Category Archives: Hints, Tips & How To’s

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4 websites for coding

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With the change in the ICT curriculum from September, more students will need to get to grips with coding.

Here are 4 sites that will help students and staff to develop their coding skills;

 

  • Code.Org
    Code.org is one of the most popular coding sites for people of all ages. Its initial training program is advertised as being suited for ages 6-106. The instructional videos are full of famous names like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. The initial training, dubbed “1 Hour of Code” is a fun little game that introduces students to the basics of coding. It uses drag and drop boxes and familiar characters from games like Angry Birds and Plants Vs Zombies to teach the very first steps that you need to learn. The program doesn’t really take an hour and the instructions are straight forward and easy to understand. Once the 1 Hour of Code is complete, students will move back to pen and paper to learn the basics of computational thinking and the lessons just go on from there. They even offer a K-8 program for U.S. public school teachers that offers up to $1,000 in grant money for teachers who use these lesson plans to teach young children how to code.
  • Codecademy
    Codecademy offers a more straight forward approach to coding lessons. Students complete a short introduction and then are invited to choose between a number of programming languages that the site offers. Currently, users can choose between Java, HTML/CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby, and API. The lessons are broken down into individual components. For example, the HTML/CSS lessons start out by teaching the user how to use the proper tags to open and close an HTML document. The next step from there is learning how to use the tags to create titles, paragraphs and all the other basic components of a website. The lessons are not as colorful or entertaining as those on Code.Org so they would be better suited for high school students. They do, however, manage to deliver a large amount of information in a very short amount of time. The lessons are estimated to take between 10-12 hours to complete.
  • Code Racer
    This site is not for the faint of heart and not for those without a little bit of coding knowledge. This site is very similar to Type Racer for typing, in that it pits the student against other players. Instead of typing words or quotes though, the student has to complete coding challenges. There is an “I Need Help” button that will tell the user what needs to be done for the particular challenge but it is not does damage the player’s score. This is a fantastic tool to help students practice their skills in an environment that isn’t quite practical but is eminently entertaining. Students can compete against each other and against other players in this fantastic game that is quickly gaining in popularity. They just moved to http://teamtreehouse.com/.
  • Code School
    Code School is one of the most well known sites for free coding classes. Unfortunately, not all of the classes are free but students are able to access every course on the website for a mere $29 per month, though there is no contract or commitment so the students or teachers can simply stop paying anytime the site is no longer needed or required. The site currently offers comprehensive classes for students who are looking to learn JavaScript, Ruby, and HTML/CSS or want to try their hand at crafting applications for the iOS app store. The code skills are being taught through exciting games with immersive narratives, because people learn best when they are enjoying what they do.

 

A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom

Is Social Media Relevant? Take the Quiz

Before we talk social media, let’s talk about the relevance of social media by taking a quiz. Which of the following is most likely to be true?

  • Should we teach letter-writing in the classroom? Kids need to write letters and mail them. But what if they send mail to a bad person or someone in prison? What if it gets lost in the mail and the wrong person opens it? Are we opening up a whole dangerous world to our students once they mail letters to others? Surely students will send thousands of letters through the mail in their lifetime.
  • Should we teach email in the classroom? Kids need to email other people and should know how to title a subject. But what if they email someone bad? What if they accidentally send it to the wrong person? What will we do? And are we opening up a whole dangerous world to our students once they email others? Surely students will send thousands of emails in their lifetime.
  • Should we teach (dare we say it) social media in the classroom? I mean, they don’t have to learn microblogging on Twitter — you can do that in Edmodo, right? You can have a private blog or put them on Kidblogs or Edublogs instead of letting them post long status updates on Facebook, right? Are we opening up a whole dangerous world to our students once they are writing online and posting comments to each other? Surely students will post thousands of status updates, pictures, and blogs in their lifetime.

The Social Media Answer

☑ There’s one form of writing that can arguably get someone fired, hired or forced to retire faster than any other form of writing.

☑ There’s one form that will most likely be read by college admissions offices and teams of student “stalkers” hired to vet students before they receive scholarships.

☑ There’s one form that will prevent some people from running for political office and get others elected.

One form of writing is that powerful.

If you guessed social media, you’re right.

More A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom | Edutopia.

10 Social Media Tips for Reaching World Language Learners

* world of social media

Feeling outdated, not connected, or even totally lost in the digital age? Well, let me assure you, droning on and on about grammatical structures is a surefire way to quickly lose student interest in the world language classroom. Instead, embrace something which truly interests the millennial student: social media. Utilizing it in the classroom will give your students practical, engaging ways to communicate in the language you teach. The 21st century learner is not wired to memorize; instead, her or she is inclined to create, connect and collaborate. Social media is the perfect medium for us, their teachers, to reach them.

Here are ten ideas to get you started on your journey toward not becoming the classroom dinosaur you have always feared becoming.

more 10 Social Media Tips for Reaching World Language Learners | Edutopia.

131 Tips on Graphics and Animations for eLearning – Free Download

* 131 Tips

Are your graphics and animations effective? Are you engaging your learners?

This complimentary eBook, 131 Tips on Graphics and Animations for eLearning, from The eLearning Guild, will teach you the importance of knowing your audience—including knowing how to meet the needs of learners with disabilities, why visual consistency is important to learning, and when (and when not) to use graphics and animations. You’ll learn about basic and advanced graphic and animation tools, how to save time with templates, how to use fonts as graphics, how to use Flash for animations even if you plan to deliver animations in HTML5, and much, much more.

The topics covered include:
• Graphics, animations, and instructional design
• Selecting graphics
• Designing or modifying graphics
• Designing animations
• Fonts and colors
• Tools for graphics
• Tools for animations

Download your complimentary copy today at: http://bit.ly/1gZcHFn

10 Success Factors for Teachers and Students in Online Classes

High schools, colleges, and universities are moving online, and the number of students who participate in online and blended courses is expanding rapidly. The transition has not always been easy, and both teachers and students are still working out the best strategies for online education.

Here are 10 Success Factors for Teachers and Students in Online Classes.

In 2008, the authors of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns predicted that by 2019 half of all high school courses would be delivered online. At the time, it was quite controversial but with massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the general rush toward online learning at all levels, that prediction seems almost conservative, today. As this trend continues, both teachers and students are learning (often by trial and error) how to survive this new kind of e-learning.

Teachers

  1. Use good learning objectives. Like traditional courses, online courses should be designed based on clear, specific, and measurable learning objectives. Too often, the learning objectives hang around the bottom levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, but this does not need to be the case. Using better assessments (see below) can help students move from understanding and remembering to evaluating and creating.
  2. Pay attention to course navigation. One of the biggest complaints students have about online courses is confusing navigation and this problem can greatly demotivate students, and may result in them opting out of the course. All of the resources and tools should be easily accessible from the course landing page, including the syllabus, a guide to getting started, the modules themselves, and—most importantly—where students can go for help and support.
  3. Use diverse resources. One key advantage of online courses is that the Internet contains a veritable smorgasbord of content options. So why be limited to text documents or even videos? Slide presentations with voiceovers, screencasts and pencasts, whiteboard animations, interactive e-books, virtual games and simulations, and many other types of resources can help keep students engaged.
  4. Provide spaces for students to interact. A second main advantage of online courses is the plethora of options for student interaction, which leads to much greater mastery and skill development than learning in isolation. At the very least, all online courses should include a discussion board with both assigned discussion topics and areas for student-initiated threads. Even better, wikis, blogs, Twitter discussions, Facebook pages, and other social media platforms provide plenty of opportunities for students to curate content, share their thoughts, and learn from each other.
  5. Use appropriate assessments. Assessment in online courses is no longer limited to multiple-choice and other computer based questions. Independent and collaborative projects based on real-world problem-solving can help students move up the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. One way of harnessing technology in assessment is encouraging students to create digital artefacts’ and then evaluate one another’s work.

Students

  1. Understand the effort required. Many students think e-learning is easier than traditional learning, but this is most certainly not the case. In fact, online courses are often more difficult because of the added challenge of self-discipline and motivation. Also, online courses offer great flexibility and allow many people to become students who otherwise would not have the opportunity, but they aren’t for someone who is not willing to make an effort.
  2. Properly research the course. Many people take online courses to help them prepare for future academic work or to advance their careers. Before signing up for a course, students should make sure it offers what they require in terms of curriculum, accreditation, and credit transferability.
  3. Good time management. Many people vastly underestimate the time they will need to spend on online courses, which require at least as much (and often more) time as traditional courses. Students should plan on a minimum of three to four hours, and in some cases six to eight hours, per week. To ensure they don’t fall behind, students should review the syllabus, so they know in advance when assignments and tests are due, prepare a study schedule, and stick to it.
  4. Interact with other students. Although most online courses include some sort of interactive element, participating in class discussions is not always mandatory, and many students do not actively contribute. However, research has shown that peer learning is much more effective than learning in isolation. The only way to get the most out of an online course is to take advantage of all of the tools available.
  5. Ask for help. Many students in online courses choose to suffer silently rather than asking for help when they need it, possibly out of the fear of looking foolish in front of classmates. Students who don’t get adequate support are more likely to perform poorly or cut classes. But all students need help of some kind, whether they are having trouble with the technology or need help understanding the material. Asking for help is a simple but powerful way students can improve their online learning experience.

The Internet is continuing to transform how we learn, and as technologies develop and more courses go online, both students and teachers will become more comfortable with the tools and platforms. So let’s focus on making the online learning experience as useful and engaging as possible.


Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs.com which is a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge. Through its eLearning authoring tools, ProProfs offers trainers and educators powerful-but-simple features without requiring users to download or learn expensive software. Sameer has a background in technology with a Masters in Computer Science from USC (University Of Southern California) and is an ed-tech industry veteran. You can find Sameer on Google+ and Twitter.

8 Steps To Great Digital Storytelling

* Digital Story Telling

Stories bring us together, encourage us to understand and empathize, and help us to communicate. Long before paper and books were common and affordable, information passed from generation to generation through this oral tradition of storytelling. Consider Digital Storytelling as the 21st Century version of the age-old art of storytelling with a twist: digital tools now make it possible for anyone to create a story and share it with the world.

WHY Digital Storytelling?

Digital stories push students to become creators of content, rather than just consumers. Weaving together images, music, text, and voice, digital stories can be created in all content areas and at all grade levels while incorporating the 21st century skills of creating, communicating, and collaborating.

Read more: 8 Steps To Great Digital Storytelling | Edudemic.

10 + 1 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging

* students blogging

Three years ago I started blogging with my 4th grade students on a whim. I knew three things at the start: I wanted to get them connected with each other; I wanted to give them a voice, and I knew I had to change the way they wrote. So I started blogging with them – fumbling my way through the how to and the when to.

What I had no way of knowing was how blogging would change the way I taught, how blogging would give my students a way to speak to the world, and how blogs would make it possible for them to create lasting global connections with other children.

Blogging has since become an integral part of my classroom. It’s a way for me to check the emotional temperature of my kids and a way for them to add their voice to the continuing education debate and reach out to other communities. We no longer just wonder how things are done in other countries. We blog and ask questions and get our answers.

So when I meet with any teacher who wonders how to lower the walls of their classroom and create more authentic learning opportunities, my first advice is to get students blogging.

If they’re interested, I share these steps. They grow out of my own experience working with upper elementary-aged kids, and I believe they can help any middle grades teacher successfully launch a blogging program and integrate it

Read more: 10 + 1 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging | MiddleWeb.

Using Video in e-Learning: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know

Video Set for Episode 02 (Camera)
Credit: Racum

Not that long ago using videos in e-learning was pretty prohibitive due to the costs associated with it. Fast forward a few years and with everyone having access to video-cameras on their smartphones and laptops, it has become a lot more feasible for the everyday e-learning designer to use videos in his/her projects. However, just because video has become more commonplace, that doesn’t mean that adding video to e-learning is without its challenges or that every project merits it. I recently did some research into using video in e-learning for a course I’m presently designing and I thought I’d compile some of my findings into a blog post.

Read more: Using Video in e-Learning: (Almost) Everything You Need to Know « Flirting w/ eLearning.

3 Ways to Reconfigure an Old Computer Lab

New Computer Lab *

Bentley University transformed a largely forgotten, dreary lab space into a campus hotspot.

Not so long ago, Bentley University’s Computer Information Systems Lab was known affectionately as the “bat cave” because of its secluded location in a remote basement corner of a campus classroom building.

The CIS Lab, opened in 2000, was a typical computer lab for its time: 40 computers faced the walls and students went there to access the Internet and get help with homework. As wireless access grew, traffic declined, and tutors often spent more time doing their own homework than helping students or interacting with technology.

A fresh coat of paint and new furniture were the easy and obvious fixes when a Bentley team renovated the lab in 2011. More difficult was changing campus perceptions of what would take place inside. Rebranded in fall 2011 as the CIS Learning and Technology Sandbox, the new facility encourages students to learn both in person and online.

Read more: 3 Ways to Reconfigure an Old Computer Lab | EdTech Magazine.

8 Ways to Deliver More Bandwidth on Campus

Tablet Computer *
Credit: KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Colleges and universities can effectively and efficiently meet the explosion in demand for wireless networking on campus by following these steps.

  • Take time to redesign
  • Seek user input
  • Make capacity a priority
  • Plan for the unknown
  • Evaluate solutions onsite
  • Invest in robust radio-frequency management tools
  • Pay attention to I.P. pools
  • Think about 802.11ac

Read more: 8 Ways to Deliver More Bandwidth on Campus | EdTech Magazine.

Finding the Right Tech Tools Is Easy, If You Know Where to Look

Kathy Schrock has been a district tech director; an instructional tech specialist; and a school, academic, museum, and public librarian. She currently teaches online graduate courses for two universities and is an Adobe Education Leader, a Google Certified Teacher, and a Discovery Education Guru.

The common thread that runs through all of her work is her mission to help teachers keep up with the latest technology. Whether she is writing, speaking, blogging, or tweeting, her goal is to show educators where and how to find tech tools that will engage their students.

Read more: Finding the Right Tech Tools Is Easy, If You Know Where to Look — THE Journal.