides hundreds of types of courses to its students. English language classes are even offered to international students as well. But how are these classes being taught? Is there a more effective way?

The answer is yes! And the Voki app is the right tool to use for these situations. Voki allows the teachers and students to make avatars that can be used to help them with their education. Students are able to design their own Avatars to speak the language they are currently trying to learn. A set of instructions can also be provided to help students understand the meaning of the words and guidance on how they are pronounced. That is only the beginning of what Voki is capable of.

Voki is a great program and has multiple purposes, speaking another language is just one of them. The best thing about Voki is that it is great to use in front of a large class, when one on one with a student, or even by one’s self when alone studying. It is definitely a strong tool and can be used to help students everywhere comprehend things in a different and technical way.

To find out more about what Voki can do and how it can be used, click the link at the top of the page and find out something new and amazing you could have missed.

Differences Between Blogs and Journal Entries

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In an article on The Chronicle for Higher Education, Casey Fabris takes a look at a study done on the differences between public blogs and private journal entries.

With the current hype about blogging, Drew foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology, decided to try them in his introduction to sociology course. He immediately noticed a higher quality of work than what he had seen when students submitted private journals. He then decided to see what differences there might be between the two formats.

Initially he had expected to find that blogs resulted in more thoughtful reflections, which didn’t seem to be the case. After looking through a large collection of journal and blog entries from the University of Michigan, he discovered that one format wasn’t necessarily better than another, they were just different.

It seemed that when students were writing for a public blog, where fellow students could see and comment, they took more intellectual risks, crafting complex arguments on controversial discussions. While students who where tasked with writing a private journal took more personal risks sharing their own personal experiences.

As an example, Mr. Foster mentions that a student discussing the American dream may use her own family’s socioeconomic status or financial struggles; however, she might hesitate the share something so personal on a public blog.

Ultimately, it comes down to instructors needing to decide what is best for their courses. Mr. Foster goes on to say, “It’s to our benefit as teachers and instructors to try and maximize the type of reflection and the quality of reflection that students are engaging in.”

Flipping a Classroom

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(Photo credit: http://www.knewton.com/blog/education-infographics/flipped-classroom-infographic)

As the world advances, so too does classroom technology. Of course tied to that are new strategies for teaching alongside technology. Interestingly enough some classes throughout the U.S. have been using a flipped classroom design to better prepare students for the work ahead. What the design entails essentially asks professors to create their lectures via lecture capture (online recordings), students are then supposed to watch the lectures prior to class. Homework would then be done in class the following day(s), as the professor would be able to personally assist students in understanding how the lecture applies to the work being done in class.

The “flipped classroom” design encourages student engagement outside of the classroom, while providing face to face assistance from the teacher with homework or discussion questions. It also allows for an easier transition between homework and lecture for students whereas the current system forces students to learn about a subject, then do the homework at a later time without the help of the person teaching it, thus clearly disrupting a student’s flow of fully understanding the material presented to them. With that said, the lane seems to be widening and with it comes a surplus options of for creating engaging classes.

Learn more here: http://ctl.utexas.edu/teaching/flipping-a-class

New Mentoring Programs For Our Millennials

When it comes to finding the proper mentoring program for a millennial, do you find it difficult finding the correct kind? Thanks to Randy Emelo’s blog, Mentoring In a Millennial World, you can now understand the best way to do so for the millennials in this day and age. Today, there are many millennials who all have the desire to be mentored. As time goes on people’s learning habits and ways comprehension change, in order to receive the best work from these millennials they first have to be provided with the best ways of mentoring first.

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(Picture taken by Michael Bee)

In  2012 a consumer insights study from MTV was held, where roughly three-quarters of millennials said they would like to engage in a mentoring relationship. Because there has been a show of interest, it does not mean that the traditional mentoring programs will do the job. According to learning strategist at Xerox Corp., Philip Antonelli, many organizations are missing the mark when it comes to building mentoring programs that will help them learn and develop.

Most millennials have grown up using social networks and mobile devices all in order to crowdsource information and wisdom. This shows they like to use a fairly broad array and because a lot of them have grown up with information that could be easily accessed by their fingertips, they like to learn through collaboration. With this in mind, it is good to know that they will naturally leverage and bring in new ideas to their network.

Sadly, through the 1980’s and 90’s there were many organizations that were missing the mark of building mentoring programs. It was in the early 2000’s where they started to understand what should be done to create successful programs. It was technological advancements that brought about the growing use of websites, e-learning, email and video conferencing. Generation X took certain crowds, baby boomers, and pushed them to experiment with virtual relationships and electronic media communication. Which allowed them to engage in their mentoring relationships virtually and collaborate with their peers in an easier fashion.

Unfortunately, many organizations have actually missed this concept of mentoring and remains foreign to many. The reasoning behind this is all because the ones who are designing the programs. They happen to be the baby boomers and/or the traditionalists. That is why when they are given the task to develop a mentoring program, their thinking is usually limited to mentoring in its own traditional form.

The fact that time stops for no one, means that there will always need to be change. Luckily, we are getting closer and have already started figuring out what exactly those changes are, when it comes to providing strong and successful mentoring program. To find out more about these changes and exactly what they are, you will have to click the link at the top. With time never stopping and more millennials arriving, use the time you have now to learn and make these changes, creating a better tomorrow and a stronger future.

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)