Category Archives: Technology

#PUWT15 Thoughts: Session 5: #Twitter4Educators

PUWT_logo_08Session 5: #Twitter4Educators, by Evylyn Quiñones

  • Going around the room introducing ourselves and saying how comfortable we are with Twitter.
  • I joined Twitter in March of 2007. I think I’m the old fogey here.
  • Norms
    • Take risks
    • Share ideas
    • Ask questions
    • Have fun learning
  • Addressing two things simultaneously: Teacher tweets and student tweets.
  • Remember, there is a BIG audience out there.
    • Students
    • Family
    • Strangers
    • More
  • Link sharing – URL shorteners make them manageable.
  • Differentiating between @ and # … this is basic information, but perfect for this audience.
  • You can invent your own hashtags for student/class use.
  • My favorite tags right now are #PGTech and #BYOTchat.
  • Talking about edchats! Fantastic! No mention of #BYOTchat, but she’s hitting her favorites.
    • #edchat
    • #flipclass
    • #digcit
  • Leading us through the steps of edchat participation. This is a good primer.
  • Sharing Twitter user names with each other to build our personal communities.
  • Twitter could be used for exit tickets, class discussion, idea sharing, collaboration, and so on.
  • Extends learning. Don’t need to be done with a lesson because class time is over.
  • Showcasing cool things in your class/with your students is great! (Do you have media release forms…?)

#PUWT15 Thoughts: Session 2, Fusing Media Technology and Content in the Classroom

PUWT_logo_08Session 2: Fusing Media Technology and Content in the Classroom, by Margaret Olson

  • Starts off asking who uses social media already.
  • One teacher is using Snapchat? Wow.
  • David Warlick quote about technology on the 2nd slide. Oh, that takes me back.
  • Recommends having a social media account for the class. Ratio of student/teacher content creation can vary based on the class and trust level.
  • A great way to teach writing and language use. Students are already familiar with the technology.
  • Video creation
    • I love how we’re still saying “film” after all these years.
    • iMovie recommended. I do like it, but will not require purchasing of Macs. Assertions of “Most students have Macs already” is more a reflection of the presenter’s classes than our own.
    • She has her students hire actors, but then she also teaches college level. My own students either act themselves or borrow a Drama major.
    • “Something that can go up on YouTube at the end…” YES, but get those MEDIA RELEASE FORMS SIGNED! This doesn’t seem like a big deal until it’s too late and a really big deal.
    • Storyboarding! Her template has many more panels than the one I use with my own students, but it still has exactly what it needs.
    • We are spending a lot of time on video creation. Video isn’t normally seen as a social media, but YouTube certainly is making it more social.
  • Presenter offered to email her presentation to us. Odd how that feels low tech now that there are tools like GAFE.
  • Study of social media campaigns. #HeforShe is being used as an example.
    • (She taught this to Saudi men. Well done.) I’d like to spend some time on this.
    • Students made photos to contribute. Project got news coverage.
    • Students get validation for their activities outside of grades. Motivation comes from sources other than report cards.
  • If you’re interested in it then they’re more likely to be interested in it. YES!
  • Focus on what students already like. (In my class, that would be Minecraft & other video games.)
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Blogging
    • (Upper) Intermediate and older can usually handle this.
    • “Kind of like an interactive website.” … Yeah, it kind of is. :)
    • “You’d be surprised [at which students have their own blogs or follow blogs].” I’ve been on Tumblr. I wouldn’t be too surprised. I’m likely in the minority here.
    • Presenter sets her blogs up through Blogger. Good choice. You can have students add accounts to the site you set up while you manage what gets posted. WordPress has similar features I’ve used in the past.
    • For teachers concerned about more moderation, classblogmeister.com is a good choice. (Thank you again, Mr. Warlick.)
    • This could be managed in Google Sites as well, but It’s somewhat of a kludge so I wouldn’t pick that option.
    • “There’s no one size fits all model. What I do may be different from what you do.”
    • Please don’t suggest Google Images as a source for free pictures. Copyright is serious business.

#PUWT15 Thoughts: Keynote, A.J. Juliani

PUWT_logo_08Keynote: A.J. Juliani

  • Technology “With a purpose.”
  • “I was at a very good school district that was focused a lot on test scores” is a contradiction.
  • “My students aren’t motivated about anything except grades!” They were motivated by a lot of things, but learning his lessons wasn’t one of those things.
  • Started following the Google model: Students had to spend 20% of their time working on something that interested them.
  • “How much is this worth?”
    “Nothing.”
  • Everything was still standards based. Students were researching, documenting, and presenting in a RE/LA classroom.
  • Teacher became a “guide on the side.” His words. Well done.
  • TRUTH #1: Every child deserves to own their learning.
  • “Brain friendly learning spaces.” Feels redundant.
  • Every keynoter needs an excuse to show off their family.
  • Learning is a social, human act.
  • “I was really bored, I read your article.”
  • TRUTH#2: Every child in your class is someone else’s whole world.
  • SAMR Model.
  • TRUTH #3: Stories will always shape us. They will always help us learn.
  • “It’s OK to use Wikipedia now that the Supreme Court has used it 9 times.”
  • “Our job is not to prepare our students for something; our job is to prepare our students for anything.”
  • “Finding success isn’t going to be a first time thing … Find me one hero of a story who doesn’t take risk.”
  • Learn, unlearn, and relearn.
  • TRUTH #4: Our job is not to prepare our students for the real world. Our job is to help students prepare themselves.
  • TRUTH #5: Literacy is about learning. And learning is about learning and unlearning. And relearning.
  • Do you allow for failure in your classroom?
  • What do you make time for? What do you support? What do you praise?
  • Another showing of the Key & Peele video making teachers look like sports stars. So much focus on test scores makes me sad.
  • TRUTH #6: As teachers we have a huge impact on our students’ lives.

#PUWT15 Thoughts: Make Discussions Matter!

PUWT_logo_08Session 1: Make Discussions Matter! by Jason Flanagan

  • Presentation is online.
  • Better yet, so is his assessment template.
  • Started out weak. I come to sessions to be wowed. This started with “Here, read this.”
  • Underlying concept is great. He uses a custom Google Sheet to objectively assess student led conversation and show the results in chart and pressure gauge form.
  • I could do something similar with Class Dojo, but the data would not be presented in the same way. Which you pick would depend on how you want to use the data. Given the choice between the two, I’d probably pick this form.
  • “Greatest motivator for students is grades.” A teacher walked out after the presenter said this. The presenter has not seen my classroom.
  • Apparently he teaches an Honors class. I suppose in his environment grades are a powerful motivator, but I still assert that it is a hollow motivation, at best.

 

Android vs. Chrome in Schools? Android.

androidSo apparently, Chromebook manufacturers will soon have the option of making Androidbooks (not a word they used, but I guess it makes sense?). The news & commentary site re/code goes over the details, which you can read in full here.

Personally, I like the idea of notebook computers running Android. Android works very well with Google Drive (like Chromebooks), which should be a surprise to no one at this point. Android already supports having multiple accounts on one device (like Chromebooks), tying app installs to accounts (like Chromebooks), and unlike Chromebooks, many of our students are already carrying that OS around with them on their phones.

Chromebooks have a lot of apps … sort of. While there are some very nice ChromeOS apps that can be installed on Chromebooks (or in the Chrome browser on a Mac or PC) and used offline, the “Store” is full of “apps” that are little more than fancy bookmarks for websites. Any of those, provided they don’t use Flash, will run just fine on an Android device already.

Add to that the plethora of apps already available for Android, and you have a very robust ecosystem.

The author of the re/code article brings up a point worth discussing, though, which I’ve included below.

However, a key advantage Chrome has is one of Android’s weaknesses. The mobile OS has suffered a nagging security issues, driven largely by its reliance on carriers and a gamut of device makers to push out updates. As an OS, Chrome is sturdier on security. That’s one reason Google may not ditch Chrome. Its security credentials help it with sales to enterprise, particularly to schools, where Chromebook has seen considerable traction; Gartner said the devices will account for 72 percent of the education market this year.

Source: Why Google Tapped Android Over Chrome as Its Marquee OS

Ah yes, the horrible security problems found on Android phones. They’re actually pretty scary, particularly if you are a regular listener of Security Now. The solution to the problem is in the same paragraph that asserts it, though.

You see, most phone updates are managed by carriers, and most carriers, for reasons that make sense to corporate types more than programmers, drag their feet when it comes to pushing out updates – even security updates that are not dependent on phones being new enough to handle the most modern OS version.

<rant>

I love my phone. It’s relatively new, has a nice, large screen, a good enough camera (I have a DSLR if I need to be more serious), and … it’s running Android 4.4.4.  There is no hardware issue preventing it from running Android 5. I have another device with lower end hardware that’s running 5 flawlessly. My carrier just won’t push the update out.

</rant>

Now for years Google has been phasing in a strategy to get around this. Many of Android’s features have been spun into apps with free updates downloadable from the Google Play store, which isn’t managed by the carriers. Legacy hardware is still a serious problem, but over time this will become less of an issue.

And none of that matters, because Androidbooks (as I will continue to call them until told otherwise) will most likely be managed like Chromebooks, with carriers out of the picture all together. There’s an update? Pow! It’s installed! Let’s move on.

Oh, and as I already mentioned, Flash isn’t available on Android. Adobe stopped developing for that platform quite some time ago, so all those Flash security issues that plague all the major browsers shouldn’t be a thing.

So yeah, I’m excited to see Android powered notebook computers possibly becoming a thing in my classroom. It still won’t be fun to edit videos on them, but they can do everything else and they’ll still be cheaper that the typical desktop computer as well.

Recyclables become useable art in these six-second Vines

Click through to see the whole Mashable article and several more Vine projects.

Submissions included cardboard cacti, a wire desk tree, reshaped paper clips and more.

Source: Recyclables become useable art in these six-second Vines

This has me thinking about having students make short stop-motion animations that are “Vine-ready.” We could focus on recycling, as these do, or pick a different challenge for students to complete.

Of course we’d have to make sure the music they’re using (if they use any) is legal for them to include, but that’s the joy of teaching responsible copyright usage.

Kissing the Office Goodbye

(Note: This is not about me leaving my current school. I love this place too much to leave.)

When I first traded my paintbrushes for a computer lab 7 years ago, I was shown a written description (on paper, even!) of the Middle School course I would be teaching. The only content it covered involved Microsoft Office products.

“Naturally,” the Principal said, “We would expect you to do more than this.”

Naturally, I agreed.

Since then, what I do in my school has only expanded. I took over Morning Announcements. I wrote (and rewrote, and rewrote again and again) a gamified curriculum that combines art and technology. I was put in charge of our school’s Media Arts major.

And Microsoft Office is still there.

ExcelsampleEven now, I still have a lesson or two that involves an Office Product. Granted, they aren’t always used for their intended purpose. My favorite Excel lesson teaches students how to goof off in a higher level math class more than it teaches them how to make pivot tables.

But why am I doing that?

At this point, there is nothing that I have ever done outside of a college level prob/stat class that required me to use Microsoft Office.

Nothing.

And if I retook that prob/stat course I could probably have gotten through with LibreOffice. I’ve been using that and its predecessor OpenOffice longer than the majority of my students have been alive, and the software’s only gotten better with time.

That said, I really only need LibreOffice for a few specific tasks. For everything else, Google Drive/Docs/Sheets/etc. does everything I need and then some. Better yet, we’re a GAFE (That’s Google Apps For Education) school system, so all of our students from 3rd through 12th grade get a Google account with “unlimited” storage. As someone who regularly has students creating video content, I am thrilled that my students have unlimited cloud storage.

So why am I doing anything with Microsoft Office at all?

One word: Inertia.

I write plenty of lessons every year, but I still fall back on some old standby projects – particularly when they are well received by the students. As much as I’ve been phasing Office out of my own curriculum, there’s still a few shreds of it remaining. By the end of the year, next year at the latest, it will probably be gone entirely, its last vestiges replaced with similar assignments that make use of Google apps.

All things considered, I’m doing better than many of my peers. I am still more likely to be sent an Office document that needs to be modified and returned than I am to be shared a Google Doc that I can modify and forget. Quite often, I am told I need to print the Office document before returning it. My mind is boggled at the backwards nature of such a request.

(Once already this year I was required to print AND FAX a Word document to another office in my district. Because why waste one set of paper when you can force the office on the other end to waste their paper, too? Does this make sense?)

We can overcome this. We have the technology.

There are plenty of educators who have embraced the new and far more useful alternatives to Office applications. Alice Keeler (blog) (Twitter) is one of the more prominent GAFE evangelists I’ve seen in my Twitter feed, and she’s far from the only one out there.

In my own district, I need to be more like Alice. I need to be constantly showing the benefits of GAFE over Office. Every time I’m sent an Office Doc to modify, I need to send back a link to a Google Doc. Every time I see a student in my lab writing a report in Word (or worse, come to me and ask if they can print their report in my room), I need to show them how they can set it up in Docs and then share it with their teacher electronically. If they tell me their teacher requires it to be printed, I need to ask the teacher why.

And, oh yeah, I’ll be presenting on this topic at this year’s Powering Up With Technology conference, so you can expect to hear more about this over the next few months.

So what are you doing? Are you teaching Microsoft Office skills to your students, or focusing on a newer, less expensive, more disruptive alternative? Why or why not? Leave a comment, let me know.

Twitter reportedly suspends Deadspin and SB Nation accounts over NFL GIFs

Both accounts were reportedly suspended for copyright violations stemming from their use of GIFs of NFL game.

Source: Twitter reportedly suspends Deadspin and SB Nation accounts over NFL GIFs

Long story short, copyright is serious business. I’ve no love for the NFL for many reasons that I won’t rehash in this post, but it looks like they’re claiming that footage from their broadcasts turned into GIF form for twitter doesn’t equate to “fair use,” even if done by a news outlet, and there’s a good chance they’ll win this one unless (and maybe even if) the owners of these news outlets are willing to give a lot of money to their lawyers.

One could argue either way with this, but in the end, as with many copyright disputes, whomever is willing to spend the most cash is likely going to be the winner. If you make a court battle last long enough, the best you can hope for is a Pyrrhic victory.

Are we teaching this?