Aug 24

Four Trends Shaping Education Content

By Norrizan Razali | K 12

Robust technology innovation has a profound impact on how people access information and generate knowledge. User patterns of accessing information and generating knowledge are important considerations for content development. Here are a few summary points on how trends in access to content, preferred features, integration of emerging technologies, and social media are shaping education content and impacting pedagogy in the context of K 12.

Access

Smartphones will only get smarter. Smarter capabilities are now extended to in-built high-quality camera lenses, mobile apps that aid productivity, video-streaming as well as connectivity that enable millions to stay connected while on the go. Today the smartphones clearly serve as minicomputers. However, there is still an ongoing debate about the suitability of smartphones for classroom use. The fact remains that children do have access to smartphones outside of schools to do many learning activities. Parents too are increasingly looking out for appropriate content to support their children's learning activities. With teachers accustomed to the convenience of accessing content on their mobile devices, content designed for mobile access will continue to be predominant.

Preferred Features

Easy access to a plethora of content has shaped users' behavior. Users now have a wide choice of content which is commonly visual, animated, and short. Similarly, attention-grabbing and short content will be the choice for learning. Like other users, teachers, and especially students, who are digital natives, tend to lose interest in content that is longer than three minutes. To grab students' attention, content has to be visual-rich, snappy, granular and modular. A visual-rich content of a topic on the respiratory system, for instance, that is 10-minute long will still pose a challenge for teachers to retain students' attention. The same content, for example, can be broken into 5 pieces of an average 2-minute visual-rich content that allows teachers to choose and infuse into their lessons as bursts of learning activities. Teachers know their students best. They should have the flexibility to select modules for their learning activities where they deem suitable.

Integration of Emerging Technologies

The ever increasingly powerful camera on the phone integrated with augmented reality (AR) technology enables users, to get an information overlay "live" as it is pointed at a specific location. Content featuring AR boosts learning as learners tend to retain information conveyed visually. Content integrating AR technology should be developed to support specific learning objectives such as applying the concepts of measurement and angles in Maths. As more teachers become increasingly familiar with the value of AR, it will be a common feature in education content.

Artificial Intelligence technologies such as big data, machine learning, and autonomous decision-making are all characteristics of AI which can enable content creators to make the most of data and create content that connects with an audience in a deeper way. AI will bring personalization of content to the next level, pose a new way of content delivery and very likely transform education at a pace like never before.

Social Media

Popular social media features such as instant communication, collaboration and sharing have made the integration of social media a necessity on many content delivery platforms such as content management systems (CMS) or learning management systems (LMS). Most CMSs and LMSs these days come with built-in social media integration and this drives instant interaction between the users and the system. The system strengthens teachers and students' participation and makes collaboration on team projects easier. Teachers and students would want to communicate with others, collaborate on activities related to the content and share their experience and outcomes. It is advantageous for content to be on CMSs and LMSs that have instant chat functions, video, forums to share information and other lesson resources to support students and teachers.

Good Content Alone
Doesn't Make Good Teachers

Pedagogical innovation with digital content cannot be expected to take place if teachers do not realize the value that technology can bring to their teaching and students' learning. The dynamic nature of digital content highlights the continuous requirements for teacher professional development.

 

Jun 04

Three Things I Learned about Millennials

By Norrizan Razali | Higher Education

In my role as an adjunct faculty and program directors at a number of educational institutions, I interact with many millennials. I also have children who are millennials. Through these interactions, I have noted some interesting attributes about millennials.

Much has been written about this generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s who is also known as Generation Y. A Time story in May 2013, titled “The Me Me Me Generation,” for example, begins: “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.”

However, this article addresses millennials’ characteristics from a different vantage point. In the context of education, it can bring a lot of benefits to understand millennials and leverage their traits. This also serves as a means to connect with them, engage them and facilitate their discoveries about conducting a safe and secure online presence.

Three characteristics are particularly worth sharing as they have implications for educators.
They are highlighted here with the main aim of identifying appropriate approaches for engaging millennials in the education context. This article focuses on millennials as multitaskers, the selfie generation, and instant validation seekers.

 

Multitaskers

Without over generalising a whole generation, millennials do appear to be obsessed with uploading, editing and communicating activities on their hand held devices. They do all these different tasks briskly. They are obviously multitasking pros; so it seems.

Multitasking actually has its advantages and disadvantages. There are benefits for certain tasks. The ability to switch between different projects can also stimulate creativity, keep boredom at bay, or even be a source of inspiration. It can be an asset and a liability. They are switching between tasks and not giving fullest attention on a specific task.

Millennials multitask best on social media where they can fully exercise their netizenship. The multitasking skills seem to be confined to digital platforms. They don’t necessarily multitask well with other tasks such as handling multiple projects.

The expeditious manner with which they multitask often compromises the quality of the output. On social media, for instance, the language use is simplified and casual with often very little attention given to accuracy.

How educators can benefit from millennials’ multitasking:

Teaching approaches that infuse social media can excite and engage millennials. It is already a common practice amongst many progressive educators to post assignments on social media. This is a often a good basic start.

During the recent Malaysian election pre polling day, my 23 year old son gathered on Twitter over one hundred responses in less than 20 minutes to his quick pulse survey on whether netizens would go out to cast their votes. Sharing and gathering their views and administering a quick survey on related topics using Twitter are two simple yet exciting tasks that can be performed on social media.

Other examples are infusing an app to uplift a certain classroom activity as opposed to sticking to mundane lectures. Motrain and 75 Tools For Creative Thinking are examples of apps that can be applied to a variety of topics.

The more significant consideration for educators is to use this platform to raise students’ consciousness of language accuracy. This will ready them for a more formal environment of work where they are expected to use formal and accurate language.

Social media is an excellent platform to monitor and track multiple project status. Since millennials are always present online, they will not miss out the reminders and status updates for their multiple projects that are put up online.

 

The Selfie Generation

Their constant quest to take photos of themselves has granted millennials the label, the selfie generation. Their selfies are lamented, among others, as symptoms of narcissism, self empowerment, self esteem and building an online presence.

How educators can benefit from the selfie generation:

CBS News makes interesting suggestions on digital profile. These suggestions can be shared with students to shape their thoughts on the importance of initiating and maintaining a positive online presence. Those high quality selfies can be collated to narrate different periods of development such as important events during school years, higher education, internship, volunteerism and others. Educators can turn millennials’ incessant online presence into a digital profile project which helps students to initiate their online profiles. The profile will be a dynamic one that grows as the students progress in their education and graduate into the employment market. A local MARA residential school in Taiping, Perak has already initiated this for their 11th graders entry into higher education institutions.

As part of the coursework activities, educators can encourage students to take photos as a visual record of their activities which are shared on social media. The whole class can access this database as evidence to be incorporated in their projects.

 

Instant Validation Seekers

Millennials might very well be the Like Button Society. They crave for instant verdicts for every post. The number of views, likes, and comments under two seconds is crucial. Millennials need to feel like what they are doing is important and that they are on the right track. Equally significant is the ever growing number of followers.

So millennials are motivated by the number of likes, comments and followers. It’s their lifeline supplying oxygen to sustain their existence in cyberspace!

How educators can benefit from instant validation seekers:

To connect and engage students, educators can infuse the sense of satisfaction in the learning process the Like Button Society way. Millennials expect to hear their importance in a role and want to be acknowledged instantly and the acknowledgement must be made publicly preferably online. One technique is by gamifying the online project status updates through the milestone rewards with badges incentives and recognition programs. Validation, with likes and comments from team-mates and others outside the team, adds another level to the recognition scheme.

I close with some cautionary notes. Something more interesting will eventually come along and that there will be shift in how millennials will conduct themselves online. What makes educators relevant today may make them dated tomorrow. Always be prepared for that shift. Get constant insights on how digital natives are communicating online. Watch out for the Gen Zers!

 

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