Monday, March 7, 2016

Perspecs Shows Students Three Sides to Every Story

Perspecs is a new app that aims to provide users with three sides to every news story. On Monday through Friday the free Android and iPhone app offers a selection of articles about current topics in the news. The topics could be breaking news or they could be topics of a more evergreen nature like national education systems.

I tested Perspecs on my Android phone by selecting one of Friday's topics which was "Is China Best for Education?" The app then presented me with three articles on the topic. Each article took a different position on the topic. I was able to read all of the articles within the app.

Applications for Education
Whenever I have taught current events courses I have worked hard to try to present a balanced selection of news sources to my students. Perspecs won't eliminate the need for me to do that, but it will help me find a balanced set of articles on topics we're discussing in class.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing Perspecs last week.

More Resources for Teaching and Learning About Flight #STEM

On Sunday I wrote a post about an interactive timeline of the developments made by the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. Here are some more resources for teaching and learning about developments in aerospace.

America by Air online exhibit is a series of thirteen online activities that take students through the history of commercial aviation in the United States.

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

Apollo to the Moon lacks the interactive simulations of the three exhibits featured above. That deficiency is made up for by the depth of the content in the exhibit. Apollo to the Moon contains seven chapters chronicling NASA's effort to put a man on the moon. The exhibit begins with a history of the Space Race and Kennedy's proclamation that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's. From there the exhibit moves into the design of rockets and other equipment to put a man on the moon. It concludes with a gallery of artifacts related to the Apollo 11 mission.

Use the Crowd to Go Beyond Google

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about personal/ professional learning networks (PLNs) one of points that I stress to the skeptical members of the audience is the idea of going beyond Google. By that I mean using social networks to discover ideas and information that you might not find if you were simply Googling for information. In essence this comes down to the idea that "together we are smarter." When you ask for help or feedback from your PLN you are potentially using the brains of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other educators. In response to your request you may find people are willing to share things they've created or things they've discovered that you couldn't have found by Googling.

Applications for Education
Students can use this concept of "going beyond Google with the help of friends." In fact, I'd argue that they should be using whenever they're working on group projects. Use a service like Diigo or eduClipper to have students create a groups in which they share materials they've found and or created.

FAQs About the 2016 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Last month I announced that I will be hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps again this year. The two day event will be held in Portland, Maine at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. The dates are July 11th and 12th for the BYOD camp and July 18th and 19th for the Chromebook camp. Discounted early registration is still available. In the last couple of weeks I have received quite a few questions about the summer camp. Those common questions and their answers are provided below.

1. Are CEUs/ certificates/ graduate credits available?

The past three years I've given certificates for 16 hours of professional development. Some schools accept these for re-certification/ continuing education points and some do not. If it helps you or your administrator decide if the hours will help you qualify for re-certification, a general outline of topics for the two days is available here. There is not a university arrangement for graduate credit at this time.

2. Can I register with a purchase order / check from my school?

Yes, you can. To register with a purchase order or a check from your school email me or have your business administrator email at richardbyrne (at) and I will register you on receipt of the purchase order.

3. Are there discounts available?

Yes, you can save $50 by registering for either camp before April 30th. Subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter can save an additional $25 by registering before April 30th and entering the code "subscriber" at check-out. (Note, discounts are only available for registrations completed online through the Eventbrite ticketing portals). Click here to register for the BYOD camp on July 11-12 and click here to register for the Chromebook camp on July 18-19.

4. My school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education (GAFE), will this help me?

In short, yes. The both of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will include the use of Google tools in each day. The Chromebook camp will have more GAFE items than the BYOD camp. We will share methods for incorporating Google tools into much of what we do. That said, this is not focused only on Google tools. Both of the the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration.

The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss information. Day one of the Chromebook camp will also cover workflow on Chromebooks. Likewise the first day of the BYOD camp will cover workflow on iPads, laptops, and Android devices. The second day of both camps is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions.

5. I want to bring my principal, will she/he benefit from attending?

Absolutely! As I've heard my friend Scott McLeod say, "the leaders must get it." This is a great opportunity for your principal to gain a great understanding of what you and your colleagues want to do when school starts again in the fall. Equally importantly, they'll learn why you want to do it.

6. My school is going 1:1 with iPads, will the BYOD camp help me?

Yes. We will be looking at a bunch of apps and their applications for classrooms.

7. We would love to attend but the dates don't work for us, will you be offering this at another time?

At this time I don't have plans to offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps on other dates. I am more than happy to come to your school district to offer a workshop. Please click here for information about my on-location professional development services.

8. Will you be streaming this online?

No. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are designed to be hands-on and a livestream wouldn't capture much.

9. How do I get to Portland, Maine? What can I do once I'm there? How do I get around in Portland?

Portland has an international airport (airport code PWM) serviced by American, United, Delta, SouthWest, and Jet Blue. Boston/ Logan Airport is about 90 miles away. The hotel is about a ten minute cab ride from the Portland airport. Uber is available in Portland. We’re done for the day you can walk to dozens of restaurants along the Old Port’s cobblestone streets, walk to the ocean, or even hop a boat and take a sunset cruise to see the islands in Casco Bay. Beaches are just a few minutes drive from the hotel.

10. Why aren't these events free?

There are two reasons why they aren't free. First, I incur a lot of expenses in organizing and hosting the events. Second, while all of the sites and apps we will use are free, my time for teaching about them isn't free.

11. I want to sign up, where do I do that?

Click here to register online for the BYOD camp. Click here to register online for the Chromebook camp. Contact me via email at richardbyrne (at) to register with a purchase order or school check.

If the answer to your question wasn't provided above, please feel free to contact me directly at richardbyrne (at)

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