Tech-ED

Enhancing Education with a Touch of Technology

Archive for the tag “professional development”

App Review: DuoLingo

So I recently have invested a good portion of my time into the somewhat recent app DuoLingo.  I saw the website during the introduction phase and my how the service has flourished. Since las November they recently published the iPhone app which as increased my time learning Spanish tremendously.  It also helps that there is a little reminder everyday. This app is a true help to learning Spanish and Italian as I come to find out personally.

The structure of the software is somewhat of gamification where you have to complete several tasks before you can move on to the next round.  The layout reminds me of Mario Brothers 3 fo Nintendo. You can select a couple of things to learn first and move down the track from there.  It is also nice that every lesson you get 3 extra “lives”.  This allows you as the learner to have a safety net of failure and focus on the learning taking place. It is also nice because there is a limit to your tries before you have to start over again.  This is where I have a split decision and yes it does force me as a learner to go back through the exercise again, but now is the app training me for test taking? I will leave that up to you to decide. Regardless, the app has actually helped me learn spanish not just memorize it.  I was having an email conversation with a native Spanish speaker and I mentioned I was learning Spanish because I actually thought in Spanish instead of strictly English. He was elated, because to truly learn you must spend time and that time is also out of the “learning time” thinking about the language.

If you are looking for a free online learning tool this has to be one of the best I have come across and I say watch out Rosetta Stone! If DuoLingo can keep expanding and getting fans like myself and actually teach us new languages that we don’t just learn partially or key phrases I think they could easily have a new share in the market.  Thanks DuoLingo for helping me achieve one of my goals in life, and I will continue playing/learning until I reach the end of my map!

Gaming: Bridging to a Better Education

For a long time games have been this separate piece of our lives, that we don’t recognize as being apart of our lives. Many people see them as something they don’t understand, but all along they have bridged into reality. As soon as we talk about them in our daily lives they become a part of our day by definition they are not compartmentalized. The play is compartmentalized, but the actuality is they have been bridged to reality since shortly after their conception.

Games are fantastic, there is a plot for players to follow or a brief introduction if the plot doesn’t matter. Most games are actually measured by gamers in hours it takes to complete the game. Much like a college course you are wanting to take and conquer.  As we all know you gain skills/experience/weapons as you face harder challenges/enemies, and there are twists and turns throughout the game that can alter your path. Many times we all try and find all of the secrets of the game that players must spend time study maps and pay attention to every detail of the game experience.

This is a great time to see education slowly embrace the concept of gaming. It is incredible that the idea behind gaming makes sense, but how can we leverage that in education.  Students are uninterested, yes they are gaining knowledge, but are they truly thinking about the concepts and not just passing tests. With the embrace of design thinking, roundtable discussions, gamification, technology integration, and everything else education is embracing students are more engaged than before. This has intrigued me to watch this happen since it makes sense thinking back to my education.

The only thing that some schools have done is taken this to the online realm, and why shouldn’t we? Students today need to learn how to parse through information that in their life will be continuously thrown at them. Here are some ideas to set your class up as a game more so than it already is:

  1. Plan you curriculum out that you acknowledge a completed unit/level of the class. Many times we do complete them, but then we move right on to the next thing. Take a class and signify this with something fun that is not a test.
  2. If you are online or have a blog/wiki for your course use badges as students get skills. Class Badges is a great starting point.
  3. Teach them the ability to find false information. Use social media to teach students what is important information, show them hash tags, talk to you librarians about internet searching.
  4. Use the things they are interested in to teach them life skills. Do you know about everything Google can do? I surely don’t (more to come on this) but there is plenty to keep us all busy for a while 🙂
  5. If you really want to go 100% gamer turn your class into a LARP. Once students enter your room they are different characters on different missions but all have to work together for a common goal.

A great quote that has resonated with me brought back from a conference. Teachers are like cavemen coming out of the cave, its scary but a necessity for survival. Our students are already using the tools of today and tomorrow, why would we shut that off to teach them about today and tomorrow?

+1 Google Plus in Education

google+Today there is a buzz in the air with education and social media. I don’t blame educational systems for looking into the fastest growing ways that people are connecting and consuming data. However, with the social aspect there are more factors at play such as a lifespan (how big can it get without being too big), users interest, and the intrinsic “cool” factor. After all it would just be media with out the social aspect.  If you are like me, you are wondering how can we predict how people will move, and honestly we really can’t 100% predict that movement, but we can be prepared.

One of the options now is Google+.  I played around and found I can consume, produce, and publish information all from one place. This may sound familiar with Facebook, but I don’t have to sort through near as much useless information in the process. I can messaging, hanging out, and still being up-to-date on current news in all from the same place, and I am learning from all of the information.  Yesterday I was able to connect with people, see their face, share screens and learn from them as much as we were able to, and had an incredibly easy time doing all of the above. It all hit me…Why aren’ we using this to teach students in the classroom?  Well start on February 22, you and your students, friends, kids, whoever can actually see a live feed from space from NASA and 10 people will be able to interact with astronauts. AWESOME! I just became a kid again and I can see into space!

All of this sounds great, but what about social media, and it impacting education. Well, as an educator, it seems like Google+ has so many ways for you to connect with other classrooms, other cultures, astronauts, and anyone else who has signed up. It seems to replace Skype for video conferencing, for classroom to classroom connections, and classroom to guest speakers.  Imagine have 9 classes interact with a speaker all at once for free!

Here are 10 ways to leverage Google+ in EDU:

1. Communities, can be classes and you can have a live discussion over topics and ideas

2. You can create a small virtual classroom for free, record the lecture and play it back later from YouTube

3. Video conference with people all over the world (mystery hangout, share google documents live, document a project as a class)

4. Have your students teach other students. Divide a class in 1/2 and have 10 students teach part of your lesson. Record, publish repeat. You will have students teaching student before next year!

5. Record a play on a hangout if you are not all in the same physical location

6. Use it for teacher to teacher professional development. Hold 10 meeting throughout the year and have an ongoing discussion or 10 topics to talk about.

7. Hold mini demos/conferences of new ideas for a board of directors and record it for others to use.

8. Create your own Khan academy to fit your classes needs.

9. Use it for cultural, geographical, trending topics, or share your classroom with another class anywhere in the world!

10. Have students learn more than what your schedule might allow asynchronously, and create an individualized learning experience.

Share information! Educate our youth, and don’t look back. They are our future!

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