Monday, March 7, 2016

FAQs About the 2016 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Last month I announced that I will be hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps again this year. The two day event will be held in Portland, Maine at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. The dates are July 11th and 12th for the BYOD camp and July 18th and 19th for the Chromebook camp. Discounted early registration is still available. In the last couple of weeks I have received quite a few questions about the summer camp. Those common questions and their answers are provided below.

1. Are CEUs/ certificates/ graduate credits available?

The past three years I've given certificates for 16 hours of professional development. Some schools accept these for re-certification/ continuing education points and some do not. If it helps you or your administrator decide if the hours will help you qualify for re-certification, a general outline of topics for the two days is available here. There is not a university arrangement for graduate credit at this time.

2. Can I register with a purchase order / check from my school?

Yes, you can. To register with a purchase order or a check from your school email me or have your business administrator email at richardbyrne (at) and I will register you on receipt of the purchase order.

3. Are there discounts available?

Yes, you can save $50 by registering for either camp before April 30th. Subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter can save an additional $25 by registering before April 30th and entering the code "subscriber" at check-out. (Note, discounts are only available for registrations completed online through the Eventbrite ticketing portals). Click here to register for the BYOD camp on July 11-12 and click here to register for the Chromebook camp on July 18-19.

4. My school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education (GAFE), will this help me?

In short, yes. The both of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will include the use of Google tools in each day. The Chromebook camp will have more GAFE items than the BYOD camp. We will share methods for incorporating Google tools into much of what we do. That said, this is not focused only on Google tools. Both of the the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration.

The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss information. Day one of the Chromebook camp will also cover workflow on Chromebooks. Likewise the first day of the BYOD camp will cover workflow on iPads, laptops, and Android devices. The second day of both camps is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions.

5. I want to bring my principal, will she/he benefit from attending?

Absolutely! As I've heard my friend Scott McLeod say, "the leaders must get it." This is a great opportunity for your principal to gain a great understanding of what you and your colleagues want to do when school starts again in the fall. Equally importantly, they'll learn why you want to do it.

6. My school is going 1:1 with iPads, will the BYOD camp help me?

Yes. We will be looking at a bunch of apps and their applications for classrooms.

7. We would love to attend but the dates don't work for us, will you be offering this at another time?

At this time I don't have plans to offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps on other dates. I am more than happy to come to your school district to offer a workshop. Please click here for information about my on-location professional development services.

8. Will you be streaming this online?

No. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are designed to be hands-on and a livestream wouldn't capture much.

9. How do I get to Portland, Maine? What can I do once I'm there? How do I get around in Portland?

Portland has an international airport (airport code PWM) serviced by American, United, Delta, SouthWest, and Jet Blue. Boston/ Logan Airport is about 90 miles away. The hotel is about a ten minute cab ride from the Portland airport. Uber is available in Portland. We’re done for the day you can walk to dozens of restaurants along the Old Port’s cobblestone streets, walk to the ocean, or even hop a boat and take a sunset cruise to see the islands in Casco Bay. Beaches are just a few minutes drive from the hotel.

10. Why aren't these events free?

There are two reasons why they aren't free. First, I incur a lot of expenses in organizing and hosting the events. Second, while all of the sites and apps we will use are free, my time for teaching about them isn't free.

11. I want to sign up, where do I do that?

Click here to register online for the BYOD camp. Click here to register online for the Chromebook camp. Contact me via email at richardbyrne (at) to register with a purchase order or school check.

If the answer to your question wasn't provided above, please feel free to contact me directly at richardbyrne (at)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My Favorite Internet Search Tips for Teachers & Students

Whether you teach students who are ten years old or forty years old there will be times when they turn to you and say, "I can't find anything about this" while they are researching. In most cases the problem isn't that the Internet doesn't hold any information for them. Rather, the problem is that students don't know enough strategies to help them dive deeper in their Internet research. In the slides embedded below I share my favorite search tips. The slides include some videos that demonstrate how to use the methods I've mentioned.

Comparing Textbooks to Wikipedia - A Student & Teacher Lesson

Last week during NCTIES I shared an activity that I have done with students and teachers to help them identify the similarities and differences between information presented in their textbooks and information presented in Wikipedia articles on the same topics. An outline of the activity is available here.

The activity is one that I developed six years ago to help students and teachers understand that Wikipedia isn't always bad and that textbooks aren't always accurate. When I developed the activity I also had in mind teaching the value of primary sources.  The first time that I did this with students the topics/events my students were studying were the Sand Creek Massacre, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Fort Laramie Treaties. The vast majority of my students reported that they found the textbook easier to use for finding the "main points," but that the Wikipedia articles had the same information. They also reported that the Wikipedia articles had more depth of information.

Where Wikipedia stood-out was in getting students started on their searches for primary source documents. As you'll see in the outline, I asked my students to use the links at the end of each Wikipedia article to further investigate each topic and locate primary source documents. What I did not include in the outline is that I also allowed students to simply search the web on their own to find primary source documents. As I expected, most of them came to the realization that a lot what they were finding through their own searches was already listed in the links at the end of the Wikipedia articles. At the end of the activity every student was able to identify and add new information to their knowledge base using the primary source documents they located.

How does Wikipedia work? 
Common Craft explains in the video below.

Common Craft videos can be viewed for free online but to download them or embed them you do have to be a subscriber to their service. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

The Contest for Human Flight - Interactive Timeline

Last night I started watching American Genius on Netflix. American Genius, produced by National Geographic, features the stories of American inventors and innovators who were competing in the same field. The first episode that I watched was The Contest for Human Flight about the competition between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. National Geographic has an interactive timeline that complements the episode. In the timeline you can see archival videos of the first airplane flights, images of prototype drawings, and additional passages of text about the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss.

The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age is another good timeline for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How to Refine Google Searches by File Type & Domain

Two of the simple, but powerful Google search strategies that I often share in my workshops are searching by file type and searching by domain. Refining a search by file type and by domain can help students discover content that they might not otherwise discover through a typical Google search. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the easiest way for students to refine searches by file type and domain.