Wednesday, October 14, 2015

PBS Students - An iPad App for Finding Educational Content

PBS Students is a new iPad app designed to showcase some of the best educational content for students. Through the app students and teachers can search for educational videos, articles, and diagrams. Some of the the video content can be downloaded directly to an iPad.

PBS Students has incorporated the Learning Media Storyboards tool that was released as a browser-based tool last January. PBS Learning Media's Storyboard tool allows you to create a collection of videos, text, and images organized around almost any topic of your choosing. The collection appears in a collage-like format. Storyboards can be shared via email.

Applications for Education
I was initially excited about the PBS Students iPad app, but my enthusiasm was tempered a bit as I dug into the app.As I browsed through the content I found some items that were not available even though they were indexed in the app. The storyboards function is nice for students who are over the age of 13 as they can save their collections in the app and online. Unfortunately, students who are under the age of 13 cannot save their storyboards.

Try Dotstorming for Brainstorming and Voting on Ideas

Dotstorming is a neat tool that combines a bit of Padlet with a polling tool.

On Dotstorming you can create a space for people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. That part of Dotstorming is just like Padlet. What makes Dotstorming different is that once the notes are posted, you can have people vote for their favorite notes. As the creator of a Dotstorming space you can restrict the number of votes that each person can cast. For example, you could say that each person gets two votes and once those votes are cast they're prevented from casting any more votes. After the voting is completed, you can sort the notes according to the number of votes they received.

Applications for Education
Dotstorming could be a good platform on which to host brainstorming sessions with your students. It could also be a good platform on which you gather students' thoughts about a question or problem statement. Post set of answer choices for your students and have them vote for the answer that they think is correct. You can have them use the chat function in Dotstorming to discuss the answer choices before, during, or after voting.

Thanks to Jeff Dahl for the tip about Dotstorming. 

RefME in Safari - Cite Sources With a Click or Tap

RefME is a great tool for saving sources and creating bibliographies. I've been in love with it since I first started using it last year. RefME is continuously adding more features to help students save sources and generate bibliographies. One of the tools that they added this fall was a Safari extension.

The RefME Safari extension allows students to save web addresses in their RefME accounts by simply tapping the share button in Safari and selecting RefME. The video below provides an overview of the RefME Safari extension. Complete directions are available at the bottom of this page.

How to use the iOS Safari Extension from RefME on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
One of the criticisms of tools like RefME is that they aren't always perfect in their formatting of citations, but I think they are still valuable because they help get students into the habit of citing their sources of information and keeping a record of the sources they use. Furthermore, RefME or one of the other bibliography generators does make a mistake you can turn that into a teaching opportunity with your students. Point out the flaw and how to correct it.

Connecting Educators Who Are Nervous About Being Connected - #ce15

During Connected Educator Month there will be millions of Tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media interactions between teachers. But what about the teachers who don't want to get involved in a social network? What can we do to help them become connected in some way? When I work with teachers who are reluctant to become connected online, I have three suggestions that I make to them. Those suggestions center on email, RSS, social media lurking.

At this point every teacher is familiar with how email works so there isn't a technical hurdle to clear here. I'll suggest that teachers sign-up for a weekly or monthly email newsletter. The two that I suggest are Larry Ferlazzo's monthly newsletter and my Practical Ed Tech newsletter. Both provide summaries of what's new in ed tech and education. My hope is that teachers who sign-up for these newsletters will become interested enough that they want to find a way to receive more frequent updates.

Feedly, Flipboard, other RSS readers:
Teachers who want to receive updates a bit more frequently than a weekly newsletter, will benefit from using an RSS reader like Feedly or Flipboard. I introduce these tools to teachers as a way to have their favorite websites come to them rather than having to go to their favorite websites for updates. I'm a fan of Feedly because I like the user interface and it works as well in my web browser as it does on my phone and my iPad. A Feedly tutorial video can be seen here.

Social media lurking:
This is the point at which you're not quite ready to take the plunge and actually register for an account on Twitter, but you want to see what everyone is talking about. You can search on Twitter and see what people are talking about without actually creating an account on Twitter. Search using a hashtag like #ce15 for Connected Educator Month or #edchat or any of the hundreds of hashtags used by educators.

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