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Digital Education

Does Reading on Computer Screens Affect Student Learning

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Naomi S. Baron is a woman who walked past her campus bookstore and noticed a sign advertising digital-textbook rentals, and started to worry. She is a professor of linguistics at American University and author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. She studies the relationship between technology and language. She believes that students will have a mentality of “I’m studying for a test, and this piece of text is not going to become a part of who I am” when they are reading on a computer or tablet screen. It’s only a matter of convenience and students won’t absorb every word comparatively to a traditional physical text book.

She is not the only professor that is worried about the effects of reading on screens. Other professors such as Michelle Blake, whom is a professor of English at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, noticed her students’ eyes seemed to glide over obvious errors in their papers while reading aloud. She wonders how much of this is an effect of the web and its hindrance of s students’ ability to engage with texts.

A few studies have found that there is little difference between the retention when a student reads on a screen versus in print. However, from the Norway’s University of Stavanger, they did a study that did suggest that high-school students remember less when they read a text digitally. Some evidence exists that when students multitask, their comprehension dips.

What’s even more astonishing is the fact that Ms. Baron had done research that shows that students prefer reading from print (ninety-two percent answered print). From this sample of 429 college students, she believes that her hunch that students have trouble switching into academic-reading mode when the text is on the screen.

For more information on this topic, click here.

Colleges to Drop Traditional Textbooks for Open Educational Resources

The national reform network for community colleges, Achieving the Dream (ATD), has announced that they will be taking the initiative to develop degree programs that will use open educational resources (OER). The OER Degree Initiative makes it so that programs will use openly licensed learning materials as opposed to purchasing expensive textbooks, saving their students thousands of dollars.

Currently, the cost of textbooks averages to about $1,300 for a full-time community college student. For the millions of students, the cost of textbooks alone prevents students from completing their education. The OER Degree Initiative will be implemented to save students money and improve the rate of college completion. According to a press release, “…there are enough open educational materials to replace textbooks in required courses in four two-year programs: business administration, general education, natural or general science, and social science. But only a few colleges are using those resources.”

“Through the OER Degree Initiative, these community colleges are simultaneously addressing two important challenges faced by educators and students: Not only will they provide their faculty the flexibility and academic freedom to align their open educational resources to curriculum objectives, but also, by lowering textbook costs, they will make it far more likely that their students will achieve the goal of attaining a degree,” said Barbara Chow, education program director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

For this initiative, ATD will be in charge of assisting colleges in making the OER degree an important factor in their student’s efforts for success. Upon the initial implementation, the OER courses will be available on an online platform.

The OER Degree Initiative is backed by grants from foundations totaling $9.8 million. Participating colleges and systems were selected through a competitive grant process “based on their ability and capacity to implement OER degree programs, offer the full complement of degree courses quickly, or quickly scale the number of selections offered,” according to a news release.

For more information, please visit the article here or the Achieving the Dream site

Video Observation is helping Professors Grade Themselves

Video observation is not a new concept on a college campus; though typically, it’s used for athletes, rather than professors. But this could be changing, according to a study done at Harvard University that suggests that this same tactic could benefit educators. In an article by Erin McIntyre, in Harvard’s two-year study, video observation was found to improve a teacher’s evaluation in several ways. Additionally, video-recorded performances were found to be more productive rather than on an in-person review. Feedback was more specific and educators got the chance to watch themselves interact with students. While Harvard’s studies focused only on the educators of K-12, there are several colleges and universities that already offer video observations to their faculty in order to improve their teaching.

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At the University of Michigan, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) encourages faculty members to obtain feedback in several ways.  These include student questionnaires, self-reflection and peer observation, as well as video observation and confidential reviews with its staff to faculty throughout the university.

At Harvard, through their Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, any educator can request a video recording that they can then review it with a trained consultant.

At the University of Colorado at Boulder, they consider video observations so important that students are required to do two in order to complete the Graduate Teacher Program. Students use the videos as a basis for a self-assessment and an improvement plan.

As research continues to strongly support the value observations, a video camera in the classroom may be just as common as a camera on the football field.

For more information, please visit the article here

ESports Scholarships Increasing With Each Institution

The University of California, Irvine has created a League of Legends scholarship beginning in Fall of 2016. For some background, League of Legends is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) online game. It is arguably one of the most popular games in the world and is huge on college campuses. By the start of 2016, six different private schools have developed scholarships based on the game and there are hundreds of student-run clubs dedicated to it. This topic is quite controversial due to the definition of “sports”, since people don’t understand how a game can be considered a “sport.”

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Photo Credit: Polygon.com

League of Legends is run by their developers Riot Games, who made the thirteenth spot on the best places to work in 2015 according to Glassdoor.

Riot Games will be helping this by providing funds for a new PC café on campus for all students to use. This café will be built similar to Korean PC cafes and will offer “premium League of Legends experience.” Riot is hoping that more schools will come on board and start their own scholarship program.

This scholarship will be offered to 10 students for up to four years at UC Irvine. Specifically, the university wants to embrace the gaming community. By doing so they hope that students will be able to compete in the Campus Series that Riot Games offers.

For more information, visit the article here.

Virtual Reality Facilitates Higher ED Research and Teaches High-Risks Skills

Developers coded the earliest simulation for aerospace and medical uses in the late 1970s, now online learning has given virtual learning new importance. DiVE, allows users to enter a virtual environment. The upgraded DiVE features six Dell T7400 workstations. Now students can learn with 3D effects and high quality graphics. Multiple people can experience high-fidelity simulators.  DiVE allows instructors to bring the world to their students.

Duke University built the Duke immersive Virtual Environment in 2005 and recently upgraded it in 2015. The University of South Alabama (USA) also has a Simulation Program similar to Duke’s. Researchers or students who want to use DiVE at USA need to through a certification process. The certification includes an hour training course and then an assessment.

DiVE opens new possibilities to researchers. At USA, Kopper, an assistant research professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, shared the example of a neuroscience research project that uses simulated Olympic trap shooting to explore how people improve at the precise task. The participant performs the task in the DiVE while neuroscientists monitor the brain activity with an electroencephalogram.

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Photo by Vanderbilt University

The DiVE lets researchers gather detailed data that would be difficult and risky to capture otherwise. Simulators like the DiVE can help students majoring risk-intensive and high-pressure conditions fields learn through a virtual reality. Whether you plan to use the DIVE or any other type simulation institutions desire it is important to use the simulation for service learning, teaching and research. When colleges and universities use simulators well they develop graduates what are prepared for the adversity that awaits them in their careers.

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