Tag: Technology

Why this Ultra Geek-Girl is not so excited about Star Wars..

tfa_poster_wide_header-1536x864-959818851016It’s here, after all the hype and Disney corporate take over, the movie of the millennium,  Star Wars: The Force Awakens  is finally here. So why is this child of the 70’s original ultimate fantasy thriller, self-proclaimed Disnoid, comic-con cosplaying attendee, bullied for an affinity towards Star Trek geek-girl not so thrilled?

Maybe it’s the idea of a letdown once again, by a George Lucas-inspired fantasy gone horribly wrong . Or it might be the combination of both the new in vogue everything on The Big Bang Theory must be awesome minions and the painful prequels of Star Wars that scared me from believing this one will be different.

Somehow a formula of life circumstances has made it so that this latest installation of the possible largest blockbuster of all time full of a sci-fi fantasy geek’s wet dream, has barely interested me. Other than the fact I have invested so much time in the past to the genre, that I have to see it out of pure allegiance to my geekhood.

The Let Down…..

Do we even need an explanation of the prequel let down? Like all true fans, I went to see Episode 4 in the theaters when it was re-released in 1997, to get jazzed about the new movies in production. It was perfect, I got that warm fuzzy feeling  all over again seeing  Luke Skywalker staring out dewy-eyed at the rising moons, questioning his fate, with new affinity and understanding after 20 years, appreciating the Hero’s Journey, and remembering my first crush. It was Christmas for a 6-year-old me all over again.

Little did I know, 2 years later, The Phantom Menace with all anticipation of Christmas for that inner child, would turn out to be that moment when you realize Santa is not just fake, but his beard isn’t real, he’s full of stuffing, gets annoyingly drunk, and hits on your Mom at the Christmas party. It was so bad, that I fell asleep, only to be woken up by the painful ear piercing banter of Jar Jar Binks. Dreams crushed, the ultimate let down.

Still a glimmer of hope, maybe Episode 2 would redeem the series. Lucas got geek-girl eye-candy  Hayden Christensen to play Anakin Skywalker. My Bae from Higher Ground and an episode of Forever Knight, (my fellow geek-girls understand), so maybe it would  work. Other than seeing Hayden shirtless, I am pretty sure watching that movie sucked some life out of my soul. And yes, Hayden was in Episode 3, he got “dark” and interesting, but it was too little too late, dreams of redemption crushed.

The New Age of Geekdom….

Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars was super cool in the 70’s, especially as kids on the cusp of the electronic age it gave us a platform to imagine the impossible. Everyone loved the movies, even though the cheese was spread on a little thick in Episode 6, we could get past the Ewoks knowing that the end justified the means, and good prevailed over evil. For those of us that got that titillating jolt towards science fiction/fantasy, we found new stories, movies, comic books, and tv shows to dive into.

The dive was not a pleasant one for a teenage girl in the 80’s. By the time I was in high school if a peer found out about my secret passion, it was a reminder of ridicule or a confused look of disgust, this often made me deny my love for hobbits, lightsabers, colorful cape adorning cartoon characters, and anything only nerdy pimply faced boys would care about.

But now, now you aren’t cool if you don’t geek out. Now you can pay hundreds of dollars to meet the celebrities that played characters that you were once embarrassed to admit you adored. The bigger the fan the cooler you are, you might even be featured for that basement full of action figures on you local TV station.

Aw geez, let’s face it, I’ve been burned, girls of my generation weren’t supposed to carry the torch for Luke Skywalker, and all things sci-fi fantasy, we liked  Duran Duran and Tom Cruise, so how am I supposed to get excited? I guess I have to dig deep back to my inner child and forget about all the years between being tormented for my lust for Luke, and now embrace my middle-aged geek-girl, that missed out on being cool through her formative years because she secretly loved Spock. After all, Stars Wars for me was the one that started it all.

May The Force not wreck you,

Robin L. Stockmar  M. Ed.

Technology Integration Specialist

 

Busy or Productive? How Technology can Help Teach the Difference

 

DAZED_AND_CONFUSED
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.

Google’s Philosophy on Education: may not be exactly what you thought

Google, a true advocate for education, promoter of literacy for students, and sponsor of schools all over the country may have a different idea on education than we think as Americans.

How is that so? It is so in the concept of public education in our country.

Public education has been one of the foundations in this country that has set us apart, and has made us outshine others with the output of creative and innovative thinkers we have produced that have changed the world over the past 200 years. No argument, hands down, the US has produced more inventions, ideas, ideals, and institutions that have influenced the rest of the modern world than any other country. Public education, free and available to all, much like the Google approach, is truly what sets us apart.

large-schmidt-quote-graphic

Enter Google, they do believe that supplying our country’s children with free and accessible education is part of their philosophy, for all the reasons stated above, but what makes it different than what are idea of “public” is? The “public” in education means a place free of ideology and religion to most Americans, but what if there was a religion, so to speak, or at least an ideology we all adhered to in public education?

Here, public does not mean necessarily a government funded entity that spits factual information to students that memorize it and spit it back. In fact, the exact opposite, the idea of sharing information, being creative and opportunistic is something a standardized test cannot measure, nor should public education endorse as the end all, or has it been until the inception of No Child Left Behind.

As Google continues to take steps forward in their operating systems, and advocating for education in the digital age, their philosophy maybe the square peg in the round hole as public education currently stands. Much like the Enlightenment Era of our founding fathers, the ideology of free thinking, is Google’s idea of free, or public education.

Robin Stockmar M.Ed.

Women, the Tech Industry is Calling!

computer-science

What is the one industry that has the best equal pay when it comes men vs. women? Not something that requires a Ph.D. but rather something you can do with a few years training or less, and doing so by earning it through a certification program or sometimes an internship. The Tech Industry, specifically the technical part of it networking and computer repair, as well as tech administration.

Although this may not be the groundbreaking executive position, or hands-on helping the world be a better place career you are interested in, there is a place for you to make a difference in it, and career advancement is promising.

A cetification program at a community college or even online you can get you started on this path, and with many course options that include categories such as networking, marketing, cyber-security and project management, you can really diversify your skill set, without a huge amount of money spent, and a possible huge financial gain in return.

For more information, check out some of the links provided:

http://shop.trainingcamp.com/

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Cisco_Certified_Network_Associate_(CCNA)/Salary

Movie Magic Made Easy for K-12 Education

Movie Magic Made Easy for K-12 Education

We have all been there, it’s parent night, open house, or your admin has suddenly asked you to put together something quick and inspiring to show off your class talents…..panic, panic, panic!

Don’t panic, it is easy to do with a quick 2 or 3 minute video featuring your class, and all the cute faces that you see everyday doing wonderful things with the magic of: Magisto, a quick and easy way to make a short video to showcase your class.

It is super easy, better than other online movie makers because all you need to do it select some photos from your collection, hopefully you have been taking pictures, or take a few with your phone to start playing…

  1. Upload photos to your smartphone or computer
  2. Select the photos you want, tip: ones with close up features show up better
  3. Select a theme for editing
  4. Select music, you can choose from a provided library, or upload your own

You are done. Your video will be emailed to you, and depending on the length, is how long it will take. Usually within 30 minutes. You can then preview and either keep the movie, or trash it. Another tip is, the more photos you upload the longer you can play with the length of the video.

Your videos will be saved in a library, and you can even create a library that is public, something that the entire school can view, and parents can enjoy.

Easy for students to use as projects as well…so what are you waiting for! Make your Movie!

Magisto