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How Technology Is Changing Traditional Learning Methods

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There's no denying that the lecture model has long had a stranglehold on higher education, especially the popular undergraduate college courses that enrol hundreds of students per semester. But a few new technologies stand to change that forever. As new web-enabled technologies continue to be integrated into university curriculums, traditional lecture-based teaching may not be long for this world, at least in its current form.

How Technology Is Changing Traditional Learning Methods

Online education is not new, but the way it's being implemented is. Flipped classrooms, MOOCs (massive open online courses) and telepresence platforms are among the upstarts that could give on-campus lectures a serious makeover.

FLIPPED CLASSROOMS KICK LECTURES OFF CAMPUS

Flipped learning, popularized by startups like Khan Academy, is a hybrid model that turns the lecture-based model on its cranium by integrating online materials. With flipped learning, homework that has traditionally been done at home would be done during class time, while classwork would be expanded to include collaborative discussions, special group projects, field trips and other engaging activities. For example, in a physics course, more class time would be devoted to conducting hands-on experiments to help students fully understand the subject matter.

In an interview with Fast Company, Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, commented on how technology is changing the traditional lecture-based classroom:

We can question whether class time should be used for lectures. In the current paradigm, students don't need to review a concept until they get really deep mastery. Now we can move to a model like that.

If technology can take some of that passivity out of the classroom, if it can off-load some of the stuff that the teacher has to do, it liberates the teacher and peers to interact with each other.

While Khan Academy caters primarily to the K–12 communities, Khan's ideologies can just as easily be applied to higher education settings.

WILL MOOCS REPLACE THE TRADITIONAL LECTURE?

MOOCs, the mostly free, noncredit classes available to anyone with an Internet connection and a hunger to learn, continue to expand rapidly. Major MOOC platforms edX (founded by Harvard and MIT) and Coursera (founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller) have recently added a slew of new U.S. and international universities to their rosters in a quest to help democratize higher education.

Some universities are even beginning a trial run of integrating for-credit MOOCs into their standard curriculums. In a deal spurred by California governor Jerry Brown, MOOC startup Udacity partnered with San Jose State University to produce a pilot program offering basic college math classes completely online for $150 a pop, significantly cheaper than equivalent on-campus courses.

Although the pilot is limited to 300 students, it could lead to more high-demand, lecture-based classes going the way of the MOOC. Unlike on-campus classes or even most traditional online courses, MOOCs aren't restricted by class-size limits. Students may no longer have to worry about being wait-listed in what Timothy White, chancellor of the California State University system, refers to as "bottleneck" classes, and universities could potentially save funds in their tight budgets by enrolling thousands of students in one course.

In a blog post about the pilot, Udacity co-founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun remained optimistically cautious in his expectations on the future role of MOOCs in higher education:

There may be a temptation to consider MOOCs the silver bullet of higher education. However, in the 1960s, we thought of TV as the solution, and it wasn't. If MOOCs are to stay, we need patience, diligence, an ability to think critically about our own work and to continuously improve.

TELEPRESENCE PROMOTES COLLABORATION, MAY GIVE LECTURES NEW LIFE

While flipped classrooms and MOOCs could reduce or eliminate the need for the traditional lecture altogether, other online-learning models could help it shine. Education-focused teleconferencing platforms from Skype and Cisco are stretching the horizons of what a traditional on-campus lecture can be.

Since its launch in 2011, Skype in the Classroom has enabled instructors to co-teach a class while thousands of miles apart, take their students on a virtual field trip to the world's tallest points and introduce their class to entirely new cultures through shared lesson plans and projects.

Meanwhile, Cisco has brought its telepresence expertise into the classroom, with a new development known as the Cisco Connected Learning Experience. The platform is currently being implemented by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business to connect MBA students at its main Philadelphia campus with students at its San Francisco branch. Through the use of high-definition, theatre-sized projector screens and other advanced virtual technologies, Wharton teachers and students can, for all intents and purposes, be in two classes at once.

As Fast Company notes in its Co.Exist coverage of the new virtual classroom, this could stave off arguments that MOOCs and other online technologies will render face-to-face campus lectures obsolete. It's no Star Trek hologram, but bold technological moves like this could be just the refresh lectures need.

THE VERDICT

Should every college teacher rush to flip his or her classroom, join the MOOC movement or beam in at-a-distance classrooms using cutting-edge telepresence software? Is the traditional lecture doomed? The answer is unclear; it’s largely a decision that should be made by individual colleges and professors. One thing's for certain: Technology gives educators and students more tools to promote the exchange of knowledge, and that isn’t a bad thing.

posted Mar 18 in EdTech by Sokna

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When it comes to studying, today’s students aren’t hunkering down in libraries all night to prepare for big exams. Instead, they’re tucked safely in their dorms with a laptop or mobile device.

recent survey from McGraw-Hill Education found that 74 percent of students prefer to study at home, while only 14 percent indicate they prefer the library, probably because of the technology available to them at their homes.

The survey found that a whopping 81 percent of students say digital tools have helped improve their grades, and 82 percent say laptops, tablets and apps have helped them spend even more time studying.

We’ve explored how technology has reshaped the studying experience for college students.

1. Libraries Become High-Tech Collaboration Centers

With more students studying at home, colleges are open to creating libraries of the futureEdTechreports on Ringling College of Art and Design’s library, which was designed as a place for collaboration and experimentation, including a 24-hour computer lab and presentation practice technology.

“The library will be a very collaborative place — a kind of sandbox,” says Kristina Keogh, director of library services at Ringling College.

2. Digital Tools Streamline Note Taking

The clear majority of students surveyed by McGraw-Hill say their laptops are the most important tool for their learning. Laptops make tasks such as taking notes simpler than using a college-ruled notebook and pen for each class.

Student blogger Sabrina Leung uses Microsoft OneNote to organize and color-code her class notesOneNote even has capabilities to bring in PowerPoint outlines for classes that provide slides before lectures.

Leung writes on her blog that she also uses the newest OneNote features for audio recording.

“The recorded audio also syncs with the notes you typed, so when you are not sure about a certain part, you can click on the play button next to that particular bullet point and OneNote will play the audio …,” writes Leung.

3. Mobile Apps Create Flexible Learning

About 60 percent of students say they are using smartphones for studyingBusiness Insider indicates this may be due in part to the number of mobile apps — many that are free — for Apple and Android devices. Some recommended apps include:

  • Documents, an app for iOS that can help keep track of documents in the cloud, no matter if they are from OneDrive or Box. It also helps edit and annotate PDFs.
  • Wunderlist, a to-do list that can be collaborative, making it perfect for group work.
  • Cite This For Me, an app that puts together a citation in any format simply from scanning a book’s barcode.
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Constant changes in the educational system and other areas related to education always cause discussions around this topic. It is obvious, that changes turn positive only if they lead to development and improvement in the educational environment while other changes don’t bring any benefit. That’s why, when speaking about teaching methods, we can hear a lot of critical comments about variations in types of teaching. Nevertheless, we may also hear some supporting arguments. So, what arguments seem to be stronger – about traditional or innovative methods of teaching?

Traditional Vs. Innovative Teaching Methods

Traditional and Innovative Teaching – What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between the traditional lecture and the innovative one? New approaches to teaching are supposed to change the specifics of students’ involvement in the learning process from passive to active type. Surprisingly, this difference is not the only one. For example, before, lectures were formalized – professors used to deliver a lecture and students used to write down the most important things from what they have a heart. Recently some innovations came through, lectures became more interactive so that students and professors organized their work via cooperation in the learning process.

Game-based learning – fact or fiction?

One of the most famous for using up-to-date approaches to arranging educational process is Q2L (Quest to learn) school in NY. Its curriculum is based on game-based learning – it’s a very outstanding and productive way of organizing the studying process. That’s why students in this school show significant results in their learning activities. Children always study better if they have an interest in the subject.

A new vision of lectures and professors’ creativity

Today we live in the media age and this markedly affects us and our lifestyle. It also makes a great impact on the teaching process as well. Students take a new look at lectures as an optional way to expand an informational basis and gain some new knowledge, but not as the general one. However, students need professors to teach them how to interpret what they have already learned and explain how to gain new knowledge. In traditional teaching professors usually were spending most of their time and efforts for delivering information to students instead of using their creativity, which is a more efficient way of cooperation.

Top-3 Innovations in Teaching Process

Of course, professors do their work and share information with students, but professors’ guidance is not the only way to find the most relevant information and get knowledge nowadays, as there are some innovations in the teaching process:

  • Educational Video Influences Better Memorizing. Educational video stimulates students to pay more attention during classes and enhance their learning abilities. Besides that, some lectures in Universities and Colleges contain learning games (not only computer games) which are much more interesting than listening to the professor. This style of learning successfully enhances students’ motivation due to the strong connection between visual contact and better memorizing. Furthermore, watching videos helps students to create associations that help them remember learning material.
  • Social Media Simplify Cooperation with Educators. With the appearance of the Internet and media age, most schools, colleges, and universities started to renew teaching methods. Social media allow students, parents, and teachers to keep in touch and inform each other about assignments or events. Using such technologies, students can do more exercises for self-learning and save their time;
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction Makes Individual Study Possible. This technology allows teachers to help individual students who have some difficulties during their study. This can be a great extension for the traditional schoolhouse. Using computer-assisted instruction helps improve students’ skills and solve study-related problems in a group. This is a convenient tool for individual study. Besides that, computer-assisted instruction includes some programs for writing and studying certain subjects.

Innovative Vs. Traditional Teaching: who wins?

Some would say that any innovations in the traditional teaching system are unnecessary as they may distract students from what they really should do during their studies. Surely, this thesis can be considered as truth. But still, we live in a world of rapidly growing technologies and constant changes, so why the educational process should remain unchangeable, with no opportunity of self-education, game-based learning and all of those new arrangements? The answer is obvious. The modern educational system needs renewing in methods, usage and understanding the concept of up-to-date education, that should always correspond to the needs of our generation.

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Education Technology (also known as “EdTech”) refers to an area of technology devoted to the development and application of tools (including software, hardware, and processes) intended to promote education.

Put another way, “EdTech is a study and ethical practice for facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

Although this developing field may sound like a specialized niche, its potential implications are far-reaching and affect many segments of the population. Read on to find out if you’re among those most likely to benefit from the advancement of EdTech, and how you can contribute to its growth.

For Educators and Educational Institutions…

The great tech minds tasked with creating the data-driven processes and applications that facilitate learning may understand solution-implementation–but they can’t stand in for educators when it comes to disseminating knowledge.

Conversely, strong educators aren’t necessarily equipped or inclined to deal with all the technology available to them and develop ways to apply it to their discipline. They will be the first to tell you that there are enough challenges in their day-to-day work without asking them to become IT experts, as well.

“If developed and applied correctly, #edtech has the potential to become industry-changing”

Services like Alma and Engrade provide one-stop solutions for teachers and schools while illustrating just how far EdTech can take us. If developed and applied correctly, educational technology has the potential to become truly industry-changing for educators–streamlining time-consuming processes (like lesson planning, reporting, and record-keeping) and simplifying communication–with even farther-reaching implications for educational institutions themselves.

EdTech Magazine cites the capacity of this technology for providing institutions with “a very clear understanding of any number of points of reference — student progress, budget performance, alumni snapshots; the list of possibilities and insights truly is limitless.”

For this reason, the future of education relies on an ongoing dialogue between educators and educational institutions, and professionals in the tech world.

The future of education relies on educators, institutions & tech professionals

For Technologists and Designers…

For tech professionals, this means a growing and ongoing need for development in the area that is able to scale as evolving devices and technology multiply avenues for information delivery. And that’s a tall order in a landscape where these elements are developing almost more quickly than they can be understood and applied to the field of education.

Not surprisingly, the current rate of EdTech development is leaving gaps. The recent Software & Information Industry Association’s 2014 K-20 vision survey revealed a“high desire for more technology integration–and need for more support–at all educational levels.”

The annual survey, which polls nearly 1,000 educators across every tier of K-20 education, was released in June during the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2014 expo and indicated that “the ideal level of technology integration is significantly higher than current levels.” EdTech Magazine highlighted several findings from the report, including the following pain points:

  • The majority of K-12 respondents do not feel “highly prepared” for online, summative assessments: 42 percent say they have adequate bandwidth, and 36 percent say they have enough devices and other hardware for students.

  • Three-quarters of K-12 respondents say technology integration is highly important, but their current levels and ideal levels of integration do not align: Only 22 percent say their schools are already highly integrated.

These findings signal a need for technological and professional development on every level of EdTech and the presence of unique career development opportunities.

For Career Seekers…

While a number of job-seekers wish to find work that is simultaneously fulfilling and profitable, the two don’t always seem to go hand in hand (just ask a teacher).

However, the dramatic increase in venture capital investment in Education Technology promises just that.

Forbes remarks, “Whereas teachers generally top out at around $80,000 (and only if they get masters/doctoral degrees), education entrepreneurs have shown that making money and doing well are not always misaligned.”

Whether you’re embarking on a new career or seeking career guidance, the promise of the growing educational technology field delivers enticing opportunities to apply your skills in an environment with true global impact.

For Everyone Else…

At the risk of over-evangelizing the importance of Education Technology, it can be said that the successful development of these tools will impact every aspect of our future. Accessible, effective solutions for superior education empower students and teachers to focus on the task of learning. They can do more with the resources they have, improving the quality of education available to young people around the globe, and better-equipping them for the future.

These are our imminent engineers, architects, and doctors–the leaders of social and political movements to come. Making sure they have the best means available in order to prepare them for these roles ensures a brighter future for all living creatures, and for the planet itself. The next generation faces no shortage of challenges–it’s our job to see that they face no shortage of support in order to overcome them.

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