One day he may lead Club members in a lesson on building digital resumes that can be customized quickly and make job-seeking easier when applying online. Another day they may create a blog. On this particular day, they drew up a budget for an upcoming event using a spreadsheet. For kids who are often glued to their smartphones, these types of digital tasks, surprisingly, can be new experiences.
The vast majority of young Americans have access to a smartphone, and nearly half say they are online “almost constantly.”
But although smartphones can be powerful learning tools when applied productively, these reports of hyperconnectivity and technological proficiency mask a deeper paucity of digital skills. This often-overlooked phenomenon is limiting some young people’s ability—particularly those in rural and low-income communities—to succeed in school and the workplace, where digital skills are increasingly required to collaborate effectively and complete everyday tasks.
According to a survey by Pew Research Center, only 17 percent of Americans are “digitally ready”—that is, confident using digital tools for learning. Meanwhile, in a separate study, American millennials ranked last among a group of their international peers when it came to “problem-solving in technology-rich environments,” such as sending and saving digital information
teach his sophomore pupils the technology skills they need in the workplace, as well as soft skills like teamwork.
However, none of these studies question the teaching methods used in the classes themselves or whether teachers are recognizing the power of digital devices for students to create, share, connect and discover information.
Digital Organization and Content Curation
Much like students understand the concept of binders, notebooks and notes in the physical world, they need a similar system in the digital one. Whether working with dividers and subjects in a tool like Notability or sections and pages in OneNote, students need to build vocabulary to support how they house their learning.
Tagging this way not only helps students stay organized, but it could also help them to examine trends across courses or even semesters.
As a doctoral student, I use OneNote. First, I create a new digital notebook each year. Inside that, I add sections for each term as well as my different courses. Finally, my notes get organized into individual pages within the sections. When I can recall the precise location where I put a particular set of notes, I navigate directly to that page. However, on the numerous occasions when an author, vocabulary term or concept seems familiar but I cannot recall the precise moment when I took notes, then the search function becomes critical.
With most tools (Notability, OneNote, Evernote, etc.), students can not only capture typed and handwritten notes but also incorporate photos, audio and even video. These versatile capabilities allow students to customize their note taking process to meet their learning needs. Consider these possibilities:
Students may take notes on paper, add photos of those papers into a digital notebook, synthesize their thinking with audio or written notes, and then tag their digital notes for later retrieval.
Students might use audio syncing — a feature that records audio and then digitally syncs it with whatever the student writes or types — to capture the context of the class discussion or lecture. When reviewing their notes, students could click or tap on their notes and then jump directly to that point in the audio recording.
Teachers might provide students with their presentation slides or other note taking guides as PDF files. Now, students can focus on taking notes — using any modality — for synthesis, elaboration, reflection or analysis rather than in an attempt to capture content verbatim.
In 1949, neuropsychologist Donald Hebb famously wrote, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
One of the powerful components of digital note taking is that the pages never end, and a full page isn’t an artificial barrier to limit thinking. Students can work on an infinitely expanding canvas to include as much information as they need. For example, concept mapping tools such as Coggle or Padlet allow students to create networks of ideas using text, links, images and even video without ever running out of room. (my note to John Eller – can we renew our 201-2013 discussion about pen vs computer concept mapping?)
But more technology doesn’t always mean better results. Within K-12 learning environments, the digital divide means that students in low-income and rural households have less access to reliable internet and fewer connected deviceson which to complete the online portions of their homework. And while Pearson’s initiative applies only to textbooks in higher ed, the shift to digital has implications at the collegiate level as well.
Just as traditional software has a thriving open source community, textbooks have Open Educational Resources, complete textbooks that typically come free of charge digitally, or for a small fee—enough to cover the printing—in hard copy. And while it’s not an entirely new concept, OER has gained momentum in recent years, particularly as support has picked up at an institutional level, rather than on a course by course basis. According to a 2018 Babson College survey, faculty awareness of OER jumped from 34 percent to 46 percent since 2015.
One of OER’s leading proponents is OpenStax, a nonprofit based out of Rice University that offers a few dozen free textbooks, covering everything from AP Biology to Principles of Accounting. In the 2019–2020 academic year, 2.7 million students across 6,600 institutions used an OpenStax product instead of a for-profit equivalent.
The knock against OER is that, well, you get what you pay for. “One faculty member told me only half-jokingly, that OER is like a puppy that’s free. You get the free puppy, but then you have to do all the work,” says Cengage’s Hansen, who argues that traditional publishers provide critical supporting materials, like assessment questions, that OER often lacks, and can push more regular updates.
By virtue of being free, OER materials also heavily skew toward digital, with hardcover as a secondary option. (Or you can download the PDF and print it out yourself.) The same caveats about efficacy apply. But at least OER doesn’t lock you into one digital platform, the way the major publishers do. OpenStax alone counts around 50 ecosystem partners to provide homework and testing support.
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Or you could always split the difference.
That’s the territory Cengage wants to stake out. Late last summer, the educational publishing behemoth—it announced a planned merger with McGraw Hill in May; the combined company would surpass all but Pearson in market capitalization—rolled out Cengage Unlimited, a “Netflix for Textbooks” model that rolls all textbook rentals and digital platform access into a single rate: $120 for a semester, $180 for a full year, or $240 for two years. Almost a year in, the US-only program has a million subscribers.
wireless chip designer Qualcomm is betting big on Wi-Fi 6
“Cord cutting is real. What was typically one TV in the average home is now five or six different screens,” Patel said. “There’s a tremendous amount of content sourced through the home that wasn’t before. There’s a congestion problem.”
One of Wi-Fi 6’s biggest advances is OFDMA — orthogonal frequency division multiple access, if you must know — an efficiency-boosting technology purloined from mobile networks. Another is MU MIMO, short for multiple user, multiple input, multiple output. And then there’s 1024 QAM — quadrature amplitude modulation — which bumps up data rates by 30%.
Double the range — though Qualcomm has built-in mesh networking technology that’ll let multiple wireless access points cooperate to bathe your house in Wi-Fi radio signals.
Triple the speed — useful not just for watching 4K video but also for uploading from our phones.
Better reliability — good for avoiding video chats plagued by stuttering.
Arizona State University used a grant to obtain 140 Mirage Solo headsets from Lenovo. Just over one third of students have elected to receive one, at no cost, since the program piloted their use in 2018. Alternately, students can view simulations on a computer or a Google Daydream device
A lot of people wear corrective lenses. Designers may need to start thinking about how the devices accommodate glasses.”
For some disciplines and pedagogical objectives, VR experiences may not be readily available, says Dr. Matthew Bramlet, pediatric cardiologist and physician at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria,
my note: Mark Gill, it seems similar to the WYSWYG interface you want to create:
To address that, U of I’s medical college developed its own content. Approximately 40 faculty members have created more than 250 VR lectures. The college provides access to Enduvo, a VR authoring tool Bramlet helped create, and lab space, featuring ceiling-mounted workstations equipped with HTC VIVE headsets powered by a variety of Dell, HP and other computers. Martina, do you want to approach them and ask how willing they would be to share their learning objects for our nursing programs?
my note: Martina, do same – approach this program
Alice Butzlaff, an assistant professor with The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State University, created original teaching exercises through a program sponsored by eCampus, a university resource that offers design and training assistance to help faculty integrate AR/VR technology, including workshops and demos of its HTC VIVE, Samsung Gear VR and other equipment.
My note: Martina
Keep these factors in mind when designing a campus VR lab.
Connectivity: On-campus and online students may have different considerations in order to stream VR content smoothly, so plan accordingly to ensure everyone has high-quality access.
Staff oversight: A program manager or faculty member can manage access to equipment, particularly if limited headsets are available.
Alternative options: Some users experience vertigo or “VR sickness,” says EDUCAUSE’s D. Christopher Brooks, so instructors should consider other ways they can participate in VR-based projects.
Flipgrid is a free service that you can use to post prompts for your students to respond to with short videos that they record through their laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, or phones. Your prompts and your students’ replies can be kept private or you can make them public. a complete set of Flipgrid tutorial videos available here.
Why are professors hesitant to share their syllabi? “My guess is that folks are worried that it will get critiqued in ways that they’re not comfortable,” Becker says. “Some professors aren’t as confident in their teaching as they are in their research.”
The public website of the Open Syllabus Project does not give access to individual syllabi and does not say what professors are teaching which texts. Instead, it lets users search aggregate information drawn from the collection.