Monthly Archives: April 2011

KWestions #20 – How Students find their Focus with Nathan Parcells

When I hear of interesting new initiatives with something educational to them I always like to let you know about on KWestions.

After just finishing an interesting EDUKWEST with InternMatch I was happy to hear that they continue innovating and have another way to bring value to their users. This time, Nathan Parcells co-founder and CMO tells us about an exciting new project called ‘Find your Focus’ which spreads beyond their website or even social media but brings a real life experience in form of meet-ups and speeches to college and university students.

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How to use Social Media in Online Education – Beginners Guide

Delightful to many and inherent part of our lives for long, still unpleasant and somewhat ominous to some, social media has proven itself as nothing that will go away any time soon.

I intend to write this article as a beginners guide for individual educators and companies who just get started thinking of a strategy whether the use of social media might add value to what they do and in what ways this could be achieved following which of the different strategies.

I often see a discrepancy between individual use of social media and its adoption when it comes to use it within companies. So, let’s try and avoid some of the traps.
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Transformational vs. Incremental Teaching

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Michael Butler.

Recently I discussed two broad approaches to materials creation, which I termed episodic and systematic.

Today I would like to discuss two approaches to instruction, which I term Incremental and Transformation. We have heard the second discussed by Arkady and perhaps Jason on this blog.

It is my belief that programs that promise incremental learning should probably be judged differently than programs that promise transformational learning. The proofs that I suggest we should look for from these two approaches are broadly discussed below.

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Blueteach PRO – Build your own Teaching Platform – 30 Private Beta Invites

Almost exactly one year ago I visited Blueteach during one of my trips to Paris. Back then the project was still in the early stages and was basically a pretty well equipped virtual classroom offering an interactive whiteboard with math and annotation tools, video embeds etc.

Since then Blueteach added various features to its service like recording of video classes / screen casts which can also be searched by students via the portal. The startup also launched badges to award milestones on the platform like giving 25 lessons etc.

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R:ED April 17th to April 23rd 2011

Square’s Disruptive Payment Service About To Get A Huge Retail Boost From Apple – “Mobile payments company Square has landed a big coup—sales placement on Apple’s online store. […] Apple will start selling Square devices in all of its U.S. retail stores starting this week.” TechCrunch

Touchscreens For All? – “New technology could make smartphones the norm in the developing world, and might have a host of other applications yet to be imagined.” Fast Company

Babel or babble? – “Languages all have their roots in the same part of the world. But they are not as similar to each other as was once thought.” The Economist

What The Telephone’s Unbeatable Functionality Teaches Us About Innovation – “Single-mindedness is a virtue, both in products and in people.” Fast Co Design

MIT Creates The One Video Game You’ll Be Thrilled To See Your Kid Get Hooked On – “Over many years, after conducting many surveys, the NSF made an intriguing conclusion: A good deal of the public’s understanding of science derives from outside of the classroom.” Fast Company

Social Media Abstinence Education Is Not Working For Pre-Teens – “Banning kids from Facebook isn’t realistic. Is education the answer?” Fast Company

Page Sharing Service Bo.lt Lets You Copy, Edit And Share Almost Any Webpage – “Like a “Bit.ly on steroids,” the service lets you paste any URL into its copy engine or bookmarklet, creating a duplicate of the page on its servers.” TechCrunch

Weebly Launches Support For Multiple Editor Accounts – “[…] you’ll now be able to let other users edit your website (or portions of it), without handing over your main Weebly account credentials.” TechCrunch

Amazon Partnering With OverDrive To Bring Kindle Library Lending To 11,000 Libraries Across The US – “The company’s latest venture brings the power of the Kindle to public and educational libraries through a partnership with OverDrive.” CrunchGear

Google To Offer Chrome Notebook Subscriptions [REPORT] – “Google will be offering Chrome OS-based notebooks this summer on a subscription basis, charging between $10 and $20 per month per user.” Mashable

KWestions #19 with Tim Ridgway of Califone – In Edtech since 1947

When I was looking for a new headset and was asking for recommendations around my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter I got contacted by Tim Ridgway, VP of Marketing at Califone about their newly launched, washable (!) USB headset. He then also asked me, if he could send one to me.

Of course I needed to find out more about this generous guy and his company and so I learned that Califone have been a manufacturer of audio devices and also audio visual tools dedicated to education since 1947!

Needless to say that I had to get Tim for a KWestions about Califone.

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Spreading Education through Email Footers

One of the reasons I love about blogging are the thoughtful comments people leave. This is one of them I got on one of my recent Big Think articles and I think someone out there should build a startup around it.

You know, if we would just put a tidbit of education in the signature of each or our emails/spams, that would have to raise the level of common knowledge in the world. – Moon Stroller

I really dig this idea.

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Monday Roundup: NovoEnglish, Voxy, MotionMath & MyVoice

Last week’s edition of MRU was tablet centered, this week’s edition has a slight tilt towards mobile as three out of four stories are about learning applications for mobile phones.

We will take a look at NovoEnglish which is the newest product of goFLUENT, Voxy which lets you learn from the places you are currently visiting, MotionMath which helps you learn math by moving your body and MyVoice which enables speech-disabled people to talk again.

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R:ED April 3rd to April 16th 2011

  1. The ShowMe Teaching Technology Behind The New Princeton Review SAT iPad App (TCTV) – “[…] whiteboard video tutorial with a voiceover from an instructor explaining the solution. […] a corresponding ShowMe website where tutors and teachers of all stripes can show off their teaching skills, share lessons with students, and get rated by the community.”
  2. MyVoice, a Great App for the Speech-Disabled, Is Foursquare Meets Text-to-Speech – “The MyVoice app offers up location-based searchable phrases and helps users easily navigate social situations.”
  3. Hacking Education: DonorsChoose.org Wants to See if Teachers Know Best – “It’s the fashion these days to blame teachers for everything that is wrong with American education. But teachers are still the people in our schools every day, and they know what our schools are lacking.”
  4. Direct Thought Control of a Computer’s Cursor: Say Hello to Your Mind-Reading PC – “A science team has, for the first time, engaged a brain-reading electrode setup to allow a computer’s cursor instructions to come from a living, thinking human brain.”
  5. Online Education Startup Instructure Raises $8M From Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures, Tim Draper – “Instructure, a startup that develops and open-source online learning management system, has raised $8 million in Series B funding […]. This investment brings Instructure’s total funding $9.2 million.”
  6. How Mint Exec’s New Company Will Teach All Employees To Teach Others – “Training has traditionally been part of centralized departments—and the bane of everyone else. MindFlash is about to change that.”
  7. Steelcase’s Brilliant Workstation For Staging Virtual Meetings – “Steelcase’s award-winning teleconferencing solution makes long-distance video collaboration as easy as plunking down your laptop at a Starbucks.”
  8. E-Books See Triple Digit Growth As Paper Book Sales Dive – “A report from the Association of American Publishers reveals that e-books sales experienced “powerful continuing growth” as they colorfully put it, and paper books of all types dipped, compared to the same period (January-February) from last year.”

How to Create Educational Videos for YouTube

Kirsten talks about the importance of YouTube for online teachers a lot these days. Of course not everyone of you will feel comfortable in front of a camera or maybe you simply don’t know how to start, e.g. what tools you might need to create a video.

Well, the good news is that YouTube recently partnered with three video creating tools which make it really easy even for absolute beginners in video editing or animation to create stunning videos. The bad news, there are no excuses anymore to not start an education series on YouTube.

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TenMarks Videos now available via Pearson Perspective

Yes, two Pearson related news in one day. This second article deals with the “online remediation and enrichment solution” Perspective which will feature the more than 1.200 instructional math videos by TenMarks.

Perspective is an integrated assessment and instruction solution that provides students with a roadmap leading them to specific online resources based on their scores.

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Pearson and Languagelab announce Collaboration

Just a few weeks after they announced the closing of their $1 million funding round, the team at Languagelab shares more interesting news. In collaboration with Pearson, Business English students are now able to bring the case studies of the popular textbook series “Market Leader” into life. Second Life that is.

Based on Languagelab’s virtual world English City, students from around the globe will be able to interact live with other students and teachers in a 3D environment.

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Take Aways from last week’s YouTube Partner Event in Paris

It took me a little moment to evaluate how to write this article dealing with the experiences and impressions I took away from the 1st French YouTube workshop dedicated to their partners.

I firmly believe that video content is becoming more powerful in 2011 than it was in 2010 and prior already and undoubtedly YouTube is the biggest and most important video platform and community out on the Internet. Any company in online education to my mind needed to be present with their own YouTube channel and even for individual educators it might add good value to their social media presence besides the other big players Facebook and Twitter.

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The three Keys to successful Language Education

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Steve Kaufmann, a former Canadian diplomat, as well as founder and president of KP Wood Ltd, a company involved in the international trade of forest products. Steve is also the founder and CEO of LingQ.com an online language learning system. Steve speaks eleven languages, having recently learned Russian at LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning, and wrote a book on language learning called The Linguist, personal guide to language learning.

Recently this blog published an article entitled :”How Online Language-Teaching Start-ups Lack Educational Expertise, and Why Language Learners and Teachers Should Worry”

Here is my response:

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Monday Roundup: italki, busuu, Toys R Us, Qwiki and the Kno

Today’s MRU could be dubbed “the tablet edition” as four out of five stories I would like to talk about are around tablet devices. I think this is another sign how quickly tablets have become part of our hardware landscape.

Therefore today we take a look at some changes for teachers using the italki marketplace, busuu’s new iPad apps, Apple planning to sell iPads at Toys “R” US, news from the “information experience” platform Qwiki and another $30 million funding round for the Kno led by Intel and Condé Nast.

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Social Media Monitoring at Zero Costs

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dr. Andreas Schroeter, co-founder of the bab.la language portal. Prior to starting bab.la in 2007 he worked for the media companies Bertelsmann and Axel Springer.

Let’s get straight to the point: Do you know what your customer / client / user / fan / friend / foe says about your company? The true answer is no. After all, how can you? Most users do not talk to you directly but about you with their friends, readers, listeners, watchers and so on. It’s nice to get an email directly from a user but also very unlikely. We at bab.la get a good handful per week, many of them being spam or just simple questions about one of our products. Real feedback and an understanding of what your user thinks is rarely done via email. But listening to your users is probably the best strategy to get valuable feedback you would otherwise pay for in focus groups or pay for by developing something no one wants.

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Flashcards – Product or Feature? Part 4 with Andrew Cohen of Brainscape

For this final part of KWestions around flashcard learning, feature or product I invited Andrew Cohen, the founder and CEO of Brainscape on the show.

Brainscape have a scientific approach to the usage of flashcards for learning. The company have already rolled out French and Spanish learning apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and also iPad called Vocab Genius and Vocab Junkie. Don’t miss on trying these out as they’re currently available for free!

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R:ED March 20th to April 2nd 2011

Thinking Cap: “Mynd” Is the First Dry, iPhone-Compatible, Portable Brain Scanner – Fascinating device that is build for people in wheelchairs, enabling them to control those wheelchairs with thoughts.

How the Web Has Changed Our Perception of Copyright Law – Thoughts on outdated copyright laws that don’t match the realities of an open Internet anymore.

Engineering vs. Liberal Arts: Who’s Right—Bill or Steve? – What subjects should students major in to become successful tech entrepreneurs?

What Bill Gates Could Learn from Chris Rock – “… while investment in STEM is critical, it alone neglects the development of the types of skills that actually lead to discovery, creativity, and innovation.”

PrepMe’s Coursification Offers A Personalized Online Learning Platform – “What differentiates Coursification from other course management and online learning platforms is that it helps teachers offer a tailored, personalized curriculum to each student based on their performance and learning schedule.”

Skype In The Classroom: An International Social Network For Teachers – “Skype launched a free international community site dubbed Skype in the Classroom, an online platform designed to help teachers find each other and relevant projects according to search criteria such as the age groups they teach, location and subjects of interest.”

Disrupt Winner Qwiki Raises, Like, $1 Million From Groupon Co-Founders – “What makes Qwiki so compelling is its ability to generate media on the fly that combines text, audio, and animated photos. It presents information in a highly visual way, assembling photos and spoken text from Wikipedia and other sources to create visual guides to millions of topics.”

Green Goose Tracks Whether Your Kids Are Doing Their Chores – “Green Goose’s sensor kit will let kids and parents add location-aware data sensors to frisbees, toothbrushes, the family dog… pretty much anything.”