Monday, March 28, 2016

Free Technology for Teachers

I am not necessarily a fan of free tech tools. Too often they are limited in ability, poorly supported, or trials to entice you to buy a pricier item. I take my job seriously and if I need good tools, I want them to work properly. If I have to pay for them, then it is because I value them and their developers.

That said, I checked out the website for the proposed speaker for SIDLIT 2016. Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers is a blog that hits the trifecta of being well-written, well-designed and up-to-date. The content targets a WIDE range of subjects and ages as well. As who is to say that an item targeted at high schools won't work for an incoming college freshman?

I also appreciate his style - a trendy, breezy one, but one that works well for online readers, using lots of short lists and chunked paragraphs. For a busy professional who wants to scan headings before digging deeper  - good reading.

Put it on a feed of your choice (RSS, Pinterest, Google+ etc) or do the old-fashioned thing and bookmark the site. Regardless, this is a site that instructors from all disciplines can dip into to find that tool to make your life and those of your students a bit smoother.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Crash Course!

I found Hank and John Green a few weeks ago as I was developing a workshop for using humor online. They are well known vloggers who have a TON of videos out there. Most notable for higher education is the series Crash Course.
These are 5-7 minute videos on a wide range of subjects appropriate to many gen ed courses. Not that you can substitute any of these for more direct approaches but they make a humorous break, particularly for intimidating or otherwise dreaded subject matter. Subjects include: philosophy, US history, World History, government, economics, chemistry and anatomy and physiology.
This guys come across so completely laid back and knowledgeable, that they make for great fun even if you aren't taking notes for that next test. Reminds me of something that the Mental Floss folks might do.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hear this

Free Sound Effects! 
I was browsing some of my old Bookmarks and found this site that has free sound effects. The company appears to be a professional production company that has been around for a while.
There is quite a range of effects, categories, and formats. You are no longer stuck with whatever the tool you are using has to offer, or spending a lot of time surfing for the sound of a magic wand, or someone clearing their throat, or an inkjet printer, or falling coins...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Drive Instruction With Digital Badges

Is digital badging the future of digital learning?

Currently, I'm developing a professional development course titled, Gamify Your Canvas Course. This course walks faculty through the process of creating their own digital badges for their students. I'm doing this because I often find myself motivated by a simple token or digital badge. I think of this as the trophy room on the PS4 or Xbox. Most games are filled with rewards and digital tokens you can unlock.

The big questions will be, Will this gamification of courses catch on with online faculty? Do employers care if job applicants have digital badges? This article highlights that digital badging should start in professional development first. What are your thoughts?

Digital badging have 5 features:

  1. Badging requires demonstrating understanding and implementation of a target content or skill. 
  2. Badging provides recognition and motivation. 
  3. Badging allows for knowledge circulation among teachers.
  4. Badging can be tracked and assessed.
  5. Badging is a scalable enterprise.


Monday, February 1, 2016

TED - Ed

I checked our archives and I am surprised that none of us have addressed this intriguing project of TED initiative (which was not founded by some guy named Ted)

"TED-Ed is a free educational website for teachers and learners. We are a global and interdisciplinary initiative with a commitment to creating lessons worth sharing. Our approach to education is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas.

Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED's, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student."

The lessons use short videos and animations, some from TED talks, some from YouTube, some from other sources. Browse the site and you can find that most lessons contain prompts to
Watch (content)
Think (quizzes)
Dig deeper (additional resources)
Discuss (closed and open discussions)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Newton's Law in Education

I find it amazing to work in an environment that can change so many people. Education is a great field where one can truly have an impact.

"In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton described his laws of universal gravitation and motion in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. While he was clearly contemplating something other than interactions between teachers and students, his Second Law (Law of Motion) posits that Force equals Mass times Acceleration (F = M x A).

With a generous bit of literary license, we can borrow from Sir Isaac and posit that in terms of student outcomes, Achievement equals Quality Instruction times Innovation (A = QI x I).

The impact of a good teacher is profound. It trumps just about every other variable influencing schooling. No one questions the significance of a skilled teacher who knows both their content and their kids well. Tracy Kidder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, wrote in 1990 that “Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and over the years they redirect hundreds of lives.” I think that he got it right."

Full Article:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Google Spreadsheet tips

I am such a wimp when it comes to using spreadsheets. Not that I don't love the organization, and potential. It just never occurs to me to find them useful.
Here is a set of Gooru tips that *might* inspire me, and maybe you too, to do some cool things with Google Spreadsheets.
5 Little Known Google Sheets Functions Someone Uses Everyday

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Are ‘Learning Styles’ a Symptom of Education’s Ills?

Shocker Alert! 

The NY Times reveals "learning styles" as a largely baseless theory.

"Do [your students] like to learn by seeing, hearing or doing?
"According to some education researchers, it may not matter. They say the idea of teaching according to students’ “preferred learning styles” — auditory, visual or kinesthetic — has little to no empirical backing. But although criticism may be denting the idea’s popularity, it still persists — which may say something larger about the way teachers today are trained."
Read here for the full article.