4.25.2013

Educational Technology Integration

I'm learning a lot of technology, how to keep up, and the tools available. I'm catching on to all of that, but I wondered...How do we integrate it? How are students and teachers using it to be more efficient, and effective? In pursuit of some answers I found an article from the CDE (Center for Digital Education). The article outlines:
Top-ranked school districts have been announced in the ninth annual Digital School Districts Survey by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The survey showcases exemplary school boards’ and districts’ use of technology to govern the district, communicate with students, parents and the community and to improve district operations.
Who better to learn from than award winning leaders? Here are some implementation ideas from these districts:
  • Skype or iChat to access important meetings if off site and can even be projected via live-cast onto the screen in the board room
  • Dashboards to measure assessments, teaching with mobile-friendly digital curriculum and using e-textbooks
  • Requiring students to take online classes for graduation and, beginning in the sixth grade students build and maintain a college and career-ready e-portfolio
Chart comparing using vs integrating technology
The chart above is from a blog on teachbytes. The blogger,

4.23.2013

Educations Technology Toolbox for the 21st Century

It seems overwhelming, doesn't it? It's not just a notepad and book anymore. Teaching and learning have become part of the tangled web of current technology. It seems impossible to keep on top of what is out there. I have always been one to feel like I'm on top of the new stuff. I noted in previous blogs that I too have a hard time wrapping my mind around the future of learning. I'm still reaching out to understand and fully embrace it. This video does a great job at simplifying the idea.


Hopefully, you took the time to view the video. Whether you are a student, parent, grandparent, or teacher, it is imperative that we pay attention to the future of education. Our ability to change, and embrace technology will determine the countries future.

I'm doing my part to continue to learn and evolve. I do love good resources, especially if it makes the job easier, look better, and perhaps even function better. The technology toolbox is just like our household toolbox. You have to be equipped with the right tools, and pick the correct one for the job. It could be the difference of hours, minutes, and whether you have a headache at the end or not.

One of the keys to having a prepared toolbox is to have come across a situation where you needed to solve a particular problem. If you're like me, you also like to be prepared ahead of the problem, so you ask around, you read, and maybe follow blogs or other resources of the like. Here are some of the items that I have in my toolbox.

WeVideo: Online Video Creation.

WeVideo makes video creation accessible to everyone, using cloud-based technologies to make it easier, faster and more convenient. Because it's cloud-based, we make social video editing possible, where people come together online to collaborate on a video project.

Prezi: Online Powerpoint Creation.

With slides, your audience is forced to think inside the box, losing the big picture of your presentation. Prezi changes all that by giving you the ability to create zooming presentations, zooming out to see the big picture of how your ideas are related, and zooming into the details.

Google URL Shortener: Create QR Codes

You paste the URL of what you want encoded, click on shorten URL, on the right side (above the picture of the link) you click on Details, and you will be able to right click and save the QR Code that was created.
QR Code for Why You Should Start Using QR Codes in Your Classroom

Here's one that I just created from Edudemic. It links to an article, Why You Should Start Using QR Codes In Your Classroom.

 

QR Reader: I use this app on my I-Phone to read QR Codes.

 

Diigo: Personal Research Tool, Collaborative Research, and Social Content Sharing

If you browse or read a lot on the web, we believe you will find Diigo indispensable. Diigo is two services in one -- it is a research and collaborative research tool on the one hand, and a knowledge-sharing community and social content site on the other.
Those are just the few items that I've started my toolbox with. I have so many more to discover. Here is another great article from Edudemic that lists 50 tools! I can't wait to check them out. Please feel free to comment and tell me what you use and would recommend.

QR Code


4.22.2013

Cell Phones in the Classroom

As a preservice teacher that is in an education technology class, I started wondering if cell phones are beneficial in the classroom, or just another distraction. My curiosity and questions were fueled when I subbed in a junior high office last week. The office ended up with at least a dozen phones by the end of the day. Each one had a sticky note on it from the respective teacher. Some were labeled, parent pick-up only! At the end of the day, the parents and students filed in to retrieve their beloved technology device.

One parent came to the office to ask if she could dig in the outside trash bin. Her son, who attended the adjacent high school, was missing his phone. She had used the tracking device on it, and located it within the garbage can zone. She wanted school faculty to dig for it. The answer to that was, "You are welcome to retrieve it yourself."

As part of our curriculum, in educational technology class, we have to complete RWLD's (readings, watchings, listenings, and doings) every week. In completing my weekly assignments, it has become clear to me that I must make more adaptions to the 21st Century than I originally thought. As a mom, of an 18 and 24 year old, I thought I was pretty 21st Century hip (is that in?). To my disbelief, I do have a little hint of old school in my veins. I noted in one of my assignments that cell phone use in school was being promoted. It said, "Let them use their phones in school!"

There is a part of me that doesn't want to give in to technology in the way that is being promoted. I want to write things down, look at it, highlight it, and all that stuff. I have an I-phone, with some awesome apps, I'm pretty savvy at learning new software, and consider myself to be ahead of the curve for my age group. However, I go back to, "Keep those cell phones at home during school! There is absolutely no need for them here."

I decided to take a mini-survey on my Facebook. I thought maybe that would bring some clarity on the matter. My question:
Quick Poll:
Do you think cell phones should be allowed in school?
If yes, do you have ideas on how it could be useful / beneficial?
Thanks!
Take a look at some of the results...
Facebook comments photo



It seems to be an overwhelming majority vote of, "NO - phones should not be in schools." However, I took mental note of the age group, and the answers. The people my age are the ones that don't understand the use of them in the classrooms. They view them as distractions, and interruptions. This brings me to think there are two possible answers, or more likely, a combo, for why they make their way to the office by the dozen.
  • The students are abusing their privileges, causing distractions with them, and being disrespectful. 
or

  • The teachers and parents haven't embraced the uses, and wrapped their minds around the students grand ability to multi-focus / task beyond the traditional student.
I think that we are on the brink of uncovering the ways to integrate technology, while maintaining and even increasing productivity. I personally know that I don't fully understand the 21st Century students mind operations. I know it's a lot quicker than mine! This brings more questions to mind:
  • How will we challenge, and engage these students to their capacity and beyond?
  • Are they bored with the traditional teaching, and therefore, their minds wander to their I-phone?
  • Are there ways that we can ensure the proper, effective, and efficient use of the cell phone in class?
I'm willing to investigate it. I think we might need to put more trust and empowerment into our students. I want to embrace technology to it's fullest. We are falling behind in technology in the world. I'm game for the endless possibilities. The future of the classroom is to be technology lead with facilitator support. As a teacher of the future, I will be wandering the classroom as support of the motherboards that are being student driven. Another push for me to re-think my old school ways..cell phones aren't going away anytime soon.

To read a conversation about integrating student cell phones into classroom curricula, read From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning.

3.02.2013

SCRATCH (ing) my Head!

With a realization that mid-term is on the horizon, I decided I better tie up loose ends in my classes. One item on my to-do list was an extra credit paper for Ed Technology. I SCRATCHed my head and wondered what I should do..."UGH, what a pain. I've just been so busy and it's Saturday. Oh Well, I'll just whip through it." Let me clear up that it wasn't really EXTRA CREDIT. It was to make up my missing the first quiz! I decided to participate in a Classroom Live 2.0 Webinar.

I am so glad that I had to do extra credit! Hindsight, I realize how informative it can be to reach outside of the "requirements". I have intentions now of participating in many more, and reviewing some of the available session archives.

Here's what I learned about:
SCRATCH - a programming language to be used in education, developed in 2006 by the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten research group. The language makes it easy to create games, animations, music and art. It is also easy to share the creations on the web. They use the tagline: "imagine - program - share". As of this blog there have been 3,136,097 projects created and shared!
The nice thing about SCRATCH is that you don't have to be a programmer, genius, or really have any experience to dive in. You can learn as you go. The more advanced the student is, the more complex their project creations will be. Although it was designed for Elementary learners, it is a useful tool for high school too. It can also be a great tool to address differentiation. It really caters to every student at every level.

It is an incredible tool for 21st Century Learning Skills. There are 9 identified areas where the use of SCRATCH supports this. They are:
  • Information and Communication Skills
    • Information and Media Literacy Skills
    • Communication Skills
  • Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
    • Critical Thinking and Systems Thinking
    • Problem Identification, Formulation & Solution
    • Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity
  • Interpersonal and Self Direction Skills
    • Interpersonal and Collaborative Skills
    • Self Direction
    • Accountability and Adaptability
    • Social Responsibility 
There are also great interfaces. A few that were discussed in the Webinar:
  • X-box via Kinect - learn more about interfacing Kinect2Scratch developed by Stephen Howell.
  • Picoboard - a tiny computer that can make things spin, light up, and play music. Watch these students describe how they used the interface.
     
This has opened up a whole new dimension to my curiosity in 21st Century Learning Skills. This is just the tip of the iceberg in programming language for education. And, of course, there are other platforms that I'm not aware of yet. If you are interested in learning more about SCRATCH, here are some links to the speaker of this Webinar and other helpful resources:

  • Heidi Williams is currently the K-12 Intervention Coach at Kewaskum School District. She works with teachers and administrators to implement best practice, innovative curriculum options for ALL students. 
  • ScratchEd - an online community where educators share stories, exchange resources, ask questions, and find other SCRATCH educators.