Google and the Future of Learning

Google and the Future of Learning

What has becoming somewhat of a tradition….ok…it’s really just my geek side coming out (yes this would imply I have another side….not sure what that is though), I sat down on Thursday last week to watch the Google I/O conference. For years now I have watched the Google I/O conference as well as the Apple’s WWDC (coming June 8th) for no other reason (or so I tell myself) than to fill in teachers at my school what was announced and how it might impact them. When living and working in China and Thailand this meant staying up until 2am or so to watch it live and write an email that would be in every teachers inbox by the next morning. Now living in Seattle it means a cup of coffee, four devices and watching it on my TV. It also means I no longer work in a school or have teachers to send this to…so you get my thoughts this year. Basically a brain dump of things I’m thinking after watching Google layout the next year and beyond of the future of technology. Education was at the front of this year’s talk. I say that every year of course because I hear and see things through an educational lens. For example, Google’s new Photos app (Android, iOS) had nothing to do with education…or they just made it even easier for students to take pictures, create movies, stories and share those photos with their classmates and teacher. A common photo app on both Android and iOS devices with unlimited upload and storage space for all the photos and video you want to take. Yes…this can and will impact some classrooms. “Please take out your phones and record via videos and photos your experiment today please. One person in your group needs to be the recorder for the experiment and I expect to see written notes along with video and image evidence of what happened.” Google Expeditions One of the biggest educational announcements was the release of Google Expedition. A virtual reality toolkit for educators being released, I’m going to guess, in time for next school year. Using Google Cardboard and any Smartphone (again both Android and iOS) you turn every classroom into a 3D immersive experience. This is very early stages but if you think 2 or 3 years down the road what this means for classrooms it could be...

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MOOCs starting to scare Universities and Professors

MOOCs starting to scare Universities and Professors

Gigaom had a great article this week on some of the push back that MOOCs and Coursera in particular are seeing from university professors. A couple quotes: Princeton professor Mitchell Duneier told The Chronicle of Higher Education Tuesday that he will no longer teach his class out of concerns that it could undermine public higher education. In April, Amherst rejected a partnership with edX citing concerns that MOOCs could take tuition funding from middle- and lower-tier schools and lead to a degraded model of teaching. You can read the article yourself and I also encourage the comments. What I am hearing is that things are getting scary here in this MOOC world. That both professors and universities are starting to either feel the effects or see the writing on the wall that things are going to change. The problem is….I don’t know if they can really control it or stop it. When anyone anywhere can learn anything and all they need is an internet connection and a device to access it….things...

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The March To Online Learning Continues

The March To Online Learning Continues

Just a quick post to point to two pieces of information that shows the slow march we’re seeing to online learning and how it is going to effect high schools in the near future. The disruption is near for sure. A small study done by Millenial Branding with college students shows that many believe they can get as good if not better education online. Here are some figures from the survey. 50 percent of students said they don’t need a traditional classroom to learn, but 78 percent do think that it’s easier to learn in a traditional classroom than online. (associationsnow.com) Not sure what to make of this. Is it a good thing or bad thing that 78% of students think it’s “easier” to learn in a traditional classroom? I have talked to people who have taken online courses and most do say they are more work as you can’t “hide” in an traditional class but not in an online course. I would have rather them say it was more educational or it was more “fun” to learn in a traditional classroom. Not sure what the questions were on the survey…but not sure I like “easier”. 43 percent say that online education will provide them with courses of the same or higher quality than traditional colleges. (associationsnow.com) So not all of them believe online is the way to go….but they do believe it is the way education is headed. There are some other good stats to look at in the survey. As this survey comes out asking millenials in college about online education, News. Corp’s Amplify launched a High School MOOC course. The first course is an AP Computer Science course and is aimed at preparing students to take the College Board exam. The online program, taught by an experienced high school teacher, is free to students. And an added option, called MOOC Local, which provides schools with students in the CS MOOC additional resources, will cost $200 per student but is free to schools for the first year. (gigaom.com) So if your school doesn’t offer AP Computer Science and you have students that want to take it, now they have a choice. The MOOC Local option looks like the future to me. Where a school has a “coach” who helps students when they need it, who can be that connection and even connect students within a school. Think how this could...

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You mean the teacher still matters?

Four great articles have come to light lately that point to research being done and what many of us in the Ed Tech community have been saying for a long time might just be on the horizon. That is that this technology stuff can improve education. So let’s start at Mashable one of my favorite Web 2.0 blogs to read. Back in August they posted a fantastic article titled What is the Future of Teaching? Until recently, online learning has mainly been of the expository sort, essentially a traditional lecture format adapted for the web. But newer, social and multimedia technologies are allowing online tools to evolve to offer more active and interactive lessons. No longer is online learning just reading a module and answering questions — it can now include synchronous or asynchronous discussions and peer-to-peer learning exercises. As a result, online learning is becoming a more useful tool as both a replacement for and enhancement to traditional face-to-face learning. Ah…..yes….we’re starting to get the hang of this online learning stuff. We’re starting to understand that you can’t take the old model and apply it to a new medium….you need a whole new model of learning. In the Mashable article they point to research done by the US Department of Education (PDF) and link to this New York Times Post which talks about the findings of the study. A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” and Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference. Yep…we might just be getting the hang of this online teaching thing. But wait! There’s even more news about learning with technology that broke last week in a BBC article titled “Phone texting ‘helps pupils to spell’ A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, “text speak” is associated with strong...

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