Using Social Media to Support Online Teaching

Even if you haven’t been a social media maven in the past, the recent shift to online learning is pushing all of us to use social media to its fullest.  Social media can be a great resource to turn to to gather information and inspiration about online education. Here are some tips to help you use social media to support your online teaching!

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with educators and see how others have made the shift to online learning. Meeting other instructors who are enthusiastic about your subject matter can help you transition more seamlessly to online learning and see your course topic in a whole new light!  Some of these groups have covered topics as diverse as teaching studio art online, teaching theater online, and more. No matter your subject matter, you can find other educators sharing ideas on creatively switching their classes to brand new formats.

Are you tweeting yet?! If so, Twitter can be another great place to gather ideas from other educators and connect with instructors just as passionate about online learning as you are. Searching for popular online education hashtags such as #EdTech and #OnlineLearning is a useful way to find new educational technology suggestions and online learning ideas.

Lastly, you can connect to a vast repository of resources through the POD Network’s Google Group – a forum that instructional designers and online instructors use to discuss and share resources on a large variety of online learning topics. The POD Network is a great place to ask questions and collaborate with instructors who are curious about the same topics that you are!

Online Learning isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity! An opportunity to get innovative about your class, engage your students in new and creative ways, and forge connections with like-minded instructors across the world. Online learning reminds us that one of the most powerful aspects of online education, and the internet as a whole, is its ability to connect us – and your class can be a force in accomplishing this!

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.

10 Advantages of Online Classes

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

According to the OEDb (open education database), there are 10 advantages to taking online classes. As an instructional designer I could probably argue that there are more, but let’s start with 10 for now. Here is a list of the 10 advantages to taking an online class.

1.Variety of programs and courses:

Almost every college offers a variety of online courses for varying degrees. From career certificate programs, to doctoral programs, and everything in between. Higher education today offers more options to students than ever before.

2.Lower total costs:

In some cases, online programs can prove to be a more affordable option. Although tuition expenses may not always be lower, the other expenses associated with higher education might be. For instance, there are no commuting costs, and very often instructors might offer online text or learning materials so that students do not have to purchase textbooks.

3.More comfortable learning environment:

Have you ever seen images of students in an online class while in their pajamas? Well that’s often a highlight of learning online. As, someone who has taken online classes, I much prefer to take a 3-hour course from the comfort of my own couch rather than a hard, uncomfortable chair in a classroom. It’s also more comfortable when I can take a needed bathroom break, get up to stretch my legs, or even grab something to eat, whereas in a classroom environment, that may not be possible. The best part about it is that after a long day, and a long class, there’s not much of a commute from the couch to the bed.

4.Convenience and flexibility:

Most higher education students are juggling a work/life balance in addition to their academic responsibilities. The appeal of online learning for some is the fact that they have the flexibility to learn on their own time. For many online learners, earning a degree would not be possible if they did not have the option of online education. Most online learners appreciate the fact that they can log on after they put the kids to bed, or on weekends, or on the commute home. For many, flexibility is key.

5.More interaction and greater ability to concentrate:

While many might argue that online learning does not provide enough opportunity for student interaction, online learning actually invites in a variety of collaborative social opportunities. From my own personal experience, I’ve had more meaningful interaction through my online learning experience than I ever did in face to face classroom settings. I knew all of my classmates by name, we talked on several occasions, and provided support to one another when it was needed. Online learning provides a community atmosphere that adds a key social element into the learning experience.

6.Career advancement:

Online courses are accessible to anyone, especially those who are looking to switch careers, get a degree to advance their career, or to increase salary. Students can take courses while working, in-between jobs, and even while raising their families. Earning a degree while juggling other responsibilities can show prospective employers ambitiousness and the desire for continued professional development.

7.Continue in your profession

The advantage of taking online classes while you are working is that you do not have to choose between leaving your job and taking classes. You can continue to work your normal hours while simultaneously furthering your education. Many companies also offer education incentives, and some companies will even pay tuition costs.

8.Avoid commuting

Whether you live in a big city or a rural suburb, commuting can not only be frustrating, but costly. Many online students report saving money on gas, tolls, or public transportation when taking classes online. They also appreciate the time it saves them. As someone who has had to commute to class, it often took two hours out of my day in commuting as well as up to $30 per week in commuting costs.

9.Improve your technical skills

Even a basic online course requires the development of new computer skills. Taking online classes exposes the student to learning how to use different LMSs (learning management systems) to incorporate audio/video into assignments, sharing documents, and even to take some online training workshops.

10.The ability to attend class no matter the circumstances

This by far was one of the biggest appeals to online learning for me. If I wasn’t feeling well, I wasn’t forced to miss class and fall behind on assignments. I was still able to attend class from my bed and to stay on top of my work. In addition, this can be helpful for parents with sick children. If they are forced to stay home and take care of their sick children, they can still log on to class, and do not have to deal with the added stress of falling behind on their coursework.

If I were going to add an eleventh advantage, I would add one on behalf of the instructors teaching these online courses. While every single one of these advantages does also apply to the instructor, the most important advantage for instructors, in my opinion, is that teaching online classes forces the instructor to get creative with their instruction. An online course is most successful when instructors think outside the box when creating online assignments. This can be incredibly rewarding and fun for an instructor as well as the student. Both parties need to have the right attitude when going into online learning. In my experience, my passion for learning and my excitement for expanding my technology skills fueled my success in online education. As an instructor, or a student, your passion for education must be greater than your fears of technology. Whether you are a novice computer user or advanced, online learning is universal, and can be extremely advantageous to those who are willing to learn.

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

Cybersecurity for the Stay-at-Home Semester (Infographic)

With the shift of learning to online platforms, cybersecurity remains a crucial objective to keep in mind. By following the below tips, you can ensure that you and your students’ learning takes place in a secure, confidential, and positive environment! The #stayathome semester is here, and we’re excited to help you make the most of it!

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.

Introduction to Online Learning Terminology

Now is an exciting time for both instructors and students to learn more about online education and distance learning! As with any field, online learning comes with its own set of terms. This handy guide covers some frequently used online learning terminology, giving you a brief summary of some of the most common tools and trends that you may encounter as an instructor or student!

Asynchronous Learning: Asynchronous learning refers to online education that does not take place at a specific time. In an asynchronous online course, the learning is self-paced, and students can complete it at times that are convenient for them.

Discussion Boards: A popular online learning tool in which an instructor poses a question that students must respond to. Discussion boards are a great opportunity to continue peer-to-peer interaction in a virtual setting. Incorporating multimedia into discussion boards, for example, using VoiceThread for audio submissions or Flipgrid for video responses, is a great and easy way to keep students engaged in online discussions.

Gamification: The principle of incorporating game theory into online learning. Gamification aims to make learning fun and can be accomplished through the usage of educational technology tools. Some fun tools to use to gamify your learning activities include Quizlet, easily created flashcards that can be played in game mode, and Socrative, a tool that can incorporate real-time polling and quizzes into your classes.

Instructional Design: The process of systematically designing and implementing instructional material, relying on a blend of cognitive psychology and educational principles. Instructional design can be an essential component of online education, and instructional designers are trained professionals who are equipped to assist instructors in designing optimal online learning experiences for their students.

Synchronous Learning: Synchronous learning refers to online education that takes place at specific times, for example, a class that meets over Zoom at a dedicated time each week

LMS: An acronym for “Learning Management System.” An LMS refers to the software through which an online class can be delivered. Several commonly used LMSs are Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and Google Classroom.

MOOC: An acronym for “massive open online course.” MOOCs are online courses that can have an unlimited amount of participation and open access across the internet. MOOCs highlight one of the most exciting qualities of online education – the ability to equalize access to education worldwide!

Zoom: Zoom is a popular video-conferencing technology that has been utilized to transfer many classes to distance education. Zoom can be an important way to maintain a classroom environment virtually and allow for continued instructor and peer interaction.

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.

Utilizing Technology to Stay Happy and Healthy: A Personal Account

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The Pandemic of 2020 is what they will call it. When we are older, we will tell our children and grandchildren the stories of long grocery lines, the great toilet paper shortage, the quarantine, and how we came together as a country, and even on a global scale to help each other get through a very difficult time. I hope that after this is all over, we have realized what is truly important to us, and can find some positivity in all the negative that has transpired.

It’s been over a month of quarantine for me as I sit to write this. Everyone else has been in their homes for about 2 weeks, but it’s been a lot longer for me as I’ve been struggling with illnesses since February. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, which is something I never had the time to do before. I was so busy with work, school, etc., that I simply could not even muster the energy at the end of the day to reflect on my life. Something I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to. I often felt overwhelmed, lost, and anxious. Again, something I’m sure many of you can relate to.

This time home has left me with much time for reflection and even prayer. What I’ve come to realize is that this is a time for healing for us all. Maybe this is exactly what we needed. Those of us who needed to spend more time with their families, or mend broken relationships, or even to spend more time with ourselves to cultivate self-growth.

Personally, this has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve felt the anxiety of the unknown, been sicker than I have in a very long time, and I’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve been forced to address my anxieties and deal with them in a healthy way. I’ve been forced to see my strength and to trust my body. I’ve been forced to put myself and my health first. I’ve also found something, or many things, to be grateful for every single day. Something that I had struggled with at times in the past. I’ve used this opportunity to speak with people in my life that I was too busy to talk to in the past, and to find ways to keep in touch through video chat and Facetime. I’ve learned patience, which is something I never thought I would ever be able to conquer.

Technology has become something I’m very grateful for during this quarantine. Technology has gotten a bad rap over the years, particularly in the realm of Education, but it is technology that is allowing many people to continue to work, and keeping people connected in this time of isolation. It’s allowing students like me to not only keep their jobs, but continue to attend classes so that I can earn my Graduate degree. It’s keeping people sane and connected in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.

I’m sure that you are all familiar with Zoom by now and are using it to attend your classes online. If you’re like me, the thought of putting on makeup to look presentable at this point is just way too much effort. Well there’s a zoom hack that can help with that. It’s called “Touch up my Appearance” in your Zoom settings. Click on the link below to read more about how to use Zoom. There is also Google Chat that you can use to chat with family and friends, and if you’re tired of watching TV alone you can Netflix and chill with a friend through NetflixParty. It’s only available through Chrome so you will need that extension.

Another amazing thing happening with regards to technology right now is that many companies are offering free access to their sites and tools during the pandemic. Right now, you can go online and take a free exercise class, learn ballet, meditate, or attend a museum right from the comfort of your own home. The other night I joined a live webcam and watched the northern lights light up the night sky over Canada. Today, I sent my friend a link to a virtual Harry Potter escape room for her son. There are amazing resources that are available to students, parents, and educators right now, and you should be taking advantage of them. (Click below for a list of links to some of these resources.)

So, to conclude, while yes this is a scary time for everyone, you can still find the positive in the negative. Be that person. Work on yourself, meditate, pray, exercise, call that person you’ve been wanting to talk to and have coffee over video chat. Play that game with your kids and focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have right now. I’m sure you will find that you have more than you thought. At the very least what we need to have is hope. Hope that we will all get through this a little wiser, a little kinder, a little closer, and a little better than we were before.

Resources for Video Chat:

https://www.zoom.us/

https://meet.google.com/

https://houseparty.com/

https://www.netflixparty.com/

Free Apps and other Resources :

https://www.duolingo.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2020/03/18/these-historic-sites-attractions-are-offering-virtual-tours-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

https://www.metopera.org/

Free Apps for Kids:

https://elearningindustry.com/10-top-educational-apps-for-kids

Free Exercise Videos:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/21/free-online-workouts-available-during-the-coronavirus-quarantine.html

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

7 Tips for Going Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the closure of schools around the world, online learning has become the viable modality of maintaining instructional continuity through enabling students to continue learning outside of the confines of the in-person classroom. The following tips offer starting points for transitioning your classroom online.

1. Maintain Clear Communication – Especially in times of uncertainty, it is important to maintain consistent contact with your students. Let them know how they can get in touch with you, how often they can expect to receive course updates, and where they can go to find course info. A sample email or announcement may look like this- Sample Announcement

2. Make Your Course Engaging  – Online learning presents a vastly different learning environment than a physical classroom, and this presents an opportunity for you to get creative with your instruction. Digital technologies such as Padlet (a visual discussion board tool), Flipgrid (a pre-recorded video response tool), and Quizlet (a flashcard system with live team game settings) all have free options that can easily be incorporated into your online course.

Padlet
Flipgrid

3. Use New Technologies to Stay on Schedule – Now is a the time to brush up on those technical skills. As an instructor you have the opportunity to expand your reach to students by mastering new digital learning tools. Use Zoom to present content and share related information. Upload your course materials to the institution’s learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard and Canvas, so that students can access them. Communicate with your students digitally through the use of  LMS features, such as Announcements or email. Use technology to stay in touch and on schedule during this critical time. Contact your local IT for support or assistance with gaining access and using these technologies.

4. Group Activities Promote a Sense of Community – Although your class may have shifted online, the social aspect of learning still remains vital to your student’s academic success. Use LMS and other technology tool features to encourage interaction among you and your students.

Examples include:

  • Discussion boards – be sure to be an active participant yourself, and encourage your students to post thoughtful and nuanced answers to other students responses.
  • Zoom- Zoom breakout rooms, which allow you to split your Zoom meeting into separate rooms, each with different participants.
  • The groups function in your LMS, which enables you to assign students to different groups to work on an assignment.
Image result for zoom break out rooms
Zoom Breakout Rooms

5. Be Flexible – Think objectively about the assignments you have planned for this semester, and decide which ones can most effectively be translated to online learning. If an assignment or assessment does not easily translate online, perhaps it should be replaced with an alternative. For example, an in-person test might be replaced with a semester long project or essay assignment. A live lecture might become a pre-recorded asynchronous lecture using a screencasting technology. Consider how learning can best be accomplished with the tools and resources available to you and your students.


6. Remain Positive and Supportive – You probably were not planning to teach online this semester, but that does not mean you won’t learn something new from this experience. Be open-minded and willingly to adapt to this new way of learning in a challenging time. Remain positive and supportive of your students and be sure to make time for you own self-care.

7. Ask for Support and Collaborate – Remember to ask for support when you need it. Your institution’s local IT, online education department is ready to support you during this time of need. Reach out to them, attend trainings, and be cognizant of your own wellness in making this transition to online. Also reach out and collaborate with your fellow faculty members, they are going through a similar situation and may be able to share insight about what they are doing to make this transition successful. 

Got any tips to share for faculty members transitioning classes online? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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.

Do Learning Management Systems Actually Improve K-12 Outcomes?

The following is a guest post by Ehsan Memari, a blogger for SkyPrep, a provider of leading online training software. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Today, organizations and academic institutes require robust and strategic learning management systems (LMS) that can automate manual processes of traditional tools. Effective learning management systems can empower departments and enable business growth, as well as further educational initiatives.

Over the years, LMS has become a vital tool to achieve enterprise learning objectives. It is no wonder the LMS market will be worth $22.4 billion by 2023. Learning management systems, for instance, can be used in several formats. You can use it as a formal, experimental, or social managerial compliance training program.

Moreover, the role of eLearning to generate revenue for enterprises continues to evolve. LMS personalizes feedback to promote a self-regulating learning process. In fact, LMS has been proven to increase the effectiveness of students’ and employees’ learning outcomes.

The Evolving Role of the Learning Management System

A revolutionary change in the LMS is the contextualization of the learning process for teachers and employers. The right LMS can enable increased interaction between instructors and learners. Consequently, a collaborative virtual learning experience improves outcomes for online learners.

Adoption of LMS by K-12 Schools

It is true – the skepticism towards LMS no longer exists. And why would it? The majority of institutions have successfully implemented the systems in higher education to improve student’s learning process. Similarly, LMS is now widely used by K-12 schools. It does, however, present an opportunity for researchers to learn the standardized testing process at such a scale.

What’s interesting is that the adoption of an LMS solution goes beyond higher standardized test scores. However, this effectiveness is interconnected with the cost and nature of the system itself. For example, an education system should have a proprietary system configuration, while an open-source solution is preferable for an organization.

Accurate Analytical Data

The success of an LMS solution is no longer determined or promoted because of favorable testimonials on a company’s website. Instead, analytical data presented in a study by Royce Kimmons shows that the open-mindedness of schools and organizations have led to result-oriented computer programs. As a result, LMS adoption has been found to have a strong link with school’s test scores.

Kimmons essentially wrote a computer program to determine if a K-12 school adopted a specific LMS. This program scanned every page of the school’s website for several keywords associated with the LMS. He involved many human researchers to test the accuracy of his program, who searched a limited number of school websites. 

Unlike the human researchers, the computer program was able to identify about twice as many systems. However, after additional investigation, the human researchers successfully confirmed about 97% of the info provided by Kimmon’s program.

Overall, Kimmon discovered that the adoption of a LMS had a slight, but statistically significant, positive effect on test scores.

Responsiveness of the Solution

It is imperative to understand that the positive effects vary from system to system. Nonetheless, the statistical data shouldn’t be the sole decision-making parameter for institutions to understand the constructive cause-and-effective relationship of LMSs.

Tracking and Reporting

Primarily, LMS has been deemed more efficient when it comes to tracking and reporting features. An integrated LMS solution can determine criteria and designated time to complete the task for improving the training efforts. You can apply the same LMS reporting rules when students or employees want to revisit specific topics to gain more information.

Change of Perception

Sure, people and official authorities may cling to preconceived beliefs. But the fact remains that modern online LMS solution increases your chances of improvement and achievement. Therefore, the implementation of new technology into a school or organization wouldn’t hurt the management or the regulated policies.

Ultimately, it comes down to schools’ willingness to move forward in one direction with an open-source LMS solution to garner better results. The outcome of the LMS can have a different impact because of the graduation rates and instructional methods.

What Lies in the Future?

As of now, xAPI has become a norm for the eLearning process among academic institutes. From data personalization to tracking progress, organizations have come to realize the true usefulness of learning management systems.

It is only fair that more development should be enforced to confirm more findings. Why? To create strong LMS features within the same technological infrastructure. As more institutions will be moving to an online management solution, it is important to find out exactly which strategic methods are most effective for the management.

Whether it’s the flow of information, data security, or maintenance of the network; learning management systems can undoubtedly deliver. Similarly, the cost-benefit ratio and scalability options have worked in favor of improving the outcome. Your choice of online training software, however, should be based on whether or not it covers your business’ needs in a limited time period.

The dilemma of choosing between an open-source or cloud-based LMS solution will also shrink. Though open-source is preferable by programmers and has a long history, the focus of attention should be the added features for your business.

Conclusion

Effective eLearning solutions are ideal for organizations that tirelessly operate under certain budget constraints. Besides, there’s an extensive amount of online material businesses can use to take care of the maintenance and functionality issues.

And using learning management systems for education means you get extensive community support on forums. Think of learning management systems as a stand-alone solution that can provide free online features and courses. It’s a tool that can modify and enhance user performance for good.

Author’s Bio: Ehsan Memari is a blogger for SkyPrep, a provider of leading online training software for organizations to train employees’ partners and customers. Ehsan is a regular contributor to blog posts related to knowledge sharing, L&D, and eLearning. Follow him on Twitter @ehsanmemari

Seven Reasons Why Online Courses Are the Future of Education

The following is a guest post by Richard Van Hooijdonk, a futurist and international keynote speaker. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

  1. Online learning offers convenience and flexibility
  2. High-quality student-tutor interactions
  3. Studying online is affordable for many people
  4. All age groups benefit from online learning
  5. More students can be enrolled
  6. There’s a vast amount of online learning resources
  7. Web-based learning will grow in popularity

High quality education can make all the difference in people’s lives. It helps individuals escape poverty, earn a promotion, or find better paid jobs. But getting a university degree or a training certificate often costs a lot of money, and strict class schedules clash with work shifts, preventing people from enrolling in educational programs. Fortunately, online courses are providing a viable alternative for millions of people. And as a part of the thriving e-learning industry that will grow to $325 billion by 2025, they’re no longer a fringe idea. Instead, online courses are becoming increasingly popular, and there are many reasons why they’re the future of education

Online learning offers convenience and flexibility

Flexibility is one of the key reasons behind the growing demand for web-based learning. According to survey results published by the university ranking website Best Colleges, 59% of students who enroll in online education programs have children and 50% of them are employed. They highly value the opportunity to study when they can, as lectures are typically archived for later reference, making compulsory campus attendance a thing of the past. Also, they can work faster or slower on course material, depending on their current needs and understanding of the subject matter.

High-quality student-tutor interactions

Another advantage of online education is improved communication between students and tutors. A study by California State University in San Bernardino found that although people who study online absorb knowledge equally well as those who go to class, they’re more active in discussions and enjoy a better interaction with instructors. Technologies such as video conferencing and VOIP calls make it easy to communicate with people across the world. Online students also benefit from more frequent assessments, with professors able to spot knowledge gaps faster and provide suggestions on how to move forward.

Studying online is affordable for many people

Students also find that studying online is often much cheaper than attending traditional universities. There are no commuting expenses nor visa fees for international students, and accommodation costs are avoided, too. Some universities also offer reduced tuition fees for web-based learning. As a result of these advantages, people have to take on less student loan debt and won’t spend many years after graduation paying it off. And online programs allow students to work full-time, so they can earn money and a degree at the same time.

All age groups benefit from online learning

And far from serving only university students and adults, online courses are well suited for all age groups. Sure, undergraduate and postgraduate online degree programs might be some of the most popular ones, but digital learning is beneficial even at the kindergarten and elementary school level. Children can benefit from online learning programs that are more efficient than home-schooling. This can be of great help for parents who are looking for ways to help their loved ones explore additional topics beyond regular school content.

More students can be enrolled

Apart from serving all age groups, online courses can also take on more students than traditional educational institutions. There are no physical constraints such as classroom size, although tutors might still want to limit the number of students if they plan on providing one-on-one instructions or grading open-ended questions. Otherwise, the fact that most lessons are automatically delivered and students learn using their computers means that there’s almost no upper enrolment limit. The software reduces teachers’ workload and they can spend more time devising better and more engaging content.

There’s a vast amount of online learning resources

And apart from the course materials provided by professors, students can also explore a huge amount of online educational resources such as e-books, video and audio files, studies, databases, and much more. Valuable content is easily available and students can always find up-to-date information. And multimedia content is more engaging and better suited for today’s students than printed books. Also, by looking for content online, students will improve their digital research skills that are crucial for today’s job market.

Web-based learning will grow in popularity

Whether it’s about earning a bachelor’s degree or upskilling at work, online courses help people achieve their educational and career goals. Web-based learning ensures that even people with full-time jobs or disabilities can attend a course. And this can make all the difference in one’s life, as education remains an effective way to get a better salary and escape poverty. Online courses are thus likely to evolve and gain popularity as the underlying technology and the quality of instructions keep improving.

Author’s Bio: Trendwatcher, futurist and international keynote speaker Richard van Hooijdonk takes you to an inspiring future that will dramatically change the way we live, work and do business. His inspiration sessions have been attended by over 420,000 people. Richard is a regular guest at radio and television programs. With his international research team, he investigates tech trends like robotics, drone technology, autonomous transport systems, Internet of Things, virtual reality, biotech, nanotech, neurotech, blockchain, 3D and 4D printing and of course augmented and virtual reality and their impact on various industries. Findings are published weekly in the form of compelling articles, e-books and white papers.

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.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning

The following is a guest post by Mary Colbert, a content creator specializing in education. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

When discussing gamification and game-based learning there is often some confusion as to how they differ. Many people use the terms interchangeably but they are not the same. However they are often linked together so it isn’t always easy to separate them.

What is Game-Based Learning?

Game-Based Learning or GBL is using a game as part of the learning process. Some examples of GBL could be using monopoly to teach the basics of money management or playing scrabble to help improve vocabulary skills. However, today when people talk about game-based learning they are usually referring to digital game-based learning. Game-based learning teaches through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals which is basically the way players become good at video games.

What is Gamification?

In education gamification is the introduction of game-like elements into the learning environment to help motivate students and make the process more engaging. This is accomplished by taking some of the elements that make games fun and that motivate people to keep playing and using those elements in a learning situation. Some examples of gamification include:

  • Points/Badges : The use of points and badges provides tangible evidence of accomplishment
  • Immediate Feedback: Fast response to actions that are taken rather than waiting for a paper to be graded.
  • Levels/Quests: Provide missions and goals to be accomplished
  • Leveling Up: Indication of achievement and opening up of new missions, badges and activities
  • Collaboration/Teamwork: Accomplish a goal working with others

Although gamification involves using elements from games it doesn’t necessarily include playing games.

Benefits of Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning and gamification have been around for a number of years at the elementary and high school level. More recently it has been making its way into higher education as it offers a number of benefits to students:

  • Increased engagement: One of the most touted benefits of gamification is that it increases student engagement. Studies have shown that adding game-like features in non-game context increases student engagement. Increasing engagement also leads to greater retention as students relate better to material through practice rather than just reading or listening to a lecture.
  • Instant feedback: Receiving feedback immediately through dashboards and leaderboards tends to motivate students. They can view how they perform relative to their peers, which will often motivate them to retry tests and activities to achieve a better ranking. It also provides motivation to move ahead to further lessons.
  • Collaboration/Social Connection: For some students it isn’t easy to create connections with others in their class. Gamifying classes helps promote social interaction and encourages students to work together. Team competition is an excellent way to promote student collaboration.
  • Increase enthusiasm: For some students just learning is enough to generate enthusiasm but for many that is not the case. Gamification helps to generate more enthusiasm in students through badges and other types of rewards. It makes the learning process more fun for them.

Disadvantages of Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Gamification isn’t the perfect solution to every learning situation and there are some disadvantages.

  • Shortened attention spans: In some students the fast pace and immediate feedback can shorten attention span. It can also lead to discouragement with other parts of the student’s education that don’t provide that pace and feedback.
  • All about the competition: Students can become enamored with the competitive aspects of gamification and GBL and it becomes more about winning than learning.
  • Some students won’t be motivated: There will be some students that simply aren’t motivated by the gamification of learning. They may have some misconceptions about the process that prevent them from responding well to GBL. Other students may dislike the competitive nature of some aspects of gamification.

The gamification of a class or course doesn’t ensure it will be successful. How gamification is introduced will determine the type of impact that it has.

Gamified Education Online

Gamified education courses have already been introduced with great success online. Gamification and game-based learning work especially well with online education. The following are some examples of popular eLearning sites that use gamification successfully:

  • Duolingo: Duolingo is a language learning website with over 300 million users. They teach 22 different languages and use gamification in every lesson to make learning a new language fun.
  • Khan Academy: Khan Academy is a well known educational website for match, science and other subjects that use gamification to encourage and motivate students. Each answer is immediately scored and points are given if correct. Badges are also awarded
  • TedEd: TedEd provides all types of videos that are both entertaining and educational. They also have a web app that allows users to make their own video lessons that are actionable.

There are all kinds of game-based learning tools and gamification platforms available to educators now. Without a doubt this seems to be the wave of the future in education.

 Author’s Bio: Mary Colbert is a huge fan of gaming in general. Not only is she fond of gaming as a form of entertainment, she is a firm believer in the educational benefits of playing games.

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 Things to Consider Before Taking an Online Course

The following is a guest post by Emma Megan, a content creator specializing in education. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Introduction:

Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. We’ve gone from learning through direct contact to acquiring knowledge from behind a laptop screen.

Online courses have revolutionized the convenience and affordability of education. Anyone who has limited finances and time can sign up for any online course that they’re interested in, but they should be sure to carefully consider the following things:

1. You will probably NEVER meet your professor

Online courses are designed to keep things simple and comfortable both for the students enrolled and the professors teaching the classes. Professors who teach online courses, record their lectures beforehand, and those lectures can be used to illustrate the same sequence for several years to come.

Just as a student takes online classes because of the lack of time and money, the professors have pretty much the same reasons to teach an online course. They don’t want additional pressure and stress from their side jobs; hence, you will hardly ever meet your professor.

If you are always seeking guidance and assurance, then you might not find it while taking online classes. Online courses are for people who are self-sufficient and independent, as well as for those who can comprehend instructions easily.

2. All online classes are not equal

Recently, online courses have experienced a growth spurt in their numbers. Now you can get a high school diploma online as well as a master’s degree without stepping a foot out of your house. All these courses offer something diverse, and they function differently from one another.

For instance, some online courses will require you to read and review chapters daily, while others will ask you to submit a written report every other day at 9 PM sharp. Not only the nature of work and assignments, but the duration and tuition fees differ as well. 

It is essential to weigh down all your options before deciding, to avoid complications in the future. You should also consider the possibility of transferring your online course from one university to another. Think of an alternative before even signing up for an online course as it can save you from plenty of trouble and stress in the future. 

3. You can interact with your fellow students

You might be under the impression that taking online courses mean that you won’t have to deal with a peer group, but online courses actually offer several ways to collaborate with fellow students. Most online courses offered by conventional colleges and universities have online chat rooms. These chatrooms and online communities provide several opportunities for people enrolled in the same online course to interact and help each other out. Discussion boards are another key means of interaction.

Even without an online community and chatroom, one can always try to contact their classmates directly. Almost all online courses show profiles of students enrolled in their curriculum to other students for this purpose. 

4. You need to be technologically advanced

Online courses are essential for our fast-paced world, which means they are in sync with technology. One should never sign up for an online course if they are not well-versed in technology or do not have adequate equipment.

A working laptop and a fast wi-fi network are essentials to have before signing up for any online course. The people managing your class won’t care if you are laptop broke down or your wi-fi didn’t work. They will want you to submit all your assignments and tasks at the assigned time, or else your grade will be affected. 

Believe it or not, accredited online courses have a way to weed out dishonest and students that are slacking. If you think that cheating in exams or delaying your assignments is a possibility, then you are in for a surprise. 

These courses have systems in place that enable them to maintain the integrity and credibility of their programs.

5. An online course is not for procrastinator

Online courses are not everyone’s cup of tea and are not the ideal model of education for procrastinators. One must have impeccable time management skills and restraint to complete these courses.

You might want to sign up for an online class because you want to be your boss, but that perk isn’t good enough if you can’t keep up with the obligations that come with it. There won’t be any professor and friend to remind you to finish your assignments or to prepare for a test before the deadline. You will be on your own and carelessness, and irresponsible behavior can cost you a lot.

Bottom Line:

Online courses have their pros and cons, and their efficiency and success vary from person to person. Thorough research and knowledge of the intended online course can help you reach a decision that will work best for you!

Author’s Bio: Emma Megan is a content creator who enjoys writing about education and technology.

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.