Monday, July 25, 2016

No more updates!

Starting September 2016 this blog will no longer be updated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Open Syllabus Project

The Open Syllabus Project (OSP) 'maps' or 'indexes' what we all put into our course syllabi in terms of textbooks or required readings. You can then browse and search using the Open Syllabus Explorer and explore patterns and connections on the Citation Graph/Map (which reminds me a bit of The Internet map).

If interested: share your syllabi with OSP because it's in the syllabus!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Smartphone Addiction and GPA

Well, it's 'official' now: smartphone addiction makes you dumber.

Read Hawi and Samaha (2016) To excel or not to excel: Strong evidence on the adverse effect of smartphone addiction on academic performance for the details and - most importantly - the limitations of their study.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Learning Is Earning!

Introducing Edublocks and The Ledger:

Welcome to the year 2026, where learning is earning. Your ledger account tracks everything you’ve ever learned in units called Edublocks. Each Edublock represents one hour of learning in a particular subject. But you can also earn them from individuals or informal groups, like a community center or an app. Anyone can grant Edublocks to anyone else. You can earn Edublocks from a formal institution, like a school or your workplace. The Ledger makes it possible for you to get credit for learning that happens anywhere, even when you’re just doing the things you love. Your profile displays all the Edublocks you’ve earned. Employers can use this information to offer you a job or a gig that matches your skills. We’ll keep track of all of the income your skills generate, and use that data to provide feedback on your courses. When choosing a subject to study in the future, you may wish to choose the subject whose students are earning the most income. You can also use the Ledger to find investors in your education. Since the ledger is already tracking income earned from each Edublock, you can offer investors a percentage of your future income in exchange for free learning hours. Our smart contracts make these agreements easy to manage and administer. The Ledger is built on blockchain, the same technology that powers bitcoin and other digital currencies. That means every Edublock that has ever been earned is a permanent part of the growing public record of our collective learning and working. (source)

If the excerpt above is not nauseating/scary or interesting/exciting enough for you - here's the full video:

Other similar efforts include OTLW and BadgeChain, especially when combined with something like Knewton.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Course Video Trailers

Can't fill your courses? Stressing about low enrollment in your classes? Need to promote a new course? Sure, you could create yet another flyer and post in the hallways.

Or, you could create a video trailer for your course, upload it to YouTube, and share it with the rest of the Millennials via social media. This, of course, would be a great application for one of these new 360 degree video cameras.

Laura Guertin has a nice post over on GeoEd Treck: Course video trailers: Coming soon to a classroom near you.

Example below: First-Year Chemistry by Carleton University.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality for STEM Labs

Why build a dedicated science lab building/addition in the real world when we instead could use Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality for our science labs at a much lower cost?

Potkonjak et al. (2016) Virtual laboratories for education in science, technology, and engineering: A review present a comprehensive review and assessment that makes it clear the technology is not there just yet - but I would expect the for-profit, competency-based higher education industry to lead the way. Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything provides a nice compilation of resources for using Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Classroom.

Want more? Heradio et al. (2016) Virtual and remote labs in education: A bibliometric analysis presents a literature review on the role of virtual and remote labs in STEM education.

One interesting example is the remotely-operable electron microprobe (EMP) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) at Florida International University.

Other examples:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spherical Photos and Videos

Are your students bored with your flipped classroom? Impress them instead with 360 degree videos (example) using the Ricoh THETA series that they can watch on Facebook.

Kathy Schrock offers some nice examples and a simple way to host your spherical panoramic images:

Times Square in United States - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Another option: the Orah 4i by VideoStitch.

Or, try the Samsung Gear 360 and associated hardware and Virtual Reality experience (example):

This is just simply cool: Space X rocket landing as a 360 video.

Smartphone DIY Scanner and Microscope and DIY Smartphone

Need to digitize your class notes? Sure, you can just snap a picture by-hand with your smartphone, but that always creates problems with shadows, roll, and yaw. Solution: Build A Smartphone Scanner To Digitize Your Notes

How about a microscope? Foldscope is a great initiative, but their initial 10K Microscope beta-trial is now closed. They are working on a commercial version, but in the meantime your only option is the follow the instructions in Foldscope: Origami-Based Paper Microscope (Cybulski et al., 2014, PLOS One). Or, try this $10 Smartphone to digital microscope conversion!

Of course, why not go the other way and Build Your Own Smartphone - the TyPhone:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Does Technology Reduce the Cost of Teaching?

Corinne Ruff has a nice article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching? and the answer is, as expected, whatever you want it to be to support your agenda.

One thing seems clear, however: using open-source content, open textbooks, and open-source platforms does save real money, especially for the student.

For more on the business side of ed-tech consider The Business of Ed-Tech (2015), Bundling Textbook Costs with Tuition, or this interview with Audrey Watters.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wearables in Education

Wearable technology - if you believe it - is the next big thing so Bower and Sturman (2015) looked at educator’s perceptions of how such technologies could be used in teaching and learning, specifically augmented or virtual reality devices such as Google CardboardGoogle Glass, Oculus Rift, Zeiss Cinemizer OLED 3D, or Samsung Gear VR. They summarize 14 potential uses and 10 potential concerns in their Table 1 and introduce the main issue on page 345:

Wearable technologies raise the question of whether people can adequately multi-task in order to utilize wearable devices safely and effectively.
Exactly: TMI! I’m convinced that most people simply cannot multi-task ‘fast’ enough to keep-up with the richness of the information (try The Invisible Gorilla if you disagree). Still interested? Explore Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Classroom by Kathy Schrock.

Still, wearables are definitely cool!

Loop from Stefan Wagner on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Garden as a Story Map and in Virtual Reality

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch features prominently in the The Bonobo and the Atheist by Frans de Waal. Of course, to see it you need to visit the Museo del Prado in Madrid, so here are a couple of less expensive options:

Bosch VR app trailer from BDH on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Quantified Student

Adam Markowitz and Ryan Craig have proclaimed 2016 as the Year Of The Quantified Student. For context, Markowitz is the Founder and CEO of Portfolium and Craig a Managing Director at University Ventures. Here are two quotes:

Quantified Students will be able to map current skillsets against the requirements of target careers, evaluate the gap, and then select the educational program or path that gets them to their destination quickly and cost effectively.

As Quantified Students declare majors and continue to accrue skills, four years of academic work will find a permanent home in the cloud rather than in the trash. All of the underlying data will be indexed and eventually cashed in by students to prove competencies to skills-hungry employers.

Not surprisingly, Markowitz and Craig propose/promote e-portfolios for that 'permanent' home in the cloud - in some ways a logical extension of Claim Your Domain! and adaptive-learning tools like Knewton.

Of course, why would a Quantified Student spend 4-year on the campus of a small public college as opposed to filling the skill gaps identified by Big Data on the vast international private market of higher education? For a more nuanced discussion, consider From the Quantified Student to the Quantified Self by Audrey Watters.

Dilbert Cartoon (11 May 2014)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Prezi Is Better Than Your PowerPoint!

Prezi - and other 'infinite' non-linear digital presentation tools (e.g. SpicyNodes) -  are alternatives to linear (aka boring) digital presentation tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides. Chou et al. (2015) went out to test the effects of different digital presentation tools on student learning and here is the key sentence (page 81):

However, compared to PowerPoint instruction, innovative features such as nonlinear presentation emphasized in Prezi showed no significant learning advantages.

My personal experience with Prezi is very limited - but those I have seen at workshops and conferences followed a more-or-less simple linear sequence and so I fail to see the advantage of one vs. the other.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

What Do You Think About Online Education?

And - how does that compare to what the/your administration thinks?

For answers, consider the 2014 Survey of Online Learning Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2014 or 3 Things Academic Leaders Believe About Online Education on Wired Campus (the 71 comments are quite interesting!).

Here's the summary - academic leaders (tend to) think that:
  1. online education is critical for the success of the institution.
  2. hybrid courses are at least as good as f-2-f courses.
  3. the majority of their faculty don't think online courses are 'legit'.
Personally I always wondered how you can conduct 'classroom' observations needed for the tenure/promotion process in an online course.

It will be interesting to read the 2015 survey.

Online Education

Knowing vs. Using

This is interesting: faculty often know about new and 'high-tech' teaching methods and technologies, but often choose not to use them in their classrooms.

You can read more about this at Professors Know About High-Tech Teaching Methods, but Few Use Them on Wired Campus (including an interesting interactive table with data download option). The 157 comments are also quite interesting!

Full survey: U.S. Postsecondary Faculty in 2015: Diversity in People, Goals, and Methods, but Focused On Students by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation