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.

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.

Guest Post: Educator’s Tools to Make Teaching Process Much More Easier

Guest Post by:  Lynn Usrey

It’s summertime, and all good teachers are working on becoming better teachers.  Maybe you’re looking for some new tools to make the teaching process easier or more effective?  The tools are out there; the web is full of sites that claim to do just that.  Who has time to investigate all these sites?  I do, and below are some that I really like.

 

STUDYBLUE

Studyblue is great for students and for teachers.  This bountiful website has a fantastic library of flashcards right at your fingertips.  Whether you teach 7th grade math or neurobiology, you’ll find flashcards relevant to your teaching.  As a teacher, you can quickly create a flash card deck to guide your students’ studying.  Or, have students create their own flash card deck and count it as an assignment.  No more searching for 3×5 cards or tearing paper into squares.  Students can use STUDYBLUE in groups or individually.  Apps are available for both iPhone and android formats.

 

SCMOOP

Recently, I wanted to extend my area of certification to include middle school social studies.  I relied on SCMOOP to study for the test, and honestly, it provided excellent source material and reliable background information.  But SCHMOOP is so much more: lessons, test preparation guides, videos, study guides, flashcards, and it’s all written in an extremely accessible conversational tone.  Gone is the dry and boring textbook fodder.  Students will enjoy reading and studying on SCHMOOP, I know I did.  I highly recommend SCHMOOP for students who need to fill in gaps where they might have missed information on both the high school and college level.

 

TEACHERS.IO

Today’s teachers need TEACHERS.IO to keep their students (and parents) on track.  This site offers you a beautiful way to share your lesson plans, syllabus, and assignments with your students.  Students can access this ‘blog’ for the information on tablets, phones, or laptops.  Or, if you already have a website, you can include TEACHERS.IO by using a widget.  Every assignment, every test, even handouts can be found on the site.  Once you set it up, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.

 

UNPLAG

As a writing teacher, I rely on UNPLAG to make sure my students are not plagiarizing, either accidentally or intentionally.  In is little as 4 seconds per page, I can check the sources of a paper.  It’s really that quick!  And, it does not really matter how the paper is formatted.  Any format will work.  Once students upload the paper, I can scan it and return it to them for revision.  I can also use it as a teaching tool so students can learn how NOT to plagiarise.  As a parent of a college student, I make sure my daughter uses UNPLAG when she is writing her research papers.  It takes some of the stress out of writing for her and she can be confident that when she turns in her paper, it is not plagiarized.  Used by high schools and colleges across the country, it also has the ability to work with your current Learning Management System (LMS) as an add-on.  Sign up for their free trial; you will love UNPLAG.

 

RESCUETIME

You might wonder how RESCUETIME.com can make teaching easier, but it can.  RESCUETIME is popular with writers and those whose businesses require daily time on the Internet, but it has applications for educators as well.  RESCUETIME basically catalogues how you spend time working online.  It analyzes your habits, the sites you visit, email time, etc.  Then it gives you a report that you can use to be more productive and efficient.  As we all know, more and more of an educator’s job requires him or her to be online. Whether we are creating documents or researching a subject, we do it online.  One feature blocks non-productive sites for times when you need to get work done and the temptation of e-shopping or social media is too great.  I think we can all relate.  Students should use this, too!

 

MYHOMEWORK

The school planner is passé. MYHOMEWORK app is the way.  We all know that students never go anywhere without their phones.  To be honest, I don’t either. With the MYHOMEWORK app, students can keep up with their assignments and due dates with ease.  The app does so much more than the old planner.  It is simple for students to add projects, tests, and other assignments.  And, if you use TEACHER.IO, your students can sync assignments automatically.  No more excuses for your students.

 

QUICKLYST.APPSPOT.com

Teaching students to write an outline can be painful, for both teacher and student.  Honestly, many students do not have the skills to outline on a word document.  Sometimes, I have trouble too, trying to get the levels correct.  It can be a nightmare.  But QUICKLYST.APPSPOT.com takes the struggle out of the time-consuming chore and makes it simple.  And face it; students still need to know how to outline, for writing, projects, and speeches, etc.  Outlining is a great way to organize thoughts and ideas.  Give it a try you’ll use it, too.

 

GOOGLE CLASSROOM

Google and education go together like sugar and spice, so it’s no wonder that GOOGLE CLASSROOM is a boon to educators around the globe.  GOOGLE CLASSROOM is a one-stop site where you can plan, store, and implement your lessons.  GOOGLE CLASSROOM supports communication in a classroom.  It supports discussion and email.  Also, students can work collaboratively or independently and submit their work to you easily and securely.  I use GOOGLE DOCS all the time and am looking forward to moving ahead with GOOGLE CLASSROOM.  Check it out.

Author Bio: Lynn Usrey, a freelance writer and editor. Also Lynn runs writing course in Orlando, Florida. See her About.me page.

Guest Post: Why School Woodworking Classes Are Still Relevant In The 21st Century

Guest Post by: Antoine Rizzotti

I’m a mechanical engineer and DIY enthusiast and in my spare time I share online my opinion on what I consider the best choice when it comes to power tools such as circular saws, screwdrivers, oscillating tools, air compressors, bench vices and almost anything that you would find in a woodworking shop. While I will never claim to be an expert, I like to tinker around the house repairing and building a better home and I find this experience to be very satisfying. Few things compare to the joy of creating something with your hands and although this is a downward trend for our modern schools and tech savvy children, I think this sort of activities are still relevant in today’s world.

When you think about woodworking classes and schools, you inevitably imagine the situation that was a decade or two ago. Such classes used to shut down one after another, while their equipment was auctioned off. Back then, the age of technology was still relatively futuristic, so more and more people focused on more exciting careers. But then, if you bother to research this field, you will be surprised to find out that woodworking schools have students lining up to get in. Where is the catch then? Most importantly, once they graduate, employers and factories are lined up to hire them.

Surprising Facts in Woodworking

It might seem unusual, but students attending woodworking schools are more likely to find a job than people studying economics, IT or nursing. Unemployment rates in civilized countries range between 7% and 10%. There are not too many job opportunities for new graduates, unless they actually excel in their fields. On the other hand, by 2013, only the United States of America had over 20,000 unfilled jobs. Sure, you can find people willing to work as carpenters everywhere, but this industry demands qualifications and actual knowledge. Otherwise, it is worthless to even try to get a job.

Woodworking Still Popular

Woodworking is often associated with an antique profession. It is old, indeed. But it does not mean that it is not needed. Plenty of woodworkers create, shape and assemble cabinets, benches or furniture. Other than that, this industry also includes wood sawing machine operators, trainers, enders and so on. As a young graduate, you do not necessarily have to go out there and start making furniture. Instead, you can just as well learn to operate heavy machinery and rely on automated processes. This industry has evolved, but it does not mean that it has died. This is only a misconception.

Woodworking Jobs and Requirements

In the United States of America, there are over 202,000 jobs in the woodworking industry. Close to 85% of all these workers were employed in the manufacturing industry. Some of the most common fields include cabinet makers, woodworking machine operators, sawing machine setters and furniture finishers. While small local shops can barely employ a few carpenters, things change to 180 degrees when it comes to large companies and factories. Some of them employ thousands of workers. As for the working conditions, they vary widely from one job duty to another. Sometimes, workers might need to handle large and heavy items.

Woodworking Pay

Most woodworkers are employed on a full-time basis, but they also work during average hours. In 2012, the medium hourly wage for a woodworker was over $13 in the United States of America. Some professionals can earn more than $21 per hour, while the lowest paid ones can still exceed $9 per hour. Cabinet makers and bench carpenters are the best paid professionals in this field.

Conclusion

In the end, it is no surprise why woodworking classes are still relevant in the 21st century. In fact, this industry makes a good choice for the future as well.

 

Bio: With a tool in hand there is never a dull moment but even so I find the time to review some of them over at ToolsReviewer. If you want to reach out you can find me on FB, Twitter or G+.

Improve English Proficiency by Improving Typing Skills

Guest post: by Chassie Lee

City life is fast paced and demanding. More and more people feel like they’re stuck in a rat race, and the marketplace is fiercer than ever. To compete with everyone else in today’s international marketplace you need many skills, freshly-honed talents, and constant improvement of your existing skills – and constant acquisition of new skills, too. This can be so stressful that it ends up incapacitating people who are unable to keep up with the demands of the 21st century.

Thankfully, there are some ways that you can get ahead without stress, such as improving two skills in a single practice session. In this article we’ll talk about how you can improve your typing skills while practicing your English skills — you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Improving your English proficiency and get a side benefit: improved typing skills

Say you want to become a better, faster typist. One way to do this is by copying text found online in a word editor. This way you can improve your typing skills while also solidifying your knowledge of and fluency in the English language.

When you touch type a ready-made text you familiarize yourself with all possible aspects of the English language, including syntax, vocabulary, grammar, and colloquialisms (like “killing two birds with one stone”).

The more you interact with English texts the more intuitive your awareness of language rules becomes. In other words, your knowledge of English is not confined to structured classroom teachings. You’ll learn how to communicate, not just how to get a good grade on an English exam.

For even more substantial results, you can work on your writing skills as well, by creating your own texts rather than copying existing ones. This way your language study is more thorough (and demanding), and the results will be outstanding!

Instead of using pen and paper to write a paragraph or longer piece of text to practice your English, you can do so with a word editor. This way you activate brain modules that allow you to integrate the act of typing along with those involved in gaining mastery of a second language. As a result, you become an efficient speaker of English while you also improve your typing speed and accuracy.

You’re probably already overwhelmed with the many things you need to learn at school, but typing doesn’t have to be one of them. Combining typing and language study is an easy trick you can practice at any time. The results will be amazing; your English fluency will improve and you will find yourself typing with more ease and speed and without those annoying, time-consuming typos!

Here are some quick ideas on how to improve your typing performance through studying English:

  • Type out essays you’ve written previously and which your professor has corrected. By re-typing the edited version you will get to focus on what mistakes you often make, and where you have knowledge gaps in terms of syntax and grammar. By using a corrected text you will become more familiar with the flow of language as used by a native speaker.
  • Type out a news article from an online newspaper or magazine. Choose a newspaper that provides content that’s written for an audience above your current English level. This will ensure you will get to learn new vocabulary, pick up new phrases and colloquialisms, and learn a new fact or two. As a bonus benefit, you get to practice your touch typing skills!
  • Type out a piece of print or online content that truly interests you. The idea is to find something you’re passionate about. This will ensure you are truly focus on the typing process and this means you are also more receptive and open to learning – a win-win situation.
  • Play online English language improvement games. There are hundreds of online educational games you can play. And since these games require a keyboard to play them, at the same you’re learning to touch type efficiently you’ll also be enriching your vocabulary, spelling, and overall English competency skills.

 

Studying doesn’t need to be hard or boring. There are smart hacks you can implement in any study routine to make learning more time-efficient and progress-oriented.

Learn to integrate technology in your learning to make it more efficient. The next time you want to study your vocabulary, do so on your with an online vocabulary game. And the next time you want to hone your typing skills, see if you can combine keyboarding with a spelling exercise online. You get the idea!

 

About the Author: Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Vocabulary, Ultimate Typing and Ultimate Typing EDU which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

Guest Post: The Debate Over Online Education: University Professors Weigh In

Guest Post by: Jim Hinton

The debate over online education has been going on for a while now. It has its proponents and its detractors, with good arguments on both sides. One thing that seems to stand out fairly strongly in the debate is that it seems that university professors don’t seem to be on the side of the proponents.

One example is Harry R. Lewis. The former dean of Harvard’s undergraduate college, he believes that online education is seriously lacking in its ability to serve the underlying purpose of education. In an interview with The Atlantic, he expressed concern with the asynchronous nature of online education. “Part of the process of education happens not just through good pedagogy but by having students in places where they see the scholars working and plying their trades.”

Some scholars, however, have certainly started to express favor for the online educational model. Some of these supporters of this new frontier in education are professors at one of America’s oldest institutions of learning, Rutgers University. Rutgers has been using the “virtual world” of Second Life as a platform for nearly a decade.

Naedav Lipkin has been a guest lecturer within that program for Rutger’s School of Communication and Informatics. He ties the online learning environment with the increasingly computerized work space many students will move on to after graduation.

“Second Life is sort of what it sounds like. It’s a second life. It’s a virtual space that looks like a game but in many ways is just a social meeting place,” he explained. “’Self and Society in Virtual Contexts’ has always been a class designed around using Second Life as a platform for experiences in virtual worlds. Anywhere where people are congregating, meeting, doing things online, this class is all about understanding those things and how they can be appropriately integrated into a job.”

Dr. Sharon Stoerger, director of Rutgers’ Information Technology and Informatics program, has spoken in favor of this implementation.

“When virtual worlds are implemented into a course, it provides an instructor the ability to overcome challenges that cannot be met by other technological systems and increases the potential for experiential learning,” she wrote. “In particular, students can meet with each other or other users and through using an array of communication tools, voice chat and text chat, they are able share and gather information, build networks, and perform higher order learning tasks.”

Following its experimentation with using Second Life as a platform to instruct some classes, Rutgers elected to expand to a full online education program for some of its offerings. In 2011 Rutgers began offering several degrees as 100% online options, including 11 Masters degrees ranging from an MBA through to Music Education.

Dr. Antonius Bittmann is the Associate Vice President of the Online Programs Division of Continuing Studies. In discussing the decision Rutgers made to offer some of its degrees through the online format, he expressed enthusiasm for the innovations online education is bringing.

“It means new ways of reaching students,” he explained. “It means new ways of educating students. New ways of defining Rutgers as an educational institution. New ways of teaching students that they are members of a global community. The new technologies are very much part of this innovation and a part of achieving those objectives.”

Dr. Laura Curran agrees. She directs the online Masters of Social Work program. She particularly favors the role of online education in the lives of older, non-traditional students. “You get to work on your own schedule, it’s flexible, it’s easier to combine online with all the other responsibilities that folks who are now returning to school attempt to juggle.”

So far, the results have been overwhelming. Rutgers boasts 65,000 students enrolled in their traditional programs. However, as of 2014, Dr. Bittmann proudly stated that the 100% online programs had 45,000 students. It’s not just all those students who seem convinced either. The Association of American Universities inspected Rutgers and maintained its fully accredited status.

In the end, though, it is the students themselves who are the final arbiter of the success or failure of online education. One of Lipkin’s students summarized her conclusion succinctly. “We are now in this technological age where you might be working with someone that’s not even in the same country as you. So being able to communicate with people and work in groups via the Internet is very, very important.” The professors at Rutgers, it seems, are onto something.