Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Mozilla Persona the Universal Sign-in Schools Have Been Waiting For?

Many services that we all like have the option to sign-in with Facebook and Twitter profiles. While these options are convenient (people rarely forget their Facebook passwords) they have a couple of drawbacks. First, if your school blocks social media sites you're out of luck. Second, Facebook's and to some extent Twitter's privacy settings seem to get more confusing by the day which means you could be sharing information you don't really want to share.

Mozilla's new Persona service might give students and teachers the convenience of a single sign-in service without the need for a social media account. Persona, launched yesterday, allows you to create a single account that you can use to register and log into multiple services. Right now the list of services using Persona is quite limited, but it has the potential to be the universal log-in service of choice for students and teachers.
Applications for Education
Universal sign-in services like Persona can be save you lots of time when you're starting an online activity in your classroom. Instead of spending time creating new accounts, verifying accounts, and retrieving passwords that time can be spent on educational activities.

A Student Presidential Debate Contest

The National Forensic League has launched a presidential debate contest for students. The contest asks students to submit five minute video speeches on health care, the economy, and education. There are separate contests for each category. Students can submit videos for one, two, or all three topics. There are different submission deadlines for each topic the first deadline is October 12 for health care videos. Click here for all of the submission deadlines and rules.

The contest is open to all members of the National Forensic League. If your school is not a member organization, you could use the model of this contest to host your own school-wide or district-wide contest. If you do hold your own contest you could use the YouTube upload widget to collect videos from students.

Thinglink Adds a New Commenting Option

Thinglink, the interactive and collaborative image creation tool that I've covered a lot, recently introduced a new option for commenting on images. You've always been able to let people comment on images by putting pinmarks into your images. Sometimes you might not want people writing on the image itself and that's where the new comment option comes in. Now people can write comments about your images below your images.

Applications for Education
The new Thinglink commenting option could be good for giving students feedback on the interactive images that they have created. You could also use the commenting option to have students write responses to questions that you embed into your Thinglink images.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ClassDoJo Adds Bulk Report Downloads

Yesterday, I received this email from ClassDoJo and probably many of you got the same one. The email announced some new features for ClassDoJo. In my opinion the most notable new feature is bulk downloads of behavior reports. The reports are downloaded as PDFs.  Another new feature of note is the option to email reports to multiple parents.

Applications for Education
This summer I heard from a number of elementary school teachers who absolutely love ClassDoJo for recording behaviors. One teacher that I spoke with said that she would project the "positive behaviors only" screen when she was giving out positive recognition at the end of the school day. I've also heard from teachers who are using ClassDoJo to give out "rewards" or "points" during classroom discussions for asking good questions, being polite, and using evidence in arguments.

Disclosure: ClassDoJo is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers.

Pin-a-Tale - A Map of British Literature

The British Library recently started a crowd-sourced mapping project. Pin-a-Tale is a map of places that have influenced British literature over the last 1,000 years. The pins on the map contain images and short stories about how places in the British Isles have influenced writing.

Applications for Education
Pin-a-Tale could be a good resource for lessons in British literature. Beyond that it is a nice model for a Google Maps project that your students could do for any other genre of literature. Teachers of American Literature might have students map the places that have influenced famous works in American Literature.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

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