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[edit] Alternative Means of Learning

The primary focus of post-secondary education historically has been classroom learning. In this style students sit in a large auditorium and listen to a professor lecture on a particular topic while they take notes. However, as the world around us is changing at an ever increasing pace, so too must education and the way in which colleges and universities approach educating their students. While university courses are still predominately classroom based, cooperative education and technologically integrated courses are in increasing demand. As technology becomes a greater part of our everyday lives and work places, post-secondary schools must adapt to integrate these tools into their educational models. This is necessary to increase education's relevance in the dynamic world around us. In addition, the innovation and adaptation of these education styles keep students interested and challenged, while providing a more interactive means of learning. An increasing number of employers are expecting individuals leaving universities to have experience in the workplace as well as the academic and technological knowledge required for the job. Students who are not involved with a learning system that allows growth in both job related and technological skills may begin to have difficult completing for employment. Overall, post-secondary education, much like every industry around the world, must evolve and adapt in order to remain relevant in a dynamic and fast paced society. As the economy shifts from a manufacturing landscape to a knowledge and service based environment so should our educational practices and preparing university level students with the tools and cognitive abilities necessary to succeed [1].

[edit] Cooperative Education

[edit] What is Cooperative Education?

Experiential learning is a broad term referring to a number of innovative ideas and systems used to provide students with job-based learning opportunities[2]. Cooperative education is one of the ideas that originally emerged in the early twentieth century.

Cooperative education at the university level is a mix of classroom and practical learning[3]. The practical or experiential learning takes place in work or co-op terms where the student enters the labour force in a related career area.

[edit] History

Cooperative programs have been around for a over a century but are still not considered the mainstream method of teaching post- secondary curriculum. Herman Schneider launched the first university cooperative education program at the University of Cincinnati in 1906[4] After having observed the most successful students in his engineering program, and noting that those students had experience in the field before graduation, Schneider stressed that there was a need to provide an alternative method of learning that directly related to the work environment. According to Schnieder, and a number of other universities which followed suit, attending class wasn't enough.
The construction industry is an excellent example of the evolution of practical learning. Individuals often begin at a low level position and are trained by other workers how to properly accomplish a number of tasks. Kramer noted that this allowed the industry to begin promoting individuals to higher positions from within the company[5]. After the 1940's construction specific academic programs began to emerge related to a variety of construction specific trade skills. Today, a large number of programs that belong to the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) require mandatory work experience to be included along side classroom education in their respective undergraduate curriculums”[5].

[edit] Why is Co-operative Education Different or Innovative?

One of the aspects that makes co-op educations attractive to students is the ability to earn money while they are enrolled in school. Compared to ordinary student jobs individuals are placed with in their field of study, earning pay and experience. At some universities the typical employment rate for a co-op term is up to 95%[6]. Furthermore, a co-op student gets the practice experience of working inside a company and putting the latest theories and ideas into action. Ultimately the student is better equipped to deal with real world problems. Schnieder's work enrolling a variety of tool and die shops for his co-op programs demonstrated industry demand for and the support of workers who already had an idea of the problems faced by their industry[7].

[edit] Advantages

Co-op programs may produce students that are more experienced, better off financially, well connected and have a better chance at employment upon graduation. Today when thousands are graduating with the same degree and entering the workforce, already having relevant experience gives an individual an advantage.

  • One of the main problems that the co-op program addresses is the experience gap upon graduation. Employers may feel that an engineer with no experience is more of a burden than an engineer who has already worked in the industry. Upon graduation co-op students already have related job experience, in many programs ranging from 8 to 12 months. This allows new graduates to circumvent the 2 year experience dilemma, the fact that most entry level positions require around 2 years of experience, that many graduates face[8].
  • According to Forbes' “Why College Co-Op Programs Totally Rock” for 6 months worth of work an American co-op student can make between $11,000 and $18,000 on average [9]. The university of Waterloo pegs that amount between $25,000 and $74,000 over the length of one of their programs[6]. The ability to earn money while enrolled in school can help offset rising tuition costs.
  • It is possible to even be offered a job where at the company hosting your co-op placement[8].). Co-op placements can give students an edge when it comes to competing for positions within that company. This is often due to the advantage of already knowing people inside the company and in turn being recognized by the management[9].
  • Co-op programs give students the opportunity to practice what they have learned[3]. This gives students the opportunity to witness first hand why the information they are being taught is important
  • Onink, a writor for Forbes magazine and an expert in planner for university costs, attests that co-op students have a better chance of being hired upon graduation and also incur lower student related debts. Upon graduation a co-op student in the States will be $30, 000 to $60,000 better off than a non co-op peer[9]. Data collected by The University of Waterloo on it's co-op graduates suggests that their co-op graduates enter the workforce earning 15% more on average than a student from a non-co-op program[6]. Therefore, if the field of study pays $35,000 at entry level a student with a co-op degree could expect to earn, on average, $40,250.

[edit] Effect on Academic Achievement

According to the Canadian Council of Learning (CCL) at the secondary school level co-op education has a positive effect on retention and drop out rates. They found no negative impact on the grades of individuals enrolled in co-op programs, however there are no conclusive findings suggesting there is no increase either [10]. This effect on secondary school students has yet to be replicated at the post secondary level. However, research done in 2008 by Kramer on American college students suggests that there may be an advantage for some students, contrary to the findings presented by the CCL. Kramer asserts that for the best and worst academic performers there is no effect on grades, however, for those who lie in between, there are improvements[5]. Therefore, for the average university student there may be an academic benefit to enrolling in a co-op program

[edit] Co-op Education in Practice

Currently Waterloo University has the single largest post secondary Co-op program in the world. It currently serves over 16500 students across 120 programs. The style of program is incredibly popular and has now spread to over 100 colleges and universities across Canada [6].

--Jm11ad 23:51, 4 April 2013 (EDT)

[edit] Technology in the classroom

[edit] Integrating Technology Into the Post-secondary Classrooms

In traditional classroom settings the general focus of the teacher and course curriculum is to develop logical and linear thinking in students, but with the use of computers and other new media in the classroom there is the opportunity to foster more flexible thought and creativity in both the course work and in the students’ abilities [11]. Computers can help to expand an individual’s ability to generate thought and manipulate more readily available knowledge faster and more effectively than ever before. This allows us to take on more complex and advanced problems than before [11]. The integration of technology into post-secondary education systems is a culmination that has been a long time in the making. Computers have been used in universities as far back as the 1960’s but did not become widely accepted as an educational tool until much later when their benefits became more evident and the job economy had more of a demand for it. Ever since the emergence of the internet and personal laptop computers, universities and college’s have been feeling the demand for integrating these new forms of technology into the way that they educate their students. Today there are more than just spreadsheets and word processing software on computers found in educational settings. These range from podcasts on an iPod or even a cell phone to streaming video lectures, electronic mail to face to face video chats between project group members, digital editing and creation of photographs and videos to online surveys and quizzes.
Schools such as Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken recent steps to integrate technology into their curriculum, developing online education to the point of creating classes that are freely available online [12]. University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus has professors that are teaching classes almost entirely online, even to the point of “at least two classes, ... students get together through their avatars”[13] which are individually personable interactive characters that the students design themselves, without ever having to step foot inside the classroom. These online courses, perhaps not to this extent, are becoming more common in the ever changing makeup of higher education, as well as the integration of other less extreme forms of technological integration, such as tablet and online information distribution.

[edit] The Roles of Technology in Education

Robert Bruce (1989)[14] identified that technology in education can be classified as fulfilling two types of functions:

[edit] Information Processing

  1. Storage of media that can be used at a later date or future generations (photos and videos)
  2. Transmission of information can include posting marks or streaming video lectures
  3. Accessibility to far away landscapes or the ability to study the human body with out having to perform surgery
  4. Manipulation of words, numbers and photographs among other mediums into newly edited forms, graphs and charts that can better relay the information
  5. Presentation and Display of information whether by video, slideshows and newer interactive media such as a website or blog

[edit] Educational Processing

  1. Managing the educational experience can now be controlled by students, though primarily by the educator, with a focus on the sequence, content and pacing of material being presented
  2. Providing feedback to the student after an online quiz and practice questions or immediate notification of the level of plagiarism found in student assignments
  3. Simulation of an actual environment that can be used to manipulate data in real life applications such as stock market competitions and developing financial models
  4. Abstraction can allow for minor details to be removed that may exist in the real world and allow for the critical elements to remain that can emphasize learning of this material

[edit] Methods of delivery

[edit] Learning Management Systems

The increase in connectivity provided to university students is profound given that 83% of them own a computer [15] and that every university has at least one dedicated computer lab coupled with wireless internet access [16]. As well, most schools across Canada engage in some form of digital integration during their class lectures, whether this be through the form of lecture notes being posted on student accessible school servers, or even online lectures posted by professors for students to access from the comfort of their own home. Platforms such as Sakai and Blackboard are learning management systems (LMS) that facilitates educator’s capabilities to engage with students in their class or by specific groups, upload course material, accept student assignments and share feedback more effectively and efficiently than before [16].

[edit] Podcasts, Tablets and Streaming Media

Some methods to relay information quickly and effectively to many people who are limited by time and proximity are podcasting and streaming video [17] [18]. Podcasts are lessons created by the teacher that are either in video or an audio only format which can be downloaded by students and listened to through a mobile audio device (e.g iPod) or cell phone[17]. This allows for more flexibility in the time and location that the course material can be absorbed [17]. Students rated this method of delivery as equally effective as in class lectures but more beneficial and efficient as it tended to focus on the important details of material [17]. Liu et al. (2009) [18] found that streaming media, predominantly ones that incorporate audio, video and text simultaneously increased both the students' perceptions of its perceived usefulness and also the attention paid towards it. Some schools have integrated tablet technology into their classes [19],by allowing and sometimes even providing students with the ability to use personal tablets in classroom settings. This is useful for instructors so that they are able to utilize these tools to maximize how much information is relayed.

[edit] Online Based Courses

There are also online- based courses available on the internet today from credible institutions Stanford and other Ivy League schools, as well as Khan Academy and Coursera that offer free university level courses without school credit but provide beneficial knowledge and skill development through legitimate course work and instruction [20] [21] [22]. These classes have online assignments and lectures to complete that a typical post- secondary institution would charge hundreds of dollars for and allows for it to be accessed by anyone, anywhere. Stanford first offered three courses online in 2012 that over 350,000 people from 190 countries expressed interest in and 43,000 individuals completed one or more of these classes [20].

[edit] Perspectives on Technology's Usefulness

[edit] Students' Perspectives on Technology and Its Use Inside the Classroom

The current generation that is attending post-secondary education system is a generation that has grown up during the emergence of an incredible technological age and witnessed the transformation into this digital world that has developed around them. For most of these students, the true impact of this technological integration into their education begins in University. One particular study in the United Kingdom looked at student’s response to an increase in the amount of online material, such as class slides and online notes, that was available for their classes, which were newly combining online lecture material with in-class discourse. The response from these students was an great success, with the majority of students truly appreciating and making full use of the online availability of course material which allowed them to increase their chances of understanding course material by reviewing it before it was discussed in class [23]. Also, students found that reviewing material online before class helped them focus more during class time, one student quoted saying “I didn’t have to panic about writing it all down and was therefore able to listen more”[23] One key emphasis that almost all students made, however, is that this online resource was an excellent supplement to their education, but should not replace their in-class lectures. Students motivations to learn and their communication skills fostered through increased familiarity with technology will improve, as will their belief in its usefulness to obtain employment [24].

[edit] Teachers' Perspectives on Technology and Its Use in the Classroom

Teacher’s Perspectives on Technology and its use in the classroom The infrastructure for the usage of technology in and outside of the classroom is already in place, but the key stone that holds it together is with the educator. Without proper teacher education and training they are unfamiliar with the technology and are limited by their knowledge and ability to implement into their curriculum. Ultimately it is up to the faculty of these post-secondary institutions to decide if these advances will be integrated, and if so to what extent. There seem to be two distinct camps in this debate, those who believe in using the technology and those who do not, with many factors affecting where each faculty member stands, one of which is their level of expertise with technology. As younger teachers that have been educated on these tools and believe they are useful are more likely and able to integrate it with their classwork better and more effectively [24] [1]. This requires more teacher preparation but assists in creativity in the classroom for both the educator and pupil while facilitating the course’s learning goals, improving participation and assisting in a deeper understand of the technology and material being taught [1]. One study, which asked faculty members of a university to report on how well they felt the understood and were able to use the technology that was provided in their classrooms, reported that when asked “fewer than 40% of the faculty population self reported that they had good to expert knowledge of or experience with instructional technology.”.[25]. This same study found “a positive correlation between adoption (of technology) status and four sources of training”[25], “training” implying courses/tutorials that instructors could engage in to increase their understanding and ability to use these technologies. Another study found that 80% of instructors surveyed listed success with other technologies as their main reasons for integrating technology into their courses [26]. Another resource was developed by Newlin and Wang at the University of Central Florida to help faculty members integrate technology into their educational programs through core principles of Undergraduate education: [27]:

  1. Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty
  2. Develop Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
  3. Use Active Learning Techniques
  4. Give Prompt Feedback
  5. Emphasize Time-on-Task
  6. Communicate High Expectations
  7. Respect Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

One important distinction that many teachers made throughout Newlin and Wang’s research, much like that of their student counterparts, is that technology should be used as an addition or tool in the classroom setting, not a replacement for classroom style courses, the teachers adding that “adoption of technology would not improve poor teaching skills”[25].

-- mh05sz Apr. 5, 2013 3:48 am --Kp08ta 15:13, 5 April 2013 (EDT)

[edit] Notes and References

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Loveless, A., Burton, J., & Turvey, K. (2006). Developing conceptual frameworks for creativity, ICT and teacher education. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 1, 3-13.
  2. Lee, 2007, p. 37
  3. 3.0 3.1 Youth Canada.(December 14, 2012). Co-operative Education. Retrieved from
  4. Wikipedia/Cooperative education. (n.d.). Retrieved Febuary 14, 2013 from Wikipedia:
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kramer, S. W., (2008). Does prior project management work experience have an effect on the academic achievement of university students in the classroom? International Journal of Construction Education and Research. 4 (1), p. 18-33.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 University of Waterloo.(n.d.). Why co-op?. Retrieved from:
  7. Wikipedia/Cooperative education. (n.d.). Retrieved Febuary 14, 2013 from Wikipedia:
  8. 8.0 8.1  J.Randhawa , & D. Relihan,. (2011, May 5). Why co-op is now more important than ever [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Onink, T.,(Feburary 27, 2012). Why College Co-Op Programs Totally Rock. Retrieved from
  10. Canadian Council for Learning. (2009).The Impact of Experiential Learning Programs on Student Success(1st revision).:Canadian Council on Learning.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hokanson, B., & Hooper, S. (2000). Computers as cognitive media: Examining the use of computers in education. Computers in Human Behavior, 16, 537-552.
  12. Morgan, M. C. (2012). An online opportunity for Canadian universities. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
  13. Rockel, N. (2012). Chips and apps: How emerging tech will change education. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
  14. Bruce, R. (1989). Creative and instructional technology: Great potential, imperfectly studied. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 14, 241-256.
  15. Leiboff, M.D. (2010). Is there a future for computer labs? Campus Technology. Retrieved from
  16. 16.0 16.1 Chen, P.D., Lambert, A.D., & Guidry, K.R. (2010). Engaging online learners: The impact of web-based learning technology on college student engagement. Computers & Education, 54, 1222-1232.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Evans, C. (2008). The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Computers & Education, 50, 491-498.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Liu, S., Liao, H., & Pratt, J.A. (2009). Impact of media richness and flow on e-learning technology acceptance. Computers & Education, 52, 599-607.
  19. Mang, C. F., & Wardley, L. J. (2012). Effective adoption of tablets in post-secondary education: Recommendations based on a trial of iPads in university classes. Journal of Information Technology Education, 11(3), 301-317.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Beckett, J. (2012). Stanford offers more free online classes for the world. Stanford Report. Retrieved from
  21. Khan, S. (2011). Let’s use video to reinvent education. TED Talks. Retrieved from
  22. Koller, D. (2012). What we’re learning from online education. TED Talks. Retrieved from
  23. 23.0 23.1 Saunders, G., & Klemming, F. (2003). Integrating technology into a traditional learning environment: Reasons for and risks for success.Active Learning In Higher Education, 4(1), 74-86. doi:10.1177/1469787403004001006
  24. 24.0 24.1 Gialamas, V., Nikolopoulou, K., & Koutromanos, G. (2013). Student teachers’ perceptions about the impact of internet usage on their learning and jobs. Computers & Education, 62, 1-7.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Berryhill, A., & Durrington, V. A. (2009). Instructional technology investments in higher Education: Are faculty using the technology?. College & University Media Review, 15(1), 25-45.
  26. Osika, E., Johnson, R. Y., & Buteau, R. (2009). Factors influencing faculty use of technology in online instruction: A case study.Online Journal Of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1), 7.
  27. Newlin, M., & Wang, A. (n.d). Integrating technology and pedagogy: Web instruction and seven principles of undergraduate education.Teaching Of Psychology, 29(4), 325-330.

[edit] Additional References

Darby, J. (1992). The future of computers in teaching and learning. Computers & Education, 19, 193-197.

Diop, C., & Updike, C. (2010). Teaching with technology = Teamwork. Visual Resources Association Bulletin, 37(3), 30-34.

MacKinnon, G. R. (2007). A decade of laptop computers: The impact on the pedagogy of university faculty. Journal Of Instruction Delivery Systems, 21(3), 7-20.

Pagliaro, J. (2009). How IT is helping educators engage students in new ways. Maclean’ Retrieved from

Rogers, D. L. (2000). A paradigm shift: Technology integration for higher education in the new millennium. AACE Journal, 1(13), 19-33.

Taub, E. A. (2010). The web way to learn a language. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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