The Benefits of Blended Learning

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During one of my most recent visits to a retail cellular store to browse through the newest mobile technology, I wasn’t surprised too surprised to see a three-year-old rifling through his mother’s cell phone, then quickly giving that up to play with one of the new tablets on the showroom floor. The place was as familiar to him as his favorite story or coloring book.


Today’s children are embracing technology at even younger ages so it only makes sense that educational institutions should follow suit. Students are enjoying the many benefits afforded to them with the use of this newer learning method.

Over the past few years, blended learning has become one of the most popular choices amongst students. Not only do they offer the flexibility of an online course, but students also have the opportunity to participate in a face-to-face classroom experience. In short, blended courses could just be the best solution to addressing the needs of not only students, but faculty and the institutions as well.

Here are four different models that are being successfully implemented in classrooms across the country.

  1. Rotation: Students rotate between online and face-to-face instruction in school.
  2. Flex: Still attending traditional classrooms daily, students divide their time between online and teacher driven studies in school.
  3. Ala Carte: Taking one or more online courses in their entirety, students continue to attend to their traditional classroom studies.
  4. Enriched: Students divide their time between school and home with their courses.

From the viewpoint of the administrator, having different choices available to them for their curriculums is beneficial for them. What are some of the other benefits that our children and their teachers are embracing using this new technology?

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  • MORE ENGAGING – During the stone age when I attended school, we were always excited to see a movie projector in the classroom with the big, white screen pulled down in front of the chalkboard. Students must feel the same way today given the choice between a computer screen and a thick textbook.
  • MORE REWARDING – The diversification available when adding the world wide web into the equation for the classroom is more rewarding for the students. They are no longer limited with what is only accessible inside the walls of their classrooms.
  • MORE PREPARED – With the rapid rate of today’s growing technology, we would be failing our children if we were not preparing them for the future. Students will be better equipped for the workplace when they are using the tools most commonly found there.
  • MORE TIME – Instructors will have more time when the students are implementing the use of blended learning. Whether students are at home researching for a report on the internet or in the classroom taking a quiz online, teachers will be free for other tasks.
  • MORE FUN – Not that the classroom should be all fun and games, but students will learn better and more effectively when they are happily engaged with the material using today’s technology rather than having their nose buried in a textbook. Using a computer or the internet is simply more fun than traditional teaching methods.

In contrast, it wasn’t that long ago that teachers were banning the use of cellphones in the classroom since it was such a distraction. While that still may be true today, many students along with their teachers are employing the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept. Along with their books, most are now carrying their laptops and tablets to school with them.

Making this transition is important for both our educators and our students. Since children are our future, they should be given the best tools possible to face and conquer what tomorrow brings.

Author

dannyDave Landry Jr. is an online journalist with a passion for business. In addition to sharing his advice with those who seek financial help, he enjoys writing about effective business communications, VoIP and virtual technology, and the process of globalization. You can find more of his writing by connecting with him on Twitter.

The post The Benefits of Blended Learning appeared first on eFront Blog.

The Value of Student-Directed Learning

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With more people telecommuting these days, it only makes sense that teachers and scholars would do the same through student-directed learning.

Perhaps you have seen recent advertising campaigns pointing at home-schooling opportunities now available for K-12 students, in addition to those curriculums offered at online colleges and universities. This reiterates a growing trend for learning online and the concept of student-directed learning is changing the traditional classroom environment.

Outside of the obvious savings in expenses such as textbooks, paper, and fuel, there is the convenience factor and a much wider array of data and material available on the world wide web. Even those with disabilities are given an open, unrestricted door that is always available to them on the internet.

Children of Technology

Our children have grown up today playing with the newest technologies available at their fingertips so it only make sense that they should continue using these devices in their education.

I remember programming the VCR for my parents, but today’s youngsters are connecting our mobile devices to wireless routers and modems. If I have a question about using a particular social networking site, I need only ask my teenager for some quick advice.

Disruptive or Disciplined

In the recent past some teachers were disallowing the use of things like cell phones in the classroom, but now some of them are now welcoming tablets and smartphones with a program called BYOD (bring your own device). Rather than burying one’s nose in a thick textbook, a student can interact with others online.

Supporters and critics disagree, but the fact remains that our children are embracing technology at younger ages than ever before. Many toddlers are able to operate a cell phone and most preschoolers are navigating through the menus on our tablets and smartphones. Children are often recognizing common computer icons before they can even read.

Interactive or Independent

Many will also argue that home-schooled children will be socially challenged or awkward when kept from their peers during these formative years. Currently the majority of classrooms are already implementing a variety of ways that their curriculum is either used or shared online especially at the Junior and High School levels.

But what will happen if online technology completely replaces the classroom environment?

Similar to the obesity epidemic that is currently challenges today’s youth, it is important that our teachers, parents and children alike all recognize the need for kids to simply go out and play with others their own age. The television may have been a glorified babysitter for Generation X and baby-boomers,, but at least our millennials have the ability to interact at some social level through their smaller screens.

The Adult World

Our ever changing technology is moving at such a fast pace that the future is often unclear. Maybe the online classroom is best suited for more adult environments at a high school, university or college level.

Businesses have already taken advantage of offering online education at a variety of levels from a quick online conference to marketing a lengthy trade school course.

Go Global

Whether in a business meeting or classroom setting, online learning now quickly and easily reaches global proportions. You can now speak to the person seated next to you as well as communicate with people on the other side of the world. This surpasses telephone communication when you can participate in a conversation with multiple parties in a variety of locations.

In addition to reaching out to people in all over the world, socioeconomic and other cultural barriers are being broken with the growing influence of the internet. A wide number of charities are donating laptops and computers to underprivileged children as well as other needy individuals and organizations.

Now people from all walks of life regardless of their station in life can take part in the huge array of educational benefits that are available online.

Even if it is being called “student-directed” that doesn’t necessarily mean that the attendee is in charge of the curriculum. It does however give the student more choices and power in their own education.

Author

dannyDave Landry Jr. is an online journalist with a passion for business. In addition to sharing his advice with those who seek financial help, he enjoys writing about effective business communications, VoIP and virtual technology, and the process of globalization. You can find more of his writing by connecting with him on Twitter.

The post The Value of Student-Directed Learning appeared first on eFront Blog.

Growth of online learning

elearning_TreeOfKnowledgeIn recent years, online learning has exponentially increased in popularity. Technological innovations have enabled people of all ages to learn from a distance and by utilizing a variety of different mediums; from video tutorials to info graphics and slideshows. It is staggering how online much learning has evolved over the years, and how it continues to revolutionize modern educational practices.

With the creation of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, educational institutions soon began to incorporate technology within their educational practices.In 1994, the very first online curriculum was introduced by CALCampus. Their online school was made available for several major telecommunications networks; including PC-Link, AppleLink, AOL and CompuServe amongst others. Significantly, in early 1995, CALCampus Online Campus made its online school available through the Internet as CALCampus.com. In this way, CALCampus was instrumental in introducing the concept of online-based schools for the public; enabling real-time classroom tutorials to take place via the Internet.

As the Internet continued to develop and evolve, more advanced versions of these online educational schemes became available. For instance, the worldwide commercial distribution of the webcam in 1994 equipped educators with the necessary resources in order to record live lessons and upload them onto educational websites. Similarly, this immediacy of learning enabled students to quickly reply to these online lectures; posting questions and contributing feedback as to how these sessions were beneficial and the areas in which they could be improved. These developments in online educational accessibility led to a greater number of students pursuing online learning. Research undertaken by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that, between 2002 and 2005, 65% more K-12 students enrolled in online distance learning programs.

More and more educational resources

began to emerge from this point, including BlackBoard in 1997 and SmartThinking in 1999. These organisations endeavoured to serve as innovators in “connecting students with highly qualified teachers” through the interactive platform of the Internet. These endeavours highlight one of the reasons why online learning has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years. Online learning creates an opportunity for students to receive a credible education where they previously would not have had access to sufficient resources. Students who wished to pursue education but who were constricted due to the distance of the institution are now able to achieve education through a new virtual communication channel. Subsequently, according to a 2008 study conducted by the U.S Department of Education, in the 2006-2007 academic year, approximately 66% of postsecondary public and private schools began participating in student financial aid programs which offered some distance learning courses.

As a result, more emphasis was placed on creating free educational resources for students of all ages. The OpenCourseWare Consortium had been in operation since 2002, and continued to expand its database to offer a range of free online course materials from MIT. Similarly, in 2008, the Khan Academy was founded with the specific mission of providing a free, world class education to students through online materials. The Khan Academy continues to offer thousands of bite-sized videos, instant data, and step-by-step problem solving tutorials for students worldwide.

This increasing availability of online educational resources has led to more and more students pursuing learning online. In the US alone, the number of K-12 students undertaking an online course has risen 6600% in the last decade and 86.5% of all US based higher education institutions now offer at least one online course. This exponential increase in online learning has raised its credibility. By 2010, 83% of CEOs and small business owners in the US consider online degrees to be as credible as traditional degrees and 63% of academic leaders have stated they believe online education is integral to their institutions’ long-term academic strategy. Educational agency Maths Doctor highlight the advantages of online learning and the integration of technology within traditional educational practices by pointing out;

“the main benefit described by both teachers and learners in the US is the focus on one-to-one learning afforded by technological supplements. Teachers are able to tackle learners knowledge gaps straight away, while students progress far quicker than they thought possible whilst re-establishing a passion for learning”.

Furthermore, online learning is beneficial for students of all ages. Industry officials, such as Andre Joubert of MWEB Business, enthuse about the benefits of online learning for employee training purposes, stating that;

“E-learning has long been recognised as offering considerable advantages over conventional classroom-based training when it comes to training employees and management quickly, efficiently and conveniently…There are online courses that offer recognised and accredited qualifications in everything from human resource management and marketing to project management and software applications development.”

Ultimately, online learning has grown in popularity for a variety of reasons. The wealth of online resources facilitates greater course diversity and flexibility. Moreover, both students and educational institutions alike can profit from the reduction in financial expenditures due to online learning; students benefit from reduced tuition and transportation fees whilst educational institutions require less physical learning facilities and the expenditures which they incur. Moreover, a recent survey by Ambient Insight Research predicts that the online learning market is expected to rise to $49.9 billion by 2015. Ultimately, this online educational trend continues to grow in popularity and revolutionise how individuals of all ages can access and consolidate their academic knowledge.

Author

This guest post was contributed by George Campbell. Follow him on Twitter at @rizzleJPizzle or on Google Plus.

 

The post Growth of online learning appeared first on eFront Blog.

Online education puts new skills at your fingertips

Credits http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-59881288/stock-photo-digital-camera-the-night-view-of-city.htmlIn this day and age, thanks to our increasingly wired and connected world, you can learn something any time you like. Education goes beyond what you can Google or find on Wikipedia. To get a job or impress a boss, you’ll first need to broaden your professional skills. Knowing to how use the basic software and programs related to your industry has always been a core requirement. But those who really excel in the workplace or in their consulting careers possess a wider range of knowledge, skills, and expertise.

There are a variety of websites solely dedicated to helping train beginners and helping veteran workers attain more skills to keep up at a fast-paced, technology-based business. Such sites help designers, developers, and others get up to speed – instructors can upload their video tutorials for example, making courses available to anyone, anytime, to stream.

Everyone has different areas to develop or roles to grow into. Priyanka Sharma enrolled in a course covering Salesforce and found it to be of better quality — and a better experience — than what she found in the past at an in-person class on the same subject. It’s not just the convenience that Sharma points to, but also the access and ease that online tutorials offer. One of the main features that online learners point to as a key asset to their education is the “Rewind” button. In a traditional classroom, you might occasionally ask an instructor to repeat his or her point. But for novices, some elementary concepts may take some more time to truly settle in. With an online course, you can start, stop, and repeat any sections you wish, and move at your preferred pace.

That’s a benefit that Slawka G. Scarso, a communications consultant and creative writer, took advantage of when she was learning Adobe Indesign. She had the basics to graphic design down and was looking to expand her fluency. “You can stop the lesson whenever you want, try out what the teacher has just explained for yourself, perhaps listen to a passage once again, if it’s not clear,” she said.

Online education can be much more tailored to your specific needs, viewers say. For many of us, time is of the essence. A quick fix won’t solve all of our problems, yet we may not be able to make a commitment to attend a course at the same time for several weeks. Whenever you do find yourself with a free hour or a longer period of time on your hands, you can pick up where you left off. Cathy Martindale, a retiree, has enriched her love for photography by “gobbling up as many tutorials as I can about Lightroom,” she said.

She admits she’s “far from a pro” but has found homes for some of her photos alongside of magazine articles. This freelance work provides some income for Martindale as well as an outlet to pursue a passion. “I enjoy photographing landscapes and animals, and have placed in some contests.” A small investment now in more Lightroom training will pay off in the long run, she hopes, in the form of more opportunities to showcase her work.

The breadth and depth of the collection of online video tutorials sends a clear message: Whatever perceived barriers or hindrances that appear to be standing in your way of education, with the willingness and dedication, you can overcome them. Martindale summarized her preferred learning style and preferences. “I take copious notes during each video and find myself going back and replaying the same ones to soak up information, which I would not be able to do in a classroom,” she said.

Author

dannyDanny Groner is the manager of blogger partnerships and outreach for Skillfeed.

eLearning – helping students achieve more in education

elearning_worldWhy has elearning been a great encouragement for students around the world? The prime reason for that is that access to knowledge was never open to all. People with financial restrictions, geographical barriers or physical impediments who had little chance previously in the academic sphere now have the doors to lifelong learning open to them. The new age education system brings you an updated version of knowledge that you can access at your convenience with millions of people from different parts of the world. It’s a blissful learning age for students far and wide.

In a nutshell, learning online is popular because it’s…

  1. Faster and Wider: The new age learning system is technology-based learning system that spreads knowledge through connecting and sharing. You reach your class through a click and get feedback instantly. Now you have a chance to connect with a wider group of learners and educators that helps you to maximize your academic objectives.
  2.  Convenient and Cost-effective: Now you don’t need to worry about professional or family commitments anymore. The new age learning system allows you to earn knowledge at your own pace and convenience. Students these days learn and earn at the same time and also keep up with family responsibilities. And it is possible because elearning doesn’t need you to travel far or spend time at libraries. Everything is available with an internet connection that makes education comfortable and cost-effective.
  3. A collaborative learning system: With elearning you get the option to learn with the whole world. The class today is no longer confined to a physical classroom with walls. People from different parts of the world join to discuss and share knowledge. Through online learning, different students from different countries can exchange learning processes and through that a cultural exchange also takes place. This constant cross-cultural exchange benefits students in many ways.
  4. Cultivating social capital: The system of earning knowledge through the internet is less about monotonous lectures and thick textbooks – it’s a tool-based education system that concentrates more on interaction and discussion. The educational platforms (as an integral part of knowledge acquisition) encourage social interaction amongst students and educators across the globe. The plug-and-play method of earning degrees is helping educators and learners form a global network.

Elearning through mobiles is encouraging an effective environment:

Experts believe that the process of making education available around the clock assures better results and that’s encouraging more learners and institutions to take up online education. The generation at present that loves spending time glued to gadgets is extremely hopeful about new age technology that allows people to virtually carry classes in their pockets. According to a recent report by Ambiant insight, the US educational market has earned a thrilling amount of $958.7 in 2010 by selling mobile learning products. The survey also indicated a mammoth rise and predicted it to grow more than 10% every year in next five years.

Bring your own device or BYOD – is a new concept being hugely adopted by schools these days. The various facilities of online education including the option of learning through video instruction and live internet discussions have encouraged a lot of schools and colleges to start online classes. So, teachers, who sometime ago used to put up notices against using mobiles in school, now think that mobile devices have become essential educational tools in last few years.

The prime reason behind why studying through mobile and computers seems so relevant to school students is that their generation have grown up seeing, hearing and playing with technology. The growing acquaintance of humans with hi-tech equipment is of course a reason that has helped boost the rise in mobile learning significantly.

Author

Regina Brown has been a freelance educator for last ten years. She is a passionate writer too and loves acquiring information about the latest developments in the education sector. She is very hopeful about the future of democratic education emerging with the help of technology and social media. Her informative articles on  advancement of  elearning are appreciated by students worldwide.

How to add videos to your eFront lessons

Do you want to make your content more appealing and interactive? You can enrich it by adding videos to your units! There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Upload your videos to the lesson’s file manager. While editing the unit place the mouse where you want to insert the video. Open the file manager, search for the video you want to add and simply click on the blue arrow: video-post-1The video is now inserted and you can change its dimensions by dragging its edges. video-post-2Otherwise you can use the editor’s button video-post-3 to specify the dimensions: video-post-4You can even select the player that will be used through this window: video-post-5
  2. If you have already uploaded your video files in YouTube for example, you can embed them in eFront directly. All you need to do is to find your video in YouTube, click to share and then select the embed option: video-post-6

Copy the code that is inside the box marked “embed”, move to your eFront unit, toggle editor/HTML mode and paste the code: video-post-7

You can change the videos dimensions through this page or by switching back to editor mode you can resize your file by dragging its edges.

That’s it! Save your unit and you are ready to go.

Some tips you can use to make your embedded videos look better:

By using HTML you can specify several parameters for your embedded file. Here are some examples:

We have edited the YouTube embed code as such:

<p><iframe width=”800″ height=”530″ style=”display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;”src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/UpONzeZAmc?rel=0&amp;iv_load_policy=3&amp;modestbranding=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;wmode=transparent&amp;vq=hd720&amp;autoplay=1″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”"></iframe></p>

  1. rel=0: in order to remove related videos from the end of the video I insert “&” then “rel=0″.
  2. iv_load_policy=3 Setting to 3 will cause video annotation to not be shown by default.
  3. showsearch=0: Setting to 0 disables the search box from displaying when the video is minimized. Note that if the rel parameter is set to 0 then the search box will also be disabled, regardless of the value of showsearch.
  4. showinfo=0: To hide the YouTube header bar   insert the character “&” and “showinfo=0″
  5. autoplay=1: it allows for a video to immediately start when a page loads (the value “1″ enables this).  To insert this into the embed code, you would simply use the “?” character and then “autoplay=1″

You can find many more tips here: https://developers.google.com/youtube/player_parameters

About the Author

EleftheriaEleftheria Papatheodorou is responsible for after sales support, customer training and beta testing at Epignosis (eFront). She holds a BSc in Management Science and Technology from Athens University of Economics and Business. She can be reached via Twitter @foyska or LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Ten tips to build interactivity

Interactivity is a key component in the learning process. While it’s relatively easy for a teacher in a classroom to interact with the learners and, by ‘reading’ the situation, involve them in the learning process in the most effective ways, it’s much harder for those producing online learning materials. For one thing, they can only make educated guesses at their learners’ needs, state of mind, attitude to and preferences for learning and so on.

So, when developing online learning materials, it’s important to define the content that needs to be learned; determine what the learner must do as a result of completing these learning materials, and so decide on the most appropriate ‘treatment’ for the content. Users must interact with online learning materials to navigate through the materials; amass information and make decisions.

Considering what the learner needs to know or do – rather than what the teacher wants to teach – involves you in ‘interactivity’. So here are ten things to bear in mind about interactivity when you’re developing online learning materials:

  1. Allow the learners to control their learning – so they’re more likely to engage with the whole learning activity. You should always let them see where they’re going on their learning journey and what options they have at each stage of that journey.
  2. You should cater for different preferred learning styles. Not everyone wants to engage with the same type of interaction. Offer learners choices of interaction to go some way to ‘personalising’ the materials and so generate maximum engagement and motivation.
  3. Give the learners a reason to explore the materials and gather the information they need. Don’t ‘push’ information at them. Rather, let the learners ‘pull’ that information from the learning materials.
  4. Challenge the learners’ understanding – not just to find out how much they already know and, so, how much they need to learn but also to make them receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things.
  5. Give the learners choice over how they’ll learn – building in opportunities for those who need more information to get it as well as for those who need less information to learn by experiment and experience.
  6. Emphasise – in the learning materials - that these choices produce consequences. This can be done via establishing a scenario with various results depending on the learners’ decisions.
  7. Generate ‘tension’ throughout the materials. If you make learners care about the decisions they take, they’ll become more engaged with the learning materials and motivated to not only ‘succeed’ within the parameters of the learning materials but also to apply, in the real world, the lessons they’ve learned.
  8. Look for other ways – that is, things not specifically related to the materials’ learning objectives – to reward the learner for persevering with the learning materials. This could include permission to play a game (contained within the learning materials) for a while once certain key points are reached.
  9. Give helpful feedback following any assessments the learners take. That’s easier said than done!
  10. Make the materials look attractive to the user. Visually attractive materials aren’t necessarily the most effective – but if they’re not visually attractive, they won’t attract learners’ attention and, so, they’ll be ineffective anyway.

Instituted tastefully, interaction can help to make learning materials more intuitive for the user – making their message more memorable.

There are many online learning authoring tools on the market – offering a wide range of features and functionality. In this market, open source solutions are not as well evolved as they are in the LMS market, but some developments are taking place in this area.

Among the current key rapid authoring tools are:

  • Adobe Captivate – Not for the dilettante, being priced at some £1,750. Adobe has had to address HTML5 issues and, no doubt, will embrace the issues posed by the up-and-coming Tin Can.
  • Articulate – The Storyline product is proving popular but is still closely allied to converting PowerPoint into Flash.
  • Camtasia – The Camtasia suite is a series of screen capture products, and Camtasia Relay could be of interest for lecture/presentation capture and then integration into, say, Lectora.
  • Composica – An Israeli product that is widely used by professional e-learning authoring houses. It copes well with Middle Eastern and East Asian text – and ‘thin client’ infrastructures.
  • Jackdaw – A British product that uses template screens to speed up production and can create engaging environments giving a 3D context to the learning.
  • Lectora – A popular choice of authoring tool – especially with the professional development community – suited to materials dealing with detailed as well as mere ‘procedural’ learning.  Lectora will publish both Flash and HTML5 for Apps and rendering through iPads and smartphones. It complies with SCORM 1.2, 2004, AICC, Tin Can (Lectora 11 onwards) and XML.
  • Mohive – Now part of the French leadership and management business, CrossKnowledge, but originally developed in Scandinavia, it doesn’t – as yet – appear to have an HTML5 publishing output and there seems to be no mention of Tin Can. Mohive could be said to sit in the market above Articulate and Captivate and below Lectora and Raptivity.
  • Quick Lessons – A Brazilian product that creates simple content, supports several authoring teams and publishes via Uzzui to Facebook. This hosted solution appears to be weak on HTML5 and doesn’t have a clear Tin Can upgrade path – yet.
  • Rapid Intake and Easy Generator – A cloud-hosted tool, supporting both Flash and HTML5 outputs but, at present, with limited creativity and interaction functionality.
  • Raptivity From the US/Indian Harbinger Knowledge Products, this well-developed tool is widely used, especially by professional developers. It supports HTML5 output to mobile devices but appears to say nothing, at present, about Tin Can. Raptivity’s ‘claim to fame’ focuses on the speed of content creation. It also integrates with other tools, including Lectora.
  • Snap – A starter tool, from the Lectora stable – priced at $99.
  • Xerte This open source – and, thus, low cost – authoring tool from the University of Nottingham is gaining popularity among further and higher education establishments. It offers both cloud based and server based development environments but doesn’t offer the hosting solution itself.

Articulate and Raptivity tend to be the most popular of these tools at present but any user will have her/his favourite tool(s). [If you'd like to list them here please add them in comments below!]

By Bob Little

For over 20 years, Bob Little has specialised in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning – especially e-learning – and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the UK, Continental Europe, the USA and Australia. You can contact Bob via bob.little@boblittlepr.com His e-book, ‘Perspectives on Learning Technologies’ (e-book; ASIN: B00A9K1VVS) is available from The Endless Bookcase and from Amazon. It contains over 200 pages of observations on issues in learning technologies, principally for learning & development professionals.

Telecommuting vs ‘Telepresence’

There are countless articles all over the internet describing telecommuting and how that compares to “traditional” working in an office. However, most of them deal with the matter under the assumption that the employee is either self-employed, or has a flexible working schedule. That means, when comparing the two types of employment, one of the key advantages of telecommuting is presented to be the freedom in making use of your time in your own way.

This is not necessarily an advantage though. Under the light of recent developments, where Yahoo and now Best Buy are cancelling their flexible work programs, it would be interesting to present a third option: working from home, but in an office at the same time (for the sake of this post, let’s call this “telepresence”). This means that you get to work from the location of your choice but under the 40-hour schedule and availability obligations you would have if you were to work in an office (I have been working this way in our company for several years).

So, how does “telepresence” relationship compare to the other two extremes (and why is it better)?

You can find telecommuting vs office work comparisons all over the internet, so I’ll only present a list of “telepresence” advantages compared with telecommuting:

  • Communication amongst your team members is easy, as everyone is online at the same time.
  • Meetings don’t need to be scheduled beforehand; they can take place immediately, as if everyone was in the same office (in fact, even faster than that)
  • Your clients can reach any member of your team during work hours, which is especially important for the company’s reputation.
  • Supervising is easier as you can ask and see work in progress, discuss issues or changes and delegate tasks at any time of day – just as you would in an office.
  • In case of an emergency situation you know that every member of your team will be online and available to assist you immediately (during working hours, at least)

I would say that this kind of employment combines the best of both worlds. Obviously, telecommuting in general is not the Holy Grail, nor suitable for every kind of working relationship (or people). But if companies were to employ stricter policies rather than providing full flexibility to employees (such as the ones described above) there would be far more people willing to try it!

About the author: Periklis Venakis is a software engineer at Epignosis, working as a web developer and elearning specialist. He has been actively participating in the development of the eFront and TalentLMS platforms for the past several years.

Why tablets will make us smarter

The history of mankind has shown that information is the fundamental leverage factor for our mental development. The most profound moments throughout time have to do with changes in the way information was communicated, stored, processed. After inventing language and writing, the most important development was the modern communication networks. And now, the tablet.

What makes tablets so powerful is their inherent interactivity and intuitiveness. The Economist had a great article about Grace Wambui, a 14-year-old pupil in Nairobi, who was given a tablet at school. Having never touched a tablet before, she figured out how to use it within a minute or so. And she is old. My own niece, 18 months old, figured out how to see videos and photos on my tablet, after playing her favorite games. She learned how to play the infamous birds game and her favorite memory-cards game, while she could barely speak. Now, that’s a breakthrough.

If we, as infants, develop through interaction, then tablets are our mental steroids. The App Store and Google Play have tons of tablet apps for infants, teaching them vocabulary, numbers, even basic arithmetics, while having lots of fun along the way. We are talking about kids that can’t even properly target a mouse cursor, yet they can navigate and use a tablet to get the entertainment they want and the education they need.

This trend carries on to adulthood. The tablet is where we actually seek information, we do the heavy reading, where we watch video and photos. We allow ourselves to a more relaxed experience and more efficient way when it comes to absorbing information. People at their homes have changed their attitude; from a “lean-back” (TV), to a “lean-in” (PC), back to a “lean-back” (tablet). Access to information is now easier than ever and the learning environment of the learner is now more relaxed, supporting the learning process.

Ok, we have smartphones; but smartphones are mostly about communication. Mobile Learning is different, in that the tablet is not as personal as a smartphone, nor do we carry it around all the time. Tablets are heavier and have larger screens, so you cannot hold them for a long time, but you can use them for long sessions without eye strain. Exactly what a learner needs.

And do not forget about the thing that “makes the world go round”; the tablet is cheaper. Schools, governments and all sorts of organizations always look at the financial side of things. Austerity and budget cuts push everyone to low-cost tools, preferably “mobile” (as in “easily transferred”) and do not require other facilities, like a computer lab, power or tech support. Emirates Airlines is using tablets coupled with custom developed applications as performance support tools for crew-members. Western countries, but also developing countries, are subsidizing tablets for schools and government organizations. Brazil has announced plans to hand out 600,000 tablets out to its public schools. The US FCC forecasts $3 billion savings from using tablets at schools. They are moving fast.

For the average home, tablets will slowly replace the TV. From our early childhood, the TV was an important source of information, stimuli that our brain processed and got trained by it. The tablet serves that same role, but does so interactively. Moving to the school environment, the tablet will provide access to structured learning material, ebooks, libraries, and will soon be obligatory to bring it along at school, like we did once upon a time with books. And at work the tablet will be a permanent complementary tool both to everyday work tasks and to reference and training material.

From an infant to a grown up, the tablet is here to boost our mental development and efficiency.

Sent from my iPad.  I feel smarter already. :-)

References:

This post was submitted by guest blogger Kalliopi Sigala.

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!