The first School in the Cloud opens in the UK

TED Blog

By Sarah Schoengold

Sugata Mitra has opened the doors of the world’s first School in the Cloud.

Located inside George Stephenson High School in Killingworth, England, this one-room learning lab is a space where students can embark on their own learning adventures, exploring whatever questions most intrigue them. Students even designed the interior of the space — which has colorful beanbags scattered throughout and (very appropriately) fluffy clouds painted on the walls.

[ted_talkteaser id=1678]On the glass doors of the lab is the acronym “SOLE,” which stands for “Self-Organized Learning Environment.” It’s a concept drawn from Mitra’s TED Prize wish, in which he offered up a new vision of education that pairs the vast resources of the Internet with children’s innate sense of curiosity. SOLEs are a minimally invasive education technique that lets kids puzzle through big questions on their own, teaching each other in the process. This method can have…

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IDEAS MATTER!!!

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This post is supposed to be the last one in the frames of my course called New Technologies. Yes the last one for this course,but not the last at all. My  blogging has started some few months ago due to the above mentioned course. During this course I`ve learned a lot,not only blogging. It`s amazing to explore new digital world with all its fancy entrances and exits. I was just amazed as every week i was discovering a totally new  world  I was not aware of before. This course was undoubtabley the best course I`ve ever had. It gave a chance to dive into the depths of new technological seas, to see everythingand especially education in a new light. We got acqainted with  many fascinating tools that can be implemeted into teaching/ learning process, that can create so many opportunites for learners, for digital generation. We gained invaluable experience and became more confident, technically more literate,skillful and ready to  be the change we want to see. I am glad that now I am more informed about new approaches in teaching,about the implemetation of new technologies in teaching/learning process. I am grateful not only to my instructo but also to my peers who shared their experiences with me.I am sure that  I will be able to use and share my knowledge with those who need it.I am looking forward to the opportunites when I will be able to use all these tools to make the learning for my students more enjoyeble and meaningful . With great pleasure I will use Google products, I will use podcasts, OERs to provide with meanigful, authentic imput, I will use video and audio production tools to enhance my students creativity, blogs to enhance their critical thinking and increase the sense of ownership.There is no one simple tool that I prefer more to others. All of them are unique and wholesome.

It`s always ideas that matter,,don`t hesitate, press that little button and make your ideas flow all over the New World 🙂

 

 

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Cloud Computing

Whether you are starting  a new business or you any kind of nsitution you do like to have a system that  allows you to manage and share any kind of information or data more easily. But what if you are sharing or storing a bigger data, but you are sick and tired  of installing or saving all those documents in a hardware, in  a computer.Then cloud computing is definetly for you.No installing at all,That`s something promising for the start, isn`t it ?.Cloud computing simply allows you to store everything securely  online(in the cloud.) For me personally this is the greatest advantage. I just hate installingsome new programs or apps over and over. I can access my data wherever and whenever I want to. And there is no need to take a memory stick everywhere with me.That`s about the mobility of cloud computing.

Another advantage of cloud computing is its cost-effectiveness. You are en educational insitution and you want to share your data with all of your students, but there is a need for a bigger server to keep it all. Such servers  will cost you more than you can afford and will limit the number of students or people that can access or use the program simultaneously. Cloud computing in this case is a better choice,it  allows you to reduce that large amount of expenses and use them only in extra-cases.

Of course cloud computing is not all that perfect and it has some disadvantages, like being too much Internet dependant or sometimes slower,or there maybe some privacy issues, but among these disatvantages we can clearly see the advantages of cloud computing.It`s cost effective and  economical, it`s  transparent and needs less downloading or installing.

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Google in Education

It`s just   amazing how fast the new technologies are developing. While you are sitting in front of your computer and   trifling, every minute some great ideas are born in great human heads. Those ideas are becoming deeds, and that`s how those people create the future.

Some 25 years ago two friends were among those who make the axis of the earth change and make it rotate in other direction. They were the creators of what today is known as the best search engine in the world  G O O G L E .

The time goes on and none stands in his place. Even if you are the best company in the world you need to move on. Google is one of those companies that knows the value of time and meets the needs of its customers at its best. It`s always few steps ahead of other companies and why not ahead of time. It   creates apps and makes them feasible for any audience(be it a huge stock company, an educational institution, or just a curious/busy personality).

In this post I will try to share my experience and my thoughts about Google products and how they can successfully be implemented in   educational system, particularly in teaching English.

Well nowadays Google means something broader than just a simple yet powerful search engine. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Maps, which one  are you familiar with?  Well, probably you are not receiving mails by carrier pigeons anymore ? I am sure you do like how  Gmail sorts all the messages for you and you don`t have to go through all of them one by one to find the one you need at hand.

Google Maps– Have you ever wondered how your house looks like from the space, or maybe you found your neighbor`s lost dog via Google maps.

 Google Docs– I bet you will like this tool more than Word document with its never changing blue interface. Or you are lost and you can`t find the required word document to send it to your peers or instructor. No worry, they are there, on Google Docs, waiting for you to make suggestions and comments on whatever you have done.

You are a student, instructor or a researcher and the reading(especially articles) is inseparable  part of your daily life. Then you should certainly know about Google Scholar and Google Books.

You are extremely   busy and always need someone to remind of something important to you? Even if you friends forget to invite you to a birthday party, Google Calendar is always a reliable shoulder to put the head on. You will certainly know when is you friends birthday now. Buy some daisies and go to your friend`s birthday, amuse him/her 🙂

I thinks my post turned out to be something more of a fun than a serious post about educational implications of Google Docs. Well, I have something for you to watch.Image

And one more thing, if you cannot come with ideas to create something incredible to wow the world, there are always ones created you can make a succesful use of. Just be open-minded!!!

 

 

 

 

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Learning Analytics

6637427465_2fb4695630_bI  have always connected the word analytics to statistics. In every field the analizing of the data is more than important. Without having a certain information about something we can never make desicisions nor find solutions to the urgent problems that arise in every society.

As in every field in education as well the collection and measurement of data is crucial. What`s the purpose of data analyizing and what it gives us. Well it provides us with opportunities to make more valid and sound desicions rather than simply rely on “gut instincts”. Learning analyticis  and particularly Big Data is the key, the basis,where  we can find answers as to how to shape the future of education. If it were not for continous evaluation of data and of analytics we would still stuck in th era of Grammar Translation. Big data is an abundance of data and datasets that are tremendously big and not any typical  databaze software tools cannot capture,store,manage and analyze them. Well the definition of Big Data maybe confusing, but I hope few examples will help you undertsand it`s role and value better.

Let`s try. Consider you are an instructor. You assign a certain task to your students. However you are not certain if they remember about it,or if they have any difficulties understanding the assignment. And you are waiting for the next class to find asnwers to this questions. This kind of things always  happen when you are teaching at a usual traditional school. But now  take a minute, consider that you are intergating new techs in your teaching. And you are assigning task via MOODLE or other learning platforms.You have discussions boards, and a place for asking questions. And above all these you have the opportunity to follow what`s happening out there. You can see how many times one signed in to check the homework or assignment,how active he/ she was in the same discussion boards.So you are analyzing all this data and based on that developing a plan for near future. Isn`t it simple ?

Now think  a little bit broader,in institutioanl, regional or state level and you will understand that alanytics is not about spy games. It`s done for more serious reasons; it`s done for improvement, for making the learning more interesting and enjoyable.

I know she is not the most pleasant speaker but her speech is definitely useful and helpful if you want to  have a clear understaning of what the learning analytics is about(TedTalks)

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LMS vs PLE.

For the latest years  web 2.0 tools have been indispensable  part of   education/ learning This week we got introduced to  2 educational platforms, Learning Management System (LMS) and Personal Learning Environments and got some new insights about their differences, advantages and disadvantages.(PLE).  Today LMS and PLE are   considered as one of the essential components that have been incorporated into the field of  education and are considered one of the successful  management systems that foster collaboration and negotiation among individuals and groups.

What are LMS and PLE

You can get an  insight  about  LMS and PLE by watching this video by Stephen Downes.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDwcCJncyiw&feature=relmfu . He gives a very concise and informative explanation, states the differences and the reasons  for teaching and these two platforms are  incorporated in education . Though I was partly familiar  with both of them I really got a better understanding for now and I can easily differentiate them.

The world is changing, It`s changing rapidly. The new technologies are the best evidence of our ever changing, non consistent world. Years ago you were calling all your classmates to get an information about new lesson or homework, you were wandering through the libraries to find something related to your interests, or waiting for the next day/week to see your teacher and clarify some questions ?

Well today all this issues are solved. LMS(like  www.moodle.com, www.blackboard.com) are specially created for making the teaching/ learning more organized and manageable. And PLE( www.edmodo.com,  www.twiducate.com/ ) are created for providing y with more opportunities for self- development, for autonomous learning. Both platforms give you the opportunity of  collaboration both between individuals and groups/ institutions.

All these tools, applications, systems and platforms are fascinating. They all include great features that without any doubt will meet you needs. So do don`t  miss the opportunity to grow  w as an individual with the help of professionals. 🙂

 

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Distance learning .

Few years ago I was passionate to learn all the languages in the world.(I still am:)

I was just wandering through Internet trying to find some books that will help me to learn the language all by myself. As always ,my best friend Google helped me to accomplish what I had started. 😀

It helped me not only find numerous books but some really useful and helpful websites. At first I found < http://www.livemocha.com.First of all I created an account, filled in the info and there I go.I started to explore the website and different features it offered. The first thing I did was I chose  the languages I wanted to learn.(Italian, French) I was so much excited that I could hardly resist the  temptation of choosing all the languages available. During the learning process I had lots of fun.I really enjoyed it.I was learning. I was interacting with the community members(both natives and second language learners) of the website. I was commenting under posts, making my own forum posts about Armenia(in English). This was the first time I was engaged in a real interaction.I even made friends with some of the members.I was developing my English language skills  and at the same time was learning another language.

What about http://www.busuu.com .I found it a bit later.  I totally fell in love with that website 🙂 starting from its interface and ending with the idea of creating my own garden. Though I was spending hours in Busuu.com  I was not getting tired at all.The time seemed  to stop for a  while.

What I appreciate in Busuu.com  as well as in Livemocha.com is again plenty of  opportunities to develop or learn the new language.Again a chance to interact with native speakers as well as with the learners of that particular language.(through chat, through checking exercises, etc)

Another important thing;in both platforms(Livemocha.com, http:/busuu.com.com) there is an opportunity  for self-assessment, an opportunity to follow your own  progress, to go back and recall what you have learned as many times as you needed.You are the owner of your time. you can organize and set the things so that it will be more convenient for you, 

You are deciding what to learn,or  how much time to spend on learning  or how  to learn something . Setting goals or time lines make you more responsible for your own learning.It`s something like a you competition  with your own self, trying to convince yourself that you can do this or that in a definite course of time.

So what was the purpose of writing such a long description about my language learning preferences and experiences.

Certainly ,the idea of introducing distance learning. The introduction to these two websites was to give a better understanding about distance learning .These two websites are good.examples of distance learning. The blue highlights above represent the advantages that i consider important and  to my mind serve as a basis for distance learning.

What about disadvantages.Some might say lack of real, authentic communication, feeling of isolation or focus on only individual working style.

Well  I would partly agree. I would definitely choose to travel to my favourite country, to see its sights  and to chitchat with some locals or just to study at some prestigious college or university in that country. Of course i would get more opportunities of using  my knowledge and language skills in such an environment

But unfortunately me ,and the vast majority of population(especially students) do no t have that opportunity.They lack in finances,in time.What about emotional issues.Many people are just having cultural shock while leaving for another country, many of them aren`t able live in such situations,hey miss their loved ones, their friends.

So the distance learning environment is just perfect for such people.Image

Who said there  is no interaction,no collaboration or negotiation?

Better go and discover the brand new world   with much more opportunities for you:)

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OER(Online Educational Resources) and MOOC (Massive open online course)

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Your dream has always been to study at  a prestigious university like Harvard or Cambridge,to have the best professors teaching you, and/ or  access to the enumerous resources at a digital library of  the largest library in the world, but you realized that it will never become true.Your dream has always been to study oceanology but you have never come up with such a course in any university of you counrty.

Come on, it`s  21 st digital century,century  of millions of opportunities and your computer is not only for chatting on Facebook. Ever heard of OER(Open educational resources) or MOOCS? What`s OER or MOOC? OER are free accesible files,documents, resources that are available for anyone, they are free to share and the most important things they are useful for teaching/ learning and all that educational stuff like assessment. And what are MOOCs. They are massive open onlie courses create by the best  universities in the world, the ones you were dreaming to study at 🙂 They are also available for everyone who wants to learn and discover something new for himself.  Whats is more imoprtant  is that besides the great chance to studty these courses you can get a certificate for completing the course.And that`s will be definitely   taken into conisderation whean applying for a job. All you need is to be as responsible, organized and ready to stuty in order to complete these courses. You need to be prepared in order to pass the exams or tests succesfully. You see, everything is simple, As for myself I would like to say that I am also new to OER-s or MOOCs. I have tried to enroll myself for some courses at  Khan academy and I would say that I definitiely found what I was searching. I am really happy to be a part of  digital generation. If You too, then you would probably start with exploring some of these websites.

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MALL(Mobile-assisted language learning)

Today i am going to speak about MALL-s.I hope that you know the definiton of MALL(mobile assisted leanguage learning), its the same as CALL(Computer -assoisted language learning) but with a slight difference, the difference is in the use of devices.

What is a MALL?

As I have already said MALL  ar similar to CALLs, however MALL means using mobile technologies such as mobile phones(smart phones), MP3-s, Ipads and iphones in language learning to increase learners`  access to learning materials and to enhance communication.

Mobile technologies such as mobile phones no longer have the same definiton and purpose of use as it was years ago.Now they are used not only for calling, but for different purposes. Especially the smartphones that provide handful of opportuinites to use various applications for  lisitening to podcasts, radio, for reading news,stories or books, making photos and sharing them via social networks or simply communicating with  your friends and peers from the university on Twitter, Facebook or Myspace.

These are just a few of those real opportunities,that I have discussed. What is more important is that we can make  use of all these applications and widgets  gathered in such a tiny device. You would say why do we need them when we have computers, laptopos. Well the word MOBILE speaks for itself. You keep the whole world in your pocket and you can acces to it wherever and whenever you want to.Isn`t it easier to take the phone out of your bag or pocket in a public transport and see what`s new on your favourite Itune channel,or continue readin that incredibly interesting ebook .Let`s make it simple,  manage  every second  and learn in a smart way 🙂

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Virtual (3D)Worlds. Without losing the sense of reality.

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I was thinking for quite a long time as to what to write in my blog for this time as my thoughts were wandering  somewhere  between reality and virtual life trying to discover and  explore  those  new unrevealed worlds.

When thinking of virtual 3D worlds the world the film I  watched recently came to my mind.I found that there was something similar, some link between the worlds created in someone`s mind and that of in a virtual  space. The main similarity was the artificial reality. The phrase ‘artificial reality’ evoked some philosophical thoughts in my head and i completely lost myself in this post. 😀 

Well,

What was similar in these two cases; the simulation of reality. the people creating new ,non- existing worlds where they feel more confident,free and happy.

All this is wonderful, but there is one big BUT for me.Where is our sense of reality. What`s the purpose of making everything virtual, reduce the real,tet-a tet communication, to see and feel real emotions?

Lack of time, our never ending business , the accomplishment of saving the world, lack of confidence or creativity?

Why should we  find ourselves more confident or creative in someone`s  cooked-up reality?

 I have nothing against new technologies,  nor anything against all the opportunities they give, all the benefits and advantages they have.(real time communication, mobility,) But to tell the truth I am already sick and tired of all these virtual stuff,of all these social networking and everything. 

I want to see my professors`, my peers` , friends` in real life, to feel their love and support or even the hatred and jealousy in the life where all of us in fact live. In reality!!!

Enjoy this wonderful piece of music and never ever lose the sense of time and reality!!!

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