Thursday, December 20, 2012

iTunesU: K-12

I remember the first time I signed into iTunes. I was on an HP in Togiak, AK thinking to myself, "What is this Apple stuff?" I was a PC user my entire life and recently bought an iPod 1st Gen with who knows how much storage (500 songs??). I wasn't happy about using iTunes mainly because all of my music was from LimeWire or Napster or whatever it was back in 2005...

Soon I realized, first with an Apple computer for work, then with an Apple music player, that Apple was not just an overpriced computer company, they were a movement. I know, I know, I sound like a cult member, but it was true. Since that login to iTunes that fateful day I have become more and more saturated by Apple products in my every day life. I now have an iPad, shuffle, and MacBook Pro in addition to the Apple TVs, iPads, iPods, laptops, and desktops  I use at work on a daily basis. I have had my qualms over the years about how locked down iTunes is and how rigid some of their policies are, but overall I find it beneficial as it maintains the highest standards in product and application development. You may be wondering why I didn't mention an iPhone... I prefer the Galaxy SII, and am looking at getting the SIII. Proof I still have an open mind!







Diving in headfirst to the Apple KoolAid is tough, but let me tell you why I do what I do. I'll use iTunesU as an example. If one were so inclined, one could search the iTunes Store for iTunesU courses. These courses may be hosted by Harvard, Yale, or even Lower Yukon School District. You can find lecture series' about everything from Constitutional Law to Yup'ik language. All for free!!

If you were to subscribe to these courses, from an iOS device, for example, you could then download books, apps, audio, and video from these sources; essentially auditing the course at no cost. If you would like to try it out open your iTunes from an iPad or computer and search the Store for LYSD. Once you find it in iTunesU, subscribe to the Yup'ik Level One Collection. These sounds will teach you about 100 site words in Yup'ik! Try it out... Let me know what I can do to make it easier, more effective, or more educationally relavent.


Click Here for the LYSD iTunesU account.

Be sure to subscribe and don't forget about LYSD's other offerings online:
Facebook
YouTube
Google+

Monday, December 3, 2012

Literacy Cart Prototype

Here in Mountain Village we have been abuzz over a concept recently brought to life with a little ingenuity and a lot of help from colleagues. This is the first of it's kind (that I know of that is). It is a mobile, battery backed-up, cable managed, all-in-one "classroom." Combined with twenty iPads, and (eventually) a charging station for syncing, this is a brilliant tool for infusing technology in the classroom. I am hoping to improve student learning outcomes in the area of literacy, fluency, comprehension, and mathematics at the third grade level.

Step One: Mobilizing the Unit

This is a fun one. Nothing bothers me more then mobile SMART Boards. The idea of a rolling teaching tool from class to class sounds great, but in reality it is a terrible idea. Without going into too much detail, I managed to procure a cart formerly mounted to a SMART Board and fabricated a TV wall mount to the trunk of the unit. With the assistance of a friend (supervisor), we measured, drilled, and secured the mount.  

Step Two: Mounting the Interactive Display

Assuring that the display will be secure in its current state, we moved on to the planning of component placement and cable management. 

Because the display is fully interactive, it functions just like a SMART Board with pen or finger.


Step Three: Painting the Base

Sometimes the easiest way to make something look like new is to slap a new coat of paint on it. Painting the entire unit matte black, we had a brand new (looking) stand to work with.


Step Four: Power Supply and Battery Back-up

Securing a battery and surge protection unit with velcro strips, the concave shape of the stand lent itself perfectly to the repurposing.


Step Five: Placement of Computing Components

Because the display is a SMART Board, there was a need for a computer with which to control the cart. Deciding on a Mac Mini, we mounted the CPU and external DVD drive using industrial velcro patches.

Step Six: Placement of Apple TV

Being deployed with a class set of iPads, this display point was in need of some means of sharing screens from iPads. With solutions such as Reflection (see previous blog posts) this can be done, but with limits. The Apple TV was chosen to assist in this endeavor. 

Step Seven: Cable& Control Management

As with any project, organization is a key to ensuring safety and success. In this case we employed the use of velcro once again on the Apple and display controllers. All wiring was wrapped, secured, and hidden when possible. The bulk of the wiring was then kept hidden behind the panel covering the hollow frame of the stand itself.


Step Eight: Audio

This particular model of SMART Board (6052i) is a commercial grade display with a built in amplifier. This made our job easy because we could then mix multiple audio inputs with the amplifier and output through standard home speaker systems. The speakers chosen were Panasonic brand, but any would do. These speakers were affixed to the sides of the display once again with velcro. 




Using the device

The device can be used in a variety of ways. The first, and simplest, way is through the Apple TV. When the display and Apple TV is on any iPad can stream content (video and audio) for the class. 

The second way is to use the display as a SMART Board. This is very handy for instruction, small groups, and student led activities. At this point I must mention my favorite way to use the device which is by running Reflection from the Mini. The result is the ability to annotate over the top of the displayed  iPad!

Besides these two possibilities, the display can support multiple other inputs from DVD players (though unnecessary due to the eternal Super Drive mounted and connected to the Mini), VCRs (not sure why...), or anything else you like. Worse case scenario, the network goes down and you might need to display an iPad via VGA adapter and cord directly to the display. Whatever the case may be, this cart addresses it all. 



Thanks for reading and if you would like further information about this or other ideas don't hesitate to contact Sam Bourgeois. 



sbourgeois@loweryukon.org
www.lysd.org



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Maximize Your Google Search Results

"Google-it!" I say it all the time. It is synonymous with 'search for' or 'look up' on the internet. The tough part isn't typing in a query, though, it's sorting out the millions of results.

Here is a tip for you (really a blast from the past): Put quotation marks around what you are looking for if it is more than one word. This will eliminate all of the pointless and irrelevant results and give you only hits on the words, phrase, or sequence you are looking for. 

If that was too easy or maybe you just want to see what else Google can do for you, try out the following "power-search" features~>

Google Knowledge Graph:

Google Image Search Using an Image:

Google Search By File Type:

And last, but not least, there is Google Scholar


Monday, November 5, 2012

Document Cameras & SMART Boards

I have been asked to help hook up document cameras many a time in my years as a teacher, tech guy, SMART Certified Trainer, consultant, and now technology coordinator. As is the answer to most questions, I say "Sure it's possible, but what exactly do you want to do with it?"

Let's begin with the hardware. I am currently working in the Lower Yukon School District where most teachers have a MacBookPro, Notebook Software, and a document camera. These cameras are either the Elmo TT-02s or the Avervision 300AF+ models. All of the ideas I share here are also possible on Windows and, of course, other document cameras.

To begin, your camera is a simple device. It has a switch on it to provide users with 1 output while accepting 2 inputs. The design is meant for you to press a button, use your computer on a projector (or SMART Board or monitor), press another button, and display what it in the view of the camera. Simple enough, but I want to use both the computer and the camera at the same time!!




AVerVision

Here is how it's done: Download the Avervision Flash plug in and follow my directions:

Click on the (Mac) version:

You will also need to download the SMART Notebook for Mac html tester below:

file:///Applications/AVerVision%20Flash%20Plug-in/SecuritySettings.html 

Open Notebook and click on the Insert Menu > Flash > Applications > AVerVision Flash Plug-in > ....swf file.






ELMO 


For the Elmo, you will need to download the Image Mate Software for Mac. CLICK HERE.

Once you do, watch this video to see how to view through Notebook: 


Things to remember:
  • Keep the end result in mind, and don't overcomplicate things if you don't need to. 
  • Use the Ink Layer (Notebook 10) or SMART Ink (Notebook 11) any time without the Notebook hassle.
  • Capturing annotations can be done in numerous ways, but I find screen shots to be the simplest (Command+Shift+4 or Command+Shift+3).





Saturday, October 13, 2012

Digital Storytelling


Lately I have been thinking a lot about digital storytelling and what it really means. Here are some definitions found when Googled: 
  • When students create a movie or interactive slide show to tell their story, learning becomes personal.
  • a short form of digital film-making that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story.
  • the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.
  • the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling.


Basically, I think DS is putting your "voice" into an idea you want shared with others. I could write it down and you would see my emotion, I could record the audio and you wouldn't see my expressions, I could record myself on video, but you couldn't see my visualizations... So what is the best way to tell a story? I don't know. 

What I do know is that there are a ton of recourses out there for story tellers, teachers and students alike. In the coming weeks I will be working with my colleagues to build a story in my personal favorite tool: iMovie. I like iMovie because it easy to use, easy to teach and offers a great deal of flexibility and creativity in the production process. Mainly used for editing movie clips ad jazzing up still images, iMovie can provide a great deal of features if you can just spend the time "playing" in the software. Making movies is only one way to tell a story, though. 

I find that students want to be different in some way when given an individual activity in the classroom  To harness this energy and provide multiple means of interaction with the assessment process or community of learners, I offer the following tools: 

  • Stop Motion Animation
Culture Street
  • Make Your Own Book
Story Cove
  • Jazz Up Text
Prezi

  • Or maybe you just want a special guest reader for a story your students already know! 


For more information about digital storytelling in the classroom:
  • "New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity"
  • Digital Storytelling in the Classroom - Jason Ohler
  • Web 2.0: new tools, new schools - Solomon and Schrum
  • My Delicious Account

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SMART Boards Are Dumb?


I recently read a blog posting about how bad an idea SMARTBoards were for school investments and couldn't help but respond. I hope you don't get too bored reading both, but here goes:
I can’t argue cost effectiveness in the context of technology because no technology is cost effective until it’s too old to be effective at all (in the classroom, that is)… What I can and do disagree with is the limitations of a SMARTBoard in any setting (though specifically classrooms here), especially with what the author describes. I cannot, therefore, “acknowledge” that SMARTBoards only “amuse… students” and “save content.”
SMARTBoards are a giant interface, to this I will agree; but let me give you a brief soap-box-sermon on how/why I think they should be used:
1.    Your computer monitor is too small for everyone to see and your mouse and track pad are too small to share. (Not to mention limited to one user at a time)
a.    The current incarnation of the SMARTBoard is multi-touch (currently 2 points) and DViT camera based. Other models include these features and do not require a projector as they are built into an LED display.
                                              i.     As a side note, think of the possibilities for special needs students and small group instruction if teachers had a TV stand allowing for swiveling to the horizontal plane! Basically, you would have an interactive monitor as a table/desk/learning center…

2.    SMARTBoards do enable more dynamic presentation of content. What is wrong with that? Student showcasing and modeling of lessons by the teacher are vital to instruction. This is most effectively done on a SMARTBoard.
a.    With Applications like Reflection, you can use your computer like an Apple TV. Meaning you can share from iPad to the computer driving the SMARTBoard in it’s own window. Any student could share to the teacher through airplay. With other apps for iPad like SplashTop, you can control a computer from iPad! i.e. Teachers can allow students to interact with SMARTBoard, computer, or iPad to communicate with the computer running the Board.
                                              i.     Be mindful of display limitations on your hardware… I recommend a Mac Mini for the scenario above.

3.    Saving content on a computer is easy and the methods are numerous. Saving a worksheet a student wrote on last year for a student this year would be silly. So would saving inked materials in a Notebook file. What would be powerful is creating an electronic worksheet for students to click through on their computers or mobile devices. Creating this on a SMARTBoard, using Notebook software’s page recording, is so much more interactive and responsive than a screen capture. Saving ink on a page is like saying a Cadillac has cup holders…
4.    Using a tool in the classroom to do something you used to do with a different tool is not ideal, but it’s also not wrong. If you can be more effective and efficient at a beneficial activity, then the benefits must simply balance out with the cost. To truly do something new (like having two student solving a problem on a large interactive display in front of the class or in a small group setting) is my hope. This is directly dependant on the ease of use of the tool (hardware or software), the skill level of the learner, and the professional development of the instructor/facilitator.
a.    For more in formation about ideas about technology skill acquisition and its impact on learning see the work of Dr. Ruben Puentedura.
b.    For more information on student centered learning research flipping the classroom, Project RED, and One-to-One computing initiatives.
5.    The model is certainly “broken” in this I agree wholeheartedly with the author. Implementing rolling cushy chairs in every classroom in hopes that comfortable seats would improve engagement would be an expensive misguided venture to continue the broken system. But SMARTBoards, just like laptops or iPads, are tools, not furniture. It is all about the use of these tools. We don’t stop buying textbooks when instructors teach from the textbook and students vandalize or hit each other with them; so why stop buying technology when teachers and students don’t know how to use the tool properly?
a.    The answer is professional development. Short of a complete cessation of the compulsory educational process in the US, the best we can do is improve what we have. What we have is an army of talented educators and millions of learners disengaged due to a disconnect between the words ‘school,’ ‘education,’ and ‘relevant.’
6.    The following points were made quickly and I will try to respond accordingly:
a.    Not adaptive – the SMARTBoard allows for on-the-fly adaptation from the teacher live during direct instruction. Combined with any common formative assessment tool, whether Neo2’s, SMART Response, or cell phones, this is the very definition of an adaptive classroom.
b.    Not differentiation – perhaps I am off the mark here, but differentiation includes the use of multiple senses, various means of interaction, and references the multiple intelligences. The SMARTBoard is big, bright, physically interactive, easy to integrate with multimedia, and collaborative.
c.    No social feedback – being a giant image of a collaborative interface, it seems fairly social… though in essence I think the author makes a good point.
d.    Teacher workload – if the SMARTBoard does anything, I think it decreases teacher workload. Projecting worksheets and writing on them digitally is a lot easier than the old printing on transparency method. Clicking through Google Earth in front of the class is much easier than hiding at the desk with a mouse. Saving student work and delivering it electronically is infinitely easier than creating catch up packets for missing students… I could go on, but I thought this one was an easy one to disagree with.
e.    Lesson planning – the SMARTBoard is obviously not a lesson planning tool, but I would argue it should be a part time teacher presentation tool, part time small group learning center, part time student presentation tool. Meaning teachers would only plan activities for it 33% of the time... If they have never used a SMARTBoard before there will be a learning curve, but suddenly this fictional class is student driven (i.e. less planning).
7.    “SMARTBoards are an administrative cop out”  - I think this comment was both thought provoking and comical. First, if you assume a principal had the money to spend in the first place (comical), what else might they spend money on? The fact is one-one computing is difficult to manage, nearly impossible to convince newcomers to technology to implement (especially at the classroom level), and a complete paradigm shift for traditional education.
All said and done, I think the author did an great job summarizing where we should be heading in the future, but was unaware of some pedagogical possibilities of using the device. I hope if they read this they know I respect them very much and our minor disagreements are simply a conversation and never to be misconstrued as antagonistic. Please comment below on what you think of the concepts shared in either blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Android Tablets in Education

I am working on Galaxy Tablets now that I have given away all five of the iPads I have access to, including personal ones! I don't mind, of course; I am happy to do it. I love teachers and I love evangelizing for classroom technology. 

The bad news is I have to learn all about Android OSs, dozens of manufacturers, and alternatives to the App Store. I just spent $300 on Apple apps last year to make my iPad(s) the baddest on the block and now I guess I have to do the same in the Play Store. Where do I start though!? 


I found a few good sites, but overall I am much more impressed with the iTunes Store... 
The fields of Technology and Education have a lot in common. Both require research, time, and money to perfect. Both are open to interpretation and both have more than one way of finding "success." To be truly objective and to really know 100% for sure what the BEST (Whatever) is, you have to try it all.

 Well here goes nothing right? 



In case you need a good chuckle, here is a comic from one of my favorite time wasting websites:








Thursday, August 16, 2012

Distance Edcuation

I have been thinking a lot about distance ed... I want to try to take on a course or two this year, but I want to do it "right." How, I thought... Here are my thoughts.


I think that the most important evaluative tool is peer critiquing. I would suggest that the instructor in question enroll a fellow professional in the course in question to observe the interactions of the class as a whole from within. In this way, the instructor will be able to discuss the feelings of the course, audited by a colleague, from the participant’s perspective.

Another method for possible evaluation of the necessary changes to a course in the distance learning context would be to stay abreast of research and pedagogical theory. In a very real sense, being well read and informed can affect teaching directly.

I think the final way, though not always the most acceptable; way to qualify a change in practice/delivery in online courses is to track data over time. Essentially, a teacher could experiment with possible changes and observe the results as they change. This is probably the most effective, yet most difficult to achieve. Without proven results, it is hard to show a need for a given teaching method or change.
  1. Possible changes include the use of multimedia in presentations given live or in a synchronous distance course. Audio and video are much more engaging than text and voice alone.
  2. The second simple way to enhance these types of lessons could be to podcast or vodcast lectures. In the posting of these series’ the learner will have access to materials any time or place, not to mention the advantage of repeated or personally unique viewing experiences.
  3. A third suggestion would be to focus on the building of community within the distance classroom. Required numbers of postings, to a certain extent, are necessary due in no small part to the busy schedules we all balance daily. In truth though, it is the quality of the posting to blogs and forums that matters, not the quantity. Instructors should be proactive and monitor these postings diligently.
  4. A fourth area of concern and focus in distance education I would recommend special attention be given to is the quality of learner management system (LMS). It is vital that the site and it’s content be accessible and available at all times. Asynchronous, blended, and face-to-face courses with online modules need an LMS that simply will not fail its clients. There is nothing worse than a catastrophic crash on a due date, a reoccurring error at login, or a data loss mystery to lower the morale of a class or destroy a student’s confidence in technology.
  5. A final area of concern I have in the distance education world is that of assessment. I am of the opinion that objectives necessitate assessment and standards should drive our teaching. This is no less true for distance education than traditional education. Perhaps even more so, given the lake of physical contact and conversational and emotional interactions with students normally present in the traditional classroom. Formative assessment must be regular, immediate, responsive, and rich (in media) in the online world. It must also be secure and efficient.


When evaluating teaching methods, strategies, etc, I find it helpful to use rubrics. This takes the emotion out the process and helps us to better qualify our opinions on the idea. It is also helpful to do so as a team. PLCs are the perfect place for this to happen in a school or even in an online community. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flipping the Classroom

There is a great deal of talk lately about the need for mobility in the education world. What does that mean for teachers though? What does it mean to the administrative support teams (and especially technology specialists like myself)?

I was reading a great blog about this today and thought it answered these questions fairly well:

Whatever the answer turns out to be in your neck of the woods one thing is for certain: It means change. I am a huge fan of the Flip Your Classroom model. I have watched it grow from its infancy ad seen the research to back it up. If I were in a classroom I would be the teacher to try it out all on my own, spend countless hours in a sound booth, and fight the battles with administration to make it work. Unfortunately I am not and I cannot force teachers to give up any semblance of a social life for the next 18 months to give it a shot.

Salman Khan has great ideas on the subject as well.

Here is what I would recommend in a perfect world, perhaps one with a one-to-one laptop initiative... Create a 3 year plan to migrate from the traditional classroom setting to the Flipped model. The first year said teacher would record common activities and lecture while presenting to the class in a normal fashion. Resources for the lesson would be organized in a digital format and posted to a shared location. Ideas for this location range from internal share points to Google Drive. As long as the area is relatively secure and functional, it should work fine. If the first year is too stressful to capture the entire course, try focusing on one class or section.

Once successfully captured, it is just a matter of transitioning into the "workshop" model of class time with lecture and individualized instruction at home. Without internet access this could be a bit of a challenge ate home, so be sure to provide multiple means of interacting with the teacher's content.

Year two is a time to practice the methodology of Flipped classrooms and streamline procedures... not to mention evangelize for the cause! By year three the teacher is a pro (fingers crossed) and the students are familiar enough with the process to make it work. Participation at home will be a key, of course but it is definitely a real possibility. For more information about tools that can help you streamline the Flipped transition click here. Contact The Chariot Group in Anchorage, AK for more details.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Social Media


Macintosh HD:Users:sbourgeois:Desktop:logos:LYSD:LYSD LOGO High Res.jpg
This is a board report I prepared for a meeting this week. I thought I would share it for informational purposes to LYSD employees and anyone else interested...

Social Media
in the Lower Yukon School District

Who
  •       Technology Dept maintains the content currently

What
  •      Currently there is a YouTube channel, Google Plus account, Facebook Page.

When
  • All content is posted and managed within the LYSD filtering protocols between 8am and 5pm.

Why
  • Social media is not a fad or a waste of time. If students (and everyone else for that matter) are engaged by it’s use, then we should capitalize on it!

·      NETS (National Educational Technology Standards)
·      CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act)
·      District Technology Plan must include it
Where

“Elevator Speech”
·      External – Not to be confused with the SMT; After hours
·      Meaningful - Not “just for fun”; community related events, photos, etc…
·      Educational – Not yet…


 Playlists include various topics:
o   Teacher Testimonials
o   Information about the district
o   Old recruiting videos
o   Training videos
YouTube EDU is content filtered and automatically rerouted
User account is controlled by Google user: Anica Azachorok







What are other organizations doing with social media?

Anchorage:
Kenai:
BSSD:
ANTHC:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Smart Notebook 11


Smart Notebook 11 Adds Browser Embedding, Adaptive Toolbar

Smart Technologies has released version 11 of its collaborative learning tool, Smart Notebook. The company has also released an update to Smart Response and 3D Tools for Mac OS X.
Smart Notebook is a standards-aligned collaborative learning tool that operates in conjunction with Smart interactive whiteboards. It provides access to curricular resources--Flash objects, videos, images, and other elements--and tools like an object animator, shape recognizer, and recorder.
The new version, Smart Notebook 11, gains a new browser that allows users to embed live Web pages directly within a Smart Notebook page. It also includes tools that let users annotate over those embedded pages and open the embedded page from within a lesson.
In addition, the new version includes a contextual toolbar that changes with each tool that's selected. And it adds a new activity builder that allows objects to "react to actions by accepting or rejecting other objects or by triggering animations or sound."
Other new features include:
  • A crayon-like drawing tool;
  • Customizable, image-based pens;
  • Audio recording directly into a Smart Notebook lesson;
  • Revert page;
  • Improved text formatting; and
  • Support for a new gesture that allows users to shake objects to create or release groups.
Smart has also updated Smart Response assessment software, which works with Smart's student response systems. Smart Response 2012 (version 4.0.249.0) offers "improved tagging and reporting based on education standards and cognitive levels," according to Smart. "It also enhances image handling and language support for Smart Response VE, which supports students who use Internet-enabled mobile devices."
Other new features include support for Mac OS X Lion, support for multiple receivers to connect more devices in a single class, and the ability to manage multiple device types.
Smart has also made 3D Tools for Smart Notebook available for Mac OS X.
Additional details and links to update information can be found on Smart Technologies' support site. Smart Notebook toolbar widgets can be downloaded from the Smart Exchange site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Retro Charger

This weekend I was tinkering around with an old Apple 2E computer which, by the way, was released when I was two years old (1982/83). I attended the ASTE Conference this passed February and the Bering Straights team did something like this at their booth. I loved it and wanted to try it out, too! 


Basically a 64gb iPad 2 was mounted in the shell of a 2e.


 I ran the cord through the back of the box and cut out for the sync/charge cord.


With all the extra room, I could also mount small speakers inside the casing. 


The result is "The Retro Charger" iPad charging/docking station... 

What else was I going to do on a Saturday afternoon, watch TV?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Google Apps in Education

What is all this talk about "the cloud?"

Why do I need to set up "Home Sharing" for my iTunes?

How can I keep up with files over the course of jobs, years, and computers in the coming years?

There has been a recent revolution to share files to the web over the last 10 years or so... These questions and many others are answered by a simple fact: the way we communicate has changed. Just like the telephone changed the way we share information across the country and globe, the internet has changed the way we share electronic files. It is no longer a necessity to possess a piece of information, only to have reliable, efficient access to it.

The days of a computer or smartphone crashing and loosing data are over. With the ability to access information from a single repository through multiple devices we are free to become truly mobile. Okay, okay, let's slow down a bit... Let's begin with Google.

Google has a long history as a giant among the titans of the internet. It is third in terms of web mail (though it hosts many domains outside of the "@gmail.com" domain that may not be counted), supports all platforms as the Chrome browser, and is synonymous with the words "internet search" (Google-it!). But what you may not know is that Google also links you to Blogspot, YouTube, and Picassa just to name a few. Google hosts everything from source code editors to websites, word processors to presentation tools, and computer aided design programs to free books online!

Lets get started with few basic Google features. All require a GMail account to interact, so why don't you go ahead and make one: CLICK

If you already have one, watch the videos on the following:
Mail
Calendaring
Contacts
Websites
Documents
YouTube
Maps
Books


Defining "Educational Technology"


I was thinking about the following questions recently and I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts and ask for feedback from any readers... 

What is your working definition of technology? 
What is your working definition of assessment? 
How are you currently facilitating the use of technology in the classroom?

My definition of technology is fairly loose. I would say it is the application of new science or concepts for the purpose of making a task more efficient or effective. In this discussion I often share a funny story from my experience consulting. While visiting a school to offer professional development I was told by a veteran teacher that she couldn’t do “the SMART Board thing” because it was “too high tech.” I told her it was basically just a really fancy mouse pad. That night I looked up some interesting quotes and found one from Horace Mann himself (which I could not find to share here). He said something like ‘this board will revolutionize education and change every classroom…’ He was talking about the chalkboard, of course, around the turn of the century. I put the quote on the title page of the second day’s workshop and asked everyone what the thought. They all said “Yes, SMART Boards will change everything, but it’s tough to figure out how to integrate it into lesson we already teach and strategies we already use.” I let them talk about and get a little fired up, then I clicked to reveal the author, date, and subject.

It seems to me that teachers (and businesses) feel the same way I described in a great many circumstances. Just like hand held slate boards were once revolutionary teaching and assessment tools, dare I say “high tech,” so now are web 2.0 and other resources. It is all relative. To facilitate eh use of technology in the classrooms within my district I prefer slow and methodical implementation. I try to give teachers a dozen reasons to use a particular tool and let them want to learn and use it. If you get stakeholder buy in anything is possible. Once interest builds I develop user specific training to teach basic features and functions to enable exploration. The next phase is professional development. This PD should be hands-on, relevant to the content areas of those involved, and ongoing. I do my best to reproduce everything produced in presentation format and post it online. This way it can be revisited when needed.  

One of my favorite ideas sweeping the education community right now is the move toward mobility. I am doing my best to win grants for my teachers to use iPads, iPods, and other tablets in the classrooms. By enabling the learners to succeed in so many facets, I open up numerous opportunities to tap into web response systems.
Some of my favorite online tools at the moment are www.questionpress.com and www.polleverywhere.com . These tools allow teachers to use a browser and any texting cell phone as a student responder. With the first item, I suggest to teachers that they import standards based assessments required by the state into the online database. Then they can align standards to questions and deliver the practice test numerous times a year to gauge student retention and progress. In short it is a brilliant tool to find where on the learning continuum a student lies through this summative assessment. In the context of the second tool, I suggest teachers use instant polling features to create dynamic formative assessments. Instant polls are wonderful for anticipatory sets, anonymous polling, and simple understanding checks. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

iPad, iPhone, Touch Apps for Education

I posted a list of my apps a while back but on a different blog. It was internal to the Lower Yukon School District and inaccessible from the outside world. I apologize for the oversight and am posting them here now. I have to thank Bering Straits School's for their list (which overlaps or accounts for a large part of my list) as well as the Apple Professional Development team. While attending ASTE, for example, I mingled with techies from all over our great state and learned what works, what doesn't, and what is just plain fun!

Okay, here goes... First BSSD's list (thanks again Josh):

Kindergarten 


ShowMe (free)

Draw Free (free)

ABC Song ($0.99)




ABC-eater ($0.99)




 Websites with Multiple App Listings 



Now here are mine (I know I am lazy, but I didn't want to type them out):