This week in my COETAIL class, we participated in a jigsaw activity to discuss The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition. As a way to summarize, get my head around all of the information, and connect this to my students, I thought this would be a good blog topic for the week. The topics discussed were:
- Cloud Computing
- Game-based Learning
- Open Content
- Learning Analytics
- Personal Learning Environments
This video explains cloud computing in simple terms. It is a move from in-house servers or infrastructures to web-based storage areas, email providers, data bases, backups and applications. My school recently acquired Google accounts for all teachers and students. One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is its cost effectiveness. Once in the cloud, the infrastructure requires little if any development and extra expense. One disadvantage is that an internet connection is necessary at all times. There must also exist a great degree of trust by the user for the provider to maintain its services. I have found that the Google Suite of applications are, for the most part, user-friendly and effective. I am using Google Docs with my students in a variety of ways. In my opinion, the potential for collaborative work that cloud computing offers is one of its biggest advantages.
Mobile devices such as the Apple IPad and the HP TouchPad are “always connected” devices that have many more capabilities than just text messaging. Mobiles are portable, affordable, and can even replace the necessity for heavy textbooks as they can store digital books, videos, and other information. The IPad guides users to the internet content that they seek by using a graphic icon system that requires only the touch of a finger. This has many implications for education. Young learners especially can benefit from the seamless access to information that mobiles afford. Another advantage, is that mobiles have the potential to access the internet anywhere, anytime. Again, the uses for field study projects and collaborative work assignments are endless.
Game-based Learning is not a new concept. GBL, before the digital age, was any activity that was used to focus and motivate learners during lessons. Now, GBL or DGBL (Digital Game-based Learning) is a learning approach that incorporates the use of computer games, serious games, commercial off -the-shelf computer games, and simulations to engage students in higher levels of thinking. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuFcaPAx3jQ) Games engage students in ways that other approaches to learning cannot. Serious games are presenting students with authentic situations. These simulations require students to employ higher levels of thinking to create and generate solutions to real world problems. I remember using “The Oregon Trail” with my students twenty years ago. A great simulation that motivated and engaged my students. This is an area in which I am very interested and I realize its power and potential. Tim Rylands, an educator from the UK, is a leading GBL proponent. You can check out his blog here: http://www.timrylands.com/
Open Content is a movement that embraces the sharing of information and educational practices, experiences, and insights. It is a cost-effective alternative for students / districts with limited access to published/purchased educational materials. While the broad use of open content in education is still a ways down the road, the benefits are obvious. At the same time, a new set of skills is emerging for scholars and educators who pursue open content on the web. Evaluative and analytical skills are necessary in order to find the right material and put it to the right use. As it stands now, educational publications and learning materials are created based on individual opinions and ideas. Open content allows for the collaboration of many in the creation of content that can be accessed and utilized by everyone.
Learning Analytics is the interpretation of data that is collected about a student. It could include data from student management systems. online data such as social networking, blogs, discussions, and other online data. If used effectively, learning analytics allows schools to respond to the needs of an individual learner in “real time”. The goal of learning analytics is for schools to be able to tailor an education specifically geared to an individuals optimum learning profile…differentiation at it’s best.
Personal Learning Environments
Personal Learning Environments not only allow students to access and use technology that they might not utilize in a traditional classroom, but it enables them to determine the style and pace in which they learn. PLE’s allow students to approach learning situations in ways that best address their needs as a learner. While still in the conceptual phase, PLE’s can offer a wide range of benefits students. One precondition for PLE’s is that student must have internet access in order to operate within their learning environment. It is interesting to note that some are linking digital portfolios with PLE’s so that students can carry with them a record of their learning.
Wow…those are the “Big 6” of The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition. A big take away for me can be summarized in this quote: “Digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking.” That statement rings true for teachers as well as students. Throughout this report and throughout each of the COETAIL encounters that we have had, a major thread has to do with the way we, as teachers, allow students access to information and learning situations. A one-to-one laptop program is only as effective as the thought innovation behind the technology.