Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Find a Slew of Cyber Safety Tips for Kids and Adults on Cyber Streetwise

As I was riding a train in London over the weekend I noticed an advertisement for Cyber Streetwise. I quickly punched it into my phone and made a note to check it out later.

Cyber Streetwise is a site developed for the purpose of sharing tips and techniques for protecting your identity and your electronic devices. The site is set-up as digital street that you walk along to learn about protecting your electronic devices, your identity, and digital footprint. Much of the content is geared toward businesses, but there is some good content for students and teachers too. Some of the content that applies to students and teachers includes crafting strong passwords, protecting mobile devices from malware, and responsible use of social media. Much of what you'll find through Cyber Streetwise is hosted on other sites, but the Streetwise setting provides a good way to find that information in one place.

QuizBean Offers a New Option for Distributing Online Quizzes to Students

QuizBean is a nice platform for creating simple image-based quizzes that your students can complete online. The service allows you to assign quizzes to students on a class-by-class or individual basis. Quiz results are automatically sent to your teacher dashboard when students have completed a quiz. The latest update to QuizBean allows you to bulk upload a list of students. If you prefer to have students do their own registrations on QuizBean you can now give them a "teacher code" assigned to you to enter to become a part of your class list.

Applications for Education
The option to include pictures makes QuizBean a good platform for asking questions that include diagrams and equations. One of the things that I like about QuizBean is that students get immediate feedback on each question that they answer. Before moving to the next question students are told if they answered the previous question correctly or incorrectly.

New Text Formatting and Color Options Added to WeVideo

My favorite online video creation tool, WeVideo, has added some nice new text options for users. WeVideo has long offered tools for adding text to your videos. Starting today you can customize the size, style, color, and opacity of the text that you add to your videos. Text call-outs are now an option too. As you can see in the video below, text call-outs can be used to annotate a video or to simply add text to element in your videos. The example that jumped out at me in the video below is adding text to a billboard in a video.

Applications for Education
Take a look at the WeVideo academy of a series of ideas for video projects including creating a personal narrative as demonstrated in the video below.

TouchDevelop Helps Students Understand Programming

TouchDevelop is a great platform through which students can learn to program simple animations and games. Miles Berry gave an entertaining presentation about it at TeachMeet BETT. As I watched his presentation I was struck by how much TouchDevelop reminded me of Logo Writer that I used as a student in 1990. If you used Logo Writer you'll probably notice the similarities too.

On TouchDevelop students program a series of actions by entering sequences of commands such as "move forward" and "turn right" that are carried out on the screen by a chosen figure such as a turtle. In addition to the direction commands students program the distances covered on screen, the colors, the animations, and the images to appear on screen. All commands have to be entered into correct sequences of "if, then" logic in order for everything to display as intended.

TouchDevelop works on most modern web browsers including Chrome for iPad. Students completed programs can be saved online and or exported for use as Windows apps or HTML5 applications.

Applications for Education
TouchDevelop provides a great way for students to begin to understand some essential logic behind programming applications. The visual aspect of TouchDevelop provides a fantastic format that gives students immediate feedback on their projects. Click here for a series of six tutorials that students can use to get started right away without much if any instruction required from you.

Remind 101 Adds Support for Sending Text Messages to Subgroups

Remind 101 has been busy to start 2014. Earlier this month they introduced the option to download your message history as a PDF. This week they introduced the option to send text messages to subgroups of students and parents. Previously you could only send messages to your entire class list. Now you can send text messages to a group as small as three students and parents. When you use this new feature that Remind 101 calls "send a few" you still have all of the protections of Remind 101's system that hides your real phone number from students and hides your students' phone numbers from you.

Learn more about Remind 101's "send a few" feature in the video below.

Applications for Education
Remind 101's "send a few" option could be great for sending out messages to the students who were absent from your classroom on a given day, sending reminders to parents who haven't sent in permission slips, or for sending messages to students who have forgotten to bring in the permission their parents signed. Remind 101's "send a few" does require that messages be sent to at least three people so it would not be a way to send updates to parents about their individual child's behavior or grades.