Monthly Archives: March 2016

Students Creating and Sharing with Teachers

When the 12th annual Information and Communication Technology in Education(ICTedu) Conference wraps up on Saturday, the 23rd of April 2016, teachers from across Ireland will remember it as the event where they learned from students who shared ways to create and collaborate. This year’s theme—“Students as Co-Creators”—puts students in the driving seat to run workshops for teachers.

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The battle between e-Book and print books

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Which would you choose? – #ictedu

One of the main components of learning is reading.  But what is the best medium for reading?  In the recent years there has been a lot of arguing and debating between the fans of traditional print books and those who prefer the modern e-books.  Although most people would agree that the smell and texture of paper is part of what makes the reading so enjoyable, the benefits of digital reading material are undeniable also.

The arrival of e-books has drastically changed the education system all over the world.  One of the biggest advantages of using e-books in education is in their portability.  Instead of carrying a school bag full of heavy books some students are now required to possess a single small device which stores all of their study material.  By implementing the use of tablets in the classroom teachers can ensure that all students have the necessary books for every lesson, in a single gadget!  It helps to ensure that the study equipment is not left at home due to the student’s forgetfulness or because the schoolbag is too heavy to carry.

Without the massive books there is also no requirement for lockers and storage places.  Instead of having to repack the backpack every day, the students must only ensure to bring their tablet to school.  Instead of allocating an entire room as a library, extra reading material can be found and borrowed, or purchased, online and then stored on the tablet for as long as needed.   It is much easier to keep the study area nice and tidy.  The organisation of equipment becomes much easier as there are not so many books and note copies scattered around the place.

As digital books do not require paper, they are more environmentally friendly and cheaper to purchase.  These books can be accessed much quicker- by a simple download as opposed to paying and awaiting their postage or travelling to a bookshop.   There are also many discounts and deals available for the educational e-books which help to save money and make the lives of parents much easier.

The small size of tablets is also helpful at sustaining the health and safety of children as their backs are less likely to get damaged by the heavy weight of the school bags.

However digital books and tablets can have drawbacks also, and as a technological student, sometimes looking at screens for long periods of time can lead me to suffer from eye strain and discomfort.  Many of my fellow classmates who also work on screens for numerous hours every day, sometimes find that their vision gets blurry and their eyes can become irritated and fatigued.

The fact that not all books are available online is also a weakness.  Libraries have been around for a much longer time than tablets, and of course, they provide a bigger range of reading material.  The variety of e-books can quite limited in that many historical books may not yet be digitalised. In my experience from a previous project I completed, I found that online resources were lacking and the main resource for information of bygone times was in fact the library and museum. Yes there are many resources online but there will always be some areas that are lacking.

There is also the feeling of accomplishment when a student can physically see how much of the book has been gone through by the number of pages on the left compared to the number of the right.  It is a lovely way to see progression in a subject. It is also the experience of reading in the library itself and interacting with others in it is irreplaceable.  For me, that quiet space can prove invaluable to learning, because I can get the mind-space away from distractions and technology and focus on the matter at hand.  It is a breathing space place.  Albeit many libraries have computers, many of them also have spaces which are technology free, which to my mind is a great facility to have.  Sometimes, technology just gets in the way.  After all, most people nowadays have email, group chat, shared online work space and many other mediums on their phones, so to get away from all of that for a short while can be invaluable to recharging one’s personal batteries.

In comparison to a digital book whereby one may see the percentage complete in number form, there’s something very special about actually seeing the pages that have been covered. So, you do have e-books and you do have print books, but in the end it is often a personal preference as to which one is suitable for you.  For me personally, I prefer the printed book as I can physically see the amount of reading I have done.

There are some schools that seem to be giving the students some choices in this area.  A living example of this is a scheme piloted by a secondary school in Ballincollig in County Cork, whereby they introduced the use of iPads as part of the school curriculum for first year students in 2012.  The students and parents were given the choice at the time to take part in this pilot scheme.  Approximately half of the students opted to use the iPads.  We’re certainly curious to discover how this worked out since then.  Are you?

For another riveting read on print books vs e-books visit:

http://www.bookmasters.com/blog/print-book-vs-ebook/

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160124-are-paper-books-really-disappearing

 

For more information relating to #ictedu, please visit:

Ictedu Information: http://www.lit.ie/ictedu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ICTedu

Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.ie/o/lit-thurles-6143436117 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICTinEducationConference

Written By Inese Vecele, a student at Limerick Institute of Technology Clonmel, along with her team Eiren McLoughlin, Claire Murray and  Glen Sweeny

Mediums of Education

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Can the two work together?  Which is best? Which suits today’s modern society?

#IctEdu

In education, there are many different mediums in which teaching and learning can be expressed.  Two of these mediums are online learning and classroom learning.  Although there are elements that crossover in both, they do differ significantly.

One of the key components of classroom learning is presence.  The fact the teacher is physically in a room with a student means that there is a direct link between teacher and student.  There can be a lack of opportunity to engage with the teacher, get to ask questions or receive feedback at a time that is convenient to them. Yes, there is feedback, but sometimes there is a time lapse between asking and receiving a response.  This could sometimes hinder progression   as the student may occasionally need to be in the moment and talk out problems he or she may be facing.

There are times where having someone present is really beneficial.  Having that connection with another person helps us to establish relationships and lets conversation flow as it delves deeper into topics.  This physical form of learning has been used since the age of time and has shown time and time again to be effective and something that should not be easily dismissed.

But you shouldn’t shy away from online learning either, it too, has many benefits. You yourself can go off and find the things that interest you the most.  Of course this can also be achieved by attending a course, but there may be obstacles around this for some people. For example, a perspective student may not be able to embark on a course in an institute due to other circumstances such as family commitments, travel constraints and financial difficulties.  There are many different resources available to find information such as audio books, video tutorials, online courses and informational websites.  Online learning is an ever-growing option and that many people are looking towards for their learning.

There is a lot that can be said about taking notes in class.  From an online perspective notes are digitally based resources such as documents, presentations, audio notes, video tutorials and online reading materials.  With video tutorials you can follow along and go at your own pace.  Video tutorials can be found on different websites such as Lynda.com, Edmodo and even Youtube. These resources can be really beneficial when it comes to broadening the foundation of your knowledge as set down in the course.  As previously mentioned, there is often a cross over between online learning and classroom learning. From my perspective, I find it stimulating when a teacher uses different methods to deliver a class. For example, using projectors to display presentations helps me to retain more information with both the spoken word and a visual aid. Online exam web pages such as Socrative for instant examinations and corrections allow me to review my learnings quickly and also give immediate feedback to the teacher. As a student, I also like when we have external speakers address us.  The use of web cameras in this instance can give a whole new dynamic to learning.  I find it quite stimulating to see and hear a different voice, coming from a different place, yet teaching me something in that moment.  In my opinion learning can be made more thought provoking with these resources and help enhance education.  For students it means they can go back and revise using these digital resources and research different elements.  Using a resource such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word collaboratively helps reinforce learning on topics covered in classes. Features such as comments and track changes are available in both so students and teachers can see ideas forming and current learnings being applied. Comments are particularly useful for feedback from team members and teachers alike.

But there is another side to every coin and when flipped there is an argument about the different digital resources that can be used.  I imagine that this must add a different kind of pressure for teachers when it comes to devising notes for students. As technology is ever growing at an alarmingly fast pace, it must be very difficult for teachers to keep up with these changes.  However in saying that, having different delivery styles and methods cater to a wider variety of different learning styles.  In my student life, I have encountered some teachers who are not very technically savvy and have found it difficult to integrate digital resources into their lesson plans.  Nevertheless, I think that a resource like Socrative could be used quite easily.  There is very little learning involved in using it from the teachers side, and from the students point of view, it is a fast and easy way to assess their understanding of a topic.  For students, online resources can mean more temptation to plagiarizing material.  There are good and bad arguments whether online learning or classroom learning or even an amalgamation of both are of benefit.

Having talked to a current LIT student – Claire Murray, she discussed her experience and thoughts about learning online and learning in the classroom.  She went on to explain this from her perspective.

“Online programs can provide a very flexible alternative to many students to obtain further education.  I returned to college as a mature student, married and with children.  There was a lot of thought went into whether I would follow an online learning program, or attend college on a full basis.  On the one hand, an online program was very appealing because I wouldn’t have to travel or spend too much time away from home.  I also felt that I am quite a motivated person, so online learning would suit me quite well.  However, I am also a very sociable creature and interaction with other students and with lecturers was equally as important to me.

Some of the considerations in making the decision focused on finding a program which suited what I wanted to do.  There were two of these – one in Cork and one in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.  Clonmel won out because even though geographically the Cork campus is closer to where I live, Clonmel was actually more accessible due to reduced traffic congestion.  One other rather important consideration was internet access and connectivity.  Unfortunately, in Ireland today, there are still many homes whose Internet connections are less than adequate for attending an online course, and I happen to be one of those unfortunates.

Online learning can have the disadvantage of isolating a student from both other students and lecturers/ instructors.  As well as this, online learning is still relatively new, when the first online degrees started becoming available around 1995, so I suppose, in my opinion, this hasn’t been enough time to properly evaluate the teaching methods, or student understanding through an online only course.

While a student is in a classroom, again, in my opinion, they can have the added benefit of interacting with and exchanging ideas or thoughts with other students.  For me, this helps me greatly with my learning.  If someone is having a problem, or facing an issue that they have tried to resolve on their own, somethings have another person’s eye thrown over your work can lead to something being solved quicker.  I daresay that face to face contact also lessens the probability of communication barriers, versus barriers that could possibly exist online.

For me personally, I feel that with online learning, which I have also experienced, lacks the “vibe” that happens in a classroom.  I love the interaction with others and I feel that I learn better through this interaction and involvement.  I am a very sociable person, and the best environment for me to learn in is one where I am encircled with other people.  That is not to say that I avoid quiet spaces where I can study or work on my own either.  Sometimes there is nothing nicer than being outside in the fresh air and contemplating the learnings of the day.  I remember way back when I was in primary school and on the rare occasions when our teacher decided that the day was too nice to waste, being brought outside, sitting on the grass and discussing the class’s topic.  This was so invigorating!  Technology definitely has a very important place in learning today, but you just can’t beat socialising with your teachers and peers.

Overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to both online learning and classroom based learning.  Personally I feel that there should be a balance between both.  After all, there are huge benefits to using technology in a classroom, so who says that a teacher, tutor or lecturer can’t use both methods? ”

For some more reading on the different mediums and how it is effecting the way we teach/learn, please visit:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11051228/Digital-learning-how-technology-is-reshaping-teaching.html

 

For more information relating to #ictedu, please visit:

Ictedu Information: http://www.lit.ie/ictedu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ICTedu

Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.ie/o/lit-thurles-6143436117

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICTinEducationConference

Written By Eiren McLoughlin and Claire Murray, Creative Multimedia students at Limerick Institute of Technology Clonmel, along with their team Glen Sweeny and Inese Vecele.

Teach Each Other

“Teach Each Other”

Learning happens in both cases; both student and teacher.

Teach Each Other

Teach Each Other

Not unlike the Amish who have the elders to decide how much technology may be used on a daily basis, our educators decide how much technology is incorporated into their teaching method.

“Learning should always come first but would be fools we would be if we denied that technology has the potential to make a tangible difference in education.” – Steve Wheeler

The power of technology has grown rapidly in the past decade and it is our duty to exploit In terms of education to prepare the students better for the pre discursive learnings that are needed for the future.

I remember whilst at school; as a student, you would feel such pride when you were allowed book “Computer Time”. Having to wait 3 – 5 minutes; drumming your fingers on the keyboard to the dial tone of the loading internet browser, escaping the mundane chalk board was euphoric. We never knew what to research and as children with access to a vast archive of knowledge we were left to play badly animated .swf files for 10 minutes. For lack of a better reason we didn’t understand the power we controlled.

What happens when the student knows more than the teacher?

My sibling have recently entered the joy that is second level education; and now, adapting to a new environment, multiple teachers he tries to manipulate and puberty, what my brother has trouble. Trouble coping with was the lack technology used in the institute.

The younger generation are born into technology and to restrict the access of it to students in probably the most important setting they will need it is ludicrous. To emphasise suggesting; imagine if the student goes to the library, they would use the computer to search and not a physical file system. T emphasize this point – You- tube has over 3 billion searches a day.

Learning in the future some teachers may not understand that student are given access to a separate library to search for knowledge i.e. the internet two most used is Google and You-tube. How would teachers open the minds and offer a broader range to the students to help them to go the extra mile in their education if the student knows more than the teacher. Teenagers will now ask a machine rather than an index for their required information.

How can teachers ensure that learning always comes first and that technology will supports the process?

Students in today’s society are not taught how to use the computer, what is its true purpose. Nobody actively telling them to research Ralf Waldo Emerson or Alan Watts or how having technology in the classroom would be one of the greatest tools to expand their mind-set and connect to a broad world. What if students don’t understand that technology has become a window to allow them to partake in events around the globe in every sense but physical.

Many educators have incorporated Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. It is a leading trend in distance education/open and distance learning domain as a consequence of the openness movement.

Given the diversity of users, creators and sponsors of open educational resources, it is not surprising to find a variety of use cases and requirements. For this reason, it may be as helpful to consider the differences between descriptions of open educational resources as it is to consider the descriptions themselves. One of several tensions in reaching a consensus description of OER is whether there should be explicit emphasis placed on specific technologies. For example, a video can be openly licensed and freely used without being a streaming video. A book can be openly licensed and freely used without being an electronic document. This technologically driven tension is deeply bound up with the discourse of open-source licensing

. An educator willing to incorporate OER to help their curriculum, shows that they are striving to give the student more than the text-book standard education. Not all educators willing to use OER might be particular “Tech-Savvy” and as such feel it a daunting task for themselves to learn.

Many teachers at this very moment are left to deal with a system that would consider “Over the shoulder learning” (i.e. two to three student using a particular device together because of lack of equipment) manageable.Consider 27 students in a computer lab that consists of 25 computers. 4 students would have to share. Out of 27 student 4 would have their learning experience cut to facilitate their classmates. 4 out of 27 are now behind. How do we combat this? Ask yourself, how would you combat this?

By appreciating that learning often occurs during creative moments. And when that creativity happens collaboratively, powerful synergies come into play. Creative people do not have answers, but they habitually question the status quo and think about alternatives and improvements. They discover and invent possible answers. They habitually ask better questions. They have optimism. When combined with empathy and compassion, creativity is bound to be a force for good.

The call for presenters for this year’s ICT in Education conference is now open at bit.ly/icteducall.

To keep updated with current information pertaining to the ICT in Education conference please visit https://twitter.com/ICTedu

The ICTEDU (ICT in Education ) shall take place Saturday the 23rd of April in Limerick Institute of Technology, Thurles. For more information see http://lit.ie/ictedu.

Written by Stuart Mackey, Creative Multimedia student in Limerick Institute of Technology, Clonmel, helping to promote #ICTEDU during syndicated online conversations, along with his team Linda Maxwell and Liam Rielly.

The Future of Technology in Education

The Future of Technology in Education

Gone are the days when our primary resource was the blackboard. Join the digital revolution. #CloudNotChalk #ICTEDU

What will the future hold for education and teaching? We are now at a point where students could attend a lecturer virtually via a VR (Virtual Reality) head set such as Oculus Rift, without ever attending classes physically. They could also use VR technology to “be” at the battle of Waterloo, rather than just read about it. This has the potential to completely change education.

As great as this sounds, something would be lost along the way. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, or the experience of being in a physical location with other people. Digital technology, no matter how good, cannot really substitute for hands on experience. I think teachers will always need to interact in a physical environment with students in some capacity. After all, science fiction has often postulated the idea of eating your meals in a pill form, but I cannot imagine anyone packing away their dinner plates any time soon.

By looking at the bigger picture of what technology can bring to our classrooms, and upgrading our thinking, we can become more open to embracing the new and exciting technologies that are widely available to us.

The call for presenters for this year’s ICT in Education conference is now open at bit.ly/icteducall.

For more on how ICT can help to improve the way you teach, or to join the digital revolution, come along to this year’s ICTEDU (ICT in Education) on Saturday the 23rd of April in Limerick Institute of Technology, Thurles. For more information see http://lit.ie/ictedu.

Written by Kevin Dwane, Digital Animation Student in Limerick Institute of Technology, Clonmel, helping to promote #ICTEDU during syndicated online conversations, along with his team Laura Pigott, Sean Jordan and Marta Casalini.

The Virtual Classroom

Learning with Technology

Gone are the days when our primary resource was the blackboard. Join the digital revolution. #CloudNotChalk #ICTEDU

Learning today is a far cry from the picture twenty years ago. Lecturers consisted of hand written notes on a blackboard, whiteboard or overheads. Students looked forward frantically transcribing the lecturer in illegible handwriting – perfect study material for adding to exam stress two days before the exam. With the addition of online notes, students can now better decipher these notes by combining their own with the lecturers, to produce a higher level of learning.

Communication between students and teachers was also far more formal in the past. The way in which teachers engage with students project work has also changed. Assignments no longer need to be physically delivered to teacher’s pigeonholes. Student’s located dozens of kilometres from the college can upload their assignments remotely 24/7. Teachers can see exactly when assignments were uploaded. They will know if it was submitted before or after the deadline. Students can include much more information surrounding their projects with their submission, plus a multitude of online resources to back up their work. This gives teachers a much clearer picture of the student’s thought process and work method.

The delivery of information is not the only thing that has changed about education. Digital technology has completely altered the student/teacher relationship. Students can now access teachers as never before, thanks to email and social media, which has its pros and cons. It enables teachers to answer queries and give feedback on the current state of assignments, but it can also blur the lines of appropriate student teacher interaction. As a consequence, teachers need to be much more aware of protocol when engaging with students, particularly during out of school hours, and so appropriate codes of conduct should be put in place to ensure the rules of engagement are clear.

The call for presenters for this year’s ICT in Education conference is now open at bit.ly/icteducall.

For more on how ICT can help to improve the way you teach, or to join the digital revolution, come along to this year’s ICTEDU (ICT in Education) on Saturday the 23rd of April in Limerick Institute of Technology, Thurles. For more information see http://lit.ie/ictedu.

Written by Kevin Dwane, Digital Animation Student in Limerick Institute of Technology, Clonmel, helping to promote #ICTEDU during syndicated online conversations, along with his team Laura Pigott, Sean Jordan and Marta Casalini.

From clouds of chalk dust, to cloud computing

Technology in the Classroom

Gone are the days when our primary resource was the blackboard. Join the digital revolution. #CloudNotChalk #ICTEDU

It was not too long ago that a teacher’s primary resources were the book and the blackboard. Students would sit while teachers imparted wisdom, scribed in chalk onto the all-conquering slate. When the board was full, all that information would disappear into a cloud of chalk dust, which benefited everyone’s lungs. If you were really lucky you might watch a video that was often older than the teacher who was letting you take a break from your normal studies. Those days are long gone. Learning has entered the digital revolution. Tablets, desktops and laptops have replaced books. Digital projectors have replaced black boards. The World Wide Web is the new school library. Everyone can now breathe easier (pun intended) that the internet is speeding through the school corridors.

The digital revolution is changing the way we live and learn in the 21st century as much as the industrial revolution changed lives in the 18th century. Oceans of information have flooded the classroom thanks to the internet. However, is all this unfettered unlimited information a good thing? In the past, teachers only had access to books and journals through the library or by mail order. It was cumbersome and slow, but students had time to digest what they learned.

Now teachers can project pre-prepared lessons onto a white board, sprinkled with the latest video links. This allows for a much more immersive and interactive experience for all concerned. Pressure is taken off the teachers, as they can generate materials that can be reused again and again. It also gives students a much more enriching experience. Educators can now focus more on educating, than writing the lesson content on the board during class time. Students in turn can access the lecturer’s notes and video links online at a time of their choosing. They need no longer concern themselves with excessive note taking while simultaneously trying to listen during lectures, as they are now free to take shorter notes, or even doodle the content that is being explained to them, to hep accommodate a diverse range of learning styles across the student population. This takes the stress off both students and teachers.

The call for presenters for this year’s ICT in Education conference is now open at bit.ly/icteducall.

For more on how ICT can help to improve the way you teach, come along to this year’s ICTEDU (ICT in Education) on Saturday the 23rd of April in Limerick Institute of Technology, Thurles. For more information see http://lit.ie/ictedu.

Written by Kevin Dwane, Digital Animation Student in Limerick Institute of Technology, Clonmel, helping to promote #ICTEDU during syndicated online conversations, along with his team Laura Pigott, Sean Jordan and Marta Casalini.