Category Archives: Technology

Ipads in the Classroom

IPads in the Classroom – Yay or Nay?

The world of education is constantly evolving, and most agree that the onset of new, interactive technology opens up exciting, new doors in learning what we never could have imagined before.  But how much is too much?  What is the best way to incorporate modern devices, such as laptops and iPads, into traditional educational methods?  To what extent should younger learners be exposed to technology in the classroom, and how is the very notion of the “classroom” evolving?

IPads more than ever are becoming a favorite go-to teaching aid in classrooms, with many schools starting to provide students with their own iPads.  The advantages are clear: the devices’ interactive nature and direct means of accessing teaching resources and learning games online can be a way of sugarcoating learning, hopefully getting students to retain information more if they learn it in an enjoyable fashion.  The drawbacks are equally evident: iPads are costly and, some say, superfluous.  They impede on classroom interaction, and can be viewed as a crutch in both the teaching and learning processes.  They can be used as just another medium for wasting time (take the incident in the Los Angeles school district, where iPads were dispersed to students with all non-academic websites blocked, and within days every single student had hacked their way through the firewall).

In fact, tablets have been shown to significantly improve classroom learning and knowledge retention, especially when it comes to explaining scientific or mathematical concepts that are too complex or abstract to show with traditional textbooks or chalkboards.  Using iPads to communicate ideas about the to-scale size of the solar system, molecules, and timelines has been shown to activate neurocognitive synapses in a unique way from book-learning.  Thanks to thousands of imaginative (many of them free) apps available to use, projects, games, and presentations in art, music, languages, social studies, and more are easier than ever.  And with many students, the scrolling, swiping, and tapping finger motions used to access information on an iPad can make learning a more interactive and stimulating experience.

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) combined with the use of tablets and laptops can expand the classroom in a more encompassing way, allowing the classroom and students’ outside lives to mesh.  Far from replacing the human approach to learning, VLEs allow students and teachers to contact each other directly with questions and feedback, as well as access a wider educational community.  With subjects that are based around communication, such as learning foreign languages, VLEs can give options for exchanges and conversation with students in far-off locations.  Providing a plethora of forums, academic links, and webpages to view tests, classroom content, and other useful resources, VLEs give students a greater individual control over their learning.  It also makes remote learning easier, allowing students who may be traveling or working to attend class with their peers.

More standard VLEs, such as Blackboard which has been used in most colleges and secondary schools for the past decade, offer opportunities to attend classes online, while others provide online student activity centers where users can cooperate on different projects and games.  More cutting edge VLEs such as Moodle, Frog, and Kaleidos offer more opportunities for customization, in an attempt to rival the big social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  The more creative a teacher is, the more enjoyable they can make their virtual classroom, with options to customize their homepage and embed links to newspapers, videos, and podcasts.  And while doling out iPads and conducting classes online can be intimidating to educators, it is increasingly important for educators to keep up with the times and present learning in a way that’s accessible to the tech-savvy younger generation.

Anna Snyder represents WiseIvy, a tutoring service specializing in the college admissions process and school-specific studies. Contact our team today to find a tutor in every field, for every learning need!

How Twitter and Facebook Can Boost Learning

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can actually make students smarter, contrary to the criticisms leveled against them by many educators. Twitter and Facebook can boost learning if instructors use them properly and monitor their students’ use in coursework.

Some educators have been wary of social networks since their inception, concerned that students would use the networks in class, both as an update to the age-old practice of passing notes and as a tool with which to cheat on assignments and tests. The immediate reaction was to ban social network access during class. Some more creative instructors, however, saw a potential for actually enhancing their students’ learning, and they encouraged the students to participate. And it turns out that they were on to something: participating on the social networks can actually enhance education.

Why some educators love to hate social media

Beyond the potential for cheating, Twitter and Facebook have often been criticized by educators and others who are concerned with the future of literacy and critical thinking in our culture. Some think they are time-wasters for most students and are eroding students’ ability to write, spell, and think.

Twitter in particular has been criticized on literacy grounds because its strict 140-character limit per “tweet” (including spaces between words) encourages the use of Internet shorthand and “txtspk” (e.g., “UR” instead of “you are”) and sentence fragments. The fear among some educators is that between tweeting and texting, technology has given rise to a new generation that will be at a loss to write or read a coherent, properly spelled sentence.

Facebook has also been criticized as a time-waster and even, in some well-publicized cases, a bullying tool. It has also become a surefire conduit for rumors, ridiculous memes and urban legends, some of which were debunked back in the pre-Internet age, but nevertheless found new life via email and, more recently, through social media. Consequently some have complained that Facebook encourages laziness and discourages critical thinking and research skills.
While there is some validity to all of these concerns – including the concerns about cheating – none of these are adequate reasons to vilify Twitter or Facebook. Instead, the teacher can use them as tools to boost the learning process. Even some of the perceived disadvantages of Twitter and Facebook can be turned into advantages.


The tweet heard ‘round the world…

Twitter wasn’t even on most people’s radar until the 2008 incident involving student James Karl Buck’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment at a public protest in Egypt. En route to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a one-word Tweet to his friends and contacts: “Arrested.” Within seconds, his fellow U.S. Twitter users and blogger friends in Egypt learned of his arrest, and the news almost immediately went viral. As the news spread, pressure from sources all over the world mounted for Egyptian officials, and Buck was ultimately released. At that point, he tweeted another one-word message, “Free,” which also went viral. And the world recognized the power of social networking.

Indeed, there is power in social networking, and there’s no denying that tweeting can be an effective means of communication and a way to update crucial information in the shortest, most direct way possible. Twitter has become a medium in and of itself, but its greater usefulness lies in the ability of the “tweeter” to link to other media. News media, for instance, now routinely use tweets to link to longer articles and videos, and that in fact is where Twitter becomes truly useful; it can link the reader to more substantial information. And this, ideally, is how Twitter can become valuable in the classroom: as a portal to information about the world.
What about the literacy argument? While some accuse Twitter of “dumbing down” the language and interfering with the ability to read, write and think, there are equally powerful – and eloquently literate – voices defending Twitter. A few years ago, best-selling Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood declared that Twitter actually boosts literacy. Atwood noted that a lot of dedicated Twitter users are also avid readers, and added, “People have to actually be able to read and write to use the Internet, so it’s a great literacy driver if kids are given the tools and the incentive to learn the skills that allow them to access it.”
Moreover, one has to have at least rudimentary reading and writing skills to tweet, and tweeting (as well as texting) are less passive experiences than talking on the phone or watching TV.
http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/literary-legend-margaret-atwood-thinks-twitter-boosts-literacy_b16428

Other experts also believe that social media such as Twitter can be used to enhance reading and writing. One of these experts is Rey Junco, of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. http://www.opb.org/news/article/npr-can-twitter-boost-literacy/

Facebook, like Twitter, is a two-edged sword
Many of the arguments in favor of Twitter can also be used about Facebook: It can enhance reading and writing, and can be a portal to educational content. Of course a cursory look at random Facebook postings will reveal that freedom from the 140-character limit does not automatically make the poster witty, eloquent, or even particularly literate. That said, Facebook can be a powerful tool to convey legitimate information – whether an update on coursework or a link to a news story, opinion piece or white paper that is relevant to the work.

Even what is arguably one of Facebook’s weaknesses – its common use as a conduit for rumors and nonsense – can be transformed into a strength if teachers use examples as teaching tools to encourage critical thinking and research skills.

The greatest strength of social media is that they allow people not only to engage in the “public conversation” but also to connect with the world in a way that will actually expand their outlook and open their minds. Educators can and should take advantage of these tools, while guiding students in the responsible use of social media in the context of coursework.

Author Byline:

“This guest post is contributed by Rebecca Gray, who writes about free background check for Backgroundchecks.org. She welcomes your comments at her email id:GrayRebecca14@gmail.com.”

 

digital-britain---fiber-o-002

4 websites for coding

digital-britain---fiber-o-002

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.

 

Mixlr – Online Broadcaster

From a quick conversation with a new member of staff wanting to launch a online radio show for the school I work at, from a post on twitter I came across Mixler at www.mixlr.com. Tagged as Social Live Audio, I created a free account and set about playing. Literally with 10 mins I have the first test stream online and playing.

I embedded the code and away we went. Early stages, but with the autoplay function, it allows me to embedd this in the digital signage system, and allows for previous shows to be recorded on the fly for listening later. Both desktop and ipad/pod compatible its easy for students and staff to start producing radio streams.

You can use 3 audio feeds, which should be ample for the basic of production, adding to playlists and great social interaction with your listeners, I would strongly recommend a download and get broadcasting.

I am even tempted to create a elearningsite channel podcasting show, if anybody would be interested in working on a show, producing podcasts on their elearning activities, drop me a line.

levinson-ipad-be-nimble-Thinkstock_0

iPad Be Nimble, iPad Be Quick

levinson-ipad-be-nimble-Thinkstock_0

One of the most challenging lessons for schools to learn in implementing iPads is that the iPad is not a laptop. The conversation can sometimes get bogged down around the device, trapping schools in these definitions as they lose sight of the central reasons to use technology:

  • To enhance teaching and learning
  • To differentiate instruction
  • To personalize the learning experience
  • To solve authentic problems where technology must be used to solve those problems

This is not an easy lesson. It requires a paradigm shift in teaching and learning.

iPads vs. Laptops

It’s worth noting the different features of laptops and iPads and to see the benefit of both devices.

While the laptop is heavy, takes a long time to boot up, and is often used as a word processing tool with typing and keyboarding being paramount, it’s also a powerful device for computer programming and accessing Adobe Flash-based simulations, particularly in the sciences. And the laptop is not bound by the app store. Many adults often prefer using a laptop over an iPad. And many students feel the same way. The laptop is often the default go-to device, full of power and possibility.

The shift to iPads over laptops does not have to be a zero sum game. The ideal setting, being adopted by many schools, is moving to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs to allow for flexibility and for students to work on their own devices. And BYOD also shifts the conversation away from the device and toward the learning experience. In other words, based on the learning experience, which device will best allow students to achieve the learning objectives? It might be a laptop or a tablet — or even a smartphone.

READ MORE

* Blackboard

Heartbleed – What it is and what you need to do about it

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the Heartbleed bug. This article gives you the low down on what it is, how it affects you and what you need to do about it.

The video below is fairly typical of what came out inthe news this week:

So as you can see the issue is not on your computer but in Open SSL, a piece of  software which sits on servers on the Internet.

By now most of the sites which this affects will have installed the fix.

Once a site has the patch (fix) in place you need to go and change your password. This is laborious, but essential for any site where you might lose money or anything important. So start with your bank accounts and work out from there.

Many of us use the same password over and over of different sites. After all who can remember 100 plus highly secure passowrds? I know I can’t.

What I do is use a password manager. I only need to remember one very secure password to access my password manager and then it remembers all the others. Password managers can usually generate secure passwords for you as well.

There are a number of password managers around and many web security packages also include a password manager. They can be accessed from any browser and oftern have mobile versions as well.

Here is a round up of the ones I have used at some time.

Just Google It: How Google Has Changed Research for Grad Students

Google It
Source: GradSchoolHub.com

94: percentage of U.S. students who equate research with using Google, or other search engines.
75: percentage of students who use Wikipedia and online encyclopedias.
87: the percentage of all US adults using the Internet who also use search engines.

2 billion: Or nearly 30 percent of all humans, use the Internet

A history of online research

1962: J.C.R. Licklider of MIT has “Galactic Network” concept, a globally interconnected set of computers where everyone could access data from any site.
1989: Demonstration of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.
1990: Public release of the World Wide Web.
1990: First search tool for the web (Archie) was created.
1993: First web crawler (Wanderer) was created.
1993: First graphical browser (Mosaic).
1994: Netscape browser launched.
1994: Development of first popular search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite and Yahoo)
1995: Internet Explorer launched.
1995: First public video-conference took place.
1996: Instant messaging services launched.
1997: Google released
1997: First weblog (blog) is attributed to Jorn Barger’s Robot Wisdom Web site.
1997: SixDegrees.com is launched. Often seen as the first social networking site.
Paid placement ranking: Goto morphed into Overture and Yahoo. Ranking depended on how much you paid.
1998 +: Link based ranking pioneered by Google
• Blew away all search engines except Inktomi; meanwhile, Goto/Overture’s annual revenues were nearly $1 billion.
2000: 400 million people across the globe use the internet.
2001: First commercial launch of 3G (Third Generation) mobile phones.
2001: First Access Grid developed at the University of Manchester.
2003: Myspace launched.
2003: Yahoo acquires Overture (for paid placement) and Inktomi (search)
2004: Mozilla Firefox web browser released (the 2nd most popular current browser after Internet Explorer).
2004: Facebook launched.
2006: Twitter launched.
2007: iPhone launched.
2008: Google Chrome browser launched.
2010: iPad launched.
2011: Number of internet users estimated as 2 billion world wide.

Percentage of people who go online, then use a search engine:

Millennials, age 18-33: 92 %
Gen X (34-45): 87
Younger Boomers (45-55): 86
Older Boomers (56-64): 87
Silent Generation (65-73): 82
G.I. Generation (74 plus): 72
All online adults (18 plus): 87

The battle of the Search Engines (as of 12/13)

Google: 66.7 percent of all searches
Microsoft sites (Bing): 18.2 percent
Yahoo: 11.2
Ask: 2.6
AOL: 1.4

Number of searches (worldwide: 18.3 billion in Dec. 2013)
Google: 12.3 billion of the 18.3 (or 66.7 % see above)
Microsoft (Bing): 3.3 billion
Yahoo: 2 billion
Ask: 452 million
AOL: 234 million

Online research tools used by students

• Google or other online search engine: 94% of those surveyed
• Wikipedia or other online encyclopedias:75 %
• You Tube, or other social media sites: 52%
• News sites of major news organizations (i.e. NY Times): 25%
• Textbooks, electronic: 18%
• Databases, such as EBSCO, JSTOR: 17%

Google Research tools

Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com) : for search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles.

Google App Engine: Google funds projects that create tools, applications and curriculum that can be used by other educators in their own teaching environments.

Google Book Search: (www.books.google.com) Search the latest index of the world’s books. Find millions of great books you can preview or read for free.

YouTube EDU: Resources for learning, from English lessons to real-life math.

Chrome’s FlashCards extension: to learn languages faster, prep for exams

Google Earth: with thousands of aerial and satellite photos, dozens of layers of information: city names, country borders, airport locations, road maps.

Google Play: has millions of FREE books readily available

Google-Changed-ResearchThumb

Sources:

https://theconversation.com/us-study-shows-google-has-changed-the-way-students-research-and-not-for-the-better-3087
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/08/22/erial_study_of_student_research_habits_at_illinois_university_libraries_reveals_alarmingly_poor_information_literacy_and_skills#ixzz2pd2IXJBX
http://searchengineland.com/teachers-say-students-equate-research-with-using-google-138542
http://searchengineland.com/search-number-2-online-activity-58927
http://www.stanford.edu/group/mmds/slides/raghavan-mmds.pdf
http://www.lightspeedaheadnewsletter.com/?p=317
http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/What-Is-Online-Research/chapter-ba-9781849665544-chapter-002.xml?print
http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2014/1/comScore_Releases_December_2013_US_Search_Engine_Rankings
The Pew Reseach Center’s Internet and American Life Project Online Survey of Teachers
http://www.teachthought.com/technology/52-google-tips-for-college-students/
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/flashcards/diejjofgldkjkhmfjagdjdodjebpglhb?utm_source=en-social-na-us-social-gplus-post
http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2012/08/back_to_school_with_google_earth.html

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.

eLogic Learning Recognized in the 2014 “Top Five” LMS List by eLearning 24/7

*elogic

eLogic Learning (http://www.elogiclearning.com), is pleased and honored to announce they have been selected as one of the Top 5 Learning Management Systems by eLearning 24/7 in their annual listing of the Top Learning Management Systems. eLogic’s “eSSential” LMS moved up in the listing from 2013 and 2012 based on several factors including a current configurable functionality set, exceptional features on the administrative side, nice user interface options and dashboard with metrics, reporting capabilities, high quality support and overall ease of use. Each year, eLearning 24/7, an industry leading e-learning analyst, reviews the top performing Learning Management System (“LMS”) providers in the industry and reports on the leading edge providers.

“In just three short years this system has gone from ho-hum to elite status. How? Robust feature sets, intuitive user interface, forward thinking and superior service and support. The eSSential platform can do it all. I would highly recommend this system to anyone who wants affordable, feature rich LMS and a solid company behind it,” says Craig Weiss of eLearning 24/7.”

To view the eLearning 24/7 press release, click here: http://www.ereleases.com/Associated-Press/189880.pdf
To Learn more about eSSential LMS, click here: http://elogiclearning.com/home/quick-tour-video/
“Once again, it is a great honor to be recognized by eLearning 24/7 as one of the Top LMS solutions 3 years in a row. Being in the Top 5 LMS’s out of over 580 providers is quite an accomplishment. Our attention to the core technology demands of our clients and this industry have gotten us here and our roadmap for the future enhancements going forward will keep us here. But the real difference is the eLogic Client Support Team guiding the design and implementation process and backing our clients up with support responsiveness when needed. What we do is very visible in internal and extended enterprise clients so responsiveness and resolution to clients is priority. This is in our DNA. With the scrutiny, objectivity and independence that eLearning 24/7 applies in this review, this recognition really means something. We intend to remain good and responsive listeners to eLearning 24/7” says Mark Anderson, CEO of eLogic Learning.

About eLogic Learning:
eLogic Learning, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, is an award-winning industry leader in web-based Learning Management Systems and corporate training products and services. Currently, there are millions of licensed users of “eSSential”, eLogic’s Learning Management System (LMS). Clients include Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (parent of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, etc.), Primerica, Sage Software, Vitera Healthcare, Cobb Energy, MetLife. Massage Envy, and many others. The eSSential Platform has been independently reviewed by the ADL to be SCORM-certified Tin Can Partner, ensuring their clients benefit from all SCORM functionality. eLogic Learning is a Microsoft Certified Partner and ISV.

In addition to its Learning Management System, eLogic Learning develops custom e-Learning content and courses as well as providing an extensive third-party courseware library. eLogic Learning also offers professional services in content strategy and business process change in the development of corporate training programs. eLogic Learning offers its clients a comprehensive turnkey approach to implementing learning strategies.

About eLearning 24/7
Craig Weiss, CEO of eLearning 24/7, recognized as the 2nd most influential person in eLearning (http://www.trainingpressreleases.com/news/bob-little-press-pr/2014/the-fifth-annual-top-ten-e-learning-movers-and-shakers) , is an e-learning analyst, expert, author, speaker and thought leader who has been in the industry for over 15 years. His knowledge and insight in e-learning, mobile and social learning, as well as emerging technology for e-learning, has established him as one of the key voices in online learning. Craig’s forecasts in the e-learning industry since 2010 (when he launched operations) have achieved over a 90% accuracy record. Weiss is the author of E-Learning 24/7 blog and written for numerous publications around the world. He also regularly speaks at conferences, events and companies around the world. His recent presentations included speaking at DevLearn Las Vegas, NV, Online Educa Berlin, Berlin, Germany and Learning@Work, Sydney Australia.

UK Government is considering using MOOCs in classrooms

* Michael Gove

Massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, could soon be used to augment the depth and variety of the curriculum taught in British schools, said education secretary Michael Gove speaking at the BETT conference in London today.

The key to introducing new opportunities provided by developments in technology and the free, open courses now offered by universities around the world into the classroom will be to leave schools in charge of deciding how they will respond to the changes, Gove said.

“Precisely the wrong way to react to the transformative opportunities offered by educational technology would be for government to try to dictate, from the centre, every last detail of how schools should respond,” the education secretary acknowledged.

More Government is considering using MOOCs in classrooms, says Gove (Wired UK).

School expands technology use to give teachers instant feedback

Immediately after answering four questions about fractions, Gabriella Martin knows she has the first, third and fourth right but the second has an X next to it, showing it is wrong.

“There are X’s and checks. If you get an X, you try to do it again and see if you get it right,” said the 10-year-old fifth-grader.

Her class is one of four at Anna Barry School that is using new technology to give teachers and students instant feedback on what children have learned and what concepts they need extra help to comprehend.Each child is given a device that looks like a remote control with numbers and letters.

Each child has a password, and every response they key into the devices are sent electronically to the school’s interactive white boards.

via Chicopee schools expand technology use to give teachers instant feedback | masslive.com.