I was reminded this morning of a post I wrote several years ago about the distraction caused by our use of tech tools. So . . . a quick update with few new tools designed to help all of us wrangle back our focus.
Is social media, cell phone use, and technology really good for us? Or can it be so distracting that we (and our students) are unable to focus long enough to think and deliberate on important issues?
Can we use mobile devices and Google and Twitter and all sorts of other tech tools to encourage learning, collaboration, and creativity? If we really can’t multitask but switch quickly between tasks instead, is back-channeling and Tweeting and texting and other forms of social media just encouraging less comprehension and more confusion?
Researcher Maggie Johnson wrote a book several years ago titled Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Her research seems especially appropriate for social studies teachers:
If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding.
Let me be clear . . . I strongly support the use of social networks and technology as learning tools. But I’m beginning to believe that we’re not really sure how to use these tools appropriately as part of instruction. We’re not asking enough questions about the best ways to integrate tech into what we do every day.
Can students and instructors really use technology/media/social networks in ways that engage and keep students focused on the truly important?
I think so. But Read more
A couple of days ago, I shared the great news that Flipgrid is now completely free for educators and it got me thinking:
“What other tech stuff can I get for free?”
I started poking around, asked some questions, did a little reading, reviewed some old History Tech posts, and came up with a list. And thought you might like a peek: Read more
I really like Flipgrid. It’s easy to use. It’s collaborative. It’s visual. It works across all platforms.
Now it’s free.
Yup. It’s free. And not in the lower tier, fewer options, not as powerful or cool, I can’t afford the Paid version so I’m using the crappy version kind of free. Free as in . . . totally free to access all of the cool, up until a week ago it used to cost money features.
So now I really like Flipgrid.
Here’s the deal. There used to be several versions of Flipgrid. A free version and two expensive versions. And while you could do some really cool stuff with the free, less featured version, the paid versions were so much cooler. As in: you got unlimited grids, unlimited topics, more choices on video length, responses to videos, and replies to those responses. You could move and duplicate grid structure and content. Embed fully-functional grids into other environments such as an LMS or class websites. Assess, document, and provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to individual students in a private, simple way.
You know . . . all the cool stuff. But it cost money.
But several weeks ago, Read more
My kids love it whenever they get the chance to use technology as part of the writing process. My job is to make sure that the tech use is meaningful and purposeful – when used correctly technology can help enhance and transform my lessons, provide real-world activities, and increase student engagement.
Jill Weber, Cheney Middle School
We all strive to develop students with the skills necessary to be successful after high school graduation. And national and local standards provide us with documents packed full of suggested benchmarks and commendable expectations.
The Common Core ELA writing standards encourage students to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.” The National Council for the Social Studies urges us to find ways for our kids to “take informed action” based on what they have learned.
What teacher doesn’t want that for their students?
We all want our students to write more. To develop solutions to authentic problems. To spread their voices beyond the classroom. But it can be difficult for classroom teachers to have a clear vision of what that might look like in actual practice.
The good news is that there is an abundance of multimedia resources available that support the creation and sharing of student storytelling products.
I’ve always enjoyed Jonathan Wylie’s stuff. He’s got fingers in lots of pies spending time at the Grant Woods AEA Digital Learning Team, on Twitter, and his own incredibly useful site. He always has great ideas, I especially like his How To posts.
Late last year, he developed something new called EdTech Gear Guides. We’re all looking for the best ways to integrate technology into our instructional designs. And there’s always a ton of great ideas out there but it can be difficult getting all of the details and gadgets and tools and gear to actually pull off that great idea.
That’s where EdTech Gear Guides can help. The guides are: Read more
I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.
But if you need a break from all of the holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read the top ten History Tech posts of 2016. Enjoy the reruns. See you in a couple of weeks!
I’m spending part of today getting ready for my METC presentation next week.
And as part of my presentation prep, I’m exploring what it really means to integrate technology. I started with the idea that just because teachers or their students use technology as part of teaching and learning, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually integrating technology into what they’re doing.
That idea morphed into the next: Read more