Posted on October 31, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
As a blogger, I get ideas for posts from a variety of different sources. Sometimes, I get ideas from reading other blogs or checking out different technology sites. Other times, I’ll get an idea from a colleague who mentions a website or an app they’ve been using. This week, I need to credit one of my students who asked about using Stixy for a classroom project. I honestly hadn’t heard of the site prior to her question and looked into it. After checking the site out, I realize now that I had been missing out on a tremendous resource. Thanks Marybeth!
Stixy is an online tool for building collaboration across groups of individuals. The site works like an online bulletin board, where users can post photos, documents, notes and todo lists. The interface is intuitive and easy to use. Just drag and drop objects onto the stixyboard and position the objects where you’d like. Stixyboards are shareable, too. One person can start a stixyboard and share it with colleagues who can build on it. The site is free and currently in Beta, meaning they’re still testing the site out to work out the bugs.
Used educationally, Stixy would be a great site for to students to use to help manage a group project. The students could create a stixyboard to manage the different tasks in the project timeline, assign roles to group members and share files. Rather than have files and communication streams littered across a multitude of emails, Stixy could house all of that information in a graphical format that is accessible to all of the group members simultaneously. Besides supporting collaborative groups, the site would also be a great portfolio tool. Students could design a stixyboard to highlight the different projects they had created.
For help getting started with Stixy, be sure to check out this tutorial:
Filed under: Collaboration, Communication | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 25, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
I’ve heard a lot of friends talking about the death of blogging lately. Different media sources have claimed that Twitter has become the medium of choice for younger online writers and that the 140 character limit frees their creativity without overburdening them. While I am really excited about the growth of Twitter, especially amongst a younger population that had avoided the platform completely, there has been another growing movement that has almost gone unnoticed. Tumblr is a blogging site that has been around for a while but has been gaining steam as the middle ground between traditional blogs and Twitter. The New York Times recently reported that the site is signing up over 30,000 new users each day because it offers quick blogging without artificial character limits. As the Telegraph writes about Tumblr,
“Weblogs? Been there, done that. Facebook? It’s full of kids. Twitter? That’s so 2006, darling. No, the smart thing to be doing online these days is tumblelogging, which is to weblogs what text messages are to email – short, to the point, and direct.“
So, what does Tumblr offer that other sites do not? First off, the site is really intuitive and easy to use. You can post content quickly without any real headaches. The site also allows you to bring content from a variety of online sources and create almost a blogging collage. Not into blogging? Tumblr would be a great way to organize content you find online to create your own digital repository. The really great part is that the site is free.
Used educationally, Tumblr would be a great way for teachers to communicate with parents. If you’re a teacher, consider moving your classroom website onto Tumblr and I guarantee that it will save you tons of time and misery. You can post content from your mobile devices and parents and students can access the content from their devices as well. If you have a class Facebook or Twitter account, Tumbler easily integrates with those sites to allow cross-posting from its site. Looking at Tumblr from a student perspective, the site can be used as a reflective tool for students or as a way to keep track of students’ progress with larger projects.
Even though Tumblr is easy to use, I thought I’d include a tutorial to help get people started:
Filed under: Blogging | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 18, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
Tablets and personal electronic devices are becoming more prevalent in schools. Many institutions have some sort of iPad or iPod initiative where pockets of students are using the devices educationally. While I’m really excited at the promise that these devices hold, I also fear that the use of the tools may be limited to simple rote memorization, recall level activities. Sure, there are thousands of apps that allow students to practice their number facts or master their knowledge of grammar, spelling and money. But I wonder how we can get our students to author content with the devices. How can we utilize the tools to tap into students creativity and assess the content we are teaching (science, English, math, etc) through some creative work? One way is through an application called Moglue. Moglue is a desktop application that allows users to create interactive books for iPads, iPhones, iPods and Android devices. The program utilizes a simple drag-and-drop interface, allowing anyone to explore their creativity. The end product is pretty amazing. Users can create books where all sorts of actions are triggered by a reader’s touch. Objects can move or text can be read aloud simply by a reader touching the screen. While the interactive books would be great instructional tools for teachers to develop for their students, the books would also be tremendous products for students to create themselves. Much like other 21st Century creative forms (podcasting, blogging, etc), Moglue offers a chance for students to create content that can be shared with the world.
My only real reservation with the application is that it is currently in Beta, which means that the company is testing out the bugs and gauging the interest of users. While Moglue is currently available for free so users can download and create books, the long-term outlook for the application is not clear. As often happens with these tools, the site may begin charging users down the road. Until that happens, however, Moglue is just too unique and useful to pass up.
For a quick rundown of how to use the site, be sure to check out the following tutorial:
Filed under: eTexts, iPads | 3 Comments »
Posted on October 11, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
I’m always on the lookout for sources of digital media online that can be incorporated into online and face-to-face learning environments. This week, a friend suggested that I check out Hippocampus and I was honestly amazed at what the site offers. Hippocampus states that its goal is “to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.” The site is part of Open Education Resources, a worldwide movement to make educational content “open,” which means that the resources are free and accessible to anyone. Hippocampus offers digital textbooks, multimedia lessons and even complete online courses on a variety of topics including calculus, physics, biology and US History. The resources are high-quality and offer students and educators a great deal of differentiation, not only in the depth of the instruction but also the language in which the materials are presented. Some of the materials are presented in Spanish and all of the lessons include captions for students who may be hearing impaired. For instance, check out these two Calculus lessons:
Definition of a function (English)
Definition of a function (Spanish)
The great part is that many of the resources include interactive assessments to keep students engaged and help them reflect on what they’ve learned. My only real criticism with the site is that the content cannot be embedded into other locations. I’d prefer to have the ability to include the materials directly into a course shell or into a website. While Hippocampus provides links to individual lessons, I worry that some students could get distracted if they encounter other materials on the site. Even with that minor issue, Hippocampus is a tremendous resource. If you’re teaching an online class or want to include more digital media into your face-to-face class, you really need to check out Hippocampus.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 4, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
Last Wednesday, I co-hosted two online sessions celebrating the innovative works of several local teachers. The sessions were part of a week-long event called Education on Location: National Issues at Home that was organized by the School of Education at Millersville University. The online sessions were really exciting and very inspirational. Since many people were probably unable to attend the event due to its timing, we recorded the sessions. If you have a moment, check out each of the sessions and watch the videos of the teachers’ projects. You’ll see everything from Nanotechnology in an AP Chemistry classroom to Twitter being used as part of Geography lesson in an elementary classroom.
I’d like to thank David Solon, Instructional Technology Coordinator at the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit for co-hosting the event and partnering with Millersville to organize these sessions. I’d also like to thank all of the teachers for agreeing to participate in the sessions and for being such excellent models for innovation.
Filed under: video | Leave a Comment »