Tag: teachers (page 2 of 2)

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #12 and…

This week’s 12 Second Tech Challenge is by far the easiest yet (The final one will make up for this, I promise!). It does require you to plan for the future, however.

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #12 on 12seconds.tv

(If the video isn’t displaying above, you can view it here.)

In 2007, the International Society for Technology in Education released a list of student technology skills that would be needed to ensure that our students would be successful in modern society. The document is the National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Students (NETS•S). Your task is simply to download and read this document (It is SHORT–only 1 page.), then reflect on your curriculum. Think about a way or ways you could incorporate technology into your existing curriculum in such a way as to effectively meet your course objectives and the NETS at the same time. Share your lesson idea in the comments here. That’s it!

Now, for the “and…” part. Just to tease the big giveaways (which will occur next week), I decided to draw a name for one of the prizes, 4Gb thumb drive. This is no ordinary USB drive, mind you–it is covered in rich, Corinthian leather! The winner of the USB drive is . . . Janet Erlinger! Coincidentally, Janet has completed every challenge–you have to play to win! She will still be eligible for further prizes next week. Congratulations, Janet!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #10!

Continuing with the theme of creativity, today’s challenge is to try out a very cool alternative to PowerPoint, Animoto.

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #10 on 12seconds.tv
(Click here if you can’t see the video.)

Animoto lets users create videos that incorporate images, music, and text into a very slick, professional-looking product. This would be a great tool to allow students to present information on just about any topic, and the product would be very engaging. Videos can be embedded in blogs or wikis or downloaded to view on your computer or portable media player, such as an iPod. You could even upload the presentations to a podcast hosting site. The video below (click if video is not displaying) is an example that I made in just a short time, using family pictures and music from the Animoto music library (no copyright issues–yea!). Imagine how much more engaging and relevant a presentation on a topic such as fossils or presidents might be when done using Animoto. Heck, even a vocabulary list could become exciting!

As always, be sure to share a link to your finished products, and be sure to share any thoughts you have for using this with your students!

Assessing Computer-Based Tools for Learning

bored studentAuthor David Dobbs recently shares yet another lukewarm study of educational software funded by the U.S. Department of Education in his blog. The news is familiar: “students using educational software do no better learning primary school math and first-year algebra than their counterparts who follow a traditional curriculum.” The study itself has many flaws, primarily being the lack of random assignment of participants or the comparison of multiple software products. However, the results should hardly be seen as a surprise to most educators, who have largely intuitively ignored the school-purchased software in their shiny labs for some time, seeing the results as being negligible, at best.

Bells, whistles, fancy animations, videos, etc. cannot make technology the transformative tool it has the potential to be. Much educational software has limited the medium to colorful drill-and-practice, with cartoon-like characters set in situations that bear little resemblance to real-world situations. Little surprise, therefore, when there is little impact on student performance. Like a classroom filled with rote practice and unimaginative instruction, students’ performance reaches the limited ceiling of their surroundings.

On the other hand, consider the more successful classrooms you might have encountered. I think of the junior high school language arts teachers I was fortunate enough to have. These women, Mrs. Talbert and Mrs. Pruitt, engaged us from the moment we entered the room. Learning went beyond practice of basic grammar or reading to challenging us to stretch our creativity or to tackle a novel that we might have considered beyond our reach. Learning was meaningfully related to the world we lived in, such as the legendary “Russian Report”, which immersed us in the history and culture of our Cold War rivals. Software, too, can do such things, but it rarely does. Even the best software is only made truly effective with the involvement of the teacher, who works diligently to choose effective titles, to relate them to real-world situations and activities, and who recognizes the importance of a cooperative relationship between teacher and technology.

Whether computer-based or web-based, software is just a tool for learning. What critics and studies such as the one cited by Dobbs rarely address are the instances when such tools expose students to people and places like a textbook or lecture could never do, or the moments when a piece of software actually makes the lightbulb finally go off. Of course, this could be because such moments happen too infrequently, due to any of a number of factors ranging from restrictive, short-sighted administrator policies to a lack of awareness of effective methods on the part of teachers. When software titles are the primary form of computer application in a district, the least that should be done is to thoroughly review the software available and to provide instructors with training in how to effectively incorporate the software into their instruction. As identified by Alessi and Trollip (2001), some characteristics that educational software should display include:

  • Clearly stated goals/objectives
  • Learning is related to prior knowledge
  • Adult control greater than student control (Students should have sufficient ability to navigate the software, but not at the expense of course objectives.)
  • Easy-to-use, consistent controls (mouse-controlled whenever possible)
  • Intrinsic motivation (Students should see the value of the tasks required by the software.)
  • Sufficiently challenging but with ample opportunities for success
  • Consistently engaging

The most important thing is that the software be used as a tool in instruction, just as the pencil, paper, or textbook. The same goes for the tools of Web 2.0, of course. Due to their newness, these tools require even greater attention be placed on teacher training. Students, of course, are engaging in self-training in blogs, social networks, file-sharing sites, etc., but their level of awareness is no substitute for a teacher, who is familiar with the resources to such a degree that they are able to envision ways in which they can do things in the curriculum not otherwise possible.


Alessi, S.M., & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for Learning: Methods and Development. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #9!

This one is a little different. The next few challenges will revolve around creativity tools. For starters, the challenge is to try out the site Storyblender and create a narrated/animated scene or video. This site is a blast to use, and the creative possibilities are many! It is so fun, you might just want to be creative with your spring break photos and videos! So, give it a try, and, as always, post a link to your creation here when you are finished. Have a safe and happy spring break!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #3!

So far, 18 teachers and administrators have participated–a great start! Today’s challenge focused on podcasts. Specifically, it focuses on the iTunes tool and its vast library of free, educational podcasts. When you complete the Challenge, be sure to leave a comment here or on the video site and tell everyone what podcast(s) you subscribed to. If you can’t view the video below, click on this link. Thanks, and have fun!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #3 on 12seconds.tv

Oh, one more thing. If you missed out on either of the first two 12 Second Challenges, please don’t hesitate to go back and catch up. There is no due date, other than for the prize drawings, which will occur late in the spring, so feel free to join in!

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BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #2

Today’s new 12 Second Tech Challenge is now available for viewing. You can view it below or at this link. Remember to leave a comment here when you’ve completed the challenge. Oh, and why not include a link to a video you found during the challenge? Thanks, and good luck!

BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #2 on 12seconds.tv

Educator Internet Use

I used the Google Documents survey tool to create a brief survey over the use of Internet tools by educators in our district. Seventy teachers responded. The survey turned out as expected, generally, with a few surprises. Some of the results:

Time spent online away from work:

  • 31% <2 hours
  • 37% 2-5 hours
  • 16% 5-10 hours
  • 16% >10 hours

(This was encouraging to me, as it is clear that they are spending quite a bit of time online, more than I would have guessed. The key is to be able to take advantage of this, by getting them interested in visiting and using sites that will enrich their instruction and help them grow as teachers.)

Types of sites being visited (percent of respondents who regularly visit each type of site):

  • News (84%)
  • Educational/Informational (76%)
  • Entertainment (41%)
  • Video (26%)
  • Medical (26%)
  • Blogs (26%)
  • Photo editing/sharing (23%)
  • Games (20%)
  • Wikis (17%)
  • Social networks (13%)
  • Other (40%)

(Teachers appear to primarily use the Internet for information gathering, rather than content creation or socializing, although it was a pleasant surprise that fully 1/4 of respondents spend regular time on Web 2.0 sites, such as blogs and social networks.)

Specific sites visited (percent of respondents who have visited each site at any time–top 10 listed only):

  • Google (91%)
  • Yahoo! (90%)
  • YouTube (76%)
  • Wikipedia (64%)
  • MySpace (50%)
  • Blogger (37%)
  • Facebook (33%)
  • Wikispaces (30%)
  • Edublogs (29%)
  • TeacherTube (24%)

(Again, there appears to be a heavy emphasis on locating/consuming information. Some sites that garnered almost no responses include Twitter (3%), Digg (3%), Bloglines (3%), and StumbleUpon (2%).)

Active participation (percent of users with active, contributing accounts at each site):

  • Yahoo! (49%)
  • Google (41%)
  • MySpace (20%)
  • Facebook (14%)
  • Blogger (11%)
  • Edublogs (10%)
  • YouTube (10%)
  • Wikipedia (6%)
  • Wikispaces (6%)
  • Wet Paint (6%)

(Assuming that the affirmative responses for the Google and Yahoo! accounts are primarily email or IM, the evidence again seems to show clearly that very few educators here are creating any content. It is encouraging to see as many social network users as the survey indicates. StumbleUpon, WordPress, and Twitter each were blanked in this category.)

The final question changed directions a bit, as I wanted to get a little feel for the resources being used in actual instruction. The percent of each tool that educators have at some point used in their instruction:

  • Photo/video sites (50%)
  • Online bookmarks (27%–I’m very dubious about this one, given the fact that 1% responded that they had a del.icio.us account. I believe the question was misunderstood.)
  • Blogs (24%)
  • Podcasts (24%)
  • Wikis (23%)
  • RSS/XML readers (9%)

I’d be interested in any feedback I could receive regarding the results of the survey and what they mean. My first reaction is that I need to be doing more to facilitate creative use of Internet tools. Far too little creative content is being created and shared by the students in our district. Any other thoughts?

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