Sat, 11 November 2006
Flat Word Strategies: New Technologies Create Interactive Learning
In "The World is Flat," Thomas Friedman makes the case that a number of forces have converged to flatten and restructure the global competitive landscape, and that this process is continuing and accelerating. This flattening has empowered individuals to compete and collaborate on a global scale like never before. As educators, we must understand the implications for us, our students and our institutions and more globally on education and learning. Key flatteners that are already impacting education include the Internet, open source software, search, wireless/mobility, VoIP, digitalization, personalization and virtualization. One of the key observations of this less predictable, less hierarchical flattened world is that knowledge is widely distributed and rapidly changing leaving traditional course-based learning increasingly unable to meet the needs of students. Bridging this divide requires new paradigms in education that incorporate "flat' world strategies such as informal learner-driven knowledge transfer and new technologies and forms of learning.
Question from Mike: Gordon, can you give us a little background on some of the new tools being used?
In the 1990's many of us first started to use the Internet to deliver and supplement content for our courses. We developed relatively static web pages that included text and pictures in similar format to traditional textbooks. Today with the combination of high bandwidth access and new development tools, fresh web content looks and feels much different. With "Web 2.0" tools and delivery methods, instructors are discovering new ways to develop and deliver content to and engage their students. Among the new tools finding their way into business and into the hands of our students are:
While many faculty are well-versed at using websites, email, and course management systems to interact and engage with their students, most have been slow to adopt some of these "new" technologies into and outside of their classroom.
tools are part of the dynamic, interactive new Internet many are calling Web
2.0. According to techtarget.com, the term Web 2.0 was first used by O'Reilly
Media and MediaLive International in 2004 during a next generation web
conference. Web 2.0 based technological advances have continued over the last
two years and new applications are coming out daily that allow faculty and
their students to experience new ways of interacting and learning. Much of this
new technology is built around two fundamental technologies,
Question from Gordon:
To understand how
Question from Mike: Gordon could you tell us a little bit about RSS?
RSS (RDF Site
Summary and also referred to as Really Simple Syndication) is a technology used
to push content out to subscribers using an aggregator application like
My.Yahoo or Google Reader. In addition web browsers like FireFox and Internet
Explorer 7.0, along with Mac OS X and Microsoft's upcoming
RSS developers create an XML file that describes content as it is posted on websites. The blog at nctt.org/blog is a good example if you want to take a look at an XML file. The blog is written using a word processor and then the content is typically copied and pasted into a blog editor with the XML file automatically updated with the latest content. If you are a subscriber to nctt.org/blog your aggregator checks the NCTT blog site periodically for updates and, if it finds one, it lists the content on the aggregator screen. You can see a brief summary on the aggregator and, if you wish to read further, you can click the link and read the entire blog.
Your current students are using this technology on, in some cases, a minute by minute basis. Let's take a look at how it can be used. Let's say you wake up one morning not feeling well and have to cancel your classes. When and how do your students find out you are out sick? Maybe you send out an email which requires students check their campus email account or (worst case) you call in and a note goes on the door or board. In both cases many, if not all, of your students will show up for class and be disappointed to find out you will not be there. Using a simple RSS feed, you could give your students the option of subscribing and actually push the message out to their cell phone or other connected device. Students get the message and do not end up showing up for a class that has been cancelled.
Question from Gordon: Mike, What are some of the popular apps out there now that people are using?
appâ�� or application that demonstrated the potential and viability of
Question: Gordon: Where can people find the content of this article?
You can find
the content of this podcast in the Oct/Nov 2006 edition of Community College
Journal, at nctt.org/blog and at nctt.org/podcast. In addition you will find a maintained list of
several interesting links that further demonstrate these technologies. You can
reach the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org
and at their National Science Foundation center and project websites at
www.nctt.org and www.maitt.org