Monday, December 21, 2009

Digital Learners - Pay Attention

This video is a couple years old, a little long, and frankly makes me sleepy, but it's well worth the watch. A lot of interesting points embedded throughout. My favorite - "it's not attention deficit, I'm just not paying attention." Encourage your colleagues to watch this before they leave for their holiday break, or maybe when they return in January.

Video: Digital Learners
‘Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as ‘Digital Learners’, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices? This presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching.’

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Skills Do Our Students Need?

Phil McKinney has some interesting thoughts on what skills kids/students need to be learning. He frames the discussion by comparing attitudes of parents in the U.S. versus those in China. Interestingly, Math and Computer Science skills - a key focus in the U.S. - is not high on the priorities for Chinese parents. I think this is probably due to the huge emphasis and investment the Chinese government has on Math, Science and Technology education. As a parent, I don't need to stress these skills at home, if the school system is already delivering them. Instead I can focus on filling in the gaps - the missing skills that my kids need. The question is, "What are these skills?"

The community within which I work - technology education - has become increasingly interested in stressing problem solving skills and more recently, entrepreneurial skills. While problem solving has always been at the core of Engineering, Math, and Computer Science, educators are starting to move away from the traditional approach of "showing" students how to solve problems, and instead focusing on creating an environment where students explore and discover how to become better problem solvers. It's not as easy as it sounds, because it requires educators to give up some control in the classroom, step out of their comfort zones, and adopt an approach to teaching and learning that is to most, unfamiliar. One area where I think we're still lacking is in creative problem solving. We still don't do enough in this country to encourage creativity. I'm not sure creativity is something we can teach, but it's definitely something we need to nurture in our kids.

The importance of entrepreneurial skills - traditionally in the domain of Business and Business Administration - are only now beginning to gain attention. As the economy has struggled and I've considered how to make my students more competitive, I come to believe that every student should be exposed to entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurial skills should be taught across the curriculum, so that students in every discipline - art, history, political science, engineering, and computer science - are all taught important entrepreneurial skills. These skills are valuable not only to the sole proprietor or students hoping to begin a startup business, but also students working in virtually any environment. Maybe we call it entrepreneurial literacy and begin to make it a college-wide requirement. There are already a handful of schools doing this - some only in specific programs, but this needs to become a national trend.

Don't even get me started on the last of the skills McKinney addresses - cultural understanding.

US vs China Parents – What skills do children need to be innovative?
A recently published report based on the Newsweek-Intel Innovation Survey, shows that US and China parents don’t agree on what skills are critical for children to have when it comes to innovation.

So, what are these critical skills?

Creative Thinking/Problem Solving Skills: Children need to be taught how to think rather than how to memorize. Its not about finding the one right answer for a test but instead the ability to search out all of the possible answer to a question to find the optimal solution. Critical thinking and problem solving skills should not be a stand-alone subject but instead taught across all subjects. For example, thinking through the range of options a given historical figure faced and then determining what would have been the alternative outcomes. Did that person make the right decision?

Entrepreneurial Skills: Its not longer about having deep expertise in a given area but to also have the broad understanding of how a given idea is transformed into an innovation. Understanding the structure, steps and process of running an organization is a fundamental skill that everyone needs to have.

Cultural Understanding: The world is flat and getting flatter. The ability to understand and collaborate with a global ecosystem of employees, partners and customers are table stakes. Without them, your at distinct disadvantage that will become more severe.

What are parents to do? Find opportunities for your kids to gain the experience and skills needed to win the emerging economy. Get them involved in Junior Achievement so they understand business and how to be an entrepreneur. Get them on a FIRST team so they learn how to invent, create and collaborate. Put them in situations where they have to work with others from different cultures such as an international internship.

While we as a society need to change the educational system to ensure we are producing the best employees possible, its the parents that can have the most positive and immediate impact. If we don’t, what jobs will our children be equipped to have when the creative economy takes over?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Do Leadership and Vision Look Like?

Does you school have someone like Jacqueline Moloney? Someone who can see the future and is in a position of leadership to do something about it? Maybe we need to start hiring more people like Moloney!

International Award for Online Education Goes to UMass Lowell
The most prestigious international group of colleges and universities that offer online learning recently presented its top honor to UMass Lowell Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, a pioneer in the field.

Moloney was the only American and one of two educators to receive the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual award at the Sloan Consortium's annual international conference.

'The 2009 recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and real success in advancing online education,' said University of Illinois Prof. Burks Oakley, award committee chairman.

UMass Lowell has won all Sloan-C top awards, except one added this year, for excellence in programs and faculty development. In 2008, UMass Lowell and UMassOnline received the Most Outstanding Online Learning and Teaching Award. Sloan-C ' an offshoot of the Sloan Foundation for higher education excellence ' is dedicated to integrating quality online learning into mainstream higher education.

Moloney's honor is for 15 years of advancing online education. She launched UMass Lowell's program when other institutions did not see the need, and under her leadership, it grew from 400 students and a few courses to more than 12,000 online enrollments and full degree programs, including an MBA.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is This The Mythical Apple Tablet?

Supposed Apple Tablet Video Surfaces
Late Friday, French website posted a YouTube video it claims is footage of the mythical Apple tablet that has long been the source of many a rumor.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How to Download a YouTube Video

This story is cross-posted on Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching

Every semester, we get questions from faculty regarding the use of YouTube videos in their classes. Faculty, whether they're teaching online or face-to-face, have become accustomed to integrating YouTube video in their instruction. Most often, faculty use the video to highlight or illustrate a particular point or to seed a discussion or point of instruction. Faculty have gotten fairly adroit at grabbing the embed code from YouTube and embedding a video in their online course or faculty web page. Likewise they have very little difficulty grabbing the link and sharing it with students, either online or in a powerpoint presentation.

The issue that we're asked about most frequently is "How do I download a YouTube video?" The reason faculty may want to download the videos are many and varied. Most often cited are a lack of or slow Internet connection where they'll be using the video, or a fear that content on YouTube may disappear from semester to semester. There are many techniques for downloading content from YouTube. Some are fairly cumbersome and require multiple steps. The technique we illustrate in the video below is one of the simplest we've been able to find. The key to this approach is the use of a bookmarklet (bookmark + applet), which looks no different than the bookmarks we've all been using for years, but provides a lot more functionality than a vanilla bookmark.

You can grab the bookmarklet and read the instructions for yourself at the Google Operating System blog. So without further delay, here's the video - once you've mastered this technique, feel free to download our video;)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

More on College Tours on the iPhone

I discussed the College of Charleston's iPhone app in the blog post College Tours on the iPhone. Here's a video from the college demonstrating the app:

College Tours on the iPhone

college of charleston app.jpg
This is a great idea. Every college should be working to develop an app like this.

College develops iPhone app to connect with potential students
The College of Charleston has launched the nation's first app designed as a supplement for students looking to tour the university.

Calling it 'the very first interactive and self-guided university campus tour app,' the College of Charleston has released an app intended for potential students looking for more information on the campus and its history.

The app features over twenty locations in and around the Charleston campus with accompanying text, pictures, and video for each. The 'College of Charleston Tour' app also uses GPS assistance to show the distance to and location of each of the places of interest around the university.

The videos are narrated by College of Charleston students and provide a brief tour of each location along with facts and information about each.

From the college's website:
Welcome to the very first interactive and self-guided university campus tour App for the iPhone and iPod touch. Featuring videos, photos, and more than 20+ beautiful locations on the historic College of Charleston campus, the tour is directed by students.

Titled “College of Charleston Tour,” the App is a free download available on iTunes that features Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) assistance, 18 videos of campus and nearly 60 images of life at the College of Charleston.

Four College of Charleston students narrate and provide a unique perspective not currently offered by any other university App. Viewers will get an insider’s look at the College and see inside nearly every building, including the President’s House.


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