Is Immersion into Education with a Glog Possible? Part II.

The organizational schemes of teaching are also completely changing; from the traditional computer lab to projecting a PC in the classroom (which are still ICT oriented to the teacher), to netbook classrooms. Things have advanced to the point we can now retire this model. New technologies have turned educational methods 180 degrees around and have started to become more pupil-oriented. Digital immersion is no longer a fairytale.

On the other hand, what is the reality in classrooms? The current model of interactive education involves a teacher jumping in front of the IWB and clicking on hotspots with very little student participation on the board itself. We can’t be surprised that interactivity has resulted in an increased number of passive students seated behind desks. This is completely true because a typical modern teacher tries to be interactive, but because he or she doesn’t accept the PC as a personal tool, they have their own difficulties working with it, and therefore don’t have time to follow what activities are taking place behind the desks.

The true immersion of pupils is the only way to start a structural revolution. Not a slow-paced evolution, but a rapid and fast revolution that is ongoing from one minute to the next. The spark of this revolution is present in online applications that are strongly dedicated to education.

Regardless of what technology is used in school, TCO (total costs of ownership) determines the effectiveness of education. This problem is crucial and will never be overcome until technology is owned by the students. What we really need are individual devices, simple tools and portability.

The early birds have already flown. The first touchpads, tablets, iPads and so on are now extremely popular.  Having them is more or less a “fashion statement” and those who haven’t got them are simply not “in”.

The same activities are now prevailing in business firms. Cloud technologies have cut tremendous costs on software for both businesses and schools. In the Czech Republic, this is also utilized by e-Government, when eGON is accompanied by KLAUDIA.

“Cloud technologies” represent a new area of digitalization in which users share their tools online and can access their files from anywhere. Applications such as Google Docs and Live@edu are easily accessible and could be an alternative to the previously mentioned nightmare of licensing individual software for schools.  The reduction of costs is immediately noticeable and some of the schools using this approach are very satisfied. We should support and share more information about this possibility.

Students today have had real difficulty in understanding text and link issues, as teaching is very often boring and old-fashioned. On the other hand, pupils are capable of using such technologies in social networking and so on — though this is not for their own self-education, of course.

Project and team education is part of every school’s charter and goals, but these are often just dreams that are never realized — after all, we still insist on the chalk-age, frontal method of teaching.

So it is probably quite typical that a very successful online tool, Glogster, was born in the Czech Republic and is very popular to those overseas. Despite not being well-known in Europe, it has been listed among the 100 best educational tools for the last 4 years.

Glogster is a graphic blog, which provides users with unlimited use of all available forms of media, and  is structured on flash programming. The application is now available to view in HTML5, so the issue of its insignificance in Europe will be overcome in a very short period of time.

A combination of text, images, sounds and videos gives the author a good opportunity to present his or her opinions, and the online community is an ideal way to share them. In an age when all teenagers are on Facebook, we can understand why this platform has received such an incredible response. Teens have the ideal tool to express their new virtual identities, and even have tools to comment on the attempts of those who oppose them. Perhaps most interesting is that, according to demographic user tools (see graph), we can even see an overgrowth of users.. It is clear that this tool is very popular among teens that are keen on showing off in an unorthodox way. 7 million registered participants are an incredibly large group of people who are open to a new style of education.

It is also obvious that after the phenomenal success of the tool, it was only a small step to a more sophisticated online educational application: Glogster EDU. Social graphic networking became a new environment for virtual education. This new, creative application, together with LMS, facilitates an advanced and sophisticated way to share content, presentations and various other materials.

A product using this modification recently won various awards in world education exhibitions, such as the f.e. ISTE Technology Award for the year 2011. It would also be fantastic to see this tool used by various countries f.e. during projects organized by the Asia-Europe Classroom Network. Next year, this product will be used in Greece, Malaysia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and others. The product of a small European country has really become a global educational tool.

Our students aren’t just sitting in traditional classrooms of the past; they also live in a global environment. It is exciting to follow students as they share their ideas through Glogs in both funny and exciting ways.

The Glog – A New Interactive Tool for Schools? Part I: General Background

The GLOG – a new interactive tool for schools?

An incredible development has been launched in the field of digital technology and it’s clear that the possibilities for sensible, practical applications in the classroom have been given a new horizon.  It was only ten years ago that IWBs were leading-edge technology, but I dare say they’ve already come to be known as tools from an ancient age. It is, of course, necessary to add that even such outdated technology is not becoming obsolete even though it is incredibly expensive for the majority of schools. When discussing interactive learning, the outside observer only sees the interactive whiteboard hanging on the wall, but the real education comes not from the hardware itself, but rather the software and its content.

The gist of education is not technological hardware, but schools are primarily in favour of purchasing it. It’s odd the way expensive interactive whiteboards are bought in schools and these firms can be quite maddening in their attempts to persuade the principal to only buy their own hardware. Schools are the focus of all dealers, be it good or bad, and it’s quite complicated for most teachers to find a proper solution in this situation. Interactive education is, in the teacher’s mind, mainly connected with whiteboard-on-board.  In an informal poll, 70% of teachers believed that, without board-on-board, it is practically impossible to use interactive objects directly for education.  This is a disturbing statistic.

Interactive education is primarily about the activity that takes place onscreen, not about the texture or ceramics from which the screen is made.

“Traditional interactive whiteboards present one serious problem: the licensing of authoring tools being restricted to specific hardware. This bundle is a real nightmare for a lot of educators and means that you are only free to use such software on screens from the same vendor.

Such bundling causes other problems in schools:

  • Teachers very rarely change from one technology to another, as his or her digital objects can’t be effectively converted for other types of boards.
  • New organizational problems arise when classes are changed, pupils run for IWB lessons,
  • Schools are then dependent on one type of technology and they become donors to industrial development.

In reality, thanks to the online community, we are able to share educational content very elegantly by virtue of various online tools that are accessible from all platforms such as Mac, Windows, Android, Bada and so on. Ideally, we reach toward a moment when the pupil will learn from educational content everywhere, from everything and at any time – at home, in the park, in school or at the swimming pool…nearly everywhere, if we are able to persuade him or her that it’s worth trying. In an age when a crucial attribute of recent times is social networking, this is not a surprise. Unfortunately, in the European Union, rarely can we find excellent examples showing real education for the 21st century.  One such rare example is eTwinning.

Schools, and classes themselves, have become impenetrable fortresses of conservatism and traditionalism which is only furthered by:

  • Low-level digital competency of teachers
  • Teachers’ unwillingness to learn new things and venture into areas where kids are naturally adept, because teens are able to adapt more easily and quickly than the majority of adults
  • The necessity to be “in”
  • Low-level language literacy in countries where English is a non-native language of teachers

It is also plain to see that, with ever-changing technology, methodology must change rapidly as well, and those changes will influence educators as well. We have to educate new teachers for the 21st century.