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Create A Better Learning Space

Providing a well-rounded learning space is not always the easiest task, and can be difficult based on the class size as well. Luckily there is a way to deal with such obstacles. In an article on Campus Technology we find out how multiple types of tests, taken by Purdue University, worked and brought in new ways to improve the learning space of their students. To provide a better experience for everybody, the university had to lay out specific requirements for the new physical space, such as: soundproofing, acoustic panels and ceiling mics.

To create a better learning space, Purdue University had to take into consideration the different needs of students taking classes online. In order to turn lectures around quickly for the use of online learners, “Telestream” was applied to do the encoding, which allowed the school to provide recordings to its students within 20 minutes from the time the lecture was finished. The encoding would capture the lecture and place it into one big file. It was then compressed down into a MPEG-4 file that could be uploaded onto a Web server.

This was a great way to improve the experience for students who were taking the class online, but more changes had to be made to take effect on those who physically attended. It was for them that the monitors were removed from the desks in order to design a more interactive classroom layout. Mobile tables and chairs were also added to provide maximum flexibility for the professors and students. For bigger classrooms, containing 75 students, 90 inch screen tv’s were placed on the wall allowing the students to view anything that the professor would display or demonstrate.

The rooms were all designed to function in two distinct modes: the first is the”Presentation mode,” this meant that the equipment in the room was not in use for  lectures being recorded; the second is “production mode,” an operation intended to capture the class. These two modes could easily be switched between one another with one single button. Though as nice and as flawless as this may sound, there were some challenges the University happened to come across. To see what challenges were faced and how they were handled click the link above.

Open-Source Learning: Next-Gen Knowledge

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In 2006 a man by the name of Richard Baraniuk introduced the idea of open-source learning during a Ted Talk presentation. Baraniuk does not hold sole ownership of the idea, however what he presented was an alternate avenue by which the way we learn could evolve. Open-source learning is defined by Baraniuk as a database in which teachers across the world can share course-materials, lesson plans and data while constantly being peer-reviewed by their professional colleagues. Baraniuk envisioned a world where not only the cost of learning would be greatly reduced but the efficiency of learning and the scope of students learning would be raised substantially.

Fast forward into 2015 and the landscape of learning has changed drastically. Online classes have been integrated into most community colleges and universities, student textbooks can now be found online and information has definitely become more free-flowing between both professors and students alike. With that said Baraniuk’s vision is far from being realized. The idea of open-source learning was built on the premise of being a free route (emphasis on free) to educate and develop philosophies, so that those in underdeveloped regions with limited access to resources could in fact receive a similar education to those in well developed areas. Of course in the U.S. where a capitalistic system reigns, free is never truly free.

Today there are plenty of websites that promote open-source learning, which is a positive increase from where education was in 2006. With that said the system is not without its flaws. Often times an open-source website allows for free use, however in order to access certain features one must pay a certain amount per month, going against the whole idea of “free”. Some websites provide a basic design layout for teachers to use however if not satisfactory to the teacher’s needs then a third party coder or designer would need to be brought in to deliver a new design and regularly update code which can prove costly. These are just a couple of drawbacks open-source learning has come to encounter over the years. As students, educators and people who are overall hungry for knowledge what do you think of open-source learning? Will it improve? Will costs be raised? Lowered? Please leave thoughts or comments as this may very well be where education in the future goes.

For more information on this topic, visit the link below.

http://www.academyofmine.com/open-source-learning-management-system-lms/

 

Simplicity for International Teaching

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Comprehending a new language can be difficult, but luckily there is a tool that can help anyone pick it up.

The University of Washington Bothell has been building a large and diverse campus over the years and provides hundreds of types of courses to its students. English language classes are even offered to international students as well. But how are these classes being taught? Is there a more effective way?

The answer is yes! And the Voki app is the right tool to use for these situations. Voki allows the teachers and students to make avatars that can be used to help them with their education. Students are able to design their own Avatars to speak the language they are currently trying to learn. A set of instructions can also be provided to help students understand the meaning of the words and guidance on how they are pronounced. That is only the beginning of what Voki is capable of.

Voki is a great program and has multiple purposes, speaking another language is just one of them. The best thing about Voki is that it is great to use in front of a large class, when one on one with a student, or even by one’s self when alone studying. It is definitely a strong tool and can be used to help students everywhere comprehend things in a different and technical way.

To find out more about what Voki can do and how it can be used, click the link at the top of the page and find out something new and amazing you could have missed.

Prezi Adds New Features

Have you tried Prezi yet? An old favorite of Learning Technologies, this online presentation tool is quickly growing in popularity as an alternative to linear slideshow programs. Just last month, they added three new features to the presentation mode that are quite exciting:

  • Screen Blackout – Need a break from visuals for a moment? While in presentation mode, users can now simply press the B key to temporarily black out their screen. Moving the mouse or pressing any other key will return to the presentation from there.
  • 3D Backgrounds – Users can now add layers to their presentation, creating a 3D effect. Watch the video below to see the feature in action:

  • Fade-in Animation – Content can now be faded in and out within frames. This is great if you wish to add a hide-and-reappear effect to your presentation. Here’s another video to show you how:

If you’d like to keep up with Prezi as it grows, check out their new feature log, which will be updated when new features are added.

Thanks to David Andrade at Educational Technology Guy for bringing this to our attention!

Back-to-School Apps for Instructors and Students

In the spirit of back-to-school season, onlinecolleges.net recently published lists of recommended smartphone apps for students and instructors. We’ve decided to share a few of their favorites–as well as some of ours–with you here:

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