Five Questions to Ask When Integrating Educational Technology

question mark with laptopThe technology boom is quickly catching up with education. New educational technologies appear on the marketplace every month on top of the already existing and constantly improving methods. While every technology might seem appealing and applicable, it can be difficult to sift through them all and choose which ones to implement in your traditional or online classroom.

Ask yourself these five crucial questions when you explore the educational technology. These questions can act as a guide and support you in your efforts to find the perfect new tool for your course.

1. What problem does the new technology solve?

Each tool is made to solve a problem, never to reinvent the wheel. Since the field of educational technology is quickly growing, there are usually dozens of tools which seem very similar. If you can understand what issue the technology was created to solve, it can aid in your decision whether or not to implement it in your course.

Many companies publish articles, shoot videos, or host webinars explain their technology. Check out those resources to uncover the essence of every new educational technology.

2. Will this technology help my students?

Once you understand what a technology does, turn to see if it would benefit your students. For example, while a Prezi might be an excellent way for students in a history course to present their research, students in a computer science course might need to practice coding instead of explaining the concept.

Implement the technology only if the problem which it solves is one that your students have.

3. What type of assignments will be the most effective with this technology?

Just like each technology serves a specific purpose, each technology also has a best way for it to be used. Do not assume that an old assignment will be transformed for the better once paired with the new tool. Rather, adjust the assignment to work with the new technology.

For instance, if you will be implementing a collaborative research tool, consider changing the assignment type. Instead of requiring students to use their textbooks as the primary source, encourage them to pool online resources and take full advantage of the technology’s collaborative capabilities.

Review existing assignments to pinpoint learning objectives. Once those are clarified, pair the learning objectives with the new technology. In doing so, you will fully utilize the tool and effectively teach the learning objectives.

4. How should I teach my students about the new technology?

It is important to remember that your students will most likely be unfamiliar with this new method of instructions. Therefore, be sure to instruct your students in how to use the learning technology.

It might be helpful to link to the tool’s website or share videos which the company produced outlining how the tool works. Additionally, you can provide your own written explanation. Be sure to have a “practice assignment” so that students can familiarize themselves with the technology before they need to use it for credit.

5. Who should I ask for help about the new technology?

Ask your institution’s Instructional Designer for guidance regarding which technologies he recommends and how to best implement it. He can help you navigate which technologies will be best for your course and assist in the implementation of the tool.

What questions do you ask when you start using a new technology?

An Online Course is not a Rubber Band

rubber bandMeet Christie. She is a motivated junior majoring in Psychology. Because of her hectic schedule (balancing two internships, a research position, vice-president of student government, and training for a marathon), she does not have time to take her entire course load in person.

Enter online courses! Christie’s solution to her packed, 24-hour days. Online courses, she thinks, will enable her to learn, explore a new field of study, and comprehend the course objectives, without having time to do any of that.

Yeah. That is not going to happen.

While a major advantage of an online course is its flexibility, the course is not a rubber band. It can be given in a number of different ways (synchronously, asynchronously. etc.) and often completed at any time of day (3 AM anyone?). However, despite some students’ perceptions, it cannot be completely contorted to bear no resemblance to a traditional course.

Christie needs to play to her strengths if she wants to excel in the online environment.

  1. Prioritize – It is highly unlikely that Christie would ever miss a training meet because she knows that she needs to stay physically fit in order to run the race. So too, students need to view online courses as a priority in their weekly work-load.
  1. Schedule – Everything from penguin feeding at the zoo to FedEx deliveries throughout the country are successfully completed because they stick to a schedule. Since asynchronous online courses lack this critical quality, Christie must be sure to schedule it into her daily and weekly routine.
  1. Coach – Christie knows that she excels in an atmosphere where structure and guidance allow her to thrive. Students should not feel like an online course is simply a “Do It Yourself Course.” Rather, they should view their instructors as support and strive to stay connected with their teachers through emails, questions, discussion boards, and other course-related interactions.
  1. Teammates – In what industry are teammates unimportant? Christie needs to seize the opportunity to be a team player in her online classroom. By contributing her ideas, work, and support to her classmates, she will in return receive the assistance and encouragement that she needs to pass the course with flying colors.
  1. Goal-driven – Never does Christie wait until an ultimate objective is met in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. Rather, she takes pride in small victories throughout the journey. Online students should be proud of their achievements throughout the course, not only when they receive their final grades.
  1. Enjoy – Christie looks forward to her extra-curricular activities. She values her internships, delights in her hobbies, and had the opportunity to choose the school which she attends. If she can recognize the value and importance of her online course then it will shift from a burden to boon and become that much easier to do.

With these suggestions in hand, Christie should be well-armed to shine in class. What advice would you give to Christie?

Why are Assessments Important in an Online Course?

Assessments are an important aspect of any course. They allow students to interact with information that they learn, enable instructors to check students’ progress, and simply keep the class on track. In online environments, assessments play a crucial role due to the nature of the setup and the need to promote active learning.

In this video, Dr. Melissa Kaulbach of Faculty eCommons and Dr. Jeri Nowakowski examine how to best utilize assessments in an online course. They provide tips in moving beyond quizzes and essays and demonstrate how an assessment can cause a student to engage in learning and fully comprehend the subject at hand. In addition, they outline how creative, thought-out assessments can benefit the instructor and assist in creating a collaborative learning community.

To learn more about how effective assessments can change an online course, check out Dr. Melissa Kaulbach’s video below:

Source: Ed Tech Du Jour

Main Steps Toward “Like a Boss” Research for e-Learning Students

21276612_sThe following is a guest post written by Lesley Vos, a private educator for high school students from Chicago and a passionate blogger. She writes on topics of education, college life, academic research and writing, etc. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

A standard feature of every college student’s life is the academic research. Does it play the same important role when it comes to online education?

Look:

No matter what your education is, you won’t be able to avoid research projects. You will need to find the information anyway, choose the best ways to find it, know how to evaluate and manage this info, and decide whether to use it for your projects or not.

According to statistics, e-Learning becomes more and more popular among students both in the USA and the world in general:

  • About $56 billion had been spent on e-Learning industry in 2014;
  • About 46% of college students take at least one online course;
  • 90% less energy is consumed by e-Learning, what makes it Eco-friendly;
  • 72% of companies state that e-Learning helps their employees keep up-to-date with all changes within their industry;
  • Many educators call e-Learning one of 48 most perspective ideas to improve the US education system.

When it comes to academic research for e-Learning students, they must know where to search efficiently and make decisions regarding the quality of information; learners need to know how to search and who has rights to the information they are going to use for their research.

Research skills are key, and here you’ll find out how to build them quickly and effectively. To use some good guide to online research would be a good practice, too.

Steps to follow for better research

They will help you find and organize the information you need for academic research.

  • Always have a research question in mind, and work toward an answer to this particular question.
  • Schedule your work. For example, promise to accomplish something by a specific date (to find 20 resources, to finish the first chapter, etc.).
  • Ask for help. Online communities, social media groups, libraries – they all welcome your questions and exist to help you with research. Don’t be afraid of asking: their members may help you find good resources for your research, answer some exact questions, make some points for you to use in your work, etc.
  • Always pay attention to dates. Yes, sometimes it’s ok to use older material but it may also happen that your data isn’t up to date; it all depends on your topic: some fields are constantly updating, and you should be very careful while choosing the publications to refer.
  • Learn how to use Google and Wikipedia Most e-Learning students consider these two resources the best and most informative ones to use for research. Yes, it’s true; but make sure you know and use ALL tricks they provide for your better research.
  • Avoid citing Wikipedia. This online resource is a great place to start your research and find more links to explore. Wikipedia will give you a good overview of your subject and help you gather many sources for its better and deeper research. But do not consider this online encyclopedia your #1 resource to rely on.
  • One piece at a time. Do not try to cover all questions at once: outline the things you need to understand and cover in your work, deal with each piece separately, and find the connection between them when you write a draft.
  • Keep a pen and a notebook with you. Yes, you are an e-Learning student and you do all research online; but ideas and sudden revelations may hit you anytime – at the supermarket, in bed, in parks while walking… Write them down and transfer them into your research as soon as you can.
  • Don’t forget about bibliographies. When you check some article, essay, or academic book on your topic there will always be the list of hundreds of sources you can mine and use if they are relevant to your research.
  • Don’t believe the first source you see online. We all know the Internet is full of wrong facts and lie, especially when it comes to quotes. If you are going to use some quote or fact in your research, make sure it’s relevant and tied to its source.

Where to find the right data for your research

The Internet is a very good research library to use for your e-Learning projects; it provides a wealth of useful info to write a great research paper. As well as any other library, it has both good and bad “books” to read; so, if you do not want to get lost in this informative ocean – save this list of good quality online resources to use and find data for your research.

  1. A Research Guide – the website where you’ll find straightforward information regarding research papers: read the instructions on how to do different types of research, check links on latest updates to style guides, learn how to write a bibliography and format your papers right, etc.
  1. Project Muse – the website for those students who work on humanities research. Here you’ll find a big collection of scientific journals and e-book from scholarly societies and universities. Choose your topic or keyword to start a search.
  1. Digital History – the website that provides access to historical documents, newspapers, court documents and publications related to American history. If your research has something in common with this topic, Digital History is your #1 resource to keep in mind.
  1. Questia – the largest collection of periodicals, books, and magazines. It also provides tools for citations, bookmarking, and highlighting; you’ll find many scholarly and non-fiction texts there.
  1. Digital Librarian – the website that provides links to the best online bibliographies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, journals, libraries, etc. All of them are placed in alphabetical order, so it’s easy to navigate and find necessary information for your research.
  1. Internet Public Library – the website that helps you find good resources for your research on different subjects. Search by keywords to find the information or click the field to learn the latest data from the niche.
  1. Academic Index – the search engine that was created for college students in particular. Teachers and librarians selected the websites for this index, and here you’ll find research guides for many topics, including health, criminal justice, history, and more.
  1. World Cat – the website where you’ll find items from more than 10,000 libraries. Articles, books, CDs, and DVDs are available here, and you can use this resource to find your closest library.
  1. Microsoft Academic Search – the website offers more than 30 million publications on different topics. Plus, you’ll find graphics, maps, trends, and paths to find out how different authors are connected.

Online education has its nuances and pitfalls, but it doesn’t free us from academic research. Online research is one of must-have skills for every student today: it’s a key toward your efficient information search, understanding and use; your knowledge and grades will depend on it, too.

Learn the ropes of online research – and you’ll never face this problem again.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

4 Crucial Components of Any Online Course [INFOGRAPHIC]

Designing an online course can seem daunting. For some it is a new mode of teaching and there is always new technology to consider. In order to simplify the process, below are four crucial components to consider when creating a course.

1. Structure – An online course must have an intuitive and clear structure. Students need to be we aware of course expectations and understand how to navigate in the Learning Management System (LMS).

2. Content Delivery – With numerous methods of delivery available in an online setting, it is important to carefully select appropriate tools for each lesson. Learn how and when to effectively use different tools and apply them as necessary.

3. Break Down Barriers – Do not let physical distance interfere with student interaction. Assign students to collaborate and complete a creative assessment.

4. Ensure Functionality – When designing an online course, keep in mind different technical and aesthetic aspects that come into play. Be sure that all links are active and that material is easily accessible to students.

Check out this infographic from E-Learning Infographics to discover tips and take these concepts into reality.

How-to-Design-an-Online-Course-Infographic

Source: eLearningInfographics.com

Why Visuals are Vital [INFOGRAPHIC]

Online education has drastically evolved over time. What began as simple correspondence courses has developed into a rich, interactive learning experience which has completely reformed the world of education.

While early online courses were largely text based, today’s technology opens the door for instructors to teach via many forms of media. At first glance, such a change from traditional teaching methods of gleaning from text might seem like an unnecessary leap. However, research has proven that it is worthwhile to include visuals in curricula not only because modern students are used to viewing multimedia but also because brains process visuals faster than they process text.

Check out this infographic below from Allencom.com to learn more about why it is important to include visuals in any lesson.

Boosting Learner Engagement with Rich Media Infographic

Source: E-LearningInfographics.com 

Captivate eLearners [INFOGRAPHIC]

All educators know that it is crucial to engage learners. No matter how interesting the subject matter itself might be, it must also be presented and reviewed in a manner which captures the learners’ attention. Traditional classroom teachers have numerous tried and true methods at their disposal to engage their students throughout the lesson. While some of these techniques are specific to a brick-and-mortar classroom, many can be mimicked in the online world.

Check out this great infographic from e-LearningInfographics.com for more information.

Hook – Introduce a new concept in an exciting and applicable way.

Ask thinking questions – In order to have students interact with the subject on an intellectual level.

Chunk information – Online students learn best when information is presented in small unit. For more information on Content Chunking, click here.

Assess students – Give assignments and quizzes in order to gauge if students are correctly processing and learning the information.

Make it real – Provide stories as examples of the subject matter’s real life value.

Provide self-assessments – In order for students to recognize their grasp of the material.

Make it accessible– Utilize technology which students can access on-the-go.

Differentiate teaching methods – In order to provide a helpful change of pace.

8 Ways to Engage eLearners Infographic

Source: e-LearningInfographics.com

Different Routes to a Blended Education [INFOGRAPHIC]

As technology enables education to move beyond the classroom, many different combinations of traditional and online learning are emerging. Some courses focus heavily on a face-to-face setting while others primarily rely upon digital platforms. Whatever the case, educators have the opportunity to incorporate technology into their curricula and use it as a tool to teach students in the way that they learn best.

Check out this infographic from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to learn about how to view learning environments, the various forms of blended learning, and how to implement them into your classroom today.

Blended-Learning_infographic_FINAL

Source: ISTE

7 Tips for Linking Videos to an Online Course

video cameraEverybody loves videos. Whether feature films or short, creative clips, they are viewed as a way to spark interest and take a break from the usual classroom rhythm.

The nature of an online classroom is ideal for video use. Instructors can easily link videos to the course and enable their students to learn beyond a limited text. However, if not implemented correctly, videos can be a roadblock which bring frustration prevent learning.

Here are seven tips to enhance your use of videos in your online classroom.

  1. Serve a purpose – Videos can be exciting and flashy, but make sure that they truly add something to the course. Inform the students why the video is important and what they can expect to gain from watching it.
  2. Accessible – A fantastic video will not be of any benefit if the students cannot view it. If you used the video in a previous semester, check that the link still works. Also, be sure that it can be played on different types of computers and operating systems.
  3. Appropriate length – A video needs to be just the right length to keep a student’s attention and to communicate the purpose of the clip.
  4. Engaging – A video is not necessarily engaging. Although it can be a break from the norm and be exciting because of special features, be sure that it is not boring. Try to find a clip which brings students in and motivates them to watch it until the end.
  5. Interactive – Just like an instructor might provide instructions for a guided reading, arrange a dynamic element to the assignment. Strategies could include things like a quiz at the conclusion of the clip, a response paper, or even something creative to keep students on track (think “Where’s Waldo?).
  6. Take advantage of the internet – The internet offers many educational video resources. Some websites like AcademicEarth, BigThink, and TED-Ed (learn more about TED-Ed here) offer great options. Also, many YouTube channels specifically focus on academic fields.
  7. Know about copyright – Be aware of each linked video’s copyright status. This information can often be found in the “Terms of Use”

How do you use videos in your online classroom?

Sources:

Lights, Camera, Learn!: Five tips for using video in eLearning by Veronica Phillips on eLearnMagazine.org

8 tips for creating video in online learning by Meris Stansbury on eCampusNews.com

Avoid These 10 e-Learning Design Mistakes

There is a lot to keep in mind when designing an online course. This infographic from e-LearningInfographics.com outlines 10 mistakes which you should avoid. Below are tips which provide alternative suggestions to counter these mistakes.

10 E-learning Design Mistakes - An Infographic

 

  1. Audience – Be sure to teach to your students and to not only teach the subject.
  2. Layout – Just like a published book has proper formatting, be sure to present text in a readable manner.
  3. Navigation – Students must be told how to navigate the course. Ideally, the navigation should be intuitive.
  4. Relatable – Make sure that the course content is relatable to the students’ lives.
  5. Narration – If there are any audial aspects of the course, make sure that the narration adds something which the students would not gain simply through reading text.
  6. Need-to-know – The course should be focused and thought through. Avoid including extra information which might confuse the students.
  7. Tools – There are many tools available which professors can use to help with the course design. Be sure to choose tools which you know how to use and are truly assets, not hindrances, to the course.
  8. Grammar – This is an academic setting. Just like students are asked to complete their work with proper grammar, be sure that you do too.
  9. Learning Objectives – To keep students on track, the course must be based on effective learning objectives which are explained clearly to the students.
  10. Appropriate Assessments – It is important to invest thought in creating assessments which will most present the most accurate picture of a student’s accomplishments.

Do you have any tips to share?