Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Week In Review - Camp Week!

Good morning from Maine where it's almost starting to feel like fall. This week I held the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp at Sunday River resort. A huge thank you to everyone who came, you made the event a success. Hopefully, I can host another Practical Ed Tech Camp again.

Of course, I continued to blog throughout the week even when camp was in session.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Picture Manhattan Inside the Grand Canyon
2. 5 Services for Creating and Sharing Audio Recordings
3. You Shouldn't Be an Instructional Technology Coordinator If You Don't Understand This...
4. Three Ways to Make Useful QR Codes for Your Students
5. How To Create Your Own Custom Search Engine
6. RADCAB - A Website Evaluation Framework for Students
7. 5 Handy Google Drive Shortcuts

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Geology Hikes - A Model for Blogging and Mapping

John Haley is one of my former colleagues that I keep in touch with through Facebook. John is a fantastic, enthusiastic Earth Science teacher. One of the projects that he's been working on this summer is Maine Geology Hikes. On Maine Geology Hikes John has been sharing more than just stories about hiking. He's been sharing lessons worthy of inclusion in books on the topic of Maine geology.

I'm pointing out John's work not because I think everyone should visit Maine and explore the places John's featured (although if you're for a vacation, Maine is beautiful this time of year), but because he blog provides a nice model to follow.

Here's what makes John's blog a good model to follow:
1. The purpose of the blog is clear. I know what to expect when I go there.
2. When it is appropriate John is using links to other resources. When links aren't available he's including citations to print media.
3. He's not writing every day (roughly one post per week), but the posts are longer than what you would find on a blog that is publishing new content on a daily basis.
4. The pictures are used as instructional aids.

To complement Maine Geology Hikes John has create a Maine Geology Hikes Google Map. The map uses placemarks to provide a bit of information about the geological features discovered on each of the hikes. And because it is a Google Map you can quickly click to find directions to the hike.

Wildfires and Climate Change - Video

Earlier this week while exploring Climate Central I found a good video about wildfires in the western United States. The video (available through Vimeo) explains why rising temperatures are not the only contributor to an increasing rate of wildfires in the west. Watch the video (embedded below) and you might be surprised by some of the factors that Climate Central believes are contributing to the increased rate of wildfires.

Wildfires Out West from Climate Central on Vimeo.

Friday, July 26, 2013

When Teaching Web Safety Don't Forget to Teach Common Sense

Earlier this week I shared the RADCAB framework for teaching students how to evaluate websites. In the past I've shared other resources for teaching students how to recognize unsafe situations online (Planet Nutshell has a great set of videos on the topic). While these online evaluation resources are useful, don't forget to teach students (children and adults) to use common sense before clicking on a link. I found two good examples of this this morning. Take a look at the screenshots below for explanations. (Feel free to download and use these screenshots in your classroom).

Click to view full size.
The picture above is a screenshot of the landing page for "business" that claims to provide website development. The page looks like it's straight out of 1999. That look combined with the fact that I don't know what will happen when I click the picture as the page wants me to, tells me that I probably shouldn't click the picture. If it doesn't look right, don't click it.

Click to view full size. 

The picture above is a screenshot of my direct message inbox on Twitter. You'll notice the first three messages are short messages with links. I'm not going to click those links because I don't have any context for them. I hadn't had conversations with any of those three people prior to them sending me those vaguely worded messages with links. On a similar note, if those messages said, "someone is saying nasty things about you" followed by a link, I'm not clicking that link. You can read more about that specific situation here.

Below are two helpful reminder videos from Common Craft about this topic.

7 Ways to Create and Deliver Online Quizzes

Creating and delivering quizzes and tests online offers a number of advantages over paper-based quizzes and tests. Many online quiz services allow you to create quizzes that give your students instant feedback. Some of the services provide the option to include picture and video prompts in your quizzes. And all of these services save you the hassle of printing your quizzes. Here are seven ways that you can create and deliver quizzes online.

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that you can use to create video-based quizzes. Using Blubbr you can create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. To create a quiz on Blubbr start by entering a topic for your quiz. After entering your topic enter a search for a video about that topic. Blubbr will generate a list of videos that you can select from to use in your quiz. When you find a video that works for you, trim the clip to a length that you like then write out your question and answer choices. Repeat the process for as many video clips as you like. Click here to try a short Blubbr quiz about the human heart.

Zoho Survey is a feature-packed tool for creating online quizzes and surveys. Zoho Survey allows you to mix and match 21 response formats while you're creating your surveys. Within those response formats there are additional features you may find useful. For example, you can specify a maximum number of characters entered in an open-ended response field. You will also find that you can apply "if then" logic to any response field. This means that you can ask a short answer question and send respondents to a new question based upon their responses. For example, I could ask students to enter which class they're in and send them to a set of questions just for their class. (This can also be done in Google Forms but only if you use multiple choice responses). When you're ready to publish your Zoho Survey you can embed it into a blog post or webpage. You can also send out a link to your survey. One of the options that you can choose for your published survey is to limit responses to one per computer. Another useful option is to set a date to automatically stop allowing responses.

Quizdini is a free tool for creating online quizzes. The best feature of Quizdini is that you can create explanations of the correct answer for your students to view immediately after trying each question in your quiz. Your explanation can include text and or links to online resources like videos and images. Quizdini quizzes can be created in a traditional linear format or in a matching format that asks students to pair answers to terms.

ImageQuiz is a free service that allows you to create quizzes based on any images that you own or find online. When people take your quizzes on ImageQuiz they answer your questions by clicking on the part of the picture that answers each question. For example, if you uploaded a picture of a map you could write questions that ask users to click on states, cities, or countries. Creating a quiz on ImageQuiz is an easy process. First, give your quiz a title and then upload a picture or copy and paste the URL of an online image into ImageQuiz. Then draw outlines around the parts of the picture that will be the answers to your questions. Finally, write your questions and try your quiz. To share your quiz just give people the URL of your quiz. You can try my sample quiz here

Socrative is a free quiz/ survey tool that I've been using a lot over the last couple of years. Socrative replaces the need for expensive proprietary clicker systems in a classroom. Socrative allows me to create single question and multiple question quizzes with multiple choice and or open-ended responses. My students take the quiz on their iPads, Android tablets, or laptops by signing into my Socrative room number and completing the activity that I have cued-up in the Socrative virtual room. Socrative allows you to collect responses anonymously or with the requirement that students enter their names. Students don't have to create an account to participate in any of your activities. To participate they simply need to enter your Socrative room number when they visit on their laptops, iPads, Android tablets, or any other device that has a web browser.

Infuse Learning is similar in concept to Socrative with a couple of differences worth noting. First, Infuse Learning allows you to create multiple rooms within your account. That means you can create a different Infuse Learning room for each of your classes rather than re-using the same room for all of your classes. Second, Infuse Learning allows you create questions that your students draw responses to. This can be particularly useful in a math classroom because your students can simply use a Stylus to hand-write their solutions to problems rather than trying to figure out how to type and format all of the symbols used in a math problem.

I couldn't create a list like this without including Google Forms. Using Google Forms you can create multiple choice, true/false, and free response questions quizzes. The latest version of Google Forms allows you to include videos and pictures in your quizzes. If you use the multiple page option in Google Forms you can send students to a new section of your quiz based on their answers to a previous question. Finally, by using a script like Flubaroo your quizzes can be graded for you and the grades can be emailed directly to your students.