Tag: #EdTech

Gmail, the Cadillac of email

This article is the fourth in my weekly series for fundamental Google Training: Unit 4.

TeacherNo matter if you consider yourself a tech genius or a serious Luddite, you at least know what email is, and have probably used it at one point. Most of us are required to have an email for work, and some people may still prefer it for personal use if they do not subscribe to social media to communicate with friends and family. It is the one thing that universally ties us together more than any other communication tool on the Internet.

What you might not know is there is one email provider that outperforms all others with the abilities it has to promote you and your company, as well as open other doors to collaboration and communication, Gmail. Gmail, powered by Google rises above all others because when you set up a Gmail account, you have automatically set up a place on the cloud to store, edit, communicate and collaborate your information with others.

How does this magically happen you ask? It is easy. The interface of Gmail links you directly to Google Applications, where you can do multiple tasks, as well as have access to Google Drive, the automatic personal drive on the cloud that allows you to store all your documents in a mobile, safe place. But I digress. It is Gmail we want to talk about.

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Gmail has everything all professional email providers have as well as other options that others don’t, and in true Google style, they continue to upgrade and add more to help you to be the best emailing emailer on the planet. To learn more about some of the great add-ons you can use with Gmail, check out this article: Tools to Use in Gmail. Want to get started? Visit the Google help center: Gmail Setup, or watch a tutorial: Google Tutorial.

As you begin to explore what Gmail has to offer, you will soon realize how much more you can do once you have set up the account. Not all email providers have these abilities, nor to they continue to grow with you as Google seems to do, with an almost intuitive nature that drives it. Why settle for something less than the best? Why not upgrade your most vital and essential Internet communication tool? Choose Gmail, and best of all it is free. Wouldn’t you drive a Cadillac if it was free? I know I would.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed

Technology Integration Specialist

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Depth-Sensing Technology, could be a game changer for school psychologists

Video games belonging in the field of education has had its share of criticism. Many studies have been done to prove how they can take a phycological toll on small children citing too much exposure to violent content. Games need to be age appropriate, this we know, and that is why they are given a rating. With these ratings, most can agree there are some educational games online or ones requiring specific gaming systems, that can be beneficial to children. One popular example is Minecraft.

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If you are not familiar with this game, it is basically a game of building virtual worlds where you can create lands and characters that interact within that world. The graphics are “old school”, which keeps things simple but cool for the players. The building takes logic, as does the character, along with exploration, resource gathering and combat as there is a multi-player mode. Although this game may not be a regular in the classroom, the popularity of it has prompted books and other literature to be written, and the problem-solving skills have been a favorite of parents and educators alike.

What a student might choose to build and do in the world of Minecraft surely can tell you something about them. Although most psychological studies about video games have been about the effects they have on children, what if we used the game as a platform to tells us something about the child instead?  What if a school psychologist could look at a child’s Minecraft game and diagnose a disorder, or learning disability? It is now not about what if, but when.

Depth-sensing technology is here and with products such as Intel’s RealSense camera, you don’t just play games with using the motion of your body to manipulate objects, the camera can actually sense your body as a whole into the 3-D virtual world, that makes it possible to read even the small gestures you make with the correct depth perception. Your body actually becomes the controller.

Think even further than your body being the controller. RealSeanse has features that allow for biometric feedback. Now a game you play can actually anticipate what your mood is by your vital signs, making it possible for it to adjust and change its platform to please or agitate your mood. Essentially a virtual picture of the player’s mind.

In the world of education, a school psychologist uses a certain battery of tests and testing platforms to diagnose suspected disorders and learning disabilities in students. Often these tests require students to use manipulatives. With depth-sensing technology and biometric feedback embedded in, the manipulatives not only can be virtual, but the diagnoses can be more precise with a much more controlled environment. Imagine the data that can be instantly generated through a computer program that considers all these factors.

Soon, we could be seeing quicker and more accurate diagnoses of disorders that range from specific learning disabilities to levels of autistic behavior, ADD, ADHD or even more severe psychological disorders in students by using this new type of technology. Games can be programmed with certain characteristics known to help diagnose students, and with quicker accurate feedback, a breakthrough in less misdiagnosed and more precise medical care could change our educational system as we know it, with a much higher student success rate.

To all the nay-sayers that once thought video games would only cause severe psychological damage to young children, we could be on the verge of how they might become our most valuable tool educationally when diagnosing disorders early and accurately. They may eventually save more children than any other technology tool out there.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

To learn more:

http://iq.intel.com/depth-sensing-technology-pulls-players-into-the-game/

 

 

 

McDavid Mania; and a word of tech advice…

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Connor McDavid. (Darren Calabrese/CP

For those of you that are not professional hockey fans, you might not be familiar with the Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, but you probably have heard of Wayne Gretzky, and if all the hockey fates align, McDavid should soon become as common a household name, stateside as well.

McDavid was not only a first-round draft pick this 2015 NHL season, but the first overall draft pick, and his coming up from the juniors hasn’t caused as much fervor in the media since Gretzky in 1982. For Canada, a star of this magnitude is like a professional athlete, screen icon, and true to life super hero all in one. You can only imagine the glorious abundance of groupies that are paying homage to this young icon through social media nationwide, with over 136 thousand followers on Twitter, and a dedicated fan Facebook page that was recently created as the NHL 2015-16 season kicked off.

McDavid only 18, as part of the Millennial Generation, the first generation that has truly grown up with technology integrated into their everyday lives staying connected and cultured with a constant stream of social media filtering through their fingertips all day long, has some sound advice for his peers when staying focused on your goals, “turn off all social media, turn off your phones, try to make the world smaller, go out and do stuff.” Huh?

As unexpected as it may seem from his generation, advice that he took to heart. He spent all last year in the junior leagues off social media, because he said it distracted him from concentrating on playing and his goals, and in hockey, we know literally, goals.

Now that he is in the NHL, he has reinstated his Twitter, and a Facebook fan page is up and running, so we can as devoted McDavid maniacs, follow and “like” his every move. Will it be distracting? Probably not, his point is more so for young people that haven’t accomplished a specific goal they are working on. For him, it was making it into the NHL, and making sure he did it with the best stats he could put up. And boy did he, during the 2014-15 regular season, he scored 44 goals and 76 assists, finishing third in the OHL, and during the playoffs, he scored 21 goals and 28 assists and led all players with 49 points.

What words of wisdom can we take away from such a young millennial when it comes to using your tech devices in life? When they become distracting to your goals, shelve it for a while, stop using it and stay off it. Get your goals in focus, work hard, go out and make it happen. Once you get to your milestone, go ahead and share it, Tweet it out, Facebook and Instagram it. Nothing is more gratifying than setting a goal and making it happen, and in McDavid’s case, we sure liked watching it happen, as with all the “likes” he will soon be seeing, as we continue to watch, and if the hockey fates do align, all hundreds of thousands of “likes” to come.

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

 

Busy or Productive? How Technology can Help Teach the Difference

 

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Jon Reeve’s motion picture: Dazed and Confused, 1993.

 

Every day you teach, you have moments where the students are buzzing in your class with books, notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, and erasers flying. You might have a student at your desk asking questions and ones turning in papers or sitting in groups working on projects.

You get a small euphoric high off the excessive learning that is taking place as you get ready to tell the class to wrap it up and can’t wait to see them tomorrow with all the assignments due, and what wonderful feedback that you will be expressing as your students leave clutching their books smiling with eyes gleaming and brains full of new and exciting knowledge to be applied and shared.

Yet, the next day comes, and your class shows up unprepared, homework unfinished, forgetful of what they learned the day before and as if the crawled into a black hole of despair and lost all hope of passing your class at all. How does this happen?

It happens because even though it appears your class was buzzing with learning, they were actually just busy, and the productivity of learning is only proven through hard evidence, the unfinished homework, or test review they failed in class.

So how do you keep the sense of your students being busy confused from being productive? One way to do so is by using some technology tools that relate the productivity in a timely factual manner, that cannot be argued with.

Some of the more helpful products out there are classroom management sites, like  Edmodo and Google Classroom. These sites allow teachers to set up a virtual class, so to speak, where not only can discussions and groups be assigned, but work can be turned in, revised and graded. When students get on these sites to work, they will be immersed in the lessons you not only share with them but have to supply you with the feedback to ensure that the learning is taking place without just “feeling” like it is in your class. It is a way to organize the evidence without hoping it is just going to happen in a random notebook students walk out the door with.

The other added benefit to organizing student work online in a virtual classroom is that they can do it from anywhere there is internet access. This means that once the students walk out the door, it is less likely that they will lose the work, or have to be reminded the next day what it was you went over in class to keep them on track.

Without knowing it, by setting up a virtual classroom you are now teaching your students the benefit of getting organized by participating in a forum where there are specific discussions, assignments, and deadlines. You have just led students across that bridge from being busy in your class to being productive in your class.

 

Cheers,

Robin L. Stockmar M.Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

Learn more: Google Classroom

https://www.edmodo.com/

Technology in Education Resolution for 2016: Cease, Start, and Celebrate

Considering resolutions for the new year is something we all do. For educators, it is considering best practices when it comes to helping students achieve. Are the new programs and new strategies working? Are they going to continue to work, and what can I do to make them better this year? One area educators tend to overlook at times is the technology they are using in their setting.

Most computer-lab-rulesschools  do a technology assessment, which means that you take inventory and assess what is being used, what is not, and what the educators and students are using that is effective. This may seem easy enough, but there are some philosophical shifts that need to be considered in the overall field in education that should be applied to technology as well.

If we want to achieve the ultimate goal of sending high school graduates into the workforces and off to college with a deep understanding of how to problem solve in multiple disciplines in a moment’s notice, we need to consider more than just how the computers and devices in the classroom are being used, but also how they will build student skills and experiences that will better prepare students.

Three things to Stop doing:

  1. Stop thinking that the technology will provide the answers. It is easy to do, just Google it….but then what? What if the device or internet is not working? If the device isn’t working, ask the students how else they can find answers, or what they might do to use it more appropriately to do so. An inquiry-based approach to learning will foster problem-solving understanding.
  2. Stop believing it will make learning quicker. Just because software and devices can provide a quick way to access feedback, doesn’t mean it will make the students learn concepts quicker. Conceptual understanding takes time and requires more than just feedback, but a deeper understanding.
  3. Stop “required” computer time. No set amount of time on computers will make students better learners. Spending time on computers might help students acquire skills, but it won’t deepen the learning, it takes problem-solving and reflection to do that.

Three things to Start doing:

  1. Start using the technology as a problem-solving tool, rather than a crutch. If you have computers, Ipads, or a BYOD policy, start asking the students ways that they can use the devices to make your class time more efficient, let them problem solve for you, rather than be expected to show them how to use the technology. This helps them enforces their ability to work as a community and as a positive force for change.
  2. Start sharing your passion through technology, don’t force technology for technology’s sake. Whatever it is that excites you as an educator, find a way you can share it through the technology as a platform for deeper learning. Give it some bells and whistles that will excite your students about the content, and allow them to return the sharing with their passion as well.
  3. Start using the technology to share and showcase student work. There is nothing like feeling your hard work is appreciated, and imagine how students feel when they can experience sharing their work to the school, district, parents, and the community. Today’s technology allows you to do so in many ways and platforms: websites, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc…

The three things to Celebrate:

  1. Celebrate professional staff milestones, and use the technology for professional development. One of the best ways to help students achieve is to help teachers achieve. Use the technology to help deliver professional development, and help your teachers be comfortable with it. Praise them for reaching milestones in the technological realm. This is a win-win, if the teachers are comfortable, then the students can take off in their learning.
  2. Celebrate the use of technology to collaborate as a community, with staff, students and parents.  Email, school websites, Edmodo, Google Classroom, and other online communication tools have really taken staying connected to students and parents to a new level. Continue to do so, and think about how to use the tools to connect to the community and celebrate the success as well.
  3. Celebrate and share each student’s potential, and ensure the positive change you want to make through the technology. Every student has something to share and make a positive impact. Use the technology to tell them so, email them or their parents, post a video or quote on a blog, send reminder texts to tell them they are doing a good job. Being mindful of praising the good work in your students is a simple way you can encourage them to become positive contributors to their community, and productive citizens as a whole.

Cheers,

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

The American School Teacher, the last human interactive device standing…

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According to a study done almost 5 years ago by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average young American spends up to seven hours a day on electronic devices. Some more current studies are indicating that the number is actually up to 9 hours a day if you include texting. Many children ages 8-18 are only getting quality adult human interaction during school on a daily basis.

The trend of schools going more digital and having more adopting a 1:1 device ratio and BYOD programs, the time children spend on electronics might be even higher than known.  Students that attend a regular school day and a school that is not using electronics as a source of curriculum delivery may be getting the only adult human interaction for more than just a couple hours a day, not coming from home but from their teachers.

Consider a high school student that spends 2 to 3 hours working on a computer in classes a day. This would be in addition to the average 8 hours outside of school, which means students could be spending more than 10 hours a day on an electronic device. 

States all across America now have technology requirements that students must master, and many state exams require advanced computer and online use skills. Schools and districts have hopped on this trend with implementing more electronic device usage than ever before, and many have even hired specialists, technology coaches, to teach staff and students to make better and more frequent use of devices in the classroom.

One might ask, is it the schools that are trying to keep up with the usage that the youth has become comfortable with or is the schools feeling that it is a required skill for students to be employable and successful in our society?  Whatever angle it comes from, the result is that one of the few human interactions that our children will get today is from their school teacher, and with the trend of electronics in schools increasing, who knows how long that will last?