Current Topic Six, ED 650

In turn, this Current Topic is aimed at doing a quick dive into a literature review for my project proposal. I am again interested in very recent research. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review. Rather it is a survey too quickly take the pulse.

Fortunately, Ally et al. in their essay Use of Tablet Computer to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location, touch on issues relevant to us here in Southwest Alaska. Their project was conducted in Swat, Pakistan. Like us, they needed to expose learners to devices and technology, however, internet access was non-existent. They used an Aptus server to support the tablets. These servers simulate an online experience and provide access to open educational resources. The devices are cheap at $100. Learners can use tablets or computers in conjunction with it and become familiar with devices and skills relevant to the broader online environment.

The Aptus model is ironically a concept that occurred to me when I was in St. Paul, Pribilof Islands. Their internet service is through cellular service. However, in the town, a fiber optic network has been constructed so the local area network is quite good. Indeed, one of the pass times is playing console games. I wondered what kind of learning resources we could set up and deliver locally through their local network.

This particular project aimed at high school age learners. The content was different for each grade. The approach was blended aimed at getting the learners to work independently and or collaboratively as a peer group. The pre-test revealed that nearly 80% of the cohort had no previous experience with devices or online learning. The pre-and post-test showed significant improvements. In a sense, this research tells us a lot of what we know about learners using online resources.  What is interesting is the proof of concept that we might be able to make more of here in remote, rural Alaska.

The second article, “Mobile-Assisted Seamless Learning Activities in Higher Distance Education” is much more focused on the effective pedagogical use of mobile devices in distance presentation of higher education. Mobile technologies included smart-phones, tablets, and laptops.  Flipping the classroom and creating synchronous online cohort meetings we also key to the study. The author adopts and builds on a six-part theoretical model.

  1. formal and informal learning
  2. personal and social learning
  3. learning across time
  4. learning across location
  5. ubiquitous knowledge access
  6. physical and digital spaces

The study cohort was vocational teachers working on certification. The cohort was just forty so difficult to generalize from. The researcher reported on technical difficulties with the “e-meeting” system where video and audio connections were unreliable and required much troubleshooting and user training. Again the results are somewhat to be expected as we know already that when done will online learning, with the added convenience of ubiquitous devices and access, can be a powerful learning experience.

The third article, “Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets” is several years old. However, it like the first article is focused on specific technology. In this case, the study examines the use of applications in service of building students teamwork skills. The course the authors focused on was a college entry-level engineering course. The projects students selected as groups varied widely, however, the instructors standardized the tools used the methods they used to manage and monitor the groups.

The authors reviewed six cloud computing tools,

  • Dropbox
  • SkyDrive
  • Google Drive
  • 4Sync
  • SugarSync
  • Box

The selected Dropbox for the purposes of their teaching. For managing the classwork they selected TeacherKit from among several:

  • Teacher Tool
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Teacher Aide Pro
  • Visual GradeBook

For monitoring students collaborative work they used Notability and reviewed:

  • New Notes
  • Notes Plus
  • Not Taker HD

Because some of the software for the projects could not be run on tablets they also managed tablet access to a computer where the needed software could be run. They selected LogMeIn:

  • Team Viewer
  • Jump Desktop
  • RDP remote desktop

So, despite this article being four years old, it offered some very concrete solutions for configuring a tablet for group work. The remote login app as well offers a fruitful solution which may have application in our rural site.



Ally, M., Balaji, V., Abdelbaki, A., & Cheng, R. (2017). Use of Tablet Computers to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location. Journal Of Learning For Development4(2), 221-228.

Mobile-Assisted Seamless Learning Activities in Higher Distance Education. (2017). International Journal of Higher Education, (3), 70. doi:10.5430/ijhe.v6n3p70

Saorin, J. L., Torre, J. L., Martín, N., & Carbonell, C. (2013). Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences93(3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership), 1569-1573. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.083


Current Topic Five, ED 650

In effect, I wanted to write a similar essay as my Current Topic 4, except I changed the source material. Previously, I conducted an open Google Search. For this piece, I searched Rasmusson Library article database. I limited to conference proceedings in the advanced search. My thought being that this would be as current as the popular literature on the web, however, it would be more scholarly. I found two conference papers from 2017.

Pistoljevic, N. and Hulusic, V. (2017) An interactive E-book with an educational game for children with developmental disorders: A pilot user study. (2017). 2017 9th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), 2017 9th International Conference on, 87. doi:10.1109/VS-GAMES.2017.8056575

Salama, G., Scanlon, S., and Ahmed, B., (2017) An evaluation of the flipped classroom format in a first-year introductory engineering course. (2017). 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2017 IEEE, 367. doi:10.1109/EDUCON.2017.7942874

The technology in both is pretty yesterday, e-books, and nor is the practice of gamification or flipped classrooms in any way new. So, these conference papers, in that way at least are similar to the popular literature. Indeed, the topics are sharply focused in a way that the popular literature is not.

The project the first conference paper reported on: “The main objective of this project was to develop an interactive educational e-book for early childhood stimulation and to evaluate its effectiveness on learning numbers, colors, novel vocabulary, identification, counting and responding to inference questions (Pistoljevic and Hulusic, 2017).” The researchers were trying to intervene early with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and positively impact learning demonstrated through the transfer of knowledge or skills to new media or environments.  They built game elements into the e-book. This particular paper aimed to explore the game element of the e-book. As can be imagined the methodology was fairly complex as were the reliability observations. This paper reports on the results from observing ten pre-school age children.  “The results from the pilot study showed that this and similar computer game-based environments, when designed properly, could be used for fast and effective skills development and knowledge acquisition (Pistoljevic and Hulusic, 2017).”

For me, the interesting element of this study is the positive impact for children diagnosed with ASD. It is easy to sit and watch anyone, play a computer game and develop skills relevant to playing other computer games, i.e., to see transferability of skills and knowledge. More interesting is transferring skills and knowledge to different environments. Our common sense observations of young people playing games are not enough then. I think this is a critical nuance when thinking about technology in the classroom and online education. How do we create parallel testing/performance environments that show the application of skills and knowledge in other contexts?

Turning to the second conference paper, we see that it too is an extension of research underway. In this case, the researchers extended their questions from a single section of the course as “flipped” to flipping the entire course. The course is an introductory engineering course that covers broadly fundamental skills: “…programming, engineering design, project management, statistics, dimensions and conversions, technical representation of data and engineering ethics (Salama, Scanlon, and Ahmed, 2017).” Salama et al. define their project in this way:

In this study, we used the collected data to answer the following research questions:
1) Will students have similar usage patterns when the flipped classroom is used in the whole course?
2) Can improvements in student performance with the flipped classroom be similarly replicated with a new cohort of students?
3) Will students have similar perceptions of the flipped classroom when it is extended to the whole course? (2017)

Our authors end up, saying: “In conclusion, the results presented in this paper support our previous results that the flipped classroom can be effective in improving the learning experience of the students in this introductory engineering course (Salama, Scanlon, and Ahmed, 2017).” Given that we have been flipping classrooms for a long time, in my memory nearly twenty years, I find myself more interested in the e-learning module development, methods and results sections of this paper. First, the e-learning development:

The modules thus included
􀁸 Interactive slides summarizing key relevant concepts
􀁸 Simple animations to present more detailed explanations of difficult concepts or examples
􀁸 Randomized and time limited assessments of varying formats including: true/false, multiple choice, multiple responses, fill in the blank, drag and drop etc (Salama et al., 2017)

So it is very cool that they did this, however, none of this is bleeding edge instructional design or technology.  And I mean no disrespect to the authors in saying this, rather, my concern is more broadly about education on the cutting edge of technology. The work of the authors is good and genuine and beneficial to the students. When we review the methods and the results the students themselves tell us so.

In the end, I think we have to go to the independent learners themselves to get closer to bleeding edge technologies. Perhaps we just cannot find it in schools and classrooms? I have beaten John Seeley Brown’s example of the pro-surfers to death, alas. I have as well beaten the example of YouTube entrepreneurs to death. Perhaps the other place to go is the elite educational institutions because they have the deep pockets and they employ tenure as it was meant originally to protect failure and risk-taking rather than status-quo and mediocrity. MIT, RPI, Harvard, certainly it feels galling to drop those names, but perhaps state universities are too embroiled in politics and economics to actually be sites of innovation.  And then we turn to K-12 public education, individual teachers are super-heroes/heroines but bound and gagged by budgets and learning outcomes and standardized testing.


Pistoljevic, N. and Hulusic, V. (2017) An interactive E-book with an educational game for children with developmental disorders: A pilot user study. (2017). 2017 9th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), 2017 9th International Conference on, 87. doi:10.1109/VS-GAMES.2017.8056575

Salama, G., Scanlon, S., and Ahmed, B., (2017) An evaluation of the flipped classroom format in a first-year introductory engineering course. (2017). 2017 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 2017 IEEE, 367. doi:10.1109/EDUCON.2017.7942874

Current Topic Four, ED 650

I am intrigued to read survey articles that discuss this year’s trends in education, or business. Mostly I am left feeling disappointed. I feel disappointed in several ways usually, first, is that the obvious is frequently stated, second, the nerdiest and intriguing topics avoided, and finally, little is said about a mindset that visions a different future.  A Google Search on this year’s trends resulted in many articles. In Technology that will Shape Education in 2017, we hear from Low, about eight directions:

  1. Virtual Reality
  2. Augmented Reality
  3. Learn from Anywhere, Teach from Anywhere Mobile Devices
  4. Collaboration Technology
  5. Gamification
  6. Coding
  7. Evolving Learning Spaces and Styles
  8. The Maker Movement

Many schools, libraries, and nonprofit centers are already deeply involved with the “maker movement.” Schools in rural Alaska, serving villages of 400 people have “fablabs, ” and the kids are using them on a daily basis.  So hardly cutting edge technology.

Jones, by contrast, calls out the cost, danger, and impracticality as reasons indeed “cutting edge” technology will not be in the classroom this year.

Some of the newest inventions that are finding success in medicine, science, engineering, and technology are not likely to be teaching aids soon. Some technologies–such as nanobots, quantum electronics, molecular sensors, and universal translator devices–may have teaching benefits but are too costly and impractical for schools to own. New inventions in the worlds of DNA hacking, cyber warfare, drone engineering, and many of the other technologies frequently in the news will likely stay out of the classroom in the near future for their dangerous possibilities.

His list: Google Drive, MOOCs, and 3D printing seem far more likely and equally tame as some that Low lists.  So this creates an exciting criterion for sorting through Low’s list. So, Virtual Reality is too expensive and experimental; Augmented reality is just not there yet. My post Augmented Reality explores some of this more deeply. All of the rest of Low’s list is very yesterday, like Jones three most likely.

So, instead, I want to look at Jone’s list of unlikely technologies. It makes no sense that drones will not be in the classroom soon. Why not? Every YouTube content creator has one. Hacking is probably just banal and belongs on yesterday list. A Google Search on Cybersecurity summer camps reveals a host of programs aimed at 7-12 graders.  For example, the NSA offers the GenCyber Program as one example of its ubiquity. Even those technologies that are indeed out of reach for practical classroom experimentation are probably precisely the ones that teachers should be exploring with students. Since those will be accessible and ripe for use for this cohort at their graduation. I am routinely struck by the truism that we are preparing people for jobs that do not exist yet.

What if instead of asking “what are the cutting edge classroom technologies?” We propose instead just about future trends in technology.

Infographic: A Timeline of Future Technology
My daughter did work on Carbon Sequestering in both here Chemistry and Engineering programs. It makes perfect sense to me that K-12 students should be learning about these technologies that we are at early stages on. Both because it inspires curiosity and excitement and because it creates a curriculum of practical need. If a youngster is excited about Cabon Sequestering, then many of the fundamentals of Chemistry, Biology, and of Engineering a situated in a context and motivated by a personal curiosity as is entirely normal my daughters’ interests have turned to other topics, and we would expect young people still in K-12 to have several turns of curiosity. But in truth that is a good thing and a way to cover many technologies and subjects. It is also an essential technique of the futurist of sampling and scenario building. We likely need to think more deeply about how we raise a generation with the skill set of futurists considering along with technical skills for making and doing. Of course, the weakness and the superficiality of my survey here are that I am ignoring the burden of State and Federal learning outcomes and as well local social reactionism. These constraining factors loom large in the minds of educators, teachers, and administrators, alas. This crucial limiting factor is aimed precisely at status quo and the stability of business as usual. And this in a country that prides itself on entrepreneurial thinking.  Perhaps then entrepreneurship like technological innovation is being learned somewhere else then schools?



Jones, George (2017, January 16, 2017). Classroom Technology: What’s New For 2017? Retrieved November 9, 2017, from

Low, Mei Lin (2017, 15 March 2017). Technology That Will Shape Education in  2017. [Weblog]. Retrieved November 9, 2017, from