Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Web Applications for Assessment

On the Business Week website there is an interesting story about the ways in which colleges and universities are incorporating emerging computer applications into instruction. Ken Brown, the professor in the picture, uses PDA devices and electronic "clickers" to have students submit responses to questions and prompts. Brown then assesses what his students are learning from his lectures and alters his instruction based on those assessments. What Ken Brown, like Michael Wesch, is doing is an example of one way that teachers can engage students by using technologies students are using in all parts of their lives. Business Week has a complete slide show of ideas about using technology in the classroom. Watch the slide show by clicking on the image of Ken Brown.

Applications for Educators
I don't know of any schools that equip students with PDA devices, but every high school has Internet access and increasingly high schools and middle schools are equipping students with laptops. Take advantage of the Internet and set up an online poll for your students to take. A simple poll like "how prepared for the test do you feel" or "do you think you can defend a postion on this topic" takes only minutes to add to a blog. (Blogger has a poll creation element built-in and there are many free polling services online). Use the responses to the poll as an informal and anonymous assessment tool to determine if and what your students are learning.

Put the cell phones that students carry to use as an informal assessment tool. Web applications like Twitter and Pownce can be used to submit text messages that you could then use to assess what students are learning.

Free Technology For Teachers: A Vision of Students Today and in the Future

This video from Michael Wesch, Professor of Anthropology at Kansas State University has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube so chances are you've probably heard of it. The video takes a look at today's college student, their habits, their society, and what is important to their education. The video while about college students has a lot of relevance to teachers of all grade levels.
Here are two of the thought provoking statements from the video:
"When I graduate I will have a job that doesn't exist today." That statement that applies not only to college students but all students. What are we doing as educators to prepare students for jobs whose descriptions do not yet exist?
"This year I will read 8 books, 2300 webpages, and 1281 Facebook Profiles." What are we doing as educators to engage students in learning through the use of current technologies?

Enjoy the video and join the discussion.

Free Technology For Teachers: Graphic Organizers and Book Reviews

On Monday I reviewed a great graphic organizer program called Gliffy. Gliffy is an online web application you or your students can use to create custom graphic organizers and charts. But if you need something a little more basic than Gliffy then check out the graphic organizer section of Education Oasis. The graphic organizers on Education Oasis are simple and to the point. The only drawback to using pre-formatted templates is that you are locked into a format that may not always fit with what you're doing exactly as you have planned.
Some other parts of Education Oasis that you might find useful are the book review section and the Books in Brief section.

Free Technology For Teachers: MIT for Free- Courses and Resources for High School Students

For quite a while MIT has made available for free the course materials including lecture notes for over 1800 of their courses through their Open Course Ware website. Click here to see the course New Media Literacies available right now. Some of the books cited for the courses are available as free downloads while other books have to be purchased for

Recently MIT began offering a similar Open Course Ware site designed for high school students and teachers. The website is called Highlights for High School. The Highlights program is designed for college bound students to get exposure to introductory level (100 level) college courses. Click the image below to watch an introductory video from MIT about the Highlights program.

Applications for Educators
The MIT Highlights website is a great resource for high school teachers. The video section of the MIT Highlights website not only provides a brief summary of the topic to be discussed, provides a list of the prior knowledge a student needs in order to comprehend the subject of the video. The website provides a list of lab activities and competitions appropriate for college bound high school students. Finally, MIT provides a list of Advanced Placement course resources that teachers should find useful.