8 Assistive Technology Tools for Students with Disabilities

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Broflowski, a content creator. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The application of technology for disabled students is an exciting new educational approach that is gaining ground. The differently-abled thrive in an environment where they are given access to accommodations that help them learn to the best of their abilities. Assistive Technology, equipment that helps to mitigate learning deficits, helps to make this a reality by enabling disabled students learn in new ways. This article introduces students, parents, and tutors to the fast-growing technological tools positively impacting learning.

Here are eight of the best Assistive Technology (AT) tools that help people with disabilities study regularly:

1. Timers

For kids who have trouble pacing themselves, this is a great and handy tool to help. You can either tie it to their wrist or place it strategically where the kid can see and use it. Timers help kids to keep track of the remaining amount of time for accomplishing a task or activity. Whether it is writing an essay or eating breakfast, a timer will help students who can’t easily keep up with the current pace. It is also ideal for kids who find it challenging to transition from one task to the next.

2. Reading guides

Kids with visual tracking problems can now see the light thanks to this innovative tool. Reading guides help them to maintain focus on specific pages that they are reading. Essentially, it’s made out of a plastic strip that helps to block out neighboring words of the text while highlighting those that the student is currently reading. The strip seamlessly moves as the child proceeds to the next words in the text.

3. Text to speech

Some individuals have problems reading standard print texts. This is an impressive tool to help them through this difficulty. Some of the typical disabilities handled by this software include; dyslexia, blindness, learning difficulties, visual impairment, and any other shortcoming that impedes reading. Different types of children that can benefit from Text to Speech technology include ADHD and autists.

So, how does this technology work? It scans the written text and then synthesizes it, reading in a voice that students can easily understand. It employs different types of speech sounds that help make up words in different contexts. This is an advancement in speech synthesis that has helped students accurately study.

4. Alternative keyboards

These are programmable keyboards that help students who can’t quickly type to do so freely. They customize the appearance using unique overlays that are absent on a standard keyboard. It is specifically great for students with LD and typing issues. It achieves this by adding graphics for comprehension, grouping keys using different colors, and reducing input choices.

5. Audiobooks

You might already guess what these are. Audiobooks are pre-recorded tools with relevant information relating to the particular field a student is studying. They are present in different formats, including CDs, MP3s, and audio cassettes. You can also subscribe to electronic libraries online and listen to various subjects.

6. FM listening systems

You have probably listened to various FM radio stations but didn’t even know much about their technology. Frequency Modulation (FM) systems are handy in terms of reducing background noise. This is useful for classes where many students are present, and amplification is required. It is an impressive tool for students with attention deficit and other hearing impairments. It helps to improve the auditory processing issues current with students in a classroom.

So, how does this work? A tutor will wear a microphone that later broadcasts to speakers present inside the room. Alternatively, if there aren’t many people with difficulties in the classroom, the specific students with issues can wear personal receivers. This will help them easily grasp what the teacher is saying, even at a distance. FM systems equally help students facing language-processing concerns get a better understanding.

7. Writing supports

These tools help make writing more palatable for students with this deficiency in learning. Sometimes the problem is more of a mental one than it is physical. For instance, when a student cannot correctly write grammatically potent sentences with no semantic issues, this can be a great tool to use. It is appropriate for students who have thoughts racing ahead of their ability to jot. Some examples of writing support software that can help include word prediction. This technology helps to suggest the next word to the student before he or she types. Speech recognition software is another useful asset to have. The student simply speaks out their thoughts, and the tool transfers the words into text. Most of the current smartphones and other mobile devices have these apps in-built in them.

8. Graphic organizers

These work hand in hand with outlining software to help students who struggle with organizing and outlining problems. This is especially visible in writing projects where students lack the prerequisite skills to draw out a plan accurately. This software helps the student to release information in an unstructured manner. Later on, it plans and organizes everything based on different categories and in a specific order. It helps the student to organize their thoughts ahead of a writing task. The detailed organizers can help a student to map out their thoughts and ideas into reality.

Author’s Bio: Jennifer Broflowski is a talented and skilled writer at PaperLeaf with immense experience. Her expertise stretches far and wide, having worked for popular brands like CraftResumes. She loves to hang out with kids in her free time and appreciates good music. Her dedication to special needs learning is what drives her to wake up every day in the morning. She has made several steps pertaining to people with disabilities, and there is more to what the future holds.

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.

Should We Incorporate Social Media Into Online Education?

The following is a guest post written by Emily Johnson, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be honest: online teaching and learning is not easy. Both instructors as well as students need to deal with a number of problems that arise from the limitations of virtual education. Thus, online instruction requires novel, creative methods, which would help students acquire new knowledge and make them feel less isolated.

Does social media have the power to improve virtual education? Can it solve most of the problems both online educators as well as online students strive to overcome each and every day? Would incorporating it into virtual teaching and learning make a difference? Keep on reading to find out.

The Challenges of Online Education and How Social Media Can Help To Overcome Them

Whether you’re a teacher who considers conducting online courses or a student who got enchanted by an idea of getting a degree online and wants to try, chances are that you think there’s nothing complicated about it:

  • As an online tutor, all you’ll have to do is to prepare materials, upload them on a site, and then, check the progress of your students and provide them with feedback.
  • As an online student, all you’ll have to do is download materials from a website, study them at home, and then, do the homework and upload it on a site.

That’s it, right? Unfortunately, in practice, it’s more complicated than that. Each step of the way only seems to be easy. In reality, problems arise. Problems, which can be hard to deal with and solve.

#1 Computer literacy.

Attending and creating an online course requires a person to develop new computer skills, and while professors may already have the knowledge on how to navigate the necessary systems and programs, many students don’t. Research shows that computer literacy of university graduates is low. Thus, we can assume that computer literacy of students who just begin their studies or are in the middle of them isn’t any better.

Now, to be able to fully participate in an online course, students need to learn to use LMS (i.e. Learning Management System), be able to operate such programs as MS Word or PowerPoint, and fix computer problems if they occur. Without any technological knowledge and skills, it can be a challenge too hard to deal with.

Also, although “Help Pages” and detailed FAQ sections may be of some help, finding the necessary information and following instruction can be time-consuming, problematic, and frustrating. Thus, here’s another idea:

To allow students to contact and chat with a computer expert via a social media platform. It’s fast and easy. Moreover, this way, students can quickly improve their computer skills and feel more supported in their studies.

#2 Communication problems and the lack of human contact.

Conducting as well as participating in an online course often results in communication problems and limits for both professors as well as students. Thus, exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas, asking questions, clarifying various issues, explaining the course material, or simply talking, may take some time and be difficult (especially if it can only happen in the LMS or via email). What’s more, distance learning means learning away from a campus and student dormitories, which can affect a person’s sense of belonging to a community of students and so, make them feel isolated.

Can we improve communication between online tutors and students, and help students make friendships, share their thoughts, and interact with their peers? Yes, we can. Social media is the answer.

By promoting the use of social media and creating special groups for students on such platforms as Facebook, we can help teachers contact their students (and vice versa) quickly from any device, and we provide students with a perfect place to talk to their peers, discuss problems, share various ideas or reviews, and form a community. In fact, in a recent study, 75% of students say they feel comfortable using social networking to discuss course work with other students and 58% use it to communicate with their classmates.

Now, since students find social media platforms useful for educational purposes as well as forming friendships, incorporating social media into online education can both improve communication between students and teachers, and make students feel less lonely.

#3 Boredom, self-motivation and time-management.

Although online courses work for a number of students, many fail an online class, especially at community colleges. Why? Well, in a study conducted in 2011, students provided a number of reasons why you may fail an online course, and so, drop out of college. Here are the causes:

  • Motivation (35%).
  • Study habits (17%).
  • Academic preparedness (12%).
  • External factors (11%).
  • Attitudes (11%).
  • Instruction (10%).
  • Relevancy issues (4%).

What also has a negative impact on online students is the fact that e-learning may sometimes feel like e-reading. Thus, online courses lack variety and can be simply boring. After all, not everyone find reading textbooks and other materials as the best way to learn. Some students acquire new knowledge by listening to lectures. Others prefer doing things in practice. There are also those who learn best by watching videos. So, variety in virtual education is a must to keep students engaged.

Now, since online students are not self-motivated to learn, find it hard to create and stick to their own learning schedules, and often get bored, is there anything we can do to help them? As a matter of fact, yes, there is. Social media gives us a possibility to solve a number of problems that online students face.

Here are several creative ideas on how educators can use social media platforms to support their students:

  • Create and post inspirational and motivational quotes on Facebook, and thus, help your students achieve their goals.
  • Send reminders about assignments and upcoming deadlines via online platforms.
  • Make competitions and contests (thus, you can encourage creative writing, help students improve their skills in a number of areas, and entertain them).
  • Instead of uploading another longish lecture on a website for your students to read, make a video lesson on YouTube.
  • Ask intriguing questions in posts and so, start an online discussion (let your students engage in a conversation with you as well as their peers).
  • Encourage your students to make posts or tweets on a given topic for extra credit.

As you can see, social media gives a number of possibilities to help students succeed in an online class.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why we should incorporate social media into online education. First of all, students are familiar with it, so they will have no problems with accessing materials on social media platforms or contacting their teachers. Also, social media platforms can help students to form and maintain interactions with others. Moreover, it allows online students to ask more questions and get answers fast.

For online teachers, social media gives a lot of new opportunities as well. Teachers can easily contact their students, have more possibilities to help them acquire new knowledge as well as engage them. Also, it’s much faster, easier, and convenient to give students feedback via a social media platform than an online system.

Thus, by incorporating social media into virtual education we’ve nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

Author’s Bio: Emily Johnson is a college graduate who spends her free time writing thought-provoking blog posts about education, college life, blogging, and writing. Her articles that give career advice help and inspire people all over the Web. To find out more about Emily, check out her Twitter.

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.

7 Best Apps for Budgeting in College

The following is a guest post written by Brooke Niemeyer, Deputy Managing Editor-Syndication for Credit.com. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

When you’re in school, you have a lot on your plate – from making time for classes and homework to figuring out how you’ll pay for everything until you graduate. But, thanks to technology, it is possible to manage a budget, develop a debt-payment strategy, and get a better understanding of your finances.

In honor of Money Smart Week, taking place April 22 to April 29 2017, we bring you seven smartphone apps to help you get your budget on track and keep it there.

1- Mint

Price: Free on App Store and Google Play

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way — Mint. This app hooks up your bank accounts and any credit cards you may have and updates balances based on your spending so you don’t have to.

“As a college student, it’s essential to have something automatic that provides reminders, so you don’t have to remember to update it yourself,” Hailey Vasquez, a project manager at Odd Dog Media, said. “It takes all the organization out of bill paying and makes budgeting super straightforward.”

You can even customize different budgets based on purchases like coffee, books, etc. The app will give you ideas about how you can save more.

2- Debt Payoff Planner

Price: Free for basic; $5/month for two months; $3/month for six months; $1/month for 12 months on App Store and Google Play

There’s a lot that can land you in debt, whether it’s a pile of student loans or putting too many charges on a credit card. Whatever gets you there, the first step to digging yourself out of debt is making a plan, and that’s where this app comes in handy. As payment due dates approach, you’ll receive an alert so you remember to pay on time and not rack up late fees. And, to help you see the results of your hard work, you’ll get charts that show your debt balance getting smaller as you stick with your plan.

3- Slice

Price: Free on App Store and Google Play

It’s a lot easier to order books and other things online, especially with such a busy schedule, right? Well, Slice uses e-receipts to help you keep track of your purchases and will make things a bit easier for you every step of the way. From tracking your delivery status to sending you alerts if a price goes down, this app does it all. Plus, it can help you keep track of how much you’re spending so those One-Click options don’t end up breaking your budget. It even lists your spending by vendor and category so you can see if there are any particular budget-draining culprits.

4- GoodBudget

Price: Free or Plus for $5/month ($45/year) on App Store and Google Play

Think of this app as the digital version of the “envelope method” of budgeting. You create a budget for different categories — travel, groceries, entertainment, school labs, etc. — which have designated spending amounts for each month. Best of all, this app can be synced with others you are sharing a budget with, like a roommate or parent, so you stay on the same page.

5- Unsplurge

Price: Free on App Store

Don’t like the idea of giving over your banking information? Consider Unsplurge, a straightforward budgeting and saving app. Choose a goal, like saving for that perfect Spring Break trip or paying off a credit card, and log your saving toward it. This app will help you see your progress and keep you motivated to achieve your financial success. If you get a bit frustrated, there’s a social community to help give you the extra boost of motivation you need.

6- Digit

Price: Free for first 100 days, then $2.99/month on App Store and Google Play

Let’s face it — it’s never easy to put money into savings and see your “fun money” amount decrease. But this app takes away the sting of doing just that. After you link your checking account, Digit analyzes your income and spending habits. After it gets an understanding of your financial situation, it finds extra money to move to a saving account. Once you need the funds you’ve saved, they will be transferred back to your checking account by the next business day.

7- You Need a Budget

Price: Free for first 34 days, then $50/year on App Store and Google Play

This app helps you see how much money you have and where that money can or should be going. After connecting your accounts, you can assign each dollar a role, whether it’s to help you save up for next semester’s textbooks or for your monthly rent check. Go over budget on one item but under on another? No problem! Each month you can reallocate the funds however you feel is necessary.

 

Because you’re already familiar with the benefits of online education and the technology associated with it, taking advantage of smartphone apps should be a sensible step to take control of your budget. To help get you through higher education financially, take into consideration the previous apps and make sure to do your own research to figure out what works best for you.

 

Author’s Bio: Brooke Niemeyer is the Deputy Managing Editor – Syndication for Credit.com. She writes about a variety of personal finance topics, with work featured on CBS, TIME, The Huffington Post, MSN, FOX Business, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance and other publications. She has a Master’s degree in Journalism from New York University and was a reporter for NBC before joining the Credit.com team. You can follow her at @RNYBrooke.

 

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.

The Ups and Downs of Using the Smartphone as an Educational Tool

The following is a guest post written by Vigilance Chari, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

A while back, having a mobile phone in the classroom meant confiscation or detention; but now, many schools are increasingly accepting them as useful learning tools. While only a handful of kids can get a laptop for daily classwork, the number of smartphones in an average classroom has risen tenfold over the last couple of years.

Given their easy internet access, the many educational apps and the convenience of being used anytime and anywhere, smartphones have all it takes to encourage learning.

However, it’s not easy to keep the use of phones entirely academic. In fact, when it comes to using these gadgets during lessons, the number one concern among teachers is how to ensure students don’t abuse the privilege. How do you keep students from texting friends and updating their social media pages under their desks?

This, among other questions, raises eyebrows as to the efficiency of using mobile phones for educational purposes. Nevertheless, no teaching practice is perfect. Like other methodologies, the smartphone has its ups and downs.

The benefits of using smartphones for teaching

With smartphone use by young students spreading wider every day, there are several practical reasons why, as a teacher, you should allow the useful little gadgets in your classroom. These include:

Student comfort

Experts unanimously agree that using tools that students are comfortable with is among the most effective teaching methods. In today’s world, the smartphone has become as familiar to kids as basic pen and paper. It’s therefore easier in some cases to make a point clear by telling a student to take a look at their phone, rather than to flip through monotonous pages of a book. By the same token, in many cases learning materials may not be optimized for mobile devices and a lot of work will still be needed before mobile learning aids are taken seriously.

Quick answers

While the use of smartphones as a ready source for answers is debatable, teachers often find it easier to teach when a student can get any questions they may have resolved by a quick glance at their smartphones. Not only does it save time, but it also exposes learners to additional information as they search for the answers they need.

Bringing life to a classroom

Through the audio and video capabilities of a smartphone, education can become more lively among disinterested kids and teenagers. Visual learning through video images, music and voice is an efficient way to get a difficult concept understood by a confused student and, consequently, make the teaching process more engaging.

Educational Apps

Smartphones give students access to a horde of learning applications, which are available in a wide range of subjects. From serious apps to game-like exercises, these packages encourage intuitive thinking and playful competition while enhancing the way learners grasp new ideas.

Organization

Aside from educational applications, the smartphone app store is well populated with scheduling tools. One such app is Remind, where students can sign up to receive text reminders whenever they have an upcoming assignment due, or a test coming.

Not only does it motivate young learners to plan their studying, but it also engages parents, who sign up just to keep track of their children’s homework.

Social learning

Through online groups, virtual chat-rooms and texts, smartphones encourage students to work in groups. They can share information and discoveries on common subjects and projects, and, therefore, move together towards a common goal, in a manner with which they are all comfortable.

In addition, students can connect with other like-minded learners from around the world to broaden their minds and expand their scope of thought.

Fostering an interest in technology

When modern gadgets are incorporated in the learning space, even kids that were oblivious to how they work and what they can do will begin to grasp a little basic knowledge. Moreover, using smartphones on a daily basis gives students constant access to information about the current trends in technology, growing their enthusiasm from a young age.

The downsides to allowing smartphones in the classroom

Undoubtedly, mobile phones have a lot to offer the modern-day classroom. However, some limitations discourage their universal acceptance as an educational tool.

For starters, smartphones are not exactly durable. Sure, when well taken care of, they may last longer than most frequently-used books. But in the classroom, accidental knocks, drops and spills are inevitable. Because it’s quite impractical to buy children high-end devices, we’d recommend more budget smartphones for students to take to school as they will likely need replacing within a couple of months due to general wear and tear.

Additionally, smartphones may look small, but they’re complex devices with quite the learning curve. Before any meaningful learning can take place, a student needs to master the phone’s numerous functions and applications, and this exercise can waste a significant amount of valuable time.

Then, of course, there’s the negative effect that smartphones can have on a student’s attentiveness in class. We’ve touched base on having your students taken away by texts and social media, but what about the random ringtones that may interrupt valuable learning sessions? Allowing phones in the classroom requires a teacher to be constantly roaming around watching students and making sure they’re staying on task.

“How” not “if”

Despite the challenges, many schools have come to terms with the advances in technology, and have accepted the role of smartphones in the classroom.

So, the question is not “if” to use smartphones, it’s “how” to use them. Nearly all students own or have access to a phone and having a “no phones allowed” policy in school would require a lot of monitoring, just to keep learners from sneaking in with the small gadgets.

Therefore, an easier approach is to utilize the smartphones in teaching. Students will be eager follow the conditions given to keep the privileges of using these devices in class.

Summary

Critics will cite cheating in exams and unauthorized socializing as concerns, but the fact is, smartphones are an integral part of a student’s life. Rather than imposing stringent rules, innovative teachers have the opportunity in the modern age to take up the role of helping young learners to use their phones properly in the pursuit of knowledge, although in reality this may be easier said than done.

 

Author’s Bio: Vigilance Chari covers tech news and smartphones at SmartphoneNinja. She is an International presenter and published author. When she’s not writing, she spends her time as an enthusiastic professional party planner and part-time painter.  You can contact Vigilance Chari via email at vigi.chari@gmail.com.

 

Sources:

10 Apps Essential for Students from the Online Education Blog of Touro College

Do Smartphones Have a Place in the Classroom? from Paul Barnwell, the Atlantic

Finding the Best Budget Smartphones Market Research from Vigilance Chari, SmartphoneNinja

How Do Students Use Their Mobile Devices to Support Learning? A Case Study from an Australian Regional University from the Open University Journal of Interactive Media in Education

 

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.

 

Technology in the ESL Classroom

The following is a guest post written by Michael Gorman, highly skilled editor and proofreader. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

What do you think about when you hear the word “technology”? Do you think about enormous databases, drones, or online banking? Or maybe smart TVs? Apps? Tablets? Although seemingly very different, these diverse methods and devices all fall under the category of technology.

Let’s picture a classroom full of students who need to learn English in the fastest and the most effective way. Does technology have a place in this classroom? If so, how can it be utilized to facilitate learning in an ESL classroom, where there might be only one native English speaker, the teacher?

If you have some doubts how technology can be used there you have found the right article, because right now we are going to describe how technology can be a great tool to facilitate English learning and improve student performance.

In the modern educational world, the term “technology integration” is becoming one of the most popular pedagogical phrases, because that’s how educators describe the efforts to implement high-tech devices in the classroom. However, many teachers still have not fully grasped the meaning of the expression because of lack of personal use of these technologies, school funding limits, and even age.

Technology integration explained

This term is defined as the practice of integrating and interweaving technological means into educating and learning, which is supported by the school. There, that was not so difficult, right?

However, while the definition may sound simple, actual implementation is not. In fact, technology experts argue that there is a big difference between implementing the technology in the classroom and actually intertwining it with the education process. Bringing technology into a classroom might be easy for educators, but getting the most out of it isn’t a piece of cake. However, when used correctly, technology can transform the classroom into an advanced workstation that provides a wide range of benefits for both students and educators.

Benefits of using technology in an ESL classroom

1. Improves future opportunities for students

The age of technology is here to stay and it commands everything that employers might need in the workplace. In the future, even the most basic tasks will require some expertise in technology, so preparing students to use it before they graduate can greatly increase their chances for success on the job.

To ensure sufficient technological progress of learners in a classroom, an educator needs to provide materials that will keep students updated on the latest developments in the world of technology. For example, Marta Dowson, a senior educator from Proessaywriting.com, says that lessons could involve the use of the latest software and applications for professional use that might be used in the workplace.

Given that English is a global language which is featured in most, if not all, software products, students may also benefit from being exposed to and using apps and products in English-language to develop sufficient understanding of technical terminology.

2. Stimulates Motivation and Engagement

Many educational studies have shown that technology plays a critically important role in increasing engagement and motivation in the classroom. It provides an experience that is completely different from traditional learning and, in the form of apps and devices, allows learners to use exciting tools to paint, type, observe, and perform many other functions. It can turn a mundane biology lesson into a really fascinating one, with interactive experiences and powerful demonstration of the material.

In an ESL classroom, like any other one, motivation and engagement are really important for achieving the best outcomes. Educators need to understand the importance of incorporating technology in these classrooms because motivation and excitement are the main drivers behind language acquisition.

3. Fosters student independence

This is another great benefit of using technology that can have a powerful implication for those that continue to improve language skills at home or on the go. Computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices can be used regardless of location to engage in meaningful learning, such as reading, listening, and performing material-relevant activities or exercises.

As the result of having learning materials at hand or available for download, students can become more independent, because by controlling when, where and how they access course information, they can partially assume the role of a teacher. For example, they can find text, read it, highlight the unknown words, locate them in an online dictionary and create their own home tasks. Or, they may use various online tools for language learning, such as Omniglot.com, EnglishGrammar.orgEnglishClub.com, Vocabulary.co and many others.

4. Allows learners to experience different cultures

By having access to the Internet in the classroom, students have the opportunity to tap into the target cultures by visiting sites from different English speaking countries. As a result, they can have a native experience of the language and see things that only English speakers typically access, such as news sites, sport-related sites, etc. They can literally visit all sites in the English language and learn the culture from native English speakers, which is a great advantage that would not be possible without the use of the internet or technology.

Now that we have listed the benefits of using technology in ESL classrooms, let’s review some great tools that can be used in the process.

Tools for the ESL classroom

EverythingESL

This is a remarkable resource for an ESL teacher, basically serving as a storage of learning materials including grammar lessons, exercises, essay topics, tutorials, tools, and other useful things. It also provides key strategies for teachers to generate an effective learning environment, which is great for both experienced and new educators.

UsingEnglish

This site provides a great database of resources for teaching English as a second language online. It includes tools, articles, handouts, lesson plans, worksheets, training, language tests, polls, quizzes, and even glossaries and vocabulary materials. In other words, it is a go-to resource for ESL teachers who need materials for the class.

What Works Clearinghouse

This site provides reviews of current research of different products and practices in education. According to the creators of WWC, their goal was to provide teachers with the information to make evidence-based decisions and improve the quality of learning. The website include sections such as literacy, math, science, behavior, teacher excellence, early children, post-secondary education, and more.

BBC Learning English

BBC Learning English is an English program that is most widely used by students from all over the world. It includes grammar and vocabulary lessons designed by some of the best British teachers, with great references to modern events from around the globe. It provides a unique learning experience that should be tried in all ESL classrooms. It even contains a section dedicated to ESL learning, which is not currently updated but can still serve as a valuable resource.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you are a student or a teacher in an ESL classroom, you can find some interesting insights and tools in this article. Remember, learning English should be fun, and technology is a way to ensure excitement and motivation in the classroom. The era of technology is here to stay, and the same could be said about education because there are more and more benefits discovered by those who learn with the help of advanced technologies.

If used properly, technology can be the best friend of an educator in any classroom. Remember this during your next lesson!

Author’s Bio: Michael Gorman is highly skilled editor and proofreader. He is proficient in blog writing and online freelance networking. Feel free to contact him via Facebook.

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.

5 Smart Ways to Use the Internet in the Classroom

The following is a guest post written by Lori Wade, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be frank here — the academe has always been a little behind when it comes to practically everything remotely related to innovation. Well, if we are completely honest, ‘a little’ is an understatement here. No doubt it is often the problem with the municipal budget that some schools have terribly outdated computers, but the really troubling issue is that a lot of teachers still refuse to embrace technology and make it a part of the education process.

To put it simply, every teacher these days has to understand that the millennial generation is gradually becoming the major workforce in the job market, and the millennials that are drawing closer to their college graduation are not overly anxious about the old ways. The same is even more true for the new generation of school students, who are now being tagged as digital natives.

In other words, whichever age group you are working with, it is your primary goal as a teacher to make the environment student-friendly. The good news is that you can easily achieve this effect even on a small school budget. The Internet, in particular, can be a handy and affordable learning tool in every classroom. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the internet in your lessons:

#1 Take advantage of video lessons

Videos offer a great way to make education fun, no matter which subjects you are dealing with. Plus, the days when you had to book a separate room for any video class are long gone — you can now use software to project films from your phone/tablet directly to the classroom screen.

Another huge perk is that you can easily find plenty of free, educational channels on YouTube. Simply subscribing to a couple of video blogs in your subject area might save you a lot of trouble when preparing for the next lesson — after all, most of these videos are short, funny and visual. This is simply a win-win situation both for the students and the teachers! (If you are a student and accidentally came across this article, this is the part when you start thinking of sharing it with your teacher. No, seriously — just make sure to pick the most liberal professor).

#2 Invite remote speakers

Another great idea that will give any lesson a refreshing vibe is to invite remote speakers. Once again, this solution is suitable for all age groups and subjects, but, of course, you will have to choose your guests accordingly. For the youngest ones, for example, it can be a remote type of ‘who I want to be when I grow up’ lesson, where representatives of different professions attend virtually instead of coming in person to the classroom personally. For older students, you can invite subject matter experts — here, the engagement will mostly depend on your own connections.

Plus, the number of apps to choose from is enormous. From Skype and FaceTime to Viber and WhatsApp, these apps come with no fees or complications — a stable Internet connection and a screen are all you need.

#3 Create collaboration groups

Some projects are all about collaboration. All of the messaging apps mentioned above allow users to create groups where members can discuss project-related topics. Another example of a similar app is Slack, which is widely used in a variety of companies that work in teams.

Creating dedicated chat/discussion groups can be very useful for many subjects, allowing the whole team to works towards a common goal. Whether it is a lab report or a training marketing project, the use of Internet and technology in this example teaches students to collaborate, brainstorm, and contribute their share of effort towards the end result. Another great perk is that these forums prepare students for the real-time work environment, stressing the value of teamwork, and potentially reducing the learning curve in the workplace.

#4 Share public files and documents

Speaking of working together, Google suite has made it simpler than ever. Google allows creating shared access to text documents, spreadsheets, and even entire folders. Apple docs also features the same functionality, but the Apple product has its limits since it is very unlikely that all of your students will be Apple/Mac users. Google, on the other hand, hosts its programs on a cloud, using a web browser to access all of the files; so, user operational system makes no difference here.

There are dozens of ways to use Google Docs to increase productivity. The simplest one is to share all of the new assignments in class. Shared files will also become a perfect addition to shared study boards — instead of simply discussing one project or another online, students can actually work together on documents, presentations, graphs, reports, etc. They can even improve their college essay writing by having access to other papers from their class.

Plus, Google docs features the ability to add comments to a document, so it is possible to choose a couple of sample works and share your insight using this feature. Giving specific paper examples and commenting on what is right and what is wrong with each of the papers is the surest way to teach students writing or any other subject in that matter.

#5 Make your lessons more visual

Finally, the Internet gives teachers a chance to make each and every one of their lessons more visual. Pictures and photos are the surest way to achieve this effect. However, the sky’s the limit when choosing visual materials. For example, when teaching geography, you can make use of online maps, taking your audience to the remote locations. Maps can also prove useful when teaching culture and history (for example, an old photo of the location vs. a present-day street view). This approach creates a sense of connection, which is the surest way for the information to make its way into the student’s’ long-term memory.

Another idea, obvious as it may seem, is to use slides in your lessons. This is not a new concept — slides have been used in lectures for years. But, using the internet can give your old visuals a new vibe. By ‘visuals’ we do not necessarily mean pictures and graphs. Those could also be text fragments with the essential information, quotations, and practically any other written information you want to stress.

 

As you can see, using the Internet in a classroom does not necessarily mean that students will go through their Facebook feed (well, some of them will). Still, making Internet a part of your education process has more pluses than minuses. Put some effort into your lectures, try to walk in your students’ shoes, and speak their language — this is the best way to engage your maturing audience.

 

Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

 

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.

Tips for Using Google to Boost Student Engagement

The following is a guest post written by Stephanie Norman, blogger and professional writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

using-google-to-boost-students-engagementWith all the gadgets and apps available to support the educational processes, teachers often have a hard time deciding which ones to use in the classroom. Most of them understand that technology is integral to the contemporary educational process, yet they are still overwhelmed by the ever-changing innovations and often decide to stick to old-school methods. That’s not the right thing to do.

Yes, technology is overwhelming, and one teacher couldn’t possibly test and use all edTech tools even if he/she wanted to. However, instructors should still implement a strategy that introduces simple tools into the classroom with the purpose of boosting students’ engagement.

I have one word for you: GOOGLE. It is so much more than a search engine. According to Angie Roberts, the CEO of Australian Writings Pty Ltd, Google offers everything that teachers need to support engagement in the classroom.

“Google has developed powerful tools that make the classroom much more effective. It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching English or music, math or social studies; there’s always a Google feature that will add dynamics to the lectures,” – Mrs. Roberts explains.

How exactly can Google be used to make a class more engaging? What features should instructors use for what purposes? Here are some great answers and tips for using Google to increase student engagement:

  1. Google Translate for Language and Grammar Lessons
    It’s no secret that Google Translate is not the most reliable translating tool. It can result in silly translations that make no sense. However, it is still a powerful tool that allows students access to over 90 languages worldwide. Here are few suggestions for using Google Translate in the classroom:

    • Introduce cultures by translating small phrases
      How about saying Happy New Year in different languages? You can ask your students to form teams, choose five target languages, and use Google Translate to generate results. Then, they can present their projects to the class. This is a great way of introducing your students to different cultures through language.
    • Assist second language students with their work
      If students in a language class are required to translate a chunk of text which they may not be equipped to handle, allow them to rely on Google Translate as a helper. The translation won’t be perfect, but that can be fixed using this next exercise:
    • Catch grammar errors
      Ask your students to find the imperfections in a translation. This simple task will teach students that translation software is useful, but not 100% reliable.
  2. Google Calendar for Student Organization
    It is an instructor’s job in the classroom to teach students different skills. However, this is not limited to expanding students’ intellectual capacity. It is also the job of the teacher to help students make the most of their education, something that can’t be achieved without sufficient organization.

    • Teachers could impart this information by giving lectures on how important organization is or by doing something practical: show them how to organize their studying, homework, and activity schedule.
    • Instructors can use their own Google Calendar to demonstrate how students should organize their time around school, hobbies, and casual activities. Then, each student can create his/her own calendars and mark the dates for project submission and tests. Then, have learners organize the time before those important dates to allow them to efficiently study, write, and enjoy some free time in between.
  3. Google Earth for Geography Lessons
    Classroom globes are cool, but not as cool as Google Earth. With this tool, students can explore the world through 3-dimensional images and videos of famous locations and historical sites. Here is a great example of a lesson plan using Google Earth:

    • Have students create presentations about different locations on the planet. Then, they can present the projects in front of the class and use Google Earth as a visual presentation tool.
  4. Google Books and Google Scholar for Research
    Most students rely on Google’s search engine when doing research for a project. This is a habit that needs to be broken. Google Books and Google Scholar are better and more reliable search tools for academic projects. They provide full-length books and articles, which will add legitimacy and authority to any student paper.
  5. Google Keep for Taking Notes
    Encourage and develop students creative thinking skills by suggesting that students keep track of their ideas. Google Keep is a great tool to help develop that habit.

    • Organize a brainstorming session in the classroom and tell students to keep their ideas in Google Keep.
    • Explain how students can use this app at any time to jot down any idea that comes to mind.
    • Teach your students to organize their ideas. Note-taking doesn’t have to be messy.
  6. Google Classroom for Full Control of the Class
    Google Classroom saves teachers a lot of time. Instructors can assign and collect projects and assignments through the tool, saving valuable class time and keeping all course-related information in one place. Google Classroom could also be used to provide feedback to students and to facilitate online discussions.
  7. YouTube for Educational Videos
    Every now and then, instructors can spare students from long lectures and instead teach using educational videos. YouTube is full of classroom-appropriate content, so explore it and surprise students with a video that will promote interest and engagement in the classroom.

Google can offer so much more for classroom involvement than quick and easy searches. Using its various features, Google can make classroom management much more effective. Experiment with the suggestions above and see how Google’s many tools can work for you!

 

Author’s Bio: Stephani Norman is a contributing blogger and professional writer with 4 years of experience. She enjoys writing articles about educational, blogging, and writing issues, and also enjoys penning film and literature reviews. In her free time, she loves focusing on self-development, travelling, and reading thought-provoking books. For more information, check out Stephanie on Facebook and Google+.

 

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.

 

Virtual Reality- The New e-Learning Reality

virtual-reality-sepiaWith the introduction and growth of social media in the past decade or so, technology has often been blamed for a decrease in social skills and interactions. Although apps such as Facebook and twitter allow for a broader sense of connection and communication across the globe, many educators argue that technology is not just changing but eroding the way people interact with one another.  However, a form of technology first introduced in the 1930’s has since made a comeback and is slowly working its way into both personal and professional environments to change this view of computers and other artificial intelligence.

Virtual Reality (VR), which refers to the emulation of real world phenomenon through hardware and software, allows users to physically engage in a 3-D generated virtual environment in order to experience events, places, and people using more than just the five basic senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. By placing a user into a high tech, fabricated environment, VR can be used to truly enhance the way subject matters are given over to students, both in and out of the classroom.

Virtual reality can be implemented in one of two ways- either using a traditional desktop and virtual reality software, or using a fully immersive virtual environment (one that requires the student to use a head mounted display- HMD) and data glove for physical interaction and engagement. And, for those truly dedicated to the enrichment of a classroom using technology, lessons can be brought to life using a differentiable form of VR called Augmented Reality (AR).

Augmented reality, an enhanced form of virtual reality, is a means of making learning, which is usually 2-Dimensional, 3-Dimensional. Described simply as the digital display of information on the things that surround us, AR blends technology with real life by allowing developers and users to create an overlay of digital information onto a material thing. By superimposing a digital image onto a physical surface, this form of technology can enrich the way students view subjects such as biology and physiology, and can allow for a more realistic understanding of subjects through visual representation.

So what is so great about virtual reality, and what can it bring to a distance learning environment that traditional learning software cannot? The following are 6 ways in which virtual reality could be indispensable in the online classroom:

  1. Expand the roles of the classroom– Whereas a traditional classroom is stationary and doesn’t allow for the hands-on exploration of many topics taught, a virtual environment allows students to physically engage in their learning. Using virtual reality software, the typical classroom could be converted from a lecture hall into a vehicle for travel, allowing students to walk through a historic city or building in history class, or grab and manipulating objects, graphs, or data for a math lesson. With virtual reality, a classroom is no longer simply the place where a teacher talks and attempts to show students how things look outside the walls of the school (or in this case, wherever students may be sitting at their computers), but a medium through which students can interact with and learn from the material of a lesson.
  2. Enhance methods of collaboration– Although there are numerous apps and other software that can be used to allow students to interact and collaborate on assignments, none of them live up to the high standards that virtual reality has set for social integration of learners in an online learning environment. VR technology supports the learning styles of all students, incorporating the auditory, visual, tactile learning preferences of different students into a combined learning environment.
  3. Add a social-emotional element to learning – Before the times when every adult and child walked around with a smartphone or tablet, and before the internet made video conferencing a possibility, in order to truly communicate, people were required to meet and speak face to face. Now, however, we live in a digital age in which it is almost inconceivable that a person should not have access constant access to social media or email. And, more often than not, meetings and interactions, both in schools and the workplace, are taking place via the internet in 2-Dimensional form, lacking the more concrete feel of a 3-Dimensional environment. However, the use of virtual reality could revive the methods of old, allowing users in a shared virtual environment to communicate and interact more thoroughly. This technology could allow people to make true human connections, regardless of where they are in the world. And, by being able to share virtual realities, students can include others in their experiences, allowing individuals to connect and relate to others in a way never done before. It can change how people perceive one another, working as the ultimate tool for emotional connectivity across the globe.
  4. Inspire creativity– The greatest teachers are always looking for new ways to touch and inspire their students. Most are hesitant to tap into the endless world of technology, because the countless gadgets can be overwhelming or distracting. But, when used correctly, Virtual Reality can be an avenue for inspiration, pushing students to explore the limits of their imaginations and see how far their creativity can take them.
  5. Add relatable rewards and incentives for students– Because of the myriad of apps that allow players to work towards incentives and prizes, the younger generation has adapted a unique attitude towards virtual reality and technological interaction. So, instead of simply having students explore concepts and places using VR, add an element of reward to the interactive teaching method. By building teams or achieving specific goals or tasks, students could earn collective bonuses based on academic goals achieved, pushing them to achieve more and reach higher in their learning.
  6. Virtual Reality can make possible the realistically impossible– This last one speaks for itself. Although technology as a whole has changed the way both students and teachers view education and the classroom, there is no other means by which learners could truly become a part of their lessons and interact with the world on such a physical and realistic level. And, as 20th Century science fiction writer Douglas Adams stated in an interview with The Guardian, “What the computer in virtual reality enables us to do is to recalibrate ourselves so that we can start seeing those pieces of information that are invisible to us but have become important for us to understand.”

For more information about Virtual Reality and its potential in the online classroom, take a look at some of these great links:

 

Sources:

Virtual Reality in the Classroom Infographic

Immerse Yourself in Virtual and Augmented Reality Infographic

Virtual Reality in the Classroom, by The Virtual Reality Society

5 Ways Virtual Reality will Change Education, by Kate Abrosimova

5 Tools to Leverage Augmented Reality, by Laura Devaney

The Augmented Future of eLearning: Augmented Reality in eLearning, by Nicholas Filler

Great Voices of Science Fiction, The Guardian Newspaper

10 Apps Essential for Students

The following is a guest post written by Kevin McNamara, private tutor and blogger. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

We all love it when we can find ways to make studying easier, don’t we? It’s a good thing that students now have access to technological tools that are designed to make school life simpler and less stressful. The number of apps available nowadays is truly overwhelming. Below you’ll find 10 must-have apps aimed to help students conveniently store study materials, manage time, and control their finances.

 

1) Scribd

Students often have to self-teach outside of the classroom. Scribd, one of the largest online libraries in the world, makes this much easier to do. With millions of scientific books and articles shared by users from all over the world, students can conveniently search for necessary materials using keywords, author names, and titles. Users can create their own library of books for later access, and even share them with others. Furthermore, Scribd will use your previous searches and reads to suggest additional reading titles.

2) DropBox

Hundreds of course papers and lecture notes are forfeited on a daily basis because of lost flash drives or damaged PCs. Fortunately, DropBox can help with that. Why clog devices with homework when all that and more can be saved easily and conveniently on the cloud? Users can use DropBox to upload documents, presentations, photos, and other files that can then be easily accessed from any computer or device. DropBox also allows users to share files with other students or professors for easy collaboration. Overall, students using DropBox can be confident that all of their data is safe.

3) Dictionary.com

Whether you are studying foreign languages or just need to understand the meaning of certain words better, this resource will help you find the definition for any word in the English, or other, language. Instead of carrying enormous paperback dictionaries in your bag, you will find it extremely useful to have your dictionary.com app always on hand. In addition to word definitions, the app also offers a list of synonyms for each word, a helpful tool when writing long papers or assignments.

4) Evernote

With so many things to do and remember throughout the day, many students’ organizational skills leave much to be desired.  Evernote is one of the most widely-used note-taking apps. With its help, it is possible to take notes, set reminders, create to-do lists, add files, and enable notifications – everything that students need to keep up with school. Its minimalistic interface makes it perfect for use on your smartphone. It even has a camera feature that enables users to capture documents and schedules that can be attached to notes.

5) EasyBib

For a majority of students, the most difficult part of research paper writing is not finding information and putting pen to paper, but preparing the list of citations in the appropriate format and style. EasyBib makes things easier, allowing users to simply input the source title and then providing citation options to choose from. There are over 7,000 citation styles available, including MLA and APA, which are considered to be the most popular. The app also enables users to scan a book’s barcode and get a citation for it. With its help, one of the most annoying parts of writing is done easily.

6) SelfControl

It is not uncommon for students to get easily distracted while studying. They constantly want to share, tweet, post something on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or simply see what is going on via social media. To reduce distractions, the SelfControl app allows users to choose to block certain websites for a determined period of time, until an exam period is over or until finished with homework assignments. This app is a great help to those who are always online.

7) Chegg

With Chegg app, students no longer need to spend a fortune on books for each new semester. The app allows users to search for textbooks, and then rent or buy them at a reduced price. When the semester or year ends, students can simply return the books or resell them via Chegg. This eliminates the need to unnecessarily store piles of books at home, and simultaneously helps other students find the books they need.

8) Mint.com

Saving money is something all students struggle with. There are so many things to take care of now that they are away from home. Mint.com’s money-managing app can help students manage their budgets more effectively and show where their money has gone. Better control over finances tends to make students more responsible when it comes to money spending. Hopefully, reasonable budgeting will work for you, too.

9) Indeed Job Search

There always comes a time when students and graduates are willing to make some extra money by working a few hours a day throughout the semester, or full time after college. The Indeed Job Search app enables users to create resumes, look for, and apply for suitable jobs directly from a mobile device. Users can also save job posts and vacancies and subscribe to job updates that will be delivered directly to their email inboxes. The app has a variety of options for students and graduates.

 10) myHomework

I don’t know about you, but I used to have a hard time keeping track of my schedule and when my papers were due. myHomework allows users to keep track of all homework assignments, prioritize tasks, create labels and get notifications for deadlines and due dates. The app also enables users to add the names of professors to each class on their schedules, which gives students a leg up over others who don’t bother remembering teachers’ names.

 

kevin-mcnamara-headshotAuthor’s Bio:  Kevin McNamara is a private tutor, content writer, and blogger. He likes sharing his thoughts and experiences with people through words. Check out Kevin on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

 

YouTube in the Classroom- Bridging the Gap between Summer and School

With the school year now underway and classes beginning to take on a daily pattern, teachers are struggling to bridge the gap between the activities in which children participated over the summer and classroom lessons.  How can that be done without having students running around, swimming, or playing sports?  One great way of grabbing students’ attention away from summer and acclimating them to the new school year is by integrating the technology in which they are immersed into the class curriculum.  Since students are no longer at home and able to watch television on whim, teachers could use visual aids to their advantage and start integrating videos into the classroom.

In a May 2016 article titled “Harnessing the Power of YouTube in the Classroom”, author and speaker Monica Burns discusses how YouTube can be used for “so much more than music videos and clips of animals doing tricks”. She explains that the key to effectively using YouTube in the classroom is:

  • Finding the “Right” Videos
  • Accessing Content
  • Exploring Virtual Reality
  • Sharing Student Work

For details and more information on how instructors can use YouTube to their benefit inside and outside of the classroom, see Burns’ article on edutopia.org.

 

Source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/harnessing-power-youtube-in-classroom-monica-burns, by Monica Burns