Guest Post: How Technology Is Improving Education

Guest Post by: Katleen Brown

Since the beginning of technological innovation, the education sector has undergone various changes. Most people have always desired to be in classes with few students but this has been a challenge in learning institutions because of the huge number of people seeking education. With technology, however, it is now possible for the instructors to give personalized attention to all students. Schools have introduced learning portals that allow students to access all the contents taught in school for revision.

The most amazing contribution of technology to education is the introduction of distance learning also known as e-learning or virtual learning. Because of the high population of people seeking secondary education, schools have introduced this mode of learning which means that students do not need to be present in a physical classroom. Initially, this was conducted using saved materials where students would pick recorded content and watch from home. The internet, however, brought improvements to this system since it is now possible to attend class in real-time from a remote location.

Online classes commonly known as webinars are becoming more popular because of convenience on both the students and the school. More people are able to attend a lesson without squeezing in the limited space of the classroom. Thanks to applications such as Skype and video calling apps, all students whether in class or at home, have the teacher’s attention. They are able to follow through the lesson, ask and even answer questions. Support documents are then sent to the students in form of video recordings, word documents, power point presentations and PDFs.

The introduction of smart phones and various wearable gadget designs have improved this form of education further by making it even more accessible. Students do not even have to sit at home all day as they can now access learning materials from their mobile devices. These gadgets are Internet enabled and this means that communication between students and teachers and among the students themselves can be ongoing 24/7. Group discussions can now be conducted on virtual platforms through social media, messaging boards and the many other platforms available on the Internet.

In this type of education powered by technology, both the school and students benefit in the end. The schools are able to admit more students without thinking about the limitation of space. Because of economies of scale, the cost of education goes down and students become more flexible. There is no longer need to buy expensive textbooks since all learning materials are available on the Internet. This also means that students can devote more time to learning other than the few hours they spend in school.

In the recent past, high school teachers have embraced e-learning for various reasons. First and the most important is the fact that this mode of learning has no location and time boundaries. In the traditional learning systems, teachers had the challenge of delivering so much content within the short period of class time.

Location was also an issue since students would be denied the chance to attend a school of their choice because of proximity. Such limitations have been eliminated by the e-learning platform since students no longer need to be physically present in a class.

Second is the fun involved in e-learning which is delivered using interesting illustrations from the Internet. According to world news, multimedia is one of the most important tools in this mode of learning because it promotes interaction and engagement.

Thirdly, as mentioned earlier, e-learning is a cost-effective method of accessing education because most institutions do not charge tuition fees on this platform. The main investment is on the gadgets and Internet and this cannot measure up to the high cost of education. This explains why most people are resorting to homeschooling via the Internet.

Despite all these advantages, e-learning does not go without a few setbacks. The main one is the fact that it denies students hands-on skills. Craft subjects can be explained and even illustrated using videos but this can never match the physical illustrations given by a teacher in class. It also encourages anti-social behavior since students will no longer have physical interactions with their classmates. Much as they interact through chat rooms and social media, the social outcome can never be the same. There are also health concerns raised on this mode of learning because of the fact that learners spend a huge part of their day behind computers or focused on their gadgets. This poses a risk of developing backbone complications because of bad posture and visual complications.

In conclusion, we can say that e-learning is more beneficial if precautions are taken to handle the demerits. It has made it possible for everyone to access education irrespective of age or any other physical limitations. This means that even people who for one reason or another never made it to high school and are considering going back can get the chance. Most of these people are too old and busy with other responsibilities to spend a whole day in a classroom. They can, therefore, enroll and attend virtual classes and even take their exams from remote locations.

 

About the Author

Katleen Brown, a content writer. She loves to publish her articles on various technical related websites. In her spare time, she likes to do research and writing articles to bring awareness on new trends in technology and gadgets. She is working as Communication Practitioner and Technocrat Expert Writer. Advocating all types of technical professionals. Connect with her on Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Goodreads Book Review: The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You are an astronaut on the third manned mission to Mars. You, and your five other fellow astronauts, will be there for a month of mars days (aka sols). It’s going to be the best month of your life. But then—six days into the mission—disaster strikes! You are dead. Or so your crew thought. They abandon the mission and head back to Earth. Unfortunately…you are not actually dead. What do you do? How will you survive? Will you survive the next 4 years until the next scheduled mission to Mars?


The Martian
, by Andy Weir, is a space castaway story. It is full of science, space, ingenuity, and luck. It follows the successes and failures astronaut Mark Watney faces while stranded on Mars. Weir chose to utilize a diary-like format to really put readers into Watney’s frame of mind. The story of what occurs on Earth uses standard prose format (third person, past tense).

Weir self-published The Martian in 2011. Eventually, requests came in to have the book put in an Amazon Kindle format. He did, setting the price for the minimum that Amazon would allow. The book just exploded from there. It was quickly made into a movie starring Matt Damon . I actually enjoyed the movie version as well. It kept pretty true to the book (of course, things were left out because that always happens in a book to movie conversion).

The Martian is great for book clubs, in fact, at the end of the book, there are some good questions for discussion. A word of caution, the book has a bit of a gallows sense of humor and some swearing. If that language is inappropriate for the audience reading the book, you may want to pre-screen the book. Swearing is not often and is used well in context.

While some situations were a little far-fetched, for example, the economics of the various situations/problems and Watney’s ingenious plans, they were within reason. Most readers accept a bit of suspension of disbelief when reading.

So, did Watney survive? Would you? The only way to know for sure is to read (or watch) The Martian.

View all my reviews

Guest Post: 5 Effective Tips to Guide High School Students in Time Management

Guest Post: April Boey

In order to achieve success in any task, it is vital to learn proper time management. High school life is power-packed with varied activities that call for a lot of involvement on the part of the student. Given this, if the student is unable to properly handle time, he might end up wasting his time in activities that add negligible value to his entire life and career. Here are 5 effective time management tips that would help high school students to manage their time by striking an appropriate balance between studies and other activities. With each of the tip comes a free online tool to make the implementation super easy for you.

Keep a to-do-list ready

When students are in high school, most of them do not have a plan about how they would spend each day. This absence of planning leads to a lot of confusion and ultimately considerable amount of time is wasted in deciding what to do and when to do it. If a student has a to-do-list ready he can enhance his productivity through proper allocation of time to the different tasks that he needs to do. It is advisable to take up comparatively difficult tasks in the morning because the mind is fresh at that time.

The best online to-do list that I have tried so far is Google tasks as I like its simplicity and ability to sync across my devices so long as I’m logged in to Gmail.

Carry work with you

In case there is an assignment due or you have an upcoming test, it would be great to carry your work with you wherever you are going. This will ensure that you can utilize the lunch time or any other free time for studying. You may even complete a bit of study as you wait for transportation. Although it is hard to avoid social media, try to concentrate on your work at your free time rather than checking Twitter and Facebook every now and then.  If you utilize your minutes wisely, you will get more time for relaxation or doing some other activity that you enjoy.

With Dropbox you do not have to worry about forgetting your physical notes. Besides being a good tool for backing up your documents, Dropbox is also very helpful for sharing files between members in a project work.

Be sure of your priorities

A majority of high school students are unaware of their priorities and hence they indulge in doing things that could easily have been completed afterwards. If a student does not have proper knowledge of priorities, he might ignore the things that require urgent attention and concentrate more on things that do not have so much of urgency. Being sure of the priorities enables a student to lead a less stressful life and carry out all tasks effectively.

Rescue Time is a tool for finding out how you have been spending your time online. If you say studies are your priority, the report from Rescue Time may offer a reality check for you. Statistics don’t lie, find out your real priorities.

Avoid procrastination

It is an age old advice, but it would not be out-of-place to repeat it here. Students should never get into the bad habit of putting things off for a later period of time. Procrastination in fact hampers the schedule to a great extent and ultimately the student will not get adequate time to carry our required tasks. Therefore, the best thing is to categorize the work into convenient segments across a number of days. Abiding by this schedule will make you more organized and leave time for relaxation.

Check out Focal Filter where you can block out distracting websites and avoid procrastination with sites such as Facebook.

Escape from getting sidetracked

If at any point of time you feel that you are getting indulged in insignificant things, immediately stop, and get back to your priorities as per the to-do list. You might procrastinate because of confusion regarding a school project and get involved in other ‘petty’ activities. If that is the issue, take the help of your teacher to solve the problem and move ahead.

During revision, the best way to stay focused is to use a timer, best way, a countdown timer. Trust me, the urgency of the clock ticking will intensify your concentration. Check out E.gg Timer

Implementation of the right time management techniques will definitely help you manage the highly demanding high school life. So, harness time and win every battle through a healthy balance among work, school, relaxation and social life.

 

About the Author

Having been a beneficiary, April believes that education has the ability to transform one’s life. She manages a blog for peer-to-peer learning at http://digitalsenior.sg/ where everyone shares their university experience in Singapore.

 

 

 

Sixth Anniversary of Teaching & Technology

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of this blog. When I first started the blog, it was supposed to be a documentation of my journey of becoming a teacher, as I had just decided to go back and get my master’s degree. Therefore, I set the blog up as a simple self-hosted blog on my portfolio website.

Six year’s later, Teaching & Technology has its own domain and is less about my personal journey towards the education field and more about education and education technology. I am happy with the direction and momentum of this blog. I do wish I had more time to write, but life happens.

Let’s break down some fast facts and stats:

 

Now, a list for some of my personal favorite posts (in no particular order):

Oh there are tons more, but it’s safe to say, if it looks like I took a lot of time to investigate something and have several citations…I enjoyed writing the post.

So, Happy Sixth Birthday to Teaching & Technology! Let me know what your favorite posts are in the comments.

List Challenge: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

I was a die-hard Gilmore Girls fan back when it was on TV. I’ve rewatched the series several times and am excitedly awaiting the release of the the new episodes on Netflix.

There were many reasons I liked Gilmore Girls, and one of those reasons was that Rory loved to read. She would throw out literary references faster than I could catch them. I never kept track of the references, but thankfully, someone else did.

I present to you: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge! (Also, see below for this embedded list.)

According to the list challenge, throughout the entire seven seasons,”Rory Gilmore was seen reading 339 books on screen.” Some of the comments on the list challenge beg to differ. Some commenters mentioned that some books were only mentioned, not read. Others mentioned that only other characters read the books mentioned and not Rory. Another commenter disagreed with The Divine Comedy  and Dante’s Inferno  being listed separately because one is a part of the other [I happen to agree!]

I delved a little further and found Buzzfeed wrote a list as well, titled, “All 339 Books Referenced in ‘Gilmore Girls'”. There are also a number of lists on GoodReads as well with different book totals. One cited 355, while others separate the books out by season. There is even a Richard Gilmore book list.

I found another post that lists 338 book references. This blog post even references a  Wiki article that lists all references in each episode and a link to the Rory Gilmore Book Club on GoodReads.

So many books, not enough time! Speaking of time, it’s time to get reading.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I’ve only read 40 of the 339 books. How many have you read?

Help Me Out: Tell Me What You Want to Read About

I apologize for the lack of posts on Teaching & Technology. I can give you a list of excuses, but they would be simply that, excuses.

Let’s review them, shall we?

  1. I was busy with work
  2. I wanted to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix
  3. I wanted to relax and spend time with friends/family
  4. I was on vacation
  5. I didn’t have anything to write about
  6. I felt I was posting too many guest posts and infographics and not enough of my own content

See, excuses? And in fact, they are the same excuses that teachers hear from students. Okay, maybe not the guest post/infographics excuse, but the rest of them, teachers hear time and time again.

In fact, I even thought about going on hiatus and not writing for a while. Except…I’ve kind of already done that. It’s been about 4 months since I’ve written anything. Sure, I’ve read books and I could have published reviews on them. I could have started a new section and publish reviews on movies that were inspired by books. I could have downloaded random apps on my iPad and published reviews. I could have read the hundreds of emails send by the Department of Education or other organizations and wrote what I thought. I could have gone through my feeds on any number of social media sites and re-posted infographics.

But I didn’t.

When I really think about why I haven’t published anything it all comes back to a lack of inspiration. There was a time when I would stay up too late to finish a blog post. There was a time I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and type out the outrage that I felt. I don’t know where that inspiration has run off to, but I’m going to find it. And you’re going to help me.

See, just like a teacher who asks the students what they want to learn about, I’m going to do the same with you, readers.

So tell me, in the blog comments, on the Facebook page, Tumblr page, etc., what content do you want to see on Teaching & Technology? Do you have an iPad app that you are dying to get a review of? A book you want an opinion on? A movie you’d like me to watch and review? A burning question you want answered (with research!)? What interests you in the field of education and/or ed tech?

I’m also going to be super strict on guest posting. I’ve noticed the majority of people submitting guest posts just want to post something to get a link back to their site. I’m all for giving someone a platform to publish, but I’ve been less than thrilled with the content of the submissions. One even tried to sell me on the benefits of cheating…but it wasn’t satirical!

I look forward to your comments and inspiration.

Guest Post: Keep up with Technology so You Can Keep up with Your Students

Guest Post by: Isla Wright

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

And things are changing. Instead of paper, we use laptops, instead of books, we use e-books. You want to be a person who pushes students forward, not the one who holds on to the relics of the past. There is a gap between students and their teachers, as the students are one step forward, when it comes to knowledge and usage of technology. Here are some tools that you can easily integrate in your teaching and get one step closer to your students.

  • Edmodo: It is a communication platform for teachers and students. Usually it is used for giving announcements, sharing folders and distributing assignments. However, you can go outside of the box and implement some unusual ideas. For example, you can create a current events group for students to post articles that are relevant to the topics of your classes. Or organize a national book club or start a competition. It can really lead to unlimited options.
  • Blogging: This can be your direct contact with your audience‒your students. By sharing thoughts and ideas, they are invited to give their opinion. A broader discussion can develop; you can do special researches on interesting topics or give students additional reading material. Students can evolve in critical thinking and active conversation. The conversation can start on the blog, but continue in class, or vice versa.

Also, you can help students by checking their notes and discussing them on your blog, needless to say without naming names. There might be issues with chemistry notes, math, or physics, which they did not realize. As you want to make sure that what they wrote is correct, this can be a place for reviews and debates.

tablet

  • VoiceThread: this is an application that adds voice to documents, slide presentations, videos or collections of photos. You can include students and encourage them to post their own presentations or integrate comments on original ones. It allows students to present and defend their work, which as a result, makes students active in a classroom. It is a creative opportunity for students to tell their stories and share their vision on different topics.
  • Wikispaces: A great place for a class or a group, as all participants can edit documents. Furthermore, if you want to develop researching skills of your students, you can use this platform for students to share sources and ideas. It emphasizes a high level of communication and critical thinking, as students can get involved in debates.
  • MindMeister: Encourage mind-mapping in your classroom! Users can collaborate with each other, and organize their ideas in a new way. It is excellent for group projects. The mind maps and schemes get a fresh, dynamic look, which attracts viewers to pay more attention while concentrating on seeing all the details.

You can also use it while creating your own plans for your classes. It keeps things very organized and visible. What is great is that it is very flexible, as you can approach it from you mobile phone or any computer, as long as you have Internet connection.

As you see, the good news is that there are so many options to choose from. These are only some of the tools that are out there. In order to be a great teacher, one should not stop learning. Look at this as your opportunity to teach young minds not only facts from the books, but also an effective usage of technology. This is their preparation for the real world.

Guest Post: Creative Storytelling in the Classroom

Courtesy of Magenta Rose/Flickr

Courtesy of Magenta Rose/Flickr

Guest Post by: Matthew Banner

Storytelling is essential in all facets of life. Our very essence of existence is memorized with storytelling. Reserving time for storytelling in the classroom will be a pleasant attraction to your lecture.

Many professors use storytelling to bond with their students while enchanting the learning experience.

Storytelling is quite the ancient form of sharing wisdom and creativity. But today, there are more ways than one to reflect your very own learning experiences to your students using several different methods of storytelling.

While the classic storytelling is a necessity, digital storytelling is making its way into classrooms and being integrated in educational activities.

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is a modern way of portraying a meaningful story and definitely an experience that not very many students will forget.

It’s good to go digital but don’t be a robot. Education needs to be humanized to a large degree. Even with the use of technology, there needs to be an equilibrium between the program and the human.

Though there’s relevance in standardized learning and test taking, there needs to be a little magic in the classroom by including real world experiences. Tying this real world experiences into learning experiences is a reflection of wisdom.

Here are some easily accessible applications and tools that will allow professors and students to tell their story.

Adobe Voice

Adobe voice is a 60-90 second video that allows the user to emphasize on the voice while using photos to tell a story. It’s extremely user-friendly, quick and to the point.

If you have a powerful voice and tone, this program will enable you to capture a message using images and sound.

Animoto

Animoto is a program that allows you to make much longer videos using images, text and music. This program is really good to enjoy music with one of your favorite songs while displaying some powerful images with text.

Book Creator

This is an app for the iPad and voted Best Educational app from the 2015 BETT Awards. For many eager to learn and create, writing short stories is an enlightening outlet. This application is designed for the eBook writer in mind. There is also a twist for the comic. This is a fun way to express thought on your subject through a short story.

StoryMapJS

StoryMapJS is a free application that allows the user to create stories using a map. Sometimes one of the best ways to tell a story is by combining an insight to location along with the event. Story Map has been implemented by well-known news sources such as The Washington Post and Houston Chronicle.

The tool is open to suggestions in case the user has any bug issues or has any other comments to assist in improvement.

Thing Lin

Thing Link is an interactive tool that enables the creator and user to interact using practically any image.The program allows the creator to insert links and videos to interact with the audience and sharing is fairly easy as your Thing Link can be sent easily through social media, email or embedded onto a website.

This is perfect for explaining art, history or any subject for that matter by adding in facts as well as back up informational videos to really get the information to sink in, plus it’s interactive, which is not boring and that’s always a good thing. You can find a simple Thing Link take on the School of Athens here.

Final Thought

With technology at our finger tips, educators are able to captivate their students using different and effective methods with these applications. Not only will they be fun to use while professing but also can be used personally as well.

Great Scott, Future Day is Here!

Great Scott! Today is the future day from Back to the Future! Get a up-to-the-minute present time circuit: http://www.october212015.com/

Let’s talk about what technologies actually came to fruition and which did not. Which ones would you like to have been made?

I’m pretty partial to flying cars and hover boards. I’m glad the two neckties thing didn’t catch on. Of course, who wouldn’t want a time machine…out of a DeLorean? Get your own DeLorean (Flux Capacitor not included)

Need a Back to the Future Halloween costume for this year’s Halloween party? Or perhaps the Wii Game for Christmas?

Let’s put our auto-fit jackets on, auto-lace shoes, drink a Pepsi, and binge watch the trilogy!

We’re Outtatime. Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads.