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Posts tagged ‘Web 2.0’

What tech makes the cut?

I’m sitting in the Wichita airport, waiting on a delayed flight to Houston. With the rain pouring down, I start looking for things to do. Read the paper. Watch a little video. Catch up on email. Clean out my backpack.

I usually try and make some decisions about what to put into the backpack before I leave. I ran out out of time before this trip. And I’m realizing now why it’s a good idea to re-pack after every trip. I got some stuff in there I really don’t need this time.

It’s always difficult trying to decide what to take on a trip and what to leave behind. I really, really hate carrying too much stuff. Seriously. Hate it. But I also worry about all of those times when I needed some little tech gadget on a trip and I had left it behind.

So. What to pack? Read more

Tip of the Week: Less Paper/More Comprehension with Readability and PrintFriendly

We’re spending more time online, reading and researching with our students. We often need to print out these online resources for use as handouts or review materials. One of the problems with online research is that if you or your students print out a news article, a blog post, or just about anything on the web, the print job ends up being multiple pages that include ads and other things you don’t need.

And as more districts move to mobile devices such as iPads, the rules change even more. I often work with teachers and students who are struggling with how best to access and use online materials as learning tools. How can we use online resources such as primary source documents without using paper?

But wasting paper and time aren’t the only concerns. Ed tech folks often talk about the powerful impact that appropriate use of technology can have on learning, especially with online tools. The assumption is that web use by kids increases brain wiring—that being online makes students smarter. But we need to be careful with those sorts of assumptions.

A 2010 Wired article by Nicholas Carr does a great job of documenting what happens in our brains when we’re online. And it’s not always good. Carr discusses a wide range of research claiming that hyperlinks, especially those that live inside text, cause comprehension problems.

  • “People who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links.”
  • “It takes hypertext readers longer to read documents and they were seven times more likely to say they found it confusing.”
  • “Comprehension declines as the number of links increase—whether or not people clicked on them.”

So while online resources are powerful tools for learning, they can waste paper, be awkward to use in a mobile environment, and decrease understanding if not used appropriately. What to do? Read more

Murally is Google Docs for Visual People

I know that some research is suggesting that there really aren’t such things as visual or auditory learners. Well . . . that research is wrong. Cause I’m a visual learner. No question.

I don’t listen well. I can’t pay attention to audio books. I have trouble staying focused during long lectures and speeches. Just the way it is. And I think I’m a lot like most of your kids – someone who feels more comfortable using visual stuff like graphic organizers, infographics, photos, and videos as part of my learning process.

So I’ve always love tools like Glogster and Wallwisher and Prezi. They help me “see” what I need to understand. They help me organize information in ways that make sense to me.

And I can hear you thinking way over here:

Yeah. So?

Glogster does have an “educational” version but it’s not the same since they started charging money. Wallwisher is now Padlet and Prezi makes me dizzy.

So . . . I need something else. And today, thanks to Kelly over at iLearn Technology, I’ve got a new toy to play with.

Read more

How not to celebrate Digital Learning Day

It’s Digital Learning Day.


Isn’t celebrating Digital Learning Day a bit like observing Black History Month?

I mean, shouldn’t we be teaching teaching black history (and women’s history and Latino history and Asian American history and dead white guy history and Native American history and . . . well, history history) all year long? I  can certainly understand the sentiment – for far too long, it was just Dead White Guy History.

Black History Month was a way to encourage teachers and kids to learn more about a part of who we are that was often pushed to the margins. The hope was that these critical pieces of US history would be incorporated throughout the instructional year. The problem? Too many social studies teachers still use February to have kids memorize random black history facts and call it good.

I get the same sense about Digital Learning Day. Not that there is anything wrong with the idea of a Digital Learning Day – the folks over there seem very concerned about best practice and argue that digital tools should be embedded into instruction as part of everyday practice.

But . . .

Read more

Create an eBook from online content

The world of educational resources and materials is shifting away from print stuff towards digital stuff. One of the reasons for this shift is the ease of creating and sharing digital stuff.

ePUBS and tablets and apps like iBooks are merging into a mini-Perfect Storm event that supports and encourages the use of digital content. As social studies teachers, we need to take advantage of these sorts of tools.

And I just ran across an incredibly easy to use online tool called Readlists that lets you create an ePUB book from resources that you find on the web. Imagine being able to create a digital book that has a variety of articles, data, and multimedia.

Readlists is the latest project of the Arc90 people – the same people who created Readability.

The process is simple:

  • Go to Readlists
  • Paste URLs of articles or websites that you want to share with others
  • Give your list a description and a title
  • Send the book to the device of your choice (Kindle, iOS, Readmill, email, or download to desktop)
  • If desired, you can share your ePUb via social media like Twitter and Facebook or on websites.

You can also create an editable list that allows other users to add additional content to the list.

My example? An eBook of social studies and Common Core resources via an ePUB format or website. You could use Readlists to create course packets, collections of primary source documents, and reading assignments.

The beauty of all of this, of course, is that you can create content for your kids to use that becomes mobile – anywhere and anytime. Kids can access this on eReaders, cell phone browsers, or iBooks. But it’s not just you pushing content out to kids. It could be kids pushing content back to you as part their assignments, research, and projects.

Very cool stuff indeed!

Five great sites for finding web 2.0 tools

We all can sometimes get in a rut. Ruts can make us feel comfortable. We use the same book, the same video, the same lesson plan, the same activities, the same tools. I’m no different. I read the same sites, browse the same authors, use the same online tools. I’m a big fan of Flipboard and Zite. I spend time scanning the same RSS feeds every day.

And there’s not anything wrong with that . . . unless there is something better out there. It’s easy to get fat and happy with the way things are. And that’s not a good thing.

So today? Five great sites that you can use to spice up your technology tool library.

This one is new to me and I already love it. Created by a small group of educator/techie people, edshelf is designed to be an easy to use, easy to search directory of websites, mobile apps, and desktop software “rated and reviewed by educators, for educators.” It has a huge database of stuff that you can browse through or filter down by grade level, subject, platform, category, and price.

You can also save your favorite tools and create a “colleague” list of like-minded people to help you search and save more effectively. Plus the site looks good and is easy to use, so . . . what’s not to like?

EdSurge is a community resource for all things in edtech. Their goal is to help educators make informed decisions, and help developers make products that matter.

EdSurge is a user community and information resource for the emerging education technology ecosystem. Our goal is to help accelerate the adoption of innovation in education.

Sounds a bit pretentious but it’s really not. The basic idea is that you and others share ideas, resources, suggestions, new sites, new tools and together, everyone gets smarter and edtech products get better. You can also research and handy articles on EdSurge. If you’re looking for specific tools, click Products. You can filter your results in much the same way as edshelf. But your choices also include topics and organizations – all cross-referenced with one another. Pretty slick.

A relatively new site, ClassroomWindow “is on a mission to make teachers the new power brokers in K-12 education.” 

Built by a group of friends passionate about education, ClassroomWindow wants to help teachers make sense of the “chaotic” world of education technology, textbooks, and tools. It claims to be the first education directory of its kind and features trusted reviews by and for teachers around the globe.

In some ways, ClassroomWindow is a lot like Yelp or TripAdvisor. All sorts of people can add resources, web sites, web 2.0 tools, mobile apps and then review them. A nice way to find and evaluate a huge variety of edtech stuff. You can search by keyword or browse through small categories such as American History or large categories like Web Tools. Lots of ways to filter results.

And it’s teacher driven. I like that.

101 Web 2.0 Teaching Tools Every Teacher Should Know About
This is a much simpler site the first three. It’s a slideshow.

Yup. Just a slideshow. But it’s a good slideshow. And because it’s just a slideshow, you can quickly scan through the slides and find exactly what you’re looking for. No filters. No colleagues. No ratings. It’s just a slideshow.

The Go2Web20 directory has been around forever. And it’s been around forever because it lists hundreds of handy online tools while making it easy to find tools that you can actually use.

You can find quick descriptions, screenshots, and similar links.

So get out of your rut. Go find something new.

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