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Video Observation is helping Professors Grade Themselves

Video observation is not a new concept on a college campus; though typically, it’s used for athletes, rather than professors. But this could be changing, according to a study done at Harvard University that suggests that this same tactic could benefit educators. In an article by Erin McIntyre, in Harvard’s two-year study, video observation was found to improve a teacher’s evaluation in several ways. Additionally, video-recorded performances were found to be more productive rather than on an in-person review. Feedback was more specific and educators got the chance to watch themselves interact with students. While Harvard’s studies focused only on the educators of K-12, there are several colleges and universities that already offer video observations to their faculty in order to improve their teaching.

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At the University of Michigan, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) encourages faculty members to obtain feedback in several ways.  These include student questionnaires, self-reflection and peer observation, as well as video observation and confidential reviews with its staff to faculty throughout the university.

At Harvard, through their Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, any educator can request a video recording that they can then review it with a trained consultant.

At the University of Colorado at Boulder, they consider video observations so important that students are required to do two in order to complete the Graduate Teacher Program. Students use the videos as a basis for a self-assessment and an improvement plan.

As research continues to strongly support the value observations, a video camera in the classroom may be just as common as a camera on the football field.

For more information, please visit the article here

Virtual Reality Facilitates Higher ED Research and Teaches High-Risks Skills

Developers coded the earliest simulation for aerospace and medical uses in the late 1970s, now online learning has given virtual learning new importance. DiVE, allows users to enter a virtual environment. The upgraded DiVE features six Dell T7400 workstations. Now students can learn with 3D effects and high quality graphics. Multiple people can experience high-fidelity simulators.  DiVE allows instructors to bring the world to their students.

Duke University built the Duke immersive Virtual Environment in 2005 and recently upgraded it in 2015. The University of South Alabama (USA) also has a Simulation Program similar to Duke’s. Researchers or students who want to use DiVE at USA need to through a certification process. The certification includes an hour training course and then an assessment.

DiVE opens new possibilities to researchers. At USA, Kopper, an assistant research professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, shared the example of a neuroscience research project that uses simulated Olympic trap shooting to explore how people improve at the precise task. The participant performs the task in the DiVE while neuroscientists monitor the brain activity with an electroencephalogram.

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Photo by Vanderbilt University

The DiVE lets researchers gather detailed data that would be difficult and risky to capture otherwise. Simulators like the DiVE can help students majoring risk-intensive and high-pressure conditions fields learn through a virtual reality. Whether you plan to use the DIVE or any other type simulation institutions desire it is important to use the simulation for service learning, teaching and research. When colleges and universities use simulators well they develop graduates what are prepared for the adversity that awaits them in their careers.

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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.

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‘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.

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