Technology Integration for teachers

Archive for the category “Integration”

Television and Apple TV for Instruction

Recently the world of television and computer technology has been merging. This has been slow and it has also been slow to recognize. In the recent past there has been a way to display content from a computer onto a television. I often did this in the classroom when I wanted to show video, or present a slide show. It cost me a bit of my personal money, but I found it very useful. Today televisions are lighter and easier to mount onto walls. Televisions with dimensions of 42 to 72 inches are within the price range of most consumers. The resolution of these televisions rivals that of most computer monitors. The problem has been, physically disconnecting yourself from the device. You could, of course, use it as a presentation device with the flat screen television used as an expensive projector. Presentations are either bland with slides filled with too much information or they are so animated that the focus is on the presentation and less on the content. Presentations take time to prepare and are limited by that preparation. I don’t much care for the uni-tasking option of using a television for delivering presentation alone. Technology is expensive and I like to stretch technology as far as I can.

Within the last few years the Apple TV has hit the market. With this device I have also come to appreciate the relationship between television and an Apple TV for instruction. I see the Apple TV as a nexus for teachers between television technology and the role of teacher as facilitator. Todays Apple devices like the iPad and Apple computer can display content through the Apple TV wirelessly. While it can be used to watch video, as in the home, it can also be used to deliver instruction. The laptop is portable but still cumbersome to carry around for instruction. The iPad is portable and light weight enough for any teacher to carry around. Once an iPad is in communication with the Apple TV it can display the contents of any application. There are a variety of whiteboard applications available for the iPad that a teacher can use to take the place of the traditional chalk and white board. I’ve covered these applications in previous posts. Look for my posts on Educreations and Show Me.

With an Apple TV and an iPad a teacher can display web page content, show video, use an application to enhance classroom content, deliver a slide show or use a whiteboard application. The teacher can do all this without being the center of instruction at the front of the class. If students have iPads they too can wirelessly deliver content to the same television. With this technology in place the teacher and students can use it as an incidental focal point for information and pertinent content. The focus of instruction remains with the student as learner and teacher as facilitator.

In a typical lesson a teacher introduces the concept to be learned that day. For example, a teacher might post basic information about a historical figure like Benjamin Franklin. This information could include his name and an image. Students would then use a variety of resources to learn about Benjamin Franklin on their own. Teachers would facilitate with probing questions. Students could individually or in groups develop a presentation to display what they have learned about Benjamin Franklin. The teacher, of course, would provide a rubric for the presentation. Students would then talk to the class about what they learned and use the television to display their information as text or media, which might include images, video or sound. The same can be done for all content areas. This example, is very basic, but it begins to show the possibilities of what can be done in the right classroom environment. A teacher needs a place to write and the iPad provides this option without forcing a teacher to be center stage. White board applications like Skitch, Showme and Educreations fill the need for a teacher to use a white board for specific content instruction.

If you haven’t explored the possibilities of an Apple TV and iPad in your classroom I highly encourage you to learn more about this integration.


Technology Integration with Evernote: Rubrics

It is obvious that students today are digital natives. This doesn’t mean they understand how to use technology appropriately. Let me use one of my famous examples. When Video Cassette Players and Recorders appeared for consumers in the eighties, they were as easy to use as an audio cassette recorder. Most people knew how to press play, stop and rewind. Hardly anyone knew how to set the clock or to record from the television. That’s why they later made VCRs with automatic digital clocks and beautifully illustrated instructions with color codes to connect your television to the VCR. Most people still didn’t know how to record from the television. The same is true with our current digital natives. They don’t know what a VCR is, and they also don’t know how to properly format documents in a word processor. These are skills to be taught like any skill.
Rubrics in technology are instructions and guidelines. Rubrics assure that students produce products that comply with accepted conventions, and comply with your minimum requirements. Some of your rubrics should emphasize writing standards and specifically technical writing. For example, students should use either a sans-serif font like Arial or Verdana, or a serif font like Georgia or Times New Roman. These typefaces are both legible and readable. Standard body text should be 12 point. Heading and sub heading sizes should be either larger than the body text or bold. Titles are centered and data is organized in tables. Use numbered lists to indicate a sequence, as in a set of instructions. Un-numbered lists can be used for anything else. All lists should begin with a capital letter, Unless a list is part of a complex sentence. This sounds complicated, but these steps are important when writing any document. These are the same considerations I take into account when writing my blog.
Your rubric should also address images placed into a document. For example, an image should be in JPG, PNG or GIF format. It should be no larger than 640 by 480 pixels and no smaller than 300 by 300 pixels. This simple set of requirements requires a few skill sets from students.
Rubrics go beyond grades and become a useful tool for emphasizing standards, best practices and teaching essential technology skills. I believe that your rubric is important to assure students use and apply technology using real world application methods. Your rubric will vary with the content and assignment.
That brings me to the end of this series of articles for integrating Evernote. If you would indulge me a little, I would like to expand on Evernote integration with some additional tools that can be used in connection with Evernote to expand the options available.

Technology Integration with Evernote: Setup and Overview

Evernote Integration:
A technology should be deep and extensive for integration into any classroom. By this I mean it should provide a variety of tools that allow it to be used in an extensive network. In education, this means it should provide all the necessary tools to be integrated into most, if not all, the content areas of instruction. There are a variety of tools that provide this level of integration and versatility. In order for a tool to reach this level of versatility it must exist without borders. By this I mean, it must be available in a variety of platforms and it must facilitate communication and collaboration. Above all, it must be easy and very intuitive to use.

As I said, there are a variety of tools that meet this objective. In this series of blogs I will focus on one application, Evernote. Before I begin, I should tell you that I don’t work for Evernote or get any compensation from Evernote in any way. My goal is to help educators understand how technology like Evernote can be used in classroom instruction.

Evernote is an application that does one thing and does it very well. It collects ideas and allows you to easily share those ideas with others. You can capture ideas in a variety of ways. It’s basic word processor helps to type your ideas. It uses your devices built in microphone to record your audio ideas, your device’s camera to take a picture, attach existing files from your computer, or capture web pages.

Sharing your ideas with Evernote is just as easy using traditional and social media. Email an idea to someone, post it on Facebook or Twitter. One of the options is to share a notebook with another Evernote user.

The Setup:
The first step is to look at any setup requirements. Evernote is free for the basic version. This is great because school districts are currently strapped for money. Cost is always the first roadblock that can end technology integration right in its tracks. This is why I always look at free or open source applications. Evernote works on a wide variety of platforms. This is because Evernote is an application that can be installed onto Apple, Windows and a wide variety of mobile devices. If you are a Linux district, a third party called Nevernote provides an application. Evernote doesn’t have to be installed. Evernote is a web application. Installed applications tie your device to Evernote on the web. You can log into Evernote’s web site and use it directly.

We can see right away the setup is going to be relatively easy. The application is available for all platforms. Download and install the client. Most teachers can usually do this easily enough. If you are part of a larger district you might have someone at your campus dedicated to do this job. Most districts today lock down computers so only a dedicated administrator can install or remove software. This is done for various security reasons. Our district is one such district. This could be a hurdle but it helps to coordinate with the computer administrator to get this done. Remember, he or she is just as busy and it helps to work together. If you are part of the emerging districts that have a policy of bring your own device, then installation is easily accommodated on your personal devices.

Why install? Isn’t it also web based? Yes, it is web based, and software installation is not required. Networks aren’t always reliable. With more users accessing a school’s network there are times that getting anything done can be painfully slow. Using the application gives some added benefits. The application saves a copy onto a device and syncs a copy onto the Evernote web account. With an application you and students always have access to information even without an Internet connection.

Creating an account for Evernote is quick and easy. All that is required is an email and the user to create a username and password. This account can be created within the application or on the Internet. A student can be up and running with Evernote in under a minute.

What can Evernote do?
This might have been the first question I addressed, but I saved it for this part. Evernote is a note taking application. It comes with basic word processing tools. For most integration purposes that’s all you will need. Students can insert images, audio, and attach files. Students can upload up to 60 MB each month. This might seem small, but most text notes can be measured in kilobytes.

At this point I think we need to redefine Evernote. This is important so you can understand what it can do in a classroom. Evernote is your student’s notebook. It is the notebook where students store their classroom notes, write journal entries, do their homework, and take a quiz, test or exam. This is also your teacher notebook. It is where you provide notes to students. Distribute and collect homework assignments, quizzes, tests and exams.

Now your asking yourself, how can Evernote help me do all that?

Evernote has another option that greatly extends its capabilities. Evernote has the option to create notebooks to organize all your word processing assignments. A student can have a math, science, or history notebook. Students can write their content notes within each notebook. Notebooks can be placed into stacks. Stacks are several notebooks grouped into a category. A student can have a science stack, which includes a notebook for notes, one for vocabulary lists, one for homework assignments and one for lab work.

As a teacher you can have a similar format. You can create notebooks for each of the content areas. In addition you can stack notebooks to include such things as a classroom syllabus, homework assignments, assessments, daily assignments and so on.

Thus far I’ve talked about how to organize information into notebooks and stacks. This is important because as a teacher this is how I would introduce Evernote to students in my classroom. Understanding the fundamentals is important because you will be using these basics over and over again. Once this set of fundamentals is in place you can take on the crucial process of collaboration.

Technology Integration: How and When

One of the underlying factors with technology in education is its integration within the curriculum. Technology should not be an after thought. It should not be difficult to integrate. It should allow for a variety of learning styles and levels of difficulty. It should mold itself to a variety of teaching styles. It must fit the needs of differentiation. It should be a responsive element with intervention strategies. Administrators should support a variety of technologies and integration levels. Teachers need to be open to a variety of learning tools that focus on student learning styles and needs.

Read more…

What are e-books part 3

This is the last part of my e-book series for teachers.

In this last part I want to talk about recent applications on the iPad for creating e-books.

The iPad is becoming more of a desktop and laptop replacement for most things. Creating and publishing e-books is one option. In our district we are seeing more campuses purchase iPads. This is due to several factors. They are easy to carry and hold. They offer an intuitive interface for students and offer a long battery life. Battery life has always been one of those things that limited the large-scale one to one use of computers. Many school building were built before the advent of massive computer technology. Many campuses had rooms with only one or two electrical outlets. Buildings with this configuration often could not support the power requirements for desktops or laptops. More often than not, you found that all this drain on electrical resources blew out fuses. iPads have a long battery life. Enough to power the drive through a typical days worth of instruction. Charging iPads requires 5 volts per iPad, compared to 12 volts for a laptop.

Read more…

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