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Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing Software in a Blended Learning Environment

Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing Software in a Blended Learning Environment


This lesson provides students with the ability to conduct an environmental scan of the available software within the teaching environment for a blended learning approach.

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Evaluating, Selecting,and Maximizing Softwware in a Blended Learning Environment

Source: Globe, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk; Stick Figure, Clker, http://bit.ly/1JoIB83, Project Red, http://www.projectred.org

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Hello everyone, and welcome. In this lesson, we will be examining some of the steps educators need to take in order to select and maximize software in a blended learning environment. There are so many choices out there, and sometimes it's difficult to feel good about the choices we make. Hopefully this lesson will help.

Initial and ongoing costs are always a major factor relative to making decisions around devices and software. Fortunately, if you visit projectred.org, you'll find tools to help you. Project Red helps schools to successfully introduce technology into the classroom, taking into account what is best for student performance and affordability. The site is listed at the bottom of this slide.

The objective of any resource or tool teachers use is to maximize student learning. When we choose software or an app, the same is true. You'll want to make decisions based on your objectives. For example, will the product vary by content and level? Many programs that contain a lot of text now have the ability to differentiate reading levels for students, or read-to features for young ones.

Next, keep in mind that sometimes extra functions are negative because it will distract students. By the way, this can be a problem for adults as well. And also, as we continue to meet the needs of our 21st century learners we must always keep in mind the four C's. Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

Ask yourself what you want your students to do with each of those, and what program, app, or device can help them accomplish it. The term open source means free software that leaves the code and source open so that the user is able to redefine and customize it if they so choose. There are advantages and limitations with open source educational resources. For example, complete customization is possible.

You can leave the software as is. Typically it does not have customer support, but there are plenty of forums for some options such as Linux and Moodle. Open source resources are not tied into the constant need to pay for upgrades to the latest software, therefore there are major fiscal savings. Students can actually learn with and from the software, and can have a voice in its customization.

And end users must understand the code and be able to correct bugs that may occur as a result of changing that code. To learn even more, you'll definitely want to check out this website. There you will find out information about the most notable open source software options and their use, and a list of tools and resources.

Moodle is a good example of an open source learning management system. It differs from something like Schoology because end users can actually change its functionality through writing code. When you are ready to make decisions around the devices and platforms you are considering, here are some really important questions to ask yourself. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

If your solution ia a tablet, what free apps and what paid apps will you need? How will you manage those apps? If your solution is Chromebooks, what software is needed? How will you prepare students to move to a Google Apps environment? If your solution is a laptop, what software will you make available to all students?

What will your storage solution be? If your solution is bring your own device, what software options do you have?

Let's go ahead and summarize. We began by discussing how to plan a budget. We looked at the importance of maximizing student learning and defined open source resources. And then, we listed some really important questions that you should consider.

Here's today's food for thought. Take a closer look at the website mentioned in today's video because we just scratched the surface with it. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video.

The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description, so you can easily target the resources you want. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Evaluating, Selecting, and Maximizing Software in a Blended Learning Environment"

(00:00-00:20) Intro

(00:21-00:45) Planning a Budget

(00:46-01:43) The 4 C’s

(01:44-03:00) Open Source Resources

(03:01-03:50) Considerations

(03:51-04:10) Summary

(04:11-04:38) Food for Thought

Additional Resources

Tools and Resources for Finding Open Educational Resources 

This site from the United Kingdom provides a clickable list of tools for finding open source educational resources. Scroll through the links and explanations to finds resources that meet the need of your subject area and grade level. Many tools include collaborative resources for teachers.

OpenSource.com: A Guide to Open Source Education

This site explains open source educational resources, why to use open source and how to locate open source educational resources. In addition the site offers links to the data bases with an explanation of the content for teachers to search. Included in this site are video tutorials that are open source (this link is below as well).
Video - the best open source tutorials of 2014: http://opensource.com/business/14/12/top-open-source-how-to-2014?sc_cid=70160000000c9pPAAQ

Why Should Open Source Software be Used in School

This article addresses why open source educational resources can be used in schools. In addition, there are a variety of links to open source software and resources with an explanation of each resource below the article. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find case studies and examples of schools that implement open source software.

Blended Learning Implementation Guide

This is a comprehensive guide to implementing blended learning from the planning to the implementation stages. For this competency, review the technology selection processes on beginning on pages 21 and 26