Tablets for Learning

In your opinion, what are the three most significant ways in which a tablet device may be useful for learning? Support your answers.

Tablets, specifically, iPads have transformed the learning in my classroom. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Anatomy apps we use allow for a richness of images never before achieved in the class. The iPads and apps allow students to work on their own pace to discover the anatomical structures we’re focusing on for the day. Students can manipulate the images as they need. This ability allows for individualized learning that enables students to learn on their own at their own pace. Additionally, students are more engaged and motivated to learn with their shiny new devices. The iPads have been working out well in my class from my experience. However, I foresee that students can be more productive if we were on a 1:1 iPad program.

This summer, I’m going to be part of a team of teachers to help pilot an iPad classroom in the summer school Biology program at my school. Although I have taught summer biology for the past three summers, I’m choosing to take a step back from being the classroom teacher this year to help support the integration of iPads into the curriculum. The students will be assigned an iPad for the duration of the course. Additionally, we plan to have a laptop cart along with several desktops in the classroom.

We are just beginning to discuss the potential of individualized learning and other benefits of having an iPad classroom. In a nutshell, we already know that iPads can be used for content consumption. There are some amazing apps for Evolution and Cells that we will have students use. The next steps are ways to have students curate and create their own content using the iPads. Maybe they can create their own iMovie presenting as aspect of the Hawaiian ecosystem. Or they can create an iBook chronicling their 6-week journey through the summer biology course. We’re hoping that from our experience this summer, we will have additional ideas around the successes and challenges of the iPad classroom.


Khan Academy as OER

For the OER assignment, our group decided to review Khan Academy’s series on Unit Conversions with focus on Converting Gallons to quarts pints and cups.

Sal Khan has an innate gift in explaining concepts for ease of understanding. It helps that each video covering each sub-topic is short (usually about 5 – 10 min). For each sub-topic, he presents a questions/word problem. Then Khan explains each step involved in solving the problems. Often times, he supports his verbal explanations with diagrams to help the visual learners.

Overall, this is one of the best OER offered at the moment. This Unit Conversion topic is actually one of the first he started to help his cousin through distance tutoring, and resulted in him started the Khan Academy.

It would be nice if there were additional embedded questions grouped by sub-topics for additional practice. In math, it’s important to provide the learner with a variety of questions to allow for mastery of skills.


First day with MOOC

When I found out that we would have to register/follow a MOOC for 6 weeks, I was flabbergasted as to how I will be able to fit it all into my already super busy schedule. I have heard a lot of MOOC in the news and from my husband who is currently taking his 3rd MOOC course. I was blown away when I watched Daphne Koller’s TED talk a few months ago on how online education is changing the paradigm for access to higher education. After I got over the fact that I have to do this assignment and just have to make time for it, I began browsing the Coursera website for a class that I could take.

I’ve been thinking for awhile about taking a computer programming class. But the reality is, I don’t think I can commit to the time to really learn it this semester with teaching and finishing up my masters thesis project. Then stumbled on The Science of Gastronomy, which sounds amazing. I love to cook and it would be neat to learn more about food science – but it’s not offered now. Hence, I decided on taking Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  Personally, I’ve been struggling to the excess 30 lbs I’ve gained since I’ve had 2 children 7 years ago. I’ve tried dieting and exercising, but I’ve learned that I need to learn to eat healthier! So I’m hoping that this class with help me learn about proper nutrition while encouraging me to lead a path towards a healthier lifestyle. The other reason for taking this class is I hope I can glean information that I would be able to share with my students in Anatomy and Physiology. We spend a lot of time discussion different body systems, particularly the cardiovascular system and digestive system. And studies have shown that nutrition is heavily linked to the wellness and smooth operations of these body systems.

Today being the first day of the course, I started watching the video lectures (10 per week!). Luckily, I had a chunk of time today, so I plowed through the first 5. My initial reactions are:

  • Course is well organized and structured.
  • The video lectures are really well made – Prof speaks clearly, slides are informative but not too information heavy.

It looks like hundreds of people from all over the world have registered for the course from the Introduction posts on the discussion forum. It doesn’t seem as if I will interact with many or get to know any at all if I don’t participate in the discussion forum.

So far, most of the info presented from the lectures are review for me as I have taken 2 course in biochemistry in college, and I have taught Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy/Physiology. The assignments for the week is to take a quiz (based on the lectures), keep track of my caloric intake and physical activities for one day using Super Tracker (by USDA), and analyze my report looking at specific data. This seems doable for this week. I imagine that it’ll get much harder as time progress. I hope I am able to keep up!