12 ed-tech tools to try this term

The school year is in full swing, so it’s time to kick things into high gear and push learning to a whole new level. Online technology tools can be an incredible asset in the classroom, enhancing the learning experience for students and making the teaching experience more pleasant and less stressful. Check out these ed-tech tools that you should definitely consider bringing into the classroom this term.

Sight Words
Sight words are those words that a child should memorize in order to help them learn how to read and write. And, the most effective way to learn those words is through repetition using flashcards and word-focused games. Sight Words helps you to supplement phonics learning through a series of lessons, flashcards and games.

Just because you’re doing a quiz, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun while you’re doing it. And, on Quizalize, every quiz you find has been created to be both educational and fun. Teams of students can join forces in competition, while a live dashboard allows teachers to see each student’s strengths and who needs the most help from you.…Read More

Are digital badges the new ‘disruptive’ technology?

Movie over, iPads! Digital badges could revolutionize education, thanks to a new standard.

education-badgesOver the last year, the concept of digital badges has been gaining momentum in states and school district initiatives across the country. But thanks to a new standard, emerging technology experts are calling digital badges the next ‘disruptive’ technology—not only for students, but for teachers and administrators, as well.

Digital badges are a digital credential that represents an individual’s skills, interests, and achievements, and can convey academic content knowledge, as well as 21st century competencies that cannot be measured by traditional assessments. They have recently gained traction in state education, educator professional development, and initiatives, thanks to clearer definitions and more companies and nonprofits creating digital badge projects.

But just like completion of an online course once came under intense scrutiny for lack of credentials, those wary of digital badges wonder: Without a uniform standard, how can digital badges be taken seriously?…Read More

Creating videos for flipped learning

Learn how to create education videos for students through vodcasting, a cheap and easy way to flip classes.

education-videoIt’s one thing to tell educators to make videos of their lessons. It’s another thing to know where to start. But thanks to the advice of a veteran tech-savvy teacher and administrator, “vodcasting” can help educators create education videos for students without hassle and for little-to-no cost.

In a recent edweb.net webinar, “Motivating Students to Communicate through Vodcasting,” veteran educator Shannon Holden discussed how he has created video and taught interested educators how to create one of the key components to flipped learning.

Flipped learning, or delivering instruction outside the classroom using video, has been a growing trend in districts over the past year. Proponents say flipped learning frees class time, allowing students to engage in hands-on learning, collaborate with their peers, and evaluate their progress. Teachers can provide one-on-one assistance, guidance, and inspiration.…Read More

New: Free social writing platform for teachers and students

A free resource for social writing and online learning offers new tools for students and teachers who want to use safe social networking, group learning projects, and real-time formative assessments.

Wikispaces Classroom is the first streamlined platform from Wikispaces that is optimized for mobile devices to help meet the needs of students and teachers.

“We have always focused on helping teachers and students succeed by actively listening and giving them the tools they want,” said Adam Frey, co-founder of Wikispaces, in a statement. “We have taken everything we’ve learned from our users and created Wikispaces Classroom.”…Read More

Social networking on the rise for educators

Facebook remains the most popular social networking tool among educators.

Educators’ use of social networking sites has seen a large jump since 2009, according to a new report that surveyed educators’ membership, use, privacy practices, and other social networking habits.

The report, A Survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking, Online Communities, and Web 2.0 Tools 2012, was conducted by MMS Education and sponsored by edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data.

“As part of edWeb’s participation in Connected Educator Month, we offered to update our 2009 survey to see how participation in social networking has changed in three years. We know from our work in the field that it’s increasing, but it’s great to have concrete data to look at and to see how participation varies by age, by job function, by context,” said Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of edWeb.net.…Read More

16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest [INFOGRAPHIC]

Teachers are known for their organizational skills, so chances are they’ll love Pinterest‘s intuitive and logical design, Mashable reports. The social network’s user experience has helped it earn a top spot among today’s most popular social networks. Therefore, we predict that teachers will give it a gold star, too. Our friends at OnlineUniversities.com have put together the following infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation…

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Skype in the classroom: Should teachers use video-chatting as an educational tool?

Many students don’t like sitting in class for hours on end — lectures can be boring and hard to focus on, The Mash reports. Students thrive in many different ways and one of those ways may be in an environment they’re comfortable in. So what if classrooms allowed students to Skype into class rather than actually learn in a classroom with an instructor present? Some schools already do. Video-chatting allows students to be in a different learning environment, which can benefit them in so many ways. They’d have several different resources at the drop of a hat. Let’s say, for example, a teacher is explaining a theory using context the student may not be familiar with. The student could pull it up on their computer without interrupting the class, use whatever books or other resources they may have in their classroom, or even easily go down the hall and ask a friend explain it to them…

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Digital textbooks get a boost with new offerings

Discovery Education expects to release other subjects and grades levels of Techbooks in the future.

Apple recently made a splash when it unveiled its iBookstore, featuring digital textbooks for high school math and science education from McGraw-Hill and others. Now, Discovery Education has given digital textbooks another jolt with the release of its own high school science offering—and a middle school social studies product as well.

Discovery Education’s new “Techbooks” expand on an instructional delivery model that Discovery launched for K-8 science in 2010. Much more than just digitized versions of static textbooks, the Techbooks include videos, embedded assessments, and other interactive features that leverage the power of the internet, the company says.

With the Techbooks, “we started from scratch with new content, interface, and tools designed to specifically address learning objectives from a digital perspective,” said Kelli Campbell, senior vice president of global product and content strategy for Discovery Education. “Because we didn’t have to build an experience that mirrored a print publication, we were freed from the linear page format, which allowed us to build a platform specifically designed to promote inquiry-based learning. We developed the Techbook platform so that our chosen instructional model guides the path instead of a page.”…Read More

New app tells teachers when students are confused

Much has been said about how connected devices, whether in college lecture halls or elementary school classrooms, can distract students. GoSoapBox aims to show how such devices can also help keep class on track, Mashable reports. The startup, which is launching Tuesday, makes a web-based app that serves as a constant back-channel to classroom discussion. Students can use it to post questions about the lecture, vote up questions their classmates have already submitted, set their statuses to “confused,” and contribute to polls and questions posted by the teacher.
“With the app, students are less likely to get distracted because they’re staying engaged with the material,” says GoSoapBox co-founder and CEO John Pytel, who says he got the idea while attending large lectures at the University of Michigan. “The questions they have are getting answered.”
To use the service, teachers pay $15 per month or $90 per year, and 1,300 of them have already enrolled in the free beta program…

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AUPs shape Web 2.0 use, guidelines

CoSN's guidelines are a resource for district leaders rewriting Web 2.0 policies.

As educational technology transforms teaching and learning, many districts are finding that once-solid acceptable use policies (AUPs) must be updated to reflect students’ and teachers’ increasing use of Web 2.0 technologies and other digital media tools.

To that end, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released an AUP guide to help school district leaders rethink their internet use policies and how educational technology can best be used to help students get the most out of their time in school.

The new guide addresses the following questions:…Read More

Social media monitoring services stir debate

Some companies offer services that update parents when children post unsafe information online.

As cyber bullying and inappropriate online behaviors become more commonplace in today’s technology-rich world, some companies are offering services that alert parents when their children are at risk or are misbehaving on a social network. Critics say the services amount to spying, but supporters say they open lines of communication and help children understand what is and is not acceptable online.

The services typically work like this: A parent opens a Facebook account and runs the monitoring service as an application. Once the parent and child are “friends” on Facebook, the parent invites the child to run the monitoring service as an application on the child’s own Facebook account.

When the child accepts the application, the parent is notified and able to view their child’s Facebook activities only when the service detects pre-selected words or phrases that the parent deems worrisome or inappropriate. Some services also send notifications when children establish new friendships on Facebook, or when their children are tagged in photos on the site.…Read More