Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feeling Overwhelmed With New Information? Try the PracticalEdTech.com Newsletter

The question that people at conferences ask me more than any other is, "how can I keep up with everything?" Along the same lines, the biggest reason that people state for unsubscribing from the FreeTech4Teachers.com daily emails is "too many updates." To solve both of those problems, last January I started the PracticalEdTech.com newsletter. 

The PracticalEdTech.com newsletter includes my tip of the week and the links to that week's most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com. The newsletter is sent out only once per week on Sunday evening (Eastern Standard Time). Click here to subscribe to the PracticalEdTech.com newsletter here. And if you don't need another email in your inbox, you can simply visit PracticalEdTech.com to see the same information. 

Paper Doesn't Have a New Browser Window

One of the things that I mention in my keynote Leading Students In a Hyper-connected World is the need for teaching students to have some time disconnected from the Internet and mobile networks. Today, I heard Chris Brogan sum this up nicely by saying "paper doesn't have a new browser window." In other words, doing something on paper creates a good obstacle to distracting yourself with Facebook, email, or some other non-essential task.

Chris made his comment in the context of planning and task management. I apply that comment to the process of brainstorming and or reflecting. Taking the time to read a book, to write some ideas on paper, or to simply go for a walk give out brains time to wonder and develop new-to-us ideas without the distraction of digital input.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of the digital brainstorming and project management tools that we have available to us. There is a time for using those (iBrainstorm is one of my favorite brainstorming apps), but there is also a time for not using digital tools too. As our students grow up in a hyper-connected world, it is will be increasingly important to take the time to teach them when being connected might not be the best choice.

An Often Untapped Source of Digital Devices for Classrooms

Perhaps you've heard that Apple recently released a new iPhone (#sarcasm). This is a good time to remind you of an often untapped source of digital devices for your classroom. Ask your students' parents to donate their old phones to your classroom when they upgrade their mobile phonphonees. You will probably find that most of those phones can at the very least be used for taking pictures to be used in multimedia projects. The odds are also good that most of the phones you collect now will have some type of web browser.

Tips for gathering and using old mobile phones in your classroom:
1. Ask parents to donate their old phones. Send out the request on your blog or classroom newsletter.
2. Put a donation box in your school's main office or library to make it easy for parents to drop-off donations.
3. Make sure you tell parents to clear all personal data from their phones before making the donation.
4. Communicate with your IT department to make sure that you can connect the donated devices to your school's network. Even if you have permissions for adding devices to your school's network, it is a good idea to check with IT to make sure your network can support an influx of new devices connecting to it.
5. Use the cameras on the donated devices to create B-roll image and video galleries.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Free Ebook - Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People

Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People is a free ebook created by Toby Rush at the University of Dayton. The ebook covers everything from the basics of reading key signatures to advanced topics in composition.

Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People can be downloaded in parts or in whole. It is released under a Creative Commons license that allows you to use it for instruction.

H/T to Lifehacker.

Explore UNDP Development Data With This Interactive Map

The UN Stat Planet Map allows you to create useful mapped displays of UN development indicators data. There are ten data categories from which you can choose. Within each category there are further refinements possible. You can customize the map to present sharper contrasts between the data indicators, change the indicator symbols, and alter the map legend. To visual the change in data over time, use the time slider at the bottom of the map. Your maps and the data that they represent can be downloaded as PNG and JPEG files for printing.

Applications for Education
Simply looking at data spreadsheets or graphs reveal some good development data to students. But for better visual comparisons tied to locations, the UN Stat Planet Map is useful.