If you’ve recently attended one of our Windows 8 Events or Windows 8 Camps (London, Edinburgh, Manchester, London again, Birmingham etc etc) then you may have asked us about how you can get hold of the materials.
You’ll be pleased to hear that the official materials including Hands on Labs, presentations, samples and other resources are now available for download. You can find them here:
Monday, 21 May 2012
Eric Schmidt, Google's Executive Chairman, Challenges College Graduates To 'Take Your Eyes Off That Screen'
By Ross Kerber
May 20 (Reuters) - Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt challenged college graduates on Sunday to take the radical step -- at least for their generation -- of tearing their eyes away from their smartphones and computer screens.
"Take one hour a day and turn that thing off," Schmidt told graduates at Boston University, where he received an honorary degree and was applauded by an audience that had grown up relying on the technology company's search engine, e-mail and other services.
"Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation, a real conversation," Schmidt said.
Schmidt's advice came midway through his remarks and provided context around his broader message that electronic tools such as social media are positive forces. He said that "a distinctive feature of your new world is that you can be unique while being completely connected." That feature, he said, is a "fulfillment of the American dream."
Google executives are comfortable with broad statements, having made "Don't be evil" a business motto and battled governments over Internet freedoms.
In his remarks, Schmidt did not address policy issues or business topics such as last week's initial public offering of Facebook Inc, in many spaces a Google rival. Schmidt also offered traditional sentiments that included urging graduates to reach high and not be afraid to fail.
He also emphasized they will be armed with technology as never before. "You are emblems of the sense of possibility that will define this age," he said, adding that, "If you're awake, you're online, you're connected.
"Some of you are probably tweeting this speech right now."
On Twitter, Miles Branman, who identifies himself as a Boston University student, quoted another part of Schmidt's speech and wrote: "Listening to Eric Schmidt of Google, advising us to write the code for all of us (the world) at #BU2012 Commencement."
Also on Twitter, Boston Univesity Dean of Students Kenn Elmore wrote: "Eric Schmidt works it at #BU2012 Commencement."
Mobile learning, or m-learning, refers to any learning intervention that is carried out through the use of mobile devices and wireless technology.
Ever since the concept of mobile learning came into the picture, instructional designers have been coming up with innovative ideas to create effective and meaningful ways to harness the power of mobile learning. It started with focused efforts to convert existing e-learning to m-learning.
Subsequently, educational technology companies now design effective and meaningful mobile learning tools by addressing various challenges associated with delivering content on mobile devices. This article introduces these challenges and discusses some strategies to design effective m-learning.
Why Mobile Learning?
Several factors make a compelling case for delivering learning materials on mobile devices. For one, as per the statistics reported by MobiThinking — a mobile research company, year 2011 ended with about 5.9 billion mobile subscribers, which constitute roughly 87% of the world population.
Second, increasingly, more people are using smart phones and tablets, which make it easy to access any kind of learning materials.
Finally, there has been a consistent increase in the number of employees working from outside their offices, and just-in-time access to information can help them overcome many challenges of working from remote locations.
Mobile learning brings a lot of benefits that organizations can’t ignore. The most obvious ones are convenience and flexibility to access just-in-time information at any location, at any time. It can help employees make use of the down time, such as while waiting in a hospital, during traveling time, and while waiting for an internal or a client meeting to begin.
Challenges Associated with Mobile Learning
Various challenges associated with delivering learning content on mobile devices create barriers in adoption of m-learning by organizations. The biggest challenge is devices working on varying platforms and supporting different formats. There is no formal standard to ensure the auto-adoption of content on different devices.
Further, the screen size of most devices makes it difficult for users to go through a lot of content. Other challenges include connectivity and bandwidth issues, concern for content security, difficulty in integrating devices to LMSs, and high costs of designing programs compatible with different devices.
Strategies to Design Mobile Learning
Here are some strategies that you can use to design effective and engaging mobile learning tools. These strategies are focused on addressing the challenges related to m-learning and making best use of the inherent mobile features to ensure learning effectiveness.
Target Specific Devices
There is no solution to push rich, interactive content to every possible device. So, do not target your learning program for all possible mobile devices. Shortlist devices based on the ones that most of your learners already have or can easily switch to. Organizations can overcome the challenge of varying devices and platforms by distributing a specific device and designing for the same.
Design for Performance
Users typically use mobile devices for short bursts of activity. Nobody would want to sit through a full-fledged, long e-learning course on a mobile device. Therefore, designing m-learning for performance support and just-in-time learning is more realistic.
For example, quickly going through the product updates while a sales person is on the way to meet a customer may help him crack the deal. Or, consider a scenario where your sales people frequently interact with customers of a foreign nationality. Sending texts of common phrases of the specific foreign language to those sales people may help them interact better with their customers.
Package Content as Small Chunks
Most mobile devices have small screens. So, break the content into small chunks to facilitate processing. Avoid excessive downward scrolling of the content. Also, remember that the rule of seven plus/minus two units to compensate for the limited short term memory applies to m-learning as well. Finally, you can use appropriate interactions to help learners dive deeper into each chunk. For example, you may want to use flash cards to summarize each feature of a product. Clicking on each flash card may help users learn more about that feature.
Design a Simple and Intuitive Interface
Mobile devices have small screens and limited processing capacity. Also, users are less likely to use a complicated mobile application, and there is not enough room to explain the user interface on a small screen. So, it is advisable to eliminate complexity and use a simple user interface with only the limited, required functionality that can be accessed easily and efficiently. Keep the screen uncluttered and consider the device types you are designing for. For example, designing for a touch screen is completely different from doing it for a keypad-based device. Selection errors on touch screens are higher than other screens so you may want to surround the touch areas with as much white space as possible.
Use Simple Code and Open Source Products
Use basic HTML code to provide a simple and accessible learning program with basic navigation features. Using simple code helps minimize file sizes, increase download speeds, and ensure compatibility with feature phones. Further, the use of open source products helps increase accessibility and enables local communities to make customizations as per their environment.
Use Mobile Features and Apps
Use the inherent features of a mobile platform to design meaningful interactivity. Some devices, such as iPhone and iPad, present several ways to make the content interactive. Explore the features of the devices you are designing for and use them appropriately. Further, most people define their learning experience on tablets and smart phones by the apps they use. Try to include these apps in your overall learning design strategy.
Design Social / Collaborative Learning
It is a well known fact that mobile devices and social networking work very well together. You can leverage this fact by providing a collaborative learning platform for people to connect with each other, hold discussions, and share information.
Collaborative learning can work very well through mobile devices. Learners can also click photographs or shoot video clips and share with others to substantiate their views. Create an inclusive environment that supports learning through sharing and collaboration by valuing contributions of all participants.
With ever growing use of mobile devices and wireless connectivity, m-learning has the potential to cater to a large number of learners. Instructional designers need to develop creative techniques to get learners to do much more than viewing heaps of text on their mobile devices. This paper captured some strategies to design effective and engaging m-learning.
There may be many more, but hopefully these should get you started on thinking about the ways to create effective m-learning.
About The Author
Anu Galhotra has over 10 years of experience in designing learning products across different industries. Throughout her career span, she has partnered with several Fortune 500 organizations to identify business needs and design custom learning solutions to address those. With an extensive exposure to instructional design methodologies and content development tools, her work in the areas of collaborative learning and organization-wide accreditation won Brandon Hall and ASTD awards. Anu is now heading the instructional design COE at Infopro, aspiring to create a culture of rigorous thinking and continual learning.
Friday, 18 May 2012
E-learning has just been given premier status. Sooner rather than later, online learning will no longer be viewed as sub-standard, second-rate or ‘lite’ education. The heavy hitters of higher ed, the IVY Leagues are now behind online learning, open source, MOOC‘s, [Massive Open Online Courses] which will have cataclysmic effects for higher ed. I’m speaking of Harvard and MIT’s announcement this past week which introduced edX, a collaborative partnership between MIT and Harvard which will offer Harvard and MIT classes online for on-campus students and anyone with access to the Internet.
The edX initiative is going to accelerate a shift to a new model for education, actually it’s going to be more like a tsunami that’s going to hit campuses which is how John L. Hennessy, president of Stanford described it, according to Ken Auletta in Get Rich U. (2012).
Why is Harvard getting ‘in’ now?
Why has Harvard (finally) thrown its hat into the ring? It’s not just because Stanford’s doing it, as is Princeton, University of Michigan and U Penn, (all of which are doing so collaboratively through a similar initiative coursera), but because they HAVE to. It’s not optional (similar to the question many campuses faced five or so years ago, should we be on Facebook – which changed to when do we get on FB) – the time has come, either acknowledge that the education model needs to change or just close your doors and crawl under a rock. With the influence of social media, 24/7 Internet access, there’s a need to respond, adapt. Furthermore, this higher education bubble we’re in is going to burst, soon. This bubble exists due in part to the cost of higher education, which according to the National Center for Public Policy and Education has increased 440% in the past five years, nearly four times the rate of inflation (Lataif, 2011).
Enough of that, let’s look at the practical reasons why Harvard [and MIT] need to change…
1) Transform: “To enhance campus-based teaching and learning“, according the edX website, which I view as a productivity issue. As much as I dislike to apply business terminology to education, it’s a necessity, universities need to innovate and embrace technology, find new ways to conduct the ‘business’ of educating.
2) Relevancy for on-campus students: Make no mistake, MIT and Harvard recognize that learning needs to transform in order to remain relevant and provide meaningful, enriched learning for students, and we’re talking about on-campus students. EdX appears to be just as much about transforming learning for and reaching students worldwide, as it is for students in traditional face-to-face classes. Watch the two-minute YouTube video at the end of this post where leaders of both institutions share their vision for edX.
3) Education Research: It appears the plan is also to conduct research into educational practices and theory, “EdX will support Harvard and MIT faculty in conducting research on teaching and learning on campus through tools that enrich classroom and laboratory experiences“, a good thing.
What it means for Online Education
We [educators] need to step-up – the bar is high – educators now more than ever need to create and deliver courses of quality and rigor. It also means capitalizing on the value of the educational experience, and showing the student how he or she will benefit from completing for-credit courses. Audit students will become a thing of the past.
The Ivy Leagues have an International reputation that speaks for itself, there will be instant name recognition, which will be associated with ‘quality education’ (whether accurate or not). A recent example, Stanford’s Professor Thrun offered a free online course in Artificial Intelligence last year, that drew 160,000 students from 190 countries. Thrun found this to be a life changing experience, and started Coursera, which offers a full range of courses from Ivy League professors. Granted college credit is not earned. However, there may be something in the offing for edX, as Mitx (which has now merged Harvard edX) had planned to offer recognition of completion (certificate after testing for content mastery) at some point. We’ll have to see what happens with edX.
L. Rafael Reif, Provost of MIT, made it clear that quality and rigor will not be compromised,
“This [edX] should not to be construed as MIT Lite or Harvard Lite, the content is the same”. (YouTube video).
What are the Nay Sayers Saying?
Of course there are plenty of skeptics – and I don’t discount their concerns. I feel it’s worthwhile to consider other viewpoints. Collectively some concerns include, 1) how to motivate students that aren’t intrinsically motivated [to engage with online content], 2) how to promote cross discipline learning, 3) how to get feedback from students that have dropped out [and why], 4) how to monitor progress of students (if the case of thousands of students), to name a few. One blog post I read, was quite pessimistic, suggesting that the impetuous of these schools offering online education is motivated by profit. I respect this educator’s position, though I do not agree, as it’s all about what I’ve mentioned above.
Transforming education is about moving forward, progressing and the time has come. I’ll close with one quote made by chairman of IBM when the prototype for the personal computer was introduced. It’s rather humorous now.
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
Universities on the Brink, Louis Lataif, Forbes.com
Edx: A platform for MOOCS, and an opportunity for more Research about Teaching and Learning Online, Audrey Watters, Inside Higher Ed
About edX, edxonline.org
What’s the difference between a MOOC and the University of Phoenix, More or less Bunk
Photo Credit: Terrible Tsumami, FrankBonilla.tv , Flickr, Creative Commons
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