MOOCs, Skills vs. Tools, Games, Learning in the Digital World

lynnz_col2Impacts of MOOCs on Higher Education by Allison Dulin Salisbury, from Inside Higher Ed
Although she comments that they are much criticized, the author focuses on positive outcomes of MOOCs such as the increased awareness by institutions of higher education that the digital age is here to stay. Read the comments, too, because a reader takes her to task for ignoring some data and this sparked a lively discussion.

When Students Get Creative With Tech Tools, Teachers Focus on Skills by Jennifer Carey from MindShift
All students need to learn how to use reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The skill(s) the teacher wants the students to work with should be central to any lesson, including one infused with technology. Carey reminds readers that focusing on the skills rather than the tools results in effective learning. Digital tools should be used like any other teaching strategy; identify the skills you want your students to learn then decide how they will do it.

Latest games are finally unlocking the key to making learning more fun by Emmanuel Felton from Hechinger Report
Kids learn from games without realizing they are learning. Some educational game developers assert that gaming can go beyond using games to students’ actually designing and building games, using higher order thinking skills as they work collaboratively.

What Are the Most Powerful Uses of Tech for Learning? By Katrina Schwartz  from MindShift
In order for technology to be an effective learning tool, the learner first needs access. Then they need the knowledge to go beyond just being a consumer of information to being an active participant in the digital world. Teachers can be and are at the center of this type of deeper and more meaningful learning.

Reading, Vocabulary, Glogster, Funding, ESL Teachers, VoiceThread

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Cutting to the Common Core: The Positive Side of the Digital Divide by J. Zorfass and T. Gray in Language Magazine: The authors make the case for using digital texts to support the reading process for all learners.

Computer games give boost to English. The University of Gothenburg in Science Daily Success in the world of computer games and a good English vocabulary go hand in hand. A recent study has shown that players who are good at computer games increase their English vocabulary. The study also showed a difference between the genders. Boys spend about twice as much time a week playing computer games as girls. However, girls spend about twice as much time a week on Facebook and other language-related activities.

Tools for achieving oral fluency by Marsha Appling-Nunez in Language Magazine: The author makes suggestions for helping English language learners with their speaking and presentation skills. Glogster is a graphical blog that students can use when doing oral books reports, or other presentations. She also recommends PechaKucha Prezi, which is a method of presenting information using pictures only which requires the speaker to focus on good pronunciation, filler reduction, and vocabulary.

For Public Schools, the Long and Bumpy Road to Going Digital by Kathy Baron in Mindshift: Equipment, software licensing, training. Funding – or lack of it – is the number one issue facing school districts as they convert to the digital learning world.

Preparing Teacher Candidates to Work with English Language Learners in an Online Course Environment by Stephanie Dewing in TEIS News: The author reports on a study she did on the efficacy of an online course for ESL teachers. She found minimal evidence of transformative learning experiences. She proposes several changes in course design to try to produce a context more conducive for transformational learning.

Using Web 2.0 Tools, Such as Voicethread™, to Enhance ELL Instructor and Student Learning by Kelly Torres In TEIS News: Torres advocates using tools such as VoiceThread™, a multimedia tool that can provide a slide show with pictures, documents, and videos to engage students in online course materials by allowing them to see and hear their peers.

Cyberlearning Summit 2014: A Quick Recap

VicSutton80By Vic Sutton

[Note: See Bonnie Bracey Sutton’s report. -Editor]

There is reportedly a wealth of research being conducted unto cyberlearning, but there are no clear views about how to translate research results into action in the community context, in particular for schools or informal education.

This emerged from the recent Cyberlearning Summit held in Madison, Wisconsin, on 9-10 June 2014, which brought together some 200 participants — mostly academics, plus some educators, industry representatives and grant makers — to highlight “advances in the design of technology-mediated learning environments, how people learn with technology, and how to use cyberlearning technologies to effectively shed light on learning.”

Bonnie's photos

There was no discussion about quite what cyberlearning is, but it appears to be a fancy name for on-line learning.

The meeting was organized by the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and featured a number of eminently qualified speakers.

Yasmin Kafai, from the University of Pennsylvania, reminded participants of the remark by the late Steve Jobs that “everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”  Continue reading

Are Games Such As ‘Angry Birds’ Appropriate for Kids?

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

I am what Marc Prensky would call a “digital immigrant.” I did not grow up with computer technology but have learned to use it as it appears on my horizon. Some of this use has come from necessity, such as when the company I worked for bought Apple IIes to use for some data tracking. As more and more computer technology appeared on the scene, I embraced some of it while ignoring or rejecting others. I never played video/computer games, for instance, and wouldn’t know one end of a joystick from the other. On the other hand, I cannot imagine life without the Internet and Google.

However, I have started playing some computer games, such as solitaire and some other free card games on my computer and on the Internet. I am a user of Words for Friends through my FaceBook account. However, I have never really played what I consider to be video/computer games until this summer when I bought an Android tablet so I could have a small, light-weight device for checking my email when traveling and for downloading e-books. Around the same time, I heard a story on Dick Gordon’s The Story in which he interviewed the designers of Temple Run. It piqued my interest, I think in large part because one of the designers was a woman (gender differences in technology use and development is a story for another day).  Continue reading