Tag Archives: Tech Tools

3 Steps to Effective EdTech Implementation

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By Guest Blogger Jessica Sanders, Director of Social Outreach, Learn2Earn

EdTech implementation: the phrase alone makes the process of bringing technology into your classroom sound daunting and stressful. Luckily, what you see isn’t always what you get, and this process can be smooth and stress-free if you look at the big picture, take your time, and remember to be flexible.

Use these three simple tips to take the nerves out of making your classroom future ready.

  1. Look at the Bigger Picture

Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” – Bill Gates

 It’s important to remember that technology will merely facilitate to your big-picture plan in a way that engages your students and gets them excited about learning. Tools need to supplement your lessons, not the other way around.

Before choosing any tools, answer these questions:

  • What aspects of your curriculum would benefit most from the addition of technology?
  • What are your year-long goals for these students? How does technology fit with those goals?
  • What are Common Core implementation issues that could be solved with technology for you?

Other technical questions to ask yourself:

  • What equipment do I have access to? A computer lab, iPads for all the students?
  • Is there Wi-Fi access in the school? Is it reliable?
  • Will my students be able to access these tools at home or just in the classroom?
  1. Take Your Time

After answering the previous questions you can start your research. Begin browsing apps by genre (Math, Reading), pricing (free, fee-based) or style (gamified, image-focused). You can also browse lists. A few good ones are:

10 Teacher Tools to Techify Your Classroom

Interactive Web Tools for Educators

10 Tech Tools to Engage Students

Once you’ve chosen a few tools to pursue, it’s time to experiment. Spend time learning how it works, and consider how your students will use it in the classroom.

Ask yourself:

  • Will it take them a long time to learn?
  • Will I have to spend a lot of extra time managing it?
  • Will it make me more efficient?

You may love every tool you test—but that doesn’t mean you need to bring them into the classroom all at once. In fact, this may be stressful for you and your students. Choose just one to start with, and once you and your students have mastered that tool, consider adding a new one to your roster.

  1. Be Flexible

 The first few days, even weeks, of using a new tool can be trying. You and your students are getting to know how it works, deciding where it fits in the context of everything else you’re trying to accomplish, and more. During this period, you need to be flexible with time, patience and students. Remember:

Something will go wrong: Sometimes, even the smallest mishap can throw you off. Prepare for this by considering all the things that might not work—students aren’t interested, some students aren’t successful with the tool, it stops working, your Wi-Fi is down—and have a backup plan.

Students might know better than you: Your students have been raised with technology, and know the ins and outs of many programs. Accept their advice if you’re unsure about something; this may be a time when you can learn from them—a moment that empowers them to be leaders.

Bringing new tools into the classroom doesn’t need to be an arduous or stressful task. These tools can make your students more engaged and you more efficient, if you take your time considering what works and what doesn’t.

Look at the bigger picture, test the tools you like, and don’t forget to be patient: anything new takes time to understand and manage, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll see the time was worth the outcome.

Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, an online fundraising platform that allows students to raise money by reading books. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to social@learn2earn.org.

DIgital Learning Day is February 5th

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Digital Learning Day is next Wednesday, February 5th. The goal of Digital Learning Day is to give every child the opportunity “to learn in a robust digital environment everyday”.


A virtual conference and live webcasts will be held from 11 AM to 4 PM EST, and hosted from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Here’s where you can register. The conference will highlight effective use of digital learning, with topics including:

  • Lesson plans, games
  • Live chats with experts
  • Interactive polls of the audience
  • Informational videos on demand
  • Virtual trade show

The event will include leaders from government, education leadership and corporations active in the field of education, plus executives from major education organizations. And an exciting “Power Panel” will be moderated by Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour.

There are hundreds of organizations and corporations involved with Digital Learning Day. Major corporate partners include AT&T, Intel, McGraw-Hill and Microsoft, among others. The national core partners are listed here. There are new partnerships with the NEA and the National PTA.

Each of the 50 states in the U.S. is also hosting its own statewide event.

Here’s one teacher’s experience with digital learning and flipping his classroom during the past year. He’s had great results even though his class has a large number of students new to the U.S.

You can learn all about Digital Learning Day here. Don’t miss the video highlights for this year’s event and from the 2012 and 2013 events, found here.

Girls and STEM: Bias begins with Toddlers?

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Even when girls and boys demonstrate similar actual competence levels in math, during the early school years, boys are more confident about their math skills. Already by kindergarten, boys have more interest in pursuing math learning than do girls.

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STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related jobs are some of the best jobs out there, and increasingly important in our technology-driven economy. But the percentage of women in many STEM jobs remains very low. Only about 1/4 of STEM jobs in the U.S. are filled by women. Women’s share of computer jobs has actually been falling in recent years. At present, only 18% of U.S. computer science majors are women.

According to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, women in STEM professions earn 33% more than those in other fields.

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It’s generally understood that by school age, girls receive less encouragement in math and science pursuits than do boys, from both parents and teachers. What’s interesting is that it now seems this bias starts from a very early age, less than the age of 2 years!

In a study entitled “Gender Biases in Early Number Exposure to Preschool-Aged Children”, published in 2011 in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, researchers at the University of Delaware found that mothers spent fully twice as much time talking to their sons about numbers and numeric concepts as they did with their daughters! The average age of the children in the study was only 22 months, for both the boys and the girls.

Here’s a related set of resources on Curriki – Math for Girls. This link includes a series of videos featuring women working in mathematics and presenting pieces of math that excited them when they were in middle and high school.

Help girls realize that math and sciences education is not just for the boys. Even if they don’t end up pursuing STEM careers, there is a lot of useful and interesting knowledge to be gained in studying math, science and engineering topics. The use of math in traditionally non-STEM careers, such as finance and marketing, is only increasing. And maybe they are better at math than they think they are!

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jpinto/MathforGirls

You’ll also find other resources at this link including profiles of women in Math, and in STEM careers in general.

References:

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/09/10/2599491/women-stem/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alicia-chang/bridging-the-gender-gap-encouraging-girls-in-stem_b_4508787.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/mothers-talk-less-to-young-daughters-about-math/?_r=0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_11rwb4vEc#t=40 – Girls in STEM: A New Generation of Women in Science

Dumb Phones Become Smart Textbooks

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

In the Philippines, very few students can afford tablets or smartphones. In fact even in Manila only about 10% or so of all mobile phones are smartphones and those are mainly in the hands of adults, of course. Families generally have older style mobile phones used mostly for texting.

Students also typically carry a heavy load of textbooks to and from school each day. What can be done to move toward digital learning and to alleviate the physical burden of textbooks?

The SMART Communications telecoms provider in the Philippines, together with advertising agency DM9, has initiated a campaign known as Smart Txtbks to place textbook materials into an SMS format, residing on the SIMS of old analog mobile phones. So now the “dumb” phone becomes an e-textbook, acquiring smarts. Phones are upgraded from texting to textbooks!

The campaign is active at a number of schools and has helped improve both attendance and test scores. It is now expanding with more subject disciplines being added, and spreading across additional schools the Philippines.

Watch a short video on this fascinating digital learning effort here:

(If you can’t see the video in your browser, then click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nqhdq76YXJc )

And here’s an article on the project:

http://www.techinasia.com/textbooks-on-feature-phones-boost-education-in-philippines/

Open educational resources are very well suited to this kind of solution. Because OER materials such as those found on Curriki are open source licensed, they can be modified and reformatted as needed, in order to adapt to different educational needs and different devices and formats. They also can be translated to different languages. We applaud this innovative campaign, and encourage its growth. And we stand ready to supply OER materials to programs of this type.

We also send our condolences and heartfelt concern to those impacted by the Haiyan typhoon which affected so much of the Philippines these past 2 days.

Getting the Most out of Technology

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A recent article from the NY Times discussed the use of computer technology in schools. The question posed is: are we really making the most of the technology already deployed? A survey found that, in many cases, computers were being used in mathematics simply to drill questions and answers. The article is here. It notes that “the nonprofit Center for American Progress found that middle school math students more commonly used computers for basic drills and practice than to develop sophisticated skills.”

At Curriki we all come from the IT industry, and we know that the potential of technology is much greater than usage of computers in a fashion that is twenty five years behind the times. This is why we provide a wide variety of free, open source, K-12 focused educational resources, that often make significant use of technology. For example, there are over 1300 mathematics related videos at www.curriki.org.

As another important example, we have been developing complete subject curricula that are project-oriented and adhere to Common Core State Standards.

We have already released the free Curriki Algebra 1 course, which you can find on the Curriki site here. It consists of 5 units aligned to the Common Core. Each of these units culminates in a project that utilizes mastery of conceptual understanding taught in the individual lessons.

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And we have announced a free, online, project-based Curriki Geometry course. This is under development with support from AT&T and will be released in the autumn of this year. Here is the announcement. The course will be structured based on the six Common Core High School Geometry topics, organized in six units including: (1) Congruence; (2) Similarity, Right Triangles, & Trigonometry; (3) Circles; (4) Expressing Geometric Properties with Equations; (5) Geometric Measurement & Dimension; and (6) Modeling with Geometry.

Please take a look at the Curriki Algebra 1 course, and stay tuned for the Curriki Geometry course release this autumn.

Technology and Learning Guides from Edudemic

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Edudemic, an educational technology web site, has produced a very nice set of guides for a set of topics in technology and learning for teachers. These can be found at http://www.edudemic.com/guides/

The covered topics in the current collection include:

  • Twitter
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • Copyright and Fair Use
  • Google Glass
  • Badges in Education
  • The Library of Congress
  • Keeping Students Safe Online
  • Choosing the Best Digital Content*
  • Digital Scavenger Hunts
  • Pinterest in the Classroom

* Please think of Curriki when you are choosing digital content and other OER materials. We have close to 50,000 resources on Curriki!

The guides are no more than few pages in length each, immediately useful and to the point. For example, the Twitter guide has a great list of hashtags you can use in your tweets related to education topics, or just to interpret what others are tweeting. Below is an infographic for popular education-related hashtags.

Edudemic say they plan to provide more guides soon. These 10 guides are definitely worth checking out!

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Smartphones in the Classroom

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Is there a role, or more properly stated, what is the role for smartphones and tablets such as the iPad in the classroom? A recent report on National Public Radio in the U.S. looked into the increasing usage of mobile devices in support of learning in classroom settings.

You can access the related blog, and the audio and transcript of the report, at n.pr/Py5ryu. The report notes that:

Allowing mobile technology in class has an ‘inevitable march of progress’ feel to it, like when calculators were first allowed. And in classrooms around the country, this change is already occurring.

As the photo suggests, change is is already occurring around the world, in this case Korea. The government in Thailand has purchased almost a million tablets for elementary school students.

Here’s a list of 10 North American K-12 schools allowing smartphones in the classroom. For example, one district in North Carolina allows students to use mobile devices in their algebra and other math courses, for calculation, for accessing math instruction videos on the web (think Khan academy and other instructional videos found on Curriki) and for other course-related purposes. Students there are reporting greater confidence in their math skills and more than half are considering careers in math-related fields. In another district in North Carolina, high school students with smartphone access scored 25% better in their end-of-year algebra exam than students not using smartphones in class.

And here’s a blog at Teachhub that discusses various ways in which smartphones and other mobile devices can be used effectively. These techniques include recording lectures, digitally delivering materials and useful apps such as Dropbox for sharing files.

Curriki supports the appropriate use of these devices in order to enhance learning, including by students in the classroom, and of course our substantial library of open educational resources is available for access by smartphones and tablet computers. This includes Curriki’s recently introduced open source Algebra 1 course.

We would be interested to hear your feedback and experiences regarding the successes and challenges you are seeing with student use of smartphones and tablets in your classrooms.