Monday, May 27, 2013

How High Are You Climbing the Ladder of Educational Technology?

As the world continues to change, technology continues to change as well. Not only is it important for us as educators to teach our students how to use technology, but it is even more important for us to use it in a way that is seamlessly integrated so our students can learn the content, material, and skills that they need to learn.  This is Education Technology Integration.

When I first started my blog entitled "Climbing the Ladder of Educational Technology," I entitled it so because I envisioned myself on a journey learning about emerging educational technology.  After blogging on various educational technologies for more than seven months, I have found new meaning in my blog.  This is all relative to Educational Technology Integration.   
When I reflect upon Educational Technology Integration, I think of a ladder.  The very bottom of the ladder touches the earth.  This represents the actual basics of the technology itself.  For instance, the ability to turn on an iPad and read a document on it; or writing on a SMARTBoard in a similar fashion to using an overhead projector.  These are the most simplest ways to integrate the technology.  Although the technology might be integrated in the classroom, is it providing the students with an interactive, engaging experience?  Most likely not.  The teacher will need to learn how to use the technology at a deeper level and then how to integrate it into the lesson as well.  (Please see the SAMR Model below for more information.)

Once the teacher has learned how to use the technology thoroughly and can use it in an efficient manner, it's time to integrate it with the content that is being taught.  The teacher has begun in a sense, to climb the ladder of EdTech.  It is the educator's job to create lessons that will engage the students and will bring their learning to new heights.  At the same time, it is important that the educator personalizes the learning to the needs of the class.  Included in personalizing the learning is differentiated instruction to reach those students who may have diverse learning styles.  

When planning the lesson and creating the content, the teacher is going to want to use best practices.  One of the most important points to consider when integrating technology in education is when to use it and when not to use it.  Secondly, another point for the teacher to consider is, "What is the technology allowing me to do NOW that I have not done before without it?  What are my students able to do with the technology NOW that they could not have done before without it?"  Third, what cognitive skills are being included from Bloom's Taxonomy?  Are your students thinking and creating?  Are they collaborating to make something new?  Fourth, is the technology a teacher centered tool or a student centered tool?  We must all remember that implementing the technology - whether it's iPads, SMARTBoards, etc. is not going to bring "magic" inside our classrooms.  Technology is just a tool.  It's up to teacher how to use it inside the classroom. The teacher is the one who has the job of bringing magic into the classroom.  

     SAMR Model of Educational Technology Integration

                                                              TPACK Model 

                                                      The New Bloom's Taxonomy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Put Your Mail in Its Place With Mailbox

We know our world is constantly changing. Years ago, organizing my e-mail was merely a cinch. Twenty years ago, I remember signing on to AOL and hearing the man say, "You've Got Mail." In those days, sending and receiving e-mail was an enjoyable activity. Not anymore. Between work, school, family, friends, other contacts, and paying bills, my e-mail is constantly flooded. I needed a solution to help me organize my inbox and reduce my mail - with the hope that it would actually reach zero. Worse yet, people were sending me to tasks to complete via e-mail. (This was due to none other than my fault, since I was the one who asked them to do so. "If you need me to get something done, then e-mail it to me," I would tell them.) Yet, that was just adding clutter to my inbox. Thanks to some of my colleagues, I was fortunate to learn about the newly released app Mailbox.

Currently available for iPhone + Gmail (with more platforms to come soon), Mailbox is the the fast, fun mobile inbox that puts email in its place - literally. The Mailbox app uses the cloud to sync with one's Gmail account in order to deliver one's e-mail to his or phone as fast as possible.   The mail is then delivered securely to one's phone. With Mailbox, one can quickly swipe messages to his or her archive or trash.

In addition, one can glance at an entire conversation with chat-like organization.  If the user finds e-mails that he or she does not need until a later date, he can "snooze" the e-mails until that time with a swipe and tap of just one button.  The "snoozed" e-mails will return automatically to the user at the desired time.  This enables the user to focus on those e-mails that are important to him or her now. 

Mailbox is an entirely new experience to using one's inbox.  Personally, I often dread cleaning out my Gmail inbox.  Using the Mailbox app no longer makes cleaning out my e-mail a chore; instead it's a breeze. I can now pay attention to those e-mails that are currently in my inbox.  And once I focus on those e-mails, I am a left with a clean empty inbox.  Now that's a great feeling.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Zite: A Magazine Created Especially Just For You

If you're a reflective practitioner like me, you are constantly searching for articles to read about the newest trends in education and ways that you can enhance your teaching methods.  This includes subjects such as pedagogy, professional development,  teaching, educational technology, special education, and much more. We all know that teaching is dynamic and not static.  The students we are teaching nowadays are not the same students that were in our classrooms 20 years ago.  Therefore, we need to change our teaching styles in order to personalize the learning towards our students.  Because my time is so limited, it is difficult for me to research various magazines on different articles.  And then I discovered Zite.

Zite is an awesome mobile app for educators. It's a free app that allows you to create a personalized magazine for a specific topic. Tell it what you’re interested in and the app will suck in relevant blog posts, news articles, videos, and articles. Over time, Zite learns about your preferences and serves up more of the content you want. This app is ideal for teachers who want to stay on top of a subject and find the latest news to share with students without having to spend hours scouring the Web.  Zite attempts to customize and deliver the type of articles you like to read in a newspaper style reading.It is Wifi- connection enabled which means that you can easily access news content with a tap of a button.

As educators, we can try Zite to make our reading experience even better. You can access the content of your favorite websites and even customize it in a newspaper style and share it with others. Invite your students to use it and enjoy the look they would have when reading the feeds of the websites they like. I am quite sure you will like this app when you try it.  The more you use Zite, the better the app will get to know you and select articles that are based on your personal interests.  Your magazine will be personalized just for you.  That's personalized learning at its best.  

Here is a list of some of the main features that Zite offers to its users:
  • It is compatible with iPad and requires iOS 3.2 or later.
  • It is free
  • It is easy to use
  • It has an intuitive interface
  • It allows its users to customize and use magazine style to read their feds
  • It has 1000's of magazine sections to choose from using a smart auto-suggest tool
  • It allows you to share content you like to Twitter, Facebook and via e-mail.
To get started using Zite, here is a short video tutorial to help you understand how to use Zite on your iPad.