Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Free Webinar - Summarizing the School Year Through Storyboards

This coming Monday evening (April 25) I will be hosting a free webinar sponsored by Storyboard That. The webinar will focus on using storyboards to tell stories. In particular, we'll be spending time looking at using storyboards to have students show what they have learned in your classroom during the school year. These stories could be academic lessons that your students learned or they could be life lessons that your students learned during the course of the school year.

Storyboard That has rolled-out a bunch of new features during the 2015-2016 school year. So if it has been a while since you tried Storyboard That, join us on Monday evening at 7pm to see the new features in action.

The webinar will be recorded. If you cannot attend the live webinar, you can still get the recording by completing this short form

Geopedia - A Map & Wikipedia Mashup

Geopedia is a nice combination of a map and Wikipedia entries. Search for a location on the Geopedia map and you will be shown a bunch of map placemarks around that location. Click on any of the displayed placmarks and you will see a corresponding image and Wikipedia entry. To change locations you can either right-click on a new area of the map or enter a new search term.

Applications for Education
Google Earth has a Wikipedia layer that does essentially the same thing as Geopedia. Unfortunately, Google Earth will only work on a Windows or Mac computer. Geopedia provides a nice browser-based alternative to the Google Earth Wikipedia layer.

The Geopedia map offers students a good way to see the correlation between places and events.

H/T to Maps Mania

Try Watchkin for Distraction-free YouTube Viewing

Watchkin is a free service that allows you to watch and project YouTube videos without seeing the related sidebar content typically seen on Watchkin can be used in a few ways. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on to have the related content disappear from the page. In the video below I demonstrate how Watchkin works.

Applications for Education
The Watchkin website and browser bookmarklet are great tools for teachers who want to show a YouTube video in their classrooms without risking displaying "related" sidebar content. To be clear, Watchkin is not a work-around if your school blocks YouTube and it is not a tool for downloading YouTube videos. (Downloading YouTube videos is a violation of the YouTube terms of service).

5 Questions to Consider in BYOD Schools

This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs,

More schools are allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) now than even just a few years ago. As a teacher BYOD can be a good thing as it allows students to work with a computer, tablet, or phone with which they are familiar. At the same time, BYOD can be a bad thing if you or the school leadership hasn't thought through all of the implications and ramifications of BYOD. To that end, here are five things that should be thoughtfully considered as you move to BYOD.

1. Can you find apps and sites suitable for all students' devices?
When every student uses the same school-provided computer or tablet you don't have to worry about this question too much because you simply pick a site or app that works on one device and you're all set. In a BYOD environment you will have a variety of operating systems, versions of operating systems, and display sizes. For BYOD environments I always try to find web apps that are coded in HTML5 so that I have the best chance of the app or site working on all devices.

2. Can your network handle the number of devices that will be added to it?
This is a question for the IT department to answer. Once you allow students to add their devices to your wireless network you're going to have a massive uptick in traffic. Are you prepared? Along the same line, are you ready to support helping students figure out how to add a myriad of devices to your network.

3. Are you going BYOD to save money by not providing computers to students?
If so, you're missing the point of BYOD. Using BYOD as a reason to not provide students with computers creates an unequal environment for students. BYOD should be a supplement, not a replacement for a 1:1 program.

4. How are your students going to share files and or print files?
As a classroom teacher who will be collecting assignments from students think about the way in which you want to collect those assignments. In a Google Apps for Education environment you might use Google Classroom or Google Drive. In other settings you might need to create a Dropbox or Box folder to which students submit files. If it's printed work that you need, are your students going to be able to connect to a network printer or will you have to do all of the printing from a school-issued computer? If you're not sure, ask a member of your IT staff before those printed assignments are due.

5. How will you handle inappropriate use of mobile phones?
In the 8th grade I got in trouble for reading a Field & Stream article that I had stuffed inside my Algebra textbook. My point being that students texting in class is a classroom management issue, it's not the fault of the device being present in the classroom any more than Field & Stream was to blame for me not paying attention to my Algebra teacher, Mr. Dorsey.

We'll be talking about this topic and many others during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp this summer. Early discounted registration is on sale now.