Smartphones & Tablets: Educational Distractions or Bicycles for Our Minds?

snapchat

The short answer is YES!  Yes, smartphones and tablets can be wonderful learning tools, or bicycles for our minds if used properly, and Yes, they can be a huge distraction if unskilfully used. A recent study describes how disruptive smartphone notifications are when students are concentrating on a task, even if they don’t click on the notification and launch the app that interrupted them (Stothart, Mitchum, & Yehnert, 2015). That said, let’s start by looking at how we can configure our devices so that they are less likely to distract us when we want to concentrate on learning.  snapchat

Reducing Distractions

One of the keys to reducing the number of distractions in decidedly non-technical. A good place to start is by talking to our children, and eventually negotiating how they are to use their electronic devices are to be used during focused learning time. You could start by discussing and then coming to an agreement around the following three interlocking strategies:

  1. When working on homework or assignments, the phone and/or tablet should be used for research and homework related tasks, not for socializing or gaming.
  2. To help reduce distractions, the phone and/or tablet should be put into the “Do Not Disturb” mode (see “How To” section below for details). This will significantly reduce, but not eliminate, the number of distracting popups and chimes from installed apps.
  3. Lastly, turn off popup notifications and alerts for social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. At the very least turn off notifications while in do not disturb mode (see “How To” section below for details). There’s no need to turn of text message notification as the do not disturb mode with silence those potential interruptions.

While using do not disturb mode and turning off notifications will help reduce distractions, it will not stop someone from opening up a social media app on their own to manually check it, but at least they won’t have distractions popping up in front of them every couple of minutes. Read more ›

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Posted in education, Google, iPhone, Open Source

Weather Station / Goat Camera up and running!

goats-looking-up

Over the holiday I setup a Bloomsky Sky2 weather station that I found under our Christmas tree. I decided that it would not only provide us with remotely accessible weather information about our home, but could also be the “Saanich Goat Cam.” My daughter lobbied Saanich Council for three years to allow miniature goats in suburban Saanich, and this past summer she was successful in persuading them… now we have two miniature goats living in our back yard, happily munching on the invasive ivy in our yard, along with the bottom of our huge laurel hedge.

weather-station2

Above is a picture of the BloomSky weather station in the foreground, and the goats in the background sitting on the porch of their “barn.”  Below is a picture from the weather station camera, with Gabby and Baby sitting in the bottom right corner of the photograph.

bloomsky-goats

Lastly here is a picture of the two goats, Gabby & Baby, watching me install the weather station 😉  If you’d like to see a current image from the weather station, along with the weather the goats are experiencing, click here: https://map.bloomsky.com/weather-stations/jpxnrKmnqZKkqae2

goats-looking-up

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Posted in Family, Sustainability

Conserving Energy One Home at a Time

Had a great discussion about conserving energy at home with the Victoria Computer Club. Great group, and lots of good questions and discussion. Here are my slides from my presentation:

Here are some links that answer questions that came up during the presentation:

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Posted in education, Sustainability

Rich’s Way-Back Machine: My First 5 Computers

vic20andtvI’ve seen a few people recently posting on Facebook about their first 7 jobs.  Being a techie for as long as I can remember, I thought that listing my first 7 computers would be more appropriate… then I couldn’t remember much past my 5th computer, so here we go with my first 5 computers! Read more ›

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Posted in education, Technology

Exploring the learning outcomes of a flipped learning methodology for post-secondary information literacy students: a mixed methods approach

flipped-learningNow that I have completed my Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction, thought that I should provides some links to it in a few different formats for your reading pleasure. The full title is: Exploring the Learning Outcomes of a Flipped Learning Methodology for Post-Secondary Information Literacy Students: A Mixed Methods Approach. Here it is in the format of your choice:

A PDF version of my thesis can also be found in the University of Victoria institutional repository.

If you have any questions about my thesis, or flipped learning in general, I’d be happy to talk to you.

Here is the abstract of my thesis:

The concept of flipped learning has received significant attention in recent years. In a flipped learning methodology, students view instructional videos and complete related assignments before class, so that face-to-face time with the instructor can be spent applying the knowledge and skills they were introduced to in the pre-class assignments. This study aims to determine the effectiveness of a flipped learning method for teaching information literacy (IL) skills to undergraduate students compared to a traditional teaching method where the majority of face-to-face time is spent instructing. To evaluate this, a mixed methods research design was used, where results from qualitative interviews helped explain findings from test data, assignment completion data, and major paper rubric data. The IL tests resulted in a small but insignificant test score improvement for flipped participants. Interviewed flipped participants reported mainly positive feelings toward flipped learning, whereas all flipped ESL interviewees related strong positive feedback towards flipped learning.

 

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Posted in education

Thesis Defence Presentation: Exploring the Learning Outcomes of a Flipped Learning Methodology for Information Literacy Students

Here are my presentation slides from my thesis defence, and the Abstract from my thesis:

Abstract: “The concept of flipped learning has received significant attention in recent years. In a flipped learning methodology, students view instructional videos and complete related assignments before class, so that face-to-face time with the instructor can be spent applying the knowledge and skills they were introduced to in the pre-class assignments. This study aims to determine the effectiveness of a flipped learning method for teaching information literacy (IL) skills to undergraduate students compared to a traditional teaching method where the majority of face-to-face time is spent instructing. To evaluate this, a mixed methods research design was used, where results from qualitative interviews helped explain findings from test data, assignment completion data, and major paper rubric data. The IL tests resulted in a small but insignificant test score improvement for flipped participants. Interviewed flipped participants reported mainly positive feelings toward flipped learning, whereas all flipped ESL interviewees related strong positive feedback towards flipped learning.”

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Posted in education, Uncategorized

Book Review: Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning – Foundations and Applications

emergencecoverEdited by George Velestianos, Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning – Foundations and Applications, is an insightful survey of emerging technologies and practices in digital education. Technology is not neutral, and as such the creators of educational software embed in their programs a host of implicit assumptions about how students and educators will act and interact while using their software.

I especially appreciated the chapter on “Designing for Open and Social Learning,” where an example is given of a course where students use open platforms, like blogging software and twitter, to learn in public, publish public artifacts of their learning, and create their own personal learning networks.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in the intersection of education and technology.

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Posted in education, Uncategorized
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