Tag Archive: technology


Why Google+ Is an Education Game Changer – Education – GOOD.

I normally think that we overuse the term ‘game changer’ but having a Google+ account myself, I see the potential that Ms. Dwyer is talking about.  Google+ doesn’t completely eliminate inadvertent sharing of drunken party pictures with students, but it seriously makes it much more challenging.  I guess if you’re posting the pictures and sharing them while intoxicated, anything can happen.  At any rate, G+ could become a place where teachers and students share information about projects that the class is working on, collaboratively digest articles that are found on-line, and post videos to one another.  The idea of the hangout study group/office hours is also fascinating.  It’ll be something that I’ll be interested to see/read more about in the future.  -Ed

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For those of us (me) who are not terribly creative, Toonlet.com can help.  This free comic-generation website helps you create unique characters and base-4 panel comic strips.  The educational applications are many and varied.  I did this comic to introduce myself

Applications are many and varied.  I know that our English department has experimented with using storyboards, cartoons, and comic strips to develop graphic novels, explain story lines, lay out plots, or to complete a scene from a story that they are reading.  As a science teacher, I can see applications here as well.  Imagine a student creating a little comic strip demonstrating the charge on an atom.  There is a strip just like this that is famous with science teachers.

I have included this as a little joke at the bottom of tests and I gotta tell you, the humor is lost on high school students.  It makes me wonder, what might be more ‘fun’, ‘interesting’, or educational (gasp) for students?  That’s why I think Toonlet might be powerful.  Students can use this fun and easy-to-use technology to design their own comic strips.  As a art-inept person, I also appreciate how it basically does the art work for you.  I designed the character of myself, but most of the work was done for me.  I merely had to select from a number of images (almost too many choices), write the words that went into each panel, and decide on layout.  That’s easy enough!  Since the bar for successful use is so low, the technology does not threaten to get in the way of, ya know, learning.  This is the best type of technology!

For the past two days I have been in Rodondo Beach, California at a conference for schools who are members of the Middle College National Consortium. This has been an amazing conference of principals, teachers, consultants, etc. who all want to design the very best schools in the nation. Their particular focus is on disadvantaged youth who may be the very first in their family to attend college. While this conference has been amazing in many key ways, I have been keeping a list of items that I am eager to research, design, and implement for TCS@ODU.
1.) Get flash drives for all students with a pre-loaded planner, syllabus, important school docs, etc. Students can also be expected to search out on-line (i.e. through Sakai, email, or Google docs) documents that have been shared with those students by the teacher. This could, potentially, save us thousands of dollars in printing, toner, and purchasing costs, if we do this just right.
2.) No more agenda printing for staff and professional development days. We can develop agendas in Google docs and share with the entire staff. The agenda can be displayed to the full staff through the projector. Over the course of the year, this might save us several reams of paper, which is significant environmentally and in our pocketbooks.
3.) Show the staff the connectivism presention on YouTube (see video embedded below). I think that there is some rich fodder for fantastic discussions about how we can, as a staff, encourage our students to use the technology in more meaningful and appropriate ways.
4.) Do mixed group training for technology. All teachers can benefit from each other’s expertise and viewpoints this way.
5.) Have students solve problems in a group as a ticket-in activity, or during the class period.
6.) Research step-by-step instructions. Work with students to develop step-by-step instructions/directions for how to research, how to write, and how to critique research papers.
7.) Do discipline integrated media literacy discussions and trainings with students. Do not compartmentalize the training because you risk students not being able to understand how to apply the skills and techniques that they have learned.
8.) If a student generates a solid question, kick the question back to the class and have them work on an answer as a small group. They can then report back. Students are more likely to remember any answer they come to, and the process for how to solve problems is honored.
9.) Problems should drive the technology. Sometimes we let technology drive technology and that only leads to problems.
10.) I am trying to think through a way of using Google docs, Drupal, and Buzzword to help digitally facilitate the Peer Review process that we use with our school’s staff.
11.) Search for and develop a master calendar feature that students can have on their flash drives, or in their Sakai profile, that allows them to quickly add dates and assignments. This is limited to technology, but there is a lot of promise.