Looking at Technology on the “Horizon” for Higher Education

The NMC Project Initiatives ModelWith new technology developments in education constantly increasing and changing, how do you keep up with the latest technology trends for higher education? How do you decide which technologies to implement and how to do this effectively? Where can you find examples of what other universities and faculty are doing? One option is to read the 2014 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report, an annual publication of the New Media Consortium (NMC), in collaboration with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). This annual publication, released early this year, examines key trends, challenges, and specific emerging technologies or practices that are predicted to have a major impact on higher education over the next five years. An international panel of experts in education, technology, and related fields identify the topics that appear in the report.

The report identifies six key trends grouped by estimated time of impact, six significant challenges grouped by difficulty, and six emerging technologies grouped by estimated time of adoption (1 year or less, 2 to 3 years and 4 to 5 years).

To give some examples, the report identifies key trends such as the “Growing Ubiquity of Social Media” and the “Integration of Online, Hybrid and Collaborative Learning” as likely to drive changes in higher education over the next 1 or 2 years. Significant challenges, according to the report, include “Low Digital Fluency of Faculty” and “Keeping Education Relevant”.  Technology identified as having an important impact on higher education for the 1 year or less horizon include the “Flipped Classroom” and “Learning Analytics”.  To find out more about these and other trends, challenges, and technologies in the report, you can download a free copy of the report from the New Media Consortium (NMC) here. You can also find out more about the research process behind the report by checking out the Horizon Report’s wiki.

The Horizon Report encourages and inspires discussion and this past May I was able to attend a 2014 Horizon Report Symposium that was presented at NERCOMP (Northeast Regional Computing Program) in Norwood, MA. The symposium, organized and led by Bryan Alexander (one of the Horizon Report’s expert panelists), offered the chance to attend a presentation and to discuss the report and it’s implications with other higher education professionals, including educational technologists, instructional designers, IT professionals, librarians, administrators, and faculty.

The presentation was structured around Bryan Alexander’s wiki resource for the 2014 NERCOMP Horizon Report symposium, which includes links to related articles, websites, videos and more, as well as notes generated from the day’s discussion. Throughout the presentation, participants shared concerns, success stories, and even failures around the implementation of various new technologies. As is often the case, in the end more questions were probably raised then answered, but it’s always helpful to hear issues and examples from other professionals who are working with technology in education.

Following are some key takeaways from the event:

  1. It’s important to use new technology effectively to meet learning goals, rather than just for the sake of the new technology (even the most promising technology can be used poorly).
  2. There is a need to devise ways to support faculty in learning new technologies and help them to implement the technologies in effective and beneficial ways.
  3. There is a need to make sure the use of the technology is of benefit to the students and the learning process (especially in the case of technologies such as learning analytics).
  4. It’s also important to consider issues of concern, such as distraction (especially with social media and mobile devices), increased faculty workload, student privacy, and digital citizenship, among others.

A quick video overview of this year’s Horizon Report can be viewed at the New Media Consortium’s YouTube channel or below:

If you’d like to explore how some of the key trends and technologies from the Horizon Report can be applied to your own teaching (trends such as “The Growing Ubiquity of Social Media” or “Integration of Online, Hybrid and Collaborative Learning” and technologies such as the “Flipped Classroom”), contact eLIS at elis@lesley.edu.

Source for trends, challenges, and technology examples mentioned from the Horizon Report:

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freemam, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report:  2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

myLesley Blogs, Journals & Wikis, Oh My!

Did you know that myLesley has its own built-in set of blogs, journals and wikis? They’ve been around for a while, but with the latest myLesley update now is a great time to take another look.

Blackboard blog

What’s so great about Blackboard blogs and wikis?

Faculty who have already switched over to these built-in tools have found them to be far easier to use and set up. This is especially true if you create individual blogs for your students. Now there’s no need to manually set up a separate blog for each student. Just create your blog, click a single button (Individual to All Students) and Blackboard will automatically take care of the rest. Note: If you select the Course option all of the students will post their entries to a shared single blog.

individual blog setting

Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis have the same text editor as the discussion board so your students do not need to learn a new tool. Adding images and media is far more straightforward and obvious and because theses tools are native to the Blackboard environment, they have access to all the Blackboard tools. This includes the ability to easily add and/or record video with Video Everywhere, recording audio with Voice Authoring and integration with the Grade Center.

What you need to know?

All Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis are private to your course and can only be accessed and viewed while you and your students are logged into myLesley. This set-up fully complies with FERPA regulations. This privacy feature also means that you cannot copy blog or wiki content to another course.

If you have created a template for a wiki assignment, we recommend that you set it up in another course, such as a development shell or your myspace (aka Faculty Demo Student Account). You can then manually copy and paste the pages of the wiki into your new course. You could also create a Word document with the structure of each page and save it with your other course resources. This may seem a little more cumbersome than simply copying the wiki from course to course, but it’s easier than having to delete all the pages and student comments from last semester’s wiki assignments in order to start with a clean template.

Where to find out more info?

Please review the support pages below for more info on how to set up the tools, create and edit content, and grade student work.

Blackboard Wikis
Blackboard Blogs and Journals

What to Look Forward to in Blackboard for Fall 2014

On August 26, 2014, myLesley will be upgraded to the latest version of Blackboard (Blackboard Learn 9.1 April 2014). This scheduled myLesley upgrade will resolve known issues and include several new features and enhancements that are especially useful for faculty. They include:

Student Preview – Quickly View Your Course as a Student
Toggling the new Student Preview button provides instructors with the capability to see and experience their myLesley courses exactly as their class does. While in Student Preview mode, instructors can perform the following student activities: submit assignments, take tests, create blog posts, create journal and wiki entries and view traditional student only tools, such as My Grades. For more information, review the Details or watch the Overview Video below.

SafeAssign
SafeAssign, the tool that reviews assignment submissions for plagiarism, is now integrated as an option right in the Assignments tool and also includes a suite of new reporting features. For more information, review these Details.

Atomic Learning
Atomic Learning is a free service available to all Lesley students and faculty. Atomic Learning features hundreds of self-paced video tutorials on popular software tools and online resources. You can now add these tutorials directly to your myLesley course for students to review without needing to login to a different site. See our Atomic Learning tutorial for more information.

Achievements Tool
The Achievements tool allows instructors to define criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both Badges and Certificates. Students can see which rewards they’ve earned and what’s required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies. For more information, review the Details or watch the Overview Video below.

Anonymous Grading
Instructors can hide student names from submitted assignments for anonymous grading. Review the Details for more information.

Design Studios: Learning from Designing

design_studio
From integrating engineering projects into K-12 education to new problem-solving processes in business, design thinking is an idea that is finding its way into areas that previously did not include such an approach. Many educators are finding that design projects provide authentic collaborative learning opportunities.

Designing thinking can also guide one’s approach to planning a course. Designing an online or hybrid course for the first time can be extremely challenging. For instructors who someday may teach in these modalities, planning a “blended activity” for a face-to-face course is a useful learning experience that serves as a great preparation for online or blended teaching. This planning process, including thinking around technology integration, benefits from a collaborative problem-solving approach. During last June’s Summer Technology Institute hosted by eLIS, instructional designers worked with small groups of faculty on identifying and working on such design projects. The week-long time period for the Institute was conducive to such work because it allowed the inclusion of both individual reflective time and collaborative discourse. The important interplay between these learning and thinking modes supports the challenging work of transforming face-to-face learning experiences into online or blended ones.

We encourage faculty members to approach this work as experimental and to consider pilot-testing the design and learning from the first iteration. If you would to learn more about how eLIS can support work of this type, please, please contact elis@lesley.edu or email John McCormick or Sarah Krongard.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Apps!

Mix poetry and technology?
Yes! Try these apps.
They’re  fun and free!

April is National Poetry Month and that means it’s the perfect time to take advantage of technology to discover, read, or listen to poetry, or even to write and record your own. Whether you teach poetry, or just want to enjoy it or know more about it, you’ll find the apps listed below all offer a different way to experience this exciting world of words. The apps listed here are just a small sample of what’s out there, and are limited to apps that are free.

poetry_found_appPoetryfrom The Poetry Foundation, is a wonderful resource that gives you a portable library of thousands of classic and contemporary poems. It’s a great way to discover new poets and poems or just to look for your old favorites. Of special interest is the “spin” feature, which finds poems by random combinations of subject and mood. You can also manipulate these combinations manually, so you can find a perfect poem to suit the moment.  A large variety of poems and poets are included, ranging from Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe to Lucille Clifton and Billy Collins. Audio versions of some of the poems are available as well. Favorite poems can be saved and shared. New poems are added monthly and more poems are available on The Poetry Foundation website.

the_poetry_apThe Poetry App, by the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, provides an opportunity to see and hear classic poetry performed by professional actors. The app, which has a rather attractive and unusual interface, includes over 100 poems by 16 poets. It offers text versions of each poem, audio and/or video introductions and performances of the poetry, and background essays on the poets and their poems. There’s even an option to write, record, save, and share your own poetry. Thirty or so actors (Ralph Fiennes and Roger Moore among them) read the poems. The poets represented are mostly British and American “classic” poets, so it’s not an app for contemporary poetry, and it’s not the largest selection, but it’s an enjoyable way to experience various interpretations of the works of some great poets read by some great actors. The interface includes some hidden interviews and performances to discover as well. Favorites in text, video or audio can be saved and shared.

poetry_daily_appPoetry Daily, by Poetry Daily, is a handy little app if you want exposure to new poetry or poetry publications but don’t know where to look or don’t have a lot of time to go searching. It delivers a new poem to your device every day. Poems are contemporary and are chosen from new books, magazines and journals. Each poem includes a short note about the poet and the publication in which the poem currently appears and provides a link to the publisher. There are also options to find random poems, search the archive, and save and share favorites.

fridge_appFridgePoems, by Color Monkey, is a new app that’s pretty basic but it can be addictive and great for inspiring your inner poet. It mimics magnetic “fridge poetry” without the fridge! For those unfamiliar with the concept, you are provided with a limited selection of words and you can use as many (or as few) of the words as you’d like and arrange them any way you’d like on a virtual “fridge” to create your poems. The program lets you take a snapshot, save, and share your poetic masterpieces. You can also purchase additional word sets. There are a number of these types of apps available, so you may find others you want to check out with different interfaces and additional word choice options.

Poetry Everywhere, by WGBH,gbh_app is an app for the Poetry Everywhere project, created a few years ago by WGBH and David Grubin Productions in association with the Poetry Foundation. Basically, this app offers the chance to attend a poetry festival on your mobile device. It features videos of contemporary poets reading their own works with introductions by Garrison Keillor. Although the app itself only has 20 or so poems, more poems and poets are available from both the Poetry Foundation and the PBS Poetry Everywhere websites. The PBS site still highlights a different poem each day and includes a closed caption option for viewing the poems. Both websites also include student-created animated films of some of the poems, offering unique visual interpretations.

ravenThe Raven, by vNovel Interactive, offers an atmospheric version of the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem. This presentation of the “The Raven” comes with a spooky audio reading and accompanying artwork, as well as music and sound effects to enhance the mood and experience of the poem (including the “rapping” and “tapping” on the chamber door). The app was created a few years ago, and there isn’t much in the way of interactivity, other than to choose to have the poem read to you (recommended) or to read it yourself, but it’s still a nice example of how images and sound can be used effectively to enhance text. It’s also just a fun way to experience the poem.

Have you had success using any of these apps or other technology to teach or enjoy poetry? Perhaps you have a favorite app, website, or software that you’d like to recommend? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

All of the apps listed here are available for iPhone and iPad and Poetry, from The Poetry Foundation, and The Poetry App are also available for Android. If you would like to know more, or are interested in suggestions about how these apps might be used, feel free to contact elis@lesley.edu.