Guest Post: Keep up with Technology so You Can Keep up with Your Students

Guest Post by: Isla Wright

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

And things are changing. Instead of paper, we use laptops, instead of books, we use e-books. You want to be a person who pushes students forward, not the one who holds on to the relics of the past. There is a gap between students and their teachers, as the students are one step forward, when it comes to knowledge and usage of technology. Here are some tools that you can easily integrate in your teaching and get one step closer to your students.

  • Edmodo: It is a communication platform for teachers and students. Usually it is used for giving announcements, sharing folders and distributing assignments. However, you can go outside of the box and implement some unusual ideas. For example, you can create a current events group for students to post articles that are relevant to the topics of your classes. Or organize a national book club or start a competition. It can really lead to unlimited options.
  • Blogging: This can be your direct contact with your audience‒your students. By sharing thoughts and ideas, they are invited to give their opinion. A broader discussion can develop; you can do special researches on interesting topics or give students additional reading material. Students can evolve in critical thinking and active conversation. The conversation can start on the blog, but continue in class, or vice versa.

Also, you can help students by checking their notes and discussing them on your blog, needless to say without naming names. There might be issues with chemistry notes, math, or physics, which they did not realize. As you want to make sure that what they wrote is correct, this can be a place for reviews and debates.

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  • VoiceThread: this is an application that adds voice to documents, slide presentations, videos or collections of photos. You can include students and encourage them to post their own presentations or integrate comments on original ones. It allows students to present and defend their work, which as a result, makes students active in a classroom. It is a creative opportunity for students to tell their stories and share their vision on different topics.
  • Wikispaces: A great place for a class or a group, as all participants can edit documents. Furthermore, if you want to develop researching skills of your students, you can use this platform for students to share sources and ideas. It emphasizes a high level of communication and critical thinking, as students can get involved in debates.
  • MindMeister: Encourage mind-mapping in your classroom! Users can collaborate with each other, and organize their ideas in a new way. It is excellent for group projects. The mind maps and schemes get a fresh, dynamic look, which attracts viewers to pay more attention while concentrating on seeing all the details.

You can also use it while creating your own plans for your classes. It keeps things very organized and visible. What is great is that it is very flexible, as you can approach it from you mobile phone or any computer, as long as you have Internet connection.

As you see, the good news is that there are so many options to choose from. These are only some of the tools that are out there. In order to be a great teacher, one should not stop learning. Look at this as your opportunity to teach young minds not only facts from the books, but also an effective usage of technology. This is their preparation for the real world.

Edmodo

Facebook is great for connecting people together.  But some people are a bit wary of friending their parents, let alone their teacher.  LinkedIn is a great social networking site for professional networking…and Edmodo is a great social networking site for education.

I’ve been using Edmodo a bit during my long-term guest teaching position these last few months.  It has been helpful for connecting with students.  Since I’ve been logging in under the teacher I’ve been guest teaching for, I haven’t done too much, but I’ve talked with students.  They love the fact that teachers can post PDFs on its library, that they can message their teachers or other students in their class without needed to give out phone numbers, and that they don’t need to write reminders down because teachers post reminders.

Edmodo is free and lets you register as teacher, student, parent, or administrator.  Teachers create groups in which students can join via link or secure code given by the teacher.  Once students are in the groups, teachers can post notes, alerts, polls, quizzes, and assignments to one or more groups as well as individual students.

Besides groups, teachers can join communities according to subject matter.  This connects teachers to others through the entire Edmodo network in order to share content, ideas, or to simply brainstorm.

Also, teachers can install certain apps to their Edmodo for use with students.  For example, Subtext, can be used through Edmodo.  Teachers can share content, annotate it, or see students’ annotations.  Subtext also works with iPads as well.  And speaking of iPads, Edmodo has free apps for the iPad,  iPhone, and on Google Play.

Students have not complained to me about Edmodo and neither have any of the teachers I know who use it.  However, just like with all technologies, students who do not have access to internet at home or on a mobile device may find Edmodo to be a bit of an issue.

Guest Post: 5 Popular Cloud Applications Used in Schools

Guest Post by: Lim Chuwei

The widespread use of cloud applications is not limited to some business enterprises. But, cloud applications are adding an element of surprise for schools looking out to enhance quality in academics. Cloud applications provide a good synergy between classroom teachers and students.

These apps help to extend boundaries of education outside school to home and playground.  Many schools already boast of cloud enabled classrooms and students equipped with gadgets such as laptops, iPads, Smartphones etc.

Installing cloud infrastructure without choosing the right set of cloud tools doesn’t provide full benefits of cloud in education. With right applications on board, compatible to school’s storage infrastructure, teachers and students can effectively utilize all available resources.

Benefits of Cloud Applications Used In School

Cloud Applications allow content sharing, ubiquitous access, extend storage space to replace text books and large maps, content security, personal check in the performance of students and to encourage participation by considering individual viewpoints. Wide variety of already available tools compatible with multiple devices makes it easy to add cloud applications in schools. Centralized storage of data provide more security and anywhere access to users.

Following are the top 5 cloud applications used in schools worldwide that fulfill demands from every student:

1. Google Apps for Education

Google’s Cloud apps offer email, calendar, on-web storage and communications services to teachers as well as students via Gmail, Google Drive (in past Google docs), and Google groups. Its popularity can be measured from the fact that more than 10 million students use Google apps in their classrooms. The app is freely available without any hidden cost. Google apps are specifically designed for k-12 schools preparing them for 21st

2. Dropbox

Dropbox enables users to access data from anywhere. This is a web-based file synching app offering free 2 GB of file storage service for new users. The app automatically adds updated content in other personal devices having installed Dropbox in them. It also provides online access to data on the web storage at reasonable rates. Dropbox provides security to content by making it private and lets you share information with listed students or faculty members.


3. Edmodo

Edmodo app is considered as the future of virtual learning environments in schools. It has a network of over 31 million teachers and students connected in online classrooms. The app helps to discover new resources and collaborate on assignments. Edmodo provides separate passwords for different courses to an individual. Similar to Facebook, it includes a profile picture and a stream of updates in the user account.

4. Moodle

Moodle has a repository containing different types of quizzes, web links and glossaries for helping teachers as well as students. Its GUI lacks in interactive features as compared to Edmodo. But, Moodle contains RSS feeds, good tools to check grades and different forums to discuss a topic of interest. Moodle provides a facility to place every important document in a single file. Privacy is pretty secure under this open-source web application on the Internet.

5. Evernote

Evernote app enables students to take digital notes quickly using any computing device. One doesn’t need a slip of paper to note down something important using a pen. This is the best app designed for archiving purposes in cloud. Every note can be attached with pictures, tags and voice memos for later search. Evernote’s ability to scan text within images distinguishes the app from others available in cloud. Evernote also offers cloud storage facility to its users.

 

Author Bio

Lim Chuwei is a Teacher in Singapore at ChampionTutor and highly advocates the use of cloud based application for teaching and learning.

iPad as the Teacher’s Pet: An Infographic

This infographic was created by @TonyVincent.  It is the most thorough, most informative, and most helpful iPad app infographic for education that I have seen.   This infographic is more than just a .jpg or .png file; it was uploaded to Scribd, so that the included links to the apps or other websites would work.

On Tony’s blog entry for this infographic he also posted links to download a 6-page version to print or a very large 24-page version to piece together to make a poster.