Category: Web Tools (page 2 of 21)

Innaugural #edwhy and #edwhatif Chat Storified

Below find the chat logs from tonight’s first ever #edwhy and #edwhatif chats. Not a huge response the first time out (Okay, very small.), but that’s not a problem–I believe it will be worthwhile, because we need to question things in our field if anything is ever going to change for the better.

Besides, I’m a longtime blogger–I’m used to talking to myself! 🙂

#edwhy 

#edwhatif  

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.

New Podcast: #16–Digital Storytelling-Ric Camacho

In the latest edition of the Moss-Free Show, I decided to show off some local talent. Ric Camacho is a great teacher at Mercer-Bloomberg Learning Center, our district’s alternative high school. Ric decided to give digital storytelling a try with his students this year, many of whom are kids who might struggle with a traditional high school setting. He was kind enough to talk about his experience and the kids’ responses to publishing their writing in such a rich, creative way.

The Bottom 5

Everybody loves a list, or so I’ve heard. Most are happy, top of the charts list. Slipping into my devil’s advocate outfit for a bit, I would like to take the opposite route today and give you my Bottom 5 list of educational technologies. All of these, incidentally, are extremely popular and have made their respective companies more money than some countries. For each, however, I would assert that there are better, wiser, or less expensive alternatives. The list:

5. Microsoft Office. I really do consider myself an Office fan, at least for my own, personal use. I love the bells and the whistles and all that comes with Office. However, the question needs to be asked, “Do our teachers and students need all of those bells and whistles at that price?” Office licenses can cost schools and districts easily tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for each new adoption. Free alternatives such as Open Office or Libre Office get more Office-like with each new release. Google Apps for Education, also free, has significantly fewer features, but the core tools are there, it can be accessed anywhere a computer meets an internet connection, and it is a collaboration godsend. The more we look at how our teachers and students use these productivity apps, the harder it is to justify the expense of full-blown Office. (Note: I understand that moving to a free alternative incurs some initial costs, particularly related to professional development on the new tools. Long-term, though, it pales by comparison.)

Source: http://oldcomputers.net/pet4032.html

Source: http://oldcomputers.net/pet4032.html

4.Desktop Computers. In the past, desktops were the most common and attractive classroom computer option. This was largely due to the very significant expense associated with laptops. Today, however, there are very affordable laptop and tablet devices all over the market. Not only do thse give students and teachers largely the same capabilities, they can move with the student. This promotes a modern learning environment, where students can engage in projects and problem solving in flexible arrangements that are determined by the demands of the task, not the location of the desk/table. They are also much easier to take home in a backpack.

3. Document Cameras. I know teachers whose document cameras are easily the most cherished piece of technology they’ve ever had. Many of them say the cameras, teamed with their digital projectors, of course, have revolutionized the way they teach. I could get into the generally VERY teacher-centric practices I’ve witnessed involving teaching with document cameras, and probably should. However, I’ll just offer for now that there are better alternatives that accomplish the same things and much more. A teacher equipped with an iPad, display software such as Reflector, and an iPad display stand, such as a Juststand, can use their device as a document camera. They can easily record, show websites, display apps, and more. And, of course, they can disconnect the iPad from the stand and take it across the campus, out of the building, or place it into a student’s hands. All of this is possible at a price generally less than most document cameras models out there.

iwb

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/virtuallearningcenter/2839193301

2. Interactive Whiteboards. IWB critics are not hard to find. One of the most vocal, Gary Stager, famously describes IWBs as “a terrible investment that breathes new life into medieval educational practices.” He criticized the boards for their support of a teacher-focused teaching style and IWB curriculum that centers “on low-level repetition, memorization, and discrete skills devoid of any meaningful content.” His main argument, though, and the one that I have come to appreciate most, is that these devices are insanely pricy and take away dollars that could (and should) be used in a way that directly benefits students, such as the purchase of student laptops. When we focus on student needs over teacher needs (wants, in this case), IWBs cannot be the choice.

clicker

Original image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/acroamatic/370925701

1. Student Response Systems. Perhaps no other device offers as little power and educational value for the dollar as the student response system, or “clicker”. Clickers save teachers from the arduous, tedious tasks of counting raised hands or actually listening to student thoughts and responses. They provide detailed insights into almost exclusively superficial questions and low-level understanding.  Meanwhile, they set back campuses thousands of dollars per classroom set. As alternatives, schools might consider investing in tablets such as iPads and feedback apps like Socrative, Nearpod, even the Forms tool in Google Drive. They’d be able to get the outcomes they wanted from the clickers but also have the potential to use the devices for endless, more powerful applications. Of course, feedback could come via direct observation or conversations with students, but that’s probably just crazy talk.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off? Are there other technologies that deserve less respect and less money?

Social Bookmarks: 5 Tools to Try

I once had these unnamed, quite brilliant colleagues (They’ll probably nail me for talking about them behind their backs. 😮 ) who were and are wonderful friends, phenomenal educators and true technology innovators. They provided me with countless ideas and resources. However, they usually insisted on sharing by sending me an email. While I did appreciate the sharing, I spent literally years advocating for them to  jump on board with the idea of sharing with one another via online, social bookmarking tools. “You see,” I would explain, “I get SO many emails, and I have to then open each one, click on the link inside, then add it to my bookmarks. I have to repeat the process at home to put it on my home computer. It’s just exhausting!” (Okay, I’ve always been a bit of a hyperbole fan.) I offered that simply adding it to a bookmark list in a Diigo group would be much more efficient, accessible, organized, etc. They could click a simple button added to their browser, add a little description, some tags, then share them with everyone that was a part of their group. We would all learn of these great, shared resources in one tidy, weekly email. Ahhh….a dream come true!

Alas, my efforts at persuasion met with very limited success, for unknown reasons. The emails kept coming (replaced occasionally by a tweet). A normal person would have felt beaten. Not I, however. If, by continuing to share the virtues of online bookmarks, I can save just ONE inbox, my efforts will be worth the high costs. To that end, here are 5 email server sparing online bookmark tools you might think about using:

  • Diigo for Chrome

    Diigo’s Chrome extension

    Diigo –Diigo is a very useful tool that has been around for several years. Users can bookmark sites using a simple browser plugin, which also allows bookmarks to be categorized by tags (also the best way to search through collections), added to lists, annotated with virtual sticky notes, or shared with groups. The groups feature is a great way to discover new resources or share with a specific audience. Members can opt to receive notifications of shared resources daily, weekly, etc.

  • Adding collaborators in Pinterest.

    Adding collaborators in Pinterest.

    Pinterest –A huge hit among casual users, Pinterest also has a loyal following amont educators. Users can use bookmarklets or browser extensions to quickly add Pins to specific boards, where they are shared in Pinterest’s appealing, visual style. Don’t forget that Pinterest can be very collaborative, too. Just visit the user dashboard, click on the Edit button at the bottom of any board, then add contributors using their email addresses.

  • Symbaloo webmix

    Symbaloo webmix

    SymbalooEDU –Symbaloo EDU is another tool that has grown a huge following in education circles, in particular. Users create very slick, graphical “webmixes”, collections of bookmarked sites. One shortcoming is that webmixes can be shared, but are not truly collaborative just yet. Still, its attractive style, user-friendly results, and ample pre-existing collections make it worth a look.

  • A flipped classroom pearltree.

    A flipped classroom pearltree.

    Pearltrees –Pearltrees is a tool unlike any of the others. It is very visual in nature, and folks who like graphic organizers are likely to love Pearltrees. Bookmarks, called “pearls”, are added via browser extension and organized into “trees”, which are clusters of pearls. Pearltree users can share trees and pearls, follow others’ collections, and collaboratively build collections. Probably not for everyone, but for those who like its style, Pearltrees is a powerful resource.

  • A ScoopIt collection.

    A ScoopIt collection.

    ScoopIt –ScoopIt takes yet another approach to saving bookmarks, assembling groups of them into pages resembling online newspapers or magazines. A browser bookmarklet can expedite the adding of resources to topic lists. Users choose the destination lists and add descriptions. Users can follow one another and “suggest” new resources to be added, a list of which can be browsed (“curated”, in ScoopIt lingo), evaluated, and either added or rejected. ScoopIt will also make recommendations from the web based on user-defined terms. A drawback is the inability to filter items on a specific collection, but I keep coming back to the tool after several years.

Certainly, there are countless other bookmarking tools being used by educators to collaboratively cultivate classroom collections. What are others that should be in any such list? How are you using them with your students or teams?

New Podcast: Student Multimedia Projects

Discussion of some alternatives to essays or PowerPoints.

 

TCEA 2014: Failure to Innovate (Updated Presentation)

I’ve embedded my TCEA presentation for Wednesday, February 5th and added a list of resources with links, including several recent additions.

 

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.

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.
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