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3 Ways To Integrate Technology in Classrooms

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Many of us have become dependent on technology and its presence on our life, that we find ways to integrate technology to the perfection in every walk of our life. Systems within the schools are demanding changes. This is probably why technology integration in learning environment is necessary. Learning improves and flipped classrooms gets boost thanks to comfortable integration of technology in classrooms.

There’s a way in which technology can be successfully integrated in classrooms such that it seems profitable to the students.

Vision For Change

Spending on technology for your classrooms requires you to decide the outcome of integration of technology in classroom. What is your vision for successful integration of technology? This is probably the first step towards integrating technology. Spending without vision would mean unnecessary spending to improve a system that you have barely understood

Aging systems in schools can make you desperate to integrate technology, but you need to know what the current system works like, and what kind of improvisations you are planning to bring in with the new technology integration. Once that is known, you can successfully rope in technology within classrooms.

Empower Students

The technology that you tend to bring into classrooms should be capable of empowering students. The students should be able to analyze, think and create new things based on the technological improvisations brought in by the school. Make sure you don’t unnecessarily restrict the use of technology in your classrooms such that students are unable to innovate and create. Most technology integration in classrooms make this sort of mistake.

In-Depth Training

When you are training school staff as well as students to use the technology that you have integrated in classrooms, you need to rope in more than just explaining the module. You need to provide hands on training as well as in depth training on the various modules of using the technology.

You will need to make technology training comfortable for the teachers as well as students. Integration of technology is an ongoing process which will need varied kinds of training at different times. The technology integration should take care of the varied skill levels displayed by people and take care of it.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Is there still a place for computer labs in schools?Tablets will not transform education

With the growing trend towards mobility and the popularity of tablets in the field of education, is there still a role for a dedicated computer laboratory (lab)?

There is most definitely a place for both. The whole idea of using tablets (or other mobile devices) is for learners to have continuous access to technology as a learning tool. A computer lab has the disadvantage of being physically separated from the classroom, hence making it more difficult for the teacher to integrate classroom teaching with what technology can offer. However, until such a time that every child in a school has a mobile device, the computer lab will continue to fulfil an important role: it may be the only way in which to bring every learner in touch with technology.

It therefore makes sense to keep the computer room in good repair, while phasing in mobile devices – in big schools this may take a few years, owing to the high cost of technology. The need for a computer lab can be re-evaluated once a one-to-one state has been achieved, but until then, resist the temptation to dismantle the computer room in favour of mobile devices.

My advice to learning institutions is to continue using whatever technology is available, making sure that it is used optimally, and then adding more and new technologies.

Tablets will and shall Transform education..Yes!But…

“What a bold statement,” you may say, “particularly in view of the current proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices.”

Well, consider history.

In 1922 Thomas Edison reportedly said:

I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize [transform] our education system and that in a few years it will supplant the use of textbooks … The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture where it should be possible to obtain 100 percent efficiency.

Did this expectation come true?  In spite of the fact that some teachers used motion pictures with great success in their schools, we know that this medium did not manage to transform the education system.  What went wrong?

Edison based his prediction on a number of assumptions about this potentially powerful tool:

Content: He assumed that sufficient relevant content will be available in film format to cover all learning areas for all grades.

Affordable and available equipment: He assumed that motion picture equipment will be affordable and will be made available to every classroom.

Technology stability: He assumed that the motion picture will not be replaced by other technologies in the short to medium term, and will continue to be the first choice technology for entertainment and education of the masses.

Classroom integration: He assumed that all teachers will become skilled in using motion pictures as a substitute for textbooks and will change their teaching practices accordingly.

We now know that none of these assumptions proved to be true.  Yet, in later years, the same assumptions were made with regards to radio, TV, PCs, laptops, interactive whiteboards … and are now being made about tablets.  Let’s look at these assumptions again:

Content: In contrast with the erroneous assumption about content availability when the 1922 motion picture prediction was made, we can safely assume today that sufficient digital content is available as ebooks, educational software and even open education resources.  But now we are making another assumption: learners (and their teachers) will know how to find their way through the plethora of available content; the current under-utilization of such resources proves that this assumption is wrong.  This is clearly a case where more is not better, and the mere availability of content in no way guarantees that it will be used.

Affordable and available equipment: This is a more risky assumption; tablets are less costly than its PC and laptop predecessors, but how much will it cost – and how long will it take – to provide every child in the country with a tablet? For education to be transformed, more than a sporadic presence of technology is required; every teacher and child needs access to technology for it to have a significant effect.

Technology stability: Technologies have replaced each other rather rapidly over the years and the rate of change is accelerating; we can’t assume that the tablet as we know it today will be the device of choice in a year or two from now.  In fact, based on the history of technology, we can safely assume that it won’t!

Classroom integration: This is the most dangerous assumption of them all; it can almost be stated as a fact that it will take years – many, many years – to train and educate all our teachers to become comfortable in using technology for teaching and learning.

The flawed assumptions made in 1922 about a particular manifestation of technology are still being made today.  And we’ve only discussed four of them.

Until these suppositions become realities we can’t expect the tablet, or any other technology device, to revolutionize education.  A mere change in tools does not bring about transformation.

The full potential of technology can only be achieved if it is part of a complete rethink of education structures and practices.

Tablets will not transform education … unless we empower our teachers to become skilful users of technology!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Cloud computing key to improving literacy in Africa

There is enough choice in the TPH Bookshop in downtown Nairobi to confuse even the regular customers. Books in both English and Swahili jostle for space on the display tables and the shelves are stacked with textbooks on every subject from semi-conductive systems to clinical dentistry. But bewildering as the variety might seem, there are at least plenty of titles to choose from.

Outside of the traffic of Kenya’s major cities, however, the choice can be more limited. “Getting the books out there is hard, it automatically means that people are going to be reading less,” says Sophie Kariuki, who works for a local publishing company. Sending books away from the city means transporting bulky boxes by road, which is rarely economical for publishers.

Going digital could help solve the distribution problem, but tablets have low penetration in Africa. In fact, with three quarters of the world’s 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions found in developing countries, it is the humble mobile phone that has the potential to become the world’s most popular e-reader.

A book app launched by Word reader, an education and literacy charity, is trying to access this potential. The app contains thousands of free books, from romance novels to mathematics textbooks. But rather than running on the latest smartphone, it is designed for the feature phones and overcrowded 2G networks of much of Sub-Saharan Africa. The app can be accessed through bINu, a free mobile software platform that gives users access to cloud-based internet services and apps.

Moving as much of the processing to the cloud’s servers, rather than on the phone, allows biNu to work at a speed which the company claims is ten times faster than regular mobile web browsers. After rendering graphics and text on the cloud, the data is sent back over the network as tiny images. Each image contains instructions of where it should go on the screen and the complete mosaic comes through to the phone as only one or two packets of data of up to one kilobyte each. Information is never sent twice, as the servers remember what has been sent before and provide only the new instructions needed to change the content on the screen. Sending the data as images also has the advantage of allowing the text to be displayed in any language, regardless of what the phone was programmed to handle.

Highly compressed data also keeps the price down for the user, a crucial concern for many people in developing countries. “Here there is bill fear not bill shock,” says Gour Lentell, CEO of biNu, who was born in Zimbabwe. “Everyone has pre-paid. So if you just put a dollar or two of credit on your SIM card, there is an inbuilt fear that if you open up the browser or start using data that airtime will disappear,” he adds. It is a similar concept to Snaptu, another data-efficient mobile platform that targeted the concerns of users of feature phone. Snaptu reached nearly 80 million users before being acquired by Facebook in 2011 and turned into Facebook for every phone. Since 2010, biNu has gained over 4 million monthly users of its own and its Worldreader app has now been installed on around 5 million mobile phones since coming out of beta in April.

The popularity of these projects is likely to increase as the number of internet-enabled phones continues to rise in Africa. Another immensely popular mobile platform launching a new book app is Mixit. The South African social network and instant messaging service already has 7.3 million active users a month. These users now also have access to Bookly and its virtual fiction library. As well as free classics from Project Gauteng, Bookly is teaming up with local publishers to release a range of South African novels.

But successful as these books apps are, there are publishers who argue that it is not enough to just put existing paper books into a digital format. Content can be tailored for the mobile phone in a way that actually encourages the user to keep reading. “People are still engaging with long-form reading on a smaller screen however there is lots of potential to create,” says Colin McElwee, co-founder of Worldreader. Plans are underway to publish more experimental content on the Worldreader app, with textbooks broken up into more manageable chunks and questions at the end of chapters so that students can earn credit for other books.

It follows the example of mobile educationalists who have been distributing original content using text messages for years. One such project is Mprep, which helps children in Kenya prepare for exams by texting quizzes to students based on what they have learned in class. The correct answers are sent back to the phone with an explanation and the pupils’ progress can even be tracked by the teacher.

“The interesting thing with this technology is using content in a different way, a way that is actually addressing the problem,” says Lafayette. Cloud computing technology can play a key role in helping publishers reach more people with books, but it does not automatically solve the more important problem of how to get those people to read more. As the reach gets bigger and the screens get smaller, mobile publishing might do more than just change the distribution route: it might even change the books themselves.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Schools and education departments should embrace tablets

The remarkable mainstream success of mobile devices – specifically tablets – opens up immense opportunities in education. If embraced by schools, they can overcome the expense and impracticality of desktop-bound computer hardware, lessen the premium on software and significantly raise the value of technology-aided education.

Proven and affordable As demonstrated with the recent text book expense crisis in Kenya, access to information is a key obstacle to raising education standards in  Africa. Undeniably, information access is a less immediately pressing issue than access to water, good roads or land ownership. But perhaps government policy makers can be swayed by the fact that tablets are more affordable than is widely known.

 

iPads are admittedly not the best solution for state schools, but there are Android alternatives that cost half the price of Apple’s models, and must therefore be considered candidates for a government-subsidised distribution model. In schools that don’t qualify for subsidies, due to a legacy of privilege, another possibility is for learners to bring their own tablets to school. These can be integrated into the school’s network and custom app ‘store’. Private ownership is already becoming more attainable – some cellular contracts offer a tablet along with a handset, at a low premium. But, even these mechanisms still leave tablets out of reach for many poor sections of society, and state subsidies would be stretched to spread the tablet effect far and wide. However, there is evidence to suggest tablets with pre-loaded content are more cost-effective than sourcing print course material.

 

But the greatest news of all is that for approximately ksh10000, schools can buy an Android experience that compares satisfactorily to higher-end models. Major benefits Once the acquisition is made, the educational benefits of tablets quickly become evident. Low-cost, quick content Among the biggest benefits is the low cost and speed of rolling out tablet apps and content, compared to the PC software acquisition model. This is possible thanks to the app distribution model (downloads of low-cost, low-footprint apps). More content and choice App download stores, made popular by Apple, Google – and, to a lesser extent, Nokia and BlackBerry – have also had a huge impact on the accessibility of a wide spectrum of competing apps, congregating on a common store platform. Mobile apps further tend to be more vertically focused, versus the generic application mindset of the PC platform. The effect is a wealth of choice in affordable apps, with hardware and app vendors all competing for mindshare. Shareable, richer, trackable digital formats Tablet content is infinitely more shareable than print books due to the portability of digital formats and the omnipresence of the Internet. This makes sharing of non-copyrighted material between tablets virtually free, whereas sharing print books is impractical, subject to wear, and costly where distance is involved.

 

Digital has other advantages too – augmenting content with the aid of, for example, online search, academic research and online dictionaries adds enormous value, contributing to the retention and richness of the lesson. Finally, digital formats allow tracking of reading and studying patterns, which can be very instructive for guiding (and policing) self-study. World-changing education formula It is clear that the tablet platform and app ecosystem are among the great innovations of the new century. With the wave of secondary innovation accompanying the platform, tablets might just amount to a world-changing formula in education.

 

What do you think? Are tablets a viable means of improving education in a South African context? Should we be thinking about these technological advances when many rural schools don’t have the basic facilities?

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

eLearning vs classroom

The great battle of the training format – which side do you support? Whose colours do you wear? Which team gets your cheers?

The pendulum of training fads has swung in each direction with compelling arguments from both parties (albeit often financially based). Cut down the cost of travel expense, fast track your training, learn on the job, increase the numbers of courses you can attend etc. The list, from classroom (in days of shared PC’s), via self paced books, to gargantuan CBT libraries, back to the classroom for immersive certified training, hopping over to 24/7 access (CISCO training at 1AM anyone?) has been endless.

Let’s leave the L&D department for a moment though, let’s take a stroll in the country, the suns out after all. How many times has this rural bliss been shattered as you climbed over a fence and ended with splinters in your backside? If like me – never. Splinters are a rare occurrence all round, so why is the position of taking a balanced view, looking at the merits of both parties given such derision? Fences are very handy afterall; more often than not meeting the need of parties on both sides. Not everything has to be an either or decision, IT as we all know is binary based, but our decisions don’t have to be.

The choice of eLearning or classroom based training is a myth. Travelling by car, doesn’t mean you can’t have a walk once you get there. I can hear the observant reader muttering, about to heckle; and yes they’re correct – that fad pendulum did go through a blended learning stage at one point. However, at the time I’d suggest that it moved on, as despite many of our learning providers being able to talk a blended game their core business streams were really focused on either digital or classroom formats.

Where are we now? Firstly (picture that rural bliss again – sun out, open view etc…) we’re in a good place. Learning and Development professionals are experienced in both formats, many users are IT natives, and technology is available to all providers – a blended offering is a reality for clients and providers alike. Next stop (after my stroll) is to look at how this can be best managed. Or, to continue the analogy – when is it best to take a stroll through some interesting city streets and when would we benefit from some country air.

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and why eLearning technology is essential with it

No matter how many employees your organisation counts. Let’s take and Oracle Financial Applications roll out for instance. You can see how complex it is.

i-Receivables, i-Expenses, i-Procurement, i-Supplier

What do all these modules have in common? If you answered “they are all prefixed with i-“ the alarm buzzer is going off QI style for the obvious answer. The actual answer is that each of the modules requires large numbers of users to be able to access and use the functionality. i-Expenses – requires all employees who enter expense claims to be able to enter them online.i-Receivables- requires all customers who want to see their accounts on line to be able access them allocate receipts and request credit notes.i-Procurement- anyone in the organisation who wants to buy something must be able enter a requisition.i-Supplier- If a supplier wishes to raise a purchase order (PO) or enter an invoice they will have learn to use the portal and turn the POs into invoices.

Can you imagine the logistics of the above training? These users are likely to be in many different locations. Various locations implicate high training cost due to travel. The large number of users creates a need for several classroom based training sessions. Imagine gathering of all your employees in a classroom to enter expense claims or requisitions; even worse all your suppliers to enter POs; even, even worse all your customers having to learn how to manage their accounts!!! Think of how many biscuits and teas and coffees you would get through!!

The solution that is often offered up is “We plan to train the super users so they can cascade the training”.

Well that may be suitable for some training but certainly not all of it!

Lets think about the following: not all Super Users are Super Trainers there is still the logistical nightmare of managing the trainingthe initial training may evolve and materials need to be updatedsuper Users still have day jobsdelegates still have day jobs and cannot afford to be away from their desksdelegates need to be appraisedbusiness processes may change and new training materials need to be developed

THE COST becomes unbearable

So what is the solution?

Well eLearning platform looks like a good bet to me!

Good eLearning technology will provide you with a course development tool. Online content can be developed by professional trainers, tested, signed off and constantly updated.

Delegates can be assessed and retrain if necessary, a LMS (Learning Management System) is ideally suited to this.

No classroom is required and geography becomes a moot point when all you need is a internet connection. (Shame about losing out on the expense account hotels and beers though).

Avoiding all that dead time travelling must be a bonus and the length of time away from the desk should be significantly reduced.

Reassuming: in that hole in the project plan I would be writing eLearning platform , confident that the costs and logistics would not scare anyone and that I would now be able to sleep at night.

 

@jahawii

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

eLearning trends…Learning Technologies 2014

1) Education is changing…everywhere. No matter if it is corporate learning or the education sector, the changes are inevitable and for good!

2) Mobile Learning (mLearning) is not the new eLearning. Mobile applications will complement your online or inclass courses.

Your learners cannot realistically sit a course on their mobile phone, however a mobile application might be helpful if you would like to read a course overview on your way in to work, as an example.

3) In the era of TEDtalks and Youtube text becomes less and less appealing. That is why content developers focus on videos, images and voice in the form of mLearning bitesize videos and engaging animations.

4) Social learning is another buzz word of 2014. Learners love connecting online, asking questions on forums and ideally receiving video replies…Connecting with your learning community in this way accompanies other concepts like the “flipped classroom”and blended learning.

5) Gamification means implementation of game-like elements into eLearning. We all love to be rewarded…even if it is only a badge or a virtual medal, when you complete a chapter of your eLearning.

6) 70:20:10 is a learning model which has been worked on since the 1960’s..! If you run an organisation which focuses on their employees development, you should know that they learn 70% on the job, 20% from interaction and 10% from formal learning.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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