education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Discovering the innate potential of QR codes in Education

By M. Emily Watson*

QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are encrypted symbols that are used as a label which can be read by a machine, typically a scanner. Earlier used in the automobile industries, the use of QR codes has become a standard procedure in consumer retailing. They are used to identify a product and get all details related to it. The system is prevalent among consumers who can use the codes to get any information about a product in a matter of seconds. However, we will not be talking here about the practices of QR codes in retail market but will focus on its potential in the context of education.

QR codes have dramatically sped up the process of learning. It has brought in a more innovative and faster way to access information. With the advents of QR codes in education, it has become more convenient and less painful to share information across the network. All you need is to scan a QR code using a smartphone or camera device.

In this article, I will discuss 4 popular uses of QR codes in the context of education:

1. Put It on Reading Materials

One of the most popular ways of using QR codes in education is to put in on a book. By scanning a QR code on books, students can easily get access to various educational resources suggested by the author. Similarly, teachers can use QR codes on their notes that students can later decode and land at a blog where they can learn more about a subject.

Teachers can also make this task more interesting and exciting by asking students to create a blog where they can post informative articles. The resources can then be converted into book form with a QR link to the blog. This will enhance engagement among students and allow them to communicate their ideas across a wider range of audience.

2. Use It To Enhance Collaboration

QR codes can facilitate students with sharing of information. With QR codes, students can easily collaborate with each other using any cloud-based storage system. Students just need to put their educational resources on cloud-supported platform and then share the QR link with fellow students. In this way, they can utilize educational resources on a single platform without the hassles of mobility. This will enhance productivity among students and help them execute a project in less time.

3. Effective Tool for Students to Present a Subject

Students can use QR code links in their presentation to supplement additional information about a topic. This is particularly helpful for university students who can use this technology to present their proposal for a final year project. Prospective graduates can attract the attention of review committee by directing them to a blog or website where they will find multimedia-rich information contents on the subject in question.

4. Teachers Can Use It For Classroom Activities

Teachers can use QR codes for various purposes. They can use it to refer a website that students can visit to know more about a topic or experiment. Similarly, teachers can use this technology to link a video blog, photo blog or any other multimedia website where students can engage in interactive activities.

Teachers can also use this innovative tool to share creations of students with their parents. Teachers can create a portal or blog where they can manage the work portfolio of a student and give the QR code link to the parents or a guardian. In the same way, they can share the QR code with the class supervisor to report students’ progress.

(*) M. Emily Watson is a pragmatic yet jolly-natured fella possessing a keen interest in exploring topics that click her curiosity. She’s currently serving an esteemed writing service – Assignment Villa.

Best Education Apps for K-12 Students

Kickoff Meester App: Openingsscherm closeup by Waag Society, on Flickr
By Jennifer Thayer*

With the increasing popularity of smart phones and tablets, today’s kids are able to learn just about anywhere. This new year, why not give your child a Christmas gift that will help making learning fun while giving them an invaluable edge in the classroom? The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 is an affordable and durable 10-inch tablet full of features to help your youngster make the most of his or her education, and with these 10 educational apps you can feel confident that he or she is enjoying learning to the fullest.

    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. Designed for preschoolers, this fun-loving app features six games to help teach kids about numbers, letters, colors, matching and opposites. A cute little monkey guides them through the games, and quirky voices and sound effects add to the fun.

    Super Why! This app from PBS Kids is based on the television series and helps kids ages 3 to 6 with their reading and writing skills. Mini-games focus on letter identification, letter sounds, writing, rhyming and word meanings.

    Stack the States. Kids can use this game to learn about geographic locations, state capitals, and even flags from across the United States. When a level is completed, a player earns another state which appears on his or her personal map of the country. The more states a kid unlocks, the more mini-games he or she can access, so the fun never stops.

    Toca Kitchen. Toca Kitchen won Google Play’s Parent’s Choice award in 2012, and it’s easy to see why. This app allows kids to learn all about different foods and how they are cooked. Kids can watch characters’ responses to the foods they slice, fry, boil, cook or microwave. Best of all, there are no time limits, scoring or stressful music, so kids can create at their own pace with pride.

    Mickey’s Paint and Play. This game from Disney gives kids access to a boundless supply of colors, patterns, tools, stickers and other fun ways to create a masterpiece as they learn about colors, form, lines, and symmetry. There’s even a Mousekemusic Player that allows kids to create their own music to complement their artwork.

    Duolingo. One of the most popular free apps on Google Play. Duolingo won "Best of the Best" in 2013. Lessons are short, which is great for little attention spans, and shiny achievements help learners chart their progress as they learn Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Italian or English.

    Edmodo. Edmodo is a fantastic free app that allows students to collaborate with their teachers any time. Students and parents can use this app to view assignments, hold class discussions, share files, monitor grades and more. A classroom activity feed is a great tool for busy parents, and the resource library is a fantastic way to keep the learning going, even outside the classroom.

    Blackboard Mobile Learn. With Blackboard Mobile Learn, it’s easy to keep up with schoolwork and grades. This app, which is free when supported by your child’s school, allows users to attach files, engage in discussions, monitor grades, view and comment on blogs and journals, and even take tests.

    Mathway. It is a free learning app that doesn’t require network access, so it can be used just about anywhere and is a huge help to kids who find math a bit tricky. Use this tool to find the correct answers to math problems, and with an upgraded membership you can also access step-by-step explanations in basic mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus and statistics.

    Quizlet. With Quizlet, learners of all ages can use flashcards to enhance their vocabulary, or they can employ Learn mode to gauge their progress and find out where any gaps in their knowledge may be hiding. They can even use Match mode to compete with other users in a wide variety of fun yet educational games.
There you have it – 10 wonderful mind-stimulating education apps to please any K-12 student. Of course there are thousands more for you to explore on your own, but these 10 are a solid place to start.

(*) Jennifer Thayer is a technology writer who loves sharing helpful ways people can utilize technology in their day-to-day lives. Follow her on Twitter to see what other tips she comes up with.

Education & Tech: News for Educators

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Top 10 Educational Trends in 2013

By Kim Lee

They say that desperate times call for desperate measures and education is no exception. In fact, in the last five years since the economic downturn, education has been one of the hardest hit sectors. There have been many dramatic changes to the US economy with regards to various financial markets and individual industries. However, the educational system, being the bedrock of all other specialized fields, has a significant stake in the "state of the union."

Principles by Tim Green aka atoach, on Flickr Here are the 10 biggest educational trends that defined the attitude of people towards learning all across the United States in 2013.

1. Financial Worries. Due to the fallout of the 2008 economic recession, as average household income levels declined in the US and the price of education went up, the value of the funds available with families for financing education went downhill. According to the research carried out by The Lawlor Group, a renowned name in college marketing and consulting, the net combined cost of college education, including tuition fee, board and lodging, averaged $24,000 in 2013. This is almost half of the yearly earnings of a typical American household. The 2013 outlook on higher education in the U.S. was also viewed as negative by Moody’s Investors Service due to strained revenue sources. The US government shutdown in October 2013 due to an over-extended federal debt has definitely impacted the education sector as well.

2. Online Education. Over the years, more and more technological integration has been witnessed in various educational environments. Online degree programs are becoming more and more popular due to their ease of access and instant delivery of learning tools and knowledge-based content.

3. Technology-based learning. Coupled with high-speed internet and mobile platforms such as tablets and smart phones, acquiring education has become more of a virtual exercise than a traditional one that requires physical presence.

4. Digital Literacy . The value and efficiency of imparting education through digital rather than conventional means such as physical paper-based books has also been hailed by teachers as being a crucial trend by around 65% of college and university level teachers.

5. Role of Social Media. Social media is not just limited to sharing songs, music videos, TV shows, movies and serving as an advertising platform. Websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have become mediums of visually appealing learning content, so much so that they have come out from the private domain of the students and taken center stage in classrooms.

6. Prioritizing and Public Perception. The capacity of families to meet the cost of college education has reached it very limits. Students are now taking factors such as the ROI (return on investment) into account more and more and deciding which majors to specialize in accordingly.

7. Demographics Versus Graduates. Where the overall number of high school graduates seeking college education is decreasing, the ethnic diversity is witnessing an expansion. More population demographics are being represented in student bodies in institutes of higher learning each time around.

8. Age and Wisdom. The post-recession educational environment saw an increasing number of students aged 25 and above seek admission in colleges. This also increased the demand for more flexible class schedules and workload to accommodate them.

9. MOOC Magnetism. The MOOC phenomenon has been gathering steam since it appeared on the scene in 2008. Standing for 'Massive Open online Course,' it enables students to acquire very specific learning, usually for free with just a computer and the internet.

10. Work and Play. The use of video games and interactive white boards in classrooms is becoming increasingly popular, leading to the coining of the term GBL (game-based learning).

What Teachers Have to Say, a prominent web portal for bringing teachers, students and higher education administrators on a common platform, conducted a survey of what teachers felt regarding educational trends. Up to 60%-70% of higher education teachers feel that web-based tools and resources for education purposes as well as digital literacy constituted the most significant trend.

Teachers have mixed opinions on how the deteriorating economy has affected education. For instance, the president of Vassar College replied in response to Moody’s negative assessment of higher education that there is a need to differentiate between the temporary and permanent economic fluctuations and not apply them across the board.

However, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Carnegie Corporation and the TIME magazine in late 2012, an overwhelming majority of senior administrators of colleges and universities across the U.S. (96%) expressed deep concern on the crises that higher education was entrenched in. Yet, around half of them agreed that higher education was moving in the right direction.

(*) Kim Lee started working as an education and career reporter in college and have been working as a freelance writer for Online Education. She has completed bachelor in marketing from university of North Carolina.
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