Information choreographer. User experience strategist. Co-founder of Known.

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If you missed it yesterday, here's a roundup of links we've been reading this week:

EdTech news we're reading this week: open source textbooks and a radio education

4 min read


Putting a Dent in College Costs with Open-Source Textbooks

Ann Carrns in The New York Times

A new report from The Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) suggests that college students could save an average of $128 per course if traditional textbooks were replaced with open source electronic options. The College Board reports that the annual cost of books and supplies costs sets students back by an average of $1,200 to $1,300 each year.

Open source textbooks can be download electronically, printed at low cost if needed, and rearranged to suit the syllabus and lesson plan for a specific class. Professors often aren’t aware that high quality open source textbooks exist in their subject area.

Read the article...

Now This Is An Example Of A Truly Educational Radio

Linda Poon on NPR

In Sierra Leone schools have been shut down to stop the spread of Ebola. That’s left a million school-aged children with no classroom to go to. In October, the government partnered with UNICEF and other organizations to launch an educational radio program. Teachers are writing and recording hour-long lessons that are then aired on 41 different government radio stations every day.

Radio is the most common way for Sierra Leoneans to get their daily information, but only around 25% of the population owns a radio. To add interactivity to the radio lessons, students are encouraged to text their questions. However, many poor students can’t afford a phone.

Read the article...

Professors question traditional four-year residential college model

Jason Song in the LA Times

Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford University education professor, believes that large prestigious universities like Stanford aren’t adopting to the changing trends in higher education and learning environments. Where the traditional university model meant attending a four-year institution, taking classes in person, and paying a large tuition, more students are now turning to options that better fit into their lives, like online courses and two-year colleges.

In 1988, 39% of students attended community college, but by 2008 57% of first-year undergraduates were attending two-year colleges. Some private colleges, like Harvey Mudd College - in Claremont, CA - and Davidson College - in Charlotte, NC - have been exploring options around the “flipped” classroom. Flipped courses allow students to watch course lectures via video and then spend classroom time discussing and interacting with peers and professors.

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How do I podcast with my students on a tight budget?

Jeff Bradbury on TeacherCast

Do you have a 1:1 Apple Macbook Air classroom interested in podcasting? Maybe you’re just an Apple user with a desire to record lectures, interviews, thoughts. This post has some great recommendations on getting ready to podcast. Bradbury lists microphone recommendations for personal use and for use with a classroom. He also includes software picks for editing the podcast. And did you know that Known is a great platform for releasing a podcast? Upload each show as an audio file, include any shownotes or related resources, and build a stream for your next podcast.

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Of Teachers and Educational Technology

Suren Ramasubbu in The Huffington Post

Ramasubbu believes the introduction of technology into the classroom hinges on the attitudes, beliefs, and skills of the teacher. In this post he shares and summarizes some of the data around technology adoption in the classroom. A study from Maine found that math performance in middle school students taught by teachers trained in laptop use increased dramatically.

In another study, only 39% of teachers cited “moderate” or “frequent” use of technology in the classroom, despite a growing population of teachers familiar with technology.

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EdTech news we're reading this week: granny clouds, leaving the LMS, and more

3 min read

Afghan women on the internet

Power up your reading devices, it's a three-day weekend! To kick off your Saturday (or maybe finish your Friday) we've rounded up five articles that caught our eye this week, each touching on different aspects of technology in the classroom.

Technology in schools: Future changes in classrooms

Jane Wakefield on

Desks facing forward, students staring at a lecturing teacher at the front of the classroom. Does this sound like the classroom of the future? Even if you replace the blackboard with a whiteboard and swap out textbooks for tablets, little has changed in education since Victorian times, argues Marc Prensky. Parents are wary to let their children serve as guinea pigs for a radically different curriculum, one that could focus more on problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration.

The flipped classroom, where teachers become a guide for students watching lectures at their own pace, is one idea that could bring a radical change to standard educational curriculum. New to me was the concept of the "granny cloud," retirees from the UK who have been mentoring students in India via Skype. This School in the Cloud project was described by Sugata Mitra at TED in 2013.

Read it here.

Techniques for Unleashing Student Work from Learning Management Systems

Justin Reich on KQED's MindShift

Justin takes on a subject closely aligned with our work on Known, student blogging, connected courses, and getting away from the LMS. In this post, he breaks down how he taught T509-Massive: The Future of Learning at Scale, a class at Harvard last fall. Rather than force students to use an LMS, for Massive students were encouraged to create their own websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts. The content that they publish across the web is aggregated on a course hub where it can be seen in one place. As the network grew, colleagues from outside classroom could share resources or thoughts with Massive as well, using the hashtag.

Read it here

The Evolution of Learning Technologies

informEd and OpenColleges

The OpenColleges InformED blog has put together an interactive infographic on learning technologies. Travel in time from hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, to the quill pen of 700 AD, and past the Dynabook networked computer created in 1968.

See the infographic here

Museums and Online Learning: a student's perspective

Maddy Windel on Center for the Future of Museums

Freshman Maddy Windel - a student from a rural public high school in Arkansas - describes her experience participating in the pilot of Museum Mash-Up. The Museum Mash-Up course is an online class developed by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was the first online class for Maddy. As a student in Arkansas, she is required to have an online course credit for graduation, and the art focus appealed to her. Maddy recounts what it was like to go from a close-knit in-person learning environment to an online classroom and what she thought of the digital art experience.

Read it here

What question(s) do you ask yourself before integrating technology into instruction?

Matt Renwick on Reading by Example

Educator Matt Renwick asked his community, "What questions do you ask yourself before you involve technology in instruction?" Here, he shares a handful of their responses.

Read it here

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