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Posts Tagged ‘educating’

The Promise of Online Learning

Friday, April 24th, 2015

We ran across an article yesterday that forced us to realize what we have known but not admitted for several years now….the potential that online learning offers has not been realized.  While there are some interesting and valuable programs being used in a piece meal fashion….none has changed the dynamic in the classroom  Why?  There are no doubt many reasons.  But consider that the classroom today looks much like it did in the industrial era…a group of students with one adult directing instruction.  Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology.

Unfortunately, to date, online educational programs are emulating the traditional teaching learning process.  There is no one best way….but the technology today offers an opportunity to provide students and those who work with them a world class education no matter the situation.  We can communicate with friends and experts around the world; we can use gaming to motivate and engage students; we can capture teachable moments with live video; we can monitor student engagement; we can provide interesting lessons that capture all curricular subjects; we can taylor instruction based on student achievement; we can give students and educators choices for learning and instruction;  we can continue to allow educators to create and change online programs for their own classes;  we can incorporate audio and video with all learning; we can give students and parents opportunities to create their own learning programs; we can use digital groups and one to one sessions to create community;  we can align everything to standards for learning;  we can provide instantaneous report results of student learning  for parents and educators; we can maintain a level of excellence that demonstrates the potential of technology; and we can overlap and connect activities when needed.

I envision a program that uses all that technology offers to transform the way students learn today.  A tapestry of online learning techniques that students can select from and participate in to develop their own instructional program.  There is every reason for schools and educators to use the same program.   There is nothing new here….all exists….but it is not filtering into education and if it is, the pieces are not connected.  Good programs make up the bits and pieces we see in education but they are not changing things for students in the classroom.  Teachers still walk around the classroom checking student work, asking for student responses, doling out information….we can do better for our students.  We need to supplant not supplement education as we know it.

If we continue to supplement what we have done in the classroom for well over one hundred years, we will continue to lose those students who do not have access to the very best in teaching.  If we wish to save education for all students, then major changes must be considered.  Technology was to have changed the paradigm.  It hasn’t.  Now, we must.  Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology.  We owe it to our students to shirk the trappings of the past and move toward industry standards of technology for teaching and learning.

Quick Response to Online Learning

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Have you noticed those squares of strange symbols on buildings, signs, in stores and magazines? We are even seeing them migrating to education. Quick Response (QR) codes are used to provide information, show a website, view a picture and a host of ways yet to be discovered. QR codes are similar to bar codes, but they can hold a lot more information. Instead of requiring a bulky hand-held device to scan them, modern cell phones and mobile devices can scan them.

QR code consists of square, black dots arranged in a grid on a white background. The grid can be read by a camera or another imaging device and then interpreted. Information is extracted from the horizontal and vertical components in the image.

However, have you noticed something about all those codes you’ve been seeing? You are right! They seldom have an explanation of how to use them! So, are you wondering how?

Well, it’s actually pretty easy…but you have to have the right tools. To use QR codes conveniently you must have a smartphone or tablet computer equipped with a camera and a QR code reader/scanner application feature. Luckily, the newer smartphones and tablets available today often have an app pre-installed on them. However, if you don’t already have the reader on your device, it’s nothing a quick push of a button can’t fix. Merely visit your phone’s app store such as Android Market, Apple App Store, BlackBerry App World, etc. and download a QR code reader/scanner app. With a wealth of free QR code generation tools available online, this is a medium that requires little or no background knowledge or searching in order to find useful and helpful resources.
QR codes are used in online instructional material created by Knowledge Headquarters, Inc. for K – grade 12 students. The company’s main product is eTutor, an accredited online private school serving students throughout the world. QR codes are included in eTutor lesson modules, study guides and worksheets.

A student completing a worksheet as part of the eTutor learning program may need additional information or a skill to complete his work. Using his smart phone he scans the QR code from the worksheet and it will take him to appropriate, related information in order to successfully complete the worksheet.

Another student may be working on a history lesson module using her laptop computer. She wants to share with her friends an interesting fact she has just learned. She scans the QR code at the top of the lesson module and transports it to her smart phone.

While the eTutor program is easily accessible on laptop computers, tablets and smart phones, the use of QR codes gives students and parents an alternate way to use and view instruction. QR codes are intended to be used with portable, connected devices. Most students have them, expect to use them, and are excited by the prospect of being able to use them in instruction. Additionally, the use of mobile technology and resources that support it frees students, parents, and learning from the confines of traditional settings. Learning can happen in more authentic contexts, or at times and in places that are convenient to students.

QR codes let students be active in their learning. They provide true interactivity and engagement, which translates to more effective and efficient learning. Knowledge HQ has been at the forefront of online instruction since the late 90s. The company continues to keep abreast of the latest technology and how new innovations can improve and enhance the teaching-learning process.

Seeing With Words

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

At a recent dinner meeting I was seated at a table with a visually impaired woman. She graciously helped all of us at the table understand her needs and quickly learned a lot about us. When communicating with visually impaired people, these suggestions might help:

  • Identify yourself and introduce anyone else who is present.
  • When offering a handshake, say, “Shall we shake hands?”
  • When offering a seat, place the person’s hand on the back or arm of the seat.
  • Tell the person when you need to end the conversation or when you move.

Did You Know?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

By the time children in America grow to the age of 18, they have spent 9 percent of their time in school and 91 percent of their time outside of school. Our schools have been asked to dramatically improve their impact on students and change how they use their nine percent of a child’s time. What about the other ninety-one percent of the time? What else can parents and adults do to better prepare the children of America for what lies ahead?

Tired of Political Campaigns? Think About This

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Does using shorter sentences and smaller words make a political candidate more attractive to voters? According to a study by two college researchers, it makes candidates more successful in getting their messages across to voters. Mary-Ann Leon and T. Harrell Allen of California State Polytechnic University studied the speeches of President Bush and Michael Dukakis during their two 1988 debates: They found: Bush’s remarks scored at the 8th grade level….making them clear to more than two-thirds of the audience. Dukakis tested at the 10th and 12thgrade levels….comprehensible to less than 50 percent of Americans. The difference: Dukakis used longer, more complex sentences and words than Bush did.

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME

Monday, September 16th, 2013
Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….
1. Find the best time to study
After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.
2. The best place to study
Homework headquarters should be away from television, stereo, telephone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small tale may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.
3. Be prepared
Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.
4. Make a homework list
Make an easy two-part homework checklist:
______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.
______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.
Show the assignment sheet to teachers. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.
5. Keep a homework calendar
Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.
If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.
The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.
6. Study rhythms
Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.
7. When you get stuck
Ask these questions…..
  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?
Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to class early and check with the teacher. Remember…..teachers want success from their students.
8. Ask for help
It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.
9. Take a break
Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.
10. Book bag at bedtime
Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

Are They Ready for Schooling?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

School is on the mind of everyone this month as the children start school for another year of learning. Backpacks bulge with new books and supplies, girls wear the latest fashions and boys find the baggiest levis. Happy faces and anticipation as the little ones trooped off walking or to catch a bus.

A neighbor stopped over and asked about her child who is three. With a birthday in September, she has been told that it might be better if she holds him back from attending school a year. Her concern is that he will be the youngest child in the class and may be immature and not do well in the school. This is a difficult question for me…..my own children have October birthdays and I did not hold either back. I know they struggled not only through elementary and high school, but college as well. Nevertheless, they both were bright enough and I didn’t see the problem as theirs, but that of the schools. In hindsight would I have done things differently….probably not. It is painful, though, as a parent, to see your child struggle.

So, my response to my neighbor was “wait and see, he is still young.” My children are adults now and there weren’t as many options then. However, it saddens me to think that a parent has to even consider this question today. Many parents choose to keep their children home for schooling, but others are unable to do this. So, do they have to worry that their child may not be ready? “Who is not ready, the child or the school?”

Great Achievements: Do You Have What It Takes?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

What does it take to get something extraordinary accomplished in an organization? A study from Santa Clara University has identified the following practices as being key:

  • Challenge the process. Leaders search for opportunities, experiment and take risks.
  • Inspire a shared vision. Leaders envision the future and enlist the support of others to share and achieve that vision.
  • Enable others to act. Leaders foster collaboration and draw the best from their people.
  • Model the way. Leaders set a good example and plan opportunities for their people to experience many “wins” along the way.
  • Encourage their people. Contributions are recognized. Accomplishments are celebrated.

The Leadership Practices Inventory, called LPI, was compiled from interviews and surveys with managers who attended management development seminars.

Courtesy of Measures of Leadership

Measuring Our Students Educational Program

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that, we most often use this standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children should be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, our children begin school having access to more information than we had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. That provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

Unfortunately, I do not have an easy answer for what should be or could be. I do know that when I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. I have seen wonderful teachers who are very good with their students, but who are missing the mark in preparing their students for this fast-paced world. That human aspect is so very important to teaching, but what of the child who does not receive adequate information to be successful in ensuing years. What a dilemma it raises for those of us who work with these well intentioned people on a daily basis. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared our youngster for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

The Cost of Keeping the Status Quo

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Decision-makers frequently underestimate the costs of doing nothing, of maintaining the status quo. The price of not changing is often less obvious and harder to quantify than the expense of change.  In an ideal world, improvement and new opportunity decisions are made on a rational basis: cost effectiveness – monetary and human. Accurate estimates of costs and benefits for each proposed alternative must be calculated. The costs are relatively easy to isolate.

But what about the alternative that doesn’t involve change, the status quo option? Underestimated costs of doing nothing include downtime, clinging to outgrown systems, incompatible mixes of old and new programs and procedures, or using outdated procedures.  An apt description of our educational system.

The demands on education have increased greatly in recent years. Student populations have changed, and community complexity has increased. Instead of adopting new methods and procedures, some organizations stretch their old systems to accommodate the change they have experienced. Eventually the organization slows down, becomes less efficient or effective, and gives poor service. The costs are public dissatisfaction, more complaints and pressure for privatization.

If an organization prefers to maintain the status quo, it will only change when forced to. This will result in a mishmash of new, old and totally obsolete practices. One way to be prepared for change is to have procedures to respond to new requirements and opportunities……built into the organization. There is no such thing as cost-free status quo.