Tag Archives: Teaching

The Wowroom virtual reality experience

I have attended the first presentation in the wow room of the IE Business School via Live streaming and Twitter Feeds. What an experience! Based on the presentations and my own views, I have identified the following advantages:

a) Lecturers can teach two classes simultaneously

Lecturers can teach two classes simultaneously, one group being present in the wow room and the other being ‘virtually’ present in the same classroom (see screenshot).

b) Conducting an orchestra virtually

The conductor was present in the room, but the members of the orchestra were ‘virtually’ brought to the classroom (See screenshot).


c) Teaching one class virtually

The students attending the class were presented on each screen to allow one-to-one interaction between the lecturer and the students (see screenshot).


d) Using Big Data created during the process to improve teaching and learning

The semi-circular classroom allowed the professor to watch the responses of all students. The staff measure the emotions and gestures of the students via tablets and use the graphs (see screenshot) to check emotions to understand how teaching and learning can be improved (see screenshot).


e) Involve the audience

The audience can be involved due to large display on the screens (See screenshot).


f) Bringing field trips to the classroom

The real world can be brought into the classroom when students cannot be taken onto field trips and they can be allowed to interact with people in their working environments (see screenshot).



g) More than replication of traditional face-to-face teaching

The Wowroom replicates the real world, but can bring much more to the learning situation since every student can be monitored. I believe this technology will change teaching and learning for the better.

h) Intelligent assistant

An intelligent assistant (Amphi) controls the wow room, therefore presenters and lecturers can focus on their tasks since they do not need computers or laptops when they present.

i) Video-recording of this experience

The video was ready to avail on Youtube. Enjoy watching the presentations.

To read more about the wow room, follow this link.



Interactive animal cells

I came across a website where students can learn in an interactive way about animal cells.


You can add the labels for immediate feedback. The labels only attaches when it is correctly labeled.


Or you can take the quiz to be rewarded. If all questions are answered correctly, the student can see how a cell divides! If the answers are wrong, students can go to the tutorial. You hover over a part of the cell to read more about the functions of a ribosome, etc.

I love this interactive game. Students can learn individually, in groups or it can be used as a class project for teaching and revision purposes.





Integrating ePortfolios to develop learning strategies in ODeL settings

In trying to move away from once-off summative assessment, the University of South Africa decided to integrate ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment. In my presentation yesterday at the Siyaphumelela Conference of the South African Institute for Distance Education, I discussed my views on how ePortfolios can be integrated from a learning-oriented perspective on assessment.

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When ePortfolios are integrated from a learning-oriented approach, lecturers, assessors and reviewers are provided with opportunities to assess and evaluate achievement towards the seven Critical Crossfield Outcomes that should guide all learning at South African institutes for higher education. For the purpose of this discussion, I have identified the following abilities or competencies that need to be developed.

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These seven abilities are also regarded as crucial skills to be effective in 21st century working environments. From a learning-oriented perspective, once-off assessment of assignments is not enough. Feedback should be efficient and enough to allow students to improve their evidence. When ePortfolios are introduced, students can be provided with several opportunities to portray their level of achievement towards the seven competencies, but they can also be provided with multiple opportunities to portray their achievement towards the five Developmental Outcomes that should also guide all teaching and learning at South African institutes for Higher Education.

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The state do not need of higher education to grade students as 50%’ers or a 89%’ers, but to develop confident citizens who can be effective in the 21st century work place. Therefore, I have identified the following learning strategies I believe to be important when I was responsible for a module that was earmarked for integrating ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment at the University of South Africa.

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The strategies are, however, by no means exhaustive. Some of them emerged due to new technologies being developed. Others might emerge due to new technologies being developed while I am writing this report. From a learning-oriented approach to assessment, students have to be provided with opportunities to assess the work produced by their peers. Therefore, I regarded it as important to give them opportunities to learn from one another.

The state requires of higher education to develop effective group workers (Critical Crossfield Outcome) who are sensitive across a range of social contexts (Developmental Outcome), outcomes difficult to assess and evaluate during distance education. Therefore, I required of my students to use my own social networking site, where I can guarantee privacy, to support the development of an online Community of Practice. Various learning strategies can be used to learn from one another, such as networked learning.

The efficiency of networked learning will however be influenced by three types of learners, namely individualistic, competitive and cooperative learners. Individual and competitive learners do not find value in group work. Therefore, it was important to develop cooperative learners.

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ePortfolios can be used to create an informal place where students can learn from one another. However, students often do not use it effectively due to the perception that they are being graded in formal learning spaces. In fact, they are often required to take part five times in a conversation to get 5 marks for group participation. I needed them to experience the value of networked and cooperative learning, while they develop sensitivity across social contexts, therefore they were randomly grouped in cooperative base groups.

Cooperative base groups is a small group technique used to develop cooperative learners. Students are assigned to such a group for the duration of the module and they have only three tasks:

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ePortfolios can also support small groups, but I assumed that the students would not use it effectively due to the formality of such a group. Therefore I have also opened my own, privately owned social networking site to give them opportunities to develop into cooperative learners. I assumed that it will also give them informal, incidental and passive learning opportunities. This provided them with networked learning opportunities.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

Within the first month, the students were embedded in a dense network, that could offer opportunities to get access to a shared knowledge base with regard to the development of ePortfolios. However, some of the students perceived the use of many technologies as overwhelming. Therefore, one of them created a Whatsapp group where they could learn from one another.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

As in the case of the social networking site, it provided opportunities for using networked learning skills to get access to the shared knowledge base. Based on my experience while I was their primary lecturer during the first three months of the year, I believe ePortfolios can support higher education in developing lifelong learners who can enter the workplace confidently.

Please feel free to comment, or contact me if you would like to introduce ePortfolios in your institution. You can also click on the green button at the bottom of this page to be updated.

Periodic Tables updated by adding four new elements: downloadable tables

It is now official, four new elements have been added to the periodic table. This may be the event of a life time since the four new superheavy elements  complete the seventh row of the periodic table.

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The elements were named 113, 115, 117, and 118, meaning that new elements between hydrogen (having only one proton in its nucleus) and element 118 (having 118 protons) have been discovered.

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These elements were known since end of 2015 as ununtrium (Uut), Uup (ununpentium), Uus (ununseptium) and Uuo (ununoctoium).

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The discovery gave the scientists naming rights. Certain rules apply, since only five categories of names are allowed, namely:

  • mythological concepts or character
  • mineral or substance
  • place or geographic region
  • a property of the element
  • scientist

The names selected were announced in June 2016, namely Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennesine and Oganesson.

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  • Nihonium (Nh) – 113, since this element was discovered by scientists at the Riken Nishina Center for Accelerated Science in Japan
  • Moscovium (Mc) – 115, since this element was discovered at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow
  • Tennessine (Ts) – 117, since this name acknowledges scientific contributions from Tennessee, home of the Oak Ridge National Labatory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxvile
  • Oganesson (Og) – 118, since this element was discovered by collaborating teams of Russia in the city of Dubna and Americans at the Lawrence Livermore national Laboratory in California.

The names of these new superheavy, radioactive elements were for five years up for public comment.

The following links can be followed to get access to printable periodic tables:

  1. Colour-coded periodic table
  2. Black & white periodic table
  3. Shiny periodic table
  4. PDF with transparent background
  5. Interactive periodic table

Please note: You can use it as you please, but you are not allowed to publish it on your websites.





Accessibility of digital games

Not all digital games are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

This barrier cannot be addressed by providing alternative activities since the alternative assignment will be regarded as an inferior way of learning. If you need to design games for students with dissabilities, you can get support from AbleGamers.

AbleGamers can be of great supporthave developed a living document to assist developers in creating and developing tools accessible to all.

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Includification is a website run by AbleGamers. It provides information with regard to games accessible for individuals with mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive disabilities.

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Game-accessibiliy is a source for accessible games.

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Twine provides a free, open source game development tool that allows you to create simple, accessible interactive storytelling games. The tool can be downloaded for Windows and iOs. Tutorials are available and questions can be asked on the collaborative forum. One of the storytelling games is available on the website.

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For more information on accessibility, read ‘Making video games accessible: Business justification and design considerations.’ The following graph was downloaded from this paper in order to show the growth in accessible technology users between 2003 and 2010.

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In South African context, accessibility to digital games can also be hindered due to no or limited access to the Internet.


5 Tips for using technology more effectively

After investigating a decade of using technology in American context, Molly Zielezinsky provided the following tips with regard to the integration of technology in American schools:

  1. Stop using technology for remediation
  2. Allow students to create their own content
  3. Pick tools that promote interactivity and discovery
  4. Honour students as experts, let them share their expertise with an authentic audience
  5. Find the right blend of teacher and technology

By following this route, the four main 21st century skills can be promoted, namely:

  • Communication: sharing thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions
  • Collaboration: working together to reach a goal, putting talent, expertise, and smart to work
  • Critical thinking: looking at problems in a new way and linking learning across subjects and disciplines
  • Creativity: trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention.

For more information, please read the article online. Molly also shared a presentation on the digital learning ecosystem.

Socio-critical principles to guide ethical decision-making

The need for ethical desicion-making should not be seen as regulatory hurdles that need to be jumped through at the beginning of the research process in order to address concepts such as vulnerability, harm, respect for persons, and beneficiaries are addressed, but rather as a process that ground ethical inquiry (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). “Harm” is defined contextually, therefore ethical principles are more likely to be understood inductively than applied universally (Markham and Buchanan 2012:4).

Rather than one-size-fits-all pronouncements, ethical decision making is best approached through the application of practical judgment attentive to specific contexts (Markham and Buchanan 2012:4). Although one set of norms, values, principles and usual practices can be seen as legitimately applied to the issue(s) involved, it becomes difficult to make judgements as to which sets apply, especially if one set conflicts with another in one or other way (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). The need for guidelines during the research process is emphasised by the fact that learning Analytics increase an institution’s scrutiny of student data related to ownership of the data and student privacy. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the opportunities and ethical challenges of learning analytics research.

Learning Analytics is one of the key emerging trends in higher education, but a number of issues need to be addressed (Siemens 2011). One of the issues relates to ethical decision making (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). Therefore researchers are forced to determine which is relevant in a specific context or at particular junctures during the research process (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). Ethical decision making is a deliberative process, and researchers should consult as many people and resources as possible in this process, including fellow researchers, people participating in or familiar with contexts/sites being studied, research review boards, ethics guidelines, published scholarship (within one’s discipline but also in other disciplines), and, where applicable, legal precedent (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). Markham and Buchanan (2012:5) agues that we need guidelines rather than a code of practice so that ethical research can remeain flexible, responsive to diverse contexts, and adaptable to continually changing etchnologies. In this regard,Ethical issues may arise and need to be addressed during all steps of the research process, from planning, to research conduct, to publication and dissemination (Markham and Buchanan 2012:5). According to Slade and Prinsloo (2013:2) ethical decision-making depend on a range of ideological assumptions and epistemologies.

From a social-critical perspective, the role of power, the impact of surveillance, the need for transparency and an acknowledgement that the student identity is a transient, temporal and context-bound construct is regarded as important (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:2). Each of these affects the scope and definition of the ethical use of information collected, therefore Slade and Prinsloo (2013:2) proposed six principles as a framework for a number of considerations to higher education institutions to address ethical issues in learning analytics and challenges in context-dependent and appropriate ways.  Slade and Prinsloo (2013) proposed six principles that should serve as guidelines for higher education institutions using or planning to use data.

Principle 1: Learning analytics as moral practice

Learning analytics should not only focus on what is effective, but also aim to provide relevant pinters to decide what is appropriate and morally necessary (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:12). According to Slade and Prinsloo (2013:12) education is primarily a moral practice, not a causal one. Therefore learning analytics should focus primarily as a moral practice resulting in understanding rather than measuring (Reeves 2011).

All digital information at some point involve individual persons therefore, considerations of principles related to research on human subjects may be necessary even if it is not immediately apparent how and where persons will be involved in the research (Markham and Buchanan 2012:4). Learning analytics should do much more than contributing to a data-driven university or leading to a world where data drive our actions.

Principle 2: Students as agents

Principle 3: Student identity and performance as temporal dynamic constructs

Principle 4: Student success is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon

One of the benefits of learning analytics is to contribute to a better understanding of student demographics and behaviours (Bichel 2012), but it is important to see student success as the results of

Principle 5: Transparency (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:14) provided the following guidelines:

  • State a clear purpose for using the data
  • Under which conditions will the data be collected?
  • Who will have access to the data?
  • What measures will be taken to protect the identity of individuals?

Please note: Markham and Buchanan (2012) argues that participation in public online forums do not provide blanket permission for using data. Therefore, the greater the vulnerability of the community, author, participant, the greater the obligation of the researcher to protect the community, author or participant. Therefore, higher education have an obligation to protect student data on the institutional LMS, and also to inform students of possible risks when teaching and learning occurs outside the boundaries of institutional jurisdiction (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:14).

Principle 6: Higher education cannot afford not to use data

The triggers for adopting learning analytics depend on the main purpose for collecting data, whether it is to improve profit or learner results (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:14). Institutions should be able to use the data to better understand and then engage with the outcomes (see Slade and Prinsloo 2013:14). To ignore information which might help to improve the outcomes seems to be shortsighted in the extreme since higher education is accountable to the stakeholders, government and the students themselves (Slade and Prinsloo 2013:14), If used for this purpose, learning analytics can penetrate the fog that has settled over much of higher education (Long and Siemens 2011:40).Therefore, Markham and Buchanan (2012:4) argues that researchers need to balance the rights of the subjects (as authors, research participants or people) with the social benefits of research and the rights to conduct research. In different contexts the rights of the subjects might outweigh the benefits of the research.

Skinner’s Teaching Machine related to current trends in education

The concept of automated teaching dates back to the 1950’s when skinner developed a Teaching Machine to improve student success. The teaching machine could be used by individual students in any situation where they are using words or symbols during the learning process. Skinner believed teaching machines can have a dramatic effect on teaching, yet, 70 years later teachers and lecturers are not (yet) replaced by educational technologies but the idea of technology-supported teaching resurfaced in the format of Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

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Use of blogs in economics education


Blogs in general was discussed in a previous post, therefore the use of blogging in economics education will be discussed here.

Using blogs in economic education

The sum of all blogs is known as a blogosphere, or in economics the econoblogosphere (Haab, Schiff, and Whitehead et al 2012:167). Blog posts can occur instantaneously with other current events (Haab et al 2012:167). A blogger can comment on a newspaper article within minutes after the newspaper’s publication (Haab et al 2012:167). Through blogging economic teachers, professors and students have easy access to the unfiltered opinions of some of the top thinkers in economics (DeLong 2006).

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JiTT – Just-in-Time Teaching


Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) was developed by Novak, Patterson, Garvin, and Chrstian (1999) and adapted for use in economics by Simkins and Maier (2010). JiTT is an intentionally designed teaching and learning strategy that (Simkins 2012:107):

  • helps to structure and focus student studuying
  • encourage preparation for class
  • suggest just-in-time modifications of in-class activities focussed on student learning challenges.

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