Future of Education with the accomplished Technology used for a multicultural Approach

Our kids won’t hesitate. They will reach out for whatever technology holds for a new way of learning and socializing. Facebook – love it or leave it, they will think, and get immersed in these communities they find there – most of them. facebookIt’s in fact an overwhelming perspective. Young people striving for ways to identify with something outside their home bound circles can today easily come forward to whatever culture they’d like to know more of or to join. The option of wide spread exploring and orientation is already present for the new generation and will be used extensively. Not only that information is just nearby for searches, also the authentical communication with representatives of other lifestyles is just around and easily established. The competent use of Web 2.0 facilities is what a new generation is dealing with and learning from already.

Schools and teachers experience, that the old ways they know of, to improve their students’ competencies and knowledge acquirement no longer are sufficient. The educational system is forced to move towards the circumstances, the society and technological development offers for a wider practice of knowledge achievement and exchange. National curriculums are undergoing changes according to the overall noticeable presence of multicultural aspects in a globalised world. Job applications may no longer have to be brought forward in the national language, but in the concern language. Working teams are mixed up of colleagues with several cultural and national origins. The future competency, to be capable of team playing in multicultural environments, is substituting former qualifications of a more national shape.

Authentical meetings with others from abroad and their cultures have become more common, both in virtual environments or face to face by the increasing mobility of students or employees in huge parts of the world. Today a cv is better, when an applicant has had periods of study or working in other countries or cultures. For the future an even more valuable employee is conceivable: The multicultural networking individual, who saves time and expenditures by being in touch with her/his communities through the use of social media and virtual environments. The technologies for resource saving approaches of networking across borders are given in 2013: It’s no longer a question of, who controls the mouse – everyone can today explore and learn to use contemporary tools of collaborating in cyberspace. google drawingThe user interfaces of most web 2.0 applications are easily controlled and spending a little time to experience and carry out a common drawing with a friend in Google’s or other’s online spaces will convince most people of the advantages to share thoughts and ideas from one’s own desktop rather than to have to encounter far away meetings for the together idea development.

Blackboard (the former “Elluminate”) offers advancedBlackboard possibilities for conferencing across borders and a lot of educational institutions have begun to use it for online courses and workshops. Virtual worlds such as Second Life are widely used by universities, language schools and educational providers in several fields for simulation of relevant real life scenarios for learning and study. moodleMoodle and second lifeFronter provide complex learning management systems (LMS) and Facebook groups, Google Drive and WordPress offer advanced collaborative applications in the cloud, which gather huge interest for all those, who want to use an updated space for discussions, sharing and education.

Google Drive

fronter

In some of the most advanced educational institutions students today are guided and advised to use web tools for their presentations and portfolios. wordpressPrezi and Glogster are promising tools to increase the student’s motivation to create interesting and individual showcases for their learning process and the working results, which also can engage audiences by the possible feedback.

PreziGlogster

Youtube and Flickr offer huge spaces for personal and creative messaging and voicing and form communities of like minded content creators as well, which can stimulate new creativity and identification for the evolving teenager or young student. Smaller social networking platforms such as Ning, Groups or Spruz can come in use for exchanges of selected groups or classes of students for international exchanges on teacher chosen common topics. Skype or Second Life’s voice function can increase the language learning impact by synchronous communication across borders. In other words, the online universe is consolidating and taking over functions, which have been closely connected to the physical location, libraries or classrooms have had in the past.

Remarkable in the beginning of 2013 is, that the attempts to reduce the “mass” of hardware units are pretty well developed and there is no doubt, that our students will grab the newly presented technology as soon as possible. The Sixth Sense Technology prepares a small necklace alike camera and projector with finger sensors connected to a smartphone in the pocket, which can bring up a holographic representation of a screen anywhere – even sixthsense14on one’s hand if no other surface is around, for e.g. to phone a friend or to search for some internet content. The iWatch technology also is rumored to cast a holographic screen apple-iwatch-first-look-3from the arm as an user interface instead of a heavy computer screen for internet access and controlling of content in the device. The Google Glass technology aims to deliver a small unit on sergey-brin-google-glass-0020_610x407changeable glass shapes and styles to view the use of the integrated computer in the glass frame and to control it by voice. 

It must be assumed, that the use of small wearable body near units to access internet content will make their entrance among the young generation as soon as they are available for a fair and affordable price – as smartphones did. The technology will then have the feature of being accessible in nearly any situation and the option to share the view of content by a bigger picture for mates and peers will certainly meet the desires we already now can notice in between the young generation, when we see them stand around and share what is shown on a traditional computer or smartphone display. In education this technological progress once again will open for new challenges for the teacher, who then will need to know how to navigate in class with multiple and independent learning processes going on to an ever higher extend as we see it today. A future teacher role in this landscape has to be grounded on deep knowledge of the in class used technologies and of the diversity and credibility of sources from multiple cultures as well as on the capability to support and guide individually in the student’s learning process and behaviour in online communities.

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html – The Sixth Sense Technology

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5OV_BJreTA&feature=share&list=PL4DBB7B034EEF650B – Apple’s iWatch

http://youtu.be/V6Tsrg_EQMw – Google Glass

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Impressions of the Visit in Bulgaria

Going to Bulgaria felt as a challenge. I had so many questions to ask myself:
– How would the surroundings be and how would they be maintained?
– Which signals would the country’s people send out?
– Would the infrastructure be fitting to normal needs in civilized countries, e. g. with available WIFIs at common places?
– How would the national culture and the country’s symbols be visible for a guest like me?
– Would I meet happy people or at least not too many who seemed to go through struggles?

There was a very flat landscape mostly around the capital city Sofia  and real mountains first on the horizon and since nearby on the way to Asenovgrad. Some Bulgarian taxi drivers clearly would have appreciated the tour with the luggage equipped guests to their country, but we had our arrangements in place and were to be picked up by a bus sent out by our hosts. Males were pretty much  dressed in casual clothing, while several younger females’ appearance was with tight pants and high heeled boots.
Apart from the first meeting with our Portuguese and Swedish partners at the airport, another multicultural meeting just had taken place outside the airport with a Bulgarian man sitting in the sunset waiting on something with his limited luggage and drinking a beer. He was in good mood – pretty sportive dressed in red and he so much wanted a little chat, but my Bulgarian Language was not existing and his English much too poor for a conversation. But it didn’t matter – we clearly wished the other a fine trip and a pleasant day in a kind of natural language.

Street View at Asenovgrad

Street View at Asenovgrad

Driving two and a half hours showed both busy villages and pretty much left back, unused and from times without a present owner damaged houses and sites – and roads could be in bad shape too. At arrival there was a warm welcome with a kiss on both chins and big smiles on all faces. Our hosts were all well educated and better situated as many others in Bulgaria it should show soon, and it immediately felt, that we were highly estimated guests in this town and that there was a deep wish, to build further on the friendship we already had and to make our relationship closer – and there was free WIFI at the hotel. Already on this first day I also saw the Bulgarian and regional flag along with European flag everywhere as an expression of the national feeling to have become part of this big union of friendly minded and sharing countries.

The first thing in the following morning was to visit the Church of “St Holy Virgin” with it’s very rich ornamental decoration. Some dedicated and believing women in the church offered and hoped to sell some of the souvenirs the church holds for visitors and here it got clear for the first time, that we have a part of the population in Bulgaria with a daily struggle to get together what is needed for living.

Then the welcome at the school was ahead and it’s nearly impossible to describe the impression this intensive show of folklore, music, traditional costumes as well as the hospitality left.

Welcome at Hristo Botev Junior School

Singing and Performance for the Guests in the School Hall

All and any from school and the connected community were present, lined up for performances, translating, explanations, for serving refreshers and to make us feel comfortable. If it is possible to welcome through singing and dancing, playing bagpipe and together to jump over the fire in the school yard as a part of these rituals of the celebration of the 1st of March, we felt it here. I have a Martenitsi wristband at my left hand still, which is expected to stay until the first green of the spring outburst is seen.

Later during the visit we visited even more churches, the old town of Plovdiv, which showed the very little of the origin Bulgarian architecture after the many centuries of oppression of the national culture, and we participated in the rituals of Kukeri dances in the poorer mountain site of Shiroka Laka.

Kukeri Dancers at Shiroka Laka

Kukeri Parade and Dancers at Shiroka Laka

People were on the streets and gathered in this festival atmosphere on outside terraces and balconies for the first time in this year. The parades and together chain dances of everyone, inhabitant or guests and visitors, were testimonies of the togetherness these rituals should trigger – including all and everyone present. We had some tough negotiations with some street sellers of folkloric souvenirs, who seemed very much in need to get just a little money for their day from us, but also that was done with a final smile.

Looking back on what this visit showed, it was amazing to see the identification the Bulgarians have with their cultural heritage and the wish to share it as their valuable contribution to a more friendly and including world. Where no common language is available, warm smiles and taking in arms come easy as an expression in a very natural language. There were not many computers seen on our way, but the best educated friends we met worked in huge and networking companies. Nevertheless it also felt, that there is a huge need for development of several parts of the infrastructure and to get into joint ventures, such as the Japanese investments, which were done, to maintain some of the old houses in Plovdiv – the country needs the friends from abroad, who they welcome so warmly, in many ways.

Using a virtual world – a substitute for real life or an extension of it?

Virtual worlds or virtual environments are taking up our minds in these years – what is it, that brings us to facebook, twitter, second life or blogs? Are we about to lose or replace our normal ways of human communication?

We may be fascinated and impressed of the possibility to get so many new contacts and friends abroad and to actively be able to make an agenda. Tv can´t compare with the option to create, to comment our contact’s funny status messages or to actively join groups and discussions.

Some of our new friends will be there and ready for exchange and communication always  – 24/7. Real life friends might be gone to bed a long time ago. Time can fade out this way and we will still be engaged, as we see us in good communication and company. There is a feeling of freedom about taking these new chances to get in touch out there and contacts by time can get pretty close.

Joining virtual worlds is extending what real life holds for us and there is the chance to express us selves in new ways. Instead of following the main track of our real life we get the option to do things different. A virtual environment allows us to try to be the one we always wanted to be in fitting communities without the fear, that our colleagues, partners or families find out about the new aspects of a for us enriched life style we try to establish. Our knowledge of the world and what others have on their minds is increasing and we learn more from the world we are part of. Our language skills are getting better too, as we need to be talk active to explain and to understand. It’s part of the human condition to show empathy and to support good friends – in cyberspace or in real life.

In virtual environments we can do things we hardly could in real life. We can place a message and look forward to the other’s response the next time. We can attend instruction and classes in subjects which wouldn’t be available for us in real life. We can save time and meet the other from our desk or working station at home. Now we also can share nearly everything easily: pictures, videos, music, instruction, virtual events by joining them with our avatar, ideas and drafts. And there is the possibility for real time togetherness.

For educational purposes, a 3D-virtual world like Second life adds great new facilities, as we can stream a broadcasted program to the virtual classroom and let us all comment on it. There’s also the feature to create inspiring spots or rooms, which point out the topic of our learning subject and visualize them. Environments and auditoriums can even be build up around interactive objects, so the learners would be the constructors of their own learning process.

To improve oral skills we would use the voice function and written chat will ensure good writing skills. What we use for lesson is all storable and can be handed out for home practise. The teacher will guide the students not only to good foreign language skills, but also to new competencies in using virtual material for learning.

Does this sound like a vision? BABEL Language School at Second Life has done it since February 2007.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Pak/75.1802/243.052

BABEL Language School – Mike Meltzer

Linden Prize 2009

BABEL Language School has applied for the Linden Prize of the following reasons:

The establishing of BABEL Language School at Second Life in February 2007 provided the possibility for borderless and structured language instruction in order to increase the student’s mobility, their self confidence and ability to cross borders to seek for new working or studying challenges abroad.

The school’s vision is to offer a consistent alternative for those, who need to or prefer to approach new languages from home. According to this vision it’s the schools endeavor, either totally to transform structures from the best real life language learning experiences to the circumstances of the online universe of Second Life, or to develop new methods and technical solutions for distance learning and learning in virtual worlds, which take advantage of the options, the use of a virtual environment adds to traditional language learning.

BABEL Language School at Second Life is independent and self-made and it is encouraged by many years practice in language teaching on all levels out of world. The progress in classes and the creation of learning material is defined from and built up upon the levels of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR). Furthermore the school develops material and task cards for auto didactical use.

As the founder of BABEL Language School I have described the school’s history and recent activity in other posts and networks around before as it follows here:

After many years as an adult language educator first in Germany and then in Copenhagen, Denmark, I started in autumn 2006 to look for a platform to carry out language instruction in cyberspace. I was looking for a platform, a universe that would be able to accommodate in particular the following possibilities:

  • The student and the teacher can be part of an almost natural communication
  • Students may repeat content self and a self-selected number of times
  • Teaching content is represented visually and aurally
  • Educational activities may include speech, writing, listening and reading
  • There are objects such as a teapot, which, when activated, could play his own name
  • Participants from all over the world can gather for training or events

The choice became the online universe Second Life. After some investigation activity and production of material BABEL Language School could start in February 2007 with German and English teaching. The first two trainees were from Puerto Rico and the United States and were taught German. They had not been able to take a German course in their home area, but in cyberspace, they could.

The teachers were recruited in Second Life, and after interviews and a trial period with guidance they were put to the task. Many of them also work with education in the real world and they are fond of the vision BABEL Language School has, e.g. that the use of virtual worlds has the likeable aspect of being democratically and geographically reachable, why they are willing to make their contribution to a very modest salary.

Students in class feel safe in their virtual language learning process. A couple of interviews might have taken place prior to their classification in the respective courses and some may also be tested by the school to find the right level positioning in relation to the school course levels.

For the Second Life environment BABEL Language School is working in, special learning material has been developed. First of all BABEL Language School bases its class instruction on the personal presence of both the teacher’s and the student’s avatar. In the classroom Media Boards with the complete content of the current unit are used, which also are handed out to the student for homework. Some lessons will also be held as “field studies”, which for example could be to take a walk in the school’s park or to visit other well-chosen locations in Second Life, using the foreign language on what one sees and experiences.

At the moment BABEL offers beginner level courses in the following languages:

– Dutch

– English / American

– German

– Italian

– Spanish

– French

– Danish

– Russian

– Chinese

Classes are either in groups from 4-8 students, highly intensive with 2-3 students or intensive individually lessons with only one student on different price levels.

Although the content could vary depending on the language to learn and depending on the needs of the students, a typical structure could be:

The beginner level would be available from

– Monday in a given week. This class will continue at

– Thursday in the same week

and on Mondays and Thursdays for all the following weeks as long as the student keeps the membership of the group.

The Monday courses will focus on usual needs such as presentation, housekeeping, gardening, building, establishing, buying and selling, at work and on phone.

The Thursday courses will focus on leisure and love issues such as making appointments, suggest ideas, make a conversation run, express feelings and wishes, ordering drinks or other needs in a polite way.