Discovering Something New

This post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools For Teaching course.

This week I was asked to explore 3 new sites and share my thoughts. The three sites I chose are:

http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/

http://4freephotos.com/ 

http://ipiccy.com/ 

Screencast-o-matic:

I was excited to explore this site because I often times have to record quick videos to share with educators. When you are working with a large number of people and are asked “how do I do x,y.z” it’s much more efficient to create a quick video and post it instead of having to repeat yourself a million times.

What I really like about this website is that there is a “click here to start recording” option which gets you going instantly. You don’t have to register, with one click of a button you get a window that allows you to select what you want to record, and you are up and running. After you record, a window comes up that allows you to preview your recording. It also asks you what you want to do with the recording (upload to Screencast, upload to YouTube, or publish to Video File).

If you want more features and functionality, you can download Screencast. I clicked on the download button and it easily walked me through the download and installation process. It took about 3-5 minutes before I was up and running. Once I opened the app it asked if I want to enable Pro features or continue with the free version. I chose free version. It opened the same screen I saw before that allows me to adjust the area I want to record, add the webcam, adjust the volume, and record. Once I begin recording it gives you a “3, 2, 1” countdown before the recording begins. After you select “done”, it asks you the same options I mentioned earlier of what you want to do with this video.

I’m sure the pro version gives you more options, but I think this free version is great for educators and for students. You can record your voice and the computer screen, creating quick and easy tutorials for students. For example, if you are a HS math teacher you could record yourself solving a math problem and post it online so students can watch while they work on their homework. Or you could have your students record themselves solving a math problem or a science equation so you can see their thought process.

All in all I think this is a very simple, easy to use website that allows you to start recording directly from the site or download the app to your computer. No need to register  or give any information which makes it even more appealing. There are no obnoxious adds on the site and it’s very user friendly. All of the buttons tell you what they do when you hover over it, making it very easy to use. I think this is a great resource for teachers or students to use whenever they want to create quick video tutorials.

4Freephotos:

4Freephotos is a public domain website of great quality images. From the website “We are a group of photographers who enjoy taking pictures and decided to share them with the public to use them for free in their private or commercial projects. We hope you find the collection of free and public domain images useful.”

This is a great resource for educators and students because they don’t have to worry about if they have rights to use the image they find from this site.

As I explored the site, I found it very user friendly and easy to navigate. There are categories on the left hand side of the screen, as well as a search box at the top of the site to search for a specific image. Once you find an image, you can share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +), and you can download it. Once I clicked on download it automatically started to download.

I like that you don’t have to create an account to use this site. The images I found seem very high quality. I think this is a great site for educators to use to add images to their presentations, making them look more professional. I also think this is a great site for students to use to search for images when they are working on digital projects. There are no adds on the site except for images you can purchase at the bottom of the screen.  My only concern for this site would be coming across inappropriate images that students should not see. But after doing a few searches I didn’t find anything that looked even remotely inappropriate.

iPiccy:

iPiccy is a free online photo editor. It allows you to upload an image and make a number of changes to it before you download the modified version. The site is free and there is no registration. You just click on the “start editing” button to get started. I really like sites that you don’t have to register for because the barrier to entry is low for educators that have a lower “click quota” 🙂 It also means you don’t have to remember a username or password.

Once I uploaded an image, the first thing I noticed was an add at the top of the screen that says “play with your webcam online, click to start!” This add is very concerning to me as an educator and I would be cautious to use this site with my students with an add like that.

The interface is very easy to navigate- there are a number of options on the left and along the top that allow me to modify the image- such as crop, add effects, painter, add frames, resize, etc. Once I’m finished editing the image, there is a save button that allows you to download, or upload to Flickr or Facebook.

I like the functionality of this website and the ease of use, and I would recommend this to educators for their own personal use to modify images. However I would hesitate to have them use it with students with adds like the one I mentioned above. I would love to find out if educators have used this with students and if so, did they have any issues with these ads.

(Enjoy the image I modified with iPiccy of my newborn son!)

Kellan

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Filling Up My Toolbox

The following post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools For Teaching course.

This week we had to evaluate tools from 3 different categories: A URL shortener, QR Codes, and Bookmarklets. Here is a summary of the 3 tools I evaluated.

URL Shortener:

I have used a URL shortener many times. I often work with educators and am sharing many different web tools. Many of the URSL are long, and I have a lot to cover in a short amount of time with these teachers so I often use a URL shortener to give them a short link they can quickly type in or write down. I have only used Tinyurl.com as well as a URL shortener we have through Discovery. So I thought I would try Google’s Goo.gl. It is incredibly easy to use, you just copy and paste the long URL and press enter. What I really like about this is that it keeps track of how many people click on your shortened URL, so you can keep track of the traffic. You can even click on the “details” to find out what day and time people accessed your link. Because this is a tool by Google, if you are logged into your Google account, it will keep track of all of your URL shorteners when you visit http://goo.gl/. This is a great resource to use with students to create short links to class websites or links to student work so you can track the traffic.

QR Codes:

I have experimented with QR codes but haven’t spent much time with them. I saw a great scavenger hunt activity using QR codes when I sat in on a Common Core PD session. Each table had several QR codes. When we scanned them, they took us to different questions about the Common Core. We had to use the resources provided to find the answers.

I saw another great use of QR codes by students where the students created QR codes that linked to websites they had created that had all sorts of information about what they were studying. They could like to a Discovery Ed board builder, a Wiki, or a Padlet for example.

The webiste we used for this activity (http://delivr.com/) was very easy to use. You simply type in the URL and create the code. You can download the QR code in a number of different types of file formats. I have embedded mine below. I downloaded it as a .jpeg and inserted it into this blog.

QR Code

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookmarklets:

For this activity I explored Quietube. This is a GREAT tool that allows you to only see a YouTube Video without all of the comments and ads that often times accompany a page. This took 30 seconds to use. All I had to do is drag the Quietube button to my bookmark toolbar, and then when I go to a YouTube video I click the Quietube button and it gives me a simple page with just the video. You can even create a short link to the video using Bitly. Here is a video I used with Quietube. I think this is a great resource to use with students. Teachers can find great content on sites like YouTube but sometimes there are inappropriate comments or ads on that page. By using Quietube, all they will see is the video. This also helps to focus their attention because there aren’t a million things on the page to distract their attention.

 

Digging Deeper

This week I’m evaluating 3 sites to use in the classroom: Facebook (social), Voicethread (creative), and EduClipper (curation). Below are my thoughts on each tool.

 

Facebook:

I strongly believe in the power of social learning and I was excited to dive deep with Facebook to see how educators are using it to enhance student learning. I have been using Facebook for years but mostly for personal use. It’s only been within the past year that I have started connecting with educators on Facebook to share and ask work related questions. Facebook is incredibly easy to use and easy to connect with others. I think the status updates are incredibly easy to digest as they are short and sweet. Within the last year I have seen many of my educator friends post helpful websites, blogs, resources, etc. Facebook has become a great place for these educators to go for their own professional growth. If someone has a question about how to use a Web 2.0 tool, they have 15-20 replies within a few hours. Over the past few months I have found myself checking Facebook to learn from my PLN more than I check Twitter.

For the purpose of this blog post I wanted to find out more about how educators are using Facebook with their students. One way that I found many educators are doing is to create a classroom page on Facebook that their students can “like”. Instead of being “friends” with their students, teachers are creating these classroom pages to post homework information, assignments, post discussion questions, and share class work. I think this is a great way to meet the kids where they are, especially middle school and high school students who are always on Facebook to begin with. This allows the teachers and students to connect with one another outside the walls of the classroom, making the learning more meaningful and engaging.

Another way teachers are using Facebook is by creating closed class groups where students have to request to join. This can be a great space for the class to share their thoughts, questions, concerns or work.

I think there are many reasons why Facebook can be a helpful tool for educators and students. In researching how it is used, I came across this blog post that shares 50 reasons to use Facebook. One of my favorite reasons is “Facebook provides an opportunity for collaborative learning”. This is an important skill all students need to master to be successful in the working world.

 

Voicethread:

Prior to this post, I had only used Voicethread a few times for another Wilkes course. I have heard educators talk a lot about this resource, so I wanted to spend some time evaluating it as an instructional tool and find out how educators are using it with students. The site itself is fairly easy to navigate, however I noticed it isn’t as user friendly as a site like Facebook, Pinterest or Padlet. It takes some time to figure out how to post images and add your voice to those images.

What I really like about this tool is that it gives students the power to share what they are learning in their own words. They have to think critically about what they want to say, how they will say it, and what images they will use to enhance their message. I also really like the fact that other students can view and comment on their peer’s Voicethreads. This is a great way to provide feedback on student work not only from the teacher but also from their classmates and even family members.

In researching how teachers are using this, I found this blog post on Richard Byrne’s webiste that shares 100 ways to use Voicethread in education.  One example that a teacher shares is using it to help students practice pronunciation for ESL students. The teacher can record them saying the words or sentences correctly, and then the students can add their voice saying it. Many educators also said they use Voicethread as a professional development tool to introduce new Web 2.0 tools to other educators.

 

EduClipper:

I had heard about this website but have never spent any time with it. Within a few seconds I had created an account and began searching for content. I am very familiar with Diigo, Delicious and Symbaloo so I am familiar with the how and why of curation tools. What I really like about EduClipper is the fact that it is designed specifically for the k-12 space, so finding content is easier because you are not just looking on Google, you are looking through content that other educators have “clipped”. As an educator, you can create student accounts that allow you to monitor and moderate their content. I love the idea of having students use the content that they have saved to create their own digital portfolio. This is a great way to authentically assess students and highlight their work over time. In Untangling the Web, they highlight one of the ways educators can use this site with students is to create “eduExperts”. Students would pick a topic or subject and then clip resources on that topic to serve as a resource or reference for the class on that topic.

After spending some time with this site I’m very excited to introduce it to educators in my professional development and community building sessions. Trying to find quality information can often times feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose. There is so much information out there, and tools that help you find high quality content and curate the information by tags helps to organize information.

 

Using New Technologies

This post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools for Teaching course.

For this blog post I interviewed Lesley Johnson. Lesley is a Chemistry and Biology teacher in the DC area, and she also teaches at their virtual high school.

Here is my interview with her, as well as my thoughts at the bottom:

1. How did you decide which tools to use with their students?

Lesley:  At my school, we have someone who provides the staff with technology specific professional development.  She provides weekly training sessions to introduce us to various Web 2.0 tools.  During the training sessions, she shows us how to access the tool  (i.e. if an account must be established) and how to use the tool.  In addition to learning the tool, she also shares how the tool has been used by her or someone else in the building.  She set up a wiki site which allows us to see some ways the tools have been used by teachers.  At the end of each session, she helps us to brainstorm ways we can use the tool in our subject area.  She helps us to both create and implement our ideas.

2. What obstacles did you need to overcome to obtain permission to do such a project?

Lesley: Fortunately, our school has access to computer labs as well as iPad carts.  In order to use the equipment, especially the iPads, we need to sign up through an online resource calendar and explain how we will be using them.  The school would like to see the iPads used for something beyond a web browser.

3. What advice would you give to a teacher seeking to replicate your efforts?

Lesley: Be familiar with the tool before you use it with your students.  Go through your directions as if you were a student so you will be ready to answer any questions.  Consider creating a rubric that will evaluate both content and web tool skills.

 

My thoughts/reflections: 

In order for teachers to use new tools, they first need to have access, and they also need to have confidence in how to use it effectively. Lesley is fortunate to have someone dedicated at her school to provide PD on new technology. Many schools do not have a dedicated person and the teachers are left to figure things out in their free time (what free time??!). I understand why many schools choose to have iPad or laptop carts, as it is an equitable solution so that all students and teachers have access to the technology. However the down side is that no one has ownership of the technology, and it often times is just used in basic ways, as “web browsers” as Lesley mentioned above. The more ownership a student or teacher has over the technology, the more they will use it. No school has the budget to add technology to all classrooms at once, but they can add them over time and give all teachers the opportunity by having them apply to get the technology and agree to a certain amount of PD.  Lastly, I really like Lesley’s advice about going through the tool as if you were the student. See how the tool will be used through their eyes so the teacher can be prepared for any questions.

 

 

Creative Commons

For EDIM 514 Wilkes Master’s Program.

 

I chose Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

This allows people to share and/or remix my work with the condition that they attribute the work to my site.

I chose this because the information that I post on my blog is intended to help people. I enjoy sharing with others and my hope is that they will find it valuable enough to pass the information along. I want people to take what I have shared and make it their own.  I don’t have anything I want to “protect” as most of what I share is a mash-up of information that I have come across.

 

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

(u05a1) Blog – Students Meeting the NETS-S

The following post is for my PBL grad school class.

Review the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) at (click here).

Also review the Student Profiles (click here).

Explain how student use of communication, collaboration, and publishing Web 2.0 applications can help students to meet the NETS-S.

The use of the tools we reviewed this week empowers students to meet the NETS-S standards IF and WHEN they are used appropriately. As I review each of the 6 NETS-S I will highlight how the tools we reviewed could be used to meet the standard.

1. Creativity and Innovation. This standard states that “Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.”

Publishing tools such as Prezi, Glogster, Animoto and Voicethread provide students the freedom and flexibility to create original pieces of work in their own words. The key is to give students the freedom to choose their publishing tool of choice and to limit the number of requirements and guidelines in creating the finished product. If a student has to use Prezi and is giving a laundry list of things it must include, it does little to foster creativity and innovation. They are simply following the checklist.

2. Communication and Collaboration. This standard states that “Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.”

The communication tools such as Skype, Edmodo and Today’s Meet are wonderful tools that allow students to communicate and collaborate asynchronously and from a distance. Students can video Skype with classes from around the world to learn about their culture and their perspective on a specific topic. They can also use these communication tools to collaborate on a shared problem or issue such as global warming or bullying.

3. Research and Information Fluency. This standard states that “Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.”

The collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Diigo are perfect tools to help with this standard. As students conduct their research they need to leverage digital tools to organize information and evaluate the credibility.

4. Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. This standard states that “Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.”

Again I think the use of Google Docs as well as Google Calendar help students to plan and manage a project. I also think a chat room such as Today’s Meet give the students a space to discuss and problem solve with team members. In order to foster critical thinking, the teacher must find a balance between guidance and freedom. There needs to be enough of a structure that students understand where they need to go, but also enough freedom to allow them to be creative and think critically about their project.

5. Digital Citizenship. This standard states that “Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.”

I think anytime the students use technology and Web 2.0 tools they are learning how to use these tools appropriately. The teacher can play a huge role here by modeling the appropriate behavior when interacting online. Students can learn how to use social media such as Facebook by first learning within the confines of a safe environment such as Edmodo.

6. Technology Operations and Concepts. This standard states that “Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

When using any new technology for the first time there is going to be a learning curve and it might slow the pace of learning while students get up to speed learning the ins and outs of the tool. However this is necessary as they are learning lifelong skills they will carry with them as they learn to use the technology through the creation of a project. For example, the students may be creating an anti-bullying PSA, and in the process they are learning how to use iMovie. This is a powerful software that they can use again and again to create powerful digital stories. Giving students access to Web 2.0 tools allows them to become comfortable using computers, iPads and other internet enabled devices.

References:

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). NETS for students 2007. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students/nets-student-standards-2007

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). NETS for students 2007. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students/nets-for-students-2007-profiles

u01a1- What is PBL?

 

After reading a few examples of Project Based Learning (see references below), there were several common traits I noticed between them.

1. Technology: In each example, students had access to technology. It was an essential tool that empowered the students to explore information and collaborate with one another on projects. At Newsome Park Elementary they talk about how students use computers to research and create: “During Phase 2, students do field work, meet with experts, gather information from the Internet and other sources, and then compile the information in a variety of forms, from written and picture portfolios to Web pages and computer-generated brochures. ”

2. Inquiry: Instead of the teacher standing in the front of the room teaching, students identify questions and go through the process of learning by finding the answers.  Students then become responsible for their own learning and are guided by engaging and essential questions. I saw the word “discovery” used several times to describe students uncovering new information. PBL fosters an environment that ignites students natural curiosity. This motivates them to learn as they want to find answers to their questions.

 3. Real World Application: each article talked about the importance of the students making real-world connections to what they are learning. When students understand why information has personal meaning to them and their life, they are more engaged and motivated to learn.

 

The role of the teacher changes from sage on the stage to guide on the side. Teachers engaged in PBL help to facilitate the learning process and ensure students have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful. This type of environment also allows the teacher to move around the room and informally assess groups and individual students by checking for understanding.

The role of the student changes as they take and ACTIVE role in their learning. They now must find answers to questions and work with one another to tackle complex tasks.

PBL creates a more engaging environment because students are active and constantly working with one another. They are more engaged because they are able to connect what they are learning with the real world. They are excited because they are given the freedom to learn in a variety of ways and show their learning through meaningful projects they share not just with their class, but with their community.

 

References:

Armstrong, S. (2002, February 11). Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning. Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/geometry-real-world-students-architects

 

Curtis, D. (2001, October 1). March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies’ Migration. Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/march-monarchs

 

Curtis, D. (2002, June 6). More Fun than a Barrel of…Worms . Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms