Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
A study published today pitted a commercially available brain fitness exercise against crossword puzzles.
Researchers at the University of Iowa, reporting in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE found that the group using the computerized exercise for just 10 hours had significant gains in cognitive function, while the group doing crosswords on the computer for an equal amount of time had no significant improvements.
“It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ phenomenon, with a twist,” said the study’s lead researcher Dr. Fredric Wolinsky . “We learned that what you are using matters. Here, the exercise designed by neuroscientists delivered significant gains that generalized to daily life, and the crosswords, which a lot of people have placed their faith in, showed no measurable benefits.”
Breaking scientific ground
The study also broke new scientific ground in comparing older and younger users, users on their own at home against users in a supervised setting, and users spending varying amounts of time on the brain fitness exercise.
“Some of the results pleasantly surprised us,” Wolinsky said. “Others confirmed what we believed from earlier research.”
The researchers separated 681 generally healthy people into four groups. One group was given computerized crossword puzzles, while the other three groups did the brain fitness exercise in different settings – on their own at home, in a supervised setting, or in a supervised setting with four extra hours of “booster” training. Researchers also compared participants aged 50-64 against those aged 65-plus.
NIH funded development
The game-like exercise was originally developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health and is now commercially available from the brain fitness company Posit Science.
Users train their brains by dividing their attention between a task in the center of the screen (identifying which of a pair of similar vehicles were displayed for a split second) and a task at the periphery (locating a target road sign on the periphery displayed for a split second among distractor images).
As users get answers correct, the images flash for shorter and shorter periods of time, the images get more and more similar, and the objects in the periphery move further out with more distractors. The exercise is designed to simultaneously improve processing speed, attention, working memory, useful field of view, and other executive functions.
Researchers found that the exercise users showed significant gains across all these cognitive areas. When measured a year after being trained, they retained significant improvements, which were equivalent to what an average person at these ages is expected to lose in cognitive abilities over a period of nearly seven years.
10 delivers lasting gains
To most people it is probably surprising that just 10 hours of brain exercise can deliver gains that are measurable at all a year later,” said Wolinsky.
“You certainly would not expect that from physical exercise. Yet, here we saw gains of 1.5 to 6.6 years across the different standardized tests.” Gains of that magnitude are consistent with other studies of Posit Science exercises published in scientific and medical journals, including gains of about 10 years noted immediately after training.
Researchers reported that the instruments used to measure gains in the study were generally quite different than the exercise and demonstrated that the gains generalized and extended beyond the tasks trained.
Gains translate to common tasks
“This is consistent with past studies that show our unique approach to brain exercises drive changes that generalize to daily life,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke , CEO of Posit Science, the commercial distributor of the studied exercise.
“Numerous studies have shown our exercises not only improve cognitive function, but that those gains translate to common daily tasks, as well as improved mood, confidence, functional independence and various measures of quality of life.”
That has been the bugaboo of these brain exercise systems. One prior study showed that all many of them did was make people better at the exercises – not at daily tasks.
Researchers wanted to determine if more training would result in greater gains. The sub-group of participants that received an extra four hours of training posted even greater gains.
“There are now some 70 published journal articles on the multitude of benefits from training with our exercises,” said Dr. Mahncke. “Once again this study confirms that more exercise is better. We recommend fitting brain exercise into your life much like physical exercise. A minimum of 30 minutes three times a week is good, and getting in more hours each week is even better.”
Since most of the research on the impact of cognitive training on the aging brain has been done in populations aged 65 and older, researchers were particularly interested in whether gains would be as great in a younger population.
Anyone can improve at any age
One theory held that since older people had greater cognitive decline, they had a larger opportunity to improve than younger folks who might hit a ceiling on how much they could improve.
While another theory observed that the greatest gains are made by those who make it deepest into the stimulus sets and that younger people might make it further and have greater gains.
Dr. Wolinsky noted that the researchers were somewhat surprised that there was no difference between the group aged 50-64 and the group aged 65 and older in their ability to make large gains.
“This suggests that as with physical exercise, anyone can improve at any age,” said Dr. Wolinsky. “And, as with physical exercise, why would you wait until you are old to get into better shape?”
Researchers were also surprised that people who did the exercises on their own at home did just as well as people who did them under supervision. This indicates that the training can be widely deployed at low cost and to remote areas.
The exercise used in the study is marketed by Posit Science as “Double Decision” on its online BrainHQ platform. It can be tried for free online (at BrainHQ.com) or downloaded from the iPad app store (search for BrainHQ), and the Double Decision exercise along with 19 other exercises can be accessed for a monthly subscription of $14 or annual subscription of $96.
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
In one of the most comprehensive studies of parents’ views on mobile devices in education, more than 50 percent of parents believe that schools should make more use of mobile devices in education and 32 percent agree that schools should require them in the classroom.
These findings are from a new study of how parents perceive mobile learning and devices in and out of the classroom. The Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study was conducted by Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance and underwritten by AT&T*.
The study found –
- Parents recognize the benefits. Seventy-one percent of parents say mobile devices open up learning opportunities while, 62 percent say the devices benefit students’ learning and 59 percent say the devices engage students in the classroom.
- Parents are ready for change. Forty-five percent of parents say they plan to buy, or have already bought, a mobile device to support their child’s learning.
- Parents want to collaborate with educators. Forty-three percent of parents say they need help finding good educational apps for their children.
“Mobile learning is approaching a tipping point as parents and educators recognize the potential of mobile technology in the classroom,” said Cheryl Scott Williams , Learning First Alliance Executive Director. “Now is the time for parents and teachers to join forces to shape what mobile learning will look like in and outside of the classroom.”
With students already carrying their own devices to school, widespread mobile learning could be on the horizon.
The study found that one quarter of all K-12 students bring a smartphone to school every day – and by high school, more than half of all high-school students carry a smartphone on a daily basis. About one in six parents say that children are permitted to use their own mobile devices in the classroom – commonly known as a “bring your own device” policy.
“The opportunity is ripe for mobile learning as students are now surrounded with technology, but the study does suggest there is an unmet desire for more learning and educational value from mobile devices, both at home and in school,” said Peter Grunwald , president of Grunwald Associates LLC.
The Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study recommends that educators share information and advice with parents about how to make better use of mobile devices and apps for learning.
Similarly, the study suggests industry and mobile learning advocates should work with parents and educators to identify educational apps and content. The full public report is available free atwww.grunwald.com/reports.
“Parents can be change agents in the school system. With the results of this study, educators know parents are on board with mobile learning, and their support can be enlisted to jumpstart ways to cultivate mobile learning,” said Kevin Carman , AT&T Marketing Director. “Likewise, we are committed to doing our part to help support educators and parents by providing mobile learning products and solutions that seamlessly function in the classroom and at home.”
Friday, March 8th, 2013
We’re increasingly in a mobile world and Upside Learning in India says that on the job training and education offers a significant mobile opportunity.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Three-quarters of teachers surveyed by PBS LearningMedia link educational technology to a growing list of benefits, saying technology enables them to reinforce and expand on content (74%), to motivate students to learn (74%), and to respond to a variety of learning styles (73%). Seven in 10 teachers (69%) surveyed said educational technology allows them to “do much more than ever before” for their students.
On Digital Learning Day this February 6, educators nationwide will celebrate how digital learning is positively changing education. More than two-thirds (68%) of teachers expressed a desire for more classroom technology and this number is even greater in low-income schools (75%).
“Technology is a critical part of learning and teaching in today’s classrooms,” commented Alicia Levi, PBS Education. “Teachers today need access to high-quality digital content to keep pace with schools’ investment in interactive whiteboards, tablets and other devices to maximize the educational benefits of technology in classrooms.”
When I taught news writing at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism, I found the digital technology options in the school’s advanced classroom extremely effective in making lessons dynamic and compelling. (TechJournal Editor, Allan Maurer).
How they’re using digital tech
Teachers are integrating digital learning into their classrooms more than ever. Nearly half (48%) of teachers surveyed reported using technology for online lesson plans, and just under half use technology to give students access to web-based educational games or activities (45%). Additionally, teachers use online video, images and articles (43%). Sixty-five percent of teachers reported that technology allows them to demonstrate something they cannot show in any other way.
We’re so image oriented, that using online video and images captures and holds attention quite effectively.
Interestingly, a growing number of educators have access to and are adopting new technologies and platforms to support instruction. Ninety percent of teachers surveyed have access to at least one PC or laptop for their classrooms, and six in 10 teachers (59%) have access to an interactive whiteboard.
Tablets, e-readers being used
Tablets and e-readers saw the biggest increase among technology platforms available for classroom instruction. More than one-third (35%) of teachers said they have access to a tablet or e-reader in their classroom, up from 20% a year ago. Among teachers with access to tablets, 71% cite the use of educational applications as the most beneficial for teaching, followed by educational websites (64%) and educational e-books/textbooks (60%).
As more educators are adopting technology for a 21st century curriculum, the accessibility of educational content on a variety of platforms is key to bringing lessons to life in classrooms.
PBS LearningMedia (www.pbslearningmeda.org) provides educators with free access to innovative classroom-ready, curriculum-targeted resources aligned to National and Common Core State Standards. Drawing from critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and PBS KIDS programs like SID THE SCIENCE KID, as well as The National Archives and NASA, the service offers teachers more than 20,000 videos, images and articles to enrich classroom instruction. PBS LearningMedia is currently being used by 650,000 teachers nationwide and is accessible on multiple devices.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
The 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million.
However, higher education adoption of massive open online courses (MOOCs) remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines.
While most academic leaders say the learning outcomes in online education are equal to or superior to face-to-face classes, academic institutions remain skeptical of the validity and legitimacy of online courses.
Students love them, though.
“The rate of growth in online enrollments remains extremely robust, even as overall higher education enrollments have shown a decline,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group.
Have you taken an online course? We completed one and found the experience as valid as any in classroom course, personally.
Key report findings include:
- More than 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students compared to the previous year.
- Thirty-two percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
- Only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently have a MOOC, another 9.4 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
- Academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses, but do believe they provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy.
- Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face classes.
- The proportion of chief academic officers who believe their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education has not increased – it now stands at only 30.2 percent.
- The proportion of chief academic leaders who say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at a new high of 69.1 percent.
- The perception of a majority of chief academic officers at all types of institutions is lower retention rates for online courses remain a barrier to the growth of online instruction.
The tenth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. The complete survey report, “Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States“, is based on responses from more than 2,800 academic leaders.
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
You may have heard about the One Laptop Per Child organization dropping fully loaded tablet computers to two villages in Ethiopia to see what would happen.
The children, starting with no knowledge or how the tablets worked or any guides, were using an average of 47 apps a day by the first week, playing games and saying the ABCs by the second week, and by five months had hacked Android.
Here’s an infographic detailing the experiment:
Please Include Attribution to BachelorsDegreeOnline.com With This Graphic
Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Are clicks replacing bricks when it comes to a college education? What’s in store for the university in a world of rapidly increasing higher education costs leading some to forgo college to start a company? Is distance learning still viewed with disdain?
Here’s an infographic from Bestcolleges.org looking at The Future of Higher Education with an emphasis on how technology is and may change it.
Please include attribution to TheBestColleges.org with this graphic.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Mobile devices may become a learning tool in many schools as more and more students gain access to smartphones and tablets, according to a new report.
According to a mobile learning report released today from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow, nearly 50 percent of high schoolers and 40 percent of middle schoolers now own or have access to a smartphone or tablet, marking a 400 percent increase since 2007.
That is such widespread adoption that more than a quarter of school administrators say they are exploring the idea of incorporating mobile devices into instruction.
If they do, that will likely lead to even more parents providing students with a smartphone or tablet. According to the report, 62 percent of parents say they would buy their child a mobile device if it would be used for academic purposes.
Many parents, teachers and administrators are now mobile device users themselves, which has increased their appreciation and understanding for how these devices can support and enhance learning,” said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow.
“We found nearly 90 percent of parents say that the effective implementation of technology in instruction will positively impact their child’s future. This growing understanding has allowed for an increase in the development of personalized education and a more sophisticated use of technology both in and outside of the classroom.”
“The prospect of a wireless device in every student’s hand with real time assessment and feedback presents the potential for a sweeping paradigm shift to learner-centered education,” said a California school district CTO/CIO who participated in the survey.
There are barriers to greater use of mobile in schools though.
The report found that nearly half of principals identify teachers who are not trained in how to use mobile devices for instruction as the number one barrier. Seventy-five percent of teachers cited student distraction as their top concern of mobile use in the classroom.
The findings are included in Learning in the 21st Century: Mobile Devices + Social Media = Personalized Learning, which tracks the interest and growth in emerging technologies.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Mobile learning is a hot area for Apple iOS apps, from brain exercises to math, science, geography, languages, and productivity, among other areas.
But with hundreds of thousands of apps in the Apple Store, finding the best can be a challenge.
That’s why OnlineUniversities.com created this infographic of the best iOS apps for learning:
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
By Allan Maurer
“Gamification,” the process of using game-like processes in everything from marketing messages to a protein folding game and others that do real science, has been one of the digital buzz words the last year or two. But “serious games” that use game mechanics to teach or train medical professionals, pilots, biotech workers or soldiers, among others, are a bit different.
“They’re more like simulations,” says Randy Brown, director of the Virtual Heroes division of Applied Research Associates. Founded in Cary, NC in 2004, Virtual Heroes quickly won recognition and awards by establishing itself at the nexus of cutting-edge game technologies developing serious games for medical, military and corporate professionals.
Brown has developed interactive 3D graphics software at Amoco, Digital Equipment, Ex Machina, Data General, SAS Institute, Southpeak Interactive, and the Research Triangle Institute. He has directed training, simulation and gaming content for a wide range of commercial, government and private organizations.
Will speak at the Internet Summit
He’ll talk about serious games at the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 6-8.
Serious games, Brown explains, “Give you the ability to play through scenarios with a wide range of sequences in an immersive environment.”
For instance, Virtual Heroes developed an AIDs awareness game in Kenya called “Pamoja Mtaani,” which is Swahili for “together in the hood.”
“We let the kids name it after they played the game,” Brown notes. It was a multi-player game with goals, puzzles to solve in order to move the story forward, and positive messages about condom use, abstinence, and avoiding multiple sex partners.
Other games the firm developed focus on game-based learning, “Where someone needs to perform a task.” Those “procedural” games help players understand what they would do in a biotech environment, for instance, and while they can improve scores against a time constraint, it doesn’t really have game play.
A medical procedure training game.
The North Carolina BioNetwork had Virtual Heroes create just such a training game for using pill press machines.
One of the firm’s better known games is “Moonbase Alpha,” which it developed for NASA to get kids interested in science, technology and math. The game “Wasn’t just go shoot space aliens,” Brown says. “It had players solve problems with time limits and used real NASA equipment such as robots and space rovers.”
In a lot of games, Brown notes, people just get better at playing the game. With serious games, however, “We look for transfer. Is there retention after a certain period? Does the AIDS awareness game change beliefs?”
Friday, September 28th, 2012
By Allan Maurer
John Backus is one of more than 60 thought-leaders participating in the Digital East event in Herndon, VA, next week.
Is there an angel-funding bubble that may burst as soon as 2014? John Backus, co-founder and managing partner at New Atlantic Ventures, an early-stage venture fund in Northern Virginia and Cambridge, MA, thinks so.
Backus, who is one of more than 60 thought-leaders participating in next week’s Digital East conference (Oct 2-3rd at the Westin in Herndon, VA), wrote in a recent blog post that ”We are in an angel bubble that will keep inflating when Crowdfunding meets Main Street in 2013. But the bubble will burst. Not tomorrow. But soon. Mark my word. Perhaps in 2014?”
Backus says he’s a big fan of angel investors and the startup incubators and accelerators that have formed over the last few years, but notes that only about 2.5 percent of angel funded companies will ever raise venture capital. Most of the rest, he says, “Crash and burn.”
Angel funded companies number over 60,000 now, and Backus expects crowdfunding, the JOBS Act, and incubators to kick that up to 70,000 to 100,000 in the next few years. “It may be easier for companies to raise a first round, but there will be more companies competing for venture capital money than today.”
He adds that while once companies that raised significant capital first could crowd out others. Now though, “Two kids with an allowance can get a Web company up quickly. My 14-year-old went to a app development camp and created a game. The new challenge is how do you break away and get yourself seen. That requires money.”
Started as Draper Atlantic
New Atlantic Ventures began in 1999 as Draper Atlantic and DFJ New England, two affiliates of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson network that worked closely together since inception.
From 1999 to 2006, Draper Atlantic and DFJ New England invested $180 million in 59 companies with investment returns in the top ten percent of all venture funds. The firms joined forces in 2006 to create New Atlantic Ventures, a venture capital firm with a past and present portfolio of companies that generated over $1 billion of revenue in 2011.
It invests from $250,000 to $3 million in early stage firms with a focus on mobile, e-commerce, ad tech, security, online education and the healthcare business. It’s current $117 million fund was raised in 2008.
The firm’s investments show where it sees profit in the future. We think many are on the cutting edge of digital technology in growth areas.
AppTap is a contextual app recommendations and advertising service reinventing the way apps are discovered and marketed. It serves over 150 million targeted, relevant app recommendations across partners like Sprint, AOL and USA TODAY.
Search paradigm doesn’t always work for mobile
“The search paradigm for apps doesn’t always work,” says Backus. “It doesn’t work unless you know the name of the app you’re searching for.” AppTap works to correct that.
“The mobile space is still interesting to us,” says Backus. “It’s disrupting so many industries.”
Next up for disruption, he says, “Is the entire TV industry. We’re going to move from a world where you get 500 channels for $50 a month to buying channels ala carte. People might have eight channels instead of 500. We don’t need that overload.”
That means that cable and satellite TV providers will have to suddenly become consumer marketing companies that can’t rely on getting that $50 a month, and that requires completely separate DNA, Backus suggests.
A college degree for 40 percent less
New Atlantic is also interested in the spot where technology and education meet and has invested in both American Honors and Koofers.
American Honors, based in DC, “Is trying to deliver on the concept of helping kids get a four-year college degree at 40 percent off. They do it by working with community colleges. No one cares where you start college, they just care where you get your degree.”
Another interesting New Atlantic firm based in the Potomac area (Fairfax, VA) is security firm Invincia. It has developed a patent-pending “revolutionary” desktop security software suite and threat intelligence network appliance for protecting enterprise, government and home users.
From the battlefield to the Enterprise
“They won a $20 million plus DARPA contract to give troops in the field secure mobile phones. They beef it up, lock it down and troops can use it for secret level communications. If it falls into the hand of the bad guys, they can’t get information from it. That will move from the battlefield into enterprises.”
Mobile, Backus says, “Is a huge security hole enterprises don’t know how to handle. Desktop security has many solutions. Mobile is an order of magnitude more complicated. People bring their own devices to work and add apps to them.”
What hasn’t happened yet in mobile- but will – “Is a high profile security incident.”
Security threats on mobile have the potential to be much more personally invasive than others, he says.
So far we’ve heard about people hacking into voicemails and stealing photos from mobile phones, but something much bigger is likely to break in the not too distant future, he says.
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
A new study released in June 2012 by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that even though on average college degree holders earn more than workers with certificates, many with certificates in fields such as IT, earn more than workers with Associate’s degrees, and some earn more than workers with Bachelor’s degrees.
In computer and information services, [certificate holder] men working in the field earn $72,498 per year, which is more than 72 percent of men with an Associate’s degree and 54 percent of men with Bachelor’s degrees.
Women with certificates in this field and working in a related occupation earn $56,664 annually, which is greater than 75 percent of women with an Associate’s degree and 64 percent of women with a Bachelor’s degree,” the study finds.
Experience is a major factor too in the salaries mentioned above but people would not have reached those salary levels without their certificates and without working in the field.
One-year certificate may be the logical option for many
Considering the fact that the average college tuition is now over $27,000 per year and only 50% of students complete college, going for a one year certificate program that pays more than a bachelor’s degree is the logical option for most people, especially those looking to change careers.
“Generally speaking, it takes four years and costs over $100,000 to complete a Bachelor’s degree in contrast to one year for a certificate that costs about $20,000. For a $35,000 salary, three years of loss of income while attending college and not working is $105,000,” says Zafar Khizer, President of PC AGE Career Institute.
He adds, “Since some employers pay for your college, if you get a certificate first, get a job, and then complete your degree, you’re probably saving $185,000.”
Pursuing a degree first may be a mistake
For most people, pursuing a degree first is a huge mistake both financially and in terms of time, especially for those who have higher chances of dropping out due to circumstances.
But now as this report finds, the trend is changing and more and more people are taking a certificate first, then degree route. It is a very smart and more direct path to financial success.
It should be noted that the Georgetown University study is referring to certificates or credentials issued by many non-degree granting institutes.
Even though pay is impressive for those working in the training related field, only 24% of men holding certificates in IT work in the field.
PC AGE Career Institute has a direct interest in the study’s findings.
It was founded in 1991 by Zafar Khizer and his wife Arifa Khizer. Its 9-12 month computer networking program and job placement assistance has won the company the New Jersey’s Finest Award and Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500 award. It provides a 9-12 month career education and job placement assistance in the Information Technology (IT) field. It operates out of campuses in Jersey City, Edison, and Parsippany, as well as offering live online classes.
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
One place where cloud computing applications are getting a foothold is in education.
The benefits - access to applications anywhere and on any device and lower IT costs – appeal to many colleges and school districts.
But while IBM, Microsoft, Adobe are offering cloud based products to the education market, there is plenty of room for growth. Only about a third of higher education institutions and just over a quarter of K-12 districts were in the cloud as of May last year.
Here’s an infographic on cloud use by schools:
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
Almost half of students say they have used a mobile app for learning purposes. The portability of smartphones and tablets and the large number of apps available for both iPhone and Android devices have made them ideal study aids.
It was not always so. We recall that just a few years ago when Duke University in Durham, NC, gave each incoming student an Apple iPod for use in accessing recorded lectures and for other study-enhancing uses, it was a big deal.
In just one year, from 2011 to 2012, one study saw a 10-fold increase in the number of minutes students study using mobile devices.
Online Colleges created this infographic on “Connecting apps & education” to show the increasing use of mobile by students.
Provided By: OnlineColleges.net
Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Cover of the Babson survey report.
College and university faculty members are more pessimistic than optimistic about online education and remain far more skeptical about learning outcomes in online programs than are academic technology administrators on their campuses.
But faculty members with a greater exposure to online education take a more optimistic view than their peers.
Those are among the key findings of a new study by the Babson Survey Research Group and Inside Higher Ed on faculty views on online learning. The study is based on two national surveys, one of more than 4,500 teaching faculty and a second of academic technology administrators.
Among the findings:
- 58 percent of the professors surveyed describe themselves as having “more fear than excitement” about the growth of online learning; more than 80 percent of academic technology administrators, on the other hand, say they feel more excitement than fear.
- Nearly two-thirds of faculty members say they believe that the learning outcomes for an online course are inferior or somewhat inferior to those for a comparable face-to-face course. Even among those with a strong vested interest in online education – faculty members who are currently teaching online courses – considerable concern remains about the quality of the learning outcomes.
- A third of instructors think that their institutions are pushing too much instruction online, compared to fewer than 10 percent of administrators.
- For all the faculty skepticism, the study provides evidence that professors gain more confidence in online learning as they become more involved with it. And on the most basic question asked of faculty at institutions with online offerings – have you recommended an online course to a student or advisee? – 60 percent of faculty reported that they had. The figure grows to 87 percent for those who teach online.
“We conducted this survey in the hope of bringing all voices to the debate over online education, and in particular the views of faculty members, who frequently argue that they are ignored on these matters,” says Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed.
“What’s striking is that many of the questions suggest both faculty skepticism and faculty engagement with online education. We hope these results may be conversation starters at many campuses as they consider ways to enhance online programs.”
Inside Higher Ed’s article on the study (and links to the report) can be found at:http://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/conflicted-faculty-and-online-education-2012.
Friday, May 18th, 2012
By Allan Maurer
Way back in the late 1980s, I wrote an article for Science Digest magazine about the US Army’s use of video games to train tank crews and gunners. Since then, “gamification,” the use of game-like elements in education, training, marketing, wellness and even scientific discovery, has advanced steadily.
You’re likely to see more and more use of “gamification” in the digital world, a new survey by the Pew Internet in American Life Project suggests.
Gamification is interactive digital design that brings out a user’s competitive instincts and often uses rewards such as points, payments, badges, discounts and achievement status to drive action.
Gamification is one of the top trends for 2012, according to Deloitte, and Gartner predicts that 50 percent of corporate innovation will be “gamified” by 2015, the Pew report notes.
Serious gaming becoming embedded in every day life
Gartner says, “Serious gaming simulations and game mechanics such as leaderboards, achievements, and skill-based learning are becoming embedded in day-to-day business processes, driving adoption, performance, and engagement.”
Digital games generated $25 billion in sales in 2010, and their popularity is considered to be a driver of the adoption of elements of gamification in many Internet pursuits.
A primary driver, says the Pew study, “ is the rapid uptake of social networks, now used by 70% of American Internet users, where reward and status elements are embedded in implicit and explicit forms in people’s interactions in their engagement in online communities. Game elements and competition are interspersed throughout the platforms that have made social networks like Facebook and Twitter popular.”
Gamification helps solve scientific riddles
It also points out that Gamification is not just about status, community building, and marketing. Game-like approaches to education and problem-solving are rolling out in new ways. To cite one prominent example, researchers at the University of Washington made headlines in 2011 with their game Foldit.
It generated a crowd-sourced discovery of the mystery of how a key protein may help cure HIV. The game drew 46,000 participants whose gameplay took just 10 days to solve a problem scientists had been working on for 15 years.
Similarly, over at the Galaxy Zoo, you can help scientists classify galaxies – something the human eye does better than computers – as they explore the universe via the Hubble telescope.
Non-digital and digital real-world games based on scenarios and problem-solving have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until recent years that the label “serious game” was applied to this type of activity.
Wide range of uses for “serious games”
Pew notes that a “serious gaming” movement has arisen to apply gaming techniques to such realms as military and corporate and first-responder training programs, civilization and environmental ecology simulations, K-12 educational programs on subjects like math and history and the sciences, news events and public policy campaigns, problem-solving strategies in the natural sciences, and even physical exercise programs.
Universities such as NC State even offer courses in “serious games.”
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked a highly engaged set of respondants if the use of gamification, game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards to spur interaction and boost engagement, buy-in, loyalty, fun, and/or learning continue to gain ground and be implemented in many new ways in people’s digital lives between now and 2020?
More than half (53 percent) believe that by 2020, there will have been significant advances in the adoption and use of gamification. It will be making waves on the communications scene and will have been implemented in many new ways for education, health, work, and other aspects of human connection and it will play a role in the everyday activities of many of the people who are actively using communications networks in their daily lives.
However, 42 percent think that while game use and game-like structures will remain an important segment of the communications scene and will have been adopted in new ways, the gamification of other aspects of communications will not really have advanced much beyond being an interesting development implemented occasionally by some segments of the population in some circumstances.
Some of the responses Pew received include:
“People will increasingly expect game elements in a wide range of activities. Game-development tools will enable most people to gamify many aspects of life and work, in digital, physical, and blended environments.” – Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology, University of Florida.
“The development of ‘serious games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.” –Mike Liebhold, senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future.
Not everyone thinks gamification has a rosy future, however:
“For all of the reasons that critics of game theory have identified over the years regarding its inability to capture the full range of human motivations, perceptions, cognitions, and practices, I believe there will be efforts to gamify much of what we do, but that much of that will just come and go as fads.” – Sandra Braman, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an expert on information policy.
For the complete report see: Pew Gamification survey
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Today’s students are “digital natives” who grew up connected. And mobile digital devices are like extensions of their hands.
They’re wired for mobile learning, says Voxy.com.
It created this infographic:
Via: Voxy Blog
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Digital textbooks accounted for only 3 percent of the market in 2011, despite years of predictions that e-textbooks would replace the heavy, expensive tomes most students carry around.
But Apple’s free iBooks 2 delivered more than 350,000 e-textbooks to users in its first three days.
So, asks WorldWideLearn, can Apple tip the scales in favor of e-textbooks? It created this infographic on how Apple’s iBooks may change how students learn:
Courtesy of: WorldWideLearn.com
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
After conducting its annual review of the governors’ state of the state addresses, Deltek, a global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors, has found that many governors have declared victory over the fiscal crisis and will advance a growth agenda for their states. This psychological shift represents the first upturn in the governors’ ambitions since the economic collapse of 2008.
This year forty five governors have given their state of the state (or budget) speeches in which they detail their policy priorities for the coming year. These speeches provide vendors the first opportunity to align their technology solutions to major policy trends, and Deltek’s report gives the government contracting community the key insight and analysis they need to succeed.
In a recent Deltek GovWin IQ report, “State of the States 2012: Initiatives and Implications,” Deltek notes that while states’ budgets remained strained, governors are looking to make their marks with ambitious new policies, particularly in Pre-K through 12 education.
“With education spending accounting for over half of the average state budget, it’s no surprise that it receives the lion’s share of attention from the governors. Education is the last to get cut and the first to be refunded. This year we saw a spike in the number of governors looking to restore past Pre-K through 12 budget cuts. However, thanks to federal Race to the Top grants, they are restoring funding with a new focus on data-driven performance management and standards with implied technology requirements. Some of this is even starting to bleed over into their early childhood and higher education proposals, which we had not seen before,” says Deltek’s Chris Dixon.
Continues Dixon, “The governors continued to show strong interest in government streamlining and regulatory reform for job creation. This year’s speeches saw a surge in demand for wellness campaigns and outcomes-based health care programs to reduce Medicaid costs.”
He adds, “This shows that the national health IT campaign has finally taken root in the governor’s mansions. We also saw increased calls for community-based mental health care, job training, and rehabilitation programs to avoid the costs of incarcerating non-violent convicts. These programs require a variety technology-enabled probation and parole surveillance and compliance solutions.”
The report also includes a searchable spreadsheet that lists specific initiatives and agenda items, categorized into policy areas for every state. A free summary of this GovWin IQ report is available at; “State of the States 2012: Initiatives and Implications.”