Monday, September 5, 2016

Barrier to effective use of Edtech
The use of technology in learning institutions has seen tremendous growth in the last decade; particularly due to massive revolution in the internet and mobile technology. With technology, institutions continue to boast of benefits ranging from increased efficiency, speed of completing tasks and reducing cost. Consequently, both students and institutions scramble to purchase hardware and softwares mean to support the teaching and learning process as well as administrative aspects. Much as these steps are being put in place by institutions, it is also crystal clear to me that barriers to using technology in an effective way still persist and varies from one institution or country to another. This lead to me ask the question: 
What are the key barriers to effective use of technology?
of course keeping in mind the the context variations

Based on my past experiences, careful observations and targeted discussions with colleagues and students, i was able to conclude that the answer to this question may appear broad but can be simplified. My conclusion was that the barriers to effective use of technology actually revolves around three broad areas (the 3 A's of technology)
  1. Availability
  2. Affordability
  3. Accessibility

This is to say that all the other sub-factors such as ICT competence, training and support, economic and political factors, revised curriculum, ICT policies etc, all would originate from anyone of the 3As. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Why use social media in education?

Today I want to take you down the lane of social media and discuss why teachers can no longer ignore its use in the classroom. As we all know, the potential of social media to support teaching and learning can no longer be underestimated. With the emergent of many techsavy pupils who continue to enter our classrooms daily, the need to motivate learning from the point of what they like and use every day (i.e. social media) becomes urgent. This hot topic motivated me to look into the reasons why teachers need to take advantage of social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc) to support student learning in the 21st century classrooms. The question motivating my search for this answer was:  Why should teachers use social media to support teaching and learning in the 21st Century classroom?

In an attempt to answer the question I was able to generate numerous answers based on my own experience as well as from continuing discussion with colleagues and students. Here, I only provide a summary into why social media can no longer be ignored by teachers by examining its potential benefits in the 21st Century classroom. Using social media, for example, you (as a teacher) can easily:
                    i.    Know your students’ thoughts based on the posts
                  ii.    Access current affairs like breaking news
                iii.    Globalize your classroom to the rest of the world
                iv.     Connect your class to experts who may impact on your students’ learning
                  v.     Connect with families including those of your students
                vi.     Make your students to think and comment about your lesson outside the classroom

It is my hope this is motivation enough to spur usage of social media for the benefit of both the teacher and students in the 21st century classroom.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Video-Based Learning
The use of Videos clips technology during instruction is growing and is thought to be one of the most effective way for supporting instruction. Videos, for example, engage both the sense of sight and hearing of the learner simultaneously. This in turn reduces the cognitive load on the learner during the learning process. However, numerous research have shown that a poorly designed video can sometimes become a barrier to learning rather than promoting it. This implies that educational videos ought to comply with 'video pedagogy' to enhance learning. A question therefore emerges: How can we design an effective instructional video that support and enhance learning?

To answer the question, i suggest five essential design guidelines to observe when designing such a video:

 1. Objective- this simplifies the learning process and draws learner attention and interest.
 2. KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)- "less is more, more is less". If content is long, do mini-videos.
 3. Use Voice-over- they support learning for the blind or those busy with other physical activities
 4.Captions- they are effective attention signals and can support learning for those with hearing impairment
 5. Interactive videos- they engage the learner e.g. you may use Vizia to add quizzes as video plays

In the near future i will post a sample of video that aligns with these guidelines. Remember, just bringing technology in front of your students will not guarantee their engagement in your lesson. 
3 Essentials for making Edtech work in a learning Institution
Introducing and using technology has remained a hard nut to crack for many academic staff within learning institutions. However, the problem may be alleviated using three broad simple rules:
    1. A visionary leadership
    2. Professional development

    3. Ongoing support

I urge institutions intending to integrate technology in teaching and learning as well as in administration; particularly those from developing countries to focus on the above simple rules. They are the simplest way to accelerate success in introducing, using and sustaining technology use in learning institutions.

Post by Elisha, an edtech expert and lecturer in a Kenyan University.