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A Look at One of Singapore’s “Future Schools”

The video above is part of Edutopia’s Education Everywhere Series that examines success in schools internationally. This particular video takes an inside look at Ngee Ann Secondary School in Singapore, one of the nation’s “Future Schools”. These schools “emphasize the use of technology, digital media, and the integration of 21st century skills”. This video is a great example of successful technology use in the classroom–you can even spot a few specific tools, such as Twitter, SecondLife and Facebook.

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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Digital Media Lab: A Media Oasis

Students in Digital Media LabHave you had a chance to check out UW2-121? It is the University of Washington Bothell’s Digital Media Lab!

Inside you will find twenty-four high-end audio, photo and video production machines. The Digital Media Lab, or DML for short, is an open computer lab, a tutoring space and a digital media classroom.

We offer in-class workshops for a number of different software titles such as Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro 7 and Audacity. Students can come in during our open lab hours to receive one-on-one help with pre and post production filmmaking techniques, Google Sites and an ever growing list of media production related software titles. Finally, the DML is a cool place to hang out and have fun!

Check out the DML website for more information at http://www.uwb.edu/learningtech/dml121.

Wait there’s more! UWB’s Digital Media Lab is expanding! We have received four new computers, located in the Open Computer Lab UW2-140, for audio, photo and video production.  Also, a new 6400dpi color scanner will be installed in the DML towards the end of the winter quarter.

Successfully Using Lecture Capture

Does lecture capturing software help students learn? Engaging Lecture Capture: Lights, Camera…Interaction! is an article published by Educause Quarterly that seeks to answer this question. With not much research being done on the subject of lecture capturing, many institutions are wondering if lecture capturing software (and, in turn, hardware) will be a good investment.

The article highlights a few studies in which students were surveyed about their feelings towards recorded lectures as a supplement to class. In one survey at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “82 percent of the students would prefer a course in which lecture content is recorded, and 60 percent were willing to pay extra to have this technology available to them”. Temple University’s surveys showed even higher approval by both students and faculty: 95 percent said they preferred a course with recorded lectures. Students at both institutions also mentioned that they enjoyed the benefits of having the lecture on hand to catch up on missed classes or review course material before a test.

Despite overwhelming student satisfaction, it is still unclear whether captured lectures benefit students’ test scores and grades. Studies at both the University of Texas-Austin and Coppin State University have revealed that there was no clear difference in grades between students in classes using lecture capture vs. students in classes not using lecture capture.

At this point, the big question is how do we maximize the benefits of lecture capturing in higher education? What’s the best way to implement this technology so that it can be a success? Below, I will highlight some of the answers and tips EQ provides (for those interested in getting more in-depth answers to this question, definitely give the original article a read):

  • Use a lecture capturing system that requires minimal faculty intervention. With lecture capturing software, it should not be required for faculty to be tech experts to use the software. After all, faculty have enough to focus on while teaching class.
  • “Develop clear guidelines regarding the use of lectures and communicate them to faculty before a course begins.”
  • Train instructors on best practices. For best results, faculty should be trained and given time to explore how the lecture capturing software will work with their teaching styles. Give them tips on how to use it best and a heads up on any errors they may encounter.
  • Emphasize practice for faculty and tech support staff before the recording starts. Make sure faculty members know where the camera is pointed, the sound quality is good, and all the hardware is working correctly.
  • Ask faculty to watch recordings after they are published. This way, faculty can learn and improve on any mistakes made.
  • Interactivity. Possibly one of the most important tips. Allow faculty and students opportunities to interact after the lecture has ended. This includes either in-class discussions or activities, and/or following up online (discussion boards, chat, blogs).

YouTube Launches New Site for Teachers

Last week, YouTube introduced a new site specifically designed for teachers. The site’s purpose is to help educators incorporate educational YouTube videos into their lessons, maximizing student engagement. The site can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/teachers.

If you are an educator, the site is definitely worth a look. Whether you’d like to publish your own videos on YouTube or create a playlist of additional course content for your students to view, YouTube Teachers can help with that. The site even has a resource list for both free and paid screencasting software, hardware, and video editing tools.

Many instructors are already using video–largely from YouTube–in the classroom. It’s great that YouTube is (at least aiming to) creating a community surrounding and supporting this. Stop by and check out their tips, resources and playlists!