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Friday, June 28, 2013

Snap! - Drag and Drop Coding for Kids

Snap! is a drag and drop programming interface designed to help students learn to program. Snap! uses a visual interface that works in your browser on your laptop as well as on your iPad. To design a program in Snap! drag commands into a sequence in the scripts panel. The commands are represented by labeled jigsaw puzzle pieces that snap together to create a program. You can try to run your program at any time to see how it will be executed. After previewing your program you can go back and add or delete pieces as you see fit.

Applications for Education
Snap! may remind some people of Scratch. That is because the Snap! developers call their program "an extended re-implementation of Scratch." The potential benefit of Snap! over Scratch is that teachers who have a mix of iPads, Android tablets, and laptops in their classrooms can have all of their students use the same programming interface.

H/T to Danny Nicholson.

Join Me in Sunny Arizona for 3 Days of Learning Fun

For the second year in a row, Pearson Online Learning Exchange has invited me to speak at their Authentic Learning Workshop in Scottsdale, AZ July 16-18th.

During this 3-day workshop, educators will collaborate with innovative thought leaders about transformative ideas and practical tips for creating authentic learning experiences. This is a small event with plenty of time planned for collaborating to develop outstanding learning experiences for our students. I’ll be presenting keynotes that will be broadcasted virtually so if you’re unable to attend in person, be sure to register for the morning webinar sessions.

Why you should join me:
  • Meet and collaborate with other passionate educators like yourself who could become lifelong collaborators
  • Learn about new tools and best practices for creating authentic learning experiences
  • Participate in interactive sessions both in person and virtually
  • Receive a free 1-year subscription to Online Learning Exchange for in-person registration and a free 30-day trial of Online Learning Exchange for virtual participation
  • Opportunities to win great door prizes, including two $100 Amazon giftcards and an iPad mini.

This is a limited seating event so be sure to reserve your spot today for the 2013 Authentic Learning Workshop. Hope to see you there!


I know that sometimes when people think of Pearson they instantly think about it as a massive publishing company, it is one. That said, the Pearson OLE team that is running the Authentic Learning Workshop is not "corporate" at all. They are a fun bunch of people who are genuinely interested in helping teachers create better learning experiences for their students. I wouldn't work with them if they weren't.

40 Free and Open Course for Learning a New Language

When I was in high school we had the choice of studying Spanish or French to meet our foreign language requirement. I distinctly remember telling my guidance counselor that I wanted to take Japanese. She said that wasn't an option. I took Spanish.

Today, if a student wants to study a language that his or her school doesn't offer, that student can find lots of online options for learning a new language. Open Culture has a long list of places where you can find free online courses for learning a new language. The list covers forty languages including Japanese which I just might study now. The courses listed are a mix of iTunes U courses, YouTube channels, and assorted MOOCs.


Fair Use, Copyright, and Educational Blogging

Last night someone on Twitter asked me for advice about how to respond to discovering that his blog posts were being re-used without permission. This morning I read Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's post No! You Can't Just Take It. In that post Silvia expresses her frustration with teachers who take articles and graphics from her blog without permission, without giving attribution, and then use those materials as their own. Unfortunately, these are situations that I've dealt with a lot over the last five plus years. If you find yourself in a similar situation in which you discover someone taking and using your materials without permission, I have a couple of pieces of advice on how to handle it. You can find all my advice on the topic in my post What To Do When Your Work Is Plagiarized.

At the end of her post No! You Can't Just Take It Silvia asks what can be done to stop the practice of people taking materials from blog under the belief that Fair Use means teachers can just take and use things they find online. My response is to first educate people about what Fair Use really means. Two good sources of information on this topic are Copyright On Campus and Wes Fryer's Copyright for Educators.

Fair Use does give educators more liberty to use copyrighted materials than the general public has. However, it doesn't mean that you can just take anything or copy anything. Think about how a book publisher would respond if you made fifty copies of a book, distributed those to your students, and just said "well it's for education so it's Fair Use." Publishers make money by selling books. Likewise, many education bloggers make money through advertising and through supporting their written materials with workshops. When you copy and paste their materials and redistribute them without permission, you're negatively impacting that blogger's earning potential. And even if the blogger isn't trying to make money, you still can't copy and paste without permission. A practice that I see a lot is copying and pasting entire posts then placing a small link to the original. When done without permission that practice isn't okay either. In short, unless it's clearly labeled as public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license, ask permission before using someone's materials.

Google Alerts and Your Organization's Digital Reputation

Earlier this week I facilitated a workshop about social media for leaders of schools and organizations. Two of the questions that I posed to the group at the beginning of the day were; 1. What happens when someone Googles your organization? 2. What is being said about your organization without your knowledge?

After presenting those questions I gave folks time to try to find some answers to those questions. There were a few people surprised by what they found. My suggestion to everyone in the room was to create a set of Google Alerts for the names associated with their organizations. I encouraged people to create Google Alerts for not only the proper names of their organizations but also the nicknames and abbreviated names that people use for their organizations. Google Alerts makes it easy to find out when someone publishes something new about your organization online.

Another suggestion that I often make in workshops about social media is to look at popular social networks like Facebook and see if there are groups formed about your school or organization. And while Myspace is no longer popular with kids, the story that Clay Shirky shares in the video below (start at 2:15 into the video) is a good example of why you want to know what is happening in social media.

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