Autistic Girl Expresses Unimaginable Intelligence


The former posts talked about how can teachers (with technology and communication) can teach students.
This is about the other direction of communication. An amazing story about a girl who communicated with her surrounding using ICT.


Let’s learn from the top education system in the world.

According to a study by Pearson, Finland and South Korea top the list of 40 developed countries with the best education systems. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore follow.

Korean government supports and spends on education (in proportion to the size of the economy) more than other countries. In 2008, it invested 7.6% of its gross domestic product in education.

In the 1990s, Korean authorities recognized the importance of using ICT in education, it launched a master program and develop ICT in education with connecting a PC per teacher and have Internet access in all classrooms.It also trained teachers to integrate ICT into classroom teaching.

In 2011, it announced a $2.4 billion strategy to digitize the nation’s entire school curriculum by 2015.

“At the core of this ambitious project, dubbed ‘Smart Education’, is the implementation of ‘digital textbooks’  interactive versions of traditional textbooks that can be constantly updated in real time. Digital textbooks contain a combination of textbooks, reference books, workbooks, dictionaries and multimedia content such as video clips, animations, and virtual-reality programmes that can be tailored to students’ abilities and interests. Students can underline sections, take notes, reorganise pages and create hyperlinks to online material.

The following video is a must watch, featuring government officials, teachers, and students in South Korea.

Korea: Using ICT to make a successful education system even better



Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)


Open Education “…is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge.”
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Open Education Resources (OER) are online educational materials that are offered freely, for the purpose of learning, teaching, and research by students and educators. These open resources can be one way or two ways communication. I.e. the content can be provided by an accredited institute (such as an online university) for the students , or it can be edited by the community to serve the public (Wikipedia). The following diagram shows the difference of these approaches mainly by two distinctive attributes: the scale of the operation, and the provider:

When the scale of the operation is large, and the provider is an educational institute, we call this Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The following explains each word of it:

Massive: A lot of students, with usually no limited capacity, for structured courses some have over 100,000 enrolled in a single course. This enables to mass customization since these courses require managing the delivery and evaluation methods  for thousands of students. Also, this is a great opportunity for massive data collection and statistical analysis of participant’s behavior, which leads to improving e-learning in general.

Open: the courses are free! However, if a student want a certification of completion, some programs require fees.

Online: No attendance necessary, it all online! With a combination of videos, slides, written materials, and interactive online materials.

Course: it is more than a class, since there is an engagement with the material, and networking with others in different parts of the world.

Online education has been around since 1994, since then it has grown slowly but steadily. By 2010 almost one third of US students were taking at least one course online. By 2012, MOOC’s became they new hype in education, when universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT opened up their best courses for online public access.

As seen on the above timeline, there are two types of MOOC’s; first is the older version is the ‘connectivist’ cMOOC. The second is xMOOC.

cMOOC’s are identified by Gorge Siemens as “discursive communities creating knowledge together”. His Connectivist principles informs the pedagogy behind it:

  •  Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.
  •  Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

It is mainly focused on crowd source interactions and group collaboration. Examples are: Blogs, twitter, facebook, iTunes, RSS feed, open culture, and other social media networks. Which enables an Asynchronous courses that students can start at any time and take at their own pace.

As for xMOOC’s; it is based on a model around a more traditional one way ‘teacher to student’ knowledge transfer and are offered by the large scale organizations and institutions.

Interaction is limited between students and the professors, there are no one on one discussions that class rooms provide. However, since MOOC’s give the chance for students to learn from some of the great professors in best universities; not having this interaction is a price worth paying. Since these courses are intended for thousands of students, assignments are usually automatically graded (with mostly multiple choice, true or false, a direct word answers) that mainly capture comprehension of the material rather than challenging the students. Also, discussions are usually set in the form of forums with thousands of students. These type of courses are usually Synchronous; which adhere to a specific schedule that established start and end dates and weekly delivery of new lectures and assignments.

Famous examples of these MOOC’s are: Udacity, edXCoursera, Academic Earth, Khan Academy, and Udemy.

How beneficial are these courses? In a CNN interview with Udacity’s manager Sebastien Thrun’s, a former professor at Stanford University, he explained that some 410 online students outperformed the top Stanford students, also students translated the classes in English into 44 languages to other students.

However, there are plenty of challenges facing MOOCs.

First is the Completion Rate; most of today’s MOOC’s have less than 10% average of registered students actually completing the course. This might attribute to the following reasons:

  1. A lot of participants register for the sake of research purposes without intentions of completing them
  2.  Some students might lift specific skills out of courses without following through to completion
  3. MOOC’s provide unusual “free” opportunity, whereas students in traditional college courses likely wouldn’t enroll in a course they knew they might fail to complete if they were paying full tuition

Second problem is the delivery of valuable token of completion (Accreditation) such as credentials or badges. Which is also related to the authentication problem where student’s identity must be known. However, MOOC’s are now seeing this as an opportunity for a revenue source.

The third problem is sustainability, and developing a Revenue Model. The following is some of the methods that famous institutes can pursue, please note that edX is -in contrary to the other two providers- is a non for profit institute:

Currently; Udacity is trying out different business models, such as matching students with employers, licensing content to schools and charging for proctored exams. For instance, About 350 companies have signed up to access Udacity’s job portal in recent months, though it has placed just about 20 students so far. The revenue for Udacity comes from a 20% share of the students first year’s salary.

The following are some data about the number of courses provided, number of registered students, and number of course completion for the following institutes:

In conclusion, MOOC’s is a great tool that can be used to enrich accessibility, conveniency, and diversity of education if used properly. Also, here is a great report created by PBS about How Free Online Courses Are Changing the Traditional Liberal Arts Education



Teachers; this is for you.

The role of the teacher was always a center of the attention in classical teaching methods. What is wrong with this? Well, for begging, it is usually not very interactive, students will lose focus, and it will make students dependent on the receiving the information rather than searching for it, which will eventually makes them forget a lot of the information they received.

Technology enables students to be more engaged, more creative, and have more fun! Thus the role of the teacher will soon transfer from being a focus of attention, to more of a guide.

Imagine this, you are a teacher, trying to be more interactive with your students, so you ask questions and wait for someone to raise their hand. Not so hard to imagine since that is what our classical class room experience is like. Now imagine this; each student has a digital device connected to a network (e.g. laptop, tablet, mobile..), you now ask a question, and ask all of them to submit it individually, instantly. After they submit it, as a teacher you will have a live feedback and data of your class progress.  In more simple words, you will know if they are understating what your are saying or not, and you will also know who is exactly facing an issue, or who is excelling. You might even now ask the students who excelled to help the students who are having a hard time understanding the subject, and therefore you will also increase the level of teamwork in your class. In summary; with technology, the curriculum interaction will be much higher!

One of the attributes of humans is we forget. A lot.
Forgetting is not always a curse, some times it’s a blessing, but I am not getting into this philosophical question now. What I am focusing on is how can we use technology to makes us remember our educational knowledge.

As a graduate student, I have the blessing of having my internet connected laptop open before me in class. What this means is, when a professor explains a subject that needs sufficient prior knowledge that I took a while ago, I simply search online, find the information I needed, and continue with the professor’s explanations. Also, as an international student, having a dictionary opened on the side of my page is extremely helpful when I encounter a new word that has been mentioned in class.

The problem is, most basic school education don’t allow using computers in class. I realize that there is a need of censorship especially for teenagers, but this can be solved by having a closed Intranet connection for in school use.

Now to the fun part of learning through technology. Want to learn Mandarine in 3 weeks? Play a virtual game!
A Michigan State University professor created a virtual game where a player (student) will find her/his self in a city in China, and have to feed yourself, find a place to live, and interact with people as you play. What professor Zhao found is that college students are learning Chinese language and learning about the culture in 3 weeks instead of the average 2 semesters.

The bottom line is: when we have an interactive, adaptable, and fun way of learning; students, teachers, and societies will all prosper.

“Live as if you…


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

In this new world of accessible technology, abundance of information, and density of communication methods; our lives have literally transformed. Using these resources to maximize our benefits is the ultimate goal.

Education is the core of any civilized nation.

The question now arises, how can we use these resources to maximize our educational experience?

In this blog, I will try to capture the latest tech trends regarding the advancement of educational approaches.

I hope you enjoy it and learn something on the way from it!