Thursday, October 1, 2020

8 Ways to Support Teachers Integrate Technology

A collaboration between Good and Kiss Me I'm Polish, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Implementing Effective Technological Change: What a Classroom Teacher needs
1. Many teacher’s discoveries of how to use Web 2.0 tools and new applications occur when they are simply trawling the net for new and innovative teaching strategies. Teachers need more time to discover; discover new Web tools, discover new websites, discover new delivery methods.  One tool or resource by itself is often limiting but when you combine it with another, and sometimes another again, the resulting classroom activity can have a profound effect on learning outcomes 
2. Teachers need opportunities for innovative learning projects to be discussed and planned.  They need feedback from colleagues on what they are doing successfully in the classroom.  They need opportunities to deconstruct a unit; identify weaknesses and develop existing strengths.  Teachers need a chance to brainstorm and evaluate better delivery methods and more efficient use of the available technology. 
3. Teachers need opportunities to share technology learnings. What works in large classes?  What do your students like?  What technology do you have access to?  I have heard about that tool but how do you actually incorporate it into a unit?  What are your favourite tech tools?  Can you teach me how to use that?  How do you find appropriate tools to achieve solid learning outcomes?  How do you go about developing your units of work that are technology rich?
4. Teachers need time with colleagues to workshop practical strategies for classroom activities; How to engage your students.  What size groups achieve the best results? What strategies do you use for organising group work?  What not to do next time? How to get around difficulties.  How do you ensure equality of workload in collaborative learning environments?
5. Teachers need time to assimilate new concepts, like student involvement in unit development.  They need to discuss the notion of students as teachers. What did the students think helped them learn?  What activities did they like?  What activities taught them new skills?  What would they do if they were the teacher?  How might they have set up the assessment tasks?  What Web 2 tools would they suggest to meet the stated outcomes?  Teachers need the chance to have pedagogical discussion with their students.
6. We all need to develop simple effective ways to involve other staff at our schools.  How do we share the load?  How have you got other staff excited about incorporating technology?  How do we continue to support them in this journey?  How do we provide a positive environment to encourage further experimentation with pedagogy?  AND, How do we capture the recalcitrant?
7. We all need to continue to develop resources that introduce effective technology to our staff.  Teachers love technology cheats sheets.  How to use Prezi in the Classroom?  How to use Podcasting to promote social values?  Making History interesting with Digital timelines?  These are often constructed by enthusiastic teachers and then passed around.  Why do we all re-invent the wheel?  A central bank of these in your district or region would make so much more sense.  We all just contribute one each from our own area of expertise.
8. I find that very few new teachers are really aware of the effective use of Web 2.0 tools when they come out of university.  In fact some have hardly even heard the term Web 2.0. Experienced teaching staff need to introduce starting teachers to these ideas to foster greater learning and support.  We need to be insisting that these ideas of collaborative online learning and innovative web based tools be taught at all Universities.  We need to keep blooding the new, young staff member into the online habitat that our students now live.  We should be continually identifying innovative and talented people to ensure that they receive the appropriate in-servicing and support to move forward with enthusiasm and energy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Using Web 2.0 Tools in Schools

I love the notion of Web 2.0 tools. These tools allow my students, family and friends to produce all types of creative artifacts. You can create digital timelines which include video and photographs, you can document the family tree on geneaological sites or you can create a multimedia presentations on a long dead personality or artist. Web 2 tools have allowed us to create and then share these artifacts using social networking sites, wikis or even our own website. We can use Web 2 tools to voice an opinion or debate an issue, we can buy or even review products we have bought online on an e-commerce site, and for the most part these things are free. Sometimes learning is part of the interactive process that occurs.
It always surprises me when I hear teachers commenting on the fact that a Web 2 Tool has started to charge. It is as though these companies should be offering these services for free out of some sense of altruism. We are happy to use these products to;
  • improve the learning of our students
  • create engaging learning spaces
  • allow students ownership of text and ideas
  • create work of increasing complexity and
  • reach an authentic audience.
But can we really complain when we have to pay for access to these same products? 
The Web 2.0 Misconception:
We as educators have the benefit of these free products while they are under the Beta Testing phase. In a way we have access to these tools for free because we are providing a service for these companies - we (the collective users) conduct their Beta testing for them. The bugs in the coding, the glitches in the system or the problems with embedding are all ironed out during this phase. We, as the Beta users benefit from this symbiotic relationship with an extended free trial.

ur Online Integration:
Some of these web based tools are exceptionally good applications. They have been designed to allow collaboration, include chat facilities and even email notifications or RSS feeds. They have been developed with easy to use interfaces that people can navigate through without the need for further skill development. Some have features that allow you to connect, use or integrate with other Web tools. In short many have become an everyday tool that people have incorporated into their online routines. 
Web 2.0 Solution:
I can think of half a dozen Web 2 tools that have gone pay-to-use in the last twelve to eighteen months; Inspiration, Xtranormal, Ning and in the last week or so Webspiration. There has been on ongoing discussion on education blogs and websites like Learnitin5 about whether teachers would continue to us Ning now that you have to pay for it.  Many teachers have already found alternatives like Moodle, Edmodo or Drupal. This is how many people deal with these commercial decisions, they find the next alternative. 
This is an important point for us as educators. It is not about teaching our students how to use a particular application. The application is just the vehicle for the learning. We are providing them with the skills to evaluate the tools available and to use the one most appropriate for the job. We are teaching our students how to think independently, how to research cleverly, where to locate salient and reliable information, how to decode the information and then to present it in such as way that it reinterprets those elements that are the focus of our inquiry. We do not need a Ning for this, we need the spirit of collaboration, we need an attitude of shared responsibility, we need a classroom where the learning occurs when students feel confident enough to fail. 
We need to treat Web 2 tools like they treat us; we use them until they are longer appropriate and then we find another one, and we do this in the spirit of adventure and change. We do this because each new tool that comes along does something more than the last, allows us to collaborate in new ways or combines existing technology in a way that we had not thought possible.

So the next time that your favourite Web 2 tool moves to pay-to-use, find an alternative, test out it's limitations, list it's advantages, get your students to see how they can mash it with other Web 2 tools and then share it with the rest of us.
Some alternatives:




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Twitter: Analyse the Stats of a # Hashtag

This is a great use of Twitter in education. This web tool allows you to type in any #hashtag and receive a bundle of stats of the tweets that used the tag. This is excellent for collecting information around a specific topic or issue. Your students can see the top words, top url's that are feeding the tweets and even which users are using the tag the most. Click on any of the boxes and a detailed pop-up appears with a comprehsive break down of all the statistics for that category - very cool!

Wouldn't it be interesting to see if any of these users had agendas or even a political bias around the issue.

These stats would also be good to use in conjunction with a study of issues from traditional media sources.

Who gets the scoop first?
Who has the bigger reach?
Who generates the most traffic?

The added bonus is that it also shows you all the most recent tweet traffic below the stats. Not only is this a great tool but it is beautifully presented as an inforgraphic. The information is easily read, deciphered and therefore understood by your students. Have a play with your faviourite #hashtags.

Monday, September 28, 2020

40 Interesting Ways to use QR Codes in the Classroom

QR codes are having a mini resurgence lately. We started to use them in class last year as another way of creating self portraits. One of my students took this new found tool to a new level and used it as a way of creating graffiti. It was wheatpasted on so he felt it was a legal form of protest. The poster came off with water and a scrubbing brush.

I was at a conference last term and all the sessions and speaker's details were placed up on a wall in the foyer using QR Codes. It was a great way of distributing the information but it also worked as a conversation starter for many of the participants.

 How to make your QR Codes more Beautiful was one of our most popular post in the last month and the ITSC in Philadelphia had multiple sessions on the use of QR codes in the classroom so I thought it might be worthwhile reposting this.

This presentation has been around for quite a while but it is worth revisiting.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2020

Jane Hart has been surveying and compiling this Top Tools for Learning list for 14 years. It is one of the best lists for teachers to use to investigate online tools for use in their classrooms. The crowdsourced nature of the results ensures others have found the tools useful and beneficial to their students learning. It’s like the old adage - “The cream rises to the top.”

I find in useful to cross reference with those tools that I continue to use just to see if people have found better alternatives. It also allows me to make sure I have not missed one of the new tools that may offer improved features or do something completely new. 

Spend some time on the C4LPT site to really investigate some of these Web 2.0 tools. Also check out the Graphic Analysis of the results in the different categories.

Monday, December 5, 2011

10 Tools for Getting the Most from Dropbox

1. Dropbox Copy

dropbox copy plugin Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting

This simple application adds the copy button within your right click menu option letting you transfer files to dropbox and also copies the URL in your clipboard so that you can share faster.

2. DropItToMe

dropittome Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
Is a secure online application created to help you set up a upload process protected with password known by you and someone who wishes to send you a large document or file.

3. Picplz

picplz dropbox app Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
Is a photo sharing application available for iPhone and Android users. Picplz let’s you manage photos with style and create interesting galleries which can be shared with ease. Now the service provides features to let you create your own photo streaming through Dropbox.

4. Dropbox Forms

dropbox forms Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
A service hosted by Jotforms. It allows you to create online forms where people come, create documents or leave impressions, write for you and then Dropbox forms automatically synchronizes the content with your Dropbox account.

5. DropVox

 If you’re a big fan of the audio note-to-self but you’d like more flexibility than the iPhone’s default Voice Memos app, DropVox may be for you. It’s a simple audio-recording app that links with and uploads M4A recordings directly to your Dropbox account. By default recordings go in a DropVox folder in the root of your Dropbox account, but you can set this to any folder you prefer in the app’s preferences. (You can also set the app to record immediately on launch.)

6. MailDrop

maildrop dropbox Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
It is an advanced backup tool designed to help you save your important emails and conversations from your email account. MailDrop can even choose which folder of your email you want to backup.

7. FileStork

filestork dropbox app Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
An easy and very secure way for Dropbox users around the world to request files from each other. All you have to do is to register, send a request and then the file will be uploaded to Dropbox and you will have full access.

8. Send To Dropbox

send to dropbox Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
This application will collect all attachments you receive on your email account and automatically synchronize them with your Dropbox.

9. URL Droplet

url droplet Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
If someone sends you a file which is hosted on a server and you are not comfortable with downloading it on the computer your using, then URL Droplet will download the file to your Dropbox just by entering the URL in the box.

10. ePubBooks

epubbooks Best 12 Dropbox Apps To Make Things Even More Interesting
Is a marketplace where you can download eBooks and synchronize them automatically on your Dropbox account.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

British Newspaper Archive - Great History Resource

The British Newspaper Archive has scanned millions of pages of historical newspapers and made them available online for the first time ever. Search millions of articles by keyword, name, location, date or title and watch your results appear in an instant. Compare this with hours of painstaking manual searching through hard copies or microfilm often requiring a visit to the British Library in North London and it is easy to appreciate the ground breaking nature of this project.

You can search;
News Articles - read about national events, as well as issues of local and regional importance. News articles are your window into daily life in historical Britain.
Family Notices - search for your family's birth, marriage and death notices plus related announcements including engagements, anniversaries, birthdays and congratulations.
Letters - read letters to the editor written by the newspaper's readers, including illuminating contemporary debates, aspirations and anxieties.
Obituaries view contemporary information on the lives of notable individuals and ancestors.
Advertisements - these include classifieds, shipping notices and appointments..Illustrations - see photographs, engravings, graphics, maps and editorial cartoons.
Small excerpt- first hand account of the Battle of Waterloo

Friday 10 November 1815

This is an excellent resource for Modern History. Access newspaper reports and stories from the days immediately after the event you are studying. This is an opportunity to view the Primary Source within it’s original context - a newspaper. 
  • What other articles were in the newspaper that day?
  • What were the letters to the editors about?
  • What local or national issues were also being discussed?
  • What advertisements were displayed?
  • What was the bias of the newspaper in question?
  • How were the incidents reported on over the following days?
  • Locate great quotes from historical figure involved.
Classroom Activities:
There is a wealth of information, facts, figures and images all located in a verifiable primary source. The activities that this resource suggests is mind blowing. Imagine creating a series of research quests that your students have to complete in order to complete the course.  Students could;
  • Map out articles about a particular issue over time
  • Gauge public opinion about international incidents
  • Document the action and words of public figure, politician or monarchs
  • Collect attributable dialogue for role plays or re-enactments
  • Ceate a snapshot of everyday life in a particular era through the study of advertisements
  • Publish there own textbook based on articles collected from a specific era 
  • Collect political cartoons of the day

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Smyface - Know Exactly How Your Students Are Feeling

At first Smyface looks like a cute little toy but this is an excellent tool for gauging the mood and feelings of your students in a safe non-threatening way. Smyface is an excellent example of how technology can assist in the pastoral care of your students. It gives a very real voice to a shy or quiet kid but more importantly it gives a voice to those kids that we would consider to be “at risk.”
For many of the students that we teach Smyface may be irrelevant most of the time but for those students who are struggling with their work or do not understand a maths problem this is a safe and easy way for them to let you know how much it is effecting them. All they need to do is pick a face, write how they feel and email it to you. Very simple!

I might run this as a three minute reflection at the beginning of the day and then repeat it again at the end of the day. The beauty of Smyface is the second half of the idea;
Your students can actually tell you what is wrong without having that conversation that many may not have because they find it embarrassing. This might be even more important for a student that is suffering from bullying, has a really sick parent or grandparent or is in a situation that requires intervention.
This is a fun and engaging tool that might encourage students to open up to a significant adult. It could even be used as a way of introducing the concept of emotions, feelings and empathy - especially with boys. What a good way to illustrate how our actions have an impact on how other people feel. This cute little toy could be the catalyst for a real learning moment.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Web 2.0 Multimedia History Project

This post has also been posted at Appsineducation

The Mountain Lakes School District invited students and residents to archive their homes’ history. Together they commemoratde their town’s centennial by creating a digital archive of their community’s unique architectural style and revealed the stories behind their Hapgood homes.
Perhaps you have heard the old phrase, “If these wall could talk.” Well, now by using QR Codes, smartphone apps, and websites such as HistoryPin, they will be able to make their walls talk! 
Read the full article here to see the full pages and watch the video tutorials.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Education Eye

Education Eye allows the user to discover, explore and share new ideas. It maps hundreds of top educational websites, blogs, forums and case studies to provide up to date information about innovative ideas being explored in the education community. The information is then present in a visual format that is itself interactive. Type in your search term and let it find the relevant articles, websites or links. This is a innovative tool from Futurelab and well worth a visit.

How Education Eye works
As an internet and social network mapper, the Eye collects and indexes content from hundreds of websites, blogs, news sites and others. It gives you fast search results to find content relevant to education. We've trained it to filter masses of content to find the stuff that is relevant (so you don't have to). We then index it really cleverly. We contextualise the results and map links between articles to help you discover innovations that you also might be interested in. We check social networks like Delicious and Twitter to see what people are saying about these items to help reinforce how they are indexed, and we even cross-reference every article against each other to help provide context and make sure you find the best quality and relevance. It's complicated, it's really robust and it's doing a lot in the background, but the end result is simple and hopefully really useful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Catchfree: Compare and Find the Best Web Tools Solutions

This is a very cool website. It asks you what type of tool you are looking for and then present you with five options. These are ranked in user popularity. What I like about this tool is the options. Often someone recommends a Web Tool to me and I find it clumsy or hard to use. The beauty of this website is that I have 4 other options on offer. Surely I can find one that suits the way I work or the way my students learn.

The image above is from the home page. This is sort of cool too because there are tasks here I do everyday day and alway use the same tools for. I am going to make an effort to investigate some of these other tools - if not for me than at least as another option for my students.

 Just check out the options available. This is a very useful tool to add to your arsenal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Massively Minecraft

I have been introduced to Minecraft on a number of fronts this month. I have been watching the work of Dean Groom on twitter and on his blog about Massively Minecraft. Dean is a lecturer of Human Development Design at Macquarie University in Sydney Australia. He and a small group of intrepid educators - Bianca Hewes, Jo Kay, Judy O’Connell and Kerry Johnson have created a safe and monitored network for students to play in, discover and learn using the Minecraft platform. By coincidence I also had a 4th year university prac student who was also interested in including the notion of Minecraft into lessons. I have now built some basic structures in Minecraft but am nothing but a novice. I might let the experts explain.
Massively Minecraft is a Guild based learning community for kids aged 4-16 who are interested in developing digital media skills, exploring their creativity and developing online social skills using the video game Minecraft. 
Our guild is a social-enterprise, founded in mid 2011 for parents, teachers, schools and researchers as players in an open world to learn together, using game-theory and our experience of developing process networks in virtual worlds.

To add your kid to the game, we require them to be accompanied by a parent, care giver or teacher. These do not have to play at the same time (all the time), however as a Guild they are expected to support their own children in undertaking the awards and to help other kids in the game when they ask for it. The main skill an adult needs is empathy with kids and their creativity. Generally speaking, all the players want is support and interest. To this end, the game-space is not a babysitting service. If you are not prepared to spend a few hours a week playing with your own and other children towards them achieving success, then this Guild is not for you. 
If however, you do want your kids to be involved in a growing supporting game-community which is focused on social inclusion, diversity, creativity and celebrating the hard work and skills kids are developing around digital-space - or want to know how game's improve learning, then join the Guild.
This is an interesting experiment in the use of Game Based Learning to foster some real love of learning from very young students. I would be interested to see the long term effects of this collaborative exercise and the learning of collaborative skills by the students. I love the notion of accomplishment and motivation in this concept. Drop in and have a look at what they are attempting to achieve.

All of this is especially relevant with the announcement of mobile Minecraft in the last couple of days. This new Minecraft Pocket edition will mean lot more students can be assessing this platform on their mobile devices.