This page will be where I post relevant articles and links to sites for parents, staff, teachers and administrators as they relate to how schools are using technology in the classroom. It's great to stay abreast of how innovators are using new technologies to impart knowledge to our youth. Let's get inspired, give kudos, suggest our own ideas, or offer constructive criticisms—as long as respectful communication exists, we're creating the right environment for our kids to learn about their ever-evolving tech-focused world.
Technology in the Classroom
This post isn't really about technology in the classroom, but how teenagers may be using the internet to bully people they know totally anonymously. The Common Sense article I'm referencing discusses how an online tool, Formspring, has created an virtual environment where kids can be completely anonymous (read, "consequence-free"), when making disparaging comments about each other. There are some good things about the OUSD's firewall . . . that site among other social networking sites, is blocked on the Hillcrest campus. Read the article to learn more about this social media site and how you can help your student avoid such problems when accessing the internet from home, public hot spots or friend's houses.
This article discusses the major obstacles found in schools and includes survey input from almost 300,000 students, 43,000 parents, 35,000 teachers, 2000 librarians and 3500 administrators, from both private and public schools across the country about how they're presently using--and how they'd LIKE to be using--technology for learning.
Even as the Hillcrest IT/Computer teacher, I am guilty of not using technology to any kind of limit-pushing point. Though I'm on FB, I don't yet Twitter. In the classroom, I've covered pretty standard applications and, Digital White Boards aside, have not really pressed the envelope with getting cutting technologies discussed for implementation on campus. Now granted some of those reasons are due to the financial climate while others have to do with "free time" (an oxymoron that I'm learning in this first year of teaching, is probably well understood by most teachers) . Even so, in this position I feel it my obligation to share what I do learn about Information Technology and how it affects K-12 Education as we currently experience it.
Last night I spent some time online seeking something to write for this posting area. I came across the concept of Personal Learning Environments > Personal Learning Networks. The concepts are not "yesterday-new," (emerging I think around 2008 or so as it relates to K-12 education in the states), but new to me as I'm fairly new to teaching technology. On one site discussing the definition (which I'll leave you to discover with a few links below), I appreciated one reader comment that stated: "We've always had [them]. We just didn't call them that."
Well with the rapid pace of technology evolution and emerging social network tools, I started to get excited about what I was reading, wanting very much to FIND the time to delve into developing mine, and exploring many of the (often free) online tools and apps that are out there for teachers to improve their craft by incorporating the latest and greatest technology has to offer (listing some below). I think it's going to take multiple parents who take time to understand the importance of converging technologies into their digital-native-child's school experience in order to ensure her future occupational success, to start nudging teachers to embrace the new ways of learning. So if any of you are reading this (?!), please take some time here, then spread the word and do so!
For a great overall concept of what a PLE can be from the eyes of a 7th grade science student visit "Welcome to my PLE!" (just don't try on campus since the district blocks YouTube--a typical concept developing PLEs/PLNs butts heads with).
Personal Learning Networks for Educators - A great intro to encourage teachers into using and converging technologies into their work. (Again, view from home as it's on YouTube).
7 Fantastic Free Social Media Tools for Teachers - Great intro to some free apps to get started moving away from the antiquated industrial educational model . . . this blog post led me to SymbalooEDU.com as shown in the first link above.
SymbalooEDU - Totally awesome concept, got me really excited about the possibilities . . .
Other apps/sites which teachers may already be familiar with . . . (I haven't checked them all out in depth but found them initially compelling to post)
Moodle - A course management system helping teachers create quality online courses
PBWorks (in Education) - Online educational workspaces that are transforming teaching
Teacher Lingo - An educational community to connect teachers from every level
Atomic Learning - training and resources to ensure student success in 21s Century
Instapaper - A simple tool to save web pages for reading later
Evernote - Capture anything, access anywhere, find things fast
Posterous - Privately (or publicly) share photos, videos, ideas via email, mobile, web (free).
Google Wave - Communicate and collaborate in real-time (with chatting, video, photos, links)
HootSuite - A social media dashboard
Blackboard - Building a better education experience - online
OK, that's the longest entry you'll see from me. I'm building my PLN, clearly! Think I'll create a Teacher Technology Resource section to the left with all these links listed so that they're always available to interested teachers, not buried in this post.
We've already become skeptical of sites like Facebook that happily take our information and share it with others in order to build their business (especially if you're not aware of security settings and how to use them properly); so how do you feel about the latest trend of games traditionally marketed to children appearing on Facebook (Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail)? Check out the article on Common Sense, then take a moment and read some of the comments (by parents, IT instructors, etc.) . . . your comments are welcome here below as well.
A Digital Education Blog's editors list what they believe to be the five biggest educational - technology ("ed-tech") trends of the past year. Included are Blended Learning (a mix of traditional brick-and-mortar schools with online learning opportunities), and Mobile Learning . . . there's room for comments at the end of the article. (Here too.)
In this Common Sense Media article, parents can learn about the various ways social media companies can track you or your children through gaming (and other) app interfaces available on cell phones. The accuracy and availability of such personalized information as your child's whereabouts at any one time can be useful for you as a wary parent, but require an awareness of security settings to keep that information from everyone out there!
I'm a member of http://sfnewtech.com/ and I just read about one of the latest speakers for an upcoming demo show, Quizlet, which is the largest and fastest growing educational flashcards site on the web. They provide powerful online study tools and games to millions of students.If you want to help your child create good study habits and learn more quickly in a way that engages the digital youth of today, check out http://wwww.quizlet.com . You can create a set of flash cards for free, but if you want to use the more advanced version that allows you to upload images to one side of the digital flashcard, then you do have to upgrade to a paid version.
I'm posting this article, by author Justin Reich, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education who is focused on helping teachers and schools discover the answers to the question, "Why Change?" when it comes to new media and the age-old profession of teaching. As the co-director of EdTechTeacher.org and project manager of the Digital Collaborative Learning Communities project, Justin has traveled the country interviewing teachers and conducting student focus groups in the effort to identify the needs arising in the modern day classroom.
According to a new survey from Cisco Systems, more than half of education technology officials in K-12 schools and higher-education institutions said they would buy video technology in the next year to make their schools “more effective and efficient” and better prepare students for the workforce . . . Read the whole article.
This is a quick post with a link for parents on the go who'd like a quick breakdown of things to consider about their kids' safety when logging on to social networks: http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/net-cetera-socializing-online.aspx
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