UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog Rotating Header Image

October, 2009:

Strategic Learning Environment Configurations in the Higher Education Sector in the U.K. and the U.S.

Strategic Learning Environment Configurations in the Higher Education Sector in the U.K. and the U.S.
Hanover Research Council

This report discusses emerging trends in the use of strategic learning environments at higher education institutions. It includes a summary of the trends in usage of various virtual learning environments, as well as discussions of the ways in which institutions are using new technologies such as Web 2.0 tools and personal learning environments.

Link: Strategic Learning Environment Configurations in the Higher Education UK and US.pdf

Blogs and wikis in the classroom

Blogs and wikis in the classroom
Elaine Plybon, Dallas Educational Technology Examiner

Over the last few years, more and more educators have begun using blogs and wikis in the classroom. This article will discuss what blogs and wikis are, some of their uses in the classroom, and provide resources for teachers who are hoping to begin using blogs and/or wikis this year.

Blogs, short for “web logs” have become popular through all social circles. Blogs give an author or authors an opportunity to share information with large groups of people via the web in a very easy-to-use format. Readers of articles are able to post comments to them, which makes each blog a dynamic work-in-progress. Often used as a distribution point for information, news, and updates, many companies, newspapers, and individuals have experienced benefits from starting a blog.

In the classroom, blogs can be used as a place for students to talk about what they have learned, discuss perspectives on a news item, or provide information to individuals who have an interest in the class. There are multiple sources for free blogs. Visit the “For more information” section of this article to find a few.

Wikis are another dynamic tool for use in the classroom. Wiki means “quickly” in Hawaiian. Whether that is how they were named or if it is an acronym for “What I Know Is”, using wikis is a way to create webpages without having any knowledge of the software programming languages required to write web pages. Wikis can be edited by several people, making them a useful tool for collaborative projects. Wikis also give students an opportunity to reveal what they have learned, begin conversations about topics they are researching, and display projects or other products from the classroom. Wikis are very easy to edit. Usually it only takes clicking an “Edit” button and a user will be given the opportunity to add their own content in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) format. One example of a very popular wiki is Wikipedia.

True for both blogs and wikis:
Adding graphics and files for download are fairly easy. Teachers can use either format as a source of information for parents, including homework assignments, classroom calendars, and contact information. It is also very important when using blogs or wikis that students be reminded about following copyright laws at all times. The temptation to use images and other information they find on the internet can be difficult to overcome in a copy-and-paste society.

There are some classrooms that use both blogs and wikis. However, in my opinion a teacher should determine which one is right for his/her own classroom use. In my science classroom, for example, we will use a wiki this year to showcase what we’ve learned, create a word wall, and work on group projects. Other classrooms might lend themselves more towards a blog – as a place for students to comment on each other’s ideas and information.

It is important, as with any technology in the classroom, to make sure that what is used is relevant and the right tool for each classroom. Deciding to teach students how to use every technology tool just because it is a cool tool and has a use in some classrooms is not good practice. A teacher must thoughtfully consider what each classroom needs and give students the information they need to be able to use the tool efficiently and effectively.

Read the full article at the link below…

Link: http://www.examiner.com/x-12200-Dallas-Educational-T…


Clay Rooks

This paper is an updated presentation on the subject of cheating and plagiarism via the World Wide Web. In a few hours searching the Internet, the author found even more “cheat” sites than in 1998 that offered not only all types of term and research papers, but college admission letters, reviews, case studies, even dissertations as well. Most now offer papers that are fully documented and cited, at no extra charge. Many more sites offer free papers than ever before and list the “Top 100” sites as links. CheatHouse has more than 66,000 papers available in 130 categories for only $9.95 per year. The site eCheat lists their services as “collaboration” not cheating. Many still pretend to be “reference” or “research” sites, but others have given up that facade. Though it is difficult, if not impossible, to stop cheating and plagiarism completely, several successful strategies have been developed and tried over the years. Some are updates of older methods and others are as new as using the Internet. One is to avoid giving open-ended or generic topic assignments. Plagiarism detection programs, like Turnitin.com are also making it more difficult for students to cheat. In addition, setting specific criteria and standards for the materials that must be in the paper might make plagiarism impractical if not nearly impossible.

Link: http://www.gantopian.com/others/Dad/WWW2CheatComUpdateMS.pdf [alternate link via Eric.gov]

The top 5 ways students use technology to cheat

The top 5 ways students use technology to cheat
Carin Ford, Higher Ed Morning

They can do it faster and more easily than ever before. But what’s most worrisome: Today’s students may not think cheating is wrong.

Let’s start with the facts.

According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, 35% of teens use their cell phones to cheat.

And if you’re wondering how they do it:

  • 26% store info on their phone and look at it while taking a test
  • 25% send text messages to friends, asking for answers
  • 17% take pictures of a test – and then send it to their friends
  • 20% use their phones to search for answers on the Internet
  • 48% warn friends about a pop quiz with a phone call or text message

If cheating’s gone high-tech, so have morals: 25% of teens consider the above actions “helping” not cheating.

When it comes to the Internet, 52% say they’ve engaged in some type of cheating.

But again, they don’t see much wrong with it: 36% don’t view downloading a paper as a serious offense, and 42% believe copying text from the Web is a minor offense at its worst.

Educators are put in the difficult spot of trying to catch something that’s difficult to detect in addition to dealing with students who seem to have a loose definition of “collaboration.”

Read the full article at the Higher Ed Morning link below…

Link: http://www.higheredmorning.com/the-top-5-ways-students-use-technology-to-cheat

Going For Distance

Going For Distance
Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed.

Online education is no longer a peripheral phenomenon at public universities, but many academic administrators are still treating it that way.

So says a comprehensive study released today by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Sloan National Commission on Online Learning, which gathered survey responses from more than 10,700 faculty members and 231 interviews with administrators, professors, and students at APLU institutions.

“I think it’s a call to action,” said Jack Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts and chair of the Sloan online learning commission. “The leadership of universities has been trying to understand exactly how [online education] fits into their strategic plans, and what this shows is that faculty are ahead of the institutions in these online goals.”

According to the study, professors are open to teaching online courses (defined in the study as courses where at least 80 percent of the course is administered on the Web), but do not believe they are receiving adequate support from their bosses. On the whole, respondents to the faculty survey rated public universities “below average” in seven of eight categories related to online education, including support for online course development and delivery, protection of intellectual property, incentives for developing and delivering online courses, and consideration of online teaching activity in promotion and tenure decisions.

Still, more than a third of the faculty respondents had developed and taught an online course.

Read the full article at the Inside Higher Ed link below…

Link: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/31/survey