Category: mobile computing (page 1 of 2)

Student Internet Access in Seguin ISD

As a part of our ongoing process of self-evaluation and planning for the future of technology here in Seguin ISD, we recently conducted a quick, 4-question survey to determine patterns of students’ internet use outside of the school day. Over 1,700 students in grades 3-12 participated. The results are below.

A few initial observations:

  • The basically 9:1 ratio of student internet uses to non-users is pretty much what I would have expected. This tells me that we still need to be looking for options for our students without access, as they are certainly limited once they leave our buildings.  It also should be something teachers are aware of, and it should inform their decision-making when assigning homework that requires online resources. We have come far, but the divide still exists. How might we creatively close the gap outside of our buildings?
  • Slower internet speeds and data limits on cellular connections make accessing excessive amounts of video or other media online problematic. This is a potential issue for more than 40% of our students.
  • Fewer and fewer students are using traditional laptops or desktops as their home internet-access device. Mobile phones and tablets are much more common. Still, schools tend to focus budget dollars on desktops/laptops. That might be a practice we need to rethink. Might our technology dollars be better directed at non-traditional tools?
  • The “None of these” option under types of devices doesn’t just include kids with no internet at home–many kids use gaming consoles, devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, or a variety of other tools.

Other thoughts, reactions, or questions I might be missing? Happy to hear your comments.

 

Podcast #23: Do This

My latest podcast discusses Tech Fair, some astounding tech news, and podcasts. Remember a few years ago when everyone in education was talking about podcasting? We still should be!

DENapalooza Presentation and Links

Presentation and updated links from this weekend’s DENapaolooza event in Austin, Texas.

 

Resources for developing innovation and creativity skills:

  • Scratch–free, online tool that introduces students to programming using a drag-and-drop interface and share projects with a global community.
  • MakeyMakey–electronic “invention kit” that allows users to turn any conductive objects into computer input devices.
  • Picoboard–expands scratch by allowing users to incorporate input from a variety of sensors, including light, sound, and more.
  • Arduino–open-source, inexpensive prototyping platform that can be programmed and used to build endless electronic devices.
  • Raspberry Pi–$25 Linux-based computer; great tool for introducing students to computing, programming, inventing.
  • MinecraftEDU–educational resources and lesson plans for using Minecraft in the classroom.
  • Hopscotch–easy-to-use iPad app that teaches programming skills with a drag-and-drop interface
  • Tynker–Scratch-like programming site with ability to create classes, assign and monitor projects.
  • DIY–site with dozens of categories of challenges to promote creative and inventive thinking.
  • Squishy Circuits–conductor & insulator Play-do type dough recipes & projects
  • LittleBits–child-friendly, no soldering electronic activity kits and components.
  • Lego Robotics–robot kits and supplies for primary (WeDo), intermediate (Mindstorms), and advanced students (TETRIX)
  • MyAtoms–electronic modules that can be used with Legos to create animated objects.
  • BuildwithChrome –virtual Legos; create Lego buildings or objects and share online–requires Chrome browser.
  • Hummingbird–robotics project kits using electronics and cardboard.
  • Lego Digital Designer –free tool from Lego lets students virtually design their Lego and Lego robotics creations.
  • Circuit Scribe–pen that writes with conductive ink, letting users draw electrical components and creations.
  • MIT App Inventor–free, Scratch-like tool lets students design and test their own Android mobile apps.

Other resources:

  • Makezine–online magazine of the Maker movement, great source for project ideas.
  • MakerEd–resources for incorporating Maker ideas into the classroom.
  • Growing Innovators–resources for a variety of innovative technologies for the classroom.
  • Scratch 2.0 Starter Kit–resources for teaching coding using Scratch and other tools.

2-Minute Tech Challenge #1: ifaketext.com

The select few who have read this blog for a few years now might remember the old, 12-Second Tech Challenges from my previous life. These were (EXTREMELY) short video intros to some tech resources, followed by a challenge to find a way to integrate it into the curriculum. Well, 12seconds.tv doesn’t exist anymore, which is good and bad news, probably. On the negative side, 12seconds was a really cool site and community. On the positive side, I won’t be limited to just 12 seconds (No, that is not the negative side..ahem!). Still, in order to respect the time of the reader, I’ve vowed to myself to keep each video under 2 minutes.

Here is how this 2-Minute Tech Challenge thing works.

  1. Watch the video
  2. Use the resource.
  3. Share your result as a comment.
  4. Seguin faculty who participate will be entered to win some cool stuff! 1 entry per challenge + 1 bonus entry if you or your kids use the resource in the curriculum–be sure to specify.

That’s it. Sometime in the spring, I’ll tally up all of the entries and give away some useful, technology-related prizes. Just remember, it only takes a few minutes, but you have to do a little work to win. This first one will get you off to a VERY easy start!

Now, create your own. Think of how this might be used as a conversation between historical or literary characters, scientific things such as atoms, cells, etc. When finished, share the link to your fake text conversation by posting a comment to this blog post. That’s it! I look forward to seeing your creative responses!

 

Building BYOT

Over the next several months, we will be taking on the task of implementing a BYOT program here in Seguin. Although we are several months away from being ready with our wireless infrastructure, I am already looking at other programs and research and trying to reflect upon our experiences implementing the program back in Birdville. What I would like to do is keep something of a journal of our progress here as we go through the process. Hopefully, this will encourage some brilliant folks who visit here to share their insights. Also, it might be something of a learning tool for those who are considering, but not yet ready to give BYOT/BYOD a go.

At this point, there are more questions than answers. Among the questions we will be sorting out before we get the ball rolling…

  • What devices will be included as acceptable technology resources?
  • How will we meet the needs of students who do not own personal devices?
  • How will our current AUP need to be modified?
  • What does effective use of student technologies look like in the classroom?
  • Will we allow students to use their own cellular data networks or require them to access our network?
  • How can we provide technical support to students when trying to use their devices?
  • What are some classroom management strategies that will increase the likelihood of success for our teachers and students?
  • What professional development will be provided for teachers?
  • How will the program be rolled out? High school first? All secondary? District-wide?
  • How can a BYOT be successful at a low-income elementary campus, where very few student owned devices are available?

So, any answers?

10 Curricula-Spanning, Learning-Boosting, Creativity-Inspiring, Must-Have Apps

Because there are just not enough app lists, I decided I needed to throw in one more. There are tons of lists that tout subject-specific apps for students at all levels. The following apps have broad applications in virtually any subject area, and they promote important higher level skills such as critical thinking, analyzing, researching, planning, and communicating in engaging and powerful ways. The biggest advantage each offers over similar tools on traditional desktops or laptops is their fantastic usability and short learning curves. They can also accomplish these things on the go–at the museum, on the bus, on the camping trip, etc., potentially turning any event into a true learning experience.

  • Catch Notes (FREE) – Fantastic tool for taking and organizing (via tags) text, audio, or visual notes, independently or collaboratively. Notes can be accessed via apps or through the Catch.com website.
  • Pearltrees (FREE) – Pearltrees is a creative social bookmarking tool that lets individuals or groups create collections of bookmarks organized into webs by subject. It is a fantastic organizational tool, and it gives students a powerful visual representation of their saved resources. The app walks you through setting up a mobile Safari plugin that lets you add “pearls” on the go.
  • VoiceThread (FREE) – Still one of my favorite digital storytelling tools, VoiceThread’s app makes the creation process even faster and easier. Still need to sign up for a free account at Ed.Voicethread, but now VTs can be created on the go, using the built-in cameras and microphones of the iPad or iPod.
  • Explain Everything ($2.99) – Simply a phenomenal screen-casting tool, Explain Everything lets students create narrated, annotated presentations that include drawings, images, websites, and videos. Resulting movies can be shared in a wide variety of ways. The applications are limitless and could certainly fit any subject area. This is perhaps the most powerful tool on this list.
  • Spreaker Radio (FREE) – Spreaker is my new favorite podcasting/broadcasting tool. The web-based platform has as good of a free podcast system as I’ve ever seen, incorporating tools reserved for paid services. The app lets you or your students broadcast live Internet shows on the go or record shows for future listening. It’s very intuitive for students and only requires that an account be set up on the Spreaker site to use.
  • ShowMe (FREE) – ShowMe’s ease of use and versatility make it a must-have. Students can create narrated videos explaining anything they can draw, write, or illustrate. Videos are saved on the ShowMe site, also free.
  • Popplet ($4.99) – Popplet is a slick tool for creating mind maps, flow charts, or other graphic organizers. Charts can include text, drawings, or images, and can be exported as .pdf or image files. Use Popplet for brainstorming, group planning, project management, process illustration, or many other applications.
  • Animation Studio ($2.99) – The best animation creation tool for the money, by far. The feature list of Animation Studio is too long to list, but features like text-to-speech, the library of animated characters, music tools, YouTube sharing, etc. make it the best. Students can use this app to create original videos describing, depicting, or explaining anything imaginable.
  • Dragon Dictation (FREE) – Dragon Dictation is an oldie (in iOS terms, anyway) but a goodie. It turns spoken words into printed text, and it does so pretty darned accurately. Great for many applications, such as allowing ESL students to transcribe their English practice or other special population accommodations. Also makes a fantastic note-taking tool (SOME people even use it while driving, I have heard…cough.).
  • Google Earth (FREE) – Still a powerful tool for research, the Google Earth app includes many of the standard maps and search tools, plus a fantastic gallery of user-currated maps and tours. Kids can research settings in literature (using built-in Wikipedia links), map historical events, study geologic or political processes, and more.

That’s my list. What apps would you add that could be used across the curriculum?

Using iDevices to Enhance Creativity

The iPad and iPod have great potential as tools for promoting the 21st century skill of creativity. Apps designers have produced an endless stream of tools for making music, creating works of art, creative writing and storytelling, and promoting outside-the-box thinking. The following apps are but a few examples that hold promise for the classroom teacher. If you have favorite creativity apps not mentioned, please feel free to share them!

Music

  • Magic Fiddle($2.99)–This app turns the iPad into a concert violin. The app includes an interactive tutorial, songbook, free play, and world feature, which allows users to listen to other users around the globe.

    Sixstring

    Sixstring

  • Songify (FREE)–Songify is a fun app that lets users create and share original songs. Users simply speak the lyrics into the iPad or iPod microphone, and Songify puts the lyrics to music. Songs can be saved and shared through email, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • Six Strings ($6.99)–Play a variety of virtual stringed instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele) or drums. Users can select a variety of chords and keys. Songs can be mixed with loops from a built-in library, saved, and exported.
  • LaDiDa ($2.99)–Creates songs by automatically putting users’ singing to music. Songs can be shared via email, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • Ocarina ($.99)–Turns the iPod or iPad into a beautiful electronic flute. Users can record and share songs via email. Like Magic Fiddle, users can also listen to others playing Ocarina around the world.
  • LeafTBone ($.99)–Fun app turns iDevices into virtual trombones, played either by touch or by a combination of blowing into the built-in microphone and touching the screen.
  • Garage Band ($4.99)–Powerful app lets users play and record virtual instruments, record voice tracks, mix and edit multiple tracks, and share songs via email or through iTunes.

Painting/Drawing

  • Animation Studio ($1.99)–Powerful, bargain-priced animation tool. Create frame-by-frame animations, import photos, record audio, use text-to-speech, and more. Files can be saved as .mov files or exported directly to YouTube.
  • DoInk($4.99)–Great animation tool lets users create frame-by-frame animations or use a built-in library of backgrounds and props. Animations can be shared via the DoInk website.

    Flipboom Draw HD

    FlipBoom Draw HD

  • ShowMe (FREE)–Record drawings and narration on a virtual whiteboard. Share via the ShowMe website. Great tool for recording instructional videos. Videos can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or email.
  • ScreenChomp  (FREE)– Another wonderful tool for recording drawings and voice narration. Videos can be shared to ScreenChomp’s website without an account, where they can be viewed by URL or downloaded as .mpeg files.
  • ArtStudio ($2.99)–Great drawing tool with a wide variety of brushes, textures, and effects. Create layered drawings, similar to Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • DrawCast (FREE)–Simple but powerful drawing tool. Drawings can be saved or shared via email or Facebook.
  • FlipBoom Draw HD ($4.99)–Frame-by-frame animation app suitable for even younger students. Animations can be stored in the image gallery or shared by email or through YouTube.
  • Scribble Kid (FREE)–Simple drawing app suitable for primary students. Includes shape and background library.
  • Drawing Pad ($1.99)–Fun drawing tool with a wide range of pencils, pens, brushes, stickers, and more. Suitable for elementary aged students. Drawings can be stored to the image gallery or shared via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  • Singing Fingers (FREE)–Create drawings by touching the screen while making sounds, then swipe over them to play back.

Creative Thinking

  • Total Recall (FREE)–Nice, basic mindmapping tool. Create mindmaps and share via email as .pdf files or as images.
  • iBrainstorm (FREE)–Cool brainstorm tool that uses drawing tools and sticky notes. Best of all, users can install the free iBrainstorm Companion app, which lets multiple users connect to the same project for collaboration. Share products through email or save as images.
  • Mindjet (FREE)–Tons of features for a free app. Mindjet lets users build powerful mindmaps including images and links. Users can share as .pdf files via email or sync directly to DropBox or the Mindjet Connect website, where maps can be shared or edited collaboratively.
  • SimpleMind+ (FREE)–Stylish mindmapping app allows for creation of large maps in a range of styles. Maps can be shared via email as .pdf or image files. A desktop application is available (paid) that lets users share and collaborate on maps directly on a Mac or PC.

Creative Writing

  • StoryLines (FREE)–App lets students create collaborative stories. Participants take turns alternately adding text or drawings to produce creative stories, which can be shared via Facebook.
  • StoryKit (FREE)–Create digital storybooks using text, images, and drawings. Upload stories to the Storykit servers and share with others via URL.
  • StoryRobe ($.99)–Create digital stories using images and recorded narration. Stories can be shared via email or by uploading directly to YouTube.
  • DemiBooks Composer (FREE)–Create interactive books, including effects such as sound, motion, gravity, and more. Books can be shared via iTunes or Dropbox (must be viewed in Composer).
  • Scribble Press (FREE)–Create books from drawings, photos, or text, share with a global audience as ebooks or order printed copies.

Video

  • DV Prompter (FREE)–Simple teleprompter app.
  • Green Screen Movie FX ($1.99)–Tool for creating green screen effects, superimposing video on top of other video.
  • Silent Film Director ($.99)–Create retro-looking videos, including 6 filters, included soundtracks, speed controls, more.
  • Splice (FREE)–Remarkably powerful free video editing tool, includes ability to use photos, videos, soundtracks (included), special effects, adjust speed, more.
  • Super 8 ($.99)–Create cool, retro videos, including scratched film effects, credits, titles, more.
  • ReelDirector ($1.99)–Easy-to-use video editor, allows use of video or images, cropping clips, special effects, layered music/sound, more.
  • Videolicious (FREE)–Create short movies with video introduction, narration, background music, and transition effects.
  • 8mm ($1.99)–Another tool for creating retro video effects; includes 7 filters, ability to include filmstrip sounds, jitter effect.

Design

  • Home Design HD (FREE)–Create 3D floor plans, including furniture, doors, windows, custom floors, walls, etc. Images can’t be saved by the free version, so use the iPad/iPod screen grab feature to save.
Games
  • Casey’s Contraptions ($2.99)–Solve puzzles by creating virtual Rube Goldberg machines, or simply create your own imaginative machine.
  • Scribblenauts Remix ($.99)–Use imaginative means to get characters through, over, or around obstacles and enable them to complete a variety of tasks.
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