Showing posts with label best of 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label best of 2013. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2013

Best of 2013 So Far... 5 Uses of Augmented Reality In Education

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

Sometimes when people hear "augmented reality" their minds drift to some vision of a science fiction world. The truth is augmented reality isn't science fiction, it's technology that is readily available now. Here are five potential uses of augmented reality in education today.

Create 3D, augmented reality stories with ZooBurst. ZooBurst is an amazing service that allows you to create a short story complete with 3D augmented reality pop-ups. Students could use ZooBurst to create short summaries of books that really jump off the screen. ZooBurst offers an iPad app to complement the web-based version of the service.

The Getty Museum offers a neat way to view art through augmented reality. As employed by The Getty, augmented reality creates 3D displays of art from printed PDF codes displayed in front of a webcam. The example that The Getty provides in the video below is a 3D display of one of the cabinets of curiosities created by Albert Janszoon Vinckenbrinck. If you want to try it for yourself after watching the video, the directions are available here.


Fetch! Lunch Rush! is a neat use of augmented reality to create a mathematics lesson for young students. The free iPhone app (it also worked on my iPad 2) was developed by PBS Kids. The purpose of the app is to get kids moving about a room in search of numbers that are the correct answer to the questions posed to them on the app. Students read the arithmetic problem on the app then search out the correct answer. When they think they have found the correct answer they scan it with their iPhones or iPads to find out if they are correct or not.

Spacecraft 3D is a free iPad app produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model that your students can explore.

Star & Planet Finder enables you to locate the planets and stars in the night sky through your  iPhone or iPad. To use the app, select from a list the planet or constellation you want to locate. Star & Planet Finder will then give you directions to move your iPhone or iPad until you can see through the camera display the planet that you're looking for. The free version of the app only identifies planets. For $.99 each you can add lists of constellations, lists of satellites, and lists of brightest stars to the app. 

Best of 2013 So Far... Video Timelines

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

Timelines.tv is a nice little resource for history teachers to bookmark and share with their students. On Timelines.tv you can find six timelines of important eras in U.S. and European history. Each timeline includes short (3-10 minute) videos about people and events in the era. The timelines also include pictures and short text descriptions. The six timelines currently available are A History of Britain, The American West, Medicine Through Time, American Voices, The Edwardians, and Nazi Germany. More timelines appear to planned for publication in the future.

Applications for Education
The timelines that I looked at weren't the most comprehensive timelines I've found, but the videos that I watched were good. Timelines.tv could be a nice resource to share with students as a tool to review an era after you have taught some lessons on it. 

Best of 2013 So Far... Virtually Hike the Grand Canyon

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

Last fall Google announced that it had a team setting out to capture "street view" imagery of trails through the Grand Canyon. Today, the first batch of that imagery was released. You can now explore more than 75 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon in Street View (I think they should call it Trail View). Get a taste of the imagery in the video below then start exploring the new Grand Canyon imagery.


Applications for Education
One of my former colleagues used to teach an entire unit on geology by walking students through the Grand Canyon with pictures she had taken. The new Grand Canyon Street View imagery will enable more teachers to use the same model for teaching geology.

Best of 2013 So Far...VideoNotes

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

VideoNotes is a neat new tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document.

Applications for Education
My first thought when I saw VideoNotes was that it would be a great tool for students to use to take notes, ask questions, and answer questions while watching "flipped" instruction videos. You could assign a video for homework and have your students ask and or answer questions using VideoNotes. Have students share their notes with you so that you can see their questions which in turn can influence how you structure your next lesson plan.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Best of 2013 So Far... A Short Guide to Blogging Terminology

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

I'm currently in the process of developing new digital handouts for my blogging workshops. One of the items that I'm adding to my handouts is a list of terminology and definitions for terms that I frequently use while talking about building blogs. My preliminary list is posted below. Are there terms that you think should be added to the list?

Theme: WordPress and many other blogging platforms use “themes” to describe the look of a blog. The theme can include the color scheme and the layout of elements on the blog. Changing the theme does not change the content of your blog posts.

Template: Blogger and some other blogging platforms use the term “template” to describe the look of a blog. The template can include the color scheme and the layout of elements on the blog. Changing your template does not change the content of your blog posts.

Tag: Tags are applied to WordPress (Kidblog, Edublogs) blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. Tags make it easier for people to search and find older posts on your blog. For example, if you write a post about your Revolutionary War lesson, tag it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” tag and jump to the post that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by tag than it is to click through archives by date.

Label: Labels are applied to Blogger blog posts to identify the key ideas or purpose of a post. For example, if you write a blog post about your Revolutionary War lesson plan, label it with “revolution” or “revolutionary war” so that at the end of the school year when you have 150 posts on your blog your students can quickly click on the “revolution” label and jump to the posts that have that label. It’s a lot easier to locate older posts by label than it is to click through archives by date.

Tag Cloud and Label Cloud: Tag and Label clouds can be added to your blog’s homepage to make it easy for visitors to see the tags or labels that you use, click on one of them, and jump to a list of all of the posts that have that particular label.

Categories: In WordPress-powered blogs you can use categories for broad descriptions of posts in addition to using tags. For example, on iPadApps4School.com I use the categories “pre-K,” “elementary school,” “middle school,” and “high school.” I assign each post to a category and use tags for describing the academic topic of the post. This way if someone visits my blog looking for math apps appropriate for elementary school he or she can click on the “math” tag then click on the “elementary school” category to find all of my posts meeting that search criteria.

Embed: To display a video, slideshow, audio recording, Google Calendar, Google Map, game, and many other multimedia elements in a blog post you will use an embed code provided by service hosting that media. Embedding media into a blog post does not make you the owner of it and as long as you follow the guidelines set forth by the hosting service you are not violating copyright by embedding something you didn’t create. For example, when you find a video on YouTube that you want your students to watch you can embed it into a blog post and ask students to comment on the blog post. If the owner of that video decides to take it offline the video will no longer play through your blog post.

Embed Codes: An embed code is a piece of code, often HTML, that media hosting services like YouTube provide so that you can easily display the media that they host in your own blog posts. On some services like SlideShare.net an embed code will be clearly labeled as such next to the media you’re viewing. On other services the embed code will be one of the options that appears when you click on the “share” option. YouTube, for example, currently requires you to open the “share” menu before you see the embed code option.

Widget: A widget is a small application that you can include in the posts and or pages of your blog. A widget could be a game, a display of Tweets, a display of RSS feeds, a tag cloud, a calendar, or any other application that offers an embed code.

Gadget: Gadget is the term that Blogger uses for a widget. A gadget and a widget do the same things.

Plug-in: A plug-in (sometimes plugin) is a small application that you can add to the software that powers your blog. Unlike widgets and gadgets plug-ins operate in the background and visitors to your blog will not see them working. A plug-in can add functions to your blog such as suggesting related posts to your visitors or detecting the type of device a visitor is using to view your blog then automatically displaying the mobile or desktop version of your blog’s layout.

Post: “Post” can refer to an entry on your blog as in “a blog post.” “Post” can also be used as a verb as in “I am going to post a new entry on my blog.”

Page: A page on a blog is different than a post because a page is designed for static content. Pages are good for posting information that you want visitors to your blog to be able to quickly access. For example, my classroom blog had pages for curriculum outlines and review guides.

Permalink: Each blog post is assigned its own separate URL this is known as a permalink (permanent link). This URL is the one that you would share if you wanted someone to directly access a post rather than going to your blog’s homepage then searching for the post.

Best of 2013 So Far...Tips for Managing Academic Blogs

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

In the course of a year I get to run a lot of workshops about blogging. One of the questions that frequently comes up in those workshops goes something like this, “do you recommend that I have just one blog or should all of my students have their own blogs?” There is not a clear cut answer to this question because the answer depends upon how you envision using blogs in your teaching practice.

If your use of blogging is going to be limited to just distributing information about your class(es) to students and their parents, one blog is all that you need. Even if you teach multiple courses, one blog is sufficient if you’re only using it to distribute information. Simply label each new blog post with the name or section of the course for whom the information is intended. From a management standpoint it is far easier to label each blog post on one blog than it is to maintain a different blog for each course that you teach. That is a lesson that took me one semester to learn.

In the fall of 2005 I was teaching five sections of the same ninth grade social studies course and even though the content was the same each class always seemed to be in a different place than the others so I tried to maintain five different blogs. Before long I found myself either posting to the wrong blog or my students were going to the wrong blog because they had forgotten the blog’s URL and asked a classmate from a different section of the course for the blog’s URL. After that semester I decided to create one blog to use as the central online hub for all of my students. All students who took a course with me would have the URL for my blog and go there whenever they needed an update about their courses. I found it very easy to say to students, “go to my blog and click on the label for your class.” Even when I started to have students contribute to group blogs they started out by going to my blog and clicking the link to their group blogs.

If you envision having all of your students write blog posts, proper planning of the blogging process is critical to being able to keep track of your students’ work. Teachers who have twenty-five or fewer students might be able to have each student maintain his or her own blog and keep track of all of them, but even twenty-five blogs is a lot to keep track of. The solution that I recommend is to create a group blog for each class that you teach. Create the blog using whichever platform you like then make each student an author on the blog. To track who wrote what on the blog make sure that the author’s name (first names only or use pen names with young students). Alternatively, you can have students label or tag posts with their names or pen names to sort out who wrote what. As the creator and owner of the group blog you will be able to see who wrote what from your administrative panel, but that doesn’t help parents who want to check the blog to see what their children have been sharing.

Teachers who want students to use blogs to experiment with web design and coding will have to allow each student to maintain his or her own blog. Likewise, if the goal is to have each student showcase work for college or internship applications then each student will need to be the sole author on that blog. Keeping track of all of those blogs is a challenge, but a manageable challenge. One quick management method is to create a spreadsheet of all of your students’ blogs. Another quick management strategy is to create a list of links to the blogs then post that list in a side column on your own blog so that you or anyone else visiting your blog can quickly jump to a student’s blog.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Best of 2013 So Far... A Guide to Mobile Blogging Apps for Students & Teachers

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

One of the blogging activities that I often suggest in my workshops is having students record and share on-the-spot observations during field trips. To do this your students should have a mobile blogging application on their iOS and Android devices. If your students don't have iOS or Android devices if they have a mobile device that has a web browser or email client they can post via email to Blogger. Here's a short run-down of mobile blogging options on the blog platforms that I usually recommend to teachers.

Blogger: Google offers mobile apps for Android and for iOS. The apps can be found here http://www.google.com/mobile/blogger/ You can also post to Blogger via email if you have enabled that feature in your Blogger settings. You can find directions for activating post via email here http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/02/how-to-post-to-blogger-via-email.html With post via email activated you and your students can blog through any email app that you have installed on your phone or tablet.

WordPress: If you are using either WordPress.com or a self-hosted WordPress blog you can post to it through the free iOS app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8 or through the free Android app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.wordpress.android&hl=en learn more about the Android app in the video below.


EduBlogs: Edublogs currently offers iPhone and iPad apps, but does not offer an Android app. You can find the iOS app here https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/edublogs/id526466328?mt=8

Kidblog: Kidblog doesn’t currently offer their own Android or iOS apps, but you can enable mobile publishing and use the WordPress iOS and Android apps to publish to your Kidblog. You can find directions for enabling mobile publishing on Kidblog here http://support.kidblog.org/entries/21682463-Publishing-via-the-iOS-WordPress-App-for-iPad-iPod-Touch-and-iPhone

Best of 2013 So Far...5 Places for Kids to Learn About the News

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

When I was a student in Mrs. Simmons's second grade classroom one of the things that I looked forward to every week was the arrival of the Scholastic Weekly Reader. I loved read the stories about news from other parts of the world (I guess I was destined to become a social studies teacher). Today, students don't have to wait for the Scholastic Weekly Reader to appear in their teacher's mailbox. Here are five student-friendly news sites to use in your current events lesson plans.

Go Go News is a news website designed for elementary school students. The site features many short news stories that can be read and listened to. The stories that Go Go News covers aren't hard, breaking news stories. The stories are more of a interesting and educational nature.

Teaching Kids News is a news site developed for use in elementary school and middle school classrooms. Teaching Kids News features timely and relevant news stories written on a level that students can comprehend. Each article is accompanied by a set of discussion questions, writing prompts, reading prompts, and vocabulary words.

Youngzine is an online source of news, sports, and entertainment stories for elementary school students. Students will find stories to read and videos to watch in each of the information categories. Each news story is accompanied by a Google Map that has a placemark indicating where the story takes place.

CNN Student News is an excellent resource for middle school and high school current events lessons. The roughly ten minute episodes feature US stories, a world news stories, a "shout out" to a classroom, and a quick quiz. Transcripts for each show are available for download as are suggested viewing questions to cover with your students. 

One of my favorite features on the BBC New website is the Day in  the Day in Pictures. The Day in Pictures displays a small collection of photographs from around the world. The pictures capture a mix of  serious news stories and lighter cultural stories. The Day in Pictures collections are part of a much larger resource from the BBC simply called In Pictures. The In Pictures resource provides hundreds of images in a variety collections and slideshows about current events throughout the world. Some of the slide shows even include narration. All of the images include captions explaining what is happening in the picture and a little background knowledge about the event being photographed.

Best of 2013 So Far...Picking The Best Platform For Your Classroom Blog

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

If you haven't started a blog yet, choosing the right blogging platform can make a big difference in how effective your blog use is in the long run.

Before we answer the question of which blog platform to use we need to understand some terminology commonly used when talking about blogs. Understanding the terminology will help you make an informed decision about which platform is best for your situation. I wish I had known some of this when I started blogging.

Hosted Blog: A hosted blog is one whose software is maintained by a company for its users. Services like Blogger, WordPress.com, and Tumblr are examples of services on which you can create hosted blogs. The advantage of using a hosted service is that you don’t have to worry about installing software, software updates, server maintenance, or bandwidth capacity. The disadvantage of using a hosted service is that you don’t have access to the servers hosting your blog, the service may limit some customization options (WordPress.com in particular does this), and if the service closes you will be looking for a new place to blog (see the panic that ensued when Posterous announced its shutdown).

Self-hosted Blog: A self-hosted blog is one for which you own the blogging software, you install it on a server or shared server, and you are responsible for all technical maintenance and updates. The advantage of having a self-hosted blog is that you can customize it to your heart’s content, you have access to the server(s) hosting your blog, and you can move your content from one hosting service to another if you choose. The disadvantage of a self-hosted blog is that you do have to feel somewhat comfortable installing the software on a server. Fortunately, most hosting companies have good tutorials on installing popular blogging software. Another disadvantage of self-hosting is that you are responsible for performing all updates and other maintenance tasks. This can be time consuming for new bloggers. Finally, to have a self-hosted blog you will have to buy a domain and pay a monthly or annual hosting fee for your blog. I pay roughly $200 annually to MediaTemple.com for hosting and I have eight domains on my plan. If you decided to go the self-hosted route, Media Temple is my recommendation for a hosting service. They offer excellent 24/7 customer service and I’ve never experienced any downtime since I started using them in April of 2012.

The best blog platforms for teachers.
Blogger: This is Google’s free blogging service. It takes just a minute to start a blog through Blogger. Blogger offers a nice selection of colorful themes and templates to choose from. Customizing the layout of your blog is as easy as dragging and dropping elements into place. You can add additional authors to your blogs. There are mobile apps for Blogger and you can post to your blog via email. If you have a Gmail account you already have a Blogger account. Just sign into your Gmail account and in the top menu select Blogger from the “more” drop-down menu. Google Apps for Education users can have Blogger added to their domains too. The drawback to Blogger is that the only customer support that you’ll find for it comes in the form of Blogger product discussion boards and some YouTube videos.

KidBlog: KidBlog is a free hosted blogging service designed for teachers to use with students. Teachers can create accounts for their students to use to write blog posts and to write comments on blog posts. Students do not have to have email addresses in order to use KidBlog. And a great feature for those times when students forget their passwords is teachers can reset their students’ passwords. KidBlog blogs are run using WordPress software, but it’s a limited version of WordPress so you won’t have the full customization options that you would have if you used the WordPress software on your own on your own paid hosting service.

Edublogs: Edublogs has been around for quite a while and is well known in the educational technology community for offering good customer support. The free version of Edublogs is rather limited in that you cannot include videos, use custom HTML to embed items into posts, or manage your students’ accounts. You really need to purchase the “Pro” version of Edublogs for $39.95/year in order get the features that most teachers want.

Self-hosting a blog with WordPress: WordPress is free blogging software that you can install on a server. You can get the software at WordPress.org. As mentioned in the “self-hosted” section above, you will have to purchase a domain and a hosting plan to create and maintain your blog. Once you have your blog set-up you can do whatever you like with it including creating and administering accounts for your students to use to write blog entries and comments on your blog.

Just as a point of clarification, people sometimes confuse the WordPress software available to download at WordPress.org with WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a free hosted blogging service that uses the WordPress software, but like KidBlog and Edublogs it limits your customization options because you don’t actually control the software. WordPress.com will also insert advertising on your blog unless you upgrade to a paid account for $30 annually.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Best of 2013 So Far...Create Interactive Videos on WireWax

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

wireWax is a service that takes the concept of YouTube annotations and makes it much better. On wireWax you can build interactive tags into your videos. Each tag that you add to your video have another video from YouTube or Vimeo or an image from Facebook, Flickr, or Instagram. A tag can also include an audio track from SoundCloud or a reference article from Qwiki.

What makes using wireWax different from using the YouTube annotations tool is that clicking on your tags (what YouTube calls annotations) does not send you outside of the video you're currently watching. This means that you can watch a video within a video or view a picture or listen to a different audio track within the original video. When you click a tag in the original video the video pauses and the tagged item is displayed.

wireWax allows you to add tags to any YouTube video that is publicly viewable and has not had embedding disabled. I tried wireWax with this five minute video. It took a while (15-20 minutes) for the video to process for tagging, but once it was processed it was easy to create a tag. To create my tag I just advanced the video to the spot I wanted to tag, drew a box around the person I was tagging, then selected the wireWax YouTube app to put a video within the original video. Check it out below by advancing to about the 1.5 minute mark.


Applications for Education
wireWax could be a great tool for adding new layers of information to educational videos. If you're creating videos for your students or your students are creating videos to share with others consider tagging key points at which viewers might have questions. At those points insert tags that reveal clarifying information in the form of a video, an image, or an audio recording.  

Best of 2013 So Far... Wideo

We're half-way through 2013. Like I've done in years past, this week I'll be featuring some of the best new tech tools of 2013 as well as some of the most popular posts of the year.

Wideo is a service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online. You can create an animated video on Wideo by dragging and dropping elements into place in the Wideo editor then setting the sequence of animations. Each element can be re-used as many times as you like and the timing of the animation of each image can individually adjusted. Wideo's stock elements include text, cartoons, and drawings. You can also upload your own images to use in your videos. You can add sound tracks and voice-overs to your videos after arranging all of the visuals in your video.


WIDEOO REEL ENG NEW LOGO from Agustin Esperon on Vimeo.


Applications for Education 
By using Wideo's voice-over tool you could have your students creating explanatory videos in the Common Craft style. The art of Common Craft videos is the way in which confusing topics are boiled down to a concise explanation. If your students can do the same with a topic in your class, they can prove that they know the material.