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This Is How Institutions Can Improve Their Online Education

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The Online Learning Consortium releases a list of best practices for digital classes to improve institutions programs.

Higher Education these days is no more limited to empty and dusty classrooms. It is no more about teachers giving long lectures to the students. Online learning in higher education is proving itself much advantageous for both the students and for the teachers. It is not only enhancing the flexibility of the universities but is also proving itself to be convenient for many students especially for those who are unable to attend the classes on a regular basis on a campus.

FACTS AND STATS

With over 400 million internet users online education has reached up to a whole new level. If we have a glance at the global stats, according to a recent survey, enrollment in online programs has tremendously increased from 2015-16. Around 6.5 million students from nearly 5000 universities and colleges in the U.S. have taken up to at least one online program (course) each by the end of 2016; which was certainly a massive rise as compared to the previous years.

In fact, India is no less as it is now the third largest online market for education in the world, which has the worth of nearly $3 billion. With such great stats and performance, it is likely to state that India has picked up great pace in the field of online education.

ONLINE v/s OFFLINE LEARNING

Despite such great statistics and advantages; in some aspects, online learning is probably still not able to keep up with the traditional age-old higher education patterns. Few of the online programs are still lacking behind.

  • According to one of the surveys of some students, it was stated that nearly 60% of the students have opted for online classes.
  • However, another survey says that seven in ten students believe that it is not possible to get the true college experience through online education.
  • Also, around 80% have their perception of online education being better than offline.

With such a controversial battle between online and offline learning there comes great pressure on the university’s shoulders to improve their quality of education not only in the aspect of online learning but in for offline learning as well.

HOW CAN UNIVERSITIES IMPROVE THEIR ONLINE OFFERINGS

There arises a great need for the universities to buck up to improve the quality and availability of online education and learning to the students. The entire timeline of a student’s higher education experience should be covered by the digital offerings of the universities. Certainly, Improvements to support for online students are a win-win situation for all the students. The learning experience of every student can be improved with the help of appropriate tools and aspects especially the ones necessary for student’s success.

A. For the assistance of the universities to build a strong and reliable online learning curriculum, universities should  adopt the points necessary for the growth of any successful online higher education program. For example, A Student Support Checklist has been created by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and the State University      System of Florida, which has given few necessary steps/points for how they can assist the students in their career success. With those points, it is assured that if the cooperation from the diverse service areas across all the institutions in achieving the new checklist will overcome the major issues being faced by the students and will help the universities to unite with the online-learner community, promising them to provide the same quality education, support, and opportunities as for the campus students. Some of the pivotal points mentioned in the checklist are given below:

  • Admissions: The appropriate campus and class information should be provided to the students via online portals comprising a virtual campus tour and an online platform for the complete interaction amongst the learner-community and the assigned faculties; making it convenient and accessible for everyone.
  • Financial Aid: The online students can be provided the opportunity to not only contact with financial aid advisers but also will be provided online tools ( like mobile services) to notify students of their options, piece of training and other useful stuff.
  • Advising: The online architecture should be in place in order to support video chat between advisers and students.
  • Library: One of the major point important for both on-campus and online students are the library resources. The universities, students should be given complete access to personnel, tutorial skills, and databases through online portals, and mobile applications.
  • Technology Support: The very necessary aspect for online learner-community is smooth technical support, especially for the students who have heavy confidence on their devices. Therefore, it is obligatory for the universities to have the help desk support and access to information on programs which the courses generally require for the successful operations and running of the online program.

B. Universities need to fulfill the demands of the students by supplying them with as many resources and opportunities available as are provided to the campus students. For example, students find the university apps and websites helpful, but they want more personalization… such aspects should be considered by the universities for the improvement of the accessibility of their online programs.

Universities should also keep in mind about assisting the students in enrolling for their first courses. For example, Institutions should make sure that the students have easy access to online enrollment tools, placement testing, degree auditing and ways to contact service centers for learning disabilities. However, these services should be available 24×7, as it will encourage the students to have thorough interaction about their academic and post-graduation goals. AI chat bots may also be used by the smaller institutions that are not able to appoint staff for the possible interactive sessions.

C. The seven key findings can also be adopted by the universities for having a positive impact on access, retention and/or academic success. In an interview with 151 participants involved in online learning at the Open University,UK; the seven key findings emerged along with major assistance from the academic, professional and management staff at 15 Australian universities. These 7 key findings came out by interviewing 151 participants and by asking them about the interventions/strategies for online students that they were using, which they thought might help their online students stay and succeed. These 7 key findings included.

  • A strategic whole-of-institution approach is needed.
  • Early intervention with students to connect, prepare and engage is crucial.
  • Teacher-presence portrays a vital role in building a sense of belonging to the learning community and in improving student retention.
  • Content, curriculum, and delivery need to be designed particularly for online learning.
  • Regular and structured contact between the institution and the student is important in administering connection and direction along the student journey.
  • Learning analytics play an important role in informing pertinent and effective student interventions.
  • Collaboration across the institution is required to integrate and embed support and assistance; delivering it to students at the point of need.

Edtech

5 Technologies for Professor’s Bucket list

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In the 21st century, Technology is the modern revolution that is now successfully invading our classrooms. And if you do not wish to be swept away with the Tech-savvy invasion, I’d suggest that the Professors of the modern era do some pre-preparations apart from their courses and ride along the wave of change.

Most professors have accepted this new norm in their classrooms while others are still implementing it into their learning spaces. Though technology does enrich pedagogy providing new methods and making it highly diverse but not everything that’s on the web is beneficial for the students.

Here are a few things that professors should hold onto and be careful of so lets TURN YOUR CLASSROOM TABLES WITH THESE IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGIES

Wikipedia – Is it really flawless?

 If you Google search about Wikipedia then you’ll probably get something like “Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.” This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism. Some edits on Wikipedia that are in error are sometimes fixed, however, because Wikipedia cannot monitor contributions made by millions of users, there are many errors that remain unnoticed.

Read Also: All You Need To Know About NCTE (Amendment) Act, 2017 Bill

  However, If an assignment is given the first instinct of your students will be to use information from Wikipedia, if only to gather the background information of the relevant topics. To avoid the use of Wikipedia is to suggest your students use factually correct online platform such as :

    • Google Scholar
    • Factcheck.org
  •          Merriam-Webster

Mobile Devices – Are the teacher’s no. 1 enemy?

 Students are addicted to these small metallic boxes and unlike drugs, there are no rehabs to cure this disease. Then what’s the cure? Why not use this disease wisely, use this technology for good instead of yelling at the students because it isn’t going to work.

A professor would have to be very creative in a way that integrates the technology in the classroom because it gets distracting to the point that it distracts not only to the person using it but to multiple people in the classroom.I’d suggest that you ask your students to shut down their phones during the classes unless you are conducting some debate and want your students to have access “immediate fact check“ and make your classrooms more engaging.

Social Media – Are you connected?

Despite being distracting, social media is one the largest platform to be connected on and mass sharing of information. And it’s unavoidable in modern times so why not be connected with your students? Share articles, work details, homework submissions and reminders on social media with them. Tag them on famous work of professors, artist, researcher of your fields. Open the floor of Facebook and twitter discussions with them.

Read Also: How To Create Google Forms? 6 Ways To Use Google Forms for Teachers

Introduce them with better management of their work with Google Drive and Docs or Save their notes on online platforms like Evernote or Dropbox. Changing times, It’s the duty of professors to use the technology innovatively.

Digital Textbooks – Are your friends in disguise?

With students having access to the Internet 24*7 Digital textbooks are widely replacing the traditional paperback books. It is important for educators to realize this shift. This also helps some students who can’t afford the books. So help your students with providing them appropriate material on the web they can refer to but don’t forget to your roots. Not all students prefer digital textbooks, also it can higher the risk of eyesight issues. Suggest your students use Electronic textbooks outside your classrooms for self-studying and research as they can acquire both visual and audio guidance on the net.

Flipped Classroom – Are you flipped enough?

 In a  Flipped classroom one is supposed to do background learning of a particular topic or skill occurs outside of class time – utilizing technological tools like videos and podcasts to teach the essential skills. This leaves class time free to work collaboratively on the higher-order thinking needed to utilize these skills. Though some researches show that this method is resulting in improved test score it’s necessary to switch back to the traditional learning time to time to have a balance and give attention to each individual.

With these tricks in your pockets, You can crack the Tech- savvy generation and Work with them with ease making your classrooms more engaging and better than ever.

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Edtech

Bloom Your Creativity With Bloom’s Taxonomy

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Bloom Taxonomy

Education is one of the basic indicators of the prosperity of any social group. Connotations of the development process of any nation have historically focused on the improvement of standards of living people through activities leading to economic improvement. In this effort, education, in general, and science education, in particular, have attained high importance. Today we are seeing a lot of educators are making reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy. In 1956, Benjamin Bloom published a framework for categorizing educational goals: Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, popularly known as Bloom’s taxonomy, this revolutionary framework has been incorporated by school and higher education educators in their teaching method.

Benjamin Bloom didn’t anticipate inventing this doctrine. When he started developing his taxonomy of educational objectives, his main aim was to locate a common language that educational measurement connoisseurs could use to share findings and exchange test items.

Bloom taxonomy emerged from a series of informal discussions with his friends started at the American Psychological Association in 1948. During that period veterans enrolled in college graduated with more than just lower-level factual knowledge. Educators started considering assessment. Bloom tried to share ideas and test evaluations. Bloom identified four principles that eventually led to the development of the taxonomy. Categories should:

• Be based on student behaviors

• Show logical relationships among the categories

• Sheds a light on the modern understanding of psychological processes

• Describe rather than impose value judgments

The highest three levels of learning according to Bloom was Analysing, synthesizing and evaluating & The lowest three levels were knowledge, comprehension, and application.

The new version of Bloom’s Taxonomy has been converted from noun to the verb forms. Originally, Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy was one dimensional but with the addition of products the Bloom’s taxonomy becomes a two dimensional one. The revised Bloom’s taxonomy places stressed upon its application as a tool for the curriculum planning, Instructional delivery, and assessment. The new taxonomy is the biggest asset and is a sign of profound thinking and is perhaps more accurate.

Today it has become part of the language of teaching. Educators mainly talk about“lower-level “questions. According to them the hierarchy which puts knowledge at the bottom especially knowledge-based questions, especially via recall and retrieval practice are not so productive in nature.

In other ways, you need to teach a lot of facts to instill and reinforce knowledge enough to store it I long-term memory. or you can try them at the beginning but is going to be fruitless. Knowledge followed by recall and retrieval practice is the prime precondition

It was initially set apart in three domains

•  The Cognitive– knowledge-based domain

The Psychomotor– skill based field which is also known as KSA (knowledge, skills, and attitude) or ASK (Attitude, skills, and Knowledge)

The cognitive domain includes knowledge and the development of intellectual skills (Bloom, 1956). This endorses the recall or recognition of specific facts, concepts, and procedural patterns that serve in the empowering of the intellectual abilities and skills. There are six major categories, which are stated below, initiating from the simplest behavior to the most complex.

According to the process one needs to master in the first one in order to go to the next one.

Knowledge

The knowledge level, which is slated at the lowest level of the hierarchy, is defined on the basis of retrieving previously studied material. It often includes key terms, repeating something seen or heard, listing steps in a process.

Comprehension

Comprehension serves the largest category of cognitive skills and abilities. The key proficiency that can be learned at this level is processing new information.

Application

At the application level, a learner should have reached a position to solve a new problem by applying information without having to be assisted. At this level, learner requires to interpret information, demonstrate mastery of a concept, or apply a skill learned.

Analysis

At the Analysis level, learners should have learned to recognize relationships among parts. At this level of the hierarchy, learners are requiring to learn to differentiate, contrasts and compare, criticize, or experiment.

Synthesis

At the synthesis level, learners yearn for creative behavior as learners produce newly constructed and, many times, unique products. At this level of the hierarchy, learners are requiring to create a plan, propose an innovation, design a product, or organize information.

Evaluation

At the evaluation level, learners learn to make judgments about value. At this level of hierarchy learners are required to measure, value, estimate, choose, or revise something, perhaps information, a product—or solve a problem.

The next sphere of learning is effective which speaks about growth in feeling and emotional area. They are in sync with affective is valuing, internalizing, responding and receiving phenomena.

And the third and final sphere of learning is psychomotor which refers to the physical skills, the categories adapt to psychomotor skills are adaptation, origin, perception to name a few.

 Bloom Taxonomy in its various forms represents the process of learning. It has been classified in some case like the Three Story Intellect (Oliver Wendell Holmes and Art Costa), but it still essentially represents how we learn.

Prior understanding a concept, we need to remember it

Prior to applying the concept, we must understand it

Prior to analyzing it, we must be able to apply it

Prior to evaluating its impact, we must have analyzed it

Instructional object analyzing or learning objectives are statements which determines what learners will be able to achieve after completion of a unit of instruction. They help us to decide what learners should learn and how we will know whether they have learned that content. Whenever we write any content, at the outset, we write these objectives to guide the design of the instruction.

These objectives can be aligned with educational outcomes. Suppose that a University is planning to start a training programme to improve the creativity of their students. If the students meet only lower- level objectives, their skill is unlikely to innovate and improve. They might be able to learn a few things about creativity, but to do their job effectively, they must develop the higher order skills to plan and design any new thought.

The significance of Bloom’s Taxonomy lies in its verbs. The verbs associated with each cognitive level establish learners can do to demonstrate what they have learned. The secret of this level is to select verbs that correlate instructional goals with content and assessment. Suppose a university develops a program to improve facilitators skills. If the learning objectives are “List the steps in the methodical process” and “Define training,” the program has a fatal flaw: its objectives are limited to the knowledge level, but its aim includes mastery of higher-order skills that participants may not have learned or practiced. If the objective is limited to the knowledge level and participants must turn to higher-order skills to show mastery.

But there will always be a debate, some will say that you do not require all the stages for each and every task, some will argue about the necessity to reach the apex level for all activities. This should be left to the individual choice. Before we create anything, we must have remembered, understood, applied, analyzed & evaluated.

Implications

Educational implications of Bloom’s Taxonomy include the following:

  1. Bloom’s taxonomy provides a universally effective strategy for delivering all type of content to impart learning.
  2. The taxonomy assists teachers to make decisions about the classification of content.
  3. Bloom’s taxonomy also helps educators to map content tasks that students need to perform.
  4. Bloom’s taxonomy guides educators to instill higher levels of thinking process for critical thinking or creative thinking.
  5. By facilitating taxonomy, a teacher develops questions or projects that require the development of cognitive thinking and reflection from the knowledge level to the evaluation level.
  6. An educator or a syllabus designer designs a curriculum as well as classroom assignment using Bloom’s taxonomy to advance the learning process from recalling learning materials to a higher level of thinking.
  7. An educator motivates the class by assisting his lectures based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.

A Teacher’s Role

The role of teachers everywhere is to guide their students to not only learn basic information but also to them improve cognitive ability. In other words, educators want to help improve their students’ ability to think. They should never promote students to just memorize information. After all, memorizing something is not the same as thinking or understanding or creating any new thing. Helping students to improve their thinking skills isn’t easy, but educators can follow

Bloom’s Taxonomy to help us reach our goal.  Teachers can follow Bloom’s taxonomy by asking questions and delivering assignments that directly correlate with specific learning objectives in each stage of the process, formulating the objectives clear to the student.

Bloom’s Taxonomy can benefit not only academia but also workplaces. From financial models to optimization, students should be nurtured and encouraged to create new ideas. Tonnes of group activities and team-work can promote the exchange of ideas and brainstorming.

Follow this model in the everyday task you undertake and let your hidden talent bloom!

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Faculty Shortage In Indian Universities Are Now Permanent

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faculty shortage

It is possible to offer world-class facilities and infrastructure to the students here in India but yes there are constraints; the major of them being is the shortage of faculties.

The problem of faculty shortages and large numbers of part-time faculty is no latest talk in town. This issue is being faced probably since the 1980s, with innumerable reasons be it financial, legal, technical/administrative or others. However, the condition of faculty dearth has worsened constantly with time especially since the 2000s. The numbers of institutions increased legion in the 2000s, by about 1,000 colleges each year since 2003. Certainly, many colleges close down every year, but overall, there has been a massive increase in the total number of higher education institutions.

Recently, in a few surveys, it has been revealed that faculty shortages in many universities are increasing at a faster rate. Not only is this, but the number of part-time faculty in older central universities also increasing. The quality of India’s higher education is at stake as the sanctioned faculty strength which is being functioned at the central universities set up since the past decade or so is around 52%. The overall vacancies in all of them count about nearly 48% (in new central universities) and 33% (the older universities).
The Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar recently stated that there are 40% vacancies in central universities and IIT’s for the faculty members. It has also been observed that to bring quality members it is essential to streamline the recruitment process. He explained that it is possible to offer world-class facilities and infrastructure to the students here in India but yes there are constraints; the major of them being is the shortage of faculties. He said that the ministry would try and make it easier for IIT’s to acquire visas for foreign faculty, hoping to narrow the gap between sanctioned and existing strength of teachers.

TYPES OF FACULTY SHORTAGES

The very less understood fact and a concept is that there are different kinds or sources of faculty shortages. Faculty dearth can only be resolved if the reasons and the consequences are crystal clear in the minds of the people. They are classified as under:

1. Faculty shortages due to poor supply

 

The academic profession has been destroyed by various constraints like bureaucrats, politicians, and at times the common people. The condition is so worse that in the end it does not stay about the education and knowledge but just about getting things done quickly and giving away the degree. This certainly puts an entirely negative impact on the students and therefore they don’t opt to go into the academic and pedagogy profession; which leads to the poor supply and the cycle keeps going on.

2. Faculty shortages due to the inability of many institutions to hire new faculty

 

This is certainly very common among st the government institutions. The government always claims to be out of funds when it comes to improving the quality of education; which results in the fact that these universities are unable to hire new faculties which are needed more if the old faculties retire. In addition, the salaries paid by these institutions remain below as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, and even then, in some states, teachers are only occasionally paid on time. Such environments lead the students to dissipate to consider teaching as a career, hence boosting to the first kind of shortage.

3. Faculty shortages due to the unwillingness of institutions to hire faculty

 

This kind of faculty shortage are common with the private institutes. The main motive of these institutes is the maximization of profits. Private institutes mostly hire part-time faculty or ad hoc faculty in large numbers due to experimental behavior and weak recruitment process. It is a great challenge in finding well-qualified faculty in some disciplines and aspects which leads to this sort of faculty shortage.

4. Faculty shortages due to legal and related reasons

 

This type of faculty shortage occur due to the legal and at times the untold reasons. At times the faculty appointments are at hold, or some strikes take place or any other issues. Universities then need time and permissions for the execution of the next steps. The process then takes more than the expected time and it lags behind while the universities wait. However, in this endless game, such legal hurdles and much more contribute a lot to the making of faculty shortages.

5. Faculty shortages due to unwillingness or reluctance of faculty

 

This kind of shortage occur when the faculties are unwilling to work at a particular institute due to the institute’s location or poor infrastructure. The faculty dearth at many of the new central universities or the new IITs is because of their location. Certainly, universities in urban locations are less likely to go through such problems. Among other factors, it is easier for the spouses to find work in cities than in smaller urban centers. In one of the reports cited earlier, it was stated by the vice-chancellor of a new university that, “Location of the university is a problem, which is why we have a problem in getting faculty members. Who would want to come to such a remote location with their family?” there is a great lack of employment opportunities for spouses, decent schools for children, good medical care, and attractive options for potential faculty in such remote locations.

READ MORE: Let’s Say NO To POLITICS For Education System

 

 CONSEQUENCES

 

Although in order to lower the rate of faculty dearth many things should be considered b tie a strict recruitment process or increase in the funds provided but all this needs to be started soon else there will be a complete doom of the education system. Rather, faculty positions must first be sanctioned by the state government and then the proceedings should take place. However, since the commencement of this decade this issue has grown rather fast with the following consequences.

  • Faculty shortages lead to an increase in the part-time faculty which leads to no permanency of the faculties and the services suffer at large.
  • It also leads to the great leniency casual outlook towards the recruitment process.
  • Lack in the budgets to hire full-time faculty
  • Depletion in numbers of faculty members as older ones continues to retire. Hiring ad hoc faculty who are paid poorly.
  • The ad hoc faculty they lose all their motivation to do the job well and at the end, it is just a matter of money.
  • The services given to the students and their class and studies suffer as a whole both directly and indirectly.
  • The education system slows down and then people rush towards western universities for education.
  • At times, among st the ad hoc faculty, the lesser qualified are also employed for the job that lacks appropriate knowledge and skills.
  • Universities and institutes face genuine challenges because of the high demand for them in industry and services as they are suffering from faculty shortages.

CONCLUSION

Faculty shortages and growing numbers of part-time faculty are not merely old problems that have become worse over time. However, faculty shortages are no hot topic as we read about this issue nearly every few months. Prior to such news, the university officials and the government just express great dismay and make worried statements. The hiring of more faculties is obviously which is called for by the ministers and political leaders. Announcements for the new strategies to find and hire faculty is made. All the more, nothing much happens and no steps are taken in a real manner and the cycle of faculty shortages keeps on repeating.

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