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One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement

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Photo Credit to Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

It is assumed that once you graduate from college you will no longer need to spend time in the classroom. A diploma from a university is a pinnacle moment of your educational career and once that has been obtained there is no use in spending any more time in a classroom. This idea is incorrect.

Casey Fabris examines the benefits of offering free online courses to college alumni in his article on The Chronicle of Higher Education website. This article examines the experiment conducted by Colgate University over the past few years in which they invited back alumni from the school to participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses). The courses offered ranged in subjects from “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb” to “Living Writers”. In a course offered last spring pertaining to atomic bombs they even invited veterans to participate in class discussions online to give the students a better perspective on their experiences with the war, since many of them weren’t even born at that time.

By offering free online courses to alumni from the school they are able to keep them connected with the community of both former and current students. During the first enrollment period Colgate University was able to enroll 380 alumni, when their original goal was only 238. The numbers grew to a whopping 800 online participants as the courses continued. The alumni participating in these courses were asked to share their feedback on the university’s experiment with online learning, and officials behind it considered it a success.

Other universities are now trying to engage their alumni using free online courses, offering former students a way to learn throughout their lives after university. The courses offer ways for alumni to engage each other if they wish and increase their knowledge even after their education has ended.

For more information on this topic visit the article above.

5 Apps for College Students

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Picture by: Nasser Almulhim

Now more than ever is technology part of daily life. The way college students study has changed from carrying stacks of papers, flash cards, and highlighters to carrying an electronic device. The Apple Store notes that there are now more than 20,000 educational apps alone. With finals week around the corner, here are 5 apps that U.S. News Education believes every college student should use:

1. StudyBlue Flashcards: Preparing for a big exam often involves carrying around a pile of flashcards. With StudyBlue Flashcards, you can access millions of flashcards created by other users or make your own. StudyBlue also has a  filter setting that can help week out concepts students have mastered and review questions that have been answered incorrectly. (Available for: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, and web browsers; cost: free)

2. Graphing Calculator: This app has to be one of the most money saving apps a student could download. While students can purchase a graphing calculator ranging near the cost of $100 the app store offers apps that can also plot and trace multiple equations on the same graph at the fraction of the cost if not free. The apps are equipped with graph tracing, trigonometry symbols, and much more. (Available for: iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Android; Cost: Free – $1.99)

3. School Helper:  Everyone know life as a college student can be messy, but there are many apps are specifically for daily organization. School Helper helps students stay organized by keeping track of grades, homework assignments, notes, and exams on the home screen. Students can add widgets to the main phone screen as reminders for assignments. Another helpful tool is found under “Marks,” it allows students to keep track of their grades in a particular course by adding assignment or exam counts that go toward the final grade. (Available for: Android; Costs: free)

4. Trello: It’s no surprise that when it comes to group projects someone gets the short end of the stick. Trello is an app designed to help group projects, both big and small, manage who is responsible for what. Group members can also create deadlines, assign, and tasks. Trello also sends group notifications when changes have been made. (Available for: iOS Devices, Android, Windows, and web browsers; Cost: free)

5. Google Drive: Being in group projects can often be a mess, but Google Drive makes collaborating a breeze. With Google Drive students can see when changes are made to files such as presentations or group papers. (Available: iOs Devices, Android, and web browsers; Cost: free)

Lytle, Ryan. “5 Apps College Students Should Use This Year.” US News. U.S.News & World

Sheehy, Kelsey. “5-Must-Download Apps for College Students.” US News. U.S.News & World

Social Media in the classroom: A Barrier or an Aid to Learning?

social-media-in-education-thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down.jpg (Photo credit to weareteachers.com)

 

Technology has taken gargantuan steps in becoming the primary focus of our lives today. People cannot often be seen without their phones, tablets or laptops. Of course social media is intertwined within all of these outlets of technology (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) The questions that begs to be answered is “Is social media a distraction or something beneficial for students in the classroom?” Initially the correct answer would seem to lean towards the side of a distraction, as students often use social media for interaction with other students, family or friends, leaving no room for classroom learning via these tools. Social media has also proved to diminish students’ ability to focus in class when they’re tempted to constantly check their phones or tablets for the latest on these social media websites.

With that said social media is not going away anytime soon and it’s assimilation into the classroom is important especially for the students growing up in the era of social media domination. Author of Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom Karen Lederer brings up excellent examples of how teachers can integrate social media into their lesson plans without engaging the distracting aspect of it. For example Lederer brings up using Facebook or twitter to post something that was discussed in class and why it was pertinent to the lesson as a way to earn participation points. Lederer also discusses using class time to create LinkedIn accounts for students, as a way to prepare them for successful employment in the future. These are merely a couple of examples from a comprehensive list of ideas of how one can integrate social media into classroom learning and I believe we need to take a deeper look into making social media a part of learning curriculum’s, particularly after elementary and middle school.

Lederer, Karen. “Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom.” Pros and Cons of Social Media in the Classroom — Campus Technology. Campus Technology, 01 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2015.

For The Best Audio Software, There Can Only Be One

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Picture by: hitechp23 and Oğuz Demirkapı

When trying to decide what software to use for audio files the biggest battle seems to be between Adobe Audition and Audacity. TLC  Media Design, the author of this debating blog, does a great job of laying out the two programs and doing a face to face comparison. This blog will show you the pros and cons of both softwares and for which type of audience tends to fall for certain ones.

When doing the comparisons between the two softwares, one will always have a certain feature that the other does not. But still even with the different features don’t seem to have a big effect on the decision between the two either. For they are both very user friendly. Though, it is said that if you are an adobe fan or follower that Audition will be the more comfortable software. But if you are new to both of the programs, they are both fairly simple to comprehend and both also contain easy to follow tutorials on their websites and YouTube.

When it all really comes down to when doing the comparison between the two there is actually very little difference between them. The biggest difference is the price. Though, this blog also talks about what the users say and some people carry some very interesting claims regarding both softwares. Find out the differences yourself, by checking out this blog and decide for yourself, which software you believe is better.

Class-Sourcing

In an article on Stanford’s Center for Teaching and Learning website Gleb Tsipursky examines the benefits of teaching using a new set of tools in our digital age, namely those that are available through the great invention of the internet. Today students are able to take advantage of website creation and artifact archiving to demonstrate the new information they have gained through their classroom experience. Tsipursky calls this phenomenon Class-Sourcing.

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Class-Sourcing is the integration of technology into the classroom through the use of website creation, artifact archival, blog writing, video creation, podcast creation, or any other media related design used to express ideas, research, or content they have gained from the class. Class-Sourcing takes advantage of group activities to help promote team building and prompts students to get creative in their expression of information.

Class-Sourcing has many benefits to the students who take advantage of it. They gain skills in digital literacy, data management, digital design, digital communication, collaboration, and public presentation to name a few. Each of these skills proves useful not only in the classroom but outside of it as well. Our age is becoming increasingly tech-oriented and employers are seeking tech-savvy individuals to fill the limited positions available. Students are able to create content they enjoy whilst learning the ins and outs of website creation which will benefit them for years to come.

Here at the University of Washington we have already integrated Class-Sourcing into our classrooms. Through the use of Canvas, Catalyst, Google Sites and much more professors are now able to offer their students an alternative to classic pen and paper school work. Students are able to create their own personal media content that they can upload directly to their teachers. Many professors have abandoned the use of physical papers and have adapted wholly to the online resources available to them. Students can archive all of their work from their college years onto their own personalized website that they can reference for years to come. This proves useful for students who graduate from this University, leaving with a portfolio full of experience to show to potential employers.

 

For more information on Class-Sourcing and its benefits visit the link above.