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Category Archives: EdTech

VoiceThread Mobile for iOS

One of my favorite collaborative tools for the classroom is VoiceThread.  Their site explains the service as:

“A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. ”

The exciting news is that they are launching an iOS Mobile App in the Fall.  Their goal of the app is “We want to serve the needs of a person with dyslexia or ADHD, an outdoor classroom with mobile devices, a user in the developing world without high-speed internet, a kindergartner, or an elderly lifelong learner.”

No dates have been announced for the official launch, but you can find out more information on their website!

 

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Apple, Collaboration, EdTech, iPad, Mobile Learning

 

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Tech Support

I know the following video has been around the Internet for quite awhile, but it has a great message for those of us in technology support positions!  The beginning of the school year can be a stressful time.  We have new devices to roll out, databases to maintain, accounts galore to setup, and training, training, and more training.  Remember the principles listed below to help you and your tech team have a successful start to the school year!

  1. Help them conquer their fears!  Many of our clients (teachers, employees,etc.) are fearful of technology.  I believe this mainly stems from a fear of the unknown.
  2. Clients need to be trained so they feel comfortable with the device they are using.  As a support professional provide training while you are troubleshooting an issue.  This will help solve future problems, and provide the client with confidence to begin troubleshooting problems on their own.
  3. Always have patience!  We were all noobs with technology at one point in time, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Provide a safe environment that no question is off limits.  Build the client up rather than tearing them down.
  4. Have a light heart & smile!  No matter what you encounter in your work day there is always some other person having a worse day than you.  Be thankful for the employment and do your job to the best of your ability!
 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 22, 2011 in EdTech, Education, Tech Support, YouTube

 

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Walk on the Moon

On July 20th, 1969 American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.  In honor of this historic day I have included an audio transmission of the event and a list of iPad NASA apps.

NASA App HD: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-app-hd/id387310098?mt=8

The NASA App HD invites you to discover a wealth of NASA information right on your iPad. The application collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated mission information, images, videos and Twitter feeds from various online NASA sources in a convenient mobile package.

Space Images: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-images-ipad/id431166828?mt=8

Discover stunning images and videos of space, stars and planets — including Earth and the sun! — at your fingertips with the Space Images app from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a leader in robotic exploration of the solar system.

NASA Television: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-television/id434439506?mt=8

The NASA Television App brings live and on-demand TV programming to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Watch the latest NASA events unfold in real-time or select from a list of recently uploaded videos. Plan your viewing up to a week in advance with the NASA TV schedule, and check out a list of NASA-related programming on other networks.

AstroApp: Space Shuttle Crew: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/astroapp-space-shuttle-crew/id432366873

NASA’s Space Shuttle program ends after 30 years. Celebrate this accomplishment with us. Get to know all the space travelers who flew on this unique vehicle. You can sort by name and mission. The “Suit Me Up” feature allows you to become a Space Shuttle astronaut yourself. Share it with your friends and family.

3D Sun: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/3d-sun/id347089078

A major solar flare erupts on the sun. Before long, your phone chirps in your pocket to let you know! Pulling out your phone, you see a 3D view of the sun — a digital reconstruction of satellite images freshly downloaded from NASA’s “STEREO” satellites, orbiting millions of miles away.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Apps, EdTech, iPad, Mobile Learning, Science

 

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Technology is No Substitute!

Link to: 100 Extraordinary Examples of Paper Art

One thing that worries me as an educational technologist is educators or schools using technology just for the sake of saying that they are using technology.  That while trying to keep up with the Joneses schools purchase more technology and cut out important educational experiences such as art, music, career and technical education, physical education, etc.  Of course technology can be used to enhance these subject areas but it should not replace them.

Viewing the linked gallery above I couldn’t help but wonder how much physical art will exist in 50-100 years.  Will all art be viewed on a screen?  I hope not!  While I feel blessed that I am able to access these art works via the Internet and technology a computer rendering of these same images would not be the same.

I hope schools around the world continue to allow children to get their hands dirty while playing with clay.  That we allow students to work with lumber and small engines in shop classes, and we continue to be blessed by amazing musicians playing physical instruments.

Have a great week!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in EdTech, Education

 

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Examining Generational Differences

The following post is based on a writing prompt for BSU’s EDTECH597: As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings?  How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?

Jumping into the readings in week two of EDTECH 597 brought me to a comfortable and familiar place with the statement, “It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and debate these days about the decline of education in the US we ignore the most fundamental of its causes. Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach” (Prensky, 2001).   After reading this statement and the rest of the article by Prensky I thought to myself, oh that was a nice review of information I already knew. Ready, set, go!  Time to continue designing lessons and professional development  based on the premise of students being Digital Natives and teachers being Digital Immigrants.

SCREEeeeeeccchh..sound of tires skidding to a stop.  Much to my surprise research does not support the notion of generational differences in learners.  I have heard so much of the inherent differences in learners through professional development seminars, at conferences, and in the media that I assumed it was true.  Reeves states (2008), “Generational differences are evident in the workplace, they are not salient enough to warrant the specification of different instructional designs or the use of different learning technologies.

So what are educators to do?  Reeves recommends (2008), “instructional designers and educational technology researchers working closely with practitioners and subject matter experts should begin by identifying the needs of any given set of learners, design the best possible prototype learning environments in situ, and then conduct iterative cycles of formative evaluation and refinement to optimize the solution and reveal robust design principles.

What this means for teachers that believe in the notion of generational differences is that they need to re-examine their students.  Best-case scenario would be working with an instructional designer to create a needs assessment to understand their learning community.  Keeping in mind that a multitude of variables go into how our students learn and that technology is a tool.  Technology is not and will never be a magic bullet that raises student achievement by itself.  Teachers are responsible for creating the best learning experiences for the students regardless of the use of technology.

I would also suggest that educators do more research after participating in professional development opportunities verifying the information presented.  Is there credible data that supports what was taught and might possibly be implemented in your school?  If not, question decision makers on what they based their decision on.  The culture of K-12 education needs to change and become more focused on sound research rather than cultural trends.

Stepping down from soap box…

Ultimately the reading makes me worry about an educational system that seems to be dominated by loose research and private corporations looking to sell their latest and greatest gadgets to schools.  The articles  caused me to come away with more questions than answers.

  • How did we get to this point?
  • How do myths such as these gain so much traction in a field that should be guided by reliable data?
  • How do we undo what has already been done with educators and society believing in generational differences?
  • How do we learn from this, and change the current and future climate of K-12 education?

If anyone reading the post has thoughts or answers to these questions I would love to hear from you!

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper104/ReevesITForumJan08.pdf

 
11 Comments

Posted by on July 12, 2011 in EdTech

 

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Technology in Education: A Mother’s Perspective

This guest post is contributed by Tesi Klipsch who is an accomplished blogger and mother to five adorable children.  Her blog states: “I’m no writer, I assure you. Just a woman with a few things on her mind. A mom that makes mistakes, a wife that loves her husband more than words can say and a woman constantly seeing God in the everyday.”

When I started thinking about what role I want technology to play in my kids’s education I looked around and found a few things. My husband on his iPad, me on my iMac and my iPod sitting next to me uploading podcasts I listen to daily.

Hmmm.

It’s an interesting question for a semi-hippie like myself. My husband is a Director of a YMCA camp in the Midwest. This means we live, year ’round, on 250 acres. 20 minutes from the closest city. And we really like it this way. This seclusion has led to many things, but arguably my favorite would be that my kids are literal best friends with each other. Every day there are no fewer than 3 baseball games being played between the 5 of them, no fewer than 4 bugs caught and shown to mom and no fewer than 10,000 steps taken by each. We live and breath nature and it.is.awesome.

That said, I do want them to know about technology. (Side note: my kids’ ages are 8, 7, 6, 5, 4). As of right now they don’t ever play on the computers but Zach and I agree that as they get older they will be allowed to. We’ve implemented a “no screen” rule in their rooms. We’re not going to allow phones, computers, games or TVs in their rooms, there are just too many ways they could get in trouble with that business happening.

But if I’m being honest, a good portion of my relationships are now through some sort of technology. So I know if they aren’t taught this form of communication and if they are left to figure it out on their own, there is a higher degree of misuse than if we were to allow them to delve into this technology-as-relationship situation.

At my kids’ school they already use a lot of really interesting technology. Smart boards, Bluetooth microphones, multiple computer labs, etc. These add tremendous value to their learning experience as well as (I’m sure) make the teachers’ lives easier.

My concern with technology (at the risk of sounding 80-years-old) is that our teachers start using it too much. That they take creativity out of their curriculum and just use standardized/computerized software instead. My concern is that my kids start to rely too much on technology and less on their own creativity or intelligence as they become more and more interactive with various forms of technology. I know it’s not just a concern but a reality that is happening everywhere, I just don’t want it to happen here to my kids (remember the semi-hippie thing?)

If it seems I’m all over the place on this, it’s because I am. When talking with Zach about this we both were. We realize as middle-class citizens we have luxuries in our home that many lower/lower-middle class families would not have if technology was not taught in the classroom. It needs to be taught in schools so that every child gets the same opportunities with regards to learning new technologies. I know that learning new technology and being exposed to it will greatly help the future of our kids, I don’t want to make that exclusive to only kids that can afford it at home.

I believe there is a happy medium, I just don’t know what that is and who does know what that is.

I also believe it falls on us, as parents, to instill basic values and parameters at home so our kids learn to live within a society that is technology focused but to also be able to put it away and have real relationships outside of their screens. I think a healthy balance, both in schools and at home is what I want for my kids. The way to achieve that is up in the air for me. In general I’ve found the more open the schools are with me about what and why they are teaching my kids the things they are teaching, it’s been easier for me to understand. Perhaps that’s best case scenario for technology as well.

I really love the discussion in general (I have it with other moms a lot actually). But for now it’s time to put away my screen and go do some gardening. My midwest soil has just pumped out some delicious looking tomatoes that appear to be perfect for our lunch!

Tesi

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in EdTech

 

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