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UWB LT Blog Included as a “Must-Read” by EdTech Magazine

We’re proud to report that this blog was included in The Dean’s List: 50 Must-Read Higher Education Technology Blogs, an article by EdTech Magazine highlighting 50 fantastic educational technology blogs. Learning Technologies is absolutely honored to be included among some incredible writers and institutions. We are also pleased to see that some of our favorite edtech blogs made the list, and are excited to explore and discover new ones!

We have a great team here at UWB Learning Technologies, and we couldn’t do it without one another! Thank you to all of our readers and Edtech Magazine for including us in this list. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing!

Stanford School of Engineering Opens Online Courses

The Stanford School of Engineering has begun to offer online classes free of charge to anyone around the world. The program is called Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE), and currently offers 13 different courses in the topics of computer science, artificial intelligence, linear systems and optimization, and miscellaneous engineering topics.

Students of SEE’s open courses have access to class lectures, syllabi, handouts, assignments, exams, and software. Additionally, SEE students can communicate with each other online, allowing collaboration for understanding.

It’s great to see Stanford contributing to the open course world. SEE is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Smartphones as Learning Tools

Last Spring, we posted an article about using cell phones in the classroom. Nearly every student, staff and faculty member has one, and in the past years there’s been a push to harness the technology for educational enhancement. But now an even more advanced mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous–smartphones. There are now 91.4 million smartphones in the United States, and many students are the proud owners of these devices. In addition to standard cell phone features of calling and texting, smartphones make it easy to browse the web, play games, check the news, study for a test, and much more all thanks to different applications that can be installed on the phone.

With technology constantly advancing, it may be only a matter of time until cell phones are replaced completely by smartphones. It’s no wonder, considering possession of a smartphone is having knowledge & resources at your fingertips (literally). This brings to mind the idea of smartphones in the classroom. Want to get the latest on a current event? Open a news app. Need to spell check something? Use the dictionary on your phone. Looking for background information on a topic? Open Wikipedia for a quick review.

But the dilemma with smartphones in the classroom is similar to laptops in the classroom. How do we use the technology without distracting students from the class work? In a Campus Technology article published recently, this question is tackled. The authors give several tips on best practices for smartphones in the class, which will be highlighted after the jump:

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Smart Classroom Strategies: Getting Faculty Involved

UWB ClassroomA recent article published by Campus Technology describes how higher ed institutions nationwide are upgrading to provide faculty with the latest technologies to use for teaching and learning. These technologies include hardware such as clickers, tablets, and video recording equipment along with software and web tools such as Google Apps. However, while many of these initiatives to bring the latest technology in to the classroom are ambitious and designed to enhance learning, what can occur instead is that the technology ends up sitting in a storage closet as faculty who are often willing to try new hardware and software are frustrated with not knowing how to use these tools effectively.

The article outlines five strategies to help faculty use technology tools effectively so that they don’t end up gathering dust:

  1. Create Peer Training Groups – “Instead of equipping classrooms with technology and expecting faculty members to use it, Shackelford said, the university trained a small group of “ambassadors” who help other professors get onboard with the new equipment, software, and applications. Facebook, for example, was introduced not only as a social networking platform for students but also as a communication tool for professors to use with one another and with their students. “
  2. Carve out time for Professional Development – New technology initiatives can be fast and furious as IT departments collaborate with campus academic divisions, network groups, and other entities to meet deployment deadlines. Faculty members can get swept up in the excitement and wind up with classrooms full of technology that they don’t know how to use.
  3. Align IT with academic instructional departments – “We can’t do what we want to do on the development side if we don’t have the IT support,” said Spataro, who often bounces ideas off the IT team.
  4. Create a link between technological innovation and pedagogical effectiveness. If professors know that the time they’re putting into professional development will ultimately help them teach better, then the odds that they will participate and be engaged will be that much higher.
  5. Finally, involve faculty members in the planning process. Getting professors to integrate smart classroom technologies into their lessons, lectures, assignments, and projects can be as simple as opening up the lines of communication early between those instructors and their IT and instructional technology departments.

Read more at Campus Technology: Tactics for the Smart Classroom: Getting Smarter About Faculty Involvement

In Case You Missed It: Major eTextbook Announcement by Apple

Last Thursday, Apple unveiled iBooks 2, the company’s new platform for interactive eTextbooks. TG Daily reports that since then, Apple has sold over 350,000 of their new textbooks.

Also unveiled (which may be more exciting for instructors) was a Mac App called iBooks Author. iBooks Author is a free app that allows anyone to create an interactive textbook for the iPad. It supports images, slideshows, and various other widgets.

Currently, there are only eight available textbooks in the iBooks 2 store, all seemingly at high school-level. This makes sense, considering the keynote presentation focused mainly on the education of K-12 students. However, we can’t help but cross our fingers in hopes that this new approach to textbooks catches on in the world of higher education as well.

If you have an iPad and would like to take a firsthand look at what these new textbooks are all about, E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is available for free on the iBooks 2 store. The other eTextbooks are still priced reasonably at $14.99/book.

EDIT: Chelsea Stark, of Mashable, posted the following chart several hours ago, comparing iBooks Author to other self-publishing software. Check it out: