Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Collaborate With Google Docs
July 17, 2011

Google Docs is a program that allows you to create and edit many documents at any geographic location and collaborate with multiple people even if they are located 300 miles away. The program has provided a very effective and efficient communication platform for corporations in recent years as they collaborated with many geographically dispersed clients. It has also recently caught on to local school systems that use the program for in-class collaboration.

Long are the days of forgetting to do an assignment. Students can use Google Docs to work on an assignment in class, save their work, and continue working on it when they get home. This is able to happen because Google Docs is not software; it is an online application so all you need is an Internet connection.

Google Docs also saves on a regular basis stating what, who, and when the document was revised. This allows teachers to keep a closer eye on making sure that all members of a group are contributing an equal amount of work. This is especially helpful in college as many professors do not build a relationship with each student and only see the students in lecture twice a week. However, the equal work should not be an issue as the Google Docs collaboration gets students excited and more engaged with an assignment. Google Dogs also facilitates writing as a process by as teachers are able to provide instant feedback and help using the comments feature.

Here are a few simple tips for getting started with Google Docs:

  1. Get all of your passwords and usernames ready to hand to students- this is necessary in order to log into the program.
  2. Keep it simple and easy so students do not become frustrated with the program.
  3. Know your limits. There are limits on the number of synchronous collaborators at a time. There is also a limit of 200 combined viewers and collaborators on a document.
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Is Email Dead?
July 17, 2011

With the rise of social media, many professors are beginning to ask an unanticipated question. Is email dead?

Social networks are the new rival to email.  A survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life revealed that people are not emailing as much as they used to; instead, those people are saving time and utilizing social networking and text messaging. The number of emails sent by adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years old declined 24% in 2010, and overall visits to webmail sites declined by 6%.  The survey discussed how it just is not in teen nature to send an email to those you primarily communicate with on a regular basis- a text message works much easier.

Young people have not developed web etiquette which can ultimately present challenges in the classroom.  Many believe that texting in the classroom is perfectly fine in the case of an emergency while others believe it is the wrong thing to do. Teachers are not quick to disagree with the students. Many feel that texting and understanding various communication channels will increase success in the students’ future. It is important to understand informal language when texting a friend and to also understand formal language when speaking to a teacher.

And while young people prefer text messaging over emailing, email does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Students do actually prefer email for communicating with teachers over any other communication outlet. This might be because an email creates a paper trail which makes it easier for students to keep up with important assignments and deadlines.

Email is still one of the most popular activities on the Internet that over 70% of online Americans participate in each month. And teenagers might like the use of social media because it is cool, but when they grow up they will realize even more the value of email. Just because email is not cool, it will remain useful. While the statistics show a decline of email among teens, those numbers prove to be a bit deceiving; emailing by users of all ages was up 6% in 2010.

Does the Internet Help or Hurt Homework?
July 8, 2011

According to a Pew Internet and American Life survey, most teenagers say the Internet’s ability to help with schoolwork is one of its best features.  78% of online teens say the Internet helps them to do schoolwork, and 47% say it helps a lot.  Parents agree; 87% say the Internet helps children with their schoolwork.  This is one of the main reasons many families sign up for Internet access.

For instantaneous help, many students turn to instant messaging systems and email to contact peers and teachers. Some teachers even offer office hours using an online screen name for those too lazy to walk to their office. And that is exactly the premise behind the Internet- quick and efficient communication.  Most schools are turning to the Internet as a way to disseminate information about the school, specific classes, and activities. No longer is class sign-up done with pencil and paper but rather all colleges have an online database to perform the function.

The ease of gathering information on the Internet also has a downside.  The ease of researching and using the Internet for homework makes it easy to cheat.  While the Internet makes research and learning easier than ever, some students abuse the power. Copying and pasting is one of the most common ways students cheat followed by looking up answers to math problems and reading online book summaries instead of reading the novel.

Some websites are designed for the sole purpose of facilitating cheating and plagiarizing.  These sites allow students to buy and sell essays.  There are other websites designed to assist students in producing original work; however, even these sites can be abused.

So does the Internet help or hurt homework? Considering teenagers are lazy, the Internet very likely hurts homework habits. Even if one tab is opened to a research project, the other is probably open to Facebook. It is not hard to figure out which tab is getting more focus.

Social Media Marketing
July 1, 2011

The best colleges and universities all use social media as a way to attract potential students.  According to  Kaplan survey, 82 percent of American universities have set up Facebook pages to communicate with prospective students during the admissions process. The social media page may even have the same information as the school website; however, the social media is a way for connect with students in a destination they are likely to be found.  According to  Pew Internet &  American Life survey, 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily. Thus, colleges are recognizing a powerful tool within social media.

Schools will need to remain active to maintain their online presence.  Schools should participate on the page and reply to comments daily.  This allows schools to connect to the online community to see the types of potential students or parents interested in the school.

Moreover, there are a few exceptional colleges who have utilized social media in new and interesting ways:

Notre Dame: Notre Dame includes their social media policy on the school website. Notre Dame news can be found throughout social media like Facebook and Twitter.  The school even offers Irish Alert text messaging to stay update on sports.

Baylor University: It seems that social networking comes natural for Baylor. The university is the 5th most influential college on Twitter, one of the top 30 social media colleges in the United States, and has over 40,000 “likes” on the school Facebook page.

Mayo Medical School: This medical school has used Facebook to offer a more enriching orientation for new students, causing 100% participation.  Through the social media, students are able to connect and get to know each other in an easier and more fun way.

As social media becomes more popular, Facebook and other social networking sites will continue to become more popular among colleges.

Textbooks Turn Digital
June 22, 2011

The days of heading to the local campus bookstore to purchase the books needed for the semester are long gone. It seems that many of the print textbooks are being removed from the book shelves. Welcome to Textbook 2.0 or simply “education keeping up with the real world”.  Over the next five years, digital textbooks are predicted to surpass 18% of combined new textbook sales for the Higher Education market. This will increase the digital textbook revenues to more than $1 billion and also take some of the weight off students carrying heavy books to class.

Growth of sales will be influenced by pricing, availability of content, and increasing online learning.  Digital textbooks are cheaper, saving students up to 60% off the print editions.  There will be a greater availability of content as the long tail of textbooks is fulfilled. Within the coming years publishers plan to increase the availability of digital textbook titles.  Online courses will also to continue to grow over the next five years; publishers will produce more online books to be integrated with those courses.  The books will provide interactivity through tools such as online homework, quizzes, and exercises.  It will also allow teachers to create interactive applications for students; most teachers think this will strongly improve their course content.

A Pearson Foundation survey concluded that students using tablets overwhelmingly prefer digital textbooks over print.  It is expected that about 20% of college students will own a tablet or iPad by 2012.  By 2015, digital textbooks are expected to account for 25% of the textbook market share.

Universities are predicted to drive sales of digital textbooks by requiring the use of a table.  Higher education will see a dramatic increase in digital sales.  Elementary and high school markets will not be far behind as they are also in the process of adopting the digital textbook.

Will you considering purchasing a digital textbook?

Students’ Writing Assignments “Dumber”?
June 20, 2011

Social media makes our messages condensed. Twitter allows up to 140 characters; Facebook allows up to 420 characters.  Many would think this would create clearer messages.  Wrong.  Welcome to the world of grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.  Slang terms such as BTW (by the way) have suddenly become incorporated into student assignments- a major concern for teachers.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life survey, 85% of respondents use some form of electronic communication.  While much of the younger generation has become accustomed to the social media slang, the teachers cannot understand what the students are writing.  Teachers understand that text messaging is a large part of young people’s lives; however, this should not excuse the formal writing students are assigned. Many teachers believe there has been a decline in students’ writing abilities due to new media.

Even though teens are heavily embedded in the digital age, most do not believe that communication over the Internet or text messaging is writing.  Teens generally do not believe that social media negatively affects their writing.  However, many do acknowledge that some of the slang does occasionally slip into their assignments for school.  In particular, teen bloggers and social network users have a tendency to use shortcuts and emoticons in their school writing assignments.

Parents have a different view about the effect of social media on students’ writing.  They believe that computers have a positive influence on writing and even make some students better writers.  Reasons a computer makes a positive influence include revising and editing easily, presenting ideas clearly, and the opportunity for creativity. Other parents do not believe that social media has any effect on writing.

Some feel that this is simply an evolution of language while others feel that the social media “is dumbing down” the English language.  The future is unclear as more generations of students grow up in the age of social media.

Have you ever used a shortcut like LOL (laughing out loud) or an emoticon in a school assignment?