Taking it One App At a Time

Taking it One App At a Time

One App at a Time

I don’t know about you but when I get a chance to attend an Edtech conference, join in on Google Hangouts, Twitter Chats, and even edcamps I get a little excited and a little overwhelmed at the same time. Educators are doing some amazing things in and out of the classroom with a variety of Ed Tech tools, I feel obligated to try them all. Sometimes it can be just too much, and I love everything and all things Edtech.

I don’t want you to feel so overwhelmed with all of these tools that you get to the point you don’t even want to try anything.  I also do not want you to get stuck not trying a tool because you do not have a trainer to show you how to use it.  My advice is to take it one app or one tool at a time. Learn the tool and see what it can do. The best way to learn something new is to just play with it. I tell my students all the time to just try things.  Trust me you can’t break it. Then talk with a friend and or a colleague about the tool, brainstorm ways you can incorporate it into a lesson. I am not saying design a lesson around this tool. The tool should enhance the learning process, like paper and pencils, manipulatively, and etc…  If you don’t have a friend handy reach out to your PLN via social media. You will be surprised how quickly your PLN is ready to help you.  If you do not have a PLN start building one.  On Twitter I am @katieann_76 or if you Google my full name Katie Ann Wilson or Diary of A Techie Chick you will find me. Reach out and connect with me, I would love to help you when I can. You just have to ask.

We all have different levels of knowledge and expertise when it comes to Edtech, so I thought I would give you a few tools I find helpful.  Remember to try just one tool and talk it out on how you can use it.

Google Apps – Computer, iPad, Android

Google apps for education or better known as GAFE is my go to toolbox.  I started using Google tools over a decade ago. I’ve been apart of some of their test apps and I’ve watched them change and grow.  I find the tools within Google to be my main go to place that I became a Certified Google Educator.  I’ve been paperless for decade and I do not even own a flash drive.  All of my documents live in my Google Drive and I can access them from any device.  I can share them with anyone even if they do not have an email account. I can collaborate, edit, and publish from anywhere at anytime.  Microsoft did an amazing job training people to think they were the only ones that could produce a document. When people see Word they need to realize that is a brand like Nike or Reebok. They are both shoes and they both do the same job. You have to decide which one fits your needs. That is the same concept when it comes to creating and publishing documents. Use the brand/tool that fits your needs.  For me it just happens to be Google Apps such as Drive, Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides, Draw, and Blogger.

Some of the ways I’ve used Google Docs has been both for personal and professional use. I’ve create my lesson plans with Docs as well as my sub plans. It is so much easier to share out my sub plans if I know who my sub is in advance I can send them the link or share it with the office.  I share or embed rubrics in Edmodo for my students to access.  If I make a change to the rubric my students will automatically see the change.  No need of making additional copies or wasting paper kids either toss or lose any ways.  For personal use I use Docs to compose letters, articles, recipes, and blog posts.

I have my students use Docs as a collaboration tool.  I have a small group collaborating on one document. They learn to share the document and to grant different access levels depending on the person’s role in the group.  Some students get edit rights while others can only comment and while others can only view.  I try to teach my students when working as a team how valuable it is that everyone can collaborate together at the same time.  They also use Docs for a variety of other assignments, from note taking to making a table.

Drawing DeskiPad, Android

I want kids to create their own illustrations I don’t want them just taking images off of the Internet.  So I show them Google Draw and I teach them how to use shapes and lines to create. Since my school went 1 to 1 with iPads I need an app that my students could use to creat images.  I found the Drawing Desk app.  I like how it has different tools that the kids can use to make their creations.  It is also easy to save it to your camera roll and share it.

Quizlet – Computer, iPad, Android

Quizlet is a great tool to introduce new vocabulary, learn a foreign language, or to review key terms.  The flash cards can be either teacher created or student made. Not only does Quizlet offer flash cards they have a spelling feature, a quiz generator, as well as a matching game.

Now that I have given you few tools to think about, just pick one and try it. Explore the tool, see what you can make it do.  Remember you can’t break it.  If you have to create an account I suggest you create a document to record your usernames and passwords.  Try creating a table in Google Docs to record the tools you are using along with the username and password.

 

~Katie Ann Wilson

Tools for Breaking Up the Monotony of a Lecture

Three tools I think can work efficiently within the classroom to break up the monotony of any lecture are Audacity, YouTube and Periscope. Most people have been using podcasts as a way to disseminate new information to students for years. Others have used it as a way to present content to students who missed class that day. YouTube has been a recent sensation inside classrooms, as nearly everything you want to find is somewhere on YouTube. The newer sensation is Periscope. Periscope is an app that shows you live video of various things going on in the world. This app may become increasing useful in courses where discussing current events is important.

Each of these three tools offers educators the opportunity to break up a lecture in a number of ways. Let’s take a look.

Audacity:
Podcasts by some may be considered ancient within the world of educational technology, but there is still merit in using tools like Audacity. Things to consider when using Audacity is that it can take the place of a lecture at any point. For example, you can record yourself asking quiz questions and play this for the class. The students can write down their answers for submission rather than having to fill in a piece of paper. You can also insert other educator’s voices into the conversation. For example, when I cover investments I often present information from legendary minds like Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn. This gives the students a different point of view from my own. Being able to present a snippet of a lecture from one or both of these individuals gives students something else to think about.

While Audacity still technically provides a “lecture” the voice involved with this can be presented in a different way or be an entirely different voice altogether. For example, on a certain topic you may use Audacity to provide a variety of differing opinions on a specific topic. In business an example of this might be “how to trade options” and you could provide five or six opinions from leading experts. Just be sure that whatever way you use Audacity that your students are still involved in the conversation. If they aren’t involved they will not be as active in listening to the content.

YouTube:
YouTube is such an amazing tool these days that there are literally dozens of sites that are mere knockoffs of YouTube solely devoted towards educational content. The problem with those alternatives is that you are limited in what you can find. On YouTube you can find hundreds of videos that will present the same content, but in a number of different ways. YouTube also provides you with a variety in length of content, some videos are very short while other videos are very long. For example, the first day of class I often play The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch which is over an hour long, but when introducing Wall Street Survivor the video length is about 3 minutes. This differentiation in video length allows you to insert “clips” into parts of your lessons so you are not always lecturing.

When using YouTube in the classroom it is important to understand using YouTube itself. YouTube videos can be inappropriate for your audience and in some cases auto-play the next video upon completion which may not be appropriate to the content being discussed. It is often best to analyze each video and pick those appropriate for your lesson so you have control over the information and videos presented. Using YouTube videos without proper review could be seen as inappropriate usage of class time as well.

Periscope:
Periscope was recently purchased by Twitter and is a tool to view various videos of things going on in the world. One might think of Periscope as a more professional version of Vine. Periscope might be a perfect addition to a history classroom or any other classroom that would be discussing current events. A video found of someone completing a transaction on Wall Street would be perfect for a business course. A video found of someone at a monument in Washington DC might be perfect for a US History course.

Periscope essentially provides a live look in to various places throughout the world. Educators should be sure to do their homework before using Periscope within their classroom due to the product being a potential invasion of privacy if you are using it to record your own student work. Whereas Audacity and YouTube are used fairly often in education you will likely need your school district’s approval before using Periscope in the classroom, but the possibility of breaking up a lecture by displaying a short video of the subject matter is something educators often consider. Periscope is primarily live streaming so controls and review is limited, so keep this in mind too.

Overall educators need to exercise caution before implementing anything into their lesson to make sure they are following their district’s rules and ensuring the well being of their students.

Teachers Turn to Udemy for Passive Income

In 2015 many school districts in my area [New Jersey] are paying their teachers less money now than they did five years ago. These educators find themselves with increased bills, but less pay. As a direct result educators are seeking extra income wherever they can. Most educators are seeking ways online to add to their income. Many have taken advantage of becoming online adjunct professors or producing some kind of content. One of the ways educators are adding revenue is by creating courses on Udemy.

Udemy is a website that allows anyone to join and “teach” a course. Generally, the courses should be between 30 to 60 minutes to be most enjoyable for students. Once you’re approved as a premium instructor you can charge any amount you’d like for each course. For example, if you’re a geometry teacher you could create a Udemy account and sell each lesson you do throughout the year. Let’s say you are presenting new content 100 days out of the school year. You could create 100 separate courses and if you charge $5 per class, assuming a new user joins on your referral you will be paid $500 if a new user takes one course each.

Once you register for Udemy you start creating a course using their dashboard. They ask that you feature 60% video content [meaning only 40% of your content can be non-video]. The videos produced must be your own content, so there are no “rights issues.” Ideally, your videos should focus on the content you’re looking to teach. You’re able to provide a large bit of content, including offering quizzes to test the users’ knowledge on your course content.

To be successful using Udemy educators should create an advertising network to get their courses out to the public. Udemy has a large number of users, however, you only receive 50% of your earned revenues if current Udemy or future Udemy users pay for your course. When you solicit a new user you receive 100% revenue for the first course they take, but it goes down to 50% thereafter. Udemy even helps you advertise to a degree by asking you to produce a teaser video for your course. This teaser video should be posted on YouTube for all of your followers to see. You should inform all of your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Google+ friends, etc. that might be interested in pursuing your course. Doing this with every course will eventually result in someone finding an interest. The more courses you create, the more likely you will continue to earn a strong income from Udemy.

Udemy has to approve your course before you are able to start earning from it. Udemy checks to make sure you are following their rules and procedures before you are able to publish your course and earn some more revenue. Once you’ve had one course published it should be fairly easy going forward to have courses approved the first time, so nothing needs to be re-done.

Udemy is a strong source of potential revenue, but results vary based on topic, production of the course and many other factors. Producing a strong course, that is interesting and TEACHES the content it is meant to convey will be the best way to earn a passive income that will be helpful now and in the future. Udemy even has a video to help you produce your course. There are also a number of eBooks available online that can provide you with interesting ideas for growing your Udemy classroom and earning more revenue for producing a strong course. Be sure to try any and all recommendations to see what works for you and what may not. Results may vary and you shouldn’t expect producing courses on Udemy to replace your teaching position.

Citing Social Media Sources

Recently I read an article on Teach Thought about the proper way to use social media as a source when conducting research. I was intrigued to see that there was actually a format setup for both APA and MLA style formats for how to reference social media.

The chart for this:

how-to-cite-social-media

The display of these sources seems to work in line with the associated format and publication style mentioned. The article details how APA has setup a style guide associated with using social media sources and offers it to the public for a small fee, but MLA hasn’t expressly released a style guide associated with social media sources.

I wanted to take a look at whether or not individuals who are writing scholarly articles should be considering the usage of social media within their research. I’m to understand there is no differentiation with respect to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc. and that all social media could in theory be used for research purposes, only if a few are mentioned in the chart.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of using social media sources from the perspective of scholarly journal writing.

Pros:

  • Social media offers the most recent resources you can find. Often when conducting research this is one of the primary concerns of publications, that an article features more recent references than a collection of older literature.
  • Social media is always on. You always have access to social media, as long as you have an internet connection through your phone or computer. You don’t have to worry about a database being down for maintenance in the way you might in other search situations.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. Every second on social media thousands of posts are being created and published. Journals on the other hand will be published, at best, once a month and only feature a handful of articles.
  • Social media offers a wide range of opinions. In the internet age individuals are more able to express themselves. If you are studying a certain topic you may find a more wide array of opinions on social media than you would through journals, textbooks and more traditional norms.

Cons:

  • Anyone can get on social media. I know a friend’s daughter who is two and knows how to use YouTube quite well. There is nothing to stop her from publishing a comment on YouTube if her mother is logged in. What this boils down to is that the sources on social media may not be vetted as they would be through a review of a publication.
  • Accuracy may not exist on social media. Since everyone is able to produce content on social media you may find that there are multiple opinions on the same topic all claiming to be factual.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. While this is a pro, it is also a con. It will take a keen eye and a lot of time to sift through the extensive content published on social media. Your search terms have to be perfect for everything to work for you. Too broad a search results in too many results, but too specific a search results in no results.
  • Using social media as a source for research has not been studied, so it is difficult to determine how successful using social media sources might be or if there is any adverse impacts from using social media as resource when conducting research.

Overall, my view point at this time is that it may be far more productive to use social media to promote your research than it would be to conduct it.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.

MS OFFICE, Open Office or Google Docs?

When I was in high school the only option for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. was using Microsoft Office. Many years have gone by and new competitors are emerging that could potentially eliminate MS OFFICE from the classroom altogether in the future.

This blog post will examine the pros and cons of MS OFFICE, Open Office and Google Docs with respect to how they can be used within the classroom for the most efficiency.

MS OFFICE:

Pros:

  • MS OFFICE is a well established brand
  • MS OFFICE has countless databases and resources that can be used for troubleshooting purposes
  • Microsoft is run by Bill Gates who wants to improve education
  • Microsoft gives bulk deals to school districts purchasing licenses
  • MS OFFICE has been most commonly used with most students growing up

Cons:

  • MS OFFICE is an expensive product
  • School districts may not need all aspects of MS OFFICE, but it is actually cheaper to purchase packages with multiple software programs than purchasing one program at a time
  • Newer and younger students are not being introduced to MS OFFICE any more

Open Office:

Pros:

  • Open Office is FREE
  • Open Office features similar products to MS OFFICE [Writer vs. Word, Calc vs. Excel, Impress vs. PowerPoint]
  • Open Office allows you to use the same file extensions as Google Docs and MS OFFICE
  • Open Office has strong support like MS OFFICE with various resources available

Cons:

  • Not everyone has Open Office. If you save a file with an Open Office extension and try to open it on another computer you will need to install Open Office on that computer.
  • Open Office requires you to download a language pack if you’re not an English speaker/writer
  • Open Office has a forum that is currently unstable at this time

Google Docs:

Pros:

  • Google Docs is FREE for anyone with a Google account
  • Google Docs, like Open Office, offers programs similar to MS OFFICE programs
  • Google Docs offers Forms making it perfect for educational use
  • Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration
  • Google Docs is currently being presented in the classroom the way MS OFFICE used to be
  • Google Docs features many Add Ons

Cons:

  • Google Docs, like most Google products, have limited help resources. Most of the help resources for Google Docs have been published by users of Google Docs.
  • Google Docs privacy settings must be setup correctly to prevent unauthorized usage
  • Google Docs settings need to be setup correctly for successful collaboration

My Overall Summary:

I have used all three of these products at one point or another. The major plus I see for MS OFFICE is that it is still on nearly every computer on the market today, including in libraries and school districts. The major drawback is that MS OFFICE is very expensive and since a new version comes out often at times it seems as though it isn’t worth paying more for the newer version.

I truthfully see myself using Open Office and Google Docs more and more. Open Office is great tool for me since it is essentially a free version of MS OFFICE. The only issue is that it is only on one of my laptops, so if I save a file in Open Office extensions I have to make sure I modify the file on the laptop that has Open Office. Not a big deal, but something to consider.

I find Google Docs is probably the best tool to use for collaboration, especially for coursework. So long as you have a Google account you can invite who can edit documents with you and leave it at that. Google Docs also features Forms which are perfect for use in various classroom situations and numerous Add Ons work well with Google Docs. This allows me and many others to complete various tasks right within Google Docs.

I feel in the upcoming years MS OFFICE will become a thing of the past and Google Docs will likely take over. Google Docs will just need to build a database/pool of resources for usage like Open Office and MS OFFICE have to be the undisputed king.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.

Instagram Instruction

Prior to August 2014 I was hesitant to use Instagram for any purpose. I’m not the selfie type or really even like taking pictures. But I noticed a lot of my friends were using Instagram and had great looking pictures. So in late August 2014 I finally joined. At the moment I seem to be using it in the same manner a lot my friends are: showcasing pictures of our canine chums and our food/beverage interests. I use Twitter in the classroom and wondered if I could use Instagram in the classroom as well.

If you use Instagram in a different way, tell us about it in the comments!

Student Based Ideas:
Featuring student work is ideal with Instagram. Not only does it allow you to have a record of great student products, but it allows you to display it to other classes, parents, etc. This will likely encourage greater production if students know their work will be viewed by other eyes. The student work doesn’t have to be specifically visually aesthetic items. A great poem is just as worthy as a great picture.

Featuring a student of the week is another great way to have a productive classroom Instagram, while encouraging students to do their best. The student of the week can send out pictures of where the sit, their favorite aspects of the classroom and much more. There should be some criteria in place to determine the student of the week for these purposes.

Students can interact with their classmates in a way they did not before. They will have more to talk about now that they the creativity of their classmates. Featuring student work allows classmates to learn more about each other such as hobbies and interests.

Teacher Based Ideas:
Since you’re presenting student work and providing students with a platform to express themselves it is also a good idea to chronicle what they’ve done. You could make a collage for each student using sites like collage.com. You could make an end of school year timeline for each student using Dipity. With either choice you can document all of the wonderful things your students did all year.

You can also capture important moments for the students. Things like field trips should be remembered. Things like graduation should be recorded! These items, if student specific, can also be added to their display of progress.

Remind students of reading assignments. Send a picture of the book you’re reading and include the page numbers that need to be read before the next class meeting. This gives students an interactive reminder of what they need to do.

In this same regard Instagram can be used for all homework reminders. Need to remind students a worksheet is due tomorrow? Send it out with a reminder in the description. You can do the same for anything: book report, homework problems, PowerPoint assignment, essay, etc.

While there are items out there like Remind101 administrators often frown upon text messaging type reminder systems, so use Instagram. Send out reminders about class trips, end of marking period, school closings due to holidays and delays/closings associated with inclement weather. This can also be used for sports and clubs.

You should also use your classroom Instagram account to send out encouragement. There are a lot of standardized tests these days, so make sure to encourage students via inspirational items you can find or create.

Finally, I think I will use Instagram to assign some fun homework or extra credit. NOTE: Students must be 13 years of age or older to join, so this may only be plausible in a high school setting. I would provide a visual prompt for students and expect them to synthesize the prompt and create an articulate response. I would encourage net etiquette so there are no arguments in the responses.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.