Higher education is being called to provide more real-world training and hands on experiences. Now more universities are providing students with more courses that help students learn about real-world situations with the help of technology.
At A.T. Still University of Health Science is using new software that allows students to turn 2D MRI and CT scans into 3D images to better understand everything they see. The virtual anatomy lab, which features 56 computers with touch-screen monitors, a 3D projector, a 175-inch 3D projection screen and anatomy software costs $350,000 dollars. Higher Ed programs like A.T Still University are now shifting more to hands-on learning, which helps students better understand a possible real-world medical experience. While students examine their cadavers they can also print a 3D version of the possible treatment they would give their future patient.
California State University has also created a system that blends traditional experiments with virtual labs. The university calls their project the Virtual Courseware project, which redesigns courses to take advantage of technology to reduce bottlenecks in class enrollment caused by years of budget cuts. Students learn online and conduct virtual labs, but meet in the class once every two weeks. The program coordinator, Robert Desharnais, found that students not only get better grades when using hybrid courses, but the hybrid approach allows the university to double the number of general education science courses it offers without needing extra faculty or classrooms. Which also saves the university money. CSU’s Virtual Labs offer nonscience majors who need to take an intro class in order to graduate the opportunity to learn more from virtual labs than a traditional lab where they would have to follow step-by-step instructions. Virtual labs give students the freedom to think critically, conduct their own hypothesis, collect data and report results rather than following a textbook.
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For the longest time the majority of people have considered passive reading the same as active reading, which is not the case. Active reading is more like a discussion between you and the material and therefore involves repeated questioning, critiquing, re-examination and the development of ideas. Whereas passive reading is when you’re reading to just get through the assigned pages and you show little actual interest in identifying and remembering the main ideas. But even the best active readers may find it tedious to actively read about particular subjects.
In an article on Educause Review written by Elyse Graham, she talks about the use of digital annotations to help train readers in the techniques of close reading, textual analysis, and proper comprehension of the topic.
Recently, development of tools to support digital annotation has been the subject of research and development. Some groups are building heavily annotated digital versions of maps, manuscripts, and specimens; others are focusing on developing tools that enable users to annotate new media formats, such as audio files or videos of class lectures. For example, the University of Maryland has teamed with Alexander Street Press to tailor a video-annotation toolkit for scholars. Johns Hopkins University is working with the French National Library on a complete digital library of existing manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose, annotated with the kind of scholarly commentary that normally could not appear in a facsimile. MIT’s Annotation Studio, a web-based application that enables users to create, save, and share annotations to digital texts.
The application was designed to help college readers locate and mark evidence in texts, with the aim of supporting instructors and students in the humanities. To learn more about this application click the link above.
In an article written by Goldie Blumsenstyk on the Chronicle of Higher Education, she highlights a company and ed-tech entrepreneur who believes he knows the solution to a few common problems in higher education.
Paul Freedman’s company, Entangled Ventures, is working towards building a solution to the many problems that higher education faces. In order to do this, he hopes to convey these issues to start-up technology companies. He believes that there is a translation issue between what higher education needs and what companies build. The focus is to build solutions, not products that serve the needs of colleges.
The key philosophy of his company is to get involved early in pilot testing by these start-up companies. He believes that he can be the “translator” for higher education and get their needs met by building a relationship between the college and start-up company. He wants to convey the issues that colleges are having to start-up companies to allow them to build around them and adequately target the needs of the college.
This not only benefits the college but also the start-up company that is looking for a break into the technology industry. It would allow for these companies to test out their products and be supported by a higher education institution. Most companies rarely get the ears of someone at an institution. They would also be providing a product that would be used readily.
Companies such as Entangled Ventures not only help to build relationships between higher education and start-ups but they also invest in young companies. By investing at such an early stage, they also have a much larger financial stake.
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Now more than ever colleges and universities are providing video studios for general academic work rather than just for film majors or student news organizations.
Pennsylvania State University has created a simple setup that they call the “One Button Studio.” This room allows students and faculty members to simply plug a flash drive into the studio’s computer and press a button rather than dealing with complicated cameras and different editing software. The button controls the green screen, the lighting, and the video recording. Once the user is done, they just push the button again and retrieve their flash drive, with their new video saved. Penn State noticed how popular the One Button Studio was with faculty and students now they provide 19 One Button Studios across its multiple campuses.
Ohio State opened their studio just last fall and an instructor used the room to record a video of herself experimenting with liquid nitrogen and a blowtorch. Other universities, including Abilene Christian and Notre Dame, now use the model for their own in-house studios. Dartmouth College opened their studio called the “Innovation Studio” in May. Instructors can sign up to reserve the production rooms and can bring their own equipment or borrow some from the college’s media center. The rooms are used for a variety of different educational purposes. For example, universities such as Harvard have interviewed guest speakers in their studios to film the interview, so it can later be shared with classes. Other professors have used the studios to prerecorded lectures for students to watch when class is canceled. Now students don’t have to miss a lecture due to bad weather.
Professors are engaging more with tech-savvy students to provide more digital learning material for higher education.
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This month is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, which is a federal legislation designed “to [eliminate] discrimination against people with disabilities.” Often times students with disabilities can be left out of online curriculum, which is why it is important to evaluate if your webpage is accessible. In an a recent article George Williams discussed how you can evaluate your webpage for accessibility, he noted the best way to engage in accessibility testing is with actual people. However there are also a number of helpful tools that can automatically check your site for the most important accessibility issues:
- Wave Toolbar
WAVE can help you evaluate the accessibility of your web content. WAVE is easy to use, you simply enter the web page address or browse to a file on your computer and select WAVE this page. WAVE will then provide you with a report section at the top of your page with embedded icons and error indicators. RED icons indicate accessibility errors and GREEN icons indicate accessibility features.
Tota11y helps visualize how your site performs with assistive technologies. Testing for accessibility is often tedious and confusing, but tota11y aims to reduce this barrier by helping visualize accessibility violations. Your file will have a small button in the bottom of your corner document, once you click on the button you are able to see the accessibility problems your web page may have.
Allows you to check the accessibility of web pages your own or others. If you are more interested in fixing issues rather than hunting them down you can use pa11y-dashboard.
You can also look at W3C web accessibility evaluation tools list. Over 40 tools listed are software programs or online services that can help determine if the webpage is accessible. All these tools will help evaluate webpage accessibility to ensure everyone can enjoy your webpage.