And the blog post competition winner is…

After 3 weeks we ended our competition at midnight on the end of the 9th January PST. We have collated all results based on social shares and engagement and we are happy to announce that the winner of our blog competition is: Competition Finalist 1, John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime Uni. Case Study by Cristin Arante.

But we feel everyone who made the cut is a winner and we’d especially like to acknowledge the blog post that got the most internal votes at eFront (for best blog post): “Social Learning Applied” by Kalliopi Sigala, and the post with the most quality engagement was Bob Little’s “Meeting Learner’s Needs”.

However, we realize that we did not specify the ending time of our competition and it was rightly pointed out to us that social media results varied at different times in different time zones (our mistake!). So rather than giving one prize we will be awarding the top two winning blog posts with an iPad mini each.

Congratulations to the winners! :)

  1. Competition Finalist 1, John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime Uni. Case Study by Cristin Arante.
  2. Competition Finalist 4: Top 10 Startup Social Media Curation Tools for Social Learning in the Workplace by Duma Cornel Lucian.

Yours in elearning,

The eFront team

iPad competition finalists announced!

We would like to thank all contributors for their competition blog post submissions. It was a tough competition with a very high level of entries from all over the world - but we have nailed it down to our 5 favorites!

  1. Competition Finalist 1: John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime Uni. Case Study by Cristin Arante
  2. Competition Finalist 2: Meeting Learner’s Needs by Bob Little
  3. Competition Finalist 3: Social Learning Applied by Kalliopi Sigala
  4. Competition Finalist 4: Top 10 Startup Social Media Curation Tools for Social Learning in the Workplace by Duma Cornel Lucian
  5. Competition Finalist 5: Learning on Tablets by Rosalie Ledda

How will the winner be selected, and when will the winner be announced?

The most popular post will win the competition – that is, the post with the most social shares and engagement! We will leave these posts on the blog for a 3 week period from today to collect shares and comments and we will use all of our social media channels to share over the competition period!

The winner will be announced on January 10th and will be notified by email and on social media channels!

Competition Finalist 5: Learning on Tablets

This post was submitted by Rosalie Ledda. Rosalie blogs about elearning in Spanish and can be found on LinkedIn.

Introduction

With the eruption of the iPad there is plenty of questions about its use. Do we have to replace textbooks in schools for tablets? Should companies think of adapting their content to be viewed on tablets?

Learning on Tablets according to the NMC Horizon Report

According to 2012 NMC Horizon Report Higher Education Edition tablets present new opportunities to enhance learning experiences when compared with other devices.
Tablets are considered less disruptive than smartphones because there are no ringing and no incoming messages that can distract the learners.
But what the report underlines is that the iPad has revolutionized the way in which people interact with the content. People now can swipe pages, pinch to zoom in or zoom out over the images, maps or even tap on the screen and run a video or a song. Suddenly, the content has become interactive, it has become engaging.

But what are the benefits of using tablets compared with textbooks?

The first that we can recall is the way the content is presented. The content in a tablet is usually more visual and more interactive, so more engaging.
The second advantage is the ease of updating the content comparing with textbooks. The following artcile: http://www.mobiledia.com/news/136174.html explains that the FCC spends about $7 billion per year on textbooks. However, many of them are seven to 10 years out of date.

Is the iPad really a temporary fashion?

Counting up until today, there is not a lot of evidence about the benefits of using tablets in educational contexts. However, there are schools and companies that have embraced the use of tablets in learning contexts and some have completely exchanged textbooks for tablets.

The article mentioned above explains that Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tested an interactive version of an algebra textbook for iPad in California’s Riverside Unified School District. The results showed that those who used the digital version scored 20 percent higher than those who learned with textbooks.
Another interesting experience is the one carried out by the Pennsylvania State University about the use of a tablet PC and the impact on learning in technology and engineering classrooms. http://pike.psu.edu/publications/wipte08.pdf
The research was grounded on Task Technology Fit (Goodhue and Thompson1995) and social learning theories. The research revealed some interesting conclusions. Some students said that the use of a tablet PC enhanced their learning experience. Students also pointed out that it was useful in tasks like sketching diagrams, graphs and maps. It also seems that what became important to the learning process and contributed to extent the use of the tool was the group.
But the most important conclusion was that the research suggested that the extent of use of the Tablet PC was due to two factors: task, technology fit and social influence.

Then, why do not we replace textbooks for tablets?

Despite the good results showed when using tablets for learning, it is not that easy. There are some issues to take into account.
It is necessary to invest in infrastructures, improve servers to guarantee the communications and train users.
Moreover, Kate Garland, a lecturer from Leicester University discovered that those students who used tablets to memorize new content needed more time than those who used traditional textbooks. http://www.mobiledia.com/news/133298.html
Another obstacle when learning with tablets is that content usually has links to click on so it easily changes the subject and can eventually lose it.

Conclusion

From my point of view and according to the different experiences that I have read I think that to exchange textbooks for tablets is not the best decision.
Learning on tablets is good to reinforce learning, to put in practice knowledge and practice skills. But when it comes to learning new content or memorizing concepts it is better to use textbooks for learning rather than tablets. Therefore I think it is better to think first what are the learning outcomes and define the best methodology and the resources to reach them out.

 

Competition Finalist 4: Top 10 Startup Social Media Curation Tools for Social Learning in the Workplace

This post was submitted by Duma Cornel Lucian.

1. Glogster Edu is my favorite curation and presentation tool and I am proud to be an Ambassador. This edu tool opens the gateway through knowledge for students because it develops children’s creativity and innovation . Glogster EDU is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond. GlogsterEdu empower educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS – online multimedia posters – with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more. I made a GlogsterEdu for Curation Restart Education Project here http://dumacornellucian.edu.glogster.com/credproject/ 

2. Scoop.it enables professionals to share important ideas with the right audiences giving them an opportunity to create and maintain a meaningful Web presence, a crucial component to the success of their business and career. Scoop.it lets you share ideas that matter and shine on the Web through beautiful topic pages. Collect relevant content and add your insight to attract an avid audience. Whether you’re a professional or educator representing a business or nonprofit, Scoop.it will help you efficiently and effectively build your online presence. Scoop.it is a one-stop shop for social media and content curation publishing. When you post on your topic page, you can easily share to your social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Advanced analytics available on Scoop.it Pro and customizable pages, post scheduling and WordPress integration available on Scoop.it Business.

3. Learnist is the latest social media curation tool for education , still in beta! launch by Grockit team . Learnist super easy to share what you know by pointing to existing web resources. You can use videos, blogs, books, documents, images, anything to explain how to learn something.

Use Learnist to share what you know and learn new things. Create Learning Boards on topics you understand and add learning by pointing to videos, blogs, images and documents on the web. Board creation permissions are granted on rolling basis.

4. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. Teachers use pinboards to manage their projects and also People use pinboards plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. To get started, request an invite or leave a comment after you read my post with your email and I will send you a invitation to try this curation tool . Also don’t forget that you must pin a image to bookmark on pinterest .

5. Mentormob is a social media startup curation tool who make learning online free and accessible to the entire world. One Learning Playlist Can Reach Millions…

Creating and editing Learning Playlists is a free and easy process. Not only does it show the world what you know, but it opens your knowledge to people who share your skills so they can help you refine it by adding and editing your Learning Playlist. Each Learning Playlist can be rated, bringing the best ways to learn to the top of the charts.

Creating and editing Learning Playlists opens the door to being able to share your skills and get feedback from those who share your passion.

So finally, we can get some real organization when learning online because after all, it’s not up to the Internet to make learning free and accessible to the world, it’s up to us.

6. Mightybell: This is about infusing passion and color into everyday life. Too often, we spend time on what we have to do, not what we want to do. We’ve lost the ability to follow what makes us curious, in favor of choosing what makes us more efficient. With Mightybell, you can step into a world of curiosity and serendipity. By making space for ideas, interests and adventures with friends, you’re embracing the opportunity to create a more colorful life. Each Mightybell space has a story, one you can share with as many likeminded people as you want. You can share: a question, an article, a link, a video or a photo about something that interests you is all you need to start a Mightybell space. After all, you never know when you’ll discover your next passion.

7. Springpad Smart Notebooks to save, share and act on what’s important to you and to your friends .Springpad now makes it easy to invite your friends so you can make awesome notebooks together. Springpad is great for just about anything and it’s even better when you invite your friends. Springing just got easier .Now you can just type in the information you want to save and let Springpad do the rest. Try typing in a task you want to remember, an event you want to save, a movie you want to see, or a product you want to buy. It’s that easy!

8. SymbalooEdu is a social media curation tool, great resource for teachers. With Symbaloo you can: Gather the best content on the web about 1 topic, and present it on a webmix Share a webmix with other teachers, and students. Discover useful webmixes in the Symbaloo Gallery to use in the classroom Share a webmix with parents to provide some insight of the used materials A worthy mention: Symbaloo is free of charge and doesn’t include any annoying ads.

9. Zeen is a social media startup curation tool launched by Avos (YouTube Co-founders) who offer a cool new way to share your interests with the world – bring pictures, prose, and videos together in eye-catching digital magazines.

10. Socl: pronounced social, allows you to express and share your ideas through rich post collages comprised of images, links, captions and videos. Socl is a research project from Microsoft Research FUSE Labs and began as an experiment in social search targeted at students for the purpose of learning. Following the lead of the Socl community, Socl has since evolved to be a service where people connect over shared interests expressed through beautiful posts that take only seconds to create.

Competition Finalist 3: Social Learning Applied

This post was submitted by Kalliopi Sigala.

Social Learning. Buzz word, right? Well, yes and no. The truth is somewhere in the middle. To get down to it, let’s see some actual facts and concepts that can be useful in the real world, and not just for the hype of it.

First, a quick recap. Social Learning is one of the four trending topics in the e-Learning industry right now (others being Mobile, Gamification and Bit-Size eLearning). Sure, these are buzzwords also, but the truth is that these three are easily digestible when it comes to thinking applications to learning processes and e-learning technologies. Social Learning is vague. Roberta Gogos previously posted a great definition of what social learning is, but where do we go from here? How can we use Social Learning concepts to leverage the learning process and improve the average learning curve?

Sometimes you do not have to do anything. You know, things just happen. Students communicate with each other either within the context of learning or not. They interact, and collectively develop a deeper understanding of the subject than the average individual would. But why not enhancing this natural social activity to amplify its effect? And how?

The instructor is the key, as it has always been. Creating hubs of communication and interaction within social networks can provide instructors with an entry point to stimulate social interaction, and students a place where they can initiate on their individual quest; either for deeper comprehension, or for supporting fellow students and learning as a side-effect of the process. Hooking up with wider related communities or structures will also help student groups (even if we are talking about micro-groups) to relate and indulge into sharing and learning.

Technology is also a prime factor. Let’s face it; there is no “learning” today without a bit of “e-” in front of it. Technology gives instructors the means to reach out to students. But, It should also provide the means for students to reach out to each other. In most cases, it does so. Online social networks have helped a lot, but any type of system should promote interaction among students and among communities, and if possible, do so in a learning-oriented manner. Control should move away from the instructor and be handed to the student, and technology should enable to do exactly this. Depending on the actual subject, Social Learning also moves away from the Objectivistic way of teaching and towards an approach resembling Constructivism theory with a social twist. In plain English; both the learning process as well as the tools used for it, should enable the student to discover and experience knowledge through interaction with others.

If we were to place current technology and services on a map, it would probably look like the following figure.

So, where does this leave us in regards to the actual choices we make as instructors or technology providers? Well, here is a penny’s worth fragment of wisdom:

  1. Focus on interactivity, either within context or out of it. Do not hesitate to use existing social networks (online or offline) to do so.
  2. Use e-Learning technology that provides for interactivity among learners. Technology that integrates well with existing online social networks will be a great plus and will help to provoke inter-group extended learning through all available channels of communication.
  3. Ignite interaction, as an instructor, by utilizing the above on a regular basis.
  4. Provide for cross-group interaction with domain-specific communities.

Social Learning may be “fuzzy” and “buzzy” at the moment. Nonetheless, it is something real. Beyond canned courses and test. The notion that through social interaction comes a deeper understanding of things is true, as it always was. But in our social era, it is more important than ever.

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Competition Finalist 2: Meeting Learner’s Needs

This entry was submitted by Bob Little. Bob blogs regularly and can be found on LinkedIn.

Since the 1990s, learning has been moving from “institutionalised” to ˜lifelong”; from “judgemental” to “developmental”; from “privileged” to “open access”; from “knowledge-based” to “competence-based”; from “passive” to “interactive”; from “didactic” to “facilitated and self-managed”; from “exclusive” to “inclusive”, and from “synchronous and physical” to “asynchronous and virtual”.

Learning materials can be fitted onto two continuums: tutor-directed to learner-directed and closed/ didactic to open/ heuristic. Traditional elearning fits into the “tutor-directed and closed/ didactic” parts of these continuums but more recent “web 2.0″ online learning materials are moving further way from these points, allowing learners freedom to learn by experience and from exploring other resources.

From a strict “learning” perspective, this presents some challenges such as: ˜how do you know when the student has finished exploring?” It also raises questions of levels of support. Moreover, a piece of traditional online learning is structured by a learning designer/ developer and usually concludes with an assessment to ensure that the learner has learned what s/he is supposed to learn.

However, when delivering materials via mobile devices, this format becomes less easy to accommodate. For one thing, the screen size is smaller and the device’s ability to cope with certain software, such as Flash, makes some learning materials inappropriate for use. More importantly, people using a mobile device are less likely to be able to devote their time and concentration skills to working through a carefully sequenced learning programme. They are more likely to want instant, sound-bite like reminders or tips to help them then and there.

This means that, when learning on the move, learners can’t, or don’t want to, cope with developer-structured learning materials. They want to explore the learning materials in the way they feel will get them the answer to their query in the quickest possible time. They don’t want to spend time taking an assessment to see if they’ve learned what they were supposed to. They have a more immediate and real-world way of validating their learning: by applying it there and then in the real world.

So, increasingly, online learning is no longer learning but, rather, performance support. This puts more pressure on the designers/ developers of these materials to make them available to the learner in a way that is relevant to the learner’s needs thus raising issues of the personalization and contextualization of the material.

We shouldn’t care about whether something is learning or performance support. This is not the time for an esoteric argument. The key issue is whether the learning materials are “fit for purpose“ in other words, whether or not they meet the needs of the learner at the point of need.

Competition Finalist 1: John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime Uni. Case Study

This entry was submitted by Cristin Arante

The John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University comprises three major academic units: JBLFMU-Arevalo, JBLFMU-Molo and JBLCF-Bacolod. In addition, the University encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, administrative support offices and a training center that supports continuing training and education programs. Approximately 11,000 students attend the University.
Being the only maritime university in Philippines and the first maritime university in Asia, the JBLFMU is committed to the development of a culture of excellence in maritime education and training, and responds to the need of time by acknowledging the practical and operational advancement of Online Distance Learning (ODL) mode of delivery.

The Situation

The JBLFMU-Distance Education-Open Learning Office (DE-OL) aims to extend graduate maritime studies throughout the country and the whole world; to provide opportunities for instructors/trainers in maritime educational institutions, personnel of maritime and shipping industries on-board ship and/or ashore to acquire a master’s degree in Maritime Education, Maritime Management and/or Ship Management. The system of programs uses both on-campus and off-campus methods of delivering education to a wide range of students around the globe, who want to enhance their competencies to better, prepare them for a career in maritime institutions and industries.

The Solution

With the goal of extending maritime studies, the JBLFMU-DEOL Office, with full support from the Unit administration, a feasibility study on different open-source LMS solutions was conducted. The “experimental implementation” of several LMS including eFront revealed that, in terms of cost savings and easy control, eFront is the best tool to use in engaging online distance learning.
eFront is a modern learning system, bundled with several functionalities ranging from learning delivery, communication tools, reporting, and administration, up  to advanced security (eFront, 2012). It also provides an extremely wide array of functionalities but remains simple and easy to use.  The technical requirements of solution are straightforward, which means that the solution can be rapidly implemented.

Learning modules, study guides with instructions and other materials, including video and audio tapes, are provided. Upon enrollment, the student is assigned an instructor who receives his lessons and offers comments and suggestions. The instructor gives a copy of the documents to the DE Office where grades are recorded and mailed or emailed back to the student.

With the DE-OLS, the student has the freedom to tailor his learning to his demanding schedule. The system, however, requires the student’s self-motivation and discipline. Through Distance Education, one can work towards a master’s degree in Maritime Education, Maritime Management or Ship Management. The courses offered via distance education or open learning system allows students to move up the career ladder or expand his understanding of subjects as diverse as maritime law, socio-economic development, maritime pollution and environment preservation, quantitative analysis in business, etc.

Lessons Learned

eFront, being open by nature, has the means to customize relevant requirements that best suit the University’s needs. Among the main attraction that makes eFront the finest learning delivery are: content management, assessments, projects, scheduling, glossary, file library, lesson rules, SCORM 1.2, linked lessons, lesson capacity and course instances among others (eFront, 2012). It also has communication tools that provide both instructors and students constant collaboration among themselves be in or out of the classroom.

Another functionality that makes eFront the best solution is its ability to provide user reports, lesson reports, course reports, system reports and test reports. As to administration, it is capable of importing/exporting courses and lessons with multilingual support. Not the least of its capability is its advanced security which provides the user and administrator exceptional security, scalability and support; eFront is professionally supported and designed to last. It is always reliable because someone is regularly available on hand if something does go wrong.

Benefits

The University hopes to conduct its education services and school management via the digital realm, delivering rich media resources, providing collaboration tools for project work, and encouraging online communication between students and instructors. These are made possible through the aid of LMS solutions found in eFront.

Among LMS solutions, eFront takes the lead in terms of integration with the corporate and educational environment. The overall implementation of the JBLFMU – ODL is successful and delivered on time and with relative beneficial results. The primary benefit is that all online courses provided by the school can now be delivered and accessed to and by all concerned over the school’s network or internet. Instructors are now more adept to develop digital course content and have learned how to set, mark and record student progress online.