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GatherEducation | Virtual & Interactive Learning Platform for Online Classes GatherEducation is a virtual, interactive learning platform that allows you to host or participate in online sessions from nearly anywhere with a wifi or cell signal. This platform enables teachers and students to interact remotely while mirroring the classroom environment and maintaining teaching styles. It’s […]Read Full Article
GatherEducation | Virtual & Interactive Learning Platform for Online Classes
GatherEducation is a virtual, interactive learning platform that allows you to host or participate in online sessions from nearly anywhere with a wifi or cell signal. This platform enables teachers and students to interact remotely while mirroring the classroom environment and maintaining teaching styles. It’s got some solid potential for online learning for K-12, tutoring, and in higher ed, so let’s take a look!
Read Michael Karlin’s full review over on The Ed Tech Round Up
The growth of online education, in particular massive open online courses, has been staggering over the years. Investors continue to pour money into platforms like Coursera and Udacity. They both are providers of massive open online courses (MOOCs). However the notion that MOOCs could take over for higher education is a fear (or hope) that […]Read Full Article
The growth of online education, in particular massive open online courses, has been staggering over the years. Investors continue to pour money into platforms like Coursera and Udacity. They both are providers of massive open online courses (MOOCs). However the notion that MOOCs could take over for higher education is a fear (or hope) that will not be realized any time soon.
What the Current Trends Show
Some of the biggest MOOC providers currently are Coursera and edX. Looking at their most popular courses, there is a clear trend to where online education truly excels at. For Coursera, their 5 most popular courses are:
- “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” taught at University of California, San Diego
- “Mastering Data Analysis in Excel” taught at Duke University
- “Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)” taught at University of Michigan
- “Machine Learning” taught at Stanford University
- “R Programming” taught at John Hopkins University
For edX, their 5 most popular courses are:
- “CS50” taught by Harvard University
- “Introduction to Programming With Python” taught by Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- “Introduction to Linux” taught by Jerry Cooperstein
- “HTML5” taught by World Wide Web Consortium
- “The Science of Happiness” taught by University of California, Berkeley
From looking at the popular courses, it is clear that students look to MOOCs when they want to learn skills to help their professional development. Data analysis and computer science courses are the most popular courses for both platforms. While this works for the professional world, the higher education world wants their students to be well rounded. This means they also need to take liberal arts and humanities courses.
Why MOOCs Struggle With Liberal Arts and Humanities Courses
There are various reasons why MOOCs struggle to attract students for the liberal arts and humanities courses. One factor is that the majority of MOOC users already have completed their undergraduate degree. This means that they are more inclined to learn about something that will progress their career over something that would mean little to the corporate world.
A lack of interest in liberal arts and humanities courses is another issue as well. However this deals more with the interest of the general public, which there seems to be very little of. Both Coursera and edX offer courses in liberal arts and humanities. They are just very unpopular among the students.
The biggest issue that MOOCs have is the lack of interaction students have when learning through MOOCs. Liberal arts and humanities courses often have speaking components to their curriculum in universities. However in an online world where they cannot interact with other students or the teacher easily, this component is completely lost. Trying to learn a new language without interacting with other students is quite difficult.
How Can Online Education Take Over Higher Education
In order for online education to take over the higher education market, they need to be able to teach all subjects effectively. As it stands, MOOCs cannot teach courses in liberal arts and humanities well. The inability to interact with others greatly hampers a student’s ability to learn in courses that typically have students debating or talking with their teachers or peers.
GatherEducation however could be the solution to allow online education to teach liberal arts and humanities courses well. The virtual learning platform allows teachers to create virtual classrooms which students can join from their mobile devices or computers. The voice chat and interactive blackboard allows students to interact with one another and the teacher, features that would enhance the student experience in courses that generally have students interacting with one another.
Our weekly segment is back bringing the latest in online education news and articles to the GatherEducation community. Online education news can cover areas from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to blended learning and anything in between. With New Promise by Udacity, Money-Back Guarantees Come to Online Courses Money-Back guarantees are coming to the MOOC […]Read Full Article
Our weekly segment is back bringing the latest in online education news and articles to the GatherEducation community. Online education news can cover areas from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to blended learning and anything in between.
With New Promise by Udacity, Money-Back Guarantees Come to Online Courses
Money-Back guarantees are coming to the MOOC platform Udacity. They recently announced that they will be releasing a new program that guarantees their graduates that they will land a job within 6 months of completing their course or they get their money back. Of course there are some caveats to their deal.
Udacity only offers this promise to students who are enrolled in Udactiy programs that teach common marketable skills. Classes on machine-learning engineer, Android developer, iOS developer, or senior web developer are the ones that can be reimbursed if you do not get a job after completion. To learn more about the money-back guarantee offered by Udacity, check out the article here.
Blended Learning Helps Exceptional Student Athletes Train and Attend School
The Los Angeles Galaxy, the MLS soccer team based in LA, is following in the footsteps of popular European clubs who have their own academy to train kids they scout in soccer and school. However the LA Galaxy are going a step further by incorporating blended learning into their system. The LA Galaxy launched their high school, called the LA Galaxy Academy Blended Learning Environment, which is geared towards their under-16 and under-18 academy teams.
Using online classes and in-person instruction has allowed the academy players to practice more while maintaining their education. “They can practice daily, as opposed to three or four times a week, and sometimes twice a day. The team is hoping that the increased practice time will help the players improve quicker”, according to an article from the Los Angeles Daily News. To learn more about the blended learning high school from LA Galaxy, check out these articles here and here.
The Online Learning Consortium Carries Momentum into 2016 with New Events and Resources for Online Educators
The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) announced recently new and updated resources for higher education and online learning community. They are the leading professional organization that is dedicated to progressing the quality of online learning around the world. Some of the new resources announced are a new conference lineup, expansion of its Quality Scorecard and streamlined access to expanded member resources.
“We are entering 2016 with a keen focus on providing the kinds of programs and guidance that will enable educators to take their online programs to new levels of success,” said Kathleen Ives, D.M., CEO and executive director, OLC. “Just as technology is continually changing how teaching and learning is approached, we must continue to innovate the resources we provide to help online educators deliver quality programs for contemporary learners.” To learn more, check out this article here.
Towards the end of 2015, a coalition of feminist and civil rights organizations submitted a letter to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The letter asked them to address the anonymous harassment on applications, such as Yik Yak, that students face. Essentially the coalition wants the Department to provide guidance for universities in […]Read Full Article
Towards the end of 2015, a coalition of feminist and civil rights organizations submitted a letter to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The letter asked them to address the anonymous harassment on applications, such as Yik Yak, that students face. Essentially the coalition wants the Department to provide guidance for universities in handling the anonymous harassment. But can the Department do anything about anonymity on campus?
The First Amendment and the Argument for Anonymity
While preventing harassment of sex or race is something everyone can agree with, this letter has created some divide among the people who are aware of the situation. The disagreement stems from the First Amendment and how it is interpreted.
From the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” While the first amendment does not specify anything about anonymity, it does protect an individual’s freedom of speech which is the reason why others have spoken against the letter sent by the coalition.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is one organization that wrote a letter to the Department of Education in response to the one sent from the coalition. EFF wrote, “EFF therefore respectfully requests that any future guidance issued by the Department uphold all of the civil and constitutional rights of those who attend colleges or universities, including both freedom from harassment and freedom of anonymous speech.”
Although EFF defends anonymous speech, they also agree with increasing investigations of online harassment and stricter discipline for those caught harassing others through an anonymous platform. The point that EFF tries to make is that online anonymity is also a way for students to avoid being harassed themselves and that it is important to completely get rid of online anonymity for schools and campuses.
“Battling gender and racial harassment and threats on college campuses is vitally important,” the letter states. “But some are calling for blanket bans on the use of platforms that allow anonymous comments, and that’s a counterproductive strategy. Online anonymity is crucial for students who fear retaliation for their political and social commentary. It helps many people avoid being targets of harassment in the first place.”
Our View on Anonymity and How It Can Be Used in the Classroom
The debate caused by the letter from the coalition focuses on networking and social apps like Yik Yak or online communities that allow for anonymous speech. However, when reading about all of this for the first time, our thoughts shifted towards our own product and how we believe anonymity can be a powerful tool for educational spaces.
GatherEducation, a virtual learning platform, contains many features that allow for an interactive online educational experience for both students and teachers. Using gaming technology to create our classrooms, students are outfitted with pre-made avatars which allows students to maintain an anonymous appearance. While students cannot alter their voices when speaking in class, it is still hard to identify people through just voice.
So how does anonymity play a role in GatherEducation besides them having an avatar? Through two key features in our software, the feedback system and poll system.
Think back to when you were a kid in school and you were having some difficulty understanding what was being taught. When the teacher asks the class if they understand, would you raise your hand to say that you did not? Chances are you probably didn’t raise your hand to avoid embarrassment and the class would progress with you still being confused. With the feedback system, you can provide an answer that only the teacher would see.
Another example of anonymity being useful in the classroom is when a teacher asks a class to answer a question. If a student does not know the answer, they will instead go with the majority of the class. With the poll system, students would not know what everyone is answering which forces the kids to think for themselves to answer the question.
It is important to prevent any type of harassment students face in class or on campus. However banning online anonymity is not the solution to this problem. Anonymity can lead to a better learning environment, especially for those who tend to be shy or embarrassed easily, and discarding it would be a mistake.
With nearly a month in the books for 2016, blended learning initiatives have seen traction in the form of nonprofits growing or grants being issued. It has been announced that the online K-12 schooling provider K12 has launched The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning while in Georgia schools are receiving grants for blended learning. […]Read Full Article
With nearly a month in the books for 2016, blended learning initiatives have seen traction in the form of nonprofits growing or grants being issued. It has been announced that the online K-12 schooling provider K12 has launched The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning while in Georgia schools are receiving grants for blended learning. Higher education is also seeing more blended learning initiatives with Utica College offering blended learning programs through their new smart classroom.
K12 and Their New Nonprofit for Blended Learning
K12’s new nonprofit, The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, will promote blended learning by giving post-secondary student scholarships, teacher grants and collaborative institutional research. While the nonprofit was announced by K12, it will operate independently of K12. Their mission statement is to “Advance and improve the availability and quality of blended/online educational opportunities and outcomes, including academic, instructional, and education technology support and development to empower students through personalized learning.”
Multiple Georgia School Districts to Receive Grant for Blended Learning
It has been announced by Governor Nathan Deal’s office that 47 Georgia school districts and one state school will be awarded $8.2 million for blended learning. The collaborative funding effort will look to provide high speed broadband access to schools which is needed for blended learning typically.
The initiative is being called Connections for Classrooms which is a part of a broader statewide effort to give classrooms access to high-speed broadband. This is an effort in response to Deal’s Digital Learning Task Force recommendations along with the state’s effort to push personalized learning for Georgia students. To learn more about this effort, click here to read more about it.
Utica College’s New ‘Super’ Smart Classroom
Based in their Clark City Center location, Utica College has built a “super” smart classroom for their blended Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) program. Students in the program have the option to attend classes in person or online. In the event that they miss class, they will be able to watch a recording of the class as well. The classroom is outfitted with a combination of robotic cameras mounted on the walls and webcams so students can participate in class in real time. To learn more about this, click here.
The Syrian refugee crisis has been a hot debate topic, especially in the United States. While the United States continues to debate on refugee resettlement, others are stepping up to at least assist on bringing education to the refugees. Google Inc., the multinational technology company that nearly everyone uses for web searches, is one company […]Read Full Article
The Syrian refugee crisis has been a hot debate topic, especially in the United States. While the United States continues to debate on refugee resettlement, others are stepping up to at least assist on bringing education to the refugees. Google Inc., the multinational technology company that nearly everyone uses for web searches, is one company that has begun to make moves to help the cause. After initially raising $11 million to fund refugee relief efforts in Europe, the company has now announced they plan to provide a $5.3 million grant for nonprofits in Germany that focuses on getting education to the refugees.
What to Know About Google’s Donation
Google.org is the company’s philanthropic side of the company and they will be teaming up with a non-profit called NetHope on the initiative, Project Reconnect. Using the grant money, NetHope will purchase 25,000 Chromebooks that will be equipped with education and language learning apps. NetHope will give out the Chromebooks to other non-profits that are working with refugees in Germany.
For non-profits in Germany that want to receive Chromebooks, they will have to apply for them using the link here. Applications for the first round are due by February 8, 2016. Distribution of the first round of Chromebooks will begin on March 1, 2016 and the deadline for the second round of distribution will be on March 8,2016. As stated on the website, “Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate the impact that Chromebooks with Internet access will have in providing direct assistance to refugees, and facilitating access to critical programs and resources.”
Goals for Google’s Donation
The struggles Syrian refugees have been through are well documented and well known. Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google.org, in a blog post on google mentions an example of one refugee and what he had to go through to make it safely to Germany. She also mentions what she believes refugees search for once they are settled in a new area. Fuller states in the blog, “As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care. But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies – all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before.”
The goal for the Chromebooks is to assist the refugees in the second portion of her statement, to essentially help educate the refugees. However it isn’t just the immediate challenges that Google aims to fix. Fuller wrote, “But we also wanted to do something to help with refugees’ long-term challenges, such as the need for access to information and education.” Providing a tool to allow access to information year round will greatly assist refugees in the long-term.
The 25,000 Chromebooks that will be donated to other non-profits is a great start to jumpstarting education for the Syrian refugees in Germany. However there are 1 million refugees registered in Germany, forty times the number of Chromebooks that will be donated. This is the reason why the Chromebooks cannot be given directly to the refugees since there would not be nearly enough for everyone. Instead, other non-profits will get them in order to build internet cafes for refugees to use. Deutsche Telekom will also be giving grant recipients a discount on broadband access.
Chromebooks have been used in education environments across the country. The many education and language apps they provide make it an excellent tool for education environments. With refugees having access to Chromebooks, GatherEducation could also be used in the cause by allowing teachers over here in the United States teach live courses to the students in Germany. The virtual learning platform makes it easy for teachers to create a virtual classroom for students to join.
On this blog, we have discussed the many flaws of MOOCs based on the statistics we have seen, articles that we have read in the past, or from our very own experience with being a student in a MOOC. However we have never discussed how MOOCs are viewed by teachers themselves due to lack of […]Read Full Article
On this blog, we have discussed the many flaws of MOOCs based on the statistics we have seen, articles that we have read in the past, or from our very own experience with being a student in a MOOC. However we have never discussed how MOOCs are viewed by teachers themselves due to lack of information. Luckily we can change that today!
In an interesting article on theconversation.com, a MOOC professor talked about three things he learned about MOOCs and the three things that worry him. While the things he learned have mostly been discussed before, his insight on the worries offer some new thoughts never mentioned before so make sure to read his article as well.
The author of the article, John Covach, is the director of the Institute for Popular Music at the University of Rochester. He taught several courses for Coursera over the past two years with over 250,000 students worldwide. This experience allowed him to discuss the hope and worries he has with the future of higher education.
The Three Things He Learned and Our Thoughts
- MOOC Students are mostly older than college students. Considering that the courses are geared towards college students, the author expected to have more kids between the ages of 18-24. What he found was that around two-thirds of his class was older than 25 and that this trend remained similar to other courses on Coursera.
While John may have been surprised by this, it has been no secret MOOCs typically have students who are past their college years. We have previously discussed the typical age of students who take MOOCs. With knowing that the students are typically over 25, the next revelation the author states should come as no surprise.
- MOOC students are mostly international and already college-educated. Another thing that surprised John was the fact that most of his students were international. He found that about a third of his class was from the United States, roughly the same percentage found in other Coursera classes as well. He also found that most students are already college-educated, with some already holding a master’s or Ph.D. degree.
The second half of his statement, that the students have typically already graduated college, comes as no surprise with most of the students having an age over 25. However the notion that international students typically make up the majority of classes on Coursera came as a mild shock. Being an online platform, it is no surprise that there would be international students. The shock really comes from knowing that students of MOOCs need strong internet service and not all countries can provide that.
- MOOC culture is a mostly “free” culture. John found that MOOC students expected MOOCs to be free. Drawing from his own experience, he believes that if he had charged a dollar for the class, then he would see his enrollment numbers drop significantly. The only way they would be willing to pay would be for credit, otherwise the course would have very low enrollment numbers.
This came as no surprise. Since the start of the MOOCs, the goal has always been to provide higher education at an affordable price. With most MOOCs starting off as free courses, students got used to the notion of free courses to sharpen their skills or to learn something new
The Three Things He Worries About and Our Thoughts
- The flattening of expertise. After teaching online courses, John found that a professor’s expertise in an area seems to be flattened now. With the digital age we live in and students heavily relying on Wikipedia as their source of information, a professor’s supposed expertise in a field is no longer unquestioned
While the things the author learned about have been discussed before or provided little shock, the things he worries about were quite interesting to see. The notion that a professor’s unquestioned expertise in an area was no longer unquestionable was something we have never thought about. With more and more information available online to the masses, it does make sense that a professor’s authority on a subject matter could start to be questioned.
- Alternative modes of awarding credentials. John believes that with the rise of badges and certificates to signify a student has successfully completed a course, the more universities will have to worry about. As long as employers value them, then students will opt for the less expensive route to get the credentials they need for a job. However the problem is controlling the validity of these credentials outside of the US. It isn’t guaranteed that all employers will accept MOOC credentials.
We have mentioned on this blog before how students have been requesting they get some form of credit for the courses they take for a while now. From what we have seen before, the credits still do not help much with the retention rate of MOOCs. Also controlling the validity of the credits for MOOCs will be a challenging task. Overall, we have never thought about the impact credits for MOOCs could do to universities. This leads to his last worry.
- The threat to colleges and universities. As John states in the article, “College and universities ‘sell’ an education.” Basically at the end of the day, they are all individual businesses that are in the higher education market and the price they can charge depends on the quality of education they can provide. However if credits for MOOCs becomes more accepted, then colleges and universities will have to take note in order to survive. With student debt extremely high, more students will look to alternative forms to get their education and MOOCs could become a possible and cheap form for getting what they need. This however will not mean the end of colleges or universities, but some will ultimately fail.
John’s honest view here on the impact MOOCs could have on colleges and universities caught us by surprise. While we believe online and blended education is the future for education in general, we do not believe MOOCs will pose as big of a threat as the author of the article made it out to be. MOOCs cannot do what colleges and universities can, which is provide hands on experience and social environments.
Our weekly segment is back bringing the latest in online education news and articles to the GatherEducation community. Online education news can cover areas from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to blended learning and anything in between. DataWind, SKILLSdox Collaborate to Bring Best Online Educational Experiences to India In an effort to bring better education […]Read Full Article
Our weekly segment is back bringing the latest in online education news and articles to the GatherEducation community. Online education news can cover areas from massive open online courses (MOOCs) to blended learning and anything in between.
DataWind, SKILLSdox Collaborate to Bring Best Online Educational Experiences to India
In an effort to bring better education to those in India, DataWind and SKILLSdox are teaming up to bring quality online education at an affordable price. DataWind makes low cost Internet-enabled tablets and SKILLSdox is an online education marketplace. The goal for their partnership is to offer SKILLSdox’s online education marketplace on select DataWind tablets by March of 2016. Like all tablets from DataWind, these tablets will come bundled with one year of unlimited internet access.
This is a big step for SKILLSdox as they continue to grow in India. Earlier this year, they received a $30 million investment from BBCL (Times Group), the largest media conglomerate in India. The investment was made to support the marketing of online education through TV, radio, digital, newsprint and billboards. It is expected that the campaign will reach upwards of 80 percent of India’s population. To learn more, check out the article here.
Weld North Acquires Intellify Learning
Weld North Holdings LLC announced on the 20th of January that they are continuing to expand across the digital education market by acquiring control interest of Intellify Learning. The investment company is led by former Kaplan CEO Jonathan Grayer and focus on education technology businesses. They are also partnered with KKR, a leading global investment firm.
Intellify Learning is a Boston based state-of-the-art cloud-based platform that provides learning analytics and data management services. They collect, measure, store, access, distribute and visualize learning metrics. To learn more about Intellify Learning and their acquisition by Weld North Holdings LLC, check out this article here.
Microsoft and HP Team Up for New Windows 10 Powered Education Program
In an effort to bring technology to more classrooms, Microsoft and HP are teaming up together for a new education program. The program, called Reinvent the Classroom, will place Windows 10-based devices from HP into classrooms all over the world.
HP stated, “Reinvent the Classroom will place state-of-the-art Learning Studios in more than 60 school locations across the world to support advanced blended learning, international collaboration and the maker movement in education. With tools like Microsoft Office 365, Skype and HP Adaptive Learning, these schools will shape the future of learning.” To learn more about this partnership, check out this article here.
The market for education technology has been growing over the years. This can be reflected by the many apps and software available for classrooms or by the huge sums of money investors are pouring into the education technology field. However looking at how the money is spread in the market tells a slightly different story. […]Read Full Article
The market for education technology has been growing over the years. This can be reflected by the many apps and software available for classrooms or by the huge sums of money investors are pouring into the education technology field. However looking at how the money is spread in the market tells a slightly different story.
Education Technology for K-12 is Booming… Right?
If we were to look at the number of apps and software available for K-12 classrooms, many would believe that education technology for K-12 was booming. According to LearnTrials there are more than 3,900 math and reading apps, classroom management systems and other software services for schools in the United States. This is a large number of available resources for K-12 schools and chances are the number will continue to increase.
However if we look at where the investors are spending their money, it is noticeable that it is not going into education technology for K-12. In 2015, venture and equity financing for ed-tech startups reached $2.98 billion. This was up from 2014, which saw $1.87 billion spent on ed-tech. The rise can be attributed to seven investment rounds of $100 million or more, none of them going to a business that focused on the K-12 sector.
There are several reasons as to why investors are often hesitant to give funding to startups that are focused on K-12. The challenges startups face when trying to sell to public schools is one issue. Since the K-12 market can be divided into about 13,500 districts that have their own curriculum and process to purchase new technology for schools. Another issue is that there simply is not enough money for school districts to buy whatever they want for the schools. For startups, that means they have to go through long periods of reviews by school boards before a potential sale.
So Where is the Money Going in the Education Technology Field?
While education technology for K-12 is slowly growing, it is exploding in the higher education and professional fields. For instance some of the biggest online education providers are geared towards higher education or professional skills. Platforms like Coursera, Udacity, edX, and Lynda all focus on providing lessons in higher education or certain skills that companies seek. In fact, both Lynda and Udacity were two of the seven investment rounds that amassed more than $100 million in 2015.
So why are the investors all over education technology geared towards higher education and professional skills? Because that is where the money is. Companies are more willing to spend on making their employees better at what they do and there is just a bigger market for higher education. To learn more about this, check out this great article here.