A Successful Public Health MOOC: Interview with Dr. Satesh Bidaisee

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

One Health, One Medicine: An Ecosystem Approach was a five-week public health MOOC offered by Dr. Satesh Bidaisee1 at St. George’s University, Grenada, in summer 2016. The course attracted 582 students from all over the world and was especially popular with students from the Caribbean, United States, and even Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.

Among the 582 who enrolled, participants, or “students who took at least one graded activity in the course,” numbered 98, which is 17% of the total enrolled. Of the 98 participants, 52 completed the course. Completion is defined as achieving “at least a 50% in the course, which required them to get full participation and quiz credit and at least one additional exercise (case or presentation).”

Calculated in this way, the completion rate among participants was 53%, four times the rate in previous years. Of the 50 students who completed the survey, 98% rated their overall experience in the course as good or excellent. To the question “Would you be interested in pursuing a degree from St. Goerge’s University?”, 82% answered yes. Of this number, 30% preferred online courses, 16% preferred on-campus classes, and the remaining 36% had no preference either way.

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, St. George's University, Grenada.

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, St. George’s University, Grenada.

ETC: How would you explain the high rate of completion for your MOOC?
Bidaisee: The key factors were: (1) A user-friendly online course management system, SGUx, which is built on the EdX platform. (2) Accessible course team. (3) Interactions with students through live seminars, live office hours, discussion blogs, Twitter communication. (3) Case study reviews, peer-review evaluation of student-produced seminars. (4) Focused course topic and content on One Health, One Medicine.  Continue reading

Gavin Dudeney on Technology and Teaching English

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

I met Gavin Dudeney at a conference for English teachers in Balti, Moldova, in March 2016. He was keynote speaker and gave two workshops focusing on technology and English teaching. His presentations were engaging and informative, so I thought you’d like to hear from him, too. His ideas are relevant to all classroom teaching, not just English teaching.

LZ: Gavin, please tell us a little about who you are professionally.

Gavin: I’m Director of Technology for a company specializing in the use of technologies in education. I train teachers to use technologies and write books in the same area. I also work in online materials and course design and have a long history and background in language teaching and teacher training.

LZ: What do you think is the most exciting connection between technology and English teaching? Why?

Gavin: I think technology is a natural link between what we do in class and what happens outside of class — and this is particularly true of mobile devices, which give students the chance to bring things in from their “real” lives and use them in class, and take things they have learned in class and use them outside in the real world. Technology should engage, enable and enhance. If it gets in the way then it’s worse than useless.

LZ: I was especially intrigued by some of your ideas about using mobile (cell) phones in the classroom. As I told you at the conference, I feel like I am fighting the wrong battle trying to keep my students’ hands off their phones during class. What suggestions do you have?

Gavin: I think it IS a losing battle, so the secret is to own it instead of ignoring it. By owning it I mean working out how to incorporate mobiles into your teaching in a practical, useful and authentic way and making sure phones are only used under those conditions and are not relied upon for the whole class. In my workshop in Moldova, I gave some practical examples of how to achieve this balance, and some of them can be found here (click on the mLearning tab).

LZ: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

* * *

I recommend looking at the link he provides. I especially like his ideas about using the phone to take and share photos.


Wearable Tech on Your Preschooler? Technology Education and Innovation for Children

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

Updated 7/29/15

Catherine Cook School just hosted the first annual IDEA:TE (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art: Transforming Education) conference June 23-26. The School’s Director of Innovation, JD Pirtle, talks about best practices for encouraging teachers to integrate technology into everyday classroom practices.

Please explain the purpose and some of the highlights of the IDEA:TE conference.

JD Pirtle, Director of Innovation, Catherine Cook School

JD Pirtle, Director of Innovation, Catherine Cook School

The impetus behind the IDEA:TE Conference came after having dozens of conversations with educators at many other schools here in Chicago, and with educators nationwide. Many of these teachers, librarians, technology coordinators, and administrators had been tapped by their heads of school to create and staff “Maker” labs or innovation hubs. Not only did these educators lack the expertise necessary to run and maintain the many machines and opportunities that an innovation lab necessarily includes, they were struggling with creating engaging and effective curriculum utilizing emerging and traditional technology. In response to this, I initiated the IDEA:TE conference to provide hands-on workshops led by experts in a variety of disciplines, such as 3D printing, computer programming, and textile arts, who come from teaching backgrounds ranging from elementary schools to graduate school.

It was enthralling to see such a diverse group of educators learning together. Rather than sitting through days packed with lectures, attendees were actively involved. From making interactive, laser-cut Arduino powered tea-lights to hand-sewn laptop cases, these educators had intense, hands-on experiences that are replicable in their own classrooms.

Attendees at IDEA:TE create hand-sewn laptop cases in the textile arts workshop.

Attendees at IDEA:TE create hand-sewn laptop cases in the textile arts workshop.

Workshop presenter and Catherine Cook 1st grade teacher Kate Herron demos ScratchJr for an IDEA:TE attendee.
Workshop presenter and Catherine Cook 1st grade teacher Kate Herron demos ScratchJr for an IDEA:TE attendee.

A 3D printed ring designed by an IDEA:TE attendee.

A 3D printed ring designed by an IDEA:TE attendee.

From recording and editing music and audio, to sewing wearable technologies, and even creating furniture using laser cutters and 3D printers, Catherine Cook School integrates a diverse set of technologies. Can you share some best practices from different classrooms?

In our innovative work with students and faculty, we engage almost exclusively in project-based learning. There is no “tech time” or pulling students out of the classroom for tech class. Each aspect of Catherine Cook’s IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art) program, which begins in preschool, is woven into the curriculum and is cross-disciplinary.  Continue reading

Social Media in TESOL: An Interview with John Wasko

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

[Note: This interview was prompted by an email, sent by John to Lynn, re her article “Technology Advice for First Year International Students in US Colleges. -Editor]

John Wasko, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa, is president of American Pacific University in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Part of the university’s mission is to help foreign students develop academic English language skills and cultural competence so they can successfully complete study at colleges and universities in the US. Mr. Wasko commented that “too many foreign students come to the US unprepared to face an American classroom.” A commitment to using “21st century digital learning tools and resources” helps students accomplish their language and cultural competencies.

John Wasko

John Wasko

LZ: What are some of the social media online resources you use that have been effective?

JW: The most popular chat rooms in Asia and Southeast Asia are Wechat, QQ and IMO. I use them all to teach the kids English. First, they have automatic translators built in. Secondly you can share audio files for pronunciation. Third they have live video chat. You can talk and see the student in real time. Fourth they work great on mobile. There are even more chat sites specific to different countries. Zalo, for example is specific to Vietnam.

LZ: How do you use these resources in your teaching?

JW: I am now improving my teaching strategies by developing text modules and practical scenarios. Each builds on others to develop more complex sentence structures, vocabulary, contextual speech, jargon and slang. Using Google images in concert with text and audio messaging helps a lot and can be done on the fly.

LZ: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

JW: Here is the great thing. You don’t need any special set up or call center or anything like that. Just a smartphone. I use an iPhone 4. Works great. If we can develop mobile techniques to help these students, every university will knock on their door.

LZ: Thanks.

Technology in Early Education: An Interview with Katie Paciga

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Katie Paciga, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Education at Columbia College Chicago. She teaches courses in Language Development, Children’s Media and Technology, and Early Reading and Writing Methods. Her area of specialization is emergent/early digital literacy development. I interviewed Katie about her views on technology and literacy education for young learners.

LZ: What do you think is the most exciting connection between technology and literacy? Why?

KP: So, the way I see it, there is incredible cultural relevance to the whole connection between technology and literacy. That’s really the most important point. Scientists will continue to debate over the value-added (or not added) because we have evolved. While that debate happens, though, most people are using technology as a tool for communication — to consume information, to create new texts, and to communicate messages. The ways we carry out these actions have changed in the past decade in very significant ways. I suppose you could argue that technology has been impacting the ways we communicate from the time of the evolution of the first writing tool to the telephone, radio, printing press, television, and now the computer and Internet. Humans have always communicated, but today there are new vocabulary terms to describe how we communicate and the tools that we use to do so are different as well.

Dr. Katie Paciga

Dr. Katie Paciga

There are always new technological developments, so our strategies for consuming information, creating new messages, and connecting with other people to communicate our messages need to adapt and evolve fairly quickly. To be literate in a technologically advanced society we need to be able to ask good questions, execute searches, evaluate resources, comprehend material we choose to read, and then synthesize information across MANY resources. I guess, in some ways, we have always had to do this to advance knowledge, but the volume of resources and the reliability of the information children (and adults) encounter daily as they seek answers to their questions is much more diverse than it was just two or three decades ago.

Composition can often require a new language (i.e., computer code) if we are to contribute to creating new texts — contributing our own messages to the world. In addition, we need to be persuasive to get our messages heard in society where search engine optimized content gets communicated more readily than material that is not as clickable, shareable, etc. Visual content has become more prominent in texts, too.

The ways we connect to share our messages with one another have also changed with Facetime, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and the other forms of web-chat and social media. In this way our students’ messages (and sometimes images) are out there for a much wider audience than those in the immediate community.  Continue reading

Mars One CEO Answers Questions About Mission Feasibility

Amersfoort, 19th March 2015 – Mars One recently published a video in which Bas Lansdorp, CEO and Co-founder of Mars One, replies to recent criticism concerning the feasibility of Mars One’s human mission to Mars.

Question: What do you think of the recent news articles that doubt the feasibility of Mars One?

BL: At Mars One we really value good criticism because it helps us to improve our mission. We get a lot of criticism from our advisors, and that is also exactly what we want from them. The recent bad press about Mars One was largely caused by an article on medium.com, which contains a lot of things that are not true. For example, the suggestion was made that our candidates were selected on the basis of how much money they donate to Mars One. That is simply not true, and it is very easy to find that on our website. There are a lot of current Round Three candidates that did not make any donations to Mars One, and there are also lots of people that did not make it to the third round that contributed a lot to Mars One. The two things are not related at all, and to say that they are is simply a lie. The article also states that there were only 2,700 applications for Mars One, which is not true. We offered the reporter, the first journalist ever, access to our list of 200,000 applications, but she was not interested in that. It seems that she is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One than in the truth.

We will have to delay the first unmanned mission to 2020. Delaying our first unmanned mission by two years also means that all the other missions will move by the same period of time, with our first human landing now planned for 2027. -B.L.

Question: Concerns have been voiced about the thoroughness of the astronaut selection process. What is your response to that?

BL: We started our astronaut selection with over 200,000 applications that were submitted online. The application included a video and a lot of psychological questions for our candidates. We used that to narrow down the candidates to about 1000 that had to do a medical check, which was very similar to the check for NASA astronauts. All the remaining candidates then underwent an interview. The interview and all other parts of the selection process were led by Norbert Kraft, our Chief Medical Officer. He has worked on astronaut selection for 5 years at the Japanese Space Agency, and at NASA he researched crew composition for long duration space missions.  Continue reading

An Interview with Tom Preskett: The Evolving Role of a Learning Technologist

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

Updated 11/6/13, 5:40am HST.

Introduction: Tom Preskett was a staff writer with ETCJ from 2008-2011, and we make it a point to touch bases with him from time to time. For example, in 2012, he wrote A Londoner’s View of the 2012 Olympics: Live Feed of All Sports at Any Time!. He brings a reflective insider’s view of what it means to be a learning technologist in the most exciting period in the history of the field. The following interview, conducted via email over the last few days, is prompted by his recent move from the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, to Nord Anglia Education, Oxford.

JS: Tell us about Nord Anglia Education.

TP: Nord Anglia Education is a premium schools organisation. We own 27 schools located in South East Asia, China, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Most of our schools follow a curriculum based on the National Curriculum of England, adapted country by country to meet local culture and conditions.

Tom Preskett

Tom Preskett, Learning Technologist, Nord Anglia Education.

To support these schools are two online environments. One aimed at the students, the Global Classroom, and one aimed at the teachers, Nord Anglia University. Both are moodle environments although they don’t act like traditional virtual learning environments. Our online environments tie together as each school has a moodle, and authentication carries across the Global Classroom and Nord Anglia University. The ethos is one of High Performance Learning as created by our educational director, Professor Deborah Eyre. You can read all about this in her paper “Room at the Top.”

Continue reading