Futures of Education

I think technology has already impacted the college classroom. I may not have my own class yet, and college classes tend to move from one room to another, but the classrooms I have been in thus far are already technology-influenced. The class I taught this term was in a smart-room on WOU’s campus. However, the technologies introduced in the videos are different from the smart-room features. Since I am teaching literature courses, there is no need for computers on every desk, so I can’t see thin clients being used – in college computer labs, yes, but not in an English classroom. Perhaps in a college writing class, more access to computers would be beneficial since students are required to turn in typed essays and assignments. Having computers in writing classrooms would allow students to start their work early for a portion of the class. If I understand this correctly, thin clients allow for more computer space in the classroom because each station requires less hardware. Computers in general take up a lot of room, and using computers in a class would not work well unless every student had access. It would probably be easier just to allow students to bring their own iPads or laptops to class. Continue reading

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Video Learning Resources

While this collection began as a list of resources for using, applying, and/or creating video games for the classroom, the list grew to encompasses digital storytelling as well, which is both separate from and part of video technology.

1. Video Games in the Classroom Resources

This is a handy website that brings many resources for using video games in the classroom onto one manageable site. The website is specifically for educators, so the tips and suggestions are plausible for the classroom. This resource collection has articles supporting/defending the incorporation of video games into education, tools for learning and assessment through video games, discussions on virtual reality programs, and other resources. This would be a great place to start if one were interested in using video games as a resource in the classroom, or if one just wanted to learn more about the possibilities – the pros and cons. Continue reading

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Digital Storytelling – Video Article Review #2

Article Review:

Xu, Park, and Baek (2011) present a study involving the improvement of writing self-efficacy and writing skills in students who use digital storytelling as a means of expressing creativity. They emphasize that storytelling is a tool “widely used in classrooms to enrich the learning experience” and is a “natural method of human communication” (Xu, Park, & Baek, 2011, p. 181). People use storytelling as a way to make sense of “complex ideas, concepts or information;” and students can use storytelling as a means to improve their “high-order thinking and literacy skills” (p. 181). However, technology has enabled educators to use digital storytelling as a teaching tool for writing instruction. With digital storytelling, students have more access to different writing experiences (p. 181). Students have the opportunity to become “researchers, playwrights, designers, media producers, and educators” as they “perform multiple tasks” in the digital world (p. 181). These opportunities for students align well with NETS-S 3.c “evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks” and 4.d “use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.” There are a plethora of options for digital storytelling available for students: “text web pages,” “digital song, a digital video,” “an online game, or a virtual reality” (p. 181). Findings also suggest that digital storytelling is an effective means of communication for students (p. 182) as they are expected to communicate effectively with technology (NETS-S 2.b “communicate information and ideas effectively”). Furthermore, in order to perform these tasks, students would need to “master a wide variety of skills” (p. 183), both technology- and writing-related skills that would adhere to NETS-S 6 “Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.” Continue reading

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Video Games and College Writing – Video Article Review #1

Article Review:

While I have never been one to advocate video games nor do I wish to learn how to play them, Alexander’s (2009) article on incorporating video games into the college composition classroom was intriguing. The purpose of his study was to define how playing video games involves a measure of literacy and that composition educators should “consider using complex computer games as primary ‘texts’ in composition courses as a way to engage with students a more provocative and productive examination of contemporary literacy practices” (Alexander, 2009, p. 37). Alexander (2009) shows through interviews with two students how gaming contains writing, community, and collaboration that work to create literacy awareness in students (pp. 37-8). The study suggests that gaming can be used as a way for students to develop writing and communication skills, and it is used for these purposes outside of the classroom (p. 42). The students interviewed had already developed multi-tasking skills using “multiple communications technologies during play” (p. 42). Alexander (2009) had one student come to his graduate seminar and demonstrate World of Warcraft. The student “played the game, chatted with other players…and talked his way through what he was doing” simultaneously (p. 42). Beyond playing, however, Alexander (2009) explains that gamers communicate through message boards, postings, and websites created by other gamers (p. 42). The student-gamer was effectively carrying out NETS-S #2.a “interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments;” #2.d “contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems;” #6.a “understand and use technology systems;” and #6.b “select and use applications effectively and productively.” Continue reading

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Hybrid Learning Resources

1. Center for Instructional Innovation & Assessment – Hybrid Learning Tools

This website provides a collection of resources for teachers (Napier, Dekhane, & Smith, 2011, p. 30). The website has teaching strategies and assessment tools for hybrid learning, including rubrics. There are also instructional videos and podcasts for teachers as well as course and syllabus designs; and links for blogs, videos (e.g., podcasts) and wikis with information on what these tools are and how to effectively use and create them for hybrid learning. The resource is a quick and easy-to-navigate guide for educators. I would certainly use this website as a starting point for designing and implementing a hybrid course. Continue reading

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Student & Faculty Perspectives – Hybrid Learning Article Review #2

Article Review:

The purpose of this study was to observe student and faculty perspectives of hybrid (or blended) sections of an introductory computing course (Napier, Dekhane, & Smith, 2011, p. 22). Napier, Dekhane, and Smith (2011) believe that the increase in hybrid courses was due to flexibility, reducing overcrowded classrooms, and improvement in teaching and learning (p. 20). However, they also recognized the tremendous pressure on both students and faculty in order to achieve these benefits. Successful students need to be fairly independent learners and possess both time management and technology skills (p. 20). Teachers have to learn how to use new technologies in conjunction with remolding their teaching methods to fit the online structure (p. 20). Before conducting this study, Napier et al. (2011) found that both college students and teachers had more positive attitudes towards hybrid learning over strictly online learning. Students “appreciated flexible scheduling, self-paced online materials, and face-to-face interaction with instructors” (p. 21). More significantly, students realized that hybrid learning “helped them develop more responsibility for their learning” (p. 21). On the other hand, some had trouble with “their own time management and personal organizational skills,” including working with other students (p. 21). With these student perceptions in mind, Napier et al. (2011) also cite that outcomes for hybrid learning are “comparable to, and in some cases, better than face-to-face” learning (p. 21). Continue reading

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College Foreign Language Courses – Hybrid Learning Article Review #1

Article Review:

Goertler, Bollen, and Gaff Jr. (2012) present their study on the effectiveness of hybrid learning in college-level foreign language courses. They begin by identifying previous research and opinions on hybrid and online learning in general. With the increase in student attendance in universities, the need for more classrooms has grown. Without sufficient room or funding, online learning is becoming a more economical solution to the over-crowed college classroom (Goertler, Bollen, & Gaff Jr., 2012, pp. 297-98). Other benefits to hybrid learning, identified by Goertler et al. (2012), include an improvement in instruction quality, “access to more (non-traditional) students,” and “engaging the digital natives in a learning mode they know” (p. 298).  Some have argued that hybrid learning increases effective communication when “face-to-face class-time is used inefficiently” (p. 298). Furthermore, technologies “offer immediate feedback opportunities” (p. 298) and “students are more engaged” in an online environment (p. 299). On the other hand, some argue that the opposite occurs when introducing online teaching into the classroom – less face-to-face time means a lack in teaching quality, etc. (p. 302). Continue reading

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