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Posts tagged ‘educational technology’

7 tools that can help your kids work and think distraction free. (Feel free to jump on these yourself.)

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.

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I’m torn.

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

Flipgrid is free. No, seriously. Not like before. Totally, completely free for ALL the features

I really like Flipgrid. It’s easy to use. It’s collaborative. It’s visual. It works across all platforms.

And now?

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

5 Chrome browser extensions that you probably haven’t heard about but need to be using

It’s not a secret. I say it a couple times a week:

“If Google was a person, I’d marry it.”

And not just for it’s money. (Though that would be nice.) I love how the Google universe has something for everyone. Elementary. Middle and high school. Different content areas. A variety of tools for consuming and creating. VR. Digital literacy.

You don’t have to look very hard before you find something you can use.

But one of the easiest things you can use is the Google Chrome browser and what Google calls Chrome extensions.

A Chrome extension is basically a small piece of software that you download from the Chrome Web Store and add to your Chrome browser. These little pieces of software extend the capabilities of the browser across multiple web sites and do something that the browser itself can’t do. Most extensions add a button to your browser’s taskbar to provide a clickable shortcut for doing, well . . . something. This might be a tool that helps you annotate text or provides text to speech capabilities or helps you edit screenshots.

There are thousands of these little pieces of code. Many designed to help you do your job better.

And I’ve got my favorites. Here are five that that many teachers I work with haven’t heard of but should be using: Read more

Flipboard and Pocket: Cool content management & collaboration

Who doesn’t love #METC16? Two thousand tech savvy educators all in the same place in beautiful downtown St Charles, Missouri.

(Full disclosure. Haven’t left the conference center / hotel. Am assuming St. Charles is beautiful. I do know that St. Charles was the jumping off point for Lewis, Clark, and the rest of the Corps of Discovery. So . . . it’s awesome from the get-go.)

I’m here in beautiful downtown St. Charles to lead a conversation about using the very cool Flipboard app as a teaching and learning tool. It’s a hands-on session so it’s gonna be a good time of discussion, examples, and working together as we all get smarter.

Still new to the Flipboard universe?

The idea is simple. Much like Pinterest, Flipboard helps you find, organize, and share a wide variety of websites and articles. But unlike Pinterest, it does a much better job of displaying all of the goodies you find. You literally flip pages in your different magazines and boards to read all of your saved content. Originally designed as an iPad app and later an app for Android, Flipboard recently added a web version.

So you can access Flipboard in a variety of places, with or without an account. You can set up boards to automatically add new content or create your own magazines that require that you add your own content. You can use Flipboard for your own learning, share individual bits of content, or share entire magazines with others. You can invite one, or two, or many others to help you add content to those magazines. Other users can ask you to contribute to their magazines.

An example of a couple of boards that automatically update? The Huffington Post and the awesome Mental Floss board.  A few examples of personal magazines are my Historical Thinking magazine and Cyndi Danner-Kuhn’s Technology for Teaching and Learning.  You might like Best Education Magazines or Best Flipboard Topics for Teachers.

It’s not as hard as it might sound but just in case you get a little stuck, I’ve posted some tutorials and helpful tools below to help you get started using the tool. But start thinking first of what Flipboard can do before you worry too much about which buttons to push. And then head over and check out my Using Flipboard in Education magazine for even more goodies.

flip in ed mag

Here are a few ideas that we played with today: Read more

Create learners, not widgets

Podstock 2015 is in the books. And like all previous Podstock tech conferences, 2015 was three days of learning, conversation, pinewood derby cars, tech ed, great food, giveaways, and MakerSpace goodness.

Here’s the one thing I learned from my three days:

There is no silver bullet in education. There’s a ton of wrong ways to do school. But not one right way.

The answer to great teaching and learning is never just one thing. It’s not just one strategy or program or philosophy or book or website. The answer is whatever works for you in your situation. The tool that works for you might not work for me. The website that drop dead saves my bacon every time does nothing for your kids.

I’m also starting to realize it’s even more than that. It’s not just different tools and websites. It can also be past and present. Old and new. That’s why I was so excited about the Podstock 2015 Steampunk conference theme.

STEAMpunk is, well . . . it’s a bit hard to describe. Basically it’s modern technology – iPads, computers, robotics, air travel – powered by steam and set in the 1800s. Sounds wierd but so much fun. And it fits our thinking at the Podstock conference about STEAM and STEM and Makerspaces. Steampunk takes the best of both worlds, old and new, and combines them into something completely different.

Nathan-steampunkClassic Steampunk keeps the traditional stuff that’s good. Adds the new stuff that’s good. And together it’s awesome.

You add a cool “steam-powered” robotic arm to TV crime fighter Richard Castle and you get television Steampunk.

That’s what’s so cool for me at Podstock. You always get the best of both worlds: Teachers who care about kids, who are passionate about learning, and use practical research-based strategies combined with the new software and hardwire goodies that support high levels of learning. Combining experience, skilled teachers with new technology and tools.

It’s educational SteamPunk.

But any quality learning experience should also generate a few questions. My questions for the week: Read more

15 reasons for not using technology

Okay.

My life pretty much revolves around technology. I just spent 15 minutes helping a colleague set up Messages on her Macbook. My family of four is constantly connected via a text group. (Latest conversation? Dogs during college finals.) I Skype and Google Hangout. I play video games – console and mobile.

I currently have six different types of smart devices within arm’s reach. I travel all over the country helping teachers integrate games and iPads and Chromebooks and web tools and GAFE into their instruction. I’ve got enough SAMR model examples to last for months.

So perhaps the title of today’s post seems a bit out of place.

But a recent article in InformEd has got me thinking. Titled  Read more