Blended Learning, Digital Equity, Skills-based Economy

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

Phil McRae is among the very few in education who see a problem in hyping blended learning, “where students’ face-to-face education is blended with Internet resources or online courses,” as innovative. He says, “As this broad definition illustrates, it would be difficult to find any use of technology in education that does not easily fit into this boundary.”1 This is not to say that all uses of technology in schools aren’t innovative. Some are. But simply adding web content or activities to classes that are primarily F2F isn’t necessarily new or effective.

Still, the biggest problem with blended approaches, innovative or not, isn’t so much its effectiveness but its impact on completely online courses. For many educators, blended is synonymous with online when it reaches a tipping point, measured in a ratio between F2F and online requirements. When a certain percentage — roughly 80% — of the course work is online, then the class is placed in the same category as fully online courses.

This seemingly innocuous perception is arguably the greatest impediment to the development of completely online courses and programs. The F2F imperative, whether 20 percent or 1 percent, instantly eliminates the possibility of disruption that defines online learning. In other words, the door for nontraditional students who cannot, for whatever reason, attend classes on campus remains closed.  Continue reading

Free Webinar: ‘Using Technology to Engage Students’ 2/23/15 3pm EST

From Macmillan Higher Education 2/17/15:

Join us on Monday, February 23rd at 3pm EST for a complimentary webinar on “Using Technology to Engage Students” with Solina Lindahl of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo!

The 21st century classroom is getting larger, more tech-laden and full of students weaned on digital devices. How should our teaching change (or NOT change) in light of this? This talk is aimed at showing how iPads, iClickers and more can engage the face-to-face large class. Included are a brief discussion of some of the more innovative (and easy) visual presentation apps, as well as a look at using iPads to do the most old-fashioned of practices: worked problems.

edtech week

To learn more about all of our EdTech Week sessions and our presenters, please visit our EdTech Week website. You can also join our event on Facebook for the latest updates and information! We hope to see you there!

Changing Face of Healthcare: The Role Mobile Apps Will Play in Medicine

frida-cooper 80By Frida Cooper

Judging by the sheer popularity of smartphones in modern times, it’s safe to say that this multi-faceted and dynamic invention may just be the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even better, if sales figures from smartphone manufacturers are anything to go by. The Smartphone’s utility isn’t restricted to the quintessential teenager texting all day or for showing the world what you had for lunch earlier that day. The advent of smartphones and their ability to connect to the veritable hoard of information that is the Internet has revolutionized life in general and pretty much every profession on the face of this world too.

The substantial healthcare industry here in the United States is most definitely one such example. The truth of the matter, though, is that the total impact of smartphones and mobile apps hasn’t even hit the industry yet, but that’s all about to change. Traditionally, the whole dynamic between healthcare professionals and the general population was that of blind faith. The knowledge and expertise of healthcare professionals wasn’t ever questioned, for better or for worse.

The origins

Things all began to change with the advent of the Internet in households across the USA. People started to conduct research on medical maladies that they were suffering from. They started to question the choice of medication, course of treatment taken, and potential side effects. These and many other things that would have been left to the professional’s judgment but a few years earlier were being challenged now that the patient was armed with information.

Where apps fit in

Whether this situation was and is good or bad is still up for debate, but this is where this revolution originated from. When smartphones came to the fore, this situation was taken up a few notches. A study conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013 pointed at over 40,000 healthcare-related apps available for download then in the iTunes App Store. Imagine how many more there are when taking platforms like Windows and Android into account. The sheer diversity of topics, too, covered under the healthcare ambit is staggering.  Continue reading

Video Games, Smartphones, Language Learning, Technology and Learning

lynnz_col2Playing High-Action Video Games May Speed Up Learning, Studies Say by Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week 11/13/14
Sparks reports on a study in the December issue of Human Movement Science that contradicts earlier research which connects extensive video game play to attention-deficit disorders and other impulsiveness disorders. The authors contend that “game playing can improve students’ attention control” and create better learners.

Smartphone addicts: A project-based learning activity by Alexandra Lowe in TESOL blog 11/5/14
Lowe describes how she used the idea of a Smartphone survey to move English language use outside the classroom. In groups students developed and conducted surveys about Smartphone use.

Learning languages is a workout for brains, both young, old by Victoria M. Infivero from Science Daily 11/12/14
Using MRI scans, researchers at Penn State have demonstrated that even the adult brain grows and changes when learning a new language. They are also using “virtual 3-D-like environments with situation-based learning to help the brain make some of those new connections more effectively.”

Report Urges Caution on Approaches Equating Technology in Schools with Personalized Learning by William J. Mathis and Noel Enyedy,  from NEPC 11/24/14
This policy brief addresses the increased use of technology in schools and questions its effectiveness. The authors point to a number of factors, including the fact that teaching practices and learning outcomes often have not changed.

The iPhone 6 Plus and Tablets: A Tectonic Drift

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

The iPhone 6 Plus arrived via USPS priority mail yesterday, so I’ve had it for a little over a day. My first impression is that it has a completely different look and feel from the iPhone 4, which I reviewed in July 2011. The 4 has a solid industrial feel that’s enhanced by sharply beveled edges. I like the way it looks and feels in my hand. The 6+, in comparison, feels fragile, perhaps because of its thinness and rounded edges. This sense of fragility, however, is gradually fading the more I handle it. My guess is that it will take a few days for a new muscle memory to replace the old.

IPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6 Plus: 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches, 6.07 ounces. iPhone 4: 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches, 4.8 ounces.

The most critical factor for me is hand fit. It has to feel comfortable. It took a few hours to adjust to the size difference, especially the length, 6.22″ vs 4.5″. The width difference, 3.06″ vs 2.31″, is noticeable, but it’s surprisingly comfortable in my hand. My immediate thought was that the next version of the plus could easily be an inch wider (4″ instead of 3″) and still fit the average-sized hand.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 width: 3.06″ vs 2.31″.

The next critical factor for me is pocketability. It has to fit comfortably in my pants pocket. The 4 fits in any and every pocket. The 6+ fits best in the front pockets. It’s slightly heavier than the 4, 6.07 vs 4.8 ounces, but it actually feels lighter in my pocket. This sensation is probably caused by its dimensions. It’s less dense. Taller, wider, and thinner, the weight is spread out whereas the 4 is concentrated in a smaller area.

Side View iPhones

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 thickness: 0.28″ vs 0.37″.

I take my iPhone with me on walks and use it as a music player with in-ear headphones. The 6+ felt comfortable in my right front pocket. I slipped it in upside down because the 1/8″ headphone jack is on the bottom edge. The +/- volume buttons are in the same place as the 4’s, and I’m able to adjust volume from outside the pocket while walking.  Continue reading

The Future of Tablets — and More

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Recent news of a drop in iPad sales1 by Apple triggered some thoughts. Reporting that educational sales of iPads are still on the rise prompted more thinking. Then, I found that some of our customers had a very interesting response to our queries about this area.

We deliver our software as HTML5, making updates unnecessary and allowing for the software to run on any platform: iPad, iPhone, Android device, Chromebook, MacBook, MS Surface, Linux desktop, etc. We can readily convert the software to an iOS app and to an Android app. The question we asked is, “Should we?” The answer, at least from schools, was as resounding “No!”

ipad oct2014

Making predictions is a very risky business, if you care about your credibility. I am going out on a very long limb by making two predictions for the future. Any number of new developments can make these predictions wildly inaccurate or could cement their certainty.

The first prediction is that iPads will continue the decline in sales and eventually level off. There will be some bumps in this path, of course, but the overall process is one of stagnation at best. The article gives some reasons. For example, people are not upgrading their old iPads as quickly as Apple had anticipated. An iPad is not an iPhone and does not engender the mass hysteria with respect to new versions that you see with such a constantly visible status symbol as your cell phone.

Those tablets also don’t have as many preferred uses as many had predicted. Most who can afford an iPad also have a “real” computer that they use for power applications such as word processing. The tablet is mostly used for videos, music, email, texting (when not using the cell phone for that), and so on. In brief, tablets are not supplanting computers in large numbers. Given a computer and a cell phone, with screen size growing apace, the tablet is the “middle child” and is unnecessary to everyday functioning. It’s too large to carry in your pocket and too small for many serious uses.

The above is not to suggest that tablets will vanish, only that they will settle into a niche market until someone radically changes the interface. The touchscreen is magic for young children and some applications. My grandchildren took to them like kids to candy, even at ages 3 and 5. Still, a touchscreen interface can only take you so far. Adding three-finger gestures really doesn’t make it that exciting. The problems lie in two primary areas: screen size and computing power (CPU and memory). The apps for them have been designed to use what’s available.  Continue reading

The Crinkle-Free Pocket Map – Google Maps

Allison Turgeon 80By Allison Turgeon
Student
University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Struggling with a cumbersome paper map is difficult and inconvenient, and then it begins to rain. Google Maps is a user-friendly alternative, a technological tool that can be accessed via a computer or a mobile device, compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems. This app offers users a variety of functions, increasing versatility and convenience. It is an innovative and handy tool that assists users in more than just arriving at their desired destination with great ease.

Google MapsWith Google Maps, users can type or say a street address, a point of interest, or a named location into the search bar. Kapi’olani Community College classmate, Kelsey Hardee, says, “Now that I have a moped, I love the voice option so I can be directed hands free!” Google Maps locates the destiantion on a map. From here, users have the option to seek driving, transit, walking, or biking directions. With multiple routes, users can select the one that is most convenient and meets their needs. After selecting their desired route, the application offers directions to the desired destination or an option to hear turn-by-turn navigation instructions, similar to those of a standalone GPS system. Additional features include satellite imagery, allowing users to access a street-view of the area, a particularly useful function that helps to increase visual familiarity of an area.

A recently added feature allows Google Maps users to explore nearby businesses, including eateries, hotels, malls, and other points of interest. This feature is complete with consumer ratings and reviews, business information such as hours and contact information, and driving, walking, biking, or transit directions to visit the point of interest. According to David Pogue of the NY Times, “Google’s points-of-interest database also excels.” While other apps offer a similar feature, many of them actually access Google Maps to provide location and directions. Google Maps is more effective and convenient since it reduces the number of steps in the process.  Continue reading