Sixth Anniversary of Teaching & Technology

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of this blog. When I first started the blog, it was supposed to be a documentation of my journey of becoming a teacher, as I had just decided to go back and get my master’s degree. Therefore, I set the blog up as a simple self-hosted blog on my portfolio website.

Six year’s later, Teaching & Technology has its own domain and is less about my personal journey towards the education field and more about education and education technology. I am happy with the direction and momentum of this blog. I do wish I had more time to write, but life happens.

Let’s break down some fast facts and stats:

 

Now, a list for some of my personal favorite posts (in no particular order):

Oh there are tons more, but it’s safe to say, if it looks like I took a lot of time to investigate something and have several citations…I enjoyed writing the post.

So, Happy Sixth Birthday to Teaching & Technology! Let me know what your favorite posts are in the comments.

Help Me Out: Tell Me What You Want to Read About

I apologize for the lack of posts on Teaching & Technology. I can give you a list of excuses, but they would be simply that, excuses.

Let’s review them, shall we?

  1. I was busy with work
  2. I wanted to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix
  3. I wanted to relax and spend time with friends/family
  4. I was on vacation
  5. I didn’t have anything to write about
  6. I felt I was posting too many guest posts and infographics and not enough of my own content

See, excuses? And in fact, they are the same excuses that teachers hear from students. Okay, maybe not the guest post/infographics excuse, but the rest of them, teachers hear time and time again.

In fact, I even thought about going on hiatus and not writing for a while. Except…I’ve kind of already done that. It’s been about 4 months since I’ve written anything. Sure, I’ve read books and I could have published reviews on them. I could have started a new section and publish reviews on movies that were inspired by books. I could have downloaded random apps on my iPad and published reviews. I could have read the hundreds of emails send by the Department of Education or other organizations and wrote what I thought. I could have gone through my feeds on any number of social media sites and re-posted infographics.

But I didn’t.

When I really think about why I haven’t published anything it all comes back to a lack of inspiration. There was a time when I would stay up too late to finish a blog post. There was a time I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and type out the outrage that I felt. I don’t know where that inspiration has run off to, but I’m going to find it. And you’re going to help me.

See, just like a teacher who asks the students what they want to learn about, I’m going to do the same with you, readers.

So tell me, in the blog comments, on the Facebook page, Tumblr page, etc., what content do you want to see on Teaching & Technology? Do you have an iPad app that you are dying to get a review of? A book you want an opinion on? A movie you’d like me to watch and review? A burning question you want answered (with research!)? What interests you in the field of education and/or ed tech?

I’m also going to be super strict on guest posting. I’ve noticed the majority of people submitting guest posts just want to post something to get a link back to their site. I’m all for giving someone a platform to publish, but I’ve been less than thrilled with the content of the submissions. One even tried to sell me on the benefits of cheating…but it wasn’t satirical!

I look forward to your comments and inspiration.

Great Scott, Future Day is Here!

Great Scott! Today is the future day from Back to the Future! Get a up-to-the-minute present time circuit: http://www.october212015.com/

Let’s talk about what technologies actually came to fruition and which did not. Which ones would you like to have been made?

I’m pretty partial to flying cars and hover boards. I’m glad the two neckties thing didn’t catch on. Of course, who wouldn’t want a time machine…out of a DeLorean? Get your own DeLorean (Flux Capacitor not included)

Need a Back to the Future Halloween costume for this year’s Halloween party? Or perhaps the Wii Game for Christmas?

Let’s put our auto-fit jackets on, auto-lace shoes, drink a Pepsi, and binge watch the trilogy!

We’re Outtatime. Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads.

Stricter Rules for Guest Posts

I love education. I love education technology. I also love writing.

I know there are some genuine people out there who love freelance writing. There are some people with a voice and no platform.

I was flattered when my blog received enough attention in the blogosphere to have people emailing me guest posts. It still flatters me. I figured with some solid guest post guidelines I’d get some good content. Unfortunately, spammers thought differently.

Take for instance, content. The guidelines kept getting more and more specific because I’d receive submission with titles like these:

  • hair straightener”
  • “The Invisible Threat to London’s Economy [Infographic]
  • “Know Everything about Mobile Wallets in 10 Minutes”
  • “How to purchase an affordable desktop pc to improve your gaming”
  • A review of “boosters for mobile signal amplification”

Or the one who thought I’d pay him to blog on my site?

I’m looking for a paid post on your site, here I can provide you with a well researched content. Let me know how much you charge for a do-follow link within the content?

Make it reasonable so I’ll come up with regular post.

Yeah, not happening, buddy. Not to mention the do-follow link is also not happening.

There were other submitters who didn’t think I’d Google sections of the article. It was obviously plagiarized. This is an education blog! Please cite sources. And yes, that includes the “artwork” you sent along with the article.

Speaking of plagiarism…I’m not going to support essay writing services. Also, I don’t believe for one second that you’ll give me “100% original content” as long as I promise to backlink to BuyCheapOriginalPapers.com or DontWriteItBuyIt.com. Especially after reading the essay and my inner English teacher cries at its lack of organization, use of mechanics, and overall content.

On other occasions, the email that accompanied the submission was rather rude. For example,”[k]indly check and publish it on your website. Also do inform me once it is done”. Umm, what? Okay, to be fair, these were probably errors in translation.

But you’d expect if the email was some of the worst butchered English, the article would be so full of grammar and spelling mistakes that it would be difficult to read, right? WRONG! No obvious errors. Yeah, I don’t believe you wrote that. Maybe you’ve got a robot that spit that out, but I know you certainly didn’t write it.

It was also strange to have someone with a personal email address submit an article with someone else’s name in the author biography. When confronted, the emailer stated the bylined writer was “on my team”. Why can’t the bylined writer send it? sniff sniff Something smells fishy to me.

And, so, dear readers, it is with a frustrated heart that I requirements for guest posts will become stricter and sadly, more subjective. If it doesn’t exactly follow the guidelines, denied. If I suspect plagiarism, denied. If I don’t like it, denied.

So what can you do if you really want to submit a guest post?

I still love the idea of guest posts. I still will accept guest posts. It will just be rarer now. So what can you do? Follow the guidelines. Email me a review of a web 2.0 technology using a Prezi or a Glogster. Even better, review that technology using that technology…for example, a review of YouTube in a YouTube video. Explain in the email why you want to submit this to Teaching & Technology. Of course I’ll backlink to a social media account, if its appropriate for K-12 audience. I’m a one-person operation. If your post can contribute to keeping Teaching & Technology a quality blog, then I want to know about it. If not, then find another blogger to bother.

Announcement: Teaching & Technology’s Resource List is now on Tumblr!

Just recently I tried to update one of my Diigo resource lists and found they have discontinued them! It was rather disappointing to find out that I could no longer add to these lists. They are still viewable, but I cannot add to them.

Instead, Diigo introduced this new technology called Outliner. It seems rather silly. When you bookmark a link, you can save it to a specific Outliner and then create bullet points…like an outline. But the problem is, is that the list looks like my word processing documents did 10 years ago. Plain and boring. The technology is great for collaboration and research projects…not so much for my resource lists. This is mostly due to the fact that I was unable to public show the Outliner without it being editable. I was also disappointed that while I could upgrade my lists to Outliners, with a free account I was only allowed 5 Outliners as opposed to unlimited lists.

What was I to do? I have tens of links that are meant to help teachers and students find specific resources. I needed a tagging system that easily publishes links. Eventually, I settled on Tumblr. I know this isn’t a perfect solution because the lists were just so perfect, but hopefully, it will work for you. You may just have to search the Tumblr for a #writing resource or #blog to follow.

I’m also able to post links to the blog posts as they publish on Tumblr. So feel free to follow and reblog.

You can always find a link to the resources on Tumblr from the main menu. Go to Resources > Tumblr Bookmarks. There is also a link on the right side of every page with social media links. It now includes Tumblr. Lastly, there is a link on the ol’ contact page.

If you have an education or education technology Tumblr, feel free to leave the username in the space below.

EducationWeek Free Webinar—Smart Classrooms Need Smart Wi-Fi

I subscribe to EducationWeek. It sends me lots of emails and, unfortunately, most get deleted because I just don’t have the time to read them. Anyone else have this problem with awesome newsletters that you’d love to read but just don’t have enough time for?

I attempted to tackle the growing unread count in my box and maybe read one or two that jumped out at me. One did jump out at me…so much so that I’m passing along the information for a free webinar they mentioned. Please feel free to share your comments if you participated in it.

Smart Classrooms Need Smart Wi-Fi!

Incredibly powerful cloud-based services like Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office 365, and other popular online tools demand the very best wireless solution. With so much at stake, deploying and managing this critical system must be as simple and reliable as a light switch without eliminating functionality and flexibility. Ruckus Wireless Smart Wi-Fi is the clear choice for simple, reliable, high-performing wireless access in today’s smart classroom.For years, technology use in schools had a limited role, primarily as a supplemental tool, sometimes only for computer science or word processing by students to type reports. Today, mobile technology access in schools is critical for educators and students to meet the most basic teaching and learning requirements. State standards like common-core online assessments mandate access to connected devices. Whether it’s Chromebooks, iPads, Windows laptops, or smartphones they all share the need for reliable high-performing wireless access.

Guest:

Erik Heinrich, national education manager, Ruckus Wireless; former director of technology infrastructure, San Francisco Unified School District, Calif.

This webinar will be moderated by GT Hill, director of technical corporate marketing, Ruckus Wireless

Register now for this free live webinar.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, 2 to 3 p.m. ET

Can’t attend? All Education Week webinars are archived and accessible “on demand” for up to four months after the original live-streaming date.

Promoting Literacy with Grammarly

There are many ideas not worth promoting; however, there is just as many worth promoting.  One of these ideas that is worth promoting is literacy.

Grammarly, a blog, has a Promote Literacy Program.  They want bloggers to help spread literacy.  So, let’s spread it:

  • Low literacy affects more people that you think. About 22 percent of American adults have minimal literacy skills, which prevents them from effectively communicating. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
  • Low literacy is correlated with chronic unemployment. 50 percent of the chronically unemployed are not functionally literate, which prevents them from maintaining jobs. (Ohio Literary Resource Center)
  • Low literacy is correlated with imprisonment. 65 percent of prison inmates (or one million Americans) have low literacy. (Literacy Partners)
  • Low literacy is correlated with poverty.  43 percent of Americans with low literacy are impoverished, lacking basic reading and writing skills to help them overcome their situations. (Literacy Partners)
  • Low literacy affects the American economy. Experts estimate that low literacy costs the American economy $225 billion a year in lost productivity. Improved workplace literacy can increase employees’ efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity on the job. (Reach Higher, America)

Being able to read and write, in other words, being literate, will affect you paycheck.  Yes, good grammar will get you promoted.

So this next school year, pay attention to your English teachers—they want you to earn a higher paycheck in the future!

 

New: An In-Depth Look at Standards

Standards.

The word itself can just irk a teacher, a parent, a school administrator, a lawmaker, a member of the general public, or even a student.  It’s like politics and religion…it’s important and it’s there, but you want to tread lightly until you know you are in similar company of your own beliefs.

As a member of the next generation of teachers, I have opinions about standards.  I have evidence from my personal time as a student, evidence from my master’s level coursework, evidence from what I read in reputable publications, and evidence from field work.

However, I’m not going to use this blog to preach my opinions.  In the coming weeks and months, perhaps even years, I’m going to explore the concept of “standards”.  I’m not going to evaluate a standards method because, well, I don’t have enough field experience to be very authoritative on the subject.

The way I look at is this: the more precise our understanding of what we want students to know and to be capable of demonstrating (our objectives), the more precise we can be in our method to achieve those objectives.

We need to explore where education has been, where it is now, and where we want it to go.  We cannot just simply look forwards and pretend the past did not exist or look upon our past educational strategies with disgust.  Additionally, we cannot openly judge that which we do not know or understand.  How can people who do not understand the standards judge them?

Let’s get to know them.  Let’s explore why we have standards.  Let’s explore what standards mean.  Let’s explore what standards don’t mean.  Let’s give the standards one fair shot to argue their case before we become the judge, jury, and executioner of its content.

Exploring standards is part of “progressing education” and the use of technology in education.  This blog will not change focus, it will just add depth with a new category of posts.  There will still be technology reviews, infographics, articles, book reviews, guest posts, and more.

MACUL 2013 Conference

Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) is a 501c3, non-profit organization dedicated to “assisting the education community through support, promotion, and leadership in the effective use of educational technology.”

This past summer I was introduced to this organization through one of my graduate professors at Oakland University.  I signed up almost immediately.  In fact, they had recently abolished membership fees and I could join for free.  I occasionally get emails from them in my email box.

Each year they have a conference in different cities in Michigan.  I just received a flier in the mail for this year’s conference in Detroit at Cobo Center.  I was excited, as the large heading said “Blending Technology & Curriculum for Today’s Learner“.  It is exactly what I love to do.

Unfortunately, I am student teaching in March and have to be in class on March 20-22.  If it was one week later, I could have gone during spring recess, but alas, I am unable to.  I wouldn’t have been able to afford the full conference anyway, as it is $185.  There is a student rate of $75.  I probably would have been able to afford that.  There are several levels of registration fees depending on what you want to do and how many days you want to attend.

There are hands-on labs, exhibits and demonstrations of ideas, and speakers/presentations.  It definitely sounds like the place for digital learning to foster.  If you are able to go, you should.  And then tell me all about it!