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.

Why You Should Use Videos in Your E-learning Courses

The following is a guest post by Victor Blasco, an audiovisual designer and video marketing expert. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

If you are looking for ways to improve your e-learning courses, then you’ve surely thought about using videos.

As we move onward towards a more interconnected world, video content is a key piece in figuring out the digital landscape. Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple, really. Videos are more engaging than plain text and more dynamic than still images.

People studying online are looking to get the most information in the shortest amount of time, and there’s no better tool to accomplish that than educational video content. However, ask any skilled video production company about it, and they’ll tell you that outside some specialized platforms, it is rarely being used to its fullest potential.

In this piece, we are going to talk a bit about five major reasons why you want to start introducing effective video pieces into your e-learning courses (and how to make the most out of them.)

Let’s get started!

Storytelling as An Education Device

Ever since the first cave paintings, humans have been drawn to stories. There’s just something about witnessing a character go through a situation that speaks to us on a deeper level. But when it comes to using video to overcome online learning challenges, not just any old tale will do!

There are rules and limitations to these pieces, and you need to learn to work within their framework to have them work. While not comprehensive, these tips should set you on the right path when creating videos for your e-learning courses.

1) Likable Character

Let’s start by stating that “likable” isn’t the same as ordinary. Your students need more than ordinary to focus long enough to get the message you are trying to convey across. No, when I say likable, I mean easy to get along with, to form a strong connection to them, regardless of how short the piece actually is.

Generating empathy for a piece’s character helps viewers put themselves in the character’s shoes and better understand the examples and ideas being shown. So, try to avoid generic templates for your video’s protagonists and start with the right foot by establishing them strongly in the first act.

2) An Interesting Plot Point

Here’s is where your story gets exciting! Once you’ve introduced your character, it’s time for the story (and message) to evolve. Now, you don’t have to be dramatic, but please be interesting!

All it takes is a compelling problem, a memento of crisis, or a simple dilemma whose implications affect your character. Since your audience will already feel related to your character, they cannot remain indifferent to this problem. They’ll have an easier time getting invested.

Do it right, and those interesting plot points will spur curiosity and boost engagement in your video.

3) Finish strong with the Takeaway

Remember all those children’s stories that ended with a clear-cut moral lesson? It was an effective formula for thousands of years for a good reason!

The ending of your piece should sum up what your character, and thus your audience, learned from the story. It’s the third act of your video, in which you explain the goal of your video and lay down your lesson.

More Information in Less Time

Videos condense and convey information more efficiently than other media, leading to faster learning. Just look at the explainer video formula, for instance. They are the best examples of short pieces that provide a simple answer to a complex problem. And they work perfectly whether you’re trying to explain a complex concept or going over the steps of a process.

Longer videos tend to lose the attention span of your audience sooner or later, which is why you want to keep your videos as short as possible — condensing your most important messages within the first few minutes.

And whenever you’re going way over the 4-minute mark, remember to end with a summary of the main points you want the audience to walk away with.

Are you dealing with a very long course? Don’t panic! You can always separate it in short-format videos. This way, you can also improve the planning of your course by setting short-term goals.

Oh, and on the topic of attention…

Video Increases Message Retention

Video has many advantages over any of the traditional types of content, but this is one of the most powerful.

Videos give you the creative freedom to use a whole range of visual aids like simple animations, sound queues, charts… it’s your call! Creative use of visual aids will have your piece feel more engaging and fresher.

That said, this is also where it gets tricky. Keep your content well-structured and never lose focus on the objectives of the course. Use as many resources as you want, but be careful not to overdo it! Aids should always help your audience in their learning without becoming a distraction!

Your best pal to make sure you hit the sweet spot? Editing. We can’t stress enough how essential editing is for making your video look professional. A dynamic and clean editing style will make your video cohesive and adds to the learning experience, not detract from it.

Empathy and Emotional Resonance

“Feelings” is not a topic we usually consider when it comes to teaching, but you should never underestimate the role emotions play in our learning. Making an emotional connection with your audience is key, especially if you want your message to stick with them long after the content is over.

After all, it’s most likely that you’ll remember the teachers that made you feel something, as opposed to those that merely droned on.

Your educational videos will be more effective at engaging your audience if you get emotions into the mix. You can use imagery that causes a strong sense of familiarity in your viewers. Or you can highlight how your lessons can have a direct impact on your viewers’ everyday life.

Either way, you must remember that your audience will always react to content that makes them feel something. People remember feelings stronger than facts – Combine both, and you’ll have a powerful mix in your hands.

Accessibility and Availability are Key

In this day and age, you can stream high-quality videos on any computer, tablet, or smartphone from almost anywhere. This means that while using video, your audience will have access to your lessons from practically everywhere and at all times. Can you think of a more convenient and flexible way of teaching?

Accessibility will motivate your students to incorporate your courses into their daily routine. People even use the term “m-learning” (or mobile learning) when talking about learning using personal electronic devices. Being able to learn through a mobile device seems like a fantastic and utopian idea… and it’s real!

This also sets a couple of technical requirements for your video. First of all, it might be a good idea to include subtitles, since you never know the audio quality of the device used by your audience. Also, optimizing the technical aspects of your piece (resolution, file size) is also a great idea, as it makes it easier for your audience to download or stream.

In Short

If you’re looking for a way to boost engagement in your e-learning courses, then video is the answer. Audiences are drawn to well-structured audiovisual experiences, with professional editing and an effective way of communicating.

We all know that a bad or boring lesson can bring our hopes down and make us abandon that passion for learning about something altogether.

Video can give you an excellent medium to prevent that from ever happening!

Author’s Bio: Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.

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.

3 Tech Tools to Increase Participation in Virtual Discussions

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of online learning is its potential for more effectively engaging a diverse student population. But even though online learning environments can flatten many of the social hierarchies that create challenges for some students in face-to-face classrooms, creating engaging virtual environments where students can connect to fellow classmates and participate in meaningful discussions remains a challenge for many faculty. Discussion boards are a key means of encouraging peer interaction in an online class, but too often, discussion boards are often set up in a standard question/response format, and fail to bring students into engaging dialogue. In this blog post, I want to introduce you to some easy-to-use tech tools have the potential to solve this problem, by providing exciting and innovative ways for virtual discussion to take place and increasing student engagement. Read below to learn more about three tech tools that can be especially interesting for students: Padlet, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig.

  1. Padlet: Padlet is an exciting collaborative tool great for group work, projects, and discussions that’s free for educators and students. You can start by creating a simple visual board, and then students can easily add to the board in a variety of ways including video, images, screen recordings, audio recordings, links, and text. Asking a general guiding question and then leaving the response open-ended for the students can be a great way to stimulate discussions and allow students to respond creatively and in a variety of formats. What’s more, Padlet is easy to embed into a LMS page – simply click on the share button, copy the embed code, and paste it into your LMS page by opening the HTML editor (just look for the button that’s labeled with “<>.”)
  • 2. Flipgrid: Flipgrid is a great tool that enables instructors to create video discussion boards. Educators can kick off discussions with a short video outlining the discussion question, and then students can easily respond and debate with each other by recording their own short videos. The focus on a video format introduces a more personal feeling into the virtual classroom by enabling students to see and hear each other, as opposed to an entirely text-based discussion. Like Padlet, Flipgrid is free, and easy to link out to or embed.
  • 3. Finally, Yellowdig: Yellowdig is a discussion board tool that can be integrated with Canvas, Blackboard, and other learning managment systems. Yellowdig includes social media features, such as the ability for learners and instructors to @mention each other in comments and posts, hyperlink articles, share videos, like posts, bookmark comments, and #hashtag content. Yellowdig also has a gamification feature, which can automatically track users’ points by monitoring how much they interact with the discussion. The points feature can encourage learners to engage with the discussion and interact beyond minimum requirements. By adding in these new features, Yellowdig is easy to use and engaging for both instructors and students, and can be a step up from the standard LMS discussion boards.

Online discussions are crucial to online learning, and the digital nature of these discussion means that instructors can test out innovative technologies that support student engagement within the context of a totally online space. Padlet, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig are three tech tools that can encourage engaging peer interaction and creative responses. However, the most important means of creating a welcoming and interesting environment for students will always be creative teaching and genuine care for students. By continuing to look for ways to foster human connection in digital spaces, online classes can be the incredible learning experience that they have the potential to be!

Author’s Bio: Chana Goldberg is currently the Presidential Fellow of Online Education at Touro College. She enjoys reading, exploring New York City, and researching education-related topics.

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

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.

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.

How E-learning has Changed Drastically in the Last Decade

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

Did you know that you don’t have to be a student at Caltech or MIT to benefit from what their professors are teaching? All you need is a computer or phone and a stable internet connection, and voila, you are interacting with faculty from any prestigious institution in the world on social media. Let’s take a look at how much e-learning has changed in the last decade!

1.  Evolution of social media e-learning.

A hashtag is enough to connect an entire learning community on Twitter. Through that connection, you can share lesson notes, assignments, views, and the whole course module. A closed group on Facebook or a private account on Instagram can help you achieve all your teaching and learning objectives.

These platforms also have features that enable you to communicate “live” and in real-time. So you could be lying on a beach in Ireland while giving a lecture to your learners in San Diego via Facebook.

2.  Cloud-based e-learning

With the current trends in cloud-based e-learning, you no longer have to spend sleepless nights wondering and worrying about your homework. With the rise in the e-learning trend, you can search for an online tutor to get assignment help and assistance with your homework.

The cloud e-learning system has evolved so much over the last decade that institutions no longer have to invest in expensive servers and software. For instance; admission, evaluation, surveys, customer care, and communication information can be stored on the cloud. That saves money, time, and space. With that said, the benefits of cloud-based e-learning are limitless.

3.  Artificial Intelligence.

A few years back, if you wanted to learn or teach in China, you would have to learn Chinese or hire a translator. Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed all that. You can write a statement in English on Google and have it instantly translated into more than 50 languages. Breaking down the language barriers between different cultures has further enabled online education to reach across the world!

Some institutions are already using bots for research, customer care, and grading exams. AI presents exciting future opportunities for educational institutions.

4.  Virtual reality and augmented reality

Experts argue that from 2006, e-learning moved to a new level through the introduction of virtual and augmented reality. Learners don’t have to imagine how a butterfly transforms from larva to butterfly anymore. With virtual reality, they can now see it!

With virtual and augmented reality, you can simulate any topic to enhance the learning experience. You no longer have to look for ways of explaining how covalent bonds are formed in chemistry. Augmented reality enables you to visually explain complex topics to your students.

Conclusion

It’s safe to conclude that e-learning is the future of education. It’s no secret that the present generation opts to spend most of their time online, and a natural extension of the internet’s capabilities is transforming that power for educational purposes. At some point, schools might have to find other ways of using their lecture halls as students will be learning through the web. What will they do with all those rooms?

Author’s Bio: Heman Thuranira is a competent SEO content writer who specializes in offering blog writing, ghostwriting, and copywriting services. He takes pride in providing SEO optimized, engaging, and high-quality digital marketing content to both B2B and B2C businesses. His content will increase your business, blog, or website social media attention and search engine ranking. For any SEO content writing service assistance; he is your go-to Guru.

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.

How AI can help Students in Online Education

The following is a guest post by Pete McCain, a technology startup enthusiast associated with App Velocity. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

There was a time when we all were highly skeptical about online education because we couldn’t fathom a computer screen replacing our classrooms and the education ideals that come with them. But now examining the impact of online education, we can clearly see how eagerly we’ve embraced the idea of e-learning. It has levelled up education in the developed parts of the world and democratized education where schools and teachers couldn’t reach.

We’ve come a long way as far as online education is concerned. However, there’s a still long road ahead with many developments to come. One of the major developments on the horizon is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most passionately debated subjects in the world of technology. For some, it’s the biggest and the most dangerous threat to our world. While for others, artificial intelligence is the beacon of hope that will bring positive fundamental changes to our daily lives. Hold your horses whichever side you’re on as we’re not going to delve into this debate (and you can understand why).

It’s predicted that almost no industry in the world will be left untouched by AI, and Education is no exception. The latest report by TechNavio forecasts the Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector to grow at a CAGR of 47.77% during the period 2018-2022.

This continuous rise of Artificial Intelligence in education is going to bring a bundle of good news for students and in particular, for the students taking their education online. Let’s explore 5 different ways AI is going to improve e-learning.

1. Custom-tailored Learning for Each Student

Artificial Intelligence is primarily driven by data. It collects information about the student from various sources to gain an extensive understanding. This data could include preferences, interests, strengths & weaknesses, past courses, etc. AI, depending upon the student, could put more emphasis on subjects that a student might be struggling at.

2. Feedback to Educators

No matter how good of an educator you are or how good the educational material is, there’s always room for improvement. However, it can be difficult to gain insight into what areas need improvement. Here comes AI. Through its algorithms, it will fetch data about topics that students have not understood properly and will give this feedback to the course designers and/or educators.

For example, if most of the students give a wrong answer to a certain question, then there’s a good possibility that they haven’t understood the topic clearly. AI will dig deep into the possible reasons behind it and will provide valuable feedback that will improve the quality of education.

3. AI Tutors: The Next Big Thing in Online Education?

One of the major arguments that go against e-learning is the lack of personal touch. No matter how much you love e-learning, this argument will always go against you. And you can’t deny that there’s a degree of truth to this as well.

This argument won’t hold water for much longer as AI is set to bridge this gap with AI tutors. Students will be able to turn to a robot (a computer program) to help them understand difficult parts of the course. This is surely great news for students as it’s no secret that AI tutor helps them learn better and faster.

This sort of technology is already in its pilot mode and your tutor could be on its way sooner than expected. Excited?

4. Smart Content

AI can produce the content of your textbook. Now, read the sentence again. Read it once again if you couldn’t absorb it. Yes, the robots are going to be much-much smarter than we expect them to be and they’re not only going to teach you but will design your learning material as well. And that’s not all as they will also produce virtual content such as video lectures to help you understand better. If you’re a visual learner like me, you couldn’t get more excited, could you?

One such example of such technology is Cram101, which has AI as its driving force and produces textbooks that are easier to understand and navigate. If you’ve had a hard time understanding a textbook (and I’m sure you have), smart content could be of immense help.

5. Adding Games to Your Education

Go back to your Kindergarten days and remember how your teacher used to teach you by making you play different games. Machine learning is going to do the same. Well, sort of. Many researchers and companies are exploring the possibility of constructing tactical games for students to speed up their understanding and make the process fun at the same time. There are plenty of apps available in the market which use a gamification approach i.e. Duolingo.

Gamification is crucial in education because our current methods of learning, namely reading and listening, are very limited in serving their purpose because of our human limitations. It’s been researched that learners recall only 10% of what they hear and only 20% of what they actively listen to. This number rises to 30% if you add visual presentations but not above that. However, if students are given the job to teach themselves through a game, they recall around a whopping 90%!

If I were a student, I’d be licking my lips (well, not literally) for such games. And you know what? Many are. Almost 80% of the students responded that they’ll welcome such learning, and so would you.

Last Word

We’ve witnessed massive changes in the way we eat, shop, communicate, and many other day-to-day aspects of our lives. And now, we’re on the verge of witnessing a remarkable fundamental change that will redefine our paradigms of learning. It’s no longer the question of ifs and buts, now only one question remains and that is ‘when.’

Author’s Bio: Pete McCain is a technology startup enthusiast, associated with AppVelocity – one of the best app development companies in Toronto. He has collaborated with more than 50 entrepreneurs – over the last decade – to maximize growth and contribute to technical excellence.

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 Education Trends that will Shape the 2019-2020 Academic Year

The following is a guest post by Linda Cartwright, an online college-level English and creative writing teacher. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The trends shaping the next academic year are nothing new – we’ve heard about some of them for years. Yet now they are becoming a reality, manifesting themselves in classrooms rather than in catchy headlines. What benefits and challenges will they bring into yours?

The Changing Role of a Teacher

A teacher is shifting from someone who knows things to someone who is a newbie, like the rest of the class. The difference is, she has extensive experience at being a newbie and that’s something she is here to share – to model handling the situation of uncertainty or failure, model problem-solving, life-long learning and inquisitive curiosity. Essentially, to equip students with skills they need to get to knowledge independently.

The teacher of the 21st century is in the classroom to nurture learners, not to feed data. That’s the crux of the student-centered approach – not one-on-one classes, or more time spent individually coaching every student. The role of the teacher in 2019 is guiding their class through activities and sharing in the wonder of discovery.

Of course, monitoring the personal progress of the students and individually helping those who experience difficulties is important. However, without shifting the perspective first, it’s not realistic, especially with schools that cannot afford smaller classes or more space for teacher’s plan time. Therefore, shifting the perspective is the key – scaling up (or rather down in this case) is the next step.

Artificial Intelligence Learning

If a teacher is there to inspire and facilitate, then AI is taking up the role of personalized tutoring, where skills must be trained. Digital learning environments and intelligent tutoring system offer amazing flexibility at no time costs, which makes an efficient support system to K12 teachers.

Language learning apps like Duolingo or writing tools like No Red Ink demonstrate how AI-powered systems provide individual revisions plan and interest-based learning. Other tools like that are available for various subjects. AI’s analyzing capacity enable real-time feedback and continual targeted practice. Content analysis is another apt ability of AI and a helpful tool in assessing the individual progress of the student. It allows teachers to understand students’ needs better and, being equipped with more information – to tailor better lesson plans.

AI is an ultimate teacher’s assistant that frees the teacher of the most time-consuming and monotonous tasks, such as tests and checking papers for plagiarism, leaving more place to utilize teacher’s human-specific skills like emotional intelligence and creativity.

AI application in education is still in its early stages, but its potential must not be overlooked. It is expected that the use of AI in the US classrooms will increase by 47.5% in the next three years.

Augmented Reality Training

Augmented reality is an illustrious example of an old saying – a picture is worth a thousand words. However, how is AR better than VR or just a 3D image on a screen?

AR expands our physical reality. AR tools are capable of projecting something abstract or hard to grasp from a flat diagram and making it real – be it a 3D model of the Solar system, a geometric shape complete with formulas and explanations, or a scheme of the human nervous system. However, in AR those projections are tied to physical objects – something solid that students can interact with, activating motor centers in their brains. This creates engaging, immersive experiences that are more likely to stay in their memory. Here are some videos that show how AR can be used in science and physical education.

On the other hand, AR can be used not only to bring flat images to life but also to substitute real-life activities tied to higher risk and potential danger – some lab experiments and demonstrations can only be conceivable in the school setting as AR simulations.

Cultivation of Empathy

Of course, managing emotions, self-regulation, resilience and determination may seem the most relevant aspects of emotional intelligence in education, but they are not the ones that take center stage in 2019. Empathy and compassion for others, communications skills, and relationships with classmates steal the limelight. Why?

Many teachers will agree that poor behavior in the classroom is a big problem. However, building a positive classroom culture is impossible without empathy. Empathy is necessary for building trust and friendship among students as well as for improving student-teacher relationships.

Moreover, by creating a safe and friendly environment in the classroom we facilitate group work and engagement when a child doesn’t have second thoughts about raising a hand to ask a question or make a suggestion. Also, schools that incorporate empathy into the learning process have higher achieving students.

There are various resources and lessons plans online that will help to incorporate empathy into your curriculum. However, ultimately, teaching empathy is leading your students by example. It’s up to you to notice and reject stereotypes, respect and value differences of your students, urge them to widen their circle of concern and, of course, manage your own difficult feelings.

Hybrid Homeschooling

Homeschoolers can attend self-directed learning centers for certain subjects that their parents don’t feel confident enough teaching. Instead of having gaps in their knowledge and getting paper help on a subject they are undertrained in, they can catch up and rectify the situation in a hybrid school.

This way students have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school setting, socialize with peers, and choose what and how they will learn.

Overall this system allows more flexibility with scheduling for both students and teachers. One of my closest friends used to teach English and Literature in K12 but had to step down for a while to care for her first child. Now she continues her work as an English and Literature teacher in a hybrid school. This way she has smaller classes, more motivated and engaged students, and more time to spend with her daughter. She also does private tutoring in-home so her schedule is quite flexible, which suits her lifestyle at the moment perfectly.

This trend will probably influence the number of parents who choose to homeschool. According to EdChoice’s 2017 Schooling in America survey, while only 3% of parents homeschool their children, 7% more would homeschool if they could. The hybrid option makes it possible.

Genius Hour

Students are choosing what they want to learn during a Genius Hour, which gives them some room for agency in the otherwise structured and prescribed curriculum. The self-directed and self-paced mode of learning promotes autonomy, inquiry, and creativity. There are only two requirements: genius hour must be about student’s passion and it must have some purpose – the essential question driving the project.

Helping students to discover their passions and find the purpose is the task for you as a teacher, of course. While some students will thrive unencumbered with limitations, others will need some structure and coaching provided by you.

Take time to learn more about them, observe. Something that comes easily to them or something they spend much time on isn’t necessarily something they are intrinsically motivated in. A colleague of mine who teaches Math once told me about a brilliant student who was way ahead of the curriculum and solved all math problems with ease and in unconventional ways. However, when she approached him and suggested he’d join a math hobby group, the child winced: “More Math?”

It turned out he didn’t like Math at all! His parents encouraged and trained him at home because they had plans for his future education and career. The boy was much more interested in nature, and the highlight of the day for him was caring for his pet turtle.

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is often confused with the individualized approach to teaching. It has always been necessary to take into account individual strengths and struggles of each student, so why is personalized learning a new trend at all? The answer is that personalized learning is much more holistic. While individualized approach made allowances for differences between students, it was still a standard-based education. That is, however flexible the learning models, the result had to be the same – a student competent in the approved content.

Meanwhile, in personalized learning, everything, including content, pacing, sequence, and technology must be adjusted to suit each student’s interests, curiosity, and learning purpose. The result of such education should be a student that is competent in the process of learning rather than in prescribed content. This makes perfect sense in our information-rich world, where everything is searchable but you must have a clear idea of what you are looking for and why you need it.

Personalized learning sounds great, but isn’t it beyond the reach of a single teacher who has a whole class of unique students on her hands? That’s where all the AI tools, Genius Hours and hybrid homeschooling come to the rescue, broadening the possibilities for us all.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is more than iPads in the classroom and animated apps to keep tech-savvy students stimulated and interested. It is a mode of learning that is the only answer if we want to keep all the benefits of face-to-face learning with the flexibility of personalized learning.

Blended learning allows for aligning many contradicting schedules, matching varying paces of different students and a variety of content types. It also implies individual preparation for in-class activity and student collaboration outside the classroom. With various online spaces, collaboration platforms, communities, and chat rooms it’s a second (or even first!) nature for today’s school-age children.

Still, it is crucial that the teacher provides instructions and feedback on navigating through these activities. The blended learning approach allows enhances personalized learning, but it benefits from structure, encouragement, and guidance that only a face-to-face communication with a teacher or mentor can provide.

Gamification of Education

Gamification has been a huge buzzword for years now, but the possibilities of this approach are often dismissed as shallow because they are largely misunderstood. Sprinkling games here and there to boost engagement or reward students for being patient is not what gamification is about.

Gamification requires a fundamental change in our approach to learning. It’s changing education at its core – designing it anew according to game design principles. We must remember that learning is inherently fun – human brains are wired to respond positively to discovery, pattern-recognition, risk, role play. Learning becomes boring when it stops being play, fun, and discovery-driven and becomes something that is done to students.

Humans play games not only when they are young but during their entire lives. The fundamental similarities of learning and games are exploration, pattern-recognition, discovery, and sense of progress. Gamified educations is nothing but learning that reclaimed all those things. It can happen without the use of digital tools entirely. Competitiveness, cooperation, risk-taking, trade-off choices, immediate feedback, the progress that is a reward in itself, and joy in the process of learning are the highlight of properly gamified learning. Students find satisfaction in leveling-up their knowledge instead of “earning” a grade. They learn because it is a fun thing to do – not to arrive at the point where they know this and that. Just like we play to have fun – not to finish the game as quickly as possible or collect an impressive score.

Coding in Humanities

Applied linguistics was dabbing into coding since the first computers were invented. After all, code is just another language and you can even see a loose correlation between the syntax structure of a sentence and a line of code. In fact, what makes a linguistics specialist different from any other person is the fact that a linguist sees a natural language as a code and not simply something we all use and that happens naturally.

More companies began to see the need in well-rounded specialists – someone who not only codes but understands how humans interact with technology, what problems it should solve and what real-world concerns should be considered. Moreover, the key competencies that make one good at coding are critical thinking and creative problem-solving – something humanity graduates are famous for. The stereotype that you need a Computer Science degree and a life-long love for Math to code is wearing off.

What does that mean for a teacher? The ability to code is a new literacy, therefore you will do better if you acquire some basic coding skills. Even an amateurish code will make it possible to handle your research data much faster. You will be able to tailor apps for your classes or elicit data from student questionnaires and see correlations that would otherwise go unnoticed, thus gaining valuable insights into ways to improve your work as a teacher. Moreover, you will be able to integrate coding into your curriculum and show your students how coding can be used even if they chose literature as their primary field of interest.

Here you can find a selection of free coding games, which is very apt given the blended learning and gamification trends going on. Enjoy them yourself or share with your class – don’t be afraid of being newbies together!

Author’s Bio: Linda Cartwright is a believer in life-long learning and an ambassador of technology in K12 and Higher Ed. She teaches college-level English and creative writing online and is working on her first book. Find her on 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.