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Posts tagged ‘mLearning’

Apple’s iPad: Is it a perfect e-learning tool?


Apple’s iPad has been a pathbreaker of sorts in the technological field. They were many naysayers during its launch regarding its utility, but I suppose the tremendous success of the product have shut up their mouths. The craze and euphoria has not died yet, and with the launch of iPad 2, the buzz is getting stronger. And the all-important question comes to the fore: can the iPad serve as an ideal classroom teaching device?

I strongly feel that iPad will have a part to do. It is sure to displace one-to-many teaching pedagogies in favor of interactive one-to-one studying and learning and will encourage much more participation from students.

To drive home my point about the iPad will have a role in online education for children, here is some news. It has been seen by many that those children who haven’t learned to read or write or even operate a mouse are able to operate the iPad with tremendous speed. According to an article published in  Ad Age in June 2010, “How the iPad Became Child’s Play – and Learning Tool,” there were many toddlers as who were as many as 18 months old only who were trying to provoke interaction from TV sets and PC monitors as if they were touch screens like that of the iPad. This indicates clearly that the next generation will find it very easy to respond well and interact with the intuitive device.

In another study related to e-book reading, a survey result released by Student Monitor revealed that out of 1200 college students who were participants in the survey and interested in e-readers, more than 46% of them opted for iPad as the preferred e-reader rather than 38% of them who favored Amazon’s Kindle. This indicates that iPad is known among the adolescents to be much more conducive and intuitive than the Kindle.

Educators today are stressing on the need for contextual learning and user participation. Digital whiteboards have failed to encourage interactivity, and is also less on computing power. The laptop is comparatively bulky too and can be problematic to handle sometimes. The iPad then serves to be the perfect device for comfortable online learning and acts as a useful tool for referencing, collaborating, and content creation. The best part is that of the choice for personalized content for students.

Some of the kinks are there: it does not support web pages which have Flash, it does not have a telephone, it does not have a camera and it also does not have USB slots or memory card slots although there is support for dongles. These limitations are somewhat deterrent for its use but once there are updates to the device, I don’t really see a problem for the iPad to be used as a e-learning device!

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com .

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After one semester, students and staff love iPads at St. Cat’s


buy this photo Students in a sixth grade science class in the middle school program at St. Catherine's High School use their iPad tablets rather than pens, pencils, and notebooks, Thursday December 9, 2010. / Mark Hertzberg mhertzberg@journaltimes.com Buy this photo at jtreprints.com

RACINE – Seated at his school desk Thursday, sixth-grader Nicholas Rodriguez placed his fingers on an Apple iPad touch-screen and began typing the findings of a group science experiment onto a slide for a class presentation.

At a desk across from Nicholas, fellow sixth-grader Sam Letsch used another iPad to search the Internet for photos to be included in the presentation. Upon finding them, he quickly e-mailed them to Nicholas who placed them in the presentation file.

Around Nicholas and Sam, 25 other sixth-graders in the Middle School Program at St. Catherine’s High School did similar work on iPads, which are very thin, light and portable single-panel touch-screen computers.

Students in St. Catherine’s Middle School Program, which started this fall with 54 sixth- and seventh-graders, have been using iPads all school year in place of textbooks, spirals and standard computers. Students and staff said after some adjustment at the start of school the iPads are now working well and they’d never go back to classes that use regular textbooks, paper and pencils.

“All our books are on (the iPads). We don’t have to carry around our big books anymore. Instead of writing everything down you can type in notes, e-mail them to our teacher and they can grade it right at their computer,” said Nicholas, 11, adding that means assignments are returned quicker so students know sooner if answers are right or wrong and if they need help. “The old way is slower.”

The old way is also less engaging, said Diane Putra, middle school science and math teacher at St. Catherine’s, 1200 Park Ave. Petra said the iPads keep her class lessons moving faster and keep students attentive because they allow for so many interactive activities that can involve each and every student.

“I couldn’t go back to the other method,” Petra said of teaching with regular books, paper and pencils. “This has so much to offer.”

Using the iPads, students can access electronic versions of their textbooks that include online activities and video tutorials. The iPads also have a word-processor program, an electronic dictionary, a drawing program, school-appropriate Internet access, interactive learning games and a calendar for recording homework assignments, explained Sam, 11, clicking through the programs on the iPad Thursday.

St. Catherine’s is the only school in Racine County and in much of the country to provide iPads for individual students, a decision made to expose students to the latest technology – for a per student technology fee of $400, which replaces a textbook fee.

St. Catherine’s plans to increase iPad use among students to include eighth-graders next school year and high schoolers the following year.

So far no iPads have been stolen, damaged or lost and the new machines have caused only a few problems, including occasional screen glares and students sometimes getting distracted during lessons by all the iPad features. Petra said those problems have been largely fixed by closing blinds in classrooms, the wearing off of the iPads’ novelty and rearranging student desks so teachers can see their screens.

Petra also said her students picked up the new technology fast. Watching them in class Thursday the students typed with ease on the iPads and quickly switched from program to program with no difficulty or confusion.

“It was hard at first,” Sam said. But the iPads include a typing program that taught students to use the iPad keyboard and frequent iPad use has accustomed students to the machines. “It really does get a lot easier as the year goes.”

Source: journaltimes.com

University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Science going Mobile


From next year, the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Science will be moving towards mobile delivery, with all first-year students provided with iPads, and textbooks replaced by digital materials.  They will be the first Australian University to begin delivering in this way, and this is the first step towards an overhaul of their teaching strategies, including moving to fully online delivery of first-year Science courses from 2012, according to Professor Bob Hill, Executive Dean of the Faculty. To help ensure that teaching materials and activities are compatible with the iPads, teaching staff will also be receiving the devices.

iPad in use

I have a modicum of skepticism about some aspects of this planned course of action, however.  Firstly, the focus on iPads might force thinking around mobile learning into a iPad-shaped box, rather than encouraging the development of mobile learning activities and resources to suit a wider range of devices.  This is already apparent in the kinds of materials they describe as being prepared for their iPads:

“The aim is to transfer all learning content to an electronic version which includes many currently printed textbooks for first-year students sometime in 2012.”

Aaargh.  Transferring learning content to computers, including textbooks, does not equate to e-learning.  Transferring learning content to mobile devices is unlikely to result in quality mobile learning.  The REAL task here should be to develop new learning activities and resources that target the required learning outcomes and utilise the affordances of mobile devices, rather than thinking that an electronic textbook on an iPad is somehow better that a paper-based textbook.  Instead, the focus appears to be on the *delivery* of content, rather than ways in which students can interact with, and create on, iPads:

“The online material will take a variety of forms with students being able to access lecture notes, audio, background documents and textbooks through tailored web-based apps. This is in addition to all the student services currently available through the MyUni website such as timetabling, video downloads, slides and email.”

THERE IS NOTHING NEW or innovative about ANY of those content sources or activities.  All that’s happening is that they’re being displayed on a shiny new device, instead of a laptop or a desktop computer, and they’re accessed through “app” buttons.  Contrast that philosophy with a learner-centric pedagogical model in which learning activities are developed that use key affordances of the iPad: for example, designing activities where students annotate or complete worksheets or experiments using an app like Noterize; or focusing on using mobile devices equipped with cameras to document science experiments or field trips using blogs, images, and video.

I hope the University of Adelaide will take time to consider how learning with technology is much more than learning ON technology.  A successful mobile learning strategy requires working with the inherant strengths and limitations of mobile devices to enhance learning and engagement – not just trying to do the same thing as before with the new tool!

eLearning & mLearning: Using Color in Learning, Part III


Over the last couple weeks I’ve discussed the impact that thoughtful use of color can have on your learner’s mood and ability to learn material. This week I’m going to focus on the use of color when designing eLearning for audiences with special needs.

Iconlogic-color-7
Your eLearning color scheme might look amazing to you, and it might tie-in perfectly with the learning you are trying to deliver. But is it possible the eLearning course could be seen internationally and convey something completely different to someone in another culture? Could your eLearning lesson be hard for someone who is colorblind to see? What about the elderly or people who are dyslexic? Read on for some color design tips for these special circumstances.

Cross-Cultural Color Design

Some color meanings are relatively universal. If you want to convey passion, red would be a good choice no matter where your design is viewed. If you want to convey evil, black is pretty universally accepted. But what about something like marriage? In Western cultures you’d probably use white, but if your design was viewed in Hindu or Chinese culture your color choice may be lost, as they associate red with marriage. To convey death? In the West, eLearning lessons targeted for the Japanese and Native American cultures should use black; in Hindu and Chinese cultures you’d be better off with white.

Keeping track of a full spectrum of colors and how they relate to an even wider array of emotions and sentiments can get overwhelming. Use this infographic to simplify the process (you can click the graphic for a larger view).

Colors in culture

(Image Source: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net)

Design for the Color Blind, Dyslexic and Elderly

I find that rather than designing eLearning courses with every possible sight deficiency in mind, it is easier to design the course so that it looks nice and will be effective. Once I have my design in place, I analyze it to see what colors need to be altered a bit to satisfy a more diverse sight spectrum.

When I want to know if a color will have enough contrast to be visible to someone who is colorblind I often reference the illustration below. The large image is how people with normal vision see the colors and the image at the bottom left is how people with most forms of color blindness would see those same colors. (You can click the graphic for a larger view.)

Colorblind chart
(Image Source: http://www.visibone.com/colorblind/)

Another good resource when designing for someone who is colorblind is to either post your learning content online or find a website with a similar color scheme. Copy the lesson’s URL into this Colorblind Web Page Filter. Depending on which color filter you select, the page filter will show you the view seen by people with different forms of colorblindness.

Based upon her previous research showing that dyslexia is actually a “slow moving transient system that depends largely upon visual contrast,” Mary C. Williams of the University of New Orleans, ran a study with 38 dyslexic and 32 non-dyslexic children to see if their reading comprehension varied based on which color background black text was presented. The test revealed a significant elevation in reading comprehension among dyslexics when the text appeared on a blue or light gray background.

Lighthouse International, a nonprofit organization that deals with vision preservation, wrote an informative brochure on vision and old age in which they state that the loss of vision is not a guarantee with old age. There are some changes in vision that we can all expect like declining sensitivity, which is a yellowing of the eyes that can make it difficult to distinguish blue from black. If you are presenting your learning to a more mature audience, that may be a color combination to avoid.

Another color choice to avoid when designing for an older audience is pastels (particularly in cool tones) as they can appear more gray than their intended color.

Lighthouse International also produced a brochure on Designing for People with Partial Sight and Color Deficiencies that has some good color examples and thoughts on combining different hues and saturations of colors for people with sight deficiencies to reference when you are designing.

Generally speaking, it isn’t always convenient to follow these specific color guidelines. Many color combinations will suffice for all audiences. However, it’s important to always ask the question: “what is the value of bringing in a few more readers or increasing understanding from a generally underserved audience?” Here’s hoping your editor or manager agrees.

About the author: AJ George is IconLogic’s lead Technical Writer and author of both “PowerPoint 2007: The Essentials” and “PowerPoint 2008 for the Macintosh: The Essentials.” You can follow AJ on Twitter at http://twitter.com/andrayajgeorge.

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