Digital Learning Environment

Consider This: Can Online Education Be Better than Classroom Learning?

Written by Megan Veech

"Can online education be better than classroom learning?"

This was the headline for an article I came across featuring online learning. Before I considered reading the article, I asked myself that question. I then decided that my answer was an obvious "no". Classroom learning is where inquiry and innovation are the basis for student environment. Therefore, hands-on classroom learning should never be replaced. Instead, why not provide an array of learning options for students and teachers?

I happened to stumble upon another article that takes a look at online learning at a different perspective. The writer states that online learning is a growing trend and is being seen increasingly in a number of situations. As said in Three Myths of Online Learning, "Social media tools are letting people interact online – sharing content, providing feedback, and building connections – in ways that are sometimes even richer than what they can do in the physical world." The phrase "word of mouth" has taken on a whole new meaning. With social media tools, content may go viral within minutes, making the connection or marketing piece even more valuable.

But, because many people still value the long-established classroom setting, assumptions have been made about online learning. Let’s go over the three most common myths discussed in the article:

1. "Online learning is impersonal."  Well, as mentioned before, online learning isn’t as personal as classroom engagement. But with constant technology improvements, e-learners can see one another through webcams and other devices and communicate through the use of voice systems, polls, open responses, and online conferencing software – all around the world.

2. "Online learning is unengaging."  As mentioned in the article, by introducing other media such as video in an on-demand format, online learning can be just as informational and appealing. For example, would you rather listen to someone speak through the computer for more than five minutes? Or, would you rather watch that person take you into a classroom during a hands-on activity to give you an idea of how the materials are used?

3. "Online content is limited to serving low-level training needs."  Online education is quickly becoming another tool in today’s digital age. High school students, college students, teachers, and executives are grasping on to this valuable resource.

There will always be a constant demand for education. Online learning is yet another way of delivery that can now be, "Anytime, Anywhere."

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Putting the "Why" ahead of the "How"

Written by Sheri Glew

Why do we want to produce digital learning material? Why do district and school administrators want technology enhanced curricula in the classroom?

There are so many declaratives being thrown around in the education industry as reasons or answers to those questions. Statements such as "Our state/Our district is going to use all digital products by 2014". – yet has anyone researched quality digital curricula to cover every subject and requirement to achieve that directive? Has anyone researched the infrastructure, both hardware and software, and professional development required to support that? Another favorite statement I hear frequently as a provider of curricula, "The digital product should be half the price of the print product". Based on what? The same level of research, writing, editing, designing, testing, more editing, developing, and on and on goes into producing a digital product as it does for a print product. The only piece that doesn’t exist is the actual printing of ink on paper and the distribution – which accounts for about 8 to 15 percent of a product’s total cost.

Getting back to my original thought… why do we want to produce digital learning material and why should districts use these digital materials in the classroom? The real answer should be to serve our 21st Century Learners…. The 21st Century Skills are solid, real-world skills and truly need to be recognized if we are serious about preparing our students to excel professionally after they leave our schools. These skills are what we should measure every curriculum against. "Will this program produce this experience and learning opportunity for a student?"

That is the question. Not – "should we buy printed books or online material"? "Should we be a 1:1 school"? I don’t know – should you?

Every one of us involved in education should internalize what it means to educate students as 21st Century learners. As we develop programs, and as decision-makers consider educational material, we all need to consider these questions first:

  • Will this challenge our students’ research & information fluency?
  • Will this improve our students’ communication & collaboration skills?
  • Will this develop our students’ critical thinking & problem solving abilities?
  • Will this allow our students to show and expand their creativity & innovation?

Technology is not the answer; it’s one of many tools students and teachers need today to create the learning environment that allows students to become fluent in using technology tools, allows them to collaborate, and stretches their ability to solve problems with creativity and innovation.

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Higher Education Publishing...the Professional Way

Earlier this week I was reading a couple of articles about trends in higher education publishing when I noticed that a couple of the ads that “randomly” appeared on the browser page were for “publishers” offering to publish your book for a flat fee (both just under $200). I wonder how many authors of higher education textbooks have looked into those companies. I know the here at Kendall Hunt Publishing we have a nationwide cadre of highly trained publishing professionals who walk our authors through every step of the publishing process to attain the best results.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a custom textbook, a traditional higher education textbook, or a specialized higher education course offered as an ebook or through a digital coursepack. Our editors are trained to identify your needs and show you how Kendall Hunt Publishing can meet and exceed them. So don’t fall for the “we’ll publish your book for $200” routine. If you have college course materials you’d like to turn into a book or through a digital learning environment, get in touch with one of our editors today. There’s one in your area, and you can find them here: http://www.kendallhunt.com/findRep.aspx?taxid_p=440.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

This is teacher appreciation week, and somehow it seems that as a mother and an employee of an educational publishing company, I should be and am extremely grateful to our teachers out there.  I just read a great article by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space about how grateful she is to her high school science teacher, and the vital importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in our educational system today in order for us to remain competitive in the future. You can find the article here: http://mashable.com/2012/05/08/sally-ride-stem-programs-teachers/.

On that page was a link to another article about teachers adjusting to digital learning environments. I’m just interested in what our readers think about things like digital science programs, eLearning, and the variety of content delivery systems now available for educational materials. Do they make your teaching lives easier? Is kids not having computers at home ever a problem? Do you find that you spend less money out of your own pockets when using online course materials? Submit a comment if you have an opinion.

And again, thank you for all you do!!!

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Do College Students Learn Better with Tablets?

We all know that digital content delivery in the form of digital coursepacks and online course materials are finally storming the college publishing world, including the Kendall Hunt world of custom college publishing. But how do students want to get this content? According to a recent article on mashable.com (you can find it here: http://mashable.com/2012/01/06/tablet-publishing-education/) they want it to be available on their tablets. That’s because 86% of tablet-owning students in a recent survey said the tablet helps them study more efficiently, and 76% said they perform better in class as a result. Pretty impressive figures, no?

But what’s the reality? Well, we’ve always known that interactive learning boosts retention. We know that from our experience with inquiry based science products. But now we’re finding out that digital learning environments take students who were usually passive learners and turn them into active learners. And when you can carry everything you need to learn about your school subjects on a small, thin, tablet…wow, I wish I’d had that in college, it would have made studying so much easier in any location. Today’s college students are the first real digital generation, a generation whose learning environments can take them all over the world. Makes me wonder, where will they take our world?

How do you like to learn? Do you want everything on a tablet? In one place? Would you study more or better if that's how your learning materials came to you?

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Click!

On the CBS show Undercover Boss last week Tim White, Chancellor of University of California, Riverside visited a chemistry course in a lecture hall where they had invested heavily in technology. The Chancellor pointed out how involved the students were during the lecture.  Why?  They participated via technology. 

The professor used Clickers to get student feedback on her questions.  The students participated and were engaged in the course content.

What about your course?  Kendall Hunt Publishing offers custom opportunities to bring a digital learning environment and Clickers to any college course.

Writing a textbook isn't what it used to be.  Now, you can write some of your own material, and borrow selected chapters from our current material and put it into a single book that fits just for your course.  You are teaching what you want, and students aren't paying for material they don't use.

Click here to find out more about our custom publishing program.
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What is your eLearning Style?

Students' primary means of communication is through digital delivery.  But, do they really know what their eLearning Style is?

Since digital learning environments are common in higher education, it is important for first-year students to understand how they learn best in these environments.  It only helps them become more successful in their college careers.

The new 5th edition of "College & Career Success," by Marsha Fralick includes an entire new section dedicated to eLearning Styles.  This section helps students discover how they learn best in their courses with digital content delivery.

Learn more about the new edition of "College & Career Success" at www.kendallhunt.com/fralick.
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On Our Way to NSTA!

Are you going? Kendall Hunt will be there! The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference takes place in San Francisco March 9-12. The Kendall Hunt booth is number 1729, so be sure to stop by. You also won't want to miss our two workshops, one on BSCS Biology: A Human Approach, and one on our exciting new digital learning environment, Flourish.  You can find more information about those here.

 

Flourish will be in the spotlight, along with the four high school science programs, BSCS Biology: A Human Approach, Forensic Science for High School, Global Science, and KH Chemistry that are currently available in Flourish. Flourish is home to an ever-growing list of online course materials and digital learning resources and at NSTA you’ll see how affordable these products are when purchased digitally either as a complete curriculum, eChapters, or eUnits. When you visit our booth, you can sign up for a free trial of the program of your choice, and everyone who registers will be entered in a daily drawing to win a free classroom license for Global Science, Forensics or A Human Approach!

 

If you are unable to attend NSTA, we’ll miss you, but you can sign up for a free trial of Flourish at http://www.kendallhunt.com/freeflourishtrial. You’ll also find the same product-specific information we’ll be sharing in the booth through our free Inside Look  Webinar  series.

 

NSTA is always an exciting week. We get to visit with so many of the teachers using our science programs and share our programs for the first time with many others. Not to mention, of course, that the Moscone Convention Center is in the heart of fabulous San Francisco. We hope to see you there, so don’t forget to visit us at booth 1729!


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