Saturday, January 25, 2014

Google Glass in Ed

I'm lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, very close to Google headquarters. A few months ago I watched a person wearing what seemed liked have of a pair of glasses. The frame was very thin and only one of the lenses was there, but very small. I asked what he was wearing and he told me that he was testing the prototype for Google called Glass. I suppose this is how people felt when they saw the first microwave. It looked foreign and unknown.

Fellow blogger Gary King wrote about the potential use of Google Glass in Education. He proposes that it could be used for:
  • Collaboration-recording conversations amongst two students
  • Video recording-see the world through the eyes of one person
  • Translator- quickly access the translation of a word in a Foreign Language class. However, as a Foreign Language Teacher myself, I find that this may be a problem. I don't always allow students to use a dictionary in class, because I want them to think and use the vocabulary they know.
  • Research- find information for an assignment or project. However, I wonder how user friendly it will be to search and use information or if it will be the equivalent of using a tablet for just a quick search.
  • Maps-talking about a given country in class, you can easily access the appropriate map or even with Google Street View, easily show what the location looks like.
I wonder how comfortable they will be to wear for long periods of time. I'm not a fan of having to wear something on my face. What happens with the people who already wear glasses, do they wear these on top?

Do you think Google Glass has potential for Education? What would you do with it?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Make your whiteboard into a smartboard for cheap

Not all schools have the budget to buy a smart board. A co-worker of mine recently discovered how she could make her whiteboard into a smart board. You'll need a computer, projector, a pointer, a Wii Remote and a free software called Smoothboard. You can also make the pointer with an old dry erase marker and something reflective for the tip.

 It does take some adjustments to make sure everything is lined-up properly, but it provides a cost effective solution. Smoothboard Air software

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Should Social Media be used in the classroom?

Every school I have ever worked for has had a strong policy not only against the use of Social Media, but also the use of cell phones in the classroom. In fact, most school districts block such sites for fear of having the students use school equipment to log onto social media sites. What are schools really afraid of? Is it the inability to control what students are saying? Is it the inability to track and approve commentary before it is shared with the world?
Does social media have an educational use in the classroom? Is all social media acceptable to use in the classroom or should only certain ones be allowed? Does Twitter pose more educational value than Facebook?
Teachers that are using Twitter in the classroom are using it to remind students of upcoming assignments and tests. They are using Twitter as a structured assignment where they respond to a given prompt and collaborate virtually with not only their classmates, but other people around the world.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Blended Learning

The Diocese that I work for recently created a program called the Katharine Drexel Initiative. It's purpose has been to use technology as a method of increasing student engagement and learning. One of the key factors of this initiative was the use of blended learning. "Blended learning is an approach that blends individualized, online learning with face-to-face classroom instruction". The initiative started with implementation of blended learning in 6 schools. The idea is that individualized use of technology will allow not only the low achieving students to succeed, but also the high achieving. Therefore, changing how we teach in the classroom.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Teaching trouble-shooting skills

I recently had my middle school students work on an internet scavenger hunt. They were given a paper with three websites and three questions that they had to answer based on the information they found on these websites.

 First, I was amazed with how many of them did not know how to type in a web address. They would type in half of the address and then raise their hands up in the air in despair and say "it's broken", "it doesn't work". I went around and checked what they were doing, and sure enough, they had not typed in all of the web address or typed it in incorrectly. How is that these students did not know how to fix the problem? Well, it seems that they are use to being given web addresses in hyperlinked form and did not have the experience of having to type it in.

Second, I've seem the students enlarge or decrease the screen and not know how to restore it. How is this possible? Well, many of them spend more time working on tablets than they do on pc's.

Third, I had one student forget his email password and again, raise his hands up in the air and not know what to do. I politely suggested he find a way to solve the problem. He starred at the screen and after a few moments he had no idea what to do. I then suggested he click on the forgot my password option and follow to the prompts. I asked him if he had ever used that password retrieval process, and he said no. He said his parents don't let him access any social media and he doesn't use a computer at home.

I find all these problems both troubling and interesting. 21st generation students doesn't necessarily mean that they are proficient in working with all media types. Their proficiency highly depends on their exposure to various types of internet and computer activities. Parents that are overly protecting their kids from technology are also harming their skill development. As teachers, we need to not only teach them how to trouble-shoot tech problems, but also teach them how to be critical thinkers and find the solutions for themselves.