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Archive for July, 2011

KSS 2011: EdTech Session Resources

Here is a compilation of links and resources that will be discussed during the edtech sessions at KSS this coming week. Thank you for participating in the session(s) and I hope to collaborate with you in the near future.

EdTech Reports: 2011 Horizon Report, 2011 Horizon Report K12 Edition, Rise of K12 Blended Learning, Digital Learning Now Report, Next Generation Assessments Roadmap to 2014, AUP in a Web 2.0 and Mobile Era, Children and Electronic Media, Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds, Managing Learning: Next Generation Learning Systems, The MILE Guide, PBS Technology Integration, Learning in the 21st Century: Taking it Mobile, National Education Technology Plan

Cloud computing/Web-based systems/SaaS/Cloud applications: Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho, Edmodo, iCloud, JayCut, SlideRocket, SplashUp

Mobile: Augmented Reality Apps, Mobile Learning Experience, iPads in Education Ning, iPads for Education, 40 Ways to Use QR Codes, M-Learning: Promises, Perils and Challenges for K12, PollEverywhere, QR Code Generator, Layar Browser

Game-Based Education: Games and Learning report from Future Labs, Engineering Design Tools for K12, Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, Kodu Labs, Alice, Quest 2 Learn, Airy Labs, Compilation of Game-Based Education Links

Open Content: CK12, Curriki, NROC, OER Commons, Open Text Book, California Open Source Textbook Project, Khan Academy, WikiEducator

Learning Analytics: SNAPP, Delicious Bookmark on Learning Analytics, Illuminate

Personalize Learning Environments: Is this a PLE?, The PLN Matures, The Open Learning Network

EdTech Video Links:

PollEverywhere Question: What emerging technology interests you most?

WallWisher Question: What technology tools do you use in the classroom?

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Google+ combined with GApps for Edu = FTW!

From my previous post titled: Evolving Google Apps for Edu

Now that many classes, schools, and districts are using GA4E with their students, I find the next logical step for Google is to start partnering with educational software tools to provide a wider breadth of applications. It is a brilliant move! Google hooked us educators with a great web platform; and now they can leverage the user base to get these 3rd party companies to sell us products. I have always said, the education sector is the next big industry and technology is driving that business. Since GA4E is a simple and robust administrative platform, it will make it easy for technology administrators to bring in new education applications into their infrastructure without much overhead. If evolved strategically, GA4E can become the web platform for the next generation edtech initiatives. Can you imagine in the future, GA4E integrating with Learning Management Systems, SIS, virtual worlds, and online interactive education content? You would have to think Google had this in mind prior to launching a free Google Apps for Education…muahahah!

How Google+ contributes to the master plan?

Rather than relying on third party apps for social media, Google decided to launch their latest SM attempt with Google+. When I first signed into Google+ (thanks to @teachingwthsoul for the invite), my immediate reaction was Edmodo. It felt like Edmodo because of the groups (circles) to share certain information with. While Facebook does have this feature, it is built to be open and is a pain to manage lists. I realize Google+ is technically in beta mode, but they will need to add some core features that Edmodo provides to make it more manageable to tag, store and categorize information. Google has the user base to truly make Google+ an essential learning tool for education. By adding some education features to the platform, I can see it become the platform of choice for 21st century collaboration.

The driver to make Google+ the social media platform of choice is the soon to be integration with Google Apps for Education.  I can only imagine the capabilities it would provide for teachers and students. Teachers can group students in circles and provide differentiated lessons, dialogue, and activities. It would definitely evolve the concept of literature circles and socratic seminars. If they build school and classroom management capabilities, Google+ on private GA4E domains can provide a safe and secure platform for students to collaborate and share information. If I was Edmodo, I would definitely keep my eye on Google+…

Fab 5 Tech v.2

A few weeks ago, I started a new series of blog posts focused on five emerging technologies that have caught my interest. The list will contain a combination of technologies that can potentially impact the classroom, IT infrastructure, and gadgets we use everyday. Here is my second installment of the fabulous five technologies. To check out my original Fab 5 Tech, click here.

Google+ – There has been no other technology in recent weeks that compares to the hype Google+ is receiving, good and bad. It is the latest attempt from Google to enter the social media realm after failures with products such as Buzz, Wave, and Orkut. Can this be finally their sustaining social media strategy. From initial reviews, it has sparked a lot of positive interest. Of course, Facebook is closely watching and has announced new features like Skype with their service. I am still waiting for my invite…

Xirrus Wi-Fi Array XN16 – If you are looking to boost your classroom with some serious bandwidth, try installing a Xirrus Wi-Fi XN16 in your network. This unique AP has an embedded controller with integrated 16 access points. The access point can deliver up to 4.8Gbps of bandwidth covering a range of 125,000 sq ft. Talk about letting your student bring as many devices as they would like to the classroom.

Lytro Field Camera – If you thought cameras couldn’t evolve past megapixels and aperture, you haven’t seen what this new photo technology can do. Lytro is transforming light field technology and giving pictures an entirely new dimension. Imagine taking a picture with a particular focus, yet having the ability to refocus the shot way after the picture has been taken. That is how cool this technology is changing the game of taking pictures. You have to see it to believe it.

Kingston Wi-Drive – Frustrated that you didn’t purchase the iOS device with larger storage space. Not to worry, the Kingston Wi-Drive hopes to address this issue by offering a content server that links through wireless to your iOS device. You can buy up to 32GB of storage and store all your media from your iOS device all in the size of your pocket. Wait…I already have too many devices in my pockets, do I really have to carry another device.

Socrative – I had to put this one on my list simply because of its name…Socrative…Socratech, just had too! However, upon further investigation, it is actually a pretty valuable product for classroom teachers. With a plethora of web 2.0 tools available of teachers, how does this software differentiate? This web 2.0 tool focuses on features that give teachers simpler ways to garner student responses. Socrative gives teachers the ability to use exit tickets, quick quizzes, and team challenges in a fun educational game environment.

Combining Teacher Preparation with Quality Tech Support

Has this ever happened to you?

Teacher has spent hours thoroughly planning a lesson with careful considerations of differentiation and learning objectives. The lessons provided discovery learning opportunities embedded in a project-based learning environment. Students are jazzed and the teacher has planned it with several layers of bloom’s taxonomy. Unfortunately, one glaring oversight has been missed, the computers were not updated with the latest Java update to run the activity. And when the teacher rushes to run java updates, the network crashes with 30 laptops fighting for wireless bandwidth. The methodically planned lesson was thrown off course because of technical difficulties. Students are frustrated and begin to misbehave because the tool which they heavily relied upon is no longer working. The star teacher suddenly looks incompetent.

It is not uncommon that schools with limited budgets and hodge podge technology infrastructures run into difficulties integrating technology into their curriculum. Why take the risk when you can’t trust the technology? This seems to be a common barrier that teachers face when trying to infuse technology.

One of the most common reasons why teachers resist technology integration is because they feel the technology will fail on them during a carefully planned lesson. While there are many teachers who are savvy enough to troubleshoot on the spot, many are faced with disasters as soon as technical difficulties spring up.

As a technology administrator, building trust first is key to start building a culture of technology integration. Developing a quality tech support mechanism will help build the trust with teachers, and in effect, allow teachers to feel confident developing integrated technology lessons.

While ensuring quality maintenance and tech support is essential, there is another key factor in successful technology integration and that is teacher preparation of a lesson. As thorough as a tech support team can try to be, teachers need to prepare before instruction and that includes checking if the computers and software work. It is not uncommon to see teachers try out a lesson on their computer, but forget to try it on student machines, which sometimes have a completely different configuration. All it takes is a broken web link, a failed Flash update, or even a unplugged switch that can throw off the best of teachers.

With a combination of teacher lesson preparation and quality/timely tech support/maintenance mechanism, schools can ensure technology integration is setup for success…of course with a heavy dose of professional development.

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