All posts by Genna Heaps

Edmodo in Spanish

In AP Spanish, we partook in a  pen pal project in which we communicated with students from Mexico. Instead of using snail mail, my teacher decided to use Edmodo as a means of communication. This was an excellent integration of technology in the classroom, saving both time and money. We were able to exchange communications easily once a week from both school and home.

BScreen Shot 2014-05-20 at 10.03.25 AMeyond student accessibility, Edmodo helped my teacher as she was actually able to grade through Edmodo. It allowed her to view our submitted documents, write her corrections directly on the paper using her mouse and keyboard, and post the grades and her corrections online very quickly. Students could then easily  access the document to view errors, comments, and the overall grade. Many students downloaded the iPhone app in order to view their penpal’s response sooner and in order to view their grades on the go.

Without technology, this amazing experience would not have been as amazing. This is a demonstrated example of how technology truly makes the world more interconnected. As we progress with similar activities, we will be able to share culture and experiences with the world beginning at a young age. A more interconnected world runs smoother, and technology like Edmodo can help.

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Explain Everything

explain everything 2The name is a little misleading. No, this app does not explain everything to you, but it does do the next best thing- it lets you explain everything to others Many people have referred to Explain Everything as the single most important app for the classroom.

Explain Everything is used to create audio-based screencasts using the users voice, white-board style drawing and writing, and movable media (pictures, videos, etc.). For example, a geography teacher can place a map on the screen and record their voice explaining migration while drawing multi-colored arrows to point out certain flows. What makes Explain Everything stand out among other similar video-annotation apps, is the fact that Explain Everything can be exported easily in other formats (to Google Drive, YouTube, etc.) to share with everyone. If desired, one can also import an already-made Powerpoint document into Explain Everything to annotate and record voice-over. Although it costs money per download, they offer a bulk discount. It is entirely, without a doubt worth every penny.

Explain Everything is a powerful tool for any subject. Teachers can create their lessons virtually, and post them for students to watch at home. Even better, students can create lessons to share with the class. This level of interactivity and powerful engagement gives the material a greater resonance.

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This app can also be used to “flip the classroom”, a new style of teaching in which the students learn the lesson at home and spend time in class working on problems. In a past article about Khan Academy, I discussed flipping the classroom in depth. You can find the article here.

For further explanation on Explain Everything’s basic use in the classroom see the articles below:

http://www.newschooltechnology.org/2013/02/explain-everything/

http://it.berkeleylawblogs.org/2012/02/06/ipad-app-review-explain-everything/

http://schoolipads.com/2014/01/17/apps-in-the-classroom-explain-everything/ (This article includes a diagram that explains key buttons in the app)

 

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Debating Online Testing

Online testing is no longer just a theoretical idea, but a tangible reality. More than 1,000 schools in Massachusetts have already signed up to be a part of a standardized test trial that will offer an online option. No grades will be given, but it will give a way to test the functionality of the new test and online standardized testing. Because many schools don’t have the full capability to allow all students to use computers, they are opting to use paper and pencil.

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I feel that this is one of the problems that may arise in online testing. It may create an inequality among wealthier towns and those towns that might not be able to afford a sufficient number of computers or don’t have the network capability. This disparity could however promote a positive change. With new online tests, the schools that don’t have sufficient technology might  have a stronger desire (and an increased chance) to increase their technological potential. This could ultimately help students and faculty at the less affluent schools. Even for wealthier schools, online testing will come with a large price tag. Equipping every student with a working computer and making sure that the server is capable is a large, daunting task. In addition, schools must think ahead and prepare for potential failures in technology, which could potentially hurt test grades. If a student breaks a pencil tip, they can sharpen it, but if the computer malfunctions, there isn’t much to do.

From my perspective, another problem, perhaps not as big, is cheating. Instead of solely being concealed by flat paper on a desk, students have an upright block hiding whatever they are doing. As long as the student is incapable of accessing the internet during the test and the proctors have a computer in which they can view the screens of the students, this problem shouldn’t be as big of a problem as one might imagine. In the end, those who want to cheat will find a way to cheat, regardless of the test medium.

There are many positives in taking exams on computers. Online testing will quicken test correcting, save money with regards to grading and printing test booklets, time, and the environment. It will also help students that have messy handwriting. The children nowadays have strong technological backgrounds, so it also may potentially increase comfort level and lower the intimidation and stress inextricably linked with large, important standardized tests.

To be honest, online testing scares me. Everything in our society is suddenly appearing online, from banking to credit cards to college applications to basic communications. I feel as though we have lost the genuine aspects of more personal human interaction. However, it’s important to realize that this is just a change. It’s just as people years ago must have worried about phones impairing connections and perhaps even longer ago that light bulbs might permanently promote artificiality over genuine simplicity and beauty. But the promotion of advancement makes for a stronger and better world. Change is a good thing. Online testing is a step in the right direction.

 

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Quizlet: An exciting way to learn

Quizlet is my hero. I have thrown away all my paper flash cards in exchange for this amazing studying tool. Whenever I have a test in any subject that requires memorization, I immediately turn to it. Honestly, I am not a firm believer in rote memorization as a form of education. But Quizlet is different and I always leave knowing my facts cold. The interface is clean and simple, the activities are engaging, and learning with Quizlet is, dare I say, fun!

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My favorite aspect of Quizlet is its versatility. Many falsely assume that flashcards are merely for english vocabulary words, but that is far from the truth. I use Quizlet for every class on my schedule. For an upcoming history test, I will make a set that asks me questions that require me to reply with facts and dates. For a chemistry exam, I will use pictures of bonds and ask myself to identify them. For a spanish quiz, I will use the Speller activity to say the spanish word aloud in the correct pronunciation before I spell it correctly. Quizlet ingrains everything and anything I want into my mind.

Entering in the words and definitions becomes my first form of studying, as it forces me to type out what I need to know. After data entry, I can pick between a wide variety of learning activities, from a fast-paced space-race or scatter game to a slower-paced (but no less engaging) test or Speller.

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Khan Academy: The Future of Education

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Clad in pajamas, Salman Khan has changed the world of education with a laptop and a cheap microphone. He created a series of videos on a simple YouTube channel that evolved into thousands of captivating lessons on a dynamic website. Khan has established Khan Academy: an organization that has evolved into the future of schooling.

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Qualcomm Smartwatch

When I was a child, I used to imagine that my watch could double as a phone and computer. I would dream of the day when the watch I was wearing would have a keyboard, music and access to the internet. My childhood dreams have come true; I have recently heard about an exciting piece of technology by Qualcomm: the Toq Smartwatch.

Released to the public in December, this watch has extraordinary capabilities. With no power switch, the watch is always awake. Its availability and convenience far exceed that of a smartphone. The watch uses a Mirasol display, a screen designed to use up little energy, lasting for multiple days on just one charge. What separates this watch from the other Smart Watches on the market is its battery life, using significantly less power with amazing results. Continue reading

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The Basics of Google Drive Explained

There has been confusion regarding the difference between Google Drive and Google Docs. There is NO difference… They are exactly the same. Google Drive was previously called Google Docs.

Now I’ll explain some basics.

 

First, to access the Google Docs, when you’re on the Google Homepage, click, “Drive” on the upper navigation bar.

 

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