04
May

It’s been about a month since I’ve had my iPad, and overall, it’s a terrific personal media device. So what do I think of it as an educational tool?

 

The iPad is an important step in improving 1:1 computing for students. By converting the interface and quick access of a phone operating system to a tablet, combined with a larger screen and long battery life, the iPad allows almost instant access to the applications (apps), which increases the device’s functionality and convenience as a media and personal digital assistant device for students over laptops and older tablets.

 

A wide variety of productivity and education apps, ranging from writing tools, informational resources, and subject specific tools and games, provide both teachers and students many apps for classroom, school, and home use. A review of many of these educational resources can be found on the I Education Apps Review.

 

The iPad does have some shortcomings. Educators may by challenged by the difficulty of printing and transferring saved work from the iPad to other computers. The screen keyboard is best used for light work only. The lack of Flash support limits its’ use with many educational resources on the Internet.  The Safari browser may also not be compatible with school district developed software and information systems.

 

Despite these drawbacks, the iPad has many uses in education and raises the bar in the continuing development of student 1:1 computing technologies.

26
Oct


Mr. Patton’s AVID class has entered the National Engineer’s Week Future City Competition. As part of the competition, students will learn Sim City 4 and how to manage a city’s budget and various resources to build a city of 50,000 people. Having spent alot of time in the 1990′s with the original Sim City, I’m glad that my previous “research” experience finally has purpose.
 
The research on gaming in education is still in it’s infancy, and a big challenge integrating games in the classroom is finding the right game that matches the curriculum. Fortunately, students study Civics in 8th grade and this game provides an excellent hands on experience with government and economics.
 
Some students overspent on government services such police, fire departments, health care, and education, and watched their city go into huge debt. Others were more careful and compromising, but were able to maintain a budget surplus. Students learn valuable lessons in balancing income and expenditures to manage and develop their city at an appropriate pace. Linking such lessons to current national debates and issues is almost natural!
 
SimCityChallengePic
 
In addition to playing Sim City, students will research how to build a city with sustainable and recyclable resources and also build a model of a city of the future.
 
When a classroom activity can combine math, English, science, and civics in a real world experience, it’s more than a just a game.
 

26
Oct


What happens if you have a desktop PC at home, a desktop PC at work, a PC laptop, a MacBook Pro, and an iPhone, and you want to be able to add, edit, and access your notes and files anywhere and also keep them synchronized?
 
One solution is to have a USB drive to keep your files in one place and access the files from the drive when needed.
 
Another solution is to use a “cloud” organizer like Evernote, which works on both PC’s, Mac’s, and other portable devices like the iPhone.  You can access your notes via a web interface, or download a client version for when the Internet is not always available, or use the iPhone app. Your files live on the Internet, so access and synchronization is never a problem.
 
evernote
 
A terrific solution for those using multiple computers at various locations.

18
Jul




Most research examining the effectiveness of National Board certification rely on data from standardized tests. These tests vary by state and many would argue are no more than simple multiple choice tests that fail to assess higher level thinking skills. This raises many questions. Do these standardized tests capture the teaching quality of teachers who can help students learn content on a much deeper level? How generalizable are the findings of the research when making decisions on a local or school level?


From an academic point of view, this ambiguity is terrific for justifying more research. For practioners, this ambiguity may lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or maybe even misrepresentation.


David Cohen writes a good summary of the presentation here on Teacher Magazine.

28
Jun

As Web 2.0 tools become more prevalent in the classroom, educators are integrating blogs and wikis into classroom activities to create engaging writing activities for students. The challenge for special educators is how to create meaningful Web 2.0 activities for students who may have reading and writing deficits, or for students in classrooms emphasizing functional academics. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how assistive technologies can by used to help students with a range of deficits create and access a wiki created using PB Works.

 

This presentation builds on our 2008 NECC presentation to focus on more of the assistive technology tools.

 

We chose to create a Community Travel Wiki to model how students in functional life skills programs can benefit from Web 2.0 tools. Teachers can replicate the same process to create similar wikis or wikis that are more academic for core subjects. For example, a teacher for students with Learning Disabilities could create a wiki for vocabulary terms for grade level content using PB Works and the various components of the SOLO program. The possibilities are endless.
 
This link contains a Quicktime video of the various videos from our presentation.
 
necc2009_ledesma_long
 
The following assistive technology tools are featured:
 
1) Boardmaker
 
2) Solo
 
3) Read Naturally
 
4) Read Please
 
The “Safeway” or grocery store featured on the wiki for community travel is at http://safeway.pbworks.com/.  I chose PBWorks because of the free educator account and its ability to create student accounts.
 
My co-presenter, Lara Long, an Assistive Technology Specialist, can be contacted via email at lelong1@fcps.edu.

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24
Jun

With the students now gone for the summer, Mr. Jarosz and I posted an article on Teacher Magazine online about some of our conclusions about the iPod Touch Pilot. The article is entitled Adding a Touch of Technology.

23
Jun

Wiimote Whiteboard

 

As a sixth grader, Daniel would sit in on the evening Web Publishing Fundamentals and Intermediate classes I taught for the school system. The educators taking the classes were tech savvy teachers, web curators, and technology specialists, and it would be accurate to say that he ended up helping me with those who were having difficulty with the CSS code and graphics, sitting next to the teachers and showing them which icons to click.

 

Daniel’s technology skills were definitely advanced for his grade level, but he was not alone. Each year there are always a couple of students who are too advanced for the Microsoft Office and entry level multimedia focus of our Middle School Technology Tools curriculum.

 

Fast forward three years later, Daniel’s latest project is using the Wii remote to create a ~$100 Interactive Whiteboard. With encouragement from some of his teachers, he has given presentations to various teachers and administrators in his school to suggest that there are cheaper alternatives to the expensive Interactive Whiteboards we use. As a result, he has learned alot of valuable real world “business” and “marketing” skills in addition to the technology skills required to create such a project. His presentation can be viewed here.

 

Where did Daniel learn to develop the research and technology skills required to replicate and customize the Wiimote Whiteboard?

 

YouTube and the Internet…. In other words, NOT in school.

 

Educators who advocate for more technology and projects that require higher level thinking and authentic experiences in schools often talk about the need to stay “relevant” in our student’s education.

 

I think the term “relevant” is confusing for many, because, what exactly does “not staying relevant” look like?

 

Perhaps it looks like when some students learn to be innovative somewhere else…

 

Of course, what is learned in school is important, but so are the missed opportunities….

15
Jun

The iPod Octopus

ipodoctupusdiagram

 

Implementing the iPod Touch in a PC Only environment without an Apple iPod Touch cart using only free apps  requires us to problem solve some  challenges. Here is a picture of what that may look like.

Parts

 

1: Synching PC Laptop

2: Power Supplies

3: Main USB Hub: Connects to laptop

4: USB Hubs: Connects to Main USB Hub (which connects to laptop).

 

The teacher synchs all iPods through a single iTunes Account. As a classroom teacher, think about the possible challenges:

 

1) Got Space?  Look at the picture. You’ll need it.

 

2) Got Procedures? A good teacher provisions for everything that happens in the classroom, so determining, modeling, and coordinating a synching procedure for 29 students is very important.  For example, how often will the teacher synch the iPods? When will this occur? Which students go first? How will the students get their iPods back? What will the students be doing when the teacher is entangled in those wires trying to synch?

 

3) Got Behavior Problems? One won’t if they do #2 correctly. (This refers to the students, not the teacher or technology specialist trying to synch.)  :-)

 

4) Got Saved Work? The synching process will remove all student data from the iPods, so any files must be transferred prior to synching.

 

5) Got Flexibility? Not all iPods may synch upon connecting the Main USB Hub to the laptop. Based on my experience, one should not try to synch more than 5-10 iPods at a time. Which leads to:

 

6) Got Time? A teacher will need time to manage the synching process.

 

Just some of the technical challenges involved.

 

Due to these issues, we only synched once prior to the start of the pilot. Therefore, we had to think of all the applications and media that the students would need to do the activities.  Since we used a WordPress class website, instead of our county’s Blackboard system, we did not have any problems with getting content to students.

11
Jun

Students in Mr. Jarosz’s English class were expected to create podcasts at home and outside the classroom using the iPod Touch. After reviewing various recording devices, iTalk appeared to be the app of choice. A free version is available and the interface is very easy to use.  Highly recommended.