Teaching Technology

Welcome to EdTechTeacher

At EdTechTeacher, our mission is to help teachers and schools leverage technology to create student-centered, inquiry-based learning environments. We offer keynote presentations, hands-on workshops, online courses, and live webinars for teachers, schools, and school districts. Whether you are a teacher  looking to enhance your instructional practices, or a school leader seeking to foster change, we have services to fit a variety of needs. We understand teachers and students because all of us have been in the classroom.

http://edtechteacher.org/index.php/teaching-technology

Thank you Erin for sharing this great site as it is defiantly worth following.

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BUBBLE.US Brainstroming, Critical Thinking, Creativity

BUBBL.US Brainstorming, Critical Thinking, Creativity

        Addresshttp://bubbl.us

Bubbl.us is a Web 2.0 tool that enables users to create mind mapping  and brainstorming diagrams online. To begin, the main topic/concept is  entered in to the parent bubble. Then ideas and thoughts are recorded in colorful text bubbles  linked to the parent bubble. Users continue to  add text bubbles which are color coded according to hierarchy.

The site is simple and easy to use – a great addition to your list of teacher resources! The application is Flash-based so the latest Flash viewer needs to be installed.

Mind Maps

A mind map is a diagram that represents words and ideas that link to a central key word or idea. They are excellent teacher resources for all grades across the curriculum

“Because mind mapping is more flexible than outlining, it  encourages creativity. Displaying all related topics on the same mind  map, with emphasis and connections indicated by images, symbols, and  colors, improves memory retention. The maps are also easier to  understand, which saves time and increases productivity. Diane Murley   “Mind Mapping Complex Information”


21st Century Skills

Critical thinking skills are cultivated when mind mapping is used to analyze the different elements of a new or complicated subject.

Bubbl.us is a great Web 2.0 teaching tool for enhancing creativity when brainstorming is used to explore off-the-cuff relationships. 

Group brainstorming and mind mapping encourages group discussions that develop team collaboration and effective communication skills.

Click here for a free teaching resource – “Brainstorming Rules” – to use in your classroom.


Bubbl.us in the Classroom

Benefits of using bubbl.us: Easy to use Doesn’t require an account unless you want to save work Helps to organize thoughts and explore relationships Aids in generating ideas Encourages risk taking Encourages group discussions Incorporates multiple intelligences

Mind mapping is a good tool for visual and kinesthetic learners. Visual learners benefit from associating ideas and concepts with images. Kinesthetic learners learn well by physically drawing their ideas.

Two Activites that Influence the Climate for Learning

November 13, 2013

I have found this site on the VCC Facebook page. This is something that I feel will be simple to incorporate, yet very effective.

Two Activities that Influence the Climate for Learning

By: in Teaching Professor Blog

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My colleague Chuck Walker, a psychology professor at St. Bonaventure University (NY), shared a collection of instructional strategies that illustrate how the principles of positive psychology might be applied in the classroom. (For examples see: http://wellbeingincollege.org/faculty-resources)  I especially like this one.

“Ask students to write short autobiographies (200 – 300 words) on themselves as learners. Urge them to include reflections on great teachers, peers who supported them, accomplishments, and turning points or times when they showed resilience and grit. Take a couple days to read each autobiography and, with their permission, ask them to read each other’s autobiographies.”

Chuck recommends using this activity at the beginning of the course.  I think it accomplishes two objectives well.  It’s a unique way of letting students know that the instructor is interested in finding out something about them as learners.  Perhaps the instructor could write his or her learning autobiography as well, and then post it on the course website, include it in the syllabus, or read it to students.  If it’s a large class and there isn’t time to read 150 learning autobiographies, there is still time to read some of them. What several students may have written about great teachers and significant learning experiences could be mentioned (anonymously) when they are relevant to teaching and learning tasks during the course.  Teachers could also give students the chance to meet several classmates by sharing portions of their autobiographies.

The second benefit I see accruing from the activity is the attention it directs toward learning right at the beginning of the course.  I have written before how very unaware so many students are of themselves as learners.  They can tell you about good teachers they’ve had, but they aren’t always clear what those teachers did that helped them learn, and they haven’t carefully considered the details of those successful learning experiences.

An article in the current issue of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education describes an activity that also accomplishes this second goal.  It was used in an instructional design and technology program where students objected to having to learn theory.  They wanted to use technology to make products and had no interest in the theoretical underpinnings of what they were doing.  Teachers helped students understand the value of theory by having them write a 250-400 word description of their best learning experience … “just tell the story” they are instructed.  With written stories in hand, students then met in small groups to hear and analyze each other’s stories.  “The goal of the analysis is to uncover a set of underlying instructional themes and attributes working behind the scenes of these learning experiences.”  The lists generated by the groups provide a foundation for what happens in that course and subsequent ones.  “When you design learning experiences for others, it is important to consider what you instructionally value as a learner and educator.”  (p.270) Those themes and attributes provide an easy and obvious segue into theory.

This is another excellent way to raise learning issues with students.  They could share their learning experiences in small groups and do the same searching for underlying themes and attributes, which they could then propose as learning principles.  The teacher could assemble a collection of these and post them on the course website.  The principles could be analyzed further in terms of how they relate to learning the content of this course.  Do they need to be expanded or modified?  Does the teaching in the course reflect these principles—a good question for students and teachers.

I’ve been on the lookout for activities like this since the recent post exploring some of the issues that emerge when students talk about their experiences.  With these activities the talk starts with an individual experience but it grows from there into conversations that create pictures that encompass individual experience at the same time they enlarge it.

Always there’s the question of whether we have time to devote to activities that influence the climate for learning and that focus students’ attention on what we want them to do in the course—learn!  For many of us the answer is another question:  what are the costs if we don’t?

Choosing Which Web Tools Are Right for you

Choosing Which Web Tools Are Right for You

 Multi Tools by pennuja, on Flickr

Multi Tools by pennuja, on Flickr

Teachers who know where to look can easily find themselves bombarded with free web tools that promise to enhance their lesson plans and make learning more engaging for students.

Lack of availability isn’t what holds many teachers back from incorporating digital elements in their classrooms. In fact, many have the opposite problem: They’re overwhelmed by too many options.

For time-strapped educators, staying on top of the latest and greatest web tools can be challenging.

“Teachers should be exploring different tools but not getting hung up on them,” said Adam Bellow, founder of eduTecher and eduClipper and co-author of Untangling the Web. “There’s never going to be a way for us to learn all of tools that are out there.”

He offers the following advice on selecting which web tools to use in the classroom:

Try one new tool at a time. Trying to do too much at once can result in a negative experience—and turn teachers off from using digital tools in the future. Choose one tool and try it out. How well it fits into your curriculum should determine whether it deserves a second shot.

Focus on tools that let students create. The most powerful tools on the web involve making something, whether it’s video, audio or mashup media, Bellow said. “I find it much more empowering for students to be able to create content digitally or to share content in a new way than to get the latest flash cards. I think the best way to learn something is to make something new.”

Find out how other educators are using it. Web tools are useful only if you figure out how to thoughtfully integrate them into your curriculum. Fortunately, teachers have started banding together on Twitter and at edcamps to help each other do exactly that. Another way to find ideas is to check the tool’s “help” page, Bellow suggested, as many developers now provide examples of classroom applications.

Test it at school before using it in class. “There are still districts that are banning and blocking the tools teachers find for the classroom,” Bellow said. Perform a trial run at school to make sure the tool isn’t blocked, to test whether you’re proficient enough to model its use and to make the process as simple as possible for your in-class users.

Be willing to fail. Adding digital components to a lesson does open the door to potential glitches. But educators who keep at it will discover that the potential rewards are more than worth it. Just make sure you have a backup plan—traditional pen and paper will always do in a pinch. “The tool does not define the lesson; it should enhance it, Bellow said.

“If the pencil breaks, get another pencil and move on.”

http://blog.iste.org/choosing-web-tools/

The pros and cons of using Social Media in the Classroom

The pros and cons of social media classrooms

Summary: How social media platforms can be used as a learning tool – and what some of the advantages and disadvantages are.

Charlie Osborne

By for iGeneration | April 10, 2012 — 10:30 GMT (03:30 PDT)

The debate surrounding social media as a learning tool is unlikely to abate any time soon. Is it just a distraction, or do the interactive educational tools available outweigh any disadvantages?

Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are becoming steadily more integrated within a variety of apps targeted at learning. Real-time news feeds and instant accessibility make them a tool that can be used quickly and efficiently — but due to its changeable nature, it can be difficult for school systems to keep up and compensate.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in the classroom?

The pros of social media as a learning tool.

1.) It is a familiar tool.

Most of your students are on social networking platforms, and these services are already tools that students are generally comfortable with — and they can probably show you a thing or two in return.

2.) Improve your own knowledge and skills as an educator.

By learning how to use these platforms as a teacher, you are making yourself more aware of issues surrounding students today. If a student tells you a classmate is harassing them over Twitter — doing something called ‘tweeting’, how can you investigate the situation unless you know how to search profiles and send messages yourself?

3.) Resource availability.

From current news feeds, following public figures, learning a new language or improving software skills, there is an endless range of free resources available through social media — both linked and hosted. If you are looking for a debate, a video or commentary based on a recent news report, Facebook and Twitter’s search functions make them a valuable and free set of tools.

4.) Improvement of research skills.

Being able to find information online is a skill that is now important in the workplace — and one that can be taught through lessons designed around social media platforms.

5.) The improvement of communication.

If conducted within a controlled environment, then social media can be a way for students and teachers to communicate effectively. This could include sending out reminders, posting homework notes and organizing projects or events such as revision classes.

6.) Relevant, real-life learning.

Teaching students how to use social media in order to improve their job prospects can be extremely valuable. How do you find a job through Twitter? Who do you follow? Why do I need a LinkedIn profile?

7.) The promotion of digital citizenship.

Students have to learn about how to conduct themselves appropriately online. Not only do they have to face the consequences if they behave in ways that are considered cyberbulling, but it is also necessary for them to understand privacy policies and the transfer of data online. By using online platforms, these lessons can be integrated within a more traditional school curriculum.

8.) Engaging your students.

Gen-Y and younger generations are stereotypically portrayed as being glued to their gadgets, and are known for using such devices for social networking, games and entertainment purposes. Use this to your advantage.

9.) The ability to share learning material.

Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are full of user-generated content, links and shared items. This can be used to your classes’ advantage. Why not create a Facebook group dedicated to your class, or set a task to research something across these networks?

10.) The potential to appeal to different learning styles.

Whether a learner naturally prefers kinetic, audio or visual learning, the varied types of media and information found on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can appeal to a wide range of learner styles.

11.) Ease of access.

Social networking requires no expensive equipment or modern upgrades — all you need is a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

12.) Assisting shy students.

There are some students that find social interaction or contribution difficult — and engaging students through an online project can make this easier for them.

The cons of social media as a learning tool.

1.) The gimmick factor.

 

Unless the use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter are incorporated into a class plan in order to contribute towards an objective lesson aim, then it could become nothing more than a waste of time.

2.) Distractions.

Unless teachers properly supervise their students — and maintain control if the novelty of YouTube makes them too excited — it can be difficult to follow through with a lesson based on Internet research.

3.) The risk of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is rampant on social networks, and it is something teachers need to be aware of. Social media projects may not be confined to a classroom — and if this is the case, teachers (and potentially parents) need to monitor student activity for any signs of bullying.

4.) Limiting face-to-face communication.

If a balance is not maintained, then too much technological input can have a detrimental effect on social skills that children need to learn.

5.) The need for schools to research, understand and implement.

Educational establishments are slowly making their presence known on social media for advertising and information-based purposes. However, it requires a good level of technical understanding to use and maintain social media effectively.

6.) Continual social media change.

There are constant changes to platforms themselves and their security settings — of which schools and teachers must keep up to date with and act accordingly.

7.) The need to manage multiple sites and keep updated.

If schools decide to make use of these platforms, pages and profiles should be updated in order to prevent them becoming stagnant.

8.) The possibility of malware infections or phishing scams.

Social networks are now a breeding ground for scam artists to lure both children and adults to exchange personal information or in order to gain access to a computer network. Educational establishments need to be aware of this risk and monitor their usage accordingly.

9.) The need to filter and plan.

Schools have a duty of care to their students, and as such, the use of social media platforms has to be planned and executed appropriately in order to protect children from inappropriate communication, images or video. Several options are available, such as YouTube for Schools.

10.) Inappropriate content sharing or exposure.

It is important for children in school to be protected from inappropriate content; but it is also necessary for teachers to monitor what they are sharing between themselves. It is not only a matter of duty to students — but protecting yourself as the teacher responsible for them.

11.) Controlling device use in class.

Teachers have to grow eyes in the back of their heads — and when mobile devices are used in class, the need for continual monitoring and regulation increases.

12.) Exposing the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Once you introduce social media use in to a classroom, then unless the school has the facilities to supply each student, it is sometimes the case that students are asked to bring their own device. This in turn can highlight divides between students who can afford certain devices, and those that cannot.

Using web 2.0 tools in the classroom

How would using web 2.0 tools in the classroom help a student to improve learning?

Answer

Using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom helps the student to improve his learning by engaging students and encourageing participation. It also encourages critical thinking and discussion and collaborative problem solving. Web tools also promotes a connection among the students, staff, leadership team and the parents.