The three R’s; Paper, Pencil and Google Apps for Edu ??

Reposted from EdTech Digest October 8, 2013; written by Rob May CEO of Backupify

More than seven million K-12 students throughout the country use Google Apps for Edu and they aren’t alone. Seventy-two of the top 100 Universities (according to U.S. News & World Report) use Google Apps too – including seven of the eight Ivy League institutions.  The service is quickly gaining traction as connectivity increasingly becomes an essential part of everyday learning.  Students and teachers can easily collaborate in real time through a web application, and the vast majority are already familiar with the Google platform, meaning adoption is fairly seamless. The service is also compelling for IT departments working on tight budgets with limited infrastructure resources.

While the influx of Google Apps in the education sector provides huge opportunities for collaboration and cost-cutting, this new era also comes with its own set of challenges – specifically around holding student-related data in the cloud. For example, Gmail accounts help students easily work together but they can also introduce cyber bullying. Google Docs is a simple way to share an assignment but new excuses now arise in the form of “I swear I did it, Google must have lost it.”

The fact of the matter is that data stored in SaaS services like Google Apps for Education is not fully protected. Forty-seven percent of SaaS data loss is a result of end-user deletion (something Google cannot recover). Many teachers and IT admins at schools that are adopting Google Apps, however, are unaware of the limitations that Google has around data backup. Although Google is one of the safest productivity suites in the world, it does not protect against user error (e.g., a student overwriting or deleting an important assignment in Google Docs)

While enterprise organizations are also faced with new IT challenges related to backing up the cloud, schools, in particular, have their own unique set of hurdles to overcome, including:

Massive amounts of personal student data. As teachers use Google Apps in their classroom day to day, they begin to accumulate massive amounts of data – much of it personal student-related information. With this kind of data saved in cloud services, schools can face a long list of regulatory requirements (depending on the state) that call for strong efforts to meet compliance. Schools stress the importance of privacy but Google does not always guarantee it.

Cyber bullying. Statistics show that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. Google Apps for Edu can unfortunately be another avenue for students to bully one another – a problem that is already a challenge for many schools. Schools therefore must have a quick and easy way to recover emails and documents that might be used for reference in legal cases around bullying – even if they were deleted from Google.

Loss of control. IT managers give up the reins a bit when they move to the cloud through Google Apps for Edu. They may feel a loss of control since they no longer have to maintain on-premise physical hardware and keep track of bundles of software updates. Using cloud-to-cloud backup provides a fix for IT managers who want to ensure they have the last say on all the data in the cloud. Creating a second copy allows these professionals to rest assured that they will have any data they need, when they need it, without relying on Google

Taking data to the cloud can be a scary transition in any industry and the education sector is no different. As more and more schools implement Google Apps for Education, it is more important than ever to determine what supporting technologies are necessary to make the transition a smooth one. There are many resources available to newbies jumping into the world of Google Apps, including education technology associations, LinkedIn Groups or even the Google Education Summit. Cloud-to-cloud backup is just one of the many technologies that can help schools ensure that their data in the cloud is protected – and make students leave the “Google Ate My Homework” excuse at home.

Rob May is the CEO of Backupify, makers of Backupify for Education, a leading cloud-to-cloud backup solution allowing schools to retain control over their critical data, prevent data loss and adhere to data compliance requirements. Write to: rob@backupify.com

 

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Are #HigherEd IT Departments Forced to Just Keeping the Lights On ?

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Featured on the Education Blog site at UNIT4. UNIT4 draws upon over 20 years’ experience of working with education institutions (including more than 400 currently, worldwide) to offer an integrated portfolio of highly adaptable solutions.

There are one hundred seventy million (170,000,000) Higher Ed students on earth.

One hundred seventy million opportunities to delight, enlighten, broaden horizons, educate, collaborate, inspire, spark innovation, teach/learn a trade, travel abroad, and otherwise experience fully, the journey from full-time student to full-time economic and/or civic contributor; dependent teen to independent adult.  In the United States alone enrollment at accredited institutions at the beginning of the fall 2011 semester was just shy of twenty one million (20,994,113) students attending approximately 4,500 institutions (57% female – but that’s a topic for another day).

In the midst of substantial enrollment growth, ‘the business of Higher Ed’ has experienced change to its model that has disrupted post-secondary education forever.  Online courseware, MOOCs and other forms of course distribution have upended the ‘traditional’ education experience.  Skyrocketing costs associated with never before seen levels of student loan debt have students questioning the true value of an advanced education.  In Europe, policy makers struggling with financial crisis facing their economies lean heavily on students, having had to increase tuition and reduce financial incentives to balance budgets; in the United States, recognizing the financial consequences about to hit the proverbial fan the government has asked institutions to reduce significantly costs associated delivering and administering a ‘quality education’ while providing greater service to students. Institutions will be measured by increased retention and graduation rates, the ability of graduates to repay loans, job placement statistics and other variables; the availability of federal financial assistance being the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Bottom line, schools have to provide more and better service with fewer resources.  So what else is new?

Ironically, the most effective means by which institutions can increase service while reducing costs are the same [or similar] consumer technologies that have set in motion the disruption Higher Ed is experiencing.  Students, probably the most adept consumers of technology; are, for the most part, the largest group of disenfranchised users on campus.  Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, and other devices are among the standard equipment students bring with them to school.  However, when a student wants to track their academics, financials, purchase content or otherwise transact business with the university using the tools/systems provided, its abundantly clear systems and infrastructure have not kept up to date with the student user.  Institutions are attempting to communicate/service its largest and most important constituency in what seems like – another language.

Among common complaints students site while using systems provided by their institutions for day-to-day academic, financial and administrative activities are:

In addition to the problems students have navigating these systems, schools are ‘locked into’ outdated software service arrangements that add cost while limit service.  Not the place you want to be when resources have diminished and service requirements/expectations of improvement are the challenges Higher Ed faces.

Far too many institutions’ Higher Ed IT departments are still keeping the lights on rather than innovating.  This, in an era when, “today’s college students are deliberate in their approach to managing time and actively use technology to acquire their degrees and study more effectively”.  It seems apparent that institutions need to communicate with the student in the student’s language.  The student owns her education and wants to [rather, will] manage it herself.

Project [Google] Glass for #HigherEd

Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements.

One of the most popular incarnations of the technology was the calculator watch, which was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, the field has advanced significantly, but the overarching theme behind the technology remains the same – convenience. These tools are portable, lightweight, and often take the place of an accessory the user already wears, such as a t-shirt, glasses, or wrist-watch, making them easy to take anywhere.

Google’s “Project Glass” features one of the most talked about current examples –  the device resembles a pair of glasses, but with a single lens. A user can see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project.

Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn-in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person’s exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

Currently, the number of new wearable devices in the consumer sector seems to be increasing daily, greatly outpacing the implementation of this technology at universities. The education sector is just beginning to experiment with, develop, and implement wearable technologies, though the potential applications are significant and vast. Smart jewelry or other accessories could alert students working in chemical laboratories to hazardous conditions, while wearable cameras can instantly capture hundreds of photographs or data about a user’s surroundings on an off site geology dig that can be later accessed via email or other online application.

One of the most compelling potential outcomes of wearable technology in higher education is productivity. Wearable technologies that could automatically send information via text, email, and social networks on behalf of the user, based on voice commands, gestures, or other indicators, would help students and educators communicate with each other, keep track of updates, and better organize notifications. Thinkgeek’s InPulse Smart Notification watch is relatively affordable at $150 and works with Android devices to enable users to view and organize emails, texts, phone calls, and other notifications.

A new brain-sensing headband called Muse displays a user’s brain activity directly on their smartphone or tablet. The ultimate goal for development is that users will be able to control televisions and other electronic devices merely by thinking about them.

Some current research and development efforts at the university level are related to sensory improvement, such as gloves that enhance responsive feeling when performing surgery or interacting with scientific equipment. The MIT Media Lab is taking this notion a step further by allowing users to turn any surface into an interface with SixthSense, a tool consisting of a pocket projector, a mirror, and a camera. The hardware components inside this pendant-like wearable device project information onto any surface, while the camera recognizes and tracks a user’s hand gestures.

Another significant area of interest for education is wearable flexible displays. Samsung, LG, Sony, and a number of other technology companies have already created light-emitting diode (LED) displays that can wrap around furniture and other curved surfaces, and Erogear has developed a display that can be integrated into different types of clothing. Advancements in this area could eventually make smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices obsolete.

Professor Thad Starner at Georgia Tech University founded the Contextual Computing Group to develop applications and interfaces that can be worn. Projects include a mobile sign language translator, a wearable pendant that recognizes and translates one’s hand gestures into actions, and an application designed to make a tablet pressure-sensitive so it monitors tremor in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Although wearable technology is not yet pervasive in higher education, it will increase in impact as enabling technologies gain traction in the consumer market.

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An Infographic by www.OpenColleges.edu.au   …  Post written by Andrianes Pinantoan

Andrianes Pinantoan is InformED’s editor and part of the marketing team behind Open Colleges. When not working, he can be found reading about two of his favourite subjects: education and psychology. Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-google-glass-can-be-used-in-education-infographic/#ixzz2eKs9Wkp0

Graduating with Technology

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Recent Tweets

 

“The Future of Learning IS Mobile” – Updated August 19, 2014

Retweeted from EdTech  featured article authored by Jimmy Daly, July 22, 2013
“The App Impasse: College Students Love Apps, but Should Colleges Invest?”

The future of learning is mobile, whether it is a simple delivery technology or something that enables a new method of instruction not yet possible.”

This is how EDUCAUSE introduces their study “Student Preferences for Mobile App Usage” (PDF download). They could not have summed up the mobile landscape more articulately. The survey evaluated mobile device usage among more than 1,500 Purdue University students.

Here’s a look at three key takeaways from the study.

College Students Have Mobile Devices … And They Know How to Use Them

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Universities don’t need to train their students on using mobile devices. Mobile technology spread so quickly that a majority of students adopted the trend before colleges had a chance to implement strategic plans for its use.

Now that 85 percent of college students who own smartphones identify themselves as either intermediate (have been using a smartphone for more than six months) or advanced users (have been using a smartphone for more than two years), bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs are happening with or without colleges’ approval.

Related Posts:
Why Aren’t Universities Creating Engaging Mobile Apps For Students
iPads the Mobile Technology of Choice in Schools – Education Week, July 23, 2013
Why Smartphones Work for Students
College Students are Never Far From Their Smartphones
Colleges Go Mobile on Multiple Fronts – Featuring Seton Hill University, June 2013

According to EDUCAUSE, smartphone purchasing trends indicate that “a significant number of incoming students’ purchases of smartphones coincide with the start of fall classes.” Does this mean parents believe mobile devices are required in order for today’s students to thrive? These devices are important not only for communicating with family back home but also for researching, collaborating and sharing. 

It’s All About Native Apps (for Now) – The survey compared activities that students performed in native apps against those performed in browsers. In all but one category (Reference), students indicated they prefer — strongly, in most cases — apps.

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Apps are more popular for a few reasons. A native app is one that has access to a device’s hardware: camera, accelerometer, GPS, etc. This makes apps faster, easier to use and more functional. Native apps might not be the future, however. HTML5, the latest version of the code that powers web content, will enable more functionality in the browser. Its adoption for the purposes of web apps — cross-platform, cloud-hosted applications — is imminent, pending the ability of developers to make money with their apps. (App stores, where native apps are sold and downloaded, are built to make sure that developers have a marketplace for their apps.) For students, apps are the simplest, fastest way to communicate, play games or get information. For colleges, this is a challenge. It order to fully invest in apps, they need to create offerings for multiple platforms. Is it worth the investment to build iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry apps that are likely to be useful for only a few years? There is no easy answer right now, but a Mashable article suggests that mobile websites reach far more people per dollar spent than apps do.

For students, apps are the simplest, fastest way to communicate, play games or get information. For colleges, this is a challenge. It order to fully invest in apps, they need to create offerings for multiple platforms. Is it worth the investment to build iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry apps that are likely to be useful for only a few years? There is no easy answer right now, but a Mashable article suggests that mobile websites reach far more people per dollar spent than apps do.

Does Your College Have an App for That?

 

Even if educational activities don’t take up the bulk of students’ time on smartphones, it’s important to understand how the devices are used to optimize educational experiences. Once again, it’s clear that students prefer apps both for speed and for ease of use. As colleges make plans for student services — email, collaboration tools, learning management systems, etc. — it’s increasingly important to make sure those platforms come with native apps. It makes more sense for a vendor like Blackboard to build and maintain apps, since they work with a number of schools.

If your college isn’t planning to build its own apps, make sure there are easy ways for students to access course materials and other university resources on the mobile web.
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Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

96% of US Students Use Social Media Technologies

Reposted from Student Voice
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Did you know that 96% of students with Internet access report using social media technologies & that 59% of those students use social networking to talk about education-related topics online?

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