Blended learning is popular term that’s been thrown around a lot over the past few years. Most people in the education sector can tell you that it involves blending traditional classroom instruction with computer technology. This is very much true, but below you will find a graphic that gives you a bit more information…
Is the constant use of technology shortening the attention span of students? Many teachers feel it is according to the results of two surveys who’s results have recently been published. The researchers themselves have noted that the findings do have an obvious amount of subjectivity but still accurately reflect the feelings of the teachers surveyed. The two surveys were conducted by Pew Internet Project and Common Sense Media. The results suggest that the overwhelmimg use of media, computers and mobile devices adversely affects a student’s ability to focus. The majority of teachers surveyed believe that the ability to quickly retrieve information and resolve queries makes it difficult for them to maintain a student’s attention during classroom instruction without performing some animated routine.
This appears to be a valid observation and concern for many teachers. The problem is that society’s adoption of technology in every arena precludes a student from not engaging it. Technology has deeply integrated itself into everything that we do in life. To expect a student or a parent or anyone else for that matter, to not have altered learning and behavioral techniques and habits as a result is an exercise in frustration and futility. Instead, we all must embrace the paradigm shift and leverage its advantages. When was the last time you, yes YOU…the person reading this, pulled out an encyclopedia to do research or the yellow pages to find the number to the Italian restaurant across town? We have all been conditioned to use the technology that is available to us to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently. It would be naive to expect any more, or less, of students. What we have to do in the classroom, just as every other industry has figured out, is use technology as a vehicle to be more effective engaging students and indulging their preferred learning style. I hope I got your attention.
iPad integration into the classroom has become all the rage. Many educators and administrators have adopted the transcendent device in an effort to increase student engagement. This adoption hasn’t come without challenges for many. For one, producing relevant curriculum content for the iPad hasn’t been the easiest of tasks. Also, there is the one in a million student (sarcasm) that might veer off topic and try to use one of the other exciting features of the iPad.
Enter Nearpod, “An all-in-one solution for the synchronized use of the iPad in the classroom”. It allows an instructor to:
- Create interactive content for classroom presentations
- Push presentations out to classroom iPad devices
- Control the content on a student’s iPad (and also allow the student a certain amount of control)
- Monitor the iPad activity of all students in the classroom (instructor is alerted when student leaves app)
- Perform instant assessment via quizzes and surveys
Students are able to:
- Engage the coursework more closely
- Get instant feedback from the instructor
- Share their work with the rest of the class
In addition teachers can share presentations with each other. Visit the Nearpod site to get more information at http://www.nearpod.com. It seems like a great step in the right direction.
Of course this isn’t true but there are some that have predicted this to be the case dating back two decades ago. Unfortunately, views such as these that have provided unnecessary obstacles to classroom technology integration by some of our best educators. It is obvious that 21st century learners need to leverage technological advancements to compete at a high level in the job market, in addition to competing with their international peers. Here’s a nice article to speaks about the tension. It highlights some of the misguided notions in Lewis Perelman‘s: School is Out: Hyperlearning, The New Technology, and the End of Education.
I particularly like how the article’s author details the 10 VERY REAL current issues with conventional education:
- Overcrowded classrooms.
- Obsolete printed textbooks.
- Irrelevant homework.
- Obsolete testing techniques.
- Classroom talking heads that repeat the material in the textbook, year after year.
- Irrelevant subjects for the 21st century.
- Pupils who cannot handwrite and cannot express themselves properly and confuse acetic with ascetic.
- The belief that it is only up to schools to educate young people.
- The belief that education ends when we leave school.
- Language skills at a standstill.
There have been many attempts at creating educational games with the hopes that students would immediately consume the game content while gaining mastery in a particular subject area as a byproduct. Where most of these ventures have failed is that the games they create don’t have the engagement/aesthetic appeal of modern video games. Well a company by the name of Big Brainz has decided to throw their hat in the ring and challenge the major game consoles and pc games developers. They have created a math game called Timez Attack that focuses on building core, fundamental multiplication skills. It includes pre and post-assessment and the graphics are truly fantastic. Kudos to Big Brainz for succeeding where many others have failed!
By now I am sure that you have heard, read and youtubed about Apple’s new iBooks 2 and iBooks Author for the iPad. You are well aware of the how visually stunning and captivating the content made for it can be. You are awed by how seemingly simple it is to create these highly engaging e-books. So it is only natural that the question that you are asking yourself (or I am asking for you) is “does this mark the end of text books as we know it?”. It could be argued that the two answers to that question are 1. Yes and 2. Not yet.
A) Though the initial investment might be substantial, the money saved on textbooks, computers, paper and supplies will greatly outweigh it in the long run.
B) Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and McGraw Hill have already partnered with Apple to begin publishing textbooks via iBooks Author. They account for 90% of all textbooks sold. I think it is safe to say that they saw the Apple train coming full steam and they had two choices…get on board or get run over! We see the option they chose.
Not yet because…
Schools and districts that have recently made investments in new textbooks and instructional technology will surely try to get a return on their investment. They will not submit until the next mandatory procurement cycle is upon them.