The US News and World Report recently published an article featuring Mae Jemison, former NASA Astronaut and her thoughts on how to improve STEM education. She stresses the need to make STEM subjects less intimidating, more exciting and to increase outreach efforts to ensure that more women and minorities pursue STEM fields. “The key, she and others said, is to make every student at least "STEM literate," comfortable with using the scientific method – and technology – to generate ideas, test them, and then analyze and translate the results. And we need to start early.” As we’ve discussed in this blog, 3D has been show to not only engage every and all students regardless of background or gender with STEM subjects across disciplines, but it has also been shown to increase their retention and understanding of STEM subjects while making them more palatable and exciting. Being able to see a molecule or dissect an animal, up close from any angle and in 3D has a remarkable effect on student understanding and interest interest in STEM subjects. As we continue to look for ways to engage students in STEM and encourage them to pursue STEM related careers, 3D remains a powerful tool in the hands of both educators and students alike.
As most homeowners know, renovations cost big money and most of the time are more involved than expected. The older the building the more surprises you might run into and these surprises can add up. The Traditional Technology installation is still considered by many to be the way to go in their classroom, but often don’t take into account additional infrastructure investments. Hidden elements such as deteriorating structural problems, mold, asbestos removal, and lead paint once disturbed need to be removed and can add significantly to the cost of your technology installation. While some of these problems are necessary to take care of regardless of whether or not you move forward with your technology installation, some are not needed. For example, Asbestos, though commonly known as a carcinogen, is typically safe if intact and undisturbed. With renovations on older schools disturbing walls that may contain asbestos as insulation or plumbing pipes will require its removal, while as long as the wall is undisturbed, they are not considered dangerous if left in place. Most of the carcinogenic results of asbestos have been shown in people who were exposed directly to the substance over a long period of time (such as workers in factories that produce asbestos products). While you’ll want to consult with an expert on the dangers of asbestos in your school, the traditional technology installation that can require the re-wiring of your classroom, is something to carefully consider, especially when you can outfit your classroom with the same technology without the need for an installation. Labor charges as does asbestos removal can be costly. Do your research before making a decision on which technology to provide for your school. Older buildings can often benefit from a mobile AV solution over an installed one that can disturb potentially harmful agents and add to the expense of your technology investment.
As defined by Seymour Sarason’s book, And What do YOU Mean by Learning?, productive learning is learning that “engenders and reinforces wanting to learn more”. Exciting a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning is more important than ever and Edtech is helping to achieve this aim. The goal is to create a rich learning environment with innovative devices and engaging content to help students understand the importance behind what they are learning. Sarason continues by saying, “we describe productive learning as denoting rigorous student work that focuses on demonstrations of competence and leads students to seek higher levels of accomplishment through craftsmanship, mastery, and artistry”. The need for Edtech in K12 is becoming a more and more important piece of creating a productive learning environment. 50% of jobs in 2013 require some degree of technological skill and it is projected that 77% of jobs will require these skills by 2023. Especially in STEM subjects, Edtech has been shown to be a valuable aid in helping student achieve mastery. In a study by the Verizon Foundation students who used mobile devices in the classroom were more interested in STEM subjects than students who didn’t use them in class. The migration from front of class to blended learning, made possible by edtech is changing the dynamic in the classroom. While good educators will always be extremely important, edtech and software are allowing students to have a more personalized learning experience. The Verizon Foundation’s Innovative Learning Schools program has reported gains in student engagement, technology proficiency and achievement in classes using mobile learning based initiatives. As 11 year old Bronx student and Innovative App Challenge winner comments, “Learning can be boring with just pencil and paper. Technology is more advanced and lets you work faster and look up information in class. It can also help you be a more independent learner…”. Here at AVRover we understand the important role Edtech plays in the classroom and have specifically designed our products to help supplement the growing mobile and blended learning classroom models. Our iAVRover helps educators share the iPad learning experience with the whole class and the 3DAVRover brings STEM subjects to life in high quality stereoscopic 3D. Our tablet cart makes managing your mobile devices easy with charging and storage for both apple and Android products. If you have a specific application that one of our products doesn't solve, ask us! All of our products have been created by demand and we're looking forward to designing more!
As educators and administrators look to stretch their continually dwindling budgets, one place to cut costs might be standardized testing. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently released a study highlighting two districts and the cost (both academic and financial) that, what many view to be overly rigorous, testing costs students and schools. Some schools are taking measures to curb testing and its costs in class time such as Orchard Park CSD, who proposed that students' standardized testing cover implementation of Common Core Standards rather than teacher effectiveness or student performance. The AFT study followed one midwestern school district and one northeastern school district and outlined how much time they devote to standardized testing. The midwestern district (grades 3-10) spent a total of 19 class days with test prep and administration whereas the northeastern school (grades 6-11) spent a total of 6 weeks on test prep and administration. This is valuable class time that could be spent broadening student horizons, teaching critical thinking or brushing up on skills in courses that are often cut like art, music, physical education and foreign languages. Additionally money saved could be put towards proper alignment with common core standards or personalized learning solutions. There are any myriad of ways funding could be reallocated instead of in the at times obsessive way it is used for standardized testing. The goal of any education should be to create well rounded, education-loving students who are inspired to be lifelong learners, not expert test takers.
There are an increasing number of smart apps, such as intuitive calendar app, Tempo, that pull information from different programs to help users manage their digital information. They can even provide suggested travel sites aligned to their owners preferences when traveling abroad.
Decreasing prices in storage and computation as well as lower server costs and cloud computing have made Artificial Intelligence feasible for small start ups, making apps that use AI all the more prevalent. Although apps like Tempo, require users to surrender more of their personal information to get results, the benefits appear to outweigh privacy concerns. And more AI apps and even devices are on the horizon. Such as Bay area startup Anki, whose toy race cars know when to pass opponents, speed up and hit the brakes all by themselves. Apps like Triposo, Tempo and Google Now actually improve the more you use them, learning their users routines, likes and dislikes. “We’re trying to approach travel guides from an algorithmic, Google-like perspective,” Triposo found and COO Richard Osinga. Triposo uses what it calls an “opinion mining” algorithm. It analyzes online reviews to determine why people liked a certain place and then applies this information to determine whether or not the user would like it too. While there are still bugs to work out, for example Tempo will get confused if you have more than one contact with the same name and might pull the wrong information, AI is coming leaps and bounds and is changing all the time leaving us with exciting new AI experiences to look forward to as the industry progresses.
Early spatial thinking ability is an important indicator of future pursuit and success in STEM subjects and careers. A study by the University of Chicago found that “children’s special skills at the beginning of first and second grades predicted improvements in linear number line knowledge over the course of the school year.” Two experiments showed that strong spatial skills translated into number line knowledge and facility in solving math problems. The first experiment studied 152 first and second grade boys and girls from differing backgrounds in 5 urban schools. It tested them at the beginning and end of the school year to see how we they could locate numbers on a straight unmarked line with zero at one end and 1,000 at the other. To assess spatial knowledge beforehand, researchers had children identify the correct piece from 4 options that could be used to complete a square. They found that students with the strongest spatial skills showed the most growth throughout the course of the year in their ability to identify numbers on the number line. The second experiment tracked the students at 5 and a half, 6 and 8 years old. The results from this experiment were consistent with the first, showing that students with better spatial skills scored higher on the number line test and later on, at age 8, showed they performed better on calculation tests.
"Improving children's spatial skills may have positive impacts on their future success in science, technology, engineering or mathematics disciplines, not only by improving spatial thinking but also by enhancing the numerical skills that are critical for achievement in all STEM fields," said Elizabeth Gunderson, a UChicago postdoctoral scholar who is lead author of the research paper.
Another indicator of spatial ability was whether spatial terms were used in the home to describe objects and events. It was found that the more often parents used words like “circle, curvy and edge” the more often the children themselves used them and thus the more able they were to understand spatial events and concepts.
Tools that encourage young students to think more spatially and thus improve their abilities in STEM subjects are important if we want to help more students pursue STEM careers. Approved for young students, 3D Technology has been shown to be a valuable teaching aid and encourages students to think spatially. You’ll notice student comments after seeing 3D include key spatial terms and demonstrate a more thorough understanding of instructional material. In helping our young students perform at higher levels while nurturing their appreciation of STEM subjects, 3D technology can be a powerful ally. For more information on how 3D can help your students check out our 3DAVRover product page.
The NMC highlighted six emerging technologies at varying
levels of adoption in Higher Education and discussed what future
incorporation will most likely look like.
MOOC’s-Near term horizion.
Massively open online courses or MOOCs are expected to be adopted
widespread within the next 12 months.
MOOC heavy weights, Coursera, edX and Udacity have had hundreds of
thousands of students enroll in their free courses, with their popularity
growing daily. MOOC’s democratize higher
education, making it possible for students and those looking to sharpen their
skills either for their personal lives or for their career, to enroll in
college courses at zero cost.
Tablet Computing-Near term horizion. Many universities have designed software for
tablets along with developing guidelines for their use for educators and
students alike. NMC sees the competition
within the growing tablet market as a potential driver of innovation for the
industry and in turn Higher Education.
Games and gamification Mid term horizon (2 to 3 years out). Educational Games deliver curricula and
coursework within a gaming platform.
Gamification blends the lines between traditional classroom activities
and games, by incorporating specific elements normally associated with games
such as levels and badges. In
gamification students have more freedom in choosing which kinds of assignments
and studies they want to participate in and the added recognition for high
achievement in the form of badges or ranking systems inspires competition
Learning analytics-Mid term horizon The widespread adoption of course management
systems has resulted in more student data with which to look at their likes,
dislikes and learning styles. This
allows Colleges and Universities the ability to tailor their offerings specific
to each student’s wants and needs.
At the same time Researchers are developing software to help
students cultivate positive study habits and behaviors to further their college
3D Printing Far term horizon (four to 5 years out) 3D printing has become affordable (in large
part due to the efforts of MakerBot Industries, that developed 3D printers that are easy to assemble). Websites like Thingiverse share free files
that anyone can download to print 3D objects.
In education 3D Printing is already implemented in a number of research
and lab settings.
Wearable technology-far term horizon Wearable technologies will become more and
more prevalent as thin film displays and augmented reality gain traction. “Probably the most heavily anticipated
wearable technology is Google’s “Project Glass” augmented reality enabled
glasses that operate via voice command, presenting the wearer with an
information-laden view of their surroundings.”
The study found that all of these technologies are currently
present and effecting higher education while being positioned to make an
increased and continue impact in the months and years to come.
Check out the full report at: www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf
As we know, children are often times more adept at picking up and using new technology than adults. Their minds are more malleable and they are more open to new experiences. Simultaneously, developing minds have a greater propensity to fall into bad habits. How do we safeguard against this? Well on the one hand there is more information at our fingertips than ever before. On the other hand there are also more distractions than ever before so it can be difficult to capture and maintain students’ attention. The question then becomes, when is there too much technology? Students’ use of smart phones and other media outside of the classroom has been shown to affect their attention span and performance in class.
The Smart phone induced, constant switching between tasks, can result in students with decreased attention spans. “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task, but for jumping to the next thing. The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.” Michael Rich, associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
Technology used outside of the classroom can create additional pulls on students’ time and attention, which can make holding their attention in class that much more difficult. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study, allowing nearly 24-hr media access to children and teens as they go about their daily lives. They found that 8-18 year olds “devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). ” Not only does media use occupy a large part of student’s time outside of the classroom, it has been shown to affect their ability to retain information.
In a 2007 study lead by researcher and neuroscientist Markus Dworak it was found that “playing video games led to markedly lower sleep quality than watching TV, and also lead to a ‘significant decline’ in the boys’ ability to remember vocabulary words.”
Markus comments “When you look at vocabulary and look at huge stimulus after that, your brain has to decide which information to store. Your brain might favor the emotionally stimulating information over the vocabulary.”
With children being exposed to more technology than ever before, it is becoming increasingly important to consider how we leverage technology in education to maximize student understanding and achievement.
Many educators and parents have been championing more technology in the classroom, including BYOT initiatives as a way to keep students engaged. Another ally is 3D Technology. When deployed strategically, 3D has been shown to not only increase test scores, but fosters an increased understanding of abstract, more difficult to grasp concepts. 3D commands student’s attention, while enabling them to explore and experience key concepts on a more detailed, personal level.
In her white paper, 3D in education, Dr. Anne Bamford discusses some of her findings on using 3D technology in the classroom. It was found that 86% of students improved with 3D vs. 52% improvement in 2D classes. Additionally, pre and post test results revealed, student test scores were on average 17% higher in the 3D classes, compared to an 8% improvement in the 2D classes. Students also had a high level of satisfaction learning in 3D (83% approval rating). 3D students were also better able to express learned concepts. They were more likely to demonstrate enhanced skills such as writing more, saying more and were more likely to use models to show their understanding.
While we think about how to best use technology to engage students and increase their retention, 3D technology offers a great "bang for the buck" in terms of engaging students and keeping their attention.