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Blackboard Partners with ReadSpeaker

ReadSpeaker is the worldwide leader in online text to speech. In 1999, ReadSpeaker created the first-ever speech-enabling solution for websites followed by the first web-based platform for producing digital talking books. ReadSpeaker speech-enables content in 40+ languages and 100+ voices. All of ReadSpeaker’s products are web-based and work with all browsers (Firefox, Mozilla, Safari, Chrome, Lynx, etc.). Having their products be web-based allows users to avoid tedious downloads and allows users to access their products from any location.

ReadSpeaker has teamed up with Blackboard to make its text-to-speech technology more available to students around the world. Enabling text to speech is an important pillar of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Rather than reading through challenging articles, auditory learners can simply listen to the content on-demand. This not only benefits those who prefer to learn by listening, but also students that are language learners. Students with visual impairments and with certain learning disabilities will also benefit from ReadSpeaker and Blackboard’s collaboration.

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(Photo Credit: ReadSpeaker Website)

Blackboard is committed to improving accessibility to learners. Katie Blot, senior vice president of corporate strategy & industry relations at Blackboard, shared that the partnership between Blackboard and ReadSpeaker will help make learning more adaptable and accessible for educators and learners.

Text-to-Speech is opening doors to help students access higher education.

Click here to learn more.

Gaming the Learning Process

Schools frequently attempt to use video games as part of the academic process, but one new Penn State course is actively encouraging its education studies students to play and analyze existing popular video games in order to help build effective coursework. “Gaming 2 Learn” invites future K-12 teachers to play games such as Minecraft and Call of Duty. Students will also play these same games with children and write about what stood out as an educational elements to the experience. The course is designed with the knowledge that young children love playing popular video games as much as they despise playing pre-approved “educational” games.

Instructor Ali Carr-Chellman says the program is meant to help teachers build literacy about the games students play: “As teachers, many of us do not know what our children are playing. So how can we whether or not those games are teaching our children anything? By observing and participating in the game, our students can see firsthand what the educational values of these games are.”lh

 

Registration to the online Gaming 2 Learn course is open now to graduate-level students. It is not tied to a specific content area, so teachers and future teachers of all subjects can find useful material.

For more information, click here: http://news.psu.edu/story/396733/2016/03/14/academics/new-course-brings-video-games-classroom

On the Clouds!

cloud

Colleges and universities are finding that the cloud is an ideal environment for serving modern technology to modern day students. Using the cloud students will have easy access to course material at their fingertips to help them succeed in higher education.

The cloud gives students more ways to learn such as providing 24/7 course resources on any mobile device in a faster and easier way. Since students learn at different times, in different ways, and in different environments, the cloud provides assignments, learning supplements, self-paced tests, and other aids accessible when needed. With 24/7 access students are not restricted to library or office hours. What the cloud does is it takes advantage of modern technologies to provide a database where students can access up-to-date information. The cloud eliminates data silos, so students and faculty aren’t constantly tracking down information from multiple sources. Students also have multi-user communication, which enable collaboration and ways to learn beyond a traditional textbook or classroom lecture. In the end the cloud’s goal is not to keep up with modern technology, but to help improve student success by providing fast, easy, and reliable course material.

Schools that are taking advantage of modern technologies have noticed that the cloud offers an effective and cost-efficient experience for student resources. Meanwhile providing students with more ways to learn in an easy fast way.

Read more here.

24 Hour Tech Studio

The University of Utah will open a new building in 2016 that will provide a space for college students to connect and collaborate using high-tech tools. Many students commented that they needed a space to connect with students to help better their projects/ideas. Other students simply needed a place that would allow them to work 24 hours on-campus that provided the high tech equipment they need. The university took action to construct a building that would bring all 400 student entrepreneurs together under one roof, which will open in the fall of 2016. A game designer from Utah University stated that the best people to test our new video game idea’s he’s developing are incoming freshman. The new building will provide students with the opportunity to develop their products as well as build a community within their school.

Students will have access to helpful tools such as 3D printers, milling machines and saws, as well as high-tech modeling software. The building will also have open floor plans to give students more opportunities to work together and connect with each other.

Other universities such as the University of Michigan opened the 450-room building in 2010, which includes a residential space and an academic tower. The hall also includes a dining area. The goal of this building is to blur the line between academic life and residential life. Indiana University also has a  building that aims to create a space where students can use all forms of technology. Both technology and building design play a crucial role in creating a space where students can collaborate with their peers and gain new skills.

The University of Utah plans to help foster and build student businesses that will launch from their new tech building. Utah University plans to have a building that will help students use any form of new technology as well as accommodate future innovations.

For more information on this topic click here.

Free Online Courses: A Positive Experience

Yes, free online courses are now being offered by universities. Karen Harpp, a professor at Colgate University, has opened her course, “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb,” to university alumni and others who make a special request to join. Harpp believed it would be hard for today’s students to imagine living in 1945, experiencing a world war, or for most, serving in the military. With online classes, alumni have the opportunity to share their experiences, which can lead to class discussions getting more interesting.

The first time the online course opened Colgate hoped to enroll 238 students, but it surpassed that goal with 380 alumni. Another course that was offered, “Living Writers”, had 678 alumni enrolled. Ms. Harpp noticed that alumni who had graduated after 2000 were very interested in having access to the course material but less interested in engaging with the students. Older alumni from the Class of 1980 and earlier were most excited to talk with current Colgate students, challenging them on their thoughts and opinions on nuclear warfare. Colgate calls its class and others like it “fusion” courses because there are in-person courses for Colgate students with an additional online component that brings in alumni. The goal of these classes is not just to involve alumni, but to also invite the community to engage with students through online technology.

Now more universities are using free online courses as a form of engaging students with personal experiences that deal with the course content. Harvard University began offering such courses to graduates last year and the University of Wisconsin at Madison plans to offer six courses for their alumni. Now courses are being opened to the community and to various book clubs. With the help of technology and open dialog students receive a new and convenient way to promote “lifelong learning” while incorporating the community.

For more information on this topic visit the link below.

Fabris, Casey. “One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 12 Jan. 2015. Web.