Saturday, February 16, 2008

Emerging Learning Technologies and related practices.

This post provides an overview of current technologies, how they work and where are they going, and why they matter to teaching and learning.

E-Books ----2006
E-books offer new ways for readers to interact with content. E-books incorporating audio, movies, and simulations facilitate deeper understanding of subject matter, while annotation features let users customize a text. More>>

Facebook --- 2005
The social networking site originally developed for college students has now become available to anyone. It offers creative way of organizing social networks as well as extensive new features and access to other Web applications. Users can now manage online identities and engage other users more easily. More>>

Google Earth ---2006
Google Earth is an interactive mapping application that allows users to navigate the entire globe, viewing satellite imagery with overlays of roads, buildings, geographic features, and the like. Educators can use it to assess and bolster students' visual literacy. Students can use it to develop a context for spatial and cultural differences globally. More>>

Podcasting ---2005
"Podcasting" refers to any software/hardware combination that permits automatic downloading of audio files to an MP3 player for listening at the user's convenience. Podcasting allows learning to become more portable and gives teachers another way to meet today's students where they live and learn - online and on audio players. More>>

RSS, April 2007
RSS is a protocol that lets users subscribe to online content using a "reader" or "aggregator”. RSS allows users to create a list of those sources in an application that automatically retrieves updates, saving users substantial time and effort. More>>

Screencasting, ----2006
A screencast is a video recording of the actions on a user's computer screen, typically with accompanying audio, distributed through RSS. Screencasts can be thought of as video podcasts. They provide a simple means to extend rich course content to anyone who might benefit from the material but cannot attend a presentation. More>>

Skype ---- 2006
Skype is an application that offers free phone calls between computers and between computers and telephones. It usually provides voice and video communication for a low cost, allowing for more communications between colleagues and collaborators. More>>

Social Bookmarking ---2005
Social bookmarking is saving bookmarks one normally makes in a Web browser to a public Web site and "tagging" them with keywords. The resulting community-driven, keyword-based classifications, known as "folksonomies," may change how we store and find information online. More>>

Twitter ---2007
Twitter is an online application that that offer blog, social networking, and cell phone/IM tool. It is designed to let users describe what they are doing or thinking at a given moment in 140 characters or less. As a tool for students and faculty, Twitter could be used academically to foster interaction and support More>>

Wiki --- 2005
Wiki is a free, online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to and edit. It is one of the most visited Web sites with millions of articles in multiple languages. It helps students both to analyze and create content for reflective, creative learning. More>>

YouTube -- 2006
YouTube is a video-sharing service that allows users to post personally developed videos of nearly any variety online. YouTube is one of an emerging group of social applications that allows users to share and form communities around their content. It draws users into engaging content as commentators and creators, activities that heighten students' visual literacy. More>>

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Building Interactive Learning Environment for our Classroom

Interactive learning environment are not created by chance. Institutions committed to interactive learning typically invest in a number of enablers. Some of the key considerations for the interactive learning environment include:

Leadership commitment: Are interactivity and improved learning recognized and Rewarded?

Faculty development: What skills, perspectives, and support do faculty need to adopt interactive models that improve student learning and engagement? What is the role of IT in supporting this process?

Technology infrastructure: Can the existing infrastructure be adapted to new models of interaction?

Learning spaces:
Learning takes place in many different environments—formal, informal, and virtual. How can space configuration enable interaction and a better learning experience?

Instructional support: What type of technical assistance, instructional design, or graphic design is needed to move interactive models into practice?

Assessment: How should institutions evaluate successes and failures? How can these evaluations be used to encourage ongoing improvement?

Student input: Students often have a unique and valuable view on interactive learning environments. Can faculty and college administrators gain valuable insight into what will work, and what won’t, from the students’ perspective?

where is your institute stands in terms of the seven pilars I outlined in this blog?

Using Tablet PCs to keep students engaged

Hi all,

Colleges and schools are working hard to find ways to keep students engaged in classroom activities. Traditional teaching activities are not being very effective in seizing students’ attentions and engagement anymore.

As numerous studies found that the learners of the 21th century are highly motivated to learn; they are self directed and independent; they want to participate in decision making whenever they can; they need to be convinced on what is being taught to them will benefit them; and time is extremely important to them.

The task of the trainer/teacher/coach, whatever name you use, to keep the learners engaged and motivated in class room is not easy. Using technology effectively in classroom is one way of making the teachers' job little bit easier sometime and difficult at other times.

At my current job, all students have laptops (tablet-pc). Full time access to wireless network and internet connection. I have used many different methods to keep my students engaged. I give them access to my online course. All assignments and projects have restricted submission dates. All mini and major projects are done in groups and requires the use of internet for researching info; and plenty of feedback on their progress. With all these methods of keeping students engaged, I am still searching for ways to get the full benefits and make most of their laptops and internet availability to meet the course objective.

I would love to hear from people with similar settings

Students with laptops and full internet access.. How can we keep them engaged and concentrating on task at hand?


Saturday, February 9, 2008


An interesting article is published by the British Computer Society on how the current web 2.0 tools are affecting the way companies do business online. The article highlights the way businesses have been transformed from the sole owners of the contents to contributors to contents creations and to designers of social-based websites with collaborative interface.

Complete article can be read on

Hope you have a good read.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Top Tech Tools for the Classroom

Share with us what you use in your classroom..

We are currently using uboost.
“It's affiliated with weekly reader and allows your students to read the online weekly reader magazine (current events, news, current science, and much more), take quizzes, earn points, and get cool prizes. Take advantage of it because it's free till december. I just got my students on it and they love it!
go to and check it out! “

We are using
“This year in my Language Arts classroom (seventh grade). See my discussion thread for more info. “

How to use GCP in Classroom

How do you use the GCP in the classroom. I like this site and I think they do a nice job explaning the "HOW TO".

I use the followings
“Google Documents for education. www, (Collobrative word processor and spreadsheet and web site bulider)
Filimentality ( lesson plans).
Rubistar fpr teachers. (rubrics)
Thinkfinity Resources and lesson plans ( create tutorials usig screen shots)
GCF (online computer training”.

I use a smart Quiz tool

“I use a smart Quiz tool to create online tests and assessments. The good thing is that I can use images, Flash, music and record narration for my testing content.
You can see a sample at “

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Personal Social Networking

Very important thoughts on Social Networking and Education by
Will Richardson

Friday, January 25, 2008

Web 2.0 tools

An interesting discussion I had the other day with a very traditional English language teacher who is not ready to introduce any technology tools to embrace his teaching and learning in the classroom. After one hour of heated discussion I could not get him to accept nor see the benefits of the web 2.0 technology of today. Maybe he did not want to understand nor see the benefits of such tools. Maybe, I was not convincing enough. Anyway, below is a summary of my argument with him.
The web 2.0 tools like Twitter, Podcasts, Wikis, Skype, Voice Thread, Sketch Cast, etc. are tools that are bringing fresh approaches to learning and we should not underestimate the impact of those tools on our students to keep them engaged in classroom discussions.
I believe that many of the traditional teachers and public schools are afraid of letting our students learn "skills" that actually do provide the means to learn on their own.
“Schools are scared because the means to truly become a life long learner often include methods where the teacher and a school lose control over the students learning”. Instead of allowing the community and world to become additional teachers for our students, we are too scared that it will reflect poorly on us if we make mistakes on public forums.

Many of the web 2.0 tools I mentioned at the beginning facilitate the following standards better than traditional methodology:

1. Innovation, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration
2. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Research and Information

3. Digital Citizenship
4. Technology Operations and Concepts

As I continue my journey of recording my reflection for the FET8611 course, I would appreciate hearing from people with specific examples from life experience on the effectiveness of web 2.0 tools in English Language classes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Technology Integration: Teachers Beliefs and practices

Integrating technology in classrooms across universities, colleges and school is moving at a steady and fast pace. Big chunk of our college budget is allocated to IT infrastructure upgrade and to acquire technology tools to support learning across the curriculum.
The article I just read talks about the transitions that happen as result of introducing technology in classrooms. I will briefly discuss the five phases that schools go through as a result of technology introduction and then I will outline at what phase our college is at.
Entry Level Phase
At this phase, the technology gets unpacked, computers, projectors, Smart Boards, scanners, video cameras get installed. Reorganizations of the classroom physical settings also happen at this phase. Once instructions begin, the teachers find themselves facing problems like class management, resource management and personal frustration with the use of the new technology. At this stage, teachers feel very frustrated with the new environment.
Adoption Phase
Teachers at this stage get busy in creating or modifying their instructional materials to suit the newly created environment. As a result, disruption takes place at every level in the student learning process. Students and teachers struggle to learn and function with class environment and the new tools. No significant improvement shows at this stage (Baker, Herman, & Gearheart, 1998). But motivation, self teem, Students attendance are reported to be high among students as research shows (Baker, el at.)
Adaptation Phase
Those individual teachers who feel comfortable with the new tools start to use them in an appropriate way to accomplish real work. As teachers reach this stage, their roles begin to come up with new instructional patterns in their classes. Team teaching, Project based, Peer interactions, Collaborative learning, students ability to learn on their own; and the changing role of a teacher to become facilitator rather than distributor of knowledge are all emerged at this stage.
Invention Stage
All previous phases are viewed to be leading to the stage of invention phase. Teachers who reach this stage start to view learning as active, creative and socially interactive process. Knowledge start to be viewed as something students must construct rather then transferred to them by the teacher.

Where do we stand?
In our college, we are still at the adaptation stage, I believe. Staff is learning how to use the new tools in their classroom environment. Their instructional materials are being updated and rewritten to take into considerations the new technology. Staff development, management support and funding are the key to successful integration at this stage.

Baker, Eva L.; Herman, Joan L.; & Gearhart, Maryl (1989). The ACOT report card:Effect on complex performance and attitude. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.

Becker, H. J. (1987, July). The impact of computer use on children’s learning: What
research has shown and what it has not. Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on
Elementary and Middle Schools.

please feel free to send me your feedback..

till my next reading...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Key Elements in Setting up Successful Online Course

Currently, I am involved in setting up an online course for comp 0155 for the foundation class at my college. I am, like many other instructors around the world, discovering the potential of the online environment to deliver the highest quality courses to people who would otherwise have limited access to education. To have a successful online course, four key elements are identified:
- The Facilitator
- The Student
- The Curriculum
- The Technology
Let me briefly take a closer look at each element.

The Facilitator
A trained well qualified facilitator is an important part of a successful online course. Normally, at our college, the facilitator is also the designer of the course. Therefore, his attitude, skills, personality, positive attitude, and encouragement to the students have powerful influence on the success or failure of the courses we offer online.

The Student
A student participating in an online environment must assume an active role at all times. Attitude, skills, and commitment will determine whether the student will be a good candidate for the online experience. The student must be mature, open-minded, self-motivated, accepting of critical thinking, willing to work collaboratively, and trusting medium. Good written communication and a minimum level of technological experience are necessary as well.

The Curriculum
The online curriculum should have clear achievable objective. The choice of technologies should be driven by the curriculum not the other way around. The learning objective must be of relevant to the learners so we can have maximum dialog between participants in the online course. From my own experience, the synergy generated through the dialogue is the most important learning tool in the online environment and has impact on defining the learning outcomes. The climate of the course must be open, honest, sincere, and conductive to the learning.

The Technology
Technology is the final component of a successful online course. Selection of technologies to use in the online course is becoming a challenging task due to the continuous changes and growth in internet based tools. But successful use of technology in an online environment is determined by its ease of use and the degree to which it remains a tool that is seamlessly integrated in curriculum. Technical support is also vital to the success of an online course. We all should know that technical issues should not interfere with the learning process.

Please feel free to comment on any of my blogs

Friday, January 4, 2008

Learning Thorough Interactions..

In today’s online environment, interaction effectiveness is paramount important. Instructional designers and trainers of online courses must be aware of the four types of interactions in order to have an effective learning in their courses:
• Interaction with Content
• Interaction with Peer
• Interaction with instructor
• Interaction with interface
Let me outline some important aspects for each interaction.
Interaction with contents
Use open ended questions to encourage proactive involvement.
Encourage different point of views
Develop grade book for discussion participation that reward desired cognitive behaviors.
Encourage experimentation
Interaction with Instructors
Provide timely feedback
Make sure teacher present is felt throughout the course
Establish clear expectations for student-teacher interaction.
Interaction with Peers
Design community building activities
Develop course activities to encourage the development of trust
Encourage students to share experiences and beliefs in online discussion
Use tracking mechanism to reward reading as well as responding to messages.
Interaction with Interface
Provide support all the time.
Use simple and easy to use platform interfaces
Provide orientation
Use a both words and pictures
Allow the learner to control the pace of the presentation.
Ghassan 

Keeping in Touch...

Here in the UAE, Etisalat, the only telecommunication carrier, had blocked many internet websites. Two sites which have been blocked and are of great benefit to me are Skype and twitter. Both are being used a lot by many users undertaking the FET8611 course. Yesterday, a friend of mine explained how we can bypass the proxy of Etisalat. The whole process is really simple. Just download and install simple software on your computer then you can start surfing any website.
After I have done the installation of the software on my laptop, I installed Skype software and tested it and it worked PERFECT. All night long I was talking to friends and families in Australia.
I even accessed “twitter” website, which was originally blocked, and I am starting to explore it. I am still discovering all the functionalities of this social networking site.
Before I go and do some more exploration of “twitter” I would to to say, Janet, thank you so much… your help is greatly appreciated..  

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mobile and Wireless Learning

The purpose of this blog is to explore roles for mobile and wireless technologies in the blended learning educational environment. I believe everyone agrees that they both offer the following benefits:
- Active Learning experience;
- Empower and Engage Learners;
- Ability to support a range of functions in educational settings;
- Flexible access in time and place;
- Portability; and
- many more..
Some institutions have gained from introducing the mobile and wireless technologies by improving their institutional efficiency and communication with the college community. Equally important has been the role of these technologies in affording new ways for learners to participate in learning activities.
The mobile devises mentioned in this blog are:
- Laptops
- Tablet PCs
- Mobile Phones
- Personal Digital Assistant
- USB Storage
Evidence suggest that mobile devices like the ones mentioned above have already found their way in offering support for active learning and personalized learning approaches. Learners are taking control of their own learning process using mobile technology devices. We are no longer concerned to control learners’ use of computers, but now the challenge is how to the learners using technology to enhance their own learning.
Some more potential benefits for mobile technologies include: PDAs and Mobile phones are used to assist learners in time management, calendar, to-do-list, alarm, cameras, voice recording and many more functionalities that help the learners of today.
In Conclusion there are tremendous benefits to the use of mobile technologies in the educational sector. They help improve the institutional effectiveness as well as the learners and teachers in their teaching and learning process. On the other hand there are still some constraints on the use of the small mobile technologies.

Till my next reading...

Mobile and Wireless Technologies- Introduction

Today is the second day of the new year. I am not feeling well so I decided to take the day off work. The kids, whom their at midyear vacation, are keen to come to the swimming pool as the weather is really nice.
I am now sitting in a cafe inside the sport club. The atmosphere is really nice and internet connection is available free for all club members. I am writing my blog on mobile and wireless technologies.
There is no doubt that the introduction of mobile and wireless technologies has had huge impact on our daily lives. They have become an integral part of our daily routine. Their biggest impact is yet to happen in the education system. Educators are still exploring their roles and effectiveness on teaching and learning process. Some key benefits that I am experience her in the sport club are:

- Portability and connectivity;
- Anytime and anyplace access;
- Constant access;and
- Keeping in touch
I am sure when we look at the key benefits when it comes to the education sector it is much more than the list I provided.
I will try to address the impact o mobile and wireless technologies on education sector in my next blog. As for now my kids are getting out of the swimming pool and I need to help out 

See you..