Are Luddite Professors still Effective Educators?

I was recently having a conversation with a college professor about the use of social networks in the higher education classroom. I mentioned that Twitter is an excellent tool for learning, but she disagreed, saying that is a waste of time. Instead of attempting to enlighten her, I heard her out because I wanted to understand how she perceives social networking as a teaching and learning tool.

Her main argument against using social networks, both in education, and in her life, is the invasion of privacy, or lack of privacy, and that very little useful information is actually shared on social networks. Continue reading

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Waiting for Gamification in Higher Education

When I was a kid I loved reading comic books. One of my favourite series was the Adventures of Tintin. I just had to have the video game of the same name was recently released for iPad. During Christmas break I couldn’t stop playing the game; but the more I played it, the more I thought, “Why can’t we do this in education?”

For me the game had the challenge of learning to use the controls, I had to solve problems, there was a clean storyline, good animation, and I was rewarded for going off the beaten path as I (or should I say Tintin and Snowy) looked for gold coins. The skill level, for control and thinking, increased as the game progressed.

These key elements of gaming have been around since humans invented games. Unfortunately, educational games today come to an abrupt halt by the time someone enrolls in college or university. I would have loved to play an adventure game to help me learn four hundred years of Canadian history, or psychology, or research methods. Continue reading

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BYOD and Digital Divide Issues in Education

I have often witnessed students from lower social-economic backgrounds are the only students in class without a smartphone. Some students have told me that at home they do not have a computer, or it they do, they cannot afford to purchase MS Office – even with a student discount.

Knowing and understanding these challenges, I have been against the latest drive of BYOD (bring your own device) to the classroom; however, I have also noticed that there are some positive effects of the BYOD movement that doesn’t exacerbate the digital divide in the classroom. Continue reading

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Planning Virtual Field Trips

Classroom time constraints are a barrier to taking adult learners on field trips. Whether the class takes place as a night course or a part of the daytime curriculum, the usual three hour class prohibits taking students off campus. The answer is to take students on a virtual field trip.

Many of the popular virtual field trip (search Google for suggestions) includes museum or historical sites. Finding an appropriate field trip is often the first hurdle an educator must overcome. However, with a bit of creativity, a trip to a museum or historical site will provide a plethora of ideas.

For example, as a media teacher, several of my courses included classes on how to write a media release. I could easily take the students to the virtual tour of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and have them identify news stories and news releases based on the information found.

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Know When to Use QR Codes in Education

QR codes are slowly become more prevalent in North America. While they have caught on in advertising, they have been slow to catch on in education. One self-proclaimed American social media “expert” (there is no such thing) has gone as far as stating that QR codes are dead. I don’t believe QR codes have gone the way of the dinosaur, but I do believe that many people and organizations don’t understand how to use them properly.

Like most new technology, people tend to jump on the bandwagon simply because the technology is different and fun. QR codes have taken much the same route. Now that we have (hopefully) gone beyond the “different and fun phase,” we can start to use them properly. This begins by asking the age old question, “What’s in it for me?”

In the world of education, the educator who creates the QR code must be able to clearly identify the benefits to the learner using the QR code. Educators must go well beyond using QR codes in place of a URL. Simply stated, do not use QR codes simply because they are easy to generate.

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M-Learning Compliment Classroom Teaching

A Long Beach California high school made headlines last week because they are piloting a program where textbook are not used and algebra students use their class notes and an iPad app to help them study for exams.

As the world become increasingly digitized, schools, instructors, and curriculum designers are quickly catching on to adapting their “tried and true” methods and embracing mobile devices.

As a curriculum designer, I find this to be similar to Star Trek’s voyage to where no one has gone before. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but so are the pitfalls. My biggest concern is the increasingly short attention span of learners. Apps seem to naturally feed this very common disease, but complimenting apps with classroom work is a perfect way to engage students.

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