An educator’s guide to trying maker ed learning

With maker education, educators need to emphasize a student’s independent learning; bolster applied theories through invention.

maker-education-learningGive practical context, allow for failure, and for heaven’s sake, get out of the way!

These were just some of the main takeaways in a recent edWeb webinar, “Re-inventing the Wheel: A Fresh Look at Maker Ed.” Presenter Steve Kurti, CEO and Chief Maker for Table Top Inventing, provided tips on this increasingly popular movement to help faculty gain a better understanding of the maker education concept, as well as present the best strategies for helping students to become “makers.”

A Brief History

Many of the ideas behind the maker movement stem from the master-apprentice system that began in the later middle ages, where mentors would help their apprentices to master a craft in return for labor. This system largely evolved into today’s technical and vocational colleges.

However, unlike vocational schools, mainstream education has veered away from personalized instruction and a focus on the creation of a final project to demonstrate mastery in favor of teaching all students more general knowledge.

The maker movement, in contrast, explained Kurti, is all about a return toward helping students develop the skills that are most suited to their interests, with a focus on hands-on learning and bolstering creativity.

A move back towards these principles, said Kurti, makes sense in an era where information is readily available to anyone through services like Google, Wikipedia, and social media. With the advent of the internet, actual application of information becomes the most important thing, even before retention.

A Brain Playground

According to Kurti, when students are able to solve problems that they can contextualize and care about, they are able to take charge of their own education and continually engage in independent learning.

Kurti gave the example of building puzzles: certain puzzles have greater external meaning than others based on the level of satisfaction from the end result. Similarly, it is important for educators to always strive to show their students the greater meaning in a given lesson, such as why it is interesting or how it can help other people or the community as a whole.

This really helps to inspire students and allows them to more personally engage with material–a lesson that applies not only to maker ed, but course learning in general, said Kurti.

No time has it been better for educators to exemplify the meaning of a lesson than now, he elaborated, thanks to new innovations such as 3D printing. Instructors are able to present math, engineering and science concepts to students who are then able to apply what they have learned into physical applications.

“Inventing is a playground for unscripted mental processing,” said Kurti. “It’s hard to quantify, but crucial to the development of synthesizing and creativity skills.”

Moreover, the process of inventing highlights what Kurti thinks needs to be changed in the culture of education; namely, that failure is not terminal.

Instead, students should be taught that successes are just steps towards a goal, while failures are merely insufficient progress towards that goal but still indicative of commitment. Rather than giving up after a failure, Kurti argued, students should merely adopt a mindset of, “it didn’t work…yet.”

3 Steps to Effective Maker Ed

There are three major steps that supercharge maker-inspired independent learning, noted Kurti:

1.Create an environment for exploration. Doing this means not only teaching students that their failures are not terminal, but, as instructors, say yes to pretty much any idea a student has with as few exceptions as possible. Just helping students to get going when they have an idea and encouraging them can often mean a lot to them. Kurti also mentioned how important and helpful it can be to reach out to experts in the community in order to assist in the learning process, allowing for instructors to directly highlight the marketable skills that  industry leaders are looking for.

2.Give students the tools they need to succeed. Kurti argued that in his experience, students often step up to a challenge when they are given the tools to succeed. Though maker spaces can often get messy, providing tools within an organized system goes a long way.

3.Get out of the way. Though it can be hard to simply sit back and watch students go about a project in their own way, it is important to simply let students explore whichever methods and ideas they are most interested in. Educators should strive not to force pre-planned learning progression, and shouldn’t adhere toward one way of doing something too rigidly.

“The endgame of maker education is inspiring independent learning,” Kurti concluded. “And the best way for students to discover the learning process for themselves is through inventing and making things.”

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Online course innovator launches mobile player

Users can take Versal courses directly on iOS and Android devices.

versal-mobileSmartphones and tablets have become a day-to-day part of our lives. And the opportunity to learn on-the-go is not only a huge benefit, it’s a requirement.

Versal is launching its new mobile player, which enables students to take interactive Versal courses via iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

In the corporate environment, employees can learn something new while commuting to work or while staffing a remote office that doesn’t have broad computer access (for example, in a retail environment).

In schools, the effect is even more profound. Too many campuses still lack dedicated computers for each class, and teachers can’t always count on a student to have a computer at home. But when we talk to teachers, one consistent theme we hear is this: most students have smartphones and/or tablets, and this “app generation” responds very well to interactive online learning experiences.

Click here to watch the video: https://versal.wistia.com/medias/ysmm3mi67c

While the new mobile player is not an app per se, it is optimized for mobile screens and mirrors the desktop experience. The table of contents for a course is minimized under an icon to focus on the learning content. Interactive gadgets also now work on mobile devices, offering learners a far richer learning experience beyond videos and PDFs.

Ultimately, our vision is to offer teachers and corporate educators the best way to create engaging and effective learning experiences. Mobile learning support adds another key piece to the puzzle. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback, and any other ideas for features that would make Versal even better.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Florida Atlantic adopts Internet of Things platform

Platform could aid IoT initiatives.

internet-thingsFlorida Atlantic University’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) is adopting Telit’s deviceWISE IoT Platform in an effort to aid the university’s research projects and technology solutions for the Internet of Things.

deviceWISE has already been integrated into several I-SENSE projects, with plans for more.

“Partnering with Telit increases our capacity to pursue FAU’s vision of excellence in sensing and smart systems,” said Jason Hallstrom, Director of I-SENSE. “We’ve found a great collaborator right in our backyard. Telit technologies have been at the heart of our programs for years, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have them as a partner.”

“FAU provides an excellent venue for creating advancements in IoT technology through I-SENSE, providing a higher education environment that blends classroom education, academic research, and industry,” said Fred Yentz, CEO of Telit IoT Platforms. “Telit is delighted to give back to our neighboring state university by providing staff and students with a real-world commercial IoT platform.”

Telit and FAU will share their vision for the Internet of Things on Sept. 22 at “It’s Academic with IoT”, a public IoT information event hosted by the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) on the FAU campus in Boca Raton, Fla.

I-SENSE was established to coordinate FAU’s activities in the Sensing and Smart Systems pillar of its Strategic Plan for the Race to Excellence. The institute serves as a technology clearinghouse for sensing, communication, and data management technologies, providing relevant expertise and engineering support. Equally important, it serves as an interdisciplinary hub, cultivating research, education, and service initiatives that cut across disciplines, academia, and industry.

The Cloud-based Telit deviceWISE IoT Platform is an end-to-end solution that makes it easy to connect and manage “things-to-apps” – seamlessly integrating remote sensors, devices, and production assets with web-based, mobile apps, and enterprise systems, across any wireless network. The comprehensive platform is supported by extensive developer resources and a thriving ecosystem. deviceWISE allows students and makers to rapidly create IoT prototypes, while offering the flexibility necessary to scale to robust research initiatives.

Telit has been engaged in comprehensive and rewarding relationships with a number of prominent universities and educational institutions for many years. Through a combination of internships, special project grants, memberships in their respective research centers, and sponsored studies, the company gains exposure to relevant leading-edge academic research and tomorrow’s top engineering talent. In 2010, Telit, then known as ILS Technology, collaborated with FAU on the “Living Learning Laboratory” in the newly constructed Platinum-Level LEED-Certified Engineering building. The following year, ILS became a technology partner of FAU’s Center for Advanced Knowledge Enablement (CAKE).

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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AIR partners with UVA-backed education accelerator

UVA-backed Jefferson Education Accelerator will provide research, evaluation of promising education technology products.

education-acceleratorThe American Institutes for Research (AIR) will partner with the Jefferson Education Accelerator (JEA) under an agreement making it a preferred research and evaluation outlet for the newly-launched education technology venture.

The Jefferson Education Accelerator was founded by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, which has established a scientific board that oversees all of its research activities. Unlike most ed-tech “incubators,” which target new companies, JEA works to help education companies that have moved past the startup phase to evaluate products and bring them to scale.

In an often chaotic educational marketplace, the goal is to improve student outcomes by offering school districts products based on the best available research.

“JEA’s choice of AIR as a preferred research provider is a testament to the quality and rigor they intend to bring to the research and evaluation of educational products,” said Jessica Johnson, vice president of education at AIR. “It is also a tremendously exciting opportunity for AIR to be on the ground floor of some of the more important developments in educational technology.”

The partnership with AIR comes a month after JEA announced Echo360—an online teaching and learning platform that promotes student engagement before, during, and after class—as the first company to join the Accelerator. JEA is expected to select four other companies for the Accelerator this year.

“AIR brings a breadth and depth of experience in research, evaluation, and technical assistance that we believe will complement the Curry School expertise and support the objectives of JEA,” said Bart Epstein, Founding CEO of the Accelerator. “Together, we’re focused on empowering entrepreneurs, schools and institutions to ensure that technology is having the most positive possible impact.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Why flipping the core is not sacrilege in higher education

Flipping core subject courses for undergrads could yield better engagement, as long as educators keep 3 considerations in mind.

flipping-core-psychAs a proud recipient of an arts and sciences undergraduate degree, I fondly look back on the cattle call that was course selection for my first semester of college. It was common knowledge that you wanted to knock out as many core classes as possible right out of the gate.

Weeks had been spent leading up to this day, perusing the course catalog and reading and re-reading course descriptions. Let’s face it, as entering freshmen it’s not uncommon to have no idea what you want to be when you grow up. And though the ‘undeclared’ status is daunting, every class you take teeters on the edge of the thought, “Maybe this is the class that will spark my drive for a career.”

I admit, as I searched for the perfect course to fulfill my freshman-level intro psychology requirement, my mind went all “Silence of the Lambs” and the thought of being a future Agent Starling was oddly appealing. So I signed up for Psych 101 and that was that.

It was a lecture class—an “Intro to Psychology” lecture class: 50 minutes of straight lecture three days a week, draining any possible interest in pursuing psychology out of my body. I remember it like it was yesterday.

This memory isn’t something I cling to in an unhealthy way. Instead, it came pouring back as I interviewed Fairfield University’s Associate Professor of Psychology, Michael Andreychik, for a technology spotlight series on our College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Andreychik is a two-year veteran of classroom flipping for his ‘entry-level’ general psych course and, most recently, his more advanced research methods course.

Flipping classes in undergrad psych? Say it with me – insane!

Except not remotely.

Andreychik explained, “Two-thirds of the class really like it.” After a night’s lecture assignment, students walk into the classroom with an expected quiz followed by a classroom or small-group activity. Reviewing the assigned lecture among peers, unfettered by an hour of non-collaborative listening, empowers the students to learn deeply and actively.

What about the other third of the class? Andreychik attributes this to learning style or the expectation that the student will engage in class. Staring blankly at a speaking professor is rarely an option in a flipped classroom.

But before flipping, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

1. Get a Toolbelt

In every student’s online folder is a nightly assignment. Andreychik uses Explain Everything to narrate over a PowerPoint or video. The quizzes are performed directly through the learning management system (LMS), in Fairfield University’s case, Blackboard.

In class, Andreychik uses Poll Everywhere during the group activities to facilitate collaboration in reaching a best answer. Hands-on activity followed by a Poll Everywhere quiz. Rinse. Repeat.

2. Don’t Double Efforts Unnecessarily

Although Andreychik is only at year two with flipped classrooms, in alignment with the pace of technology, he has already learned a thing or two. Admittedly, he got perhaps a little too excited initially and went ‘all in’ on technology use in the assignments.

For example, ‘recording for the sake of recording’ made him realize fairly swiftly that he was avoiding requiring students to read for some reason, to the detriment of his own time and energy. Recording near-verbatim textbook verbiage equals duplicating efforts from any angle. Textbooks still fit into learning. No sense in re-inventing the written wheel.

3. Not for Every Educator

In addition, Andreychik believes there is a personality alignment needed for this type of teaching. “Personality plays a role,” he consents. Teaching styles, of which flipping the classroom is merely one, in not one-size-fits-all.

“This is not at all what I was expecting!” is something Andreychik hears often at the first of each semester. But through his use of thoughtfully measured lecture assignments and simple technology tools within the classroom, he is proving that there is absolutely nothing crazy about flipping the core classes, including psychology.

In fact, engagement and participation continues to rise.

Paige Francis is CIO at Fairfield University.

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Pearson hosts third student coding contest

Coding contest challenges and rewards students who develop innovative learning applications that help to improve student achievement.

coding-contestPearson is partnering with the Hour of Code to launch the third annual Student Coding Contest. The 2015 contest places an emphasis on recruiting college students and teams to develop original groundbreaking learning applications that integrate with Pearson Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.

The contest offers students a chance to win cash prizes and a potential opportunity for a Pearson internship. Students are challenged to focus and integrate efficacy, a positive, measurable impact on learning, into the development of their applications.

In addition, in an effort to help bridge the diversity gap that exists in computer science-related career fields, Pearson is working with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and Girls Who Code to increase awareness of the contest to female audiences.

Pearson’s VP of Higher Education Strategic Marketing, John Wannemacher, said, “This contest, along with our Hour of Code partnership, are important ways in which we are creating new opportunities for learners to develop and showcase their refined digital skills, and it all ties into our commitment to increasing employability and improving lives through learning.”

Entries should integrate Pearson APIs and use technology to identify, collect, and utilize data to demonstrate learning outcomes. Some potential learning tools could include: embedded assessments, feedback loops, peer and social interactions, self-assessment tools, or adaptive learning that individualizes each learning experience. To keep coders engaged, the contest offers contestants interactions with Pearson API experts, with opportunities for Q&A, one-on-one sessions, coding resources, webinars, and regular podcasts.

Towards the start of the contest, participants should pitch ideas with a narrative proposal and visual tools that might include wireframes or workflows. Winning proposals, judged by a team of respected industry peers, move on to become final contest contenders.

Last year’s winner, University of Minnesota student, Alex Ngure, created the application CrowdLearn. His recommendation to students entering this year’s contest is to try to brainstorm an idea for an application that is scalable for an entire learner audience and has the best chance at being successful.

He said, “After participating in the Pearson Student Coding Contest, I actually believe that I can make something that can have an impact on the lives of millions of people.” Learn more about Alex Ngure’s story by downloading the success story.

Cash prizes awarded to contestants will include: first place ($5,000), second place ($2,500), and third place ($1,000). The top three finalists will also present their entries at the Pearson offices in Denver, CO in February, 2016. In addition to cash prizes, 10 semi-finalists will have an opportunity to apply for a summer internship with Pearson next year. Acceptance for idea proposals began September 7, 2015 and will close October 9, 2015. Contestants will be notified by October 27, 2015, if their proposal has been accepted.

Follow @PearsonNorthAm on Twitter, and use #alwayscoding to join the conversation.
For more information, please visit: pearsonstudents.com/codingcontest.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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College’s cloud app revitalizes student advising

Recognizing that paper-based processes were crippling its student-advising program, a Florida college has developed a cloud-based app to enhance student-faculty communication.

cloud-app-advisingMore and more university administrators are following advice typically found in the bathrooms of rustic B&Bs: “Too much paper clogs the pipes.” It’s certainly a tip that the University of South Florida College of Public Health took to heart after the school realized that its paper-based advising processes were extending the amount of time it took some students to graduate—and impacting how effectively faculty advisors could offer guidance.

To address the issue, USF COPH partnered with Appian, a company specializing in business-process management, to migrate its student-advising system to a cloud-based app that is accessible via mobile device.

Phase one tackled the college’s Program of Study sheet—literally a sheet of paper that identifies a student’s concentration, the courses required by that concentration, and possible elective courses.

“The old paper-based system required students to know what courses they needed to take and to make their own suggestions about when to take those courses,” said Jay Evans, associate dean of finance, operations, and human resources for COPH.

While faculty advisers were supposed to assist students with this process, the vagaries of the system inevitably left some students in the dark. “Advising was inconsistent across departments and concentrations,” said Evans. “Some faculty really took the time to organize their thoughts and notes, kept files on individual students, and had their students’ programs mapped out. Others didn’t have their students’ plans laid out quite as well.”

The new approach aims to bring everything together in one place for everybody to see, allowing faculty and students to quickly ascertain not only degree requirements but also when mandatory courses are scheduled and in what semesters. The college utilized Appian’s Enterprise Application Platform to create a custom web-based app that Evans likens to Facebook in terms of UI. Optimized for mobile devices, the app ties into the school’s single sign-on process and Banner SIS.

“The app is customized to our specific needs,” explained Evans. “Appian gives us a toolbox to play with but it’s up to us as the customer to figure out our priorities. The platform is going to allow us to roll out new versions and make tweaks as we find out what works and what doesn’t—it allows for a constant feedback loop.”

Data will be stored in the Appian Cloud. Not only does this approach reduce the demands placed on the college’s IT department, but it facilitates the school’s desire to make the product available anytime anywhere. “The goal is to make the student’s life easier,” said Evans. “What we’re really trying to set up is a one-stop shop for students.”

Faculty Assistance

Evans expects that the new system will also help faculty advisers monitor students more easily. “Faculty members will have their own homepage inside Appian where they can click on a button to see all their student advisees in one place,” he said. “We’re going to pull in the whole student record from the Banner system so faculty can see everything: the students’ applications to USF, their current GPA, whether they’re on probation or progressing well toward degree, how many credit hours they’ve taken, and when we anticipate them graduating.”

Down the line, the school anticipates adding predictive analytics and dashboards to make the job even easier. In the event that some faculty advisers still don’t measure up, the school has also digitized the process allowing students to request a different adviser. When this process was paper based, it could take more than 10 days to change advisers. “We’ve automated it into a much easier, clearer, transparent process that we think will help our students out,” said Evans.

USF COPH will test the new system with its approximately 900 graduate students starting this October before rolling it out to the entire school. After that, it plans to use the Appian Enterprise Application Platform to tackle a host of other business processes, many of which suffer from the same weaknesses as the original student-advising program. “We have a long list of applications that we’re looking to develop next,” said Evans.

While improved student outcomes were the guiding motivation behind the new application, Evans believes that the school will also reap a fiscal return on its investment. “We definitely believe it’s going to be a better user experience, but I expect that we’ll also reduce man hours on certain things,” he said. “I especially expect to see savings when we move into the area of business applications. We’re hoping the new applications will free up staff and improve accuracy so that we can allocate time to do other things better.”

In this respect, COPH is acting as a willing guinea pig for the larger USF system. “USF’s a large institution and we’re mired in red tape,” explained Evans. “Our college is a little more outside the box, so the CIO is using us as a pilot for the entire university to see whether Appian could be a larger solution for other challenges.”

Andrew Barbour is a contributing editor with eCampus News.

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Hold the phone: A better technology for communication

Why now is the time to convert legacy phone systems to VoIP.

VoIP-phone-campusAs legacy phone systems reach their end-of-life stage, colleges and universities across the country continue to make the switch to VoIP. However, while the driving force for VoIP adoption is often based on the need to get rid of an old system, additional incentives for adopting VoIP include cost savings, better communication, and added security measures.

For example, many institutions have implemented networks that host a growing number of communications services for faculty and students, such as email integration, web conferencing, instant messaging and more.

Of course, the need to continually maintain and upgrade this infrastructure is taken into consideration when adding new technology. Making the switch to VoIP is becoming necessary, especially as older systems are no longer being supported. As time passes, obtaining replacement parts becomes more difficult, if not impossible.

“Our legacy system had the typical problem of parts only being available aftermarket,” said a representative from Casper College. “Also, we were running two systems simultaneously that did not allow for us to move forward without a longer-than-we-desired roll out. The whole system conversion was a financial decision, but we knew that [VoIP] offered more functionality.”

Not Just Because It’s Old

Additional incentives for adopting VoIP include cost savings and access to advanced feature sets. A survey by ACUTA found that the most frequently cited benefits of the VoIP network included: improved end-user features (46 percent), cost savings (31 percent) and overall network efficiency (23 percent).

For instance, VoIP systems provide an opportunity for campuses to eliminate outdated PBX systems, in part or altogether. This allows them to advance into full-featured phone services on existing network infrastructures, which streamlines maintenance and reduces operational costs.

By migrating phone service to the data networks that colleges and universities already maintain, institutions can take better advantage of that infrastructure while ensuring the reliability of those networks. This, in turn, benefits all of the IP services. Although traditional phone networks provide a level of reliability that IP networks have been hard-pressed to equal, the rich feature sets, along with affordability, present a more compelling argument for VoIP on campuses.

Campuses can benefit from free nationwide long-distance calls (a must-have for college students and faculty), as well as additional features such as mobility, email integration, call queues, conferencing and more.

Being on the Safe Side

VoIP also allows an institution to integrate phone service into its emergency notification plan, along with other network resources such as e-mail, text messaging, networked signs and alarms.

Also worth noting is that cell networks are often overloaded in emergency situations, and a VoIP phone system provides an institution with additional capacity (or bandwidth) to make and receive calls even if cell service is disrupted–a must-have for campus-wide emergency situations.

“Both the cost of wiring and maintaining a traditional PABX has historically been cost prohibitive for schools,” said a representative from Bialik College. “With heightened security risks, increasing demands from parents to communicate with teachers and the need to improve productivity, the model of limited voice capability in schools is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. As most schools adopt local area network (LAN) networks, the opportunity arises for schools to address these demands with VoIP.”

Future of VoIP

As data networks become increasingly reliable and high-speed networks approach ubiquity, the move toward VoIP will continue, with more institutions finding that the switch makes sense financially and technologically.

VoIP will likely see greater integration with student relationship management software, and voice calling within apps will become mainstream. VoIP is part of the much larger trend of Unified Communications (UC), which promises expanded feature sets and increased effectiveness of business communications in the coming years.

Whether it’s an international student needing to call home or faculty members with a campus-wide emergency on their hands, instant communication among staff, students and parents on campuses is vital. VoIP technology has quickly become the most flexible, affordable and integrative option for guaranteeing effective communication for educational institutions across the country.

Brian Ferguson is the Switchvox Product Marketing Manager for Digium, Inc.

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Carnegie, XanEdu partner to improve math delivery

Developmental math programs provide advanced customization options.

math-deliveryThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and mobile content provider XanEdu have partnered to deliver developmental math programs to higher education instructors.

The Carnegie Foundation selected XanEdu to support and deliver Statway and Quantway core course material in print and mobile formats.

Integration with XanEdu’s customization platform enables the Carnegie Foundation to provide complete customization options to its partner schools’ instructors and digital delivery to the thousands of students already using the programs.

In 2010, Carnegie initiated a network of faculty members, researchers, designers, students, and content experts to create a new system designed to increase student success in developmental mathematics.

The network devised two new pathways—Statway and Quantway – focused on statistics and quantitative reasoning, respectively. Statway and Quantway reduce the time required to earn college credit while improving the content and pedagogy of developmental mathematics. The Pathways present engaging, relevant, and useful mathematics concepts that students can use in their daily lives. Statway and Quantway are taught using common curricula, assessments, and online platform, as well as innovative instructional approaches.

Both programs result in significant improvement of student success in much shorter periods of time. While Quantway students succeed at two times the rate as those in the traditional system, Statway delivers three times the success rate, and both accomplish this in half the time. These results have remained consistent for each of the four years these programs have been in classrooms, even as the number of students enrolled and the participating institutions has more than tripled.

“Statway and Quantway have already helped thousands of students, at over 50 institutions across the country. Now, as we aim to bring this opportunity to tens- and hundreds-of-thousand more students, we were seeking a highly professional partner that understands the higher education space and our goals as an organization. XanEdu’s solutions were an ideal fit for us today, and their vision for the future will support us as we continue to grow and expand the Pathways program,” said Karon Klipple, Executive Director of Community College Pathways.

Both organizations strive every day to improve the higher education landscape through the pursuit of rigorous learning outcomes, the transformation of instruction and student support, and the promotion of widespread access by ensuring affordability and the availability of technology platforms.

“XanEdu is thrilled to integrate our powerful and unique technology platform, enabling faculty customization and student delivery, to support the Carnegie Foundation in their mission to build the education field’s capacity to improve. The Carnegie Foundation’s selection of XanEdu is a testament to XanEdu’s efforts to improve the higher education landscape, primarily by focusing on driving down the cost of course materials through customization, affordable alternative content and scalable technology,” said Brett Costello, Chief Operating Officer at XanEdu.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Is higher education heading toward a smart city future?

A series of papers around the world researches relationships between innovative universities and tech-based city planning.

smart-city-universitiesAccording to researchers around the world, there is increasing momentum from some of the world’s most innovative universities to align curriculum, research and overall mission to city development that specifically focuses on technology-based systems and services. In other words, progressive higher education is linking itself more than ever to the Internet of Everything.

The research is part of a special edition issue from Knowledge Management & E-Learning (KM&EL), which presents nine cases of higher education’s alignment to “smart cities of the future,” including cities in Italy, India, the U.S., Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Tanzania, South Africa, and Canada.

In an introduction by Dr. Fanny Klett, director of the German Workforce Advanced Distributed Learning Partnership Laboratory, and Dr. Minhong Wang, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong, and director of the Knowledge Managing & E-Learning Lab, the authors explain the concept of a smart city as any city utilizing technology as a critical enabler to solve rising urbanization issues and improve the cities’ environments according to a set of priorities (usually through initiatives such as e-Home, e-Office, e-Government, e-Health, e-Education and e-Traffic) to create a common framework for the city’s performance.

Smart cities currently thriving include those in Barcelona, Chicago, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Yokohama, as well as many in India. In fact, the Indian government plans to develop 100 smart cities by 2022, with an economic value of the Digital India initiative estimated to be $600 billion over the next 10 years.

However, the only chance for a smart city’s success, note the authors, is to ensure that its citizens are motivated, and enabled, to be a driver for these innovations. This motivation hinges on businesses’ and academia’s willingness and readiness “to modernize their approach to the citizen’s inclusion and immersion in education and services in the fast changing conditions of the global market;” specifically, in developing collaborative and tech-based skills.

In the U.S., many smart city initiatives “address the challenge of developing a highly educated workforce and creating more jobs,” write the authors. For example, enabled by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, Chicago integrated career and technical education, building a pipeline from high school to college to employment, and creating the Roadmap for Career and Technical Education.

9 Examples of Higher Education’s Pipeline for Smart Cities

In KM&EL’s special issue, Klett and Wang explain that the focus reveals non-traditional approaches, advanced methodical and technological solutions, forward-looking curriculum design and city-based research projects in today’s universities toward smart city development. Many institutions include new opportunities for individual learning and instruction, technology-enhanced learning, fast changing curriculum design, next-generation assessment, tailored knowledge and skills development, and “profound competence management in an interconnected networked environment constituted around various stakeholders.”

“Moreover, this special issue goes beyond only applying the latest technological advances—it presents solutions toward a smart city of the future, where the identified regional needs serve as a best practice example for higher education processes to encourage particular implementation on a global basis,” explain the authors.

Paper 1 title: “Competencies and knowledge: Key factors in the smart city of the future.”

Region: Italy

Focus: Facilitating career path developments, tailoring training programs, and designing competency management in smart city institutions and organizations. Developing citizens’ competencies through informal learning by applying effective semantic-based tools for information discovery and knowledge sharing.

Paper 2 title: “Automatic selection of informative sentences: The sentences that can generate multiple choice questions.”

Region: India

Focus: Illustrates the important role of multiple choice questions in educational assessment and active learning toward enhancing the conceptual understanding of students; and introduces a parse-tree matching-based algorithm for potential multiple choice question sentence selection generation to leverage the active learning and assessment process. Could aid in the development of next-gen ed-tech and effectively address the increased demand for knowledgeable graduates and a skilled workforce for the city of the future.

Paper 3 title: “Co-creating value: Student contributions to smart cities.”

Region: U.S.

Focus: A learning model in which university students act as co-creators of community infrastructure asset information through an integrated network of community stakeholders. These students help solve issues of disasters like hurricanes and storms using geospatial information systems and a learning design model where students are co-creators of value to cities.

Paper 4 title: “Measuring influence of internationalized universities on smart city development in terms of human capital and urban aspects.”

Region: Russia

Focus: Improving urban performance for industrial cities that are facing economic instability by exploring the hypothesis that a network of internationalized universities serves as a revitalization measure for a city, facilitates the urban development in its surrounding areas, and reduces political and social risks.

Paper 5 title: “Development and use of a digital signage system for revitalizing regional shopping districts.”

Region: Japan

Focus: Discusses the results from Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT) Digital Signage Project, which combines project-based learning and on-the-job-training initiatives to investigate the opportunities for impeding the decline of shopping districts. Students learn digital skills, specifically within digital signage, and produce digital multimedia to engage the city’s audience. Researchers say the test run of the project was successful, and plan to adapt the digital signage technology and media focus for campuses.

Paper 6 title: “Facebook as an e-learning tool for higher education institutes.”

Region: Pakistan

Focus: The authors tackle the “manifoldness of social communication in a modern higher education setting, and argue that social media [especially Facebook] can be applied as a tool for e-learning.” Social media can also become a driver for growing education and thus, support the provision of quality informal education to all citizens in a smart city concept, say the authors. Higher-ed institutions in Pakistan can harness Facebook to improve students’ academic performance through facilitating communication between students and faculty, and support the development of social capital and user-generated content.

Paper 7 title: “Mobile-based system for cost-effective e-learning contents delivery in resource and bandwidth-constrained learning environments.”

Region: Tanzania

Focus: Researchers focus on the use of mobile tech to sustainably support education and skills development in developing countries (like Tanzania). Since a majority of students own more than one mobile device, the authors present a conceptual model for a cost-effective mobile-based learning content delivery system for resource and network-constrained environments, reducing the dependence on internet connection and a fully operational technology infrastructure within a developing smart city.

Paper 8 title: “Our building is smarter than your building: The use of competitive rivalry to reduce energy consumption and linked carbon footprint.”

Region: South Africa

Focus: Establishes “a unique path in a smart city concept from a typical university setting toward a smart campus as a distinctive symbol for innovation and laboratory for experiments,” write the authors. Researchers focus on sustainable development in a research and learning agenda, exploring the link between smart buildings and an intelligent community, employing the University of Cape Town as a case study and serving as a best practice example for urban development in Cape Town.

Paper 9 title: “Informing physicians using a situated decision support system: Disease management for the smart city.”

Region: Canada

Focus: Researchers demonstrate the complexity of smart city ecosystems and urban development, offering a critical view of the smart city nature debate in terms of health care management practices and proper involvement of people in decision, management, and design procedures. Provides reference on city health care management for policy makers, as well as future workforce requirements for interested institutions.

With these papers, Klett and Wang say they hope to facilitate the important experiences and approaches recommended in the special issue toward the adaptive implementation of the smart city concept with support of higher education, in order to “advance the educational landscape and the employment conditions of tomorrow’s smart workforce by improving human, learning, work, and life performance in a smart city setting.”

For more detailed information on smart cities, the special issue, and the nine papers, click on the special issue here.

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