Monday, July 25, 2016
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2016 by Ammar Merhbi
Monday, July 11, 2016
Most tech giants (Google, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, HP…) are racing to contribute to the education domain by providing powerful free, mostly cloud based, tools and resources, for students, teachers, schools, and universities. Most of them believe in education and the vast economic gains the world will reap when students are taught 21st century skills using technology to facilitate instruction and student created content. One of those leading tech giants is of course Google.
Google has entered the education domain years back but has only staunchly and gradually offered more tools and features when they started offering Google Apps for Education free for all educational institutions. Since then, Google has spent a lot of time and effort in developing tools to help students learn, educators facilitate, and schools lead into the 21st century learning paradigm.
Recently, and specifically in the ISTE 2016 convention, Google has updated and created new Google Tools that perhaps most educators are still not aware of. Here they are with no preference:
1. Google Expeditions
Bring your lessons to life with Google Expeditions. Cannot go on a school bus and explore the coral reef? No problem. Google Expeditions let your students immerse in a 3600 of virtual reality. Just imagine exploring coral reefs or the surface of Mars in an afternoon. With Expeditions, teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys. Google expeditions was offered for schools that apply for it in a pioneer program, but now it is available for everyone via its Google Expedition App. Teachers can add points of interest for students to explore during their virtual journey. The Google Expeditions can be 3D only with Google Cardboard however. You can also explore Google Expeditions Kits to further enhance student experiences. Teacher can build inquiry-based activities around Google expeditions before, during, and after the lesson. Learn more about Google Expeditions and how to get started here.
2. Science Journal App
The Science Journal app allows you to gather data from the world around you., what we educators call “augmented reality”. It uses sensors to measure your environment, like light and sound, so you can graph your data, record your experiments, and organize your questions and ideas. The key is to help students experiment, recreating the same experiment over and over using the same and variable conditions. Students use the app to record data and interpret results. Science Journal App was developed by Google to help students and teachers delve into their surroundings using inquiry-based approach. Teachers can set up driving questions to help students inquire. The app can be used in a lesson as part of a project based learning unit or as a standalone lesson. Google has also provided a Making with Science website that contains the App, activities, materials (if one wants to connect external hardware), and much more for teachers and students.
3. Google Arts and Culture
Google’s Arts and Culture Institute (There’s an App now) brings the world’s art to your fingertips. Let students discover artworks, collections and stories from all around the world like never before. Students get explore arts in museums around the world in virtual museum trips. Students can zoom in works of art close, real close, that a person with a naked eye present in the museum cannot. This will allow the teacher to guide students into questioning the techniques used for let’s say constructing a paint or unravel hidden icons. Student will have an all-museum view, inside and outside, they will also curate digital arts and exhibitions. In addition to arts, students can historic moments and world wonders. Go to t Google’s Arts and Culture Website to explore more.
4. Google Cast
Although not specifically a generic tool used for education, google cast lets you cast your favorite entertainment and apps from your phone, tablet or laptop right to your TV or speakers.For classroom use, the teacher or student can cast his screen to other tablets or phones using the Google Cast App. Go to Google Cast Website to Find out more.
5. Google Forms Quiz
I have published an earlier post on the new Google Forms Quiz here.
Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016 by Ammar Merhbi
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Finally, Google has added the Google Forms Quiz feature to its Google Forms. Now, instead of correcting students’ responses manually or use a script like Flubaroo, the Google Forms Quiz is now built in the Google Forms itself, and has so many great features that will make all teachers happy.
Here’s How to Create the Quiz
- Go to forms.google.com . Or go to your Google Drive then click New and then choose Forms
- From Google Forms Setting icon, click on Quizzes
3. Change the Form template to a quiz. Then select the options that you prefer. You can have the results directly displayed to students or you can postpone the results after you do a manual review. You can also choose what results students can see (Missed Questions, correct questions, or/and point values). IT is also important to note that you if you need students to have only one response they need to be logged in their google Apps account or Gmail account. You need to select this option from “General Settings”. Also, if you want to shuffle questions, you need to select it under the “Presentation” option.
4. Add your question and choices. Please note that Google Quiz only works with Multiple choice, checkbox, and list questions.
5. Choose the correct answers and set the point value by clicking on the “Answer Key”. Select the correct answers.
6. Select the Feedback for Correct and Incorrect Answers. You can add links to additional resources to help students modify their thinking.
Then click “Save”. Do not forget to click “add” once you add a link.
7. Click on the Eye icon to check how the form looks like for your students.
One thing google needs to add is the personalized answers to the incorrect choices, a feature found in Moodle that I highly appreciate. I think it is not too long before Google gradually turns Google Apps for Education full of LMSs features.
Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2016 by Ammar Merhbi
Monday, June 27, 2016
With Moodle 3.1 release in May, Moodle has really improved in it updates. We all know the myriad of updates Moodle has been with in the past couple of years due to coping with the exponential explosion of new web features and LMSs vendors. The Moodle 3.1 release includes many new features and improvements of earlier features. See below a video list of Moodle 31. overview and video explanation of new as well as improved features.
New and Updated Feature Include:
- New features in assignment Feedback (Great feature)
- Restore deleted items with Recycle Bin
- Pinned Forum Discussions
- Workshop Enhancements
- Share activities on you site using the Publish as LTI Tool
- Tag course activities (bring organization to chaos)
- Easier section editing
- Search and add metalinked courses together
- Competency Frameworks
- Learning Plan Templates
- Manage Global Search
- Assignment file conversion
- Search file system repository
- Lesson default setting
- Tagging Enhancements
For All Users
- Bulk download files in zipped folder
- Search throughout the whole Moodle Site
- Message others more efficiently
- Easily link to forum posts
One particular new feature that Moodle 3.1 has included is the Competency Based Education (CBE) Module. This is a great move from Moodle Headquarters as the current trend of education is for competency based. In addition to linking courses to Competencies that students need to meet, CBE module includes an educational plan, a great feature the helps personalizing the experiential factor of learning and supporting the learners’ metacognition. In a later post, I will discuss how CBE feature potential can be maximized.
Posted on Monday, June 27, 2016 by Ammar Merhbi
Saturday, January 16, 2016
But there’s on more add-on to the accreditation process that has gradually been in place for the past decade. The school accreditation agencies now, more than ever, focus on technology integration in schools, as they believe that students should use technology to research, solve problems, communicate, and create authentic materials. The future is technology, and the future is here. I do agree that student technology use is instrumental if they wish to live and compete in the workplace. Our lives now revolve more than ever around technology. However, the school accreditation agencies have regrettably focused on the wrong facet of technology integration. This in turn, generally, contributes in the schools' heedless purchase of tech tools and gadgets to impress and lure.
I've worked with some school accreditation agencies, and all of them (in their review of a traditional brick and mortar school) focus on technology in the classroom, and to a less extent on technology in school, and even much overlooked is out of school technology integration . Some have even developed a standard (with indicators) for technology integration. Below is one criterion of a classroom observation form that all accreditation review team members have to fill out.
The problem with this view is that the classroom setting is considered as the sole place to use technology, and so they constructed their classroom evaluations on it. In this particular accreditation agency, the average rating of classroom technology integration among 34,000 classrooms visited around the world is 1.21 out of 4, which is extremely low. But should we base the evaluation on tech integration on only classroom, or even school use? In fact, a bulk body of research now confirms that classroom technology has a negative impact on student learning. The OECD report (the first large scale comparative study) on students, schools, and computers shows that students in tech rich schools perform the worst in reading and mathematics as compared to students in tech-average schools.
Students who use computers moderately at school tend to be somewhat more skilled in online reading than students who rarely use computers. But students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in reading, even after accounting for students’ background.
On average, in the past 10 years there has been no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education.
Three significant interpretations of the findingsThe reason is perhaps two-fold : technology setting and technology use.
1- Tech use (in the classroom) minimizes human touch, which improves deep learning. It is really common sense. Why would one be with his peers and his teacher in one room if there is no frequent face-to-face interaction. Communicative tasks and assignments should be done in class.
2- Use of 20th century teaching with technology is obtrusive. This is the perpetual problem in all schools. From teachers to admin, you can only find a couple of teachers in any given school that really uses 21st century teaching practices with technology.
3- Pedagogies for using technology properly for student achievement are fledgling.
On the other hand, the US Ministry of Education found out that student use of technology outside of the classroom or school (online and blended learning modes) have resulted in great student improvements.
So, next time the external review team tries to assess your tech integration solely on school or classroom technology, make sure they know that technology integration is not only confined within the classroom walls. In fact, it shouldn’t be ,for one of the key features that technology brings is student personalized learning, which unconfined by time and space. And, next time your school tries to purchase those Interactive Whiteboards, caution them on the reality of tech in schools in terms of student achievement, or at least suggest that they need to be data-informed and know whether there is a real return of investment.
Posted on Saturday, January 16, 2016 by Ammar Merhbi
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
“Did you check out that cool ClassDojo app? It lets you control your students and their behaviors”, “ I found a great hardware that I can add to my Tablet. I think I can find a way to use it in my classroom”, “ Hey, this tool I came across lets you take photos and add some cool interactive layers. I must fit it in one of my classes”. These are some of the talks you hear whilst sitting with teachers who are fascinated by the next big thing, excited with the new cool tool, and they can’t wait to try it with their students (their guinea pigs). What’s up with most of the 21-century teachers, those who are fascinated by technology, those techno-centric teachers? Why do they keep running after the first tool that appears, the first app that they download, and then they try to squeeze it in their lesson plans; whether it fits with the learning objectives or not. In fact, I have seen some teachers change their lesson plans altogether, and the learning objectives just to fit with the cool tool they would like to use. If you want proof, check out any two blogs on education and technology. I bet you that the one that updates the blog readers on new apps and tools get the much higher traffic and social media shares. The other blog that talks about how to help students learn through technology gets a much lower visitor traffic and shares. There are some exceptions of course.
Come on guys! Your are learning experts. Deep learning should be your top priority. I have seen it over and over again, every year, with so many teachers. I have rarely seen a teacher who starts with the learning target and learning activity type in mind, and then fit the right technology. It is always the other way round, with most teachers I meet or work with. They are always charmed by the novelty effect of technology. Their students too think it’s cool, but what about the result? what about student achievement? What about learning? These are all kicked downstairs, so it seems; a bypass of trying a new technological tool.
The school administrations are not helping too. They are in the same boat with the tech-centric teachers. “We have installed interactive whiteboards in 50% of the classrooms, use them”, “We have bought great classroom projectors”, “We have subscribed all in x website, use it”, it never ends. I am really tired of hearing this everywhere, in schools and educational conferences.
Edtech vendors are also the culprits. They push so hard with their advertisements and marketing strategies, and biased research reports on how their edtech tool helped students increase their achievement in x school, or y university. That is just nonsense. No edtech tool alone can do it. Without proper alignment of technology with the learning objectives and school ecology, it won’t work. You are just deluding yourself that it works because what you see as “student engagement” you interpret as “student achievement”.
Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 by Ammar Merhbi
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
During primary and early middle school years I was a typical, diligent student. I was not the top of my class but I did really well in school. I did well because I was expected to do well by the school, my teachers, my parents, and because of peer competition. However, by late middle school and high school, I began falling behind in most of my subjects, especially Math and Science. I did my best but I could not really “understand” the subjects taught. As the school years progressed, my academic achievement became worse, until by Grade 11 the school gave me a choice: either to continue with the school and repeat my Grade 11 or enroll in another school to promote to Grade 12. Like many other students, I fell into the cracks of a factory-based school system that packages all students in a class by age and treats them as if they have the same learning pace, same learning preferences, and same brain development (cognitive neuroscience now proves that our learning abilities develop at different rates). I was one of those who took his time to digest the lesson slowly, or take some time to ponder on a question asked by the teacher. I was one of those who think really well outside of a 5x4 m. cell with other 29 students. And now, as an educator, I cannot but think of the many “Mes” who have a lot of potentials but fall into the cracks of the institutional schooling. Schools as we know it now were conceived and designed against how students learn. They were designed to produce people with standardized knowledge and skills (if any) to fit in the factory model. In addition, students’ learning abilities were, and still are, labeled based on their age not their cognitive abilities or skill development. I have had many peers during my school years and I have known many students who were not successful in this factory-based (institutional schooling) but then flourished in the real world. This is because in the real world they could take things at their own pace, could pick and choose things that they need to learn “just-in-time” and not “just-in-case”. They could personalize their learning out of the school. This means that schools, although they claim they have a positive impact on students (well they should or else all schools will close) they do hinder student learning because they operate against how students are born to learn.
How Blended Learning Personalizes the Student Learning Experience
If this is the first time you hear of blended learning, or you have heard it before but you are not exactly sure what it is, blended learning first of all is not a technological tool (although it relies on technology). It is an instructional model (not a new one since it was used long ago before institutional school but did not have any name back then). It is not a technology-rich instruction, it is not about high-tech gadgets, and it is not interactive tools (as many vendors promise schools that their tools will deliver:except they do not deliver student achievement),
The latest definition of blended learning (since it is an evolving instructional model) is defined by Christensen Institute as a formal education program in which a student learns :
(1) at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;
(2) at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
(3) and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.
It is essential to note no. 3 above that the modalities between online and brick-and-,mortar should “provide an integrated learning experience”. Many schools and teachers miss on this bit of integrating the two modalities in such a way that they combine the best in the two worlds. By giving the students control over time, place, path/pace schools taps into how students are born to learn. Students can learn then not subdued by the class, teacher, and peer pressure but by how their cognitive processes develop. This is done by “mastery-based” learning. Think of it like an engaging game with levels (including badges and shields). Students will progress from one level to the next by mastering each level. They will then be issued credentials or acknowledgements that they have finished one level and are ready for the next one. This is different than the current model of teaching “ocean wide but an inch deep” shallow learning. Blended learning if done right yields deep learning for all students.
Blended Learning Models Currently Used in Schools
There are currently four blended learning models being used in schools. This however does not mean that any school cannot come up with its own blended learning model. The field of blended learning is still evolving and any blended learning model can be added to the four currently used. In fact some schools have blended learning programs that do not fall in the four blended learning models below as identified by Christensen Institute.
The majority of blended-learning programs resemble one of four models: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual. The Rotation model includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation.
1. Rotation model — a course or subject in which students rotate on a ﬁxed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion between learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning. Other modalities might include activities such as small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, and pencil-and-paper assignments. The students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments.
a. Station Rotation — a course or subject in which students experience the Rotation model within a contained classroom or group of classrooms. The Station Rotation model differs from the Individual Rotation model because students rotate through all of the stations, not only those on their custom schedules.
b. Lab Rotation – a course or subject in which students rotate to a computer lab for the online-learning station.
c. Flipped Classroom – a course or subject in which students participate in online learning off-site in place of traditional homework and then attend the brick-and-mortar school for face-to-face, teacher-guided practice or projects. The primary delivery of content and instruction is online, which differentiates a Flipped Classroom from students who are merely doing homework practice online at night.
d. Individual Rotation – a course or subject in which each student has an individualized playlist and does not necessarily rotate to each available station or modality. An algorithm or teacher(s) sets individual student schedules.
2. Flex model — a course or subject in which online learning is the backbone of student learning, even if it directs students to offline activities at times. Students move on an individually customized, ﬂuid schedule among learning modalities. The teacher of record is on-site, and students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments. The teacher of record or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring. Some implementations have substantial face-to-face support, whereas others have minimal support. For example, some Flex models may have face-to-face certified teachers who supplement the online learning on a daily basis, whereas others may provide little face-to-face enrichment. Still others may have different staffing combinations. These variations are useful modifiers to describe a particular Flex model.
3. A La Carte model — a course that a student takes entirely online to accompany other experiences that the student is having at a brick-and-mortar school or learning center. The teacher of record for the A La Carte course is the online teacher. Students may take the A La Carte course either on the brick-and-mortar campus or oﬀ-site. This differs from full-time online learning because it is not a whole-school experience. Students take some courses A La Carte and others face-to-face at a brick-and-mortar campus.
4. Enriched Virtual model — a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with their teacher of record and then are free to complete their remaining coursework remote from the face-to-face teacher. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are located remotely. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher. Many Enriched Virtual programs began as full-time online schools and then developed blended programs to provide students with brick-and-mortar school experiences. The Enriched Virtual model differs from the Flipped Classroom because in Enriched Virtual programs, students seldom meet face-to-face with their teachers every weekday. It differs from a fully online course because face-to-face learning sessions are more than optional office hours or social events; they are required.
Whatever blended learning model you adopt or adapt should be heavily dependent on the school environment: school leadership, vision, faculty, students, parents, country et… Since blended learning is a formal program, faculty and school leadership should collaborate to put policies, allocated resources, set up support systems, professional development etc. so that the whole school moves in the blended learning direction.
It is time that politicians, educational leaders, and parents realize that learning does not only happen within the school geographical location or only in the classroom. Breaking down the classroom walls is an essential factor in student achievement as it will contextualize student learning in real life. In addition, blended learning caters for unique student learning needs in terms of learning styles, pace, preferences, and cognitive development. To blend means to shift from one-size-fits-all to all-sizes-fit-all. It means that all students regardless of their learning needs will personalize their learning in collaboration with their teachers that act as facilitators to “scaffold” their learning.
Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 by Ammar Merhbi
Sunday, January 11, 2015
I have added the feature of interactivity to the guide however. By adding videos to the tool, anyone who wants to learn how to use any tool can just click on the interactive layer and watch the video. I surely hope this helps teachers learn Moodle tools easily and know how each tool affords different learning outcome.
I will hopefully later add more interactivity in terms of instructional design, such as Bloom's taxonomy, assessing learning etc.
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2015 by Ammar Merhbi
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2014 by Ammar Merhbi
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Time-to-Adoption for K-12
New-term Horizon (Time-to-adoption 1 year)
Mid-term Horizon (Time-to-adoption 2 -3 years)
rising costs of education, the desire to provide access to learning in areas where such access is difficult, and an expression of student choice about when and how to learn”. This is a clear indication that education is moving to the next generation learning era, with the rise of new models of OER publishing of textbooks and educational materials. Open content movement started almost a decade ago with MIT publishing their courses online for free to anyone who wants to view and learn. Since then, many strides towards OER have been done, the last of which was MOOCs, with its pioneers Steven Downs and George Siemens. Still though, the area of open content is still debatable in the k12 arena as many of the schools around the world are built around a business model, a for-profit model, and many huge enterprises like Pearson for Education would be the first to suffer if OER models are adopted on a massive scale.
Far-term Horizon (Time-to-adoption 4 -5 years)
Virtual and Remote Labs
Final Thoughts on Time-to-Adoption
Key Trends in K12
1. Educational paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models.
2. Social Media is changing the way people interact, present ideas and information, and communicate.
3. Openness- concepts like open content, open data, and open resources are gaining more audience in the k12 domain
4. Revisiting our roles as educators
Significant ChallengesWith all the trends and emerging technologies, the challenges of using technology or adopting a trend are numerous.
1. Ongoing professional development needs to be valued and integrated into the culture of schools
2. Too often it is education’s own practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies.
3. New models of of education are bringing unprecedented competition to traditional education
4. K-12 must increase the blending of formal and informal learning
5. The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices.
6, We are not using digital media for formative assessment the way we could and should.
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 by Ammar Merhbi
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