Friday, December 23, 2011

Earthquake update



I am so over all of this, you just get used to it
being over the earthquakes when bang you are back to square one.


We had 46 earthquakes yesterday (we don't feel all of them) and today we
have had 14 so far (it is 7 a.m.). Yesterday there were 4 really nasty ones
of 5.8, 5.9, 6.0 and 5.4.

One of them was centred a kilometre from our house!!! - it was only 7
kilometres deep!! I have to say they
were very scary again! The liquifaction is back so many roads are closed
again but luckily the bridges are not damaged this time. There have been no
deaths and there appears to be little more damage (there is not much left to
damage). I doubt if many shops will be open for those with last minute
shopping!!


Have a lovely Christmas

Thursday, December 15, 2011

YouTube for schools

Videos or movies have always had the power to engage the learners by bringing the topic to life.

YouTube, although it has many relevant videos for the classroom, is blocked by many schools as there are also many inappropriate videos to be found there.

Fantastic! Now YouTube have released YouTube for schools. This provides a secure, safe environment where students have access to hundreds of thousands of appropriate videos.

School admins and teachers can log in and watch any video, but students cannot
log in and can only watch YouTube EDU videos plus videos their school has added.
All comments and related videos are disabled and search is limited to YouTube
EDU videos.

Teachers can customize the content available in their school. All schools get access to all of the YouTube EDU content, but teachers and administrators can also create playlists of videos that are viewable only within their school's network.

YouTube.com/Teachers has hundreds of playlists of videos that align with common educational standards, organized by subject and grade. These playlists were created by teachers for teachers so you can spend more time teaching and less time searching.

YouTube for schools web site





There is an area which details 10 ways to use YouTube in your classroom.

These include:
  1. To spark lively discussion by engaging students through showing videos relevant to their lives. This can then lead to students considering different perspectives or another point of view.
  2. Organise the video content you find into a playlist for you and your students
  3. Archive your work so you can refer back at a later stage saving you time and effort.
  4. Allow students to dig deeper into a subject by creating an appropriate playlist
  5. Get struggling students up to speed and push strong students ahead by giving students the opportunity to review the videos at a later time i.e. at home. Videos can be used to address misunderstandings or difficult concepts
  6. Review for upcoming exams
  7. Create a YouTube centre for your classroom
  8. Create quizzes, using a Google Form, to accompany videos to give instant feedback
  9. Create interactive video quests by using annotations
  10. Flip your classroom where students watch the video at home so you can focus on applying the concepts

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas again...


Christmas is coming up again!! It is going to be a bit different for many people here in Christchurch as many of us are still living under difficult conditions after the earthquakes we have had over the last year.

My favourite web site is there for any of you who are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends.

Portable North Pole is just wonderful for children. You are able to enter the data about your children, some photos of your child and then a video is made for the child. This video stars Father Christmas speaking to the child - it is personalised for them. Children are so over awed by their video. If you have not used this site before try it - it is free to make and view your video online.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marking v computer data

As part of a research project, some children were given a multi-choice reading test. At the moment I am entering the data into a web site on the computer which then analyses the data and produces reports to show how the child is reading in relation to other children of the same age or class level. It also gives the teacher the next steps for the child.

Something I have found quite interesting is that some of the teachers have marked the papers (using a pen and counting the number correct) before we got the papers to enter the data. It amazes me how many teachers have marked incorrectly or added up incorrectly!!

When their marking and mine do not match I have checked the paper again before going on to the next one to ensure I have not entered the wrong answer but so far it has been the teachers.

This makes me think about the data for any of these tests. Teachers are over worked and errors like this can be part of the reason for this happening. I think it would be best for schools to hire teacher aides to enter the data for the teachers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

ICT in schools

Due to positioning theories of learning with ICT in cognitive and social processes we need to carry out research that investigates how students learn with ICT in contexts of curriculum with technology imbedded in them (Kozma 1994). Yelland (2001) feels that this is crucial as many believe that ICT will only have impact on learning if it is integrated into social and cultural contexts. She also feels that this can only happen through school reform in curriculum and pedagogy as traditional forms of instruction were not designed to cope with such issues as complex interrelationships. Johnson (2000) states that we need to take into account two factors in order to be relevant, computers need to be available and accessible to teachers and students and teachers should be confident and competent with the range of applications that are available to support the teaching and learning.

Although some research by Lally and Macleod (1984) suggested that computer aided instruction types of programs had limited use due to applications not leading to improved teaching procedures but merely computerising existing techniques, many still believe this process will work.

In order for ICT to be integrated into the curriculum Yelland (2001) states that changes in the learning process occurs which are characterised by (CEO forum 1999):
 Problem or project oriented – whereby investigations are authentic and where there are many solutions to the problem
 Student centred – students feel empowered by their work and participate in developing their own investigations. Teachers act as guides, facilitators, and provide the materials to support their learning. While teachers remain the cornerstone of the educational process a partnerships is formed with students, parents, peers and other professionals. The teachers’ role is less authoritarian and more one of encouraging and guiding the students towards their goals.
 Collaborative – since learning with authentic tasks is an interactive experience between teaches and students and as students acquire and use information they need to exchange ideas and create relationships with each other and with professionals relevant to their work
 Relevant – learning with ICT has the potential to create educational opportunities to meet the needs of individuals and groups in diverse ways and allows them to work according to their needs and interests. Teachers can use digital devices to record and report on students’ performance in enhanced ways, tracking achievement through databases or using video for observation of skill development.
 Productive – the use of ICT encourages both teachers and students to become ‘content producers’

The characteristics of exemplary teachers who integrated computers into their classrooms as found by Becker (1993) included that they created an environment for learning in which the computer directly related to the curriculum goals as well as incorporating a wide for variety of uses which were relevant to knowledge building across the curriculum. These teachers also had greater access to formal professional development and also had smaller class sizes. In this work Becker states that his ‘assumption of the exemplary teaching label was based on the important academic outcomes which result from systematic and frequent use of computer software for activities which involve higher order thinking, such as interpreting data, reasoning, writing, solving real world problems and conducting scientific investigations (p. 316).

Another study by Swan & Mitrani (1993) found that many studies that had been conducted concentrated on how the computer reinforced or enhanced basic skills and measured by testing outcomes in standardised tests. Another point that they made was that many studies found that when such skills were presented on the computer that they were learned more effectively. However they maintained that such use of computers was detrimental to a broader use which would impact on the actual processes of teaching and learning. They maintain that when computers are effectively integrated into the curriculum and are a natural part of the teaching process that the learning is more student-centred and collaborative than in the more traditional classroom settings. In this setting they found that the dynamics between the teacher and students changed with the teacher taking a facilitators role. From this work they stated that ‘technology alone will not change schools’ as they felt that there also needs to be a change in the classroom climate and pedagogy for the use of ICT to have an impact.

I wrote this some years ago - have things changed much since then?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Model for professional development for teachers in the online learning environment

The advent of the internet has changed the mode of delivery for many courses in the tertiary sector and courses are now offered in an online learning environment with variable success. There has been a range of studies concerning online learning in such environments as university classes online, however there is little research about the role of information technologies in promoting professional learning for teaching practitioners.


Educational practitioners undertake professional development to either develop their skills and knowledge to improve student learning in their classrooms or for promotional reasons. Educational practitioners want to be inspired by their teachers when undertaking professional development. Some researchers point to the relationship between the teacher and the course members as being an important factor in the success of a course. As many professional development courses are being delivered in an online learning environment, the course members never meet the teacher and the teacher needs to develop strategies to allow these relationships to develop. posted online using the resources from a face-to-face course for the course members to download. Now the capabilities of the internet allow for a range of technologies to be used to enhance the learning in an online learning environment.

The aim of my study was to explore the perceptions of educational practitioners who are undertaking an online professional development course.

My study suggests that a pedagogical shift for teaching practitioners can be accomplished in the online learning environment through the online environment design and the teacher taking an active role in the facilitating.

Using the findings from this study, a model for the online learning environment to encourage teaching practitioners to integrate the skills and knowledge into their classrooms to enhance the children’s learning is shown. This model involves a cyclic approach and involves developing skills and knowledge in educational contexts, linking these to relevant theory and reflection on the learning, completing a range of tasks in the course member’s own context, and completing assignments using the skills and knowledge in a classroom setting to enable the course member to see a technology infused classroom in practice. Seeing a lesson where technology is used and seeing the impact that the technology can have on student learning encourages teaching practitioners to employ technology-enhanced teaching strategies. This model aligns with Timperley et al. (2007) who suggest three stages in professional learning processes: cueing and retrieving prior knowledge, becoming aware of new information/skills and integrating them into current values and beliefs system, and creating dissonance with current position.

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Ready Classroom


The Ready Classroom

The Ready Classroom is a great resource for teachers to use with their classrooms. Although it has been specifically written for schools in the USA all of the content is appropriate to schools everywhere.

This resource is to prepare schools, students and families in the case of a disaster.

Disasters that are dealt with on the site are:

  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme heat
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslide and debris flow
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Wildfires
  • Winter storms and extreme cold

There are also links to appropriate videos which open in a new window. These vary in length and have been graded as to what is appropriate for different class levels.

My city has been through two major earthquakes over this past year. Naturally I therefore had a look through the area about earthquakes. In here is an explanation of what an earthquake is, a checklist to download and all the videos about earthquakes. While the checklist is good it does not deal at all with liquefaction which we found a real problem. At the time of the earthquake many cars got stranded in deep sink holes.

There are teacher tools including lesson plans, themed puzzles and resources. In addition children can make a family plan for emergencies. This is online and is not saved but may be printed out and some parts may be downloaded and saved. This would be well worth doing with students.

The Ready Classroom is part of the Discovery Education web site.

Guest post

Education and Technology - Welcome a Unifying Approach Leading to Better Learning

Education and technology - will it be able to incorporate a better learning experience among the youth? Well, the debate over whether the blend of education and technology will be able to formulate productive learning might still be continuing, but the integration of tech-based learning that has already crept in the educational world cannot be missed. The influence and dominance of technology in our living, learning, and working has reached such heights that you are open to either loving or hating it but certainly, not ignoring it. The integration of tech-based learning however, has opened multiple doors of opportunities for the career-oriented individuals.

Now, assuming that you wish to advance your career with an MBA degree, but is tied by other personal and /or professional commitments. To add to the blues, your dream was to obtain a degree from a foreign university of recognition. Leaving your job and moving out to pursue the degree through regular studies is certainly not a choice; therefore, what stands as an option for you. Well, the options until a decade back were tied to enrolling for part time program, weekend classes, and correspondence courses, if not regular course. Establishing a digital communication was impossible then, but forward to the present age, living your dream is no longer far away.

You can well consider pursuing a distance learning MBA program to realize your dream; thanks to the magical touch of technological influence over learning. Establishing a communication and sharing information in this age of web dominant technologies is no longer a challenging task. By virtue of technological advancements, distance learning has crept into the digital world in the name of online learning or e-learning. The introduction of learning in the digital world on strength of technology has certainly made living and learning easier than ever before.

Students are now open to connecting and communicating with their instructors anytime and anywhere independent of time and distance gaps. The strong bond of education and technology has made it easier for the mid-career professionals and the newcomers to eye for success in the global job market through distance learning MBA program. While a mid- career professional can conveniently enroll in online classes for upgrading his skills to offer better productivity in the job sector, the students can purse the management course alongside their traditional programs for a better stand individually in the corporate world.

The introduction and advancement of tech-based learning has opened multiple avenues for the career-oriented individuals, as they are now able to pursue a degree course at their own convenience without shifting base or compromising on their respective commitments. Since, the competition is strict leveraging one’s skills in the given professional filed has become essential to survive through the odds of the current job market. Here, is a quick look at some of the applications that has made the blend of education and technology productive for many around the world –

  • Discussion Boards
  • Online Chat Forums
  • Video and live conferencing
  • Podcasts, webcasts, and vidcasts
  • Other Internet communication tools

Distance learning MBA on strength of technology has created a road that enables the career-oriented individuals to match pace with global corporate world that is developing with rapid speed and swiftness. Education and technology, the blend has certainly come across as a blessing for the learners wishing to carve a niche professionally.

To learn more about the blend, you can refer to the BBC report on “Digital textbooks open a new chapter” that detail on the initiative taken by educational institutes to digitalize learning.

AUTHOR BIO - Freya Spears driven by his passion towards writing likes to create thought provoking blogs and write-ups related to the educational world that is ever changing in this rapidly developing age. Here, he focuses upon distance learning MBA and the way technology integration in education has simplified the career objective.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chrome web store



I have just been looking at what is available in the Chrome Web Store. There are some interesting applications or Web 2 tools that would be good for schools however...

I have been looking at the map showing earthquakes that have happened in the world during the last 7 days.


As you can see from the screen shot it tells us that there have been no earthquakes of a magnitude of 2.5 or above in my country in the last seven days. They say none at all!!!

This is completely incorrect as we have had 27 earthquakes in my city (or surrounding countryside) in the last seven days! Where am I? Christchurch New Zealand. The majority of these earthquakes are over 2.5 but of course that is not a big quake as far as we are concerned. Below you can see a screen dump of where some of these earthquakes happened, their magnitude and the depth.

















What concerns me here is that if there is such a glaring error i.e. 27 earthquakes not registering on this site how accurate are any of the other offerings here?

If you are using any with your class I would suggest that you check it out carefully before the children use it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

3D technology in the classroom

I have just been watching a video from Fox television about a school in Colorado where they are using 3D technology in the classroom.

This is a biology class where the students are full of praise for the technology e.g. "I think it's awesome! In my past biology classes I've always had a really hard time understanding what a molecule looks like and how it can be rotated and how it changes. But, with the 3D movie it shows it rotating," and "It makes me really interested in the topics that we are studying about. It's a new way to see things,".

That sounds like a gimmick however the teacher says her students have a better understanding of the subject and their test scores are up 10% which is pretty impressive. Obviously a serious drawback to the use of the technology is the expense - this report mentions that a projector and 30 pairs of glasses is about ten thousand American dollars!

For those interested to find out more about the benefits of 3D technology there is a white paper available. This paper suggests that benefits of using the technology are:

  • Test results
  • Higher retention rates
  • Enhanced learning experience and excitement

Frankly I seriously doubt that the technology will become available in many schools for some time and I would see limited use for it with primary aged pupils especially given the cost. Having said that another article discusses a pilot test third, fourth and fifth grade students. During this time the students participated in classes using the technology in maths (calculate the volume of unusual shapes through objects that could be viewed or moved around to show different angles), science (a tour of the solar system, life cycle of a plant, dissecting a frog) and health (going inside the human body to see how antibiotics work). Benefits of using the technology included:

Those who tended to be disruptive or inattentive during traditional instruction were so enamored they uttered nary a peep. Those with limited English proficiency suddenly had a visual that helped them grasp concepts where mere words had failed. Gifted kids were making so many new connections and asking such provocative questions that the lessons often mined territory far beyond teachers had anticipated.

I would be interested in what others feel about the technology and particularly if you have used it in the classroom.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest post

Exploring the Integration of Tech-tools or ICT in Learning
The blend of technology in teaching and learning process has initiated a change in the practice and progression of education. With education transpiring in the digital world, learning in 21st century has become more flexible and accessible. From traditional classroom learning to distance learning, the integration of technology is found in all approaches to education. In most cases, educationists of today are relying upon the newly evolved from of blended learning that initiates a wonderful mix of technology in learning. This blend not only ensures better and motivated learning but also helps in highlighting the needs and interest of students in learning styles.
Information and communications technology in classroom has been the major catalyst in leveraging the way people learn in this new age of evolution and innovation. Integrating classroom technologies in learning instigating better communication and information exchange can be of a major benefit in effectual classroom management techniques. Several statistical reports on this line have stated that if learning is relevant and interesting, behavioral issues automatically lessen. This particular concept has indeed initiated the implementation of technology in classroom learning. Several UK high schools, colleges, and universities have embraced the evolution of blended learning making study in UK far more interesting.
The influence of information and communications technology in classroom has also helped in the evolution of distance learning in such a wider scale. The integration of technology in education has paved way for swift information exchange and communication. Furthermore, the integration has also helped in replicating the entire classroom-learning feel over the virtual presence without any physical setting. You can sit in one corner of the world and enjoy an interaction with your instructor sitting in another corner of the world independent of time and distance constraints. The implementation of technology in learning has effectively opened the study in UK door without any restraints.
This implementation in the online world of learning is best experienced through the advancement of integration of E-learning in education. For further references onto the subject, you can browse through the Wikipedia page on E-learning.
Information and communications technology in classroom calls for better interaction and communication among students, teachers, and parents. This implementation in classroom learning allows the students to blend their theoretical knowledge with practical experience. From updating the wiki with a research article, recording narratives as podcasts, creating blogs, or participating in a conference talk, technology works towards the goal of fuller development along with personal enrichment. Any information that is delivered to students with the help of technology holds maximum chance of being more engaging and effective. Classroom learning relying upon power point presentation offers the student a visualized learning approach.
Tech-blend learning if delivered effectively by a proper instructor knowing the terms well is sure to offer the students with a platform to publish their own thoughts in text, video , and multi-media format enabling a better learning experience. Information and communication technology in classroom learning lays a different and immediate approach to learning that comes with a feedback forum. This integration helps the students in developing creative thinking ability.  However, it is to be remembered that information and communications technology in learning though a potential tool in learning serves a purpose than being an end.
 
AUTHOR BIO - Robert Williams driven by his passion of writing and interest in education loves to write on various educational topics and new-age technologies and innovations affecting the course of studies. Here, he focuses upon information and communications technology in classroom and the study in UK approach.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest post

Information & Communications Technologies - Changing the Way of Learning

The role of technology in changing the way of teaching and learning is all-pervading. Advancement in information and communications technology in education has indeed provided a support platform to learners worldwide in keeping them integrated with performance-oriented skills along with the knowledge. Implementation of information and communications technologies, referred to as ICT, in learning has benefited education in many ways. From making education accessible for all to formulating a convenient and flexible learning mode – the significance of ICT in distance learning is indisputable.

The concept of learning via distance has been quick enough to respond to the innovation and advancement in the field of technology support towards education. The blending of technology and education in making distance learning courses accessible and flexible for all can be attributed to the reasons of introducing need based course programs and developing performance skill and support among today’s learners and professionals alongside the knowledge base. Furthermore, implementation of ICT in distance learning also helps in designing a flexible schedule of learning assisting the professionals and learners in developing their own learning module.

Implanting information and communications technologies in learning is a proposal or idea that finds it integration in all branches of education. The augmented and enlarged use of ICT in delivering learning at all corners of the world connecting the student, instructor, and content over a single platform is currently perceived as an up-and-coming practice in the educational sector. The focus of the initiative lies in bringing the rural and geographically remote areas under the fold of education via distance learning conquering over the geographical barriers and other odds.

Offering support services to the learners form an important part of distance learning courses and the educational program. Since, the learners are not involved with campus learning process directly; effective teaching-learner interaction needs to be carried out over the virtual learning setting. Support services like, admission process, academic counseling, academic career guidance, teleconferencing, teleconferencing, ICT implemented e-learning, library support, and information services are provided to the students for building an efficient interaction platform among both teachers and students.

Distance learning that until recently relied upon postal and mailing services now enjoys a new twist under the hands of technologies and online tools that holds the power of transforming the learning environment completely. The implementation of Information and communications technologies in distance learning courses hold multiple benefits in transforming the way people learn -

· Technological developments and advancements have paved the road to better learning enriched with visualization, interaction, and graphical representations.

· Video conferencing and live conferencing through enhanced satellite system helps the student and teacher connect beyond the geographical barriers and physical classroom setting.

· E-mail and other communications technology have made communication easier ensuring greater feedback and increased interaction among the peers along with teacher-student interaction.

· The Internet acts as a complete source of information making the incorporation of classroom environment easier for both the student and the instructor. It also offers the scope if self-paced learning and self-development.

The greatest benefit of implementing information and communications technologies in learning can be solely attributed to the fact of making distance learning courses available for worldwide. Distance learning courses now holds the potential of transforming the way of education and the way people learn in shaping up a new global economy conforming to the rapid societal changes.

For more references on this, you can refer to the Wikipedia page on Educational Technology.

AUTHOR BIO - Robert Williams loves writing and holds an interest towards various education related topics. He loves to write about distance learning courses and the changes the learning mode is facing in its evolution. Here, he focuses upon the influence of information and communications technology in learning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Embed Plus


This site is now very popular with educators as can be imagined.


They have now got an area where they have an example of how their tool might be used in a classroom or with students. The first example is a dictionary which will be great for ESOL teachers (pronouncing words) where students can find how to pronounce words and use the word in context. This will also interest other teachers to give them some ideas of how they might use it.

You can also go the link page to get the html code to use in your own web site.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guest post

Communications Technologies in Classroom helps in Learning Enhancement

With technology continuing its influence in the world affecting our way of living and working, the educational sector too is not left far behind. Advancement in Internet and communication technology within the last decade has also offered a massive turnaround in the way of our learning. Today, the world of education under the dominating influence of the digital transition is continuously confronted with numerous challenges and opportunities. Distance learning, as it was in the past is embraced with new technological developments that are paving way for better learning. Online courses in today’s age is largely shaped in the mould of interactive classroom teaching characterized by online learning system management

The implementation of the online learning management system in the school or college environment is all set to witness a new turnaround under the influence of communication technologies in classroom. Several statistical surveys has reported that integrating technology in classroom studies hold positive results, as it increases concentration and appeal of learning among young students. Information and Communication Technology abbreviated as ICT is recognized as a universal potential tool for educational advancement leading to national progress and personal enrichment. Application of such technologies in classroom is conceived as a beneficial approach in transforming the way we learn.

However, the actual challenge comes in connecting the advanced communication technologies in support of teaching and learning that now happens at a multi-dimensional level. Initiating a child to learn or appealing a college student towards regular learning is a challenge for every teacher. In such a situation, technology acts as the engaging tool for initiating the students to learn and grow. With the entire world turning digital, students are seen to hold a special interest for tech-blend learning. Communication technology in classroom is sure to support the genre of online courses or e-learning thereby, making learning far more associable and flexible along with being convenient.

The Wikipedia page on E-learning details on the use of communication technologies in classrooms to support e-learning. The page also details on various other leaning management software that assists the usage of communication technology in enhancing learning.

The advancement of Internet technology and the availability of communication tools in the generation of web 2.0 application offer an extensive resource for communication technologies in classroom. From wikis, blogs, productivity application, concept mapping tools, to social networking sites, today’s teachers and students are proficient with every usage and application of communication technology. Online instructors to support greater learning are complementing the use of such technologies in classroom for presenting the course content and proving a wider access to information. Online courses in many universities are supplemented with platforms like Blackboard.com.

Wikis and weblogs too are known to offering an excellent platform of implementing advanced communication technologies in classrooms to enhance learning. These communicative platforms in today’s age of flexible learning make sharing ideas, initiating discussions, and indulging in question-answer session a lot easier. Videos and podcasts act as other engaging tools of enhancing learner working towards the same goal of connecting instructor and learner along with the content over a virtual platform independent of distance and time.

However, implementation of communication technologies in classroom, as it supports a learner initiative to learn at his own pace also holds challenges for both the educator and instructor to use the technologies properly. A number of universities and colleges today have implemented online courses on information and communication technology for helping the collaborative undertaking of enhancing learning through communication technologies in classrooms.

AUTHOR BIO - Robert Williams is a blogger by choice and he loves to write on educational topics for benefiting the learners of today’s age in knowing about the new implementations and changes in online learning or distance learning courses. Here, he focuses on the subject how communication technologies in classrooms can enhance learning.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs

Like many other people, I was saddened to hear of the death of Steve Jobs yesterday. Apple computers were so important in schools right back since the 1980s. It is fascinating to read that he started to make and sell Apple computers as long ago as 1975, truly ahead of his time. He was a known perfectionist who worked tirelessly to ensure that his products were the best they could be.

He was a great visionary who has died at such a young age. My thoughts are with his family.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interactive Learning


Interactive learning is a new web site dedicated to improving student performance through interactive learning. Here teachers can find how schools are integrating technologies into the classroom to enhance the thinking and learning.

There is a very interesting article which gives a ten year update on technology and education. The article points to how, after 30 years with technology in the schools, there has been a lack of change in the classrooms:

"The reality is that advocates have over-promised the ability of educators to extract a learning return on technology investments in school. The research studies now suggest that the error was not in citing the potential of technology to augment learning – for research now indicates that the effective use of technology can result in high levels of learning. The error was in underestimating the critical need for the system changes required to use technologies effectively in learning."
Here in New Zealand, we have a similar scenario. Although we have some schools where change is evident and the teachers are using the technology as a tool in their classrooms to build 21st century skills we also have others where the technology is used as a 'reward' for good behaviour or for word processing a story but little else.

I was teaching some students in an intermediate school last term. The students in this group came from every class in the school and were learning new skills to be able to show others in their class as well as using the skills in their own learning. Every Web 2 tool I went to use with the group was either blocked or was not able to be used properly on the school's network - very frustrating for the teachers wanting to use these technologies. Staff professional development was offered to the teachers in this school on a needs basis and was held before school in the morning. Few teachers took up this offer 'we are too busy in the mornings getting ready for the day'.

The research states that the real potential of the technology has still not been realised in education.
"Overall,across all uses in all content areas, technology does provide a small, but significant, increase in learning when implemented with fidelity and accompanied by appropriate pedagogical shifts. While this is generally encouraging, the real value lies in the identification of those technology interventions that get significant positive results that warrant investment."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classroom of the future?


The New York Times has an online article (a version has also appeared in print) about whether the use of technology in the classroom does in fact improve the education for the students.

The article discusses Kyrene School District where digital classrooms are the norm. Here the aim is to transform the classrooms with the teachers facilitating the students' learning. However standardized tests of student performance in reading and maths have stagnated here while they have risen in other areas. They suggest that there is little convincing data to show that spending the money on technology is improving basic learning.

Teachers need some research which clearly shows the effect of technology on teaching and learning.
A question plaguing many education researchers is how to draw broader inferences from such case studies, which can have serious limitations.

Educators would like to see major trials years in length that clearly demonstrate technology’s effect. But such trials are extraordinarily difficult to conduct when classes and schools can be so different, and technology is changing so quickly.

And often the smaller studies produce conflicting results. Some classroom studies show that math scores rise among students using instructional software, while others show that scores actually fall. The high-level analyses that sum up these various studies, not surprisingly, give researchers pause about whether big investments in technology make sense.
I would be interested in what other teachers think of the article and their ideas of the use of technology in schools.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventure Maker

Adventure Maker is free software available for download.

This software is great for use in the classroom. Children are able to create their own multimedia games. Included in the download is Creative Painter (a draw tool). Children do not need to be able to programme as this software just requires point and click. A great tool to encourage higher order thinking skills.

This video will give you an overview of the software as well as a tutorial on how to use it.



While there are examples of some games that have been made using Adventure Maker on the site you need to be very careful in your selection of the ones you download as examples for the classroom.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Zamzar

Zamzar is a quick and easy online web site where you can convert files from one format to another.
Their mission is
"To provide high quality file conversion
for as many file formats as possible"

So many times I have wanted to convert files to another format to send to someone or to use with other software (e.g. put a video in a PowerPoint presentation - PowerPoint will only allow some formats to be used). This tool is free to use - there are options ranging from $7 to $49 per month - but most teachers are not usually wanting to use the service enough to warrant the expenditure. Just to convert files is free and will take files up to 100mgs.

Steps are:
  • upload the file
  • choose the file format you wish to convert to
  • put in the email address to receive the converted file
  • press Convert

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading programme


I have been helping with entering data from a research project about a reading programme which is becoming widely used here in New Zealand. Availll is a research based literacy programme for the classroom. It uses films in a series of scripted lessons to teach skills in three areas of literacy:

  • comprehension strategies
  • vocabulary
  • fluency
Availll was developed by Dr. Alice Killackey (previously from Northern Arizona University) who had found, when teaching in the classroom in 2001, that while students had a good understanding of video they did not have good reading skills. She was inspired to use the students' strengths in video to bring up their weaknesses in reading. A range of activities were created, tested and re-tested with dramatic experimental results.

The researchers have found that students are highly motivated to use the programme. Originally this programme was only available in New Zealand but is now available internationally at a very low cost. For those teachers who are looking for a reading programme to motivate their children this is very worthwhile. Some of the books used are available as free downloadable ebooks.

A list server I am on is currently discussing the use of this programme and here is what one teacher had to say:

We found that the students were all very motivated and they found it
exciting to 'read' a DVD. After a term of the programme we found
students listening skills had improved and when we did the PROBE testing
we found most students reading and comprehension levels had improved by
between 1 and 3 years (great result after a term)



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Brainshark


My Brainshark is an interesting site for teachers to use.

Using this site teachers can upload their PowerPoint presentations and then add their audio to it to then embed the presentation in their online course or email their students to share the presentation.

You can also upload other documents, photos or video clips and add audio to these.

While this site has been developed for businesses but can certainly be used by teachers for educational purposes.

It is free to sign up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

SchoolTube


I have used YouTube (like everyone else),TeacherTube (which I love) and now have just found SchoolTube.

This web site was launched some time ago and is a teacher moderated video sharing website.

They are dedicated to supporting educational institutions and have a range of videos for educators to show how a range of ICT tools and software can be used in the classroom to enhance the thinking and learning as well as motivating the students. Teachers are able to share concepts, ideas and lesson plans with others.


There are various channels you can use starting with the free channel for teachers. There are other options which will cost the school e.g. a Premium channel costs $US495 a year.


I was disappointed to see on the main page of the site showed this video (title). I am not sure if the teacher moderated this video. While I know it is fashionable not to correct a student's work it is possible to discuss the spelling of something like this before it is uploaded to the site.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Online networks

Not all agree with the last post. In our Saturday Press is an article "facing up to Facebook" by a university lecturer from New Zealand. He is a lecturer in Marketing but also has an interest in 'what makes people tick' - how people interact and express themselves in online worlds such as Facebook. He highlights how these sites can be used in positive ways but also warns that there is a 'dark and dirty side'.

It will be interesting to see this research when it comes out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Learning together online

Steve Wheeler has just put up a new slide share about Learning together online. This presentation discusses how social networks are an important part of the culture of many young people. In light of this teachers need to exploit the power of these tools to engage students to enhance the thinking and learning in their classrooms.

Here in New Zealand, we have had some instances where a social media network (such as Facebook) has been used in a way where the outcomes are probably not what was envisioned by the young people using it. Teaching how to use the tools in a responsible way is also important.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Diipo


What is Diipo???

Education 2.0: Social networking for your class

Diipo connects the teacher with their students making it easy for the teacher to communicate with their class. Diipo also connects teachers with other teachers as well as their class with other classes. Diipo uses an easy-to-use and familiar user-interface which is similar to Facebook and Twitter. One of the aims of Diipo is to help students stay connected and engaged.

Teachers can connect with other teachers to share and exchange ideas as well as best practices on how to get the most out of Web 2.0 technologies. In addition teachers can share educational content with each other or brainstorm ideas for collaborative projects.

This is an ideal site to use with the students so that they can also learn to use a social networking site in a responsible way.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Art History

Smart History is an wonderful web site for Art History students and teachers.

This is a free and open multimedia website that can be "taken anywhere" replacing the heavy text books.

You will also find videos timeline, articles and podcasts to engage the students and increase their understanding.

They aim for reliable content and invite Art history teachers to contribute to the site through photographs, content or ideas.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teachers TV

I have been a fan of Teacher TV for ages. This web site has now been closed down but luckily the Dept of Education in the United Kingdom has stepped up and:
signed a number of non-exclusive distribution agreements that will ensure that the 3,500 15 minute programmes in the archive will still be available to watch on-line.


I am so pleased about this as I have been sending so many students and teachers there as there are just so many useful resources and ideas for teachers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Edutopia


Eudtopia have free downloadable books for teachers. The latest is Ten Tips for Classroom Management which looks at all areas of the school. In their tip about the relationship between schools and home they suggest going digital and using Edumodo which offers a free platform where you are able to set up a secure social-networking site for you, your students and your families - this would have been a great site during our earthquakes (for those with access to the Internet!!). Many of our schools ban social networking sites such as Facebook (one school I was working in had also banned Delicious accounts!) so this might be acceptable for them.


Other (free) books they have available include:
  • Ten Top Tips for teaching with New Media
  • Summer Rejuvenation Guide
  • Ten Top Tips for Assessing Project Based Learning
  • Home to school resource guide

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Converge Special Report

Center for Digital Education published a Converge Special Report.
This report covers such things as:
  • From digital tools to digital teaching
  • What does digital teaching mean?
  • Types of digital content
  • Digital teaching and the evolving classroom
  • Ensuring digital teaching is effective
It discusses the different roles and the skills a digital teacher requires. They point to the focus in the classroom being on the student creating more personalised learning. They suggest that the classes are able to be interactive where students are fully engaged in their learning.

A teacher who uses Web 2 tools in her classroom has found that her students have a higher level of interest when they are allowed to illustrate their own videos and upload them to a blog or when they participate in a wiki collaboration with another school.

Another teacher discusses how they have used Inanimate Alice to infuse digital and interactive literature. The teacher says; 'I have never seen them more engaged in text'.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Automatoon


Automatoon is a great Web 2 tool to use in the classroom for free. There's no authoring software to install and you can share your animations online. You can also export your animations and embed them in your own websites (e.g. classroom blogs), all for free! These could also be used in other web 2 tools such as Glogster or 280 slides. What a great tool to use as a reading activity for example - certainly would give motivation for some readers. I used animation in my classroom as a reading activity where the children designed an activity (simple) that one of the characters from the story was likely to do. They could then make the animation for others in the group to guess who it is and what they are doing.



This video shows you how to use it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

StencylWorks

Another great (free) programme to download for the classroom is StencylWorks. It is a drag-and-drop gameplay designer that builds off the successful MIT Scratch project (which I talked about in an earlier post). They have extended Scratch's block-snapping interface with new functionality and many ready-to-use blocks. Proficient users can create their own blocks to use and share with others.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

280 slides

280 Slides is a great Web 2, presentation tool. It is free and allows you to have your presentation available for you to use where ever you want it.

At present it is a Beta version. Some of the features are:
  • Import existing documents
  • Presentations are stored on their server so it is available where ever there is an internet connection
  • Built in media search which allows you to add photos, movies etc to your presentation from web sites such as Flickr and YouTube
  • Quality themes
  • Autosave and recovery
  • Download your presentation to PowerPoint
  • Publish to the web using SlideShare or embed it into your own web site
  • Presentation runs in your web browser
This tool will be very useful in the classroom and is extremely easy to use.

Monday, July 25, 2011

iPads

Someone just sent me a link to a story in the Mail Online about a school in Kent requiring the parents to help buy iPads and interactive whiteboards - the whiteboards will link to the iPads.

Some experts are criticising the school for pressurising the parents to pay for the ‘toy’ and are questioning the school’s desire to use iPads as an educational tool – they contend iPads are more suited to watching movies, surfing the internet and playing music.

Obviously it is not just New Zealand schools who are looking at using the iPads.

What is the important part of this idea is that the teachers are trained in using the technologies and are able to integrate these into the classroom to enhance the thinking and learning.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Future tools

An article in our local newspaper last week discussed the findings of some research done relating to ICT in the classroom. One of the findings the researcher suggested was that schools will be adding an iPad to the children's stationery lists as these will be tools that they need to be using for their futures.

As this researcher and many others have said we are preparing children for jobs that are not there yet using tools that have not been invented yet. I therefore wonder if using an iPad is the way to go. Some of the private schools here are already doing this but how long will these be the tool to be using - it is not beyond the realms of feasibility that children will need several different tools during their schooling.

Here these are around $800 which is a lot of money for many of our families. I am sure that in the higher socioeconomic areas that it will not be a problem but it will be in the lower socioeconomic areas. This is widening the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

I wonder how other countries are getting on with this type of thing - does the government provide these, the school, the family??

Monday, July 18, 2011

Authentic ePortfolios

Tech Learning has a story about Authentic ePortfolios which, the story suggests, are being developed after leaving school! The story goes on to describe how to set up an ePortfolio for the 'real world'.




Here, in New Zealand, we have many schools (primary and secondary) who are using ePortfolios through MyPortfolio.


An ePortfolio can be used as an online collection of reflections and digital Artefacts (such as documents, images, blogs, resumés, multimedia, hyperlinks and contact information). Learners and teachers can use an ePortfolio to show their skills, their learning and their development. These can then be shared with a selected audience.

An ePorfolio allows the learner to build reflective activities through blog functions and the creation of diaries in which users can reflect on their learning and experiences over a given time frame or activity. This can then become a two way process with a teacher or peer providing feedback via the same diary.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Guest post

Why Schools Should Support Technology

Perhaps our congressional leaders just don't understand technology enough to realize the value of including it in our educational system or maybe they just assume kids will learn on their own as they discover things on the internet. It's a tough call really when determining the root of our lack of technology training in public schools.

It could be the distraction factor. Technology has in many ways changed the nature of communication, taking a toll on people's attention spans, just for conversations much less lectures in class. What educators and policymakers must realize is that anything can be a distraction and the fact that students are using the amazing new technological innovations at their hands as ways to distract them from studies, reveals more of their lack of education in training in using these devices in productive, life-changing ways.

How Removing Technology and Censoring Websites Hurts

It makes sense that educators want to block out distractions (and cheating) in classes. As all new technological devices do this, it's understandable why so many schools ban them. However, banning technological devices altogether and blocking sites that could potentially aid learning (Wikipedia has been blocked by multiple schools before) will disenfranchise our next generation of students with no productive sense of media literacy who will be unable to find jobs in a market full of internet media positions.

Just look at how online media is replacing print media, Netflix is replacing Blockbuster, and the music industry has restructured their whole business model due to the internet. It is really hard to deny right now that the future of the economy is in the internet, especially considering the continuing boom of social media.

Anyone can tell this would be the worst time to discourage technology use from our next generation job market. The egregiously little amount of educational material regarding media literacy is frankly disturbing. Rather than receiving punishment for bringing a smartphone to school, students should be receiving an education about how to use that device to organize their workflow and even publish and market valuable content.

Most importantly, students must be taught how they can use the internet to build their careers, reputations, and even earn some income. If students are not taking the internet seriously enough, this is due to the fact that they have received no formal training on how to use it practically.



Imagine If…

I know it's really hard to picture where technology and media literacy fit within the already bloated course load and curriculum that's crammed into public schools, but just try to imagine the benefits of a proper media literacy education.

Imagine a school in which students not only learn how to write well or play an instrument, but they learn how to publish these skills strategically on the internet in a way that gives them positive recognition and reinforcement. Imagine how much more they would try to accomplish if they recognized the internet as a lucrative sandbox at their disposal ready for any passion that they can express through words, audio, or video.

Some of the positive effects of using the synergy of technology and creative expression have already been demonstrated, such as the work of students at a New Zealand primary and junior college. I love that these schools have empowered their students by showing them that they have a presence in the online sphere. This encourages them to create better work that they can then publish and perhaps even receive recognition.

By-line:
This guest contribution was submitted by Lenore Holditch, who specializes in writing about top online colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to: holditch.lenore @ gmail.com.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Web 2 book


Especially for schools: David Kapuler has made available a book giving the addresses and a screen shot of some of the Web2 tools that are useful for teachers to use in the classroom.
He is updating this book regularly so it is worthwhile keeping an eye on his blog for the update.