Guest Post: EdTech Tools in Higher Education

Guest Post By: Trisha Mukerjee

“EdTech is the study and the ethical practice of learning and improving performance by using, creating and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

As the world evolves in the virtual hemisphere. The education system of the world also joins the bandwagon. The concept of EdTech has finally reached the higher education sector. Colleges are making sure that they incorporate more and more technology into their curriculum. From using digital devices and incorporating digital badges as their core marking scene. Universities at a global level are striving towards the digital era.

Check the infographic to know more about the various tools of EdTech and why is EdTech required.

shiksha study abroad edtech infographic

 

 

 

trisha


Author Bio:
Trisha is a professional writer and has been writing on a variety of topics. She is an ardent reader, a traveler and a passionate photographer. She wants to explore the world and write about whatever comes across her way.

Google+|| LinkedIn

Wikipedia Entries: The New Term Paper

I spent HOURS on term papers.  They were well researched, well written, and well-thought out.  The electronic copies now sit in a folder on my backup hard drive.  And the physical copies?  Who knows…probably shredded years ago since the professors rarely returned the papers.

Sure that paper helped me pass that class and in turn helped me obtain a degree and yadda yadda; it was beneficial for me.  But what did I contribute to the greater good?  What did I contribute to academia or to the general record?  Nothing.

This lack of purpose is exactly why people plagiarize other papers and buy papers from websites that promise “100% original content”.  Students feel they have better things to do, more important things to do, things that matter to them or their careers.  Teachers have come up with a solution to make schoolwork less tedious and more meaningful to the students :instead of writing the traditional term paper, write detailed Wikipedia entries.

Instead of the traditional MLA or APA style formatting, students have to format their writing to adhere to Wikipedia’s Manual of Style (take a look…it’s pretty long…and thorough).  And citations?  Ani Schug and her classmates at Pomona College wrote a Wikipedia article as a term paper using “218 scholarly legal and newspaper sources”.  The article was on the “1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporate donations for ballot initiative campaigns.”

Wikipedia has had a reputation of being full of errors, so in order to combat this image, Wikipedia (really Wikimedia) has made a push in college classrooms to have students publish content on Wikipedia.  The result has been an increase in editing articles, in the publication of new well-written articles, and most importantly, well-researched articles.

This push will trickle down into the K-12 classrooms.  Why create a random blog and publish content to just sit on the internet when you could contribute to the overall wealth of human knowledge?  Why ignore content that is 90% correct just because it could be wrong?  Don’t teach students to ignore something because it could be misleading, instead, teach them to do something about it!

—-Below is the article from the LA Times about the students at Pomona College and their use of Wikipedia in the classroom.—-

All through high school, Ani Schug was told to steer clear of Wikipedia. Her teachers talked about the popular online encyclopedia “as if it wasn’t serious or trustworthy” and suggested it only be used as a tip sheet.

Imagine her surprise this spring when her American politics professor at Pomona College assigned the class to write detailed entries for Wikipedia instead of traditional term papers.

Turns out it was a lot harder than the students anticipated. Their projects had to be researched, composed and coded to match Wikipedia’s strict protocols. Schug and her classmates wound up citing 218 scholarly legal and newspaper sources for their entry on a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporate donations for ballot initiative campaigns.

Then came the really scary step: All their work was posted publicly on Wikipedia for reading and editing by a potentially immense audience.

It makes us feel more obligated to do a good job and present the facts in an unbiased way.- Ani Schug, Pomona College student

“It felt more real that other people will be reading us besides just our group and the teacher,” said Schug, 19, who just completed her freshman year at Pomona. “It makes us feel more obligated to do a good job and present the facts in an unbiased way.”

Once the bane of teachers, Wikipedia and entry-writing exercises are becoming more common on college campuses as academia and the online site drop mutual suspicions and seek to cooperate. In at least 150 courses at colleges in the U.S. and Canada, including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco’s medical school, Boston College and Carnegie Mellon University, students were assigned to create or expand Wikipedia entries this year.

The result, supporters say, has been better researched articles about, for example, the causes of paralyzing strokes and the history of the American West. And, they say, students are becoming better prepared for a future of digital information.

“Even the best research papers get buried in a drawer somewhere,” said Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the Pomona politics professor who assigned the Wikipedia projects. “These make a real contribution to the public discourse.”

When the not-for-profit Wikipedia was started in 2001, the idea was that antiestablishment volunteers — in fact, anyone who could access the Internet — would write and edit its mainly anonymous entries. An unbiased truth was supposed to emerge if enough contributors took part. By contrast, traditional encyclopedias hired expert authors.

But even as its popularity soared among the public, Wikipedia earned a reputation among academics as amateurish, peppered with errors and too open to nasty online spats over content. Wikipedia has tried to repair all that with better safeguards and a wider range of topics.

As part of that effort, Wikipedia has established a San Francisco educational arm that helps colleges tailor class assignments to the site’s technical demands. It trains “Wikipedia Ambassadors” like Char Booth, the Claremont Colleges librarian who aided the Pomona class.

Wikipedia “gets well-written articles from [college] students who are studying the topics and have access to the best literature on the subject and the expertise of professors who can guide them as well,” said LiAnna Davis, a spokeswoman for the Wiki Education Foundation.

Pomona professor Hollis-Brusky and Booth taught students to meet the requirements of tight writing, neutral tone and abundant citations for their projects on such topics as theFederalist Papers , diamond importing laws and the electoral reform group FairVote. The student groups presented their research to the class and displayed their Wikipedia pages on a large screen in a Hahn Hall classroom. The Supreme Court case entry showed that it had attracted about 2,000 viewers in a month.

Even with complaints of mistakes and incompleteness, Wikipedia has a powerful reach. Often the first site suggested by Google searches, it has about 4.5 million English-language entries and 496 million visitors a month worldwide.

Wikipedia “has essentially become too large to ignore,” said Berkeley’s Kevin Gorman, a former student who is the nation’s first “Wikipedian in Residence” at an undergraduate institution.

“It is certainly an initial source of information for a huge number of people,” he said. “For many people, it may be their primary source of information.”

Gorman guides students who are composing Wiki entries as assignments in UC Berkeley’s American Cultures program — requiring classes that deal with ethnic and economic diversity.

Gorman said it is important to expand the ranks of Wikipedia authors and editors beyond its early base of “basically techno, libertarian, white dudes.”

Further symbolizing peace with academia, professional scholarly organizations in sociology, psychological science and communications in recent years have urged members to write Wikipedia articles and to assign students to do so. Other efforts include Wikipedia-writing marathons, such as one sponsored by CalArts’ online magazine, East of Borneo, that focused on topics about the Southern California art world.

Gorman also works with UC San Francisco’s medical school, where professor Amin Azzam runs a month-long elective class for students to improve Wikipedia’s medical information. In the first such class at an American medical school, students have started or revised pages about hepatitis, dementia and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, among others, Azzam said.

The assignments, he explained, are part of young doctors’ “social contract to do good in the world and help patients” learn about health.

In revising and broadening the entry on strokes, medical student Andrew Callen experienced Wikipedia’s argumentative nature. A Wikipedia medical editor, apparently a physician, challenged some of Callen’s technical terminology.

Callen said his language was more precise but conceded after some back and forth that the distinction was not important for lay readers.

“I didn’t take offense at it,” he said. “In a way I appreciated it.”

Writing for Wikipedia, Callen said, is a good way to improve the explanation of complicated science to patients.”The more people we can get to edit it, the more accurate the information will be,” he added.

Some skepticism remains.

Doug Hesse, vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English, said Wikipedia’s understandable insistence on neutrality doesn’t allow students to make reasoned arguments and analysis in term papers.

And its reliance on published sources eliminates students’ independent interviews, experiments and research, said Hesse, who heads the University of Denver’s writing program.

At Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, professor of human-computer interaction Robert Kraut has assigned classes to compose Wikipedia chapters in psychology. Students have benefited, he said, but he, too, doesn’t think such assignments will become commonplace.

Compared to regular term papers, Wiki entries require a lot more faculty time to ensure they are ready for online viewing. Some colleges may be put off by the public editing, which Kraut said led to some of his students’ writings getting excised for not following what he considered to be very complicated footnoting rules.

In Pomona College’s politics class, there was no nasty flaming on any class projects, which counted for 35% of the students’ grades, according to Hollis-Brusky. (Most Wikipedia authors use pseudonyms and the Pomona students were urged to do the same to avoid possible privacy violations.)

Freshman Lane Miles, who worked on the FairVote research, said it was doubly satisfying to help build the online encyclopedia. “We are educating ourselves and educating others,” he said.

larry.gordon@latimes.com
Twitter: @larrygordonlat

 

Guest Post: The Value of New Media in Higher Education

Guest Post by: Livia Rusu

Along with the democratization of the Internet that took place back in 1995, not only the information sharing and processing has become easier, but the latest form of internalizing these new means of communication includes blurring the educational barriers.

During the last month, one of the greatest realizations of the new educational media was MIT giving free online access to all the courses, along with which there was set a new trend in the online education. Turns out that it’s unnecessary to measure competition into results exclusively, as the entire educational processes and their liberalization seems to have more and more power on the reputation of educational institutions.

But new media doesn’t only represent the transfer of the printed and TV press into a new, dynamic platform. It means using entirely other methods to maximize the effect of the information. And the latter as we know it incorporates a lot more than mere journalistic experiences and press materials, it represents any valuable source of knowledge provided by an agent with expertise and, why not, educational and informational responsibility.

The function of online educational platforms is not to prove the experts’ technological acquiring, but to ease access to education for a mass of self-educated, self-motivated individuals who wouldn’t have the means to achieve professional development otherwise.

As about the methods, new media seems to have thought of all the possible issues that made education impossible for millions of people during the 20th century. The first and most important is money. Without enough financial support during the entire educational journey, it would have been impossible 20 years ago for anyone to achieve a level of expertise that qualifies someone as a specialist in a certain domain. Today, the only problem that stands is that not everybody has Internet access, and Google already thought of resolving this final stage of worldwide technologization.

While online education isn’t self-sufficient and still has to be completed by a formal/institutional certification at the present time, there are two major benefits that issue from this online liberalization:

–         the people who have already followed (or are following as we speak) an educational route have the possibility to strengthen and stabilize their specific knowledge and be better professionals than their parents;

–          the category of people who wouldn’t have had the financial possibility to follow a higher education program now have the possibility to achieve (at least) a minimum of knowledge.

The official international certification of exclusive online higher education degrees is only a matter of time, and even though some of the online classes known today as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) provided by online platforms and specialists from different famous universities around the world are most probably going to have a fee in a couple of years, this is not entirely bad. Thinking of a large number of people from developing countries who have the educational interest and the academic spirit that it takes to follow a higher education degree, this measure would only do good on the long run.  More specialists would be ready to integrate on the labor market, thus helping the national economy of the state they belong to.

The second problem that the impact of new media in higher education programs solves is space. Along with the cultural boundaries, the spatial ones have always been a problem for the universities. For a long time now it was impossible for a lot of young, talented, motivated people to follow the classes of a popular university, because of the limited number of students per year. This issue no longer exists – the slides with the information, the e-books along with the tasks and requirements for the online class are posted online, and so is the lecture of the professor. Proximity shouldn’t be treated as a sine qua non condition for the students who want to follow a specific educational program, and though it has raised problems during the past two decades. Hazardous information about the student shouldn’t be able to affect his academic career: his God, skin color, sexual orientation or home city doesn’t have to be an issue anymore.

Of course, being completely unconstrained by spatial boundaries also means that the professors would have to differentiate the students using some educationally relevant criteria, such as their interest on the matter, the information accumulated at the end of the lecture, the seriousness with which the tasks were completed. For once, the major achievement of the online classes is that the interest is no longer determined by economic or hazardous factors. Being active online means the student is driven by self-motivation and genuine interest for the domain, as opposed to going to classes because you like socializing, mocking the professor, or you just happen to be around. Being enrolled to a BA because your parents had saved money half of their lives is not quite the most objective indicator of genuine interest and motivation, while deciding for yourself to be online and constantly participating to online classes offers a rather realistic view of the scale of interest the students show in the academic matters.

What we’re assuming is not that the classical higher education programs are filled and completed to the point of redundancy, but that on a large scale there is no such thing as measuring the bona fide interest of the students by their presence, when sometimes the educational route says little or nothing about their true intentions for the future, but of their parents expectations and social standards.

Time. Time is money, some say, but by following this type of sophistical thinking we would get back to ground zero. So time is time – the most valuable resource for anyone who has the most minimal idea of what is relevant in life. Having time means continuously, thoroughly managing one’s every action in order to achieve the maximum of performance with the minimum of resources.

And for a student or for someone during their 20s it is a sophisticated philosophy understanding that, as much of a cliché as it may sound, there’s no short way if you’re interested in a career. Which entails that there will always be a constant undergoing thought process analyzing which task/interest/motivation should better be followed. To put it simply, spending more time doing academic relevant work online requires more dedication than spending more time sitting in an amphitheater. And this is due to the dynamic and integrative methods that require active listening, immediate reaction to stimuli and a responsive, collaborative attitude that you can fake in class.

Although many of the scientists studying the educational environment and the changes that are necessary have a polarized perspective on the matter, there is no war between the typical universities as we know them today and their analogue online replacements. They’re more complementary than they are mutually exclusive, and integrating educational methods with the technological tools can only sharpen the academic performance of both students and specialists.

This is a guest post written by Livia Rusu, who spends a lot of time researching and discussing college education on her blog.

 

Guest Post: DIY Ways in Becoming an Effective Teacher

Guest Post by: Luz Barnett

It could definitely be a dream come true for anyone to become a teacher. Lucky are those who pursues their dream of becoming a professional teacher. Then again for those who seems to have a dream of becoming a teacher but still not sure if they can make it happen since they sometimes feel lack of confidence along the way. It is a big responsibility becoming a teacher and it should really be taken seriously.

Having a Degree in Education is actually a bonus factor for anyone, but even if you don’t have that Degree, you can still prove that you can be a teacher on your own ways.

1. Put Some Goals First – teaching can actually is something that anyone can enjoy, most of all if you really have that interest on it. Therefore, it is a must that you have to make some goals when you plan to teach. In everything that you do especially if you are determined to really make a career out of teaching, it will be very important if you make a goal ahead of time. It is something that some may try to forget but is considered to be one of the most important factor.

2. Reading Books and Guides – lucky are those who are having some formal knowledge on how to become an effective teacher. But, for those who seems to be struggling or simply wants to learn more it will be more appropriate to read books, article and some how-to guide in becoming an effective teacher. When you tend to depend on some books, it will actually help you on how to improve your teaching skills. Reading can actually be a good motivation in the field of teaching, it will also help you when it comes in thinking some ways on how teaching be done in an easy manner.

3. Have a Mentor to Depend On – of course it will be impossible to just go forward in teaching without having some experience. It is important that you have experience but when you try to lack on this matter, it is advisable to look for a mentor that will certainly guide you until the end. You cannot always pretend to be the best in the field of teaching when you know that your knowledge about the matter are not enough.

Dreaming big is one of the thing that every people should try to work on. Just like when you have that dream of becoming one of the effective teacher, it does not need to be too complicated. The idea that you can also have that self-study skills can be a big advantage, because even though you do not have that proper program in the field of  Education you can therefore be capable to teach in the ways that you know. Anyone can be able to teach as long as you want to take it seriously, it does not need to look too complicated with it for there are actually a lot of ways on how teaching can be done. It’s just a matter of how persistent are you in achieving the goal that you want the most.

 

Author’s Bio:

Luz Barnett, a student taking up a Creative Writing Degree and a part-time writer at an essay writing service. She is a free-spirited type of woman who is not afraid to challenge her skills and talents. You can add her through her Google+.

Guest Post: Top 5 Courses For a Sureball Career

Guest Post by: Katherine Smithson
The first crucial part of life.
No doubt college is the very first crucial part of your life. And the very first crucial choice that you need to decide upon is whether you are going to pursue it or not. Right after that decision making stuff and once you decided to push through college already, your next big decision would be about your course to-be.
Unlike before, there are a lot of college courses to choose from today. You can even begin mastering your intended specialization once you enrolled on that course. College is actually your first step to make your aspirations and even your childhood dreams to reality.
Of course everyone who tries to enter college has a dream. And obviously, one of those dreams is to have a decent job and create a career from there. Well, if that is your ultimate goal, then here are the top five courses (in no particular order) which can definitely escort you through a sureball career.
1. Education
One of our constant needs is education. We need to learn in order for us to have a brighter and better future. Even the most famous and now successful college dropouts once had to learn the basics of life, how to read, write, count, and some of the fundamentals of their specializations today. Every single one of us needs education. That’s why the teaching profession is indeed one of the most important jobs in the world. With that, education courses can also assure you of a good and stable career after graduation.
2. Medicine/Pharmacy
There are five constant things in life — life, death, change, taxes, and sickness. Through the years of our existence as human beings, we have been battling with all sorts of sickness and diseases. May it be some kind of a natural cause or a “man-made stricken” one, we need to fight it out and survive. Due to that fact, we always need the help of doctors, specialists, and of course pharmaceutical experts to help us heal or better yet, prevent these diseases from spreading. If you are thinking of pursuing one of these medicine-related courses, then you can rest assured that you will have a definite career ahead of you.
3. Journalism/ Mass Communication
Aside from the fact that people wants and needs to know the most current events, situations and information nowadays, it is also a must for a professional today to possess globally competitive communication skills. Companies today are looking for communication people who could help them formally or creatively relay their messages to both their employees and/or target market, through written and/or verbal means. With this kind of global demand, communication and writing courses can absolutely take you to places.
4. Technical Courses
Not all careers are confined inside an office building. There are also those active and skillful jobs which require both mental and physical capacities. If you have the talent and passion to fix cars and other stuff that can be of use, then you must be called to become a skilled professional. These technical skills are indeed acquired gifts which not everyone can learn and really excel with.
5. Culinary/ Food Technology
Food is forever a staple thing for us human beings. We can’t live without it. In fact, every nation in the world has different specialties and delicacies to begin with. That’s how foodies people are. And that’s also the reason why there will always be a stable career and future on cooking and food courses. You can either try out on a cruise or a hotel, or perhaps try your luck out on a restaurant business or something like that.
These courses can indeed bring you to places. But remember to still follow your heart and your dreams. A friendly reminder: your choices, and not just your course, will help you create a bright and sureball career and future for you.

VoiceThread

One assignment for my research methods graduate class required me to use the technology/website VoiceThread to reflect upon a well-remembered event prior to our current teaching practice.  I reflected upon my experience of a lockdown drill.

VoiceThread is a great technology that allows a user to upload a video, PowerPoint, or most media files and add audio to it, then other users can comment on the video using audio, video, or text.  Audio comments can be uploaded using a phone or a computer microphone.  Additionally, a commenter can pause the video while still continuing to speak and use a pencil tool with multiple colors to draw attention to an element in the video.

From their website:

Voice Threading:

  1. to communicate ideas using more than one of the senses
  2. to connect with an audience in an authentic and simple manner
  3. a discussion that simulates a live presence

It has great applications for K-12, higher education, and business.  VoiceThread would be a great tool to use for a Flipped Classroom or an online class.  There even an app for the iPad that will allow you to create and edit your VoiceThreads.  VoiceThreads can be embedded using an object code (see below) to websites, linked to on VoiceThread’s servers, and sent in an email.  VoiceThread will even post directly to your Facebook or Twitter account if you give it permission to do so.

However there is a major drawback.  It’s a bit costly.  The single K-12 educator license is $79/year.  Have more than one teacher using it at one school?  You can purchase a school license, which starts at $450/year.  Some features cost more while there are discounts for number of users.  However, if you are not affiliated with a school, individual plans start at $20/month.  There are discounts for teams and companies.

So why is price such a big drawback?  There is a free account, but it is so limiting that it essentially allows you to try it out once or twice and then you have to make a decision to purchase a license or not.  Commenting is always free, but uploading your videos will cost you.  Also, the free account limits you to 25MB per upload, which can be a bit difficult if you have a longer video.  While using my free account, the iPad app seemed a bit restricting as well.  I could not use the microphone on my iPad to record audio over a video that I uploaded using my laptop.  Lastly, the free account restricts a user to only 5 video uploads and does not allow you to delete any video.  Thus, you really need to record video using another program and then upload it once it is completely done, if you want to capitalize on the restricted 5 uploads.

Overall: I really like VoiceThread.  I think it would be excellent with a paid account, but the price point is a bit difficult for me as this is a technology that can only be used with itself (you can’t really use it to add an audio comment to a YouTube video; you can only use VoiceThread commenting on VoiceThread videos).

Below I have embedded the VoiceThread I made for my assignment (direct link here).  This specific video was created by first making a PowerPoint presentation, which I then published to video in order to preserve fonts, transitions, and set slide advancement times.  Then, I uploaded the video to VoiceThread.  While I could upload the .ppx file, VoiceThread could not read the fonts, even after I embedded them into the file.  Thus, this video is actually number 3 of my 5 allotted VoiceThreads.  Once uploaded, I then had to use an external microphone to record my voice because I could not get my laptop microphone to work nor could I use my iPad.

Feel free to comment on the video using VoiceThread or in the comments section on this blog entry.

Guest Post: Language Degrees are Key to UK’s Economy

Guest Post Written By: James Harlan

For the United Kingdom to regain its economic strength, the country should expand its exportation. But unfortunately, this highly advanced nation is lacking in ready and future supply of personnel with the handy foreign languages skills. To expand its exports better and reap the fruits faster, the UK needs people with these skills.

Decline

While there is a need for a work force that is language adept, language degree courses at UK universities have been closing one after another. According to the results of studies conducted by Education Guardian on course listings at UCAS, the number of course closures have piled up through the years from 1998, 2007 and 2014-15. This has resulted to the number of universities providing specialist language degrees going down to 56 at present from 1998’s 93. That is a drop that is nearing the half mark.

Languages

From 2007 to 2014, the number of universities offering French language specialist degrees including single honours and joint honours with another language dropped from 79 to 55. Spanish degrees of the same categories fell from 71 to 54, German 64 to 44 and Italian 39 to 33. These trends are greatly severe compared to the relatively slight decline from the previous period from 1998 to 2007. These are declines of 30%, 24%, 31% and 15% respectively. They are like shrinkages of a third and a quarter.

Concern

Experts are worried about the downward trend. They warn that if it continues, some degree courses and entire language departments will close every year. Relating to this, Southampton University modern languages head Michael Kelly who has also worked as an adviser to both the coalition and Labour governments says that universities have been finding it difficult to get enough students be able to open classes and keep degree courses in their enrollment.

Universities

Mr. Kelly adds that middle ranking universities are the ones greatly hit as they are the ones who are forced to close language courses. Other institutions who have been forced to cancel course and degree programme offerings on specialised and other language subjects are some post-92 universities which are having financial difficulties. Survey and analysis from researchers find that specialist language degrees which includes both single honours and joint honours with another language have been entirely cancelled in 24 universities in the six year span of 2007 to 2013. Further, a related study shows that the trend has continued and increased for the 2014-15 academic year.

Expenses

Specialist language degree courses have developed the elitist reputation as they entail higher costs for universities and the resulting higher tuition fees. Most of the financial requirement take the form of staffing and incidental expenditures. To maintain the specialist language department, a university needs many lecturers. Specialist language lecturers cannot simply cover for among one another. For example, a Spanish lecturer is not expected to accept German classes or called in to substitute in them.

Employability

Applicants and employees with language qualifications are sought after by employers. People with foreign language education, skills or even background are very few. This means that language degrees are good qualifications for job applicants. University Council of Modern Languages chair and Open University language learning and teaching professor Jim Coleman relates that language degrees are good for employability. He adds however that vocational language degrees are disappearing.

About the Author: James Harlan is a researcher and statistician where he is able to give help for professionals and students in dissertation writing .