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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.

‘Stackable” Degrees as entries to Graduate Programs

As the rates for graduate education increase and students are demanding for cheaper alternatives, some universities and colleges are experimenting with “stackable degrees.” The idea behind it is allowing students to start with a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), followed by a few more MOOCs to get an online certificate, followed by more courses to get a traditional master’s degree.

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The University of Illinois announced this type of degree recently. Starting in the Fall, students can enroll in an online master’s program in data science (which is closely collaborated with Coursera). The cost of the full master’s program is astronomically less than the price of an on-campus master’s program, costing only $19,200.

Because of the demand for students to get in STEM degrees and a university’s very little space, they will try to create these programs in order to accommodate more students, while saving them money.

The University of Illinois is not the only university that is experimenting. Massachusetts Institute of Technology also announced a similar program called “micro-master’s degree.”

This style of degree will help students also test out whether or not they want to go with just getting a certificate or go for the full master’s degree. This will align much better with their career goals.

For more information, visit the article here.

Competency-Based Courses Opening Doors to Higher Education

Competency-Based Education are courses designed around students’ mastery in a topic rather than around the amount of time they sit through a class. With most programs, students follow a carefully designed curriculum that leads them through specific learning objectives. Students are then required to complete a series of demanding tests, writing assignments and other assessments.

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(Photo Credit: Josh McCreery)

The University of Wisconsin-Extension offers UW Flexible Option, an outreach and e-learning option that opens the door to working professionals seeking to continue their education in one. The program offers everything from certificates to bachelor’s degrees. Students that use the Flexible Option allows them to learn what they need to and save money by not taking unnecessary courses

The IT department tracks students from the day they are enrolled, release new modules as they complete competencies, and send out automated student feedback. For students, the transition to this new learning model can be overwhelming. Flexible Option offers each student an Academic Success Coach who will answer student questions, offer advice, and help students create a learning plan and timeline. Institutions partnering with IT departments can build a fully supported competency-based program that puts students in control of their education by offering courses that students can personalize at an affordable rate.

Click here to learn more

How Sal Khan Hopes to Remake Education

Khan Academy is one of the biggest education based websites that strive to help students in specific subjects. Khan Academy is an online learning provider that supplies useful videos for each subject for free. Specifically, the website is known for its STEM courses that can help a student get a better understanding of a specific topic within those classes.

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Salman Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, and started out the website by creating iconic recorded videos in his walk-in closet for a nonprofit organization with more than twenty million registered students. The videos are only a small part of his mission to remake education.

In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sal Khan was introduced as a man that first had a career as a financial analyst at a hedge fund. He made his first videos to help his cousins with their math homework. After creating more videos, he was noticed by Bill Gates, who became a backer. After creating hundreds of videos, people believed that they weren’t professional enough, however Sal has other ideas. He believes the informal attribute allows the audience to really understand what he’s doing. The main idea of his creation is to make sure that every student truly understands the material, not just memorize the formulas.

Currently Sal Khan has created a program for students from Kindergarten through eighth grade called, Khan Lab School. He even sends one of his own kids there. He has higher hopes then just this small school however. He said if he was every given the opportunity to create a college, he would want to focus on high-need areas in the world. Specifically he doesn’t want to just traditionally have a lecture based courses, but instead sending students out to research locally, specifically possibly a university or a company.

Khan believes in introducing a different form of learning and building a student’s portfolio to make them more appealing to companies. However, he doesn’t believe this idea will be readily accepted in the community due to the old traditions of learning.

For more information on this article, click here.

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