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November, 2013:

MOOCs Have the Potential to Change How Instructors Handle Classrooms

According to an article by the Chronicle of Higher Education, MOOCs have the potential to transform the way instructors’ handle their classroom by turning a traditional lecture based classroom into a ‘flipped classroom.’ Lectures oftentimes “masks a lot of disinterests” amongst students, causing only those interested in the subject to succeed.

In a flipped classroom, students typically watch video lectures provided by MOOCs as homework then save interactive discussions and projects for the classroom. Doing this provides students more time to communicate with their instructor in rich conversations. It also causes the instructor to act more as a guide working with students rather than working for students.

The biggest concern about integrating MOOCs into a classroom is instructor control. In traditional classrooms, instructors get total control of the classroom whether its material use, presentation, or assessment. When instructors switch to a flipped classroom, they need to work their discussions, projects, etc. around the MOOC lecture they have students watch.

It’s a large risk for instructors to make the switch, especially if they have insecurities. But with instructors like Douglas Fisher, who was mentioned in the article, making the switch was  necessary in order to take the next step in higher education.

Livescribe Smartpens: Ultimate Writing Utensils?

Students are prone to keeping up with the latest technology, especially when it comes to taking notes in their classes. Traditional notebooks pile up and can oftentimes become out of hand. Students are then dependent on digital organizing, using their laptops, tablets, and sometimes even their smart phones to jot down class notes. But what happens when instructors ban or restrict technology use in the classroom? This is where Livescribe Smartpens come in handy.  The Echo, Sky, and newly released 3 Smartpen are able to capture notes and create a digital copy.

The first of the bunch is the Echo Smartpen. This pen is able to capture notes as well as audio. By simply tapping on notes, the Echo plays back the audio that complemented them. Create digital versions of notes by transferring files via USB to Livescribe’s desktop app.

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Digital Learning Collaboration – The Simon Initiative

An article by Inside Higher Ed has reported that Carnegie Mellon University will be opening the largest database on student learning to the public with the intention of identifying the best practices and standards for using technology in the classroom. A council of higher education leader, education technology experts, and industry representatives will support the initiative in distributing the data and guiding the conversation.

The announcement outlined four major goals for the initiative: sharing rich data globally, helping teachers teach, accelerating innovation and scaling through start-up companies, and improving residential students’ educational experience.

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Can Gaming Become Higher Education’s Future?

We’ve heard of gaming being integrated in primary school, but what about higher education? According to studies conducted by Gallup, the levels of student engagement fades the longer they stay in school. Engagement levels drop from 76% in elementary school to 44% in high school.

EdTech revealed in a recent article that levels of engagement has the potential to increase if colleges and universities integrate games into the classroom. Games are developed to create emotions of joy, pride, creativity, and curiosity just to name a few. It makes sense to want to integrate gaming in higher education- school is designed to be competitive just like a game. But if students fail they don’t have positive emotional resilience like gamers do, EdTech claims.

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Kerika: A Task Board Designed for Distributed Teams

Group projects, when looked at as a whole, are a great idea. They call for collaborative teamwork, idea contribution, and utilizing individuals skill sets and experiences. Most of the time students learn from their group experiences, while with others, something went wrong along the way.

Oftentime the biggest factor in the flop of group work is the lack of communication. With our diverse population at UWB having different life schedules, it is hard to find face to face time to get together with group members. Students then rely on email, texting, Google Drive, Facebook, etc. but conversations become scattered as different layers of group projects reveal itself on different outlets of communication.

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