StudyBlue : an innovative way to study?

What do teachers do to help out inefficient students in school? Would one solution be to give them greater possibilities to use technological educational tools? Here is one basic application that does not seem to be a hassle too much to discover, use, and present to students. The name: StudyBlue.

At the moment, near 6 million students share over 250 million study tools to attain their studying goals. The application is free and can be downloaded on the following platforms: android, iPad, iPhone, iPad Touch, Kindle Fire and Chromebook.

What can it do for you?

The title says it pretty much, it is a tool that teachers and students can use to facilitate studying. As Bruce B says, this application makes grown-ups wish they were back in school because it makes studying easier. The main goal of this application is to create flashcards. But is also allows students to create traditional review sheets. Resources come from anywhere or be limited from your school or specific class. The application permits to connect with classmates and peers.You can also set reminders by contact email or by mobile alert. In addition, both teachers and students can work together on the site while teachers monitor.

There is a newly added function of community notes which gives individuals the possibility to create their own study tools or use others’ studying materials similar to what GoodSemester does as EdTech Times Staff mentions in their review. The practical thing about it is that if you own a mobile, you have access to your studying tools and others’ anywhere you are and can make online flashcards on the go. According to Jason Carr buying packs of index cards is now a thing from the past and this tool is advantageous because of the accessibility of the wide array of studying materials that it provides.Mr. Carr even adds that it can actually speed up the learning process of those who like to follow along with a lesson plan.

How to study?

The site is well organized and simple. To be user friendly, the app holds a help center to answer any arising question.To customize your study experience, a deck can be selected among three possible options available: flip cards, a review sheet or quizzes. The quizzes come in the format of multiple choices, true or false questions or type the answer. Choosing the quantity of cards and putting them in different orders can also be selected according to your preference. When studying is finished, a screen showing the overall score and progress will appear and makes it easy to see how fast you improve. Then, you can start over again or just study the flashcards that were missed. There is an offline mode that allows you to access study materials in the Recently Studied list. The exception to this option is that no scores will be added to track progress.

In the BackPack section, interest folders can be created, decks and study guides can be inserted by dragging them into it. Flashcards can be shared with the class or just your classmates. It is also possible to print your learning material as flashcards in two colors or as a review sheet.

Even though this application was first created for college and post-graduate students, elementary teachers have introduced it in their classrooms.

Amber, an elementary teacher said: 

StudyBlue is a study tool using flashcards. You can use the app or the website. It looks really sharp. You can add images to cards and can easily look up content and search to use another person’s flashcard. StudyBlue will keep statistics on your performance and chart progress. StudyBlue works essentially just like real flashcards. You practice and put your cards into two decks. One is a set of cards you got right, and then you continue working with the cards you missed. I love that you are able to just isolate the cards you missed. Once you are done with flashcards StudyBlue will create a quiz based off of your cards.

Generally speaking, StudyBlue is a good tool to make those simple flashcards come alive on a digital device. But is the product really stimulating and entertaining? Will children like to use it again and again? The fact that the application is free and is easy to use is worth a try (it took about 15 minutes for one teacher to explain it to his grade 4 students). But if a teacher is looking for something more exciting for students as games, this is definitely not the tool for them. StudyBlue misses these features. Common Sense Media says that StudyBlue has privacy issues as well. The fact that people share materials, the public has also access to students’ phone numbers and email addresses. They recommend parents to look at the privacy settings. They mention the free version has benign banner ads and that the user interface can be frustrating to use.

Speaking for myself, the idea of creating such an application is quite fun and ingenious. Even though I consider myself as someone who very much likes to handle paper, I decided to download the application and create a simple deck of vocabulary flashcards with pictures, something easy to learn for young children. It is so simple that it is tempting to use it for my own studies.

As an elementary teacher, I would use this in a classroom for short periods of activities like in a workshop for students. Nowadays, children are fascinated by technology. This tool makes learning vocabulary easy and fun. Though it would not be the main attraction to students in the classroom since there are other products out there better suited for teaching and learning activities. With secondary students the application would come handier. First of all, most of them own their own mobiles and they would probably enjoy keeping track of their progress along the school year. I would make a list of all the vocabulary they need to acquire in the coming year and introduce it to them at the beginning of classes. It would enable them to take responsibility for their learning process. According to me, it would also facilitate the learning task because they would not juggle with papers and school notebooks in the bus, a common place where students like to review their notes especially just before exams. So, get rid of those cards and give StudyBlue a try too…Good luck in your studies!

StudyBlue : an innovative way to study?

Blackboard: a learning management system

Since a few years people are using more and more devices such as Smart Phones, Laptops and Tablets for their personal use. This tendency is increasing and one does not need to go very far to realize that usage of these gadgets is not only done in homes but everywhere. Just take the bus or go to the grocery store and chances are that you will come across many users of these practical devices. Many students own such tools and don’t just use them for fun but for educational purposes as well. An article written by David Nagel that was published in the Journal in 2013 talks about students’ use of digital technologies and its importance in their daily lives. According to a survey done for Pearson, an educational publisher, students would like to have these devices to be more present in schools. So this means that teachers have to adapt and integrate systems in which students will get more interested in the classroom.

Educational content management systems are tools that help teachers incorporate and use digital technologies in the classroom. There is an array of learning management systems (LMS) out there and it generated 1.9 billion dollars in 2013. While online providers such as Coursera and edX have impacted higher education and are still bringing change, others have broadened their clientele and adapted. They are now not just for higher education, but also indispensable parts of K-12 and business environments. One of the leading learning management systems is Blackboard.

The philosophy behind Blackboard is a passionate one about the future of education and they want to make learning a more interesting and meaningful process for students. Using Blackboard is bringing a classroom online. It gives teachers tools to engage, collaborate, grade and track assignments, just to name a few. It engages students in exciting ways reaching them on their devices, keeping them informed, involved and working in collaboration.Here is the testimony of an elementary teacher about blackboard:

Blackboard is a place for me to house
all information that I want my students
to access. When they walk into the
classroom they are already getting
started—they grab a computer, they
check their email, they check Blackboard
to see what’s new for the day.”
PAULA BARR

But, Blackboard has a dark side, it is not a free system and is costly. The price depends on the needs of each school/organisation. It also requires someone on the ground to help you walk it step by step. Regardless, some people are still giving good comments about it and saying it is one of the most complete tool available on the market.

Enthusiasm rises as we explore Blackboard’s website and read about all the possible things that can be done to enhance a classroom. Furthermore, there are many positive comments about this platform. As an ESL teacher, I would be happy to work with it and integrate it to learning activities for the children. Since children are highly exposed to technology, as a teacher, there is no other choice than to bring this aspect in schools and explore the possibilities to keep children on tract and interested in their learning process. It would keep them from being bored of formal teaching and get them prepared for the future. This can be used as early as students in cycle one in small workshop activities since the management system works well with iPads. Since Blackboard has a blog, a journal section, Wikis, Discussion boards and more, higher level students can be connected to it even outside the classroom and keep tract of their learning progress. It’s a whole new world with many possibilities awaiting every curious child.

Blackboard: a learning management system