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.

Guest Post: Chromebooks in the Educational World

Guest Post By: Elizabeth A. Halsted

Chromebooks in the educational world give a best possible solution to students, teachers, and administrators for quick, intuitive, and user-friendly computing. Teachers spend more time in teaching and quite less in managing the classroom technology by using the quick and secure Chromebooks. Moreover, schools can now easily install more computers for their students as well as their teachers.

However, this article will make a clear understanding about the Chromebooks. In doing so, the current article will highlight the work of Chromebooks and also the different features that make them attractive to the Education market. It will also discuss its major advantages.

Why Chromebooks?

Chromebooks make ease the processes of teaching and learning devoid of the interference of technological challenging issues. They boot just within seconds and restart right away, removing the normal downtime squandered while out-dated computers turn on and connect to a network. Chromebooks have long life battery feature. Another feature of Chromebooks is that they easily connect with built-in Wi-Fi and 4G technologies, anytime and anywhere, and in fact students can carry on their study even after school trimmings. All the applications, such as the homework are kept in the cloud, and therefore more than a few students can employ a single Chromebook easily.

Moreover, as far as the cost of Chromebooks is concerned, they are not very expensive. They are very secure in every aspect. Indeed, they have safe and sound features related to its operating system (OS). Thus, only its security features are its best-selling reasons.

An interesting thing here is that no certain training is required for it, if you have the appropriate knowledge about its usage.

Administrators in schools can easily update or modify settings for the complete set of Chromebooks, they just need to use a few clicks. The operating system and applications are fresh due to seamless updates, so this technology continues to ameliorate and get faster with the passage of time. There is no any need for tiresome backups, migration of data, security patches or re-imaging. They also run Google Chrome that indicates the computer system, user, as well as network are also secured devoid of any maintenance manually.

Chromebooks are especially designed for the web. Therefore, they can flawlessly access all the apps of Google, all the output and collaboration tools free for schools. The flash-based educational tools are also run by Chromebooks.

Fabulous Features of Chromebooks to the Education Market

Fool-proof Security: Unless they are integrated with dynamic firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software programs, and filesystem encryption, other operating systems and mobile platforms are unsecured. In fact, these are not the requirement of Chromebooks. The operating system of a Chromebook has the ability to resist viruses. No firewall is required as no network-available attack surface is there. No one can read your files, so, filesystem encryption is not required.

Small size with light weight: Available in 11 or 12 inches generally with three pounds weight, so the size and weight of Chromebooks makes them an ideal product for students as they can easily carry a lightweight device, getting rid of books load.

User-Friendly: Chromebook is completely a user-friendly device. Students can use it exactly as they use a browser. As a student, if you use the browser on your computer, you have already the expertise of Chromebooks. In fact, you do not have to learn new applications. The fact is that you do not need to install antivirus software, or any other anti-malware protection program on your Chromebook that is always a headache for users of Windows. This is obviously not a single communication way: the OS was designed by Google to be as safe as possible.

Web-Based Applications: Everything is based on the web and that’s why, students cannot install any software onto their Chromebooks. It makes the Chromebook active and harmless to use. Students and teachers do not frustrate while using it. It is so easy and simple to click a single app on your Chromebook than installing a certain application on 20 computer systems in a classroom.

Wireless Networking: The wireless networking is one of the splendid features of a Chromebook. A user can effortlessly attach his/her system to any wireless network, whether it is secured or non-secured, with just simple clicks. There are also some Chromebooks that are available with integral wired networking ports. It enhances the bandwidth of the network.

Built-in Multimedia with Video Conferencing Service: Multimedia is another feature of Chromebook, which includes hi-fi speakers, a sharp camera, and headsets/ear buds ports. USB ports for multimedia devices are also built-in. Video conferencing is an amazing attribute through which a Google user can benefit of Google Hangouts. The service of video conferencing works on the Chromebook so well.

Chromebooks make sense for education in terms of economic and security-wise. For educational world, Chromebooks among the Google Apps and sophisticated networking from Extreme Networks are developing a more personalized education atmosphere.

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth A. Halsted is a professional writer associated with Done Research Paper. Her responsibility is to provide maximum and authentic information to the readers. She also assists students to complete their writing projects.

 

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.

Teens and Technology

I recently read a blog post on Big Think entitled, “When Does Teen Mobile Usage Become an Addiction?  How to Mitigate Excessive Use” and it brought up some points I’ve been hearing either for quite some time or have recently been hearing around the digital water cooler.

There have been expert opinions tossed around, parent opinions, and teen opinions; however, I’ve found the teacher opinions to be a bit underrepresented in the conversation.  I think teachers have a perspective that needs to be acknowledged and considered when parents and lawmakers are making decisions regarding teen “addiction” to their mobile devices.

The first point the article made was the definition of an addiction.  It has become common for people to causally throw the word “addiction” around, for example, “I’m addicted to Castle.” or “I’m so addicted to diet Pepsi.”  Are we really addicted to it, or are we just using the word “addicted” to mean “really like something”.  An addiction is, “something that interferes with you living your life”.

Some examples [of addiction] include the following: inability to keep a job because of the addiction; harmed and/or lost relationships as a result of lying to justify the chosen addiction; [and] positive growth such as staying healthy, creating healthy relationships, and progressing in life are all made secondary to the habit.  So when it comes to your teen’s “addiction” to their cell phone, it probably isn’t a true addiction, per se.

If an electronic device is severely harming your life, then there is cause for concern and drastic measures.  If the student has been fired from her part-time job at the local grocery store because she can’t put her phone away when asked repeatedly, that’s a problem.  However, if she’s still doing all her homework and performing well in school, yet she picks up her phone in the middle of dinner to check a message when her phone just chirped, this is a different problem entirely.  There is a difference between rude behavior and addiction.

Respect Conversations With Others: Texting and tweeting shouldn’t come between real human contact, thus being distracted by a phone can harm relationships.

You should always put “real human contact”, as in physical, person-to-person contact, above texting and tweeting.  However, texting and tweeting allow you to open up your social circle to access people you may not otherwise be able to access.  It allows you to multitask.  Perhaps you don’t have the time to sit down and spend two hours visiting with someone.  But, you are able to work at your computer (or cook dinner, or do laundry, other household chores, etc.) and talk via text message…this human interaction is better than none at all.  I’ve spent time person-to-person with someone and left feeling like I’ve wasted my time and that we could have just talked via messaging or by phone.   In other words, before you disregard texting and tweeting for real human contact, examine who are you are talking with, what are you talking about, and how much time you have available.  Before you yell at your teen to get off her phone, be sure to ask if she’s being productive first.  She could be tweeting me, her teacher, with a question about tonight’s homework.

Never use the phone in the car, especially while driving: This is a given, but distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths on the roadway. If your teen learns not to use the phone in the car, a lot of tragedy can be avoided.

As an English teacher, my only issues are with the way these sentences are worded.  If you are the driver, you should never use your phone to check text messages, emails, or the like.  Your eyes should never be taken off the road.  However, if you don’t know where you are going and you can set your phone up before you put your car in drive with talking directions on how to get you to where you are going and then put your phone where you can hear it but don’t touch it, you should do this.  Why?  Because how much more distracted are you by looking down at the printed directions or map?  A bit more.  Use the phone to reduce distractions, not create more.  Oh, and again with the wording…never use it in the car?  If you’re the passenger, first try to use your phone to assist the driver in reducing any problems, after that, you can use your phone…just don’t distract the driver by telling him to look at this cute cat video you just found.

Learn To Recognize Bad Habits: One reason teens turn to smart phones is boredom, causing this behavior to become a habit. Realizing this can help your teen resist checking their phone out of habit.

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have some sort of habit they do when they’re bored.  Some people bite their fingernails.  Some pick their nose.  Some teens have engaged in activities that have created children.  Some people check their phone and read a few articles.  I’d opt for the reading articles.  Reading is reading.  Some people just aren’t the type to grab a book, sit down and read for two hours.  I am; however, I rarely have the time to.  Some people read in their spare moments.  I do this frequently.

Use a Bucket to Enforce No-Phone Family Time: One effective way is to get a bucket and have everyone place their deactivated devices inside it during family time (meal times, relative visits, board game nights, etc.). Not only will this help to teach your teens about phone etiquette, but it will also allow you to set an example by abstaining from your own phone usage.

I think this is a great idea…except you shouldn’t deactivate/turn off the devices.  Why?  With more and more people eliminating their house phone in favor of cell phones, what happens when an emergency arises?  You may be eating dinner, but what if someone is trying to contact you?  (My mom used to do this about 4-5 years ago, turned her phone off unless she needed to make a phone call…didn’t work well when I needed to call her). What if your teen’s classmate forgot to write the homework down and her parents have told them to text their friend from the class to get the homework, and your teen’s phone is off?  Phones are two-way communication devices.  Remember if you turn it off, you are restricting access to you.  If someone is relying on you, you are now penalizing them.  This goes for parents too; setting an example is great, but don’t let it come at the cost of your job.  Make sure you’re not the one on-call that night.  An alternative can be to leave your device on, but in the other room so that you’re not checking it constantly, but you can hear it if it rings.

Consider Pre-Paid Phones Instead of Prohibition: For habitual violators, you could consider using a pre-paid plan instead of instituting outright phone prohibition. That way your teen still gets the opportunity to exercise discipline and learn to ration their phone usage. And if they fail to do this, the phone will become a useless brick until you choose to add more time and data. Thus, a logical set of consequences will result from their overusing the phone.

This is a great alternative idea.  Prohibition or taking a device away can cause more harm than you think.  Let me give you an example.  Your teen spends too much time on social media sites.  You feel it is excessive and have given ample warnings about consequences.  Your teen may have said it was school-related, but you weren’t buying it.  So, you decide to take away your teen’s laptop for the week.  The same laptop that he brings to school every day.  The same laptop he uses for working on homework.  You tell him that he can use the general home computer where you can watch him, if he “really needs it”.  You think you’ve done a good job.  In fact, you’ve punished his grade.  What you didn’t know was that he needed his laptop in school that week for writing a paper.  His teacher was giving them class time to work on the paper and without the laptop (he planned to have), he’ll lose participation points.  Or, perhaps he was working on a group project in which all his part of the work was saved on the hard drive.  Or, the most important thing, his teacher was relying on him to bring his laptop because there weren’t enough laptops in the laptop carts for class use and your son popped up and said, “no worries, I can bring my own”.  Now his teacher will have to figure out where to find another computer, at the last-minute, for him to use.

Electronic devices are not just for fun.  Many people use them for entertainment, but many people use them also for work/school work.  Restricting the access to these devices will do you or your student no benefit…unless you have done your “homework” to ensure your student will not be penalized.  If you feel that restricting access to a particular technology is necessary because the student is abusing it, and the student didn’t pay for it in the first place, as a parent, you have that right.  However, do not make the situation into a bigger issue.  Email your student’s teachers to inform them that your child has been restricted from the use of a device or that your child only can use the internet for two hours a night to be sure you and the teacher can work out something that will allow the student to not be penalized far beyond what you intended.  Additionally, arming yourself with information from your student’s teacher will let you know if your student really does have a paper due Friday…or if he is just pulling your leg to weasel his computer back.

In summary: phones, laptops, tablets, computers, etc. are all two-way devices that can be used for leisure, but many teens use them to work. Teaching responsible use of technology instead of outright prohibition is imperative because as a teacher, I rely on my students and their technology.  If a student says he will bring his laptop tomorrow…I’m expecting him to bring his laptop.

Digital Textbooks

There has been a big push towards using digital textbooks in schools across America and the globe.  Apple just recently gave the movement a giant shove toward digitalization with revamped iBooks app and  iTunes U.  But I haven’t pronounced the print textbooks market dead yet.

Sure I’d love to eliminate having my student’s lugging around a 6lbs literature textbook among 5 other textbooks in their backpack.  Perhaps phasing out of individual copies of textbooks and only having one classroom set would be a feasible idea – but what if the student does not have access to a computer or tablet?  Or that if lending the student the device would require a parent to sign a form that says they will be liable for all damages, including loss – and the parent says no?  Digital textbooks have a promising market in the middle to upper class schools and charter schools, but not in poor neighborhoods.  Thus, there will be a decent market for print textbooks, albeit smaller than it is now.

All the digital textbook information I see right now ties textbooks to specific devices.  Textbooks published through Apple’s iBooks can be published elsewhere, but Apple still takes its large fee.  Textbooks on the Nook and Kindle are pretty much only for their devices.  If the tablet market isn’t going to let all textbooks be available on all devices, the print textbook market will never die.  Perhaps the publishing companies will sell their own tablet for their own books.  Instead of 6 heavy textbooks, students will carry 3-4 tablet devices.  Still pretty expensive and not entirely what the digital textbook market is aiming to do.

Oh but wait, aren’t students supposed to take notes and read textbooks at the same time?  True students can flip between the textbook app and the notebook app to write notes, but what about drawing charts?  I’m all for typing notes in class, but sometimes it’s just quick to have a piece of paper and a pencil to scribble my notes and diagrams on.  We would be wasting time trying to teach kids how to make a ven diagram on their notebook app than it would take to draw the circles on a paper.  Speed is important, especially with the hundreds of benchmarks the government continues to thrust at teachers to have students be proficient in their education.

Just as eReaders and tablets will never kill the paperback book, they will not kill the textbook market either.

What do you think, will digital textbooks completely kill the print textbook market?

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Sources:

Bilton, Ricardo. “Apple’s textbook plan’s biggest flaw is that it’s tied to the iPad | ZDNet .” Technology News, Analysis, Comments and Product Reviews for IT Professionals | ZDNet. ZDnet.com, 19 Jan. 2012. Web. 24 Jan. 2012.   Link to article

Faas, Ryan. “Apple’s new vision of education.” computerworld 21 Jan. 2012: n. pag. ComputerWorld. Web. 24 Jan. 2012.   Link to article