Not I Don’t Have A Diary, I Have A Blog

Where did I start?

I started my WordPress thinking that I was going to be blogging about personal topics. I considered a blog to be more like a diary, where I would free-write about topics that were interesting to me. I figure that a blog was for personal use and writing that was more for me than my audience.

What have I learn?

I shortly learned that blogging is not a diary where you write about personal thoughts, and that it is instead an academic genre of writing. I found that I could take topics about something informational and turn it into a short, cohesive, entertaining and creative peice. I realized I could create a blog that incorporates education, technology, and my own personal insight to craft a highly informational blog.

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Where will I go from here?

I intend to keep my blog up and running, despite the fact that I created my blog for the purpose of a requirement for a class. I think this a very interesting component to show prospective administrators, bosses, colleagues or professionals in my field of expertise.

Thank you for following my blog!

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A New Generation of Studying

What’s the new way to study?

There is a newly cerated website, Studyblue.com, that offers students and teachers new and innovative ways to study and learn new information. There are various ways of studying and learning in addition to various ways of transporting the information. Over two million students around the world have already chosen to achieve their goals using this website.

How doe sit help?

One of the most popular tools is the flashcard application. Students are able to copy and past information, or type the information a lot quicker than sitting down and creating nice and neat flashcards. The user creates a front and back to each card and has the option of adding photos, audio and digital film to each card. The user can also keep track of how many times they get the answer corrector wrong. One last major option the user has is whether he or she wants to study online or download their cards to a smartphone or tablet.

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So what are the benefits?

There are too many! To begin, this website is free of charge, which is a rare gift in this day and age where website are beginning to charge more so than not. This resource allows students to study anywhere, with digital tools available wherever and whenever they have a free moment.

There are also many benefits for teachers, who can create the flashcards for their students. In addition, teachers can create quizzes based on the information that was on the flashcards or flash card quizzes where it just tracks how much the user got correct or wrong while flipping through. This is an overall loved resource by teachers and students both because it is a free website that benefits the teachers accountability for the students retention of knowledge, and makes the students lives a little easier at the same time.

Mingle With A Kindle?

What is a Kindle?

Many people are not aware of the extent of functions that a Kindle offers its user. To begin, a Kindle e-book reader is produced by Amazon.com and allows users to shop for, download, browse and read e-books, newspapers  magazines, blogs, and other digital media through a wireless system.

A Kindle Fire is  a mini tablet computer version of the Kindle e-book reader. Unlike the Kindle e-book reader, the Kindle Fire also offers access to Amazon AppStore  streaming movies and TV shows, Kindle’s e-books and WiFi Internet acces.

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What are the Pro’s for a college student?

There are many benefits for paying the current price for a Kindle which is $200. First off, once you buy the Kindle the cost of the books are significantly less expensive than book stores or ordering online. There is also a dictionary that allows students to have quick and easy access to a dictionary, which students would be more likely to use than a paperback dictionary. Another task that is made easier with the Kindle is marking a text with annotations or underlining. The book marking, highlighting or notes on passages can also be transferred to a computer and printed out so that the students can refer to them in class.

Kindles clearly make things a lot easier for the student, especially in terms of portability. From personal experience I have realize how much easier it is to take my slender kindle in my backpack than it is to take 4 novels. At any given moment the students have access to a wide library and it takes a major stress off the students when they are trying to remember different books for different classes when they can just grab their Kindle instead.

What are the Con’s for a classroom?

The most obvious concern when it comes to purchasing the Kindle is whether the upfront fee is worth it, in addition to the cases for protection and the price of books on top of all of these additional charges. Another major disappointment for most is that there are no page numbers that are available for the reader when using a Kindle. The reason that this concerns most college students is because texts are often assigned in chapters, asked for reflections on certain pages, or given assignments for essays where students need to cite page numbers for quotes.

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Although the Kindle does offer options to take notes on passages and annotate a text the notes are not readily available in the margins but rather collect on a separate page. The reason that many college professors have a problem with this is because of lack of organization of ideas. There is also a slight issue with edition quality because texts that have many editions cause problems when students are not sure which edition to choose and what the difference is.

What are my suggestions?

I was personally against any form of tablet reading until I tried it for the first time. The reason I first tried reading from a tablet was not because I was curious, but because I wanted to read The Hunger Games Series so bad and was too impatient to wait on the list at the library but too cheap to buy the books, so I borrowed my friends Kindle.

The portability is was amazes me the most, my Kindle was carried with me everyone, even if I had no intentions to read it, I brought it for those moment that you wish you had your book. I would bring the Kindle to the gym with me, where flipping through and holding a novel has always been impossible for me.

With this said, I recommend trying out the Kindle and seeing what you think. I will admite that I once too, wanted to stick with my classic paper back, but eventually realized that the benefits of the Kindle outweigh the benefits of sticking to “the traditional way”.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle

http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/kindling-the-classroom/22949

Networking Your Way To Success

What is a PLN?

To begin, networking has been around since the beginning of time. When you learn something from someone else, whether it be your mother teaching you how to fold laundry or your teacher explain the scenic formula, both of these people become a part of your PLN. PLN stands for Personal Learning Network and addresses the information that people are able to bring you. In the digital world we live in today, PLNs have expanded from people and libraries to databases, social networking systems and so many other ways that technology can help us retrieve information.

 

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How can a PLN help in a classroom?

PLNs begin with the teacher developing their professional lives through the convient methods of technology. There are many options ranging from online conferences to twitter chats that allow teachers to learn from their peers. The significant of PLN to teachers is that there will be a place for educators to reflect on their practices, ask questions and give advice to others. The way that this helps the students is that the practices the teachers learn will be used through technology in their classroom.

Why isn’t every school on board?

Throughout educational history there has been a concrete method to the practice, such as multiple choice tests and lecture halls. The issue is that PLN is chalanging these practices and challenging the educators to move out of their comfort zones and challenge the system with determination for improvement and better success rates for student achievement.

Source: http://edupln.ning.com/

My First Radio Show!

For the past two weeks I have worked collaboratively with Cassie White and Stephanie Shannon to create a podcast that could be listened to as a radio show, which you can listen to here. My group met the first week and discussed the logistics such as the theme and points we wanted to hit throughout the show. As a group we decided that we wanted to do something that all college students could relate to and enjoy, which is how we came up with the theme based around the 90’s generation.

Once the theme was chosen and we came up with some topics that we would incorporate such as fashion trends, technology advances, sports news, popular toys, popular songs and celebrity scandals. Over the course of a week our group divvied up the work and researched the topics separately  I thought the idea of dividing the research so that we each focussed our attention to certain topics was very efficient. Not only did it save us time on research, but we were able to find interesting material.

Enough with the planning part, the process of making the radio show is when it really gets interesting! To begin, we used my Mac Lap Top and chose to make our podcast using GarageBand. It was the first time using this program for all of us, so we spent about an hour watching tutorials on YouTube about how to navigate the tools that GarageBand offers. To get started we used a USB plug in microphone and began to record in a quiet multimedia room. After a few minutes of recording, and ten minutes of trying to play around with the microphone we decided the room was causing the echo, not the actual microphone.

The microphone is what really caused frustration for our group while making this podcast. We used  a total of four different microphones throughout the entire radio show and sat in a total of four different locations to try to get the best sound quality. It just never seemed to work! I know it was not a lack of effort that caused the mediocre sound quality for our podcast but more of a lack of expertise.

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On a more positive note, one thing I think our group did really well on was transitions. I thought the choices of music clips or commercials that our group made and how we faded the sounds in and out turned out to be pleasing to the ear. One of my pet peeves is when music or sound effects are abrupt or don’t fade in and our because I think it sounds unprofessional, which I am glad we avoided.

Overall, I am thankful to have had an opportunity to experiment and produce a radio show using the podcast design on GarageBand. I think this experience has been rewarding in a sense that I have stepped out of my comfort zone with technology use, a habit and skill that I will have to use in my future.

Cellphones In Class

What’s the issue?

The issue is not hat students are technologically advanced, but the problem arises when teachers have 94% of their students using cellphones in the classroom. According to John Hardison, 94$% of students are using cellphones during class time. The problem is that teachers do not know how to handle this situation because there are too many students to punish. It is unrealistic to say that all cellphones will be confiscated by the teacher.

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So what’s the solution?

Hardison presents a solution to this problem by posing “44 ways to use smart-phones in class”. This article is a guide to teachers about how smart-phones can be incoporated in the classroom while also benefitting the students. Some of the best examples were for collaboration, where peer assessments  between the students would text revisions or constructive criticism.  Another example is for communication, where students could use Google Translate to break language barriers. There are also examples of how to create, coordinate spreadsheets or multimodal projects.

Sources:

http://www.teachthought.com/technology/44-better-ways-to-use-smartphones-in-the-classroom/

Bloom’s Taxonomy For Your iPad!

What is Idea Sketch?
Idea Sketch is an application for Apple products and is most commonly used on iPhones and iPads. The Itunes website describes Idea Sketch as an application that allows the user to “ draw a diagram, mind map, concept map or flowchart. Furthermore, Idea Sketch and take these brainstorming maps and convert them to outlines or an organized plan for a project or presentation. As one can see, the diagram below explains Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning for iPads, and the Idea Sketch application is found under  Understanding.

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What are some important features?

Basically, the application gives the user the tools either work independently collaboratively on an Idea to sketch and organize their thoughts to the extent that they desire. Idea Sketch is also virtually easy to use in terms of shapes, sizes, fonts and color themes, so comprehension between collaborators is not complex. A major asset of the application is the features that are easily comprehendible and are in locations that are obvious to the users.

Another significant feature of the application is the fact that the user can copy text from another app such as email, documents or a web page directly into the Idea Sketch that the use has created. I thought this was a very interesting part of the application because typically I find researching on my phone frustrating, because I have to screenshot the information rather than copying it somewhere else, which is clearly more of a hassle than Idea Sketch.

How can it help students?
This application can be very beneficial for students in terms of collaborative work. Students have busy and conflicting schedules and may not have time to meet with a classmate for a half hour to organize their outline for a project. Idea sketch solves this problem, and also gives students the convenience of doing their portion of the work on their own schedule. The students can access their Idea Sketch on any apple appliance at home, school or on the go, making their work that much easier and excuses more avoidable!

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What are some possible down sides?
The biggest downside to my knowledge is the fact that more feature can be added to the application, but only at an additional price. This makes the user skeptical if the application they are using is the best it can be since some features are missing. I can not help but wonder how many students would want to pay a fee for an application for class.

Another concern I had as a student was how in depth you can go on the outlining aspect. From research I only found pictures that showed up to two or three words in a bubble. As a student this made me skeptical about how useful the outlining would be. 

Want to try it out? 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idea-sketch/id367246522?mt=8

Sources:

http://appshopper.com/productivity/idea-sketch

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/08/the-top-educational-ipad-apps-every.html

 

Knocking Down School Walls Through Skype

What is Skype?

According to Education.Skype.com , Skype is a free and interactive way for teachers to meet new people, talk to experts, share ideas, and create earning experiences with teachers and students form across the world. Skype is an interactive software that allows users to make free voice calls over the internet and offers the option of a live video feed of the person or people on the other line.

How to use Skype In the Classroom

In the short video displayed above, schools in Nairobi, Kenya, and Austin, Texas demonstrate how different schools across the world collaborate on Skype to learn about nobelity. The basic goal of the Nobelity Project is to empower students to play a part to solve some of the worlds problems through collaborative learning. In this video, Carol Reese, a middle school teacher who has received many nominations and awards for her teaching practices, explains how her students take the “ultimate field trip” with Skype and how signing up to Skype allows for connections around the world.

What do the Students Have to Say?

By simply watching this video one can see the enthusiasm and eager energy that the students portray when they are given the opportunity to video-chat with students their own age from across the world. One student claims Skype is “much more intersting than a lecture in class, just sitting there looking at a chalkboard”. It is true that the interactive atmosphere of learning gains students attention and the students will be more willing to connect to another student than a textbook. Another student is shocked after learning about the Kenyan lifestyle, and how simular the students from Kenya are to the students in their own classroom in Texas, something they otherwise would not have learned through a textbook.

Why is it worth it?

It is clear that Skype offers opportunities to interact with learning that are otherwise impossible. Instead of simply reading from a textbook about a culture, the advanced technology of our world allows us to experience this through a conversation across a video phone call. Carol Reese states, “School hasn’t been about what happens within the four walls, its been about how we can knock the walls down”. This is a beautiful way to explain that students experience of school needs to be broaden the horizons of the adolescents, and Skype is a perfect way to do this.

It’s Simply SMART!

What Is The Hype With SMART Boards?

SMART Technologies was founded in 1987, creating the first interactive white board in 1991, and first large format interactive flat panel to have presence detection in 2012. According to SMART Technology, in 2011 SMART’s share in the interactive display product category was just over 45% globally.

Millions of students and teachers around the world use SMART Board interactive whiteboard to help improve effective teaching techniques and learning results from students. The SMART Board is a combination of a traditional white board and a computer, allowing teachers to write notes, erase, save and deliver dynamic lessons to an engaged class. 

What Are The Advantages?

There has been an abundance of research on SMART Boards and studies of the progress in classrooms with the new technology. Specifically, Dr. Mary Ann Bell, Assistant Professor of Library Science at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas defends the SMART Board on many accounts and with passionate enthusiasm.

Dr. Bell explains that SMART Boards are great for demonstrations, are great colorful tools that craft better responses from students, accommodates different learning styles, and is beneficial to all age groups of students. Dr. Bell actually lists thirteen numbered paragraphs outlining her defense for SMART Boards, but her basic argument surrounds the idea that the SMART Board is a versatile tool that is beneficial to all students based on their individual needs.  Image

 

Spread the Word!

It is clear that SMART Boards have potential to help various students in our future classrooms, and if we deny students the access to this effective learning style we will be tainting our responsibility as future educators. The world is becoming more diverse everyday, and SMART Boards can be the factor that acts as glue in our classrooms, bringing the individuals of our classroom together to form a community. What more could you ask for?

Sources:
http://smarttech.com/

http://teachers.net/gazette/JAN02/mabell.html