Category Archives: Reports & Analysis

Reports and Analysis in education.

87% of US Smartphone Owners use it to browse the Web

Interesting new data on smartphone adoption and Internet usage from the Pew Internet Project. In its newest report Pew finds that now one third (35%)  of adult US citizens own a smartphone.

87% of those access the Internet or read their emails on their smartphone, 68% on a daily basis.

25% say that they mostly use their smartphone to access the Internet although they have other means at home but in most of these cases the mobile connection is faster than their home connection.

Picture: morguefile user ppdigital

Lessons from Denmark: Summer Camps don’t need to be boring

Danfoss Universe is a modern days entertainment park that is visited by 100 000 guests in high season alone.

The Science Camp takes place every year the week before the school starts and its focus is set on children’s experiences like meeting new friends and having fun while learning by doing. One of the most popular attractions for teenagers is a Segway Track.

On the Segway track, you experience on your own body the technologies and principles behind the gyroscope stabilizer and mechanical steering system.

Danfoss Universe works closely with LEGO which is no surprise as the former park manager and present Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, used to work for the world famous company.

Another part is the Universe Research Lab, established by the Universe Fund in 2007. It is set on “collecting, generating and conveying knowledge about learning processes, learning environments, creativity and innovation”. The park offers local schools and teachers courses on innovation in education.

I remember the Soviet era summer camps in Bulgaria which used to be much inspired by the Makarenkos’ school – cold pasta dishes and gym before wasting a perfectly nice day with doing nothing. Fortunately that has changed and for many Bulgarian parents in need today the libraries change the picture proactively. I recently praised the crafts&arts workshop at the library in Shumen where kids of all ages can participate in many fun activities throughout the summer holiday, all free of charge. The volunteer’s center in Lovech is another good example how to combine reading and fun.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s initiative “Global Libraries” that is the main donor to Bulgarian culture today just recently furnished 900 libraries with state-of-art hardware running Microsoft software. The library staff is now undergoing intense training on how to use the new devices.

Among the partners and sponsors of Danfoss Universe are the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Education and the Municipality of Sønderborg. The advantage of the Danish model here is once more the state participation – quality standards are important as well as the principle of equality. It takes careful planning and engagement on all sides to bring up a generation. Also during summer holiday.

#Edumooc 2011 and Blended Learning

Image via Flickr and Creative Commons license

MOOCs

The Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois, Springfield is offering a MOOC for anyone interested in teaching and learning online. This week I’ve been enjoying edumooc 2011: Online Learning Today…and TomorrowWhat the Research Tells Us which lists a variety of publications related to on line teaching and learning, offering a variety of different perspectives related to curriculum, assessment, and instruction within an open and on line delivery format.

I found it interesting that although this week’s focus in on (MOOC) research, (as of today) there was not one tweet using the hashtag #edresearch. But research is being conducted – to name a few: OER University (study group), No Significant Difference, and obviously the University of Illinois is carefully gathering data as the course unfolds. One thing that I would like to pass along is the survey that the OERu is drafting. With a little modification, this instrument could certainly be used at the beginning of any blended course in order to get an idea of student ICT readiness and preferences.

If you are interested in on line journals that cover on line teaching and learning, I found the following useful: Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), and the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN). Certainly there are others and you are encouraged to check the rest of them out if you get a chance.

Finally, if you would like a further description as to what a MOOC is, you might start by reading The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. This will give you some background, but what I’m finding is that as I participate in more MOOCs over time, there really is little consensus as to what a MOOC is exactly.  There are many aspects of a MOOC to consider and much will depend on your own educational context as both a teacher and learner.

Blended Learning

Most of us are familiar with some form of either blended learning (some combination of offline/online delivery, synchronous/asynchronous types of communication, and learning theory/theories) or online blended learning (basically blended learning with no face-to-face contact) since I suspect there are few teachers these days that shy away completely from using technology in some form or fashion. I know there are some, but I have to believe the numbers continue to dwindle down.

Anyway, for EduMOOC 2011, participants are interacting in a variety of ways: (a) Google Groups, (b) Wikispaces, (c) Moodle Forums, (d) Twitter hashtag – #edumooc, (e) edumooc blog, (f) personal blogs like this one, (g) Twitter list, (h) online newspaper, (i) Diigo, (j) Delicious, (k) Facebook, and (l) OERu study groupaggregators, among others. A MOOCast went out on Tuesday as well which appears that it will continue for the duration of the course. Clusters are forming throughout the web as each participant decides the way in which to engage with others.

So, you may be asking yourself,

How in the world do I keep up with the large amounts of information passing through so many different types of social media?

The answer is you don’t.  It’s virtually (no pun intended) impossible to keep up with all of the different conversations going on in a MOOC at any given time.  The trick is to find the technologies that you are used to and use them in such a way that information gets filtered back to you; for example, here is one simple way to participate in a MOOC that currently works for me.  For others, sticking to one or two forum group discussions may be the answer. Indeed, there is no one right way to participate in a MOOC, only that individuals interact with each other and with the course content so to maximize meaningful and relevant experiences.

To find examples of other MOOCs, refer to this list: CCK08CCK09PLENK2010, and Change MOOC starting this Fall.  Certainly there are others but these are MOOCs that I’ve been involved with over the last few years.

So, as an educator, teacher, trainer, mentor, facilitator, etc. and considering the different elements that make up an online blended learning experience, what attributes normally associated with the term MOOC do you take advantage of in your current teaching practice?  What are some aspects of a MOOC that you find challenging or not particularly conducive to the learning process?

Whether you call it a MOOC or not, it’s really about the way in which participants interact with each other and with the content, forming the connections that help the learner gain the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind needed in order to advance the learning process over one’s lifetime.

School Library 2.0 – The Future of Education is the Future of Libraries

The very first reading campaign in Denmark took place in 1956, writes Anette Oesters in her book Childrens Reading – Denmark, Sweden, Norway.

The general dislike for comic books advance into the children’s room, introduced “The children’s book week”, a true propaganda as it was described in the info materials. The focus was on reading, not on what was being read. “Children’s book week” was held every fifth year till 1971 when it grew into a Children and youth literature festival.

In 1993, “Read aloud festival” took place with the purpose of raising media attention for children’s reading, though with more a relaxed attitude toward comic books. The similarity between all the initiatives was the focus on reading, not books.

A new Danish initiative from 2011 is Ordet Fanger, parents and friends reading to children, with the smart aim to bring 25% increase in book sales and library loans. The book should enter the youth Top ten list, believe print houses, writers, supermarkets and libraries that support the project. The initiative gets a huge social media coverage.

A week ago, I talked with Justine Toms from Az-deteto.bg in Bulgaria, a true edupreneur and person behind the very first summer reading online diary. Summer reading held two intro seminars hosted by the children section of the public library in Sofia and Varna. In ten days, the Library in Plovdiv will welcome Justine’s team of ambassadors of reading. The innovation behind the aim to secure book donations in times of budget cuts is the digital reading profile. More than 500 Bulgarian children from all around the country have already registered and began filling in their impressions from their books of choice. The project site hosts video interviews with favorite Bulgarian children writers.

I draw a parallel with the kingdom of Denmark’s organized model of state engagement to point out what cooperation between the different stakeholders could produce. The Danish school library model and experience with children reading events through the years can be used as a benchmark by the representative of Bulgarian library and information association appointed to participate in the working group for creating the new state standards for the school library in Bulgaria.

I believe that the future of education is the future of libraries. Based, of course, on my own experience. I got my first library card when I was 3.

Picture Credit: Mary R. Vogt taliesin from Morguefile