An Easy Way to Create Multimedia Quiz Games for Your Class

August , 2017
Factile (former Jeopardy Rocks) is an excellent web tool that enables teachers to create multimedia quiz games for their classroom.  Using a simple and intuitive gameboard, teachers will get to create engaging quiz games without the need for any coding skills. The process is easy: Open an account with Factile, click on ‘build now’ in homepage then type in your titles and categories. Click on a square to open up the editor for a question  and fill in with your content.

Factile will engage your students in collaborative team work and enhance their learning while having fun. There are different ways to use Factile in your instruction. For instance ,you can use it  for formative assessment purposes to check students understanding of newly taught lessons. You can also use it to introduce new concepts or review latest ones. Please note that ‘Factile is totally free for your first 3 games. After that, you must upgrade to the PRO version for $5/month (or $48 per year). In the PRO version you also get extra features like image, video and equation uploading, as well as the ability to print games.’

14 Great Books on How Video Games Boost Kids Learning

August 20, 2017
Gaming is a growing trend in the 21st century learning paradigm and you don't need to look hard to see the evidence. Digital and video games  take up a big part of the lives of our digital natives, and of course, as is the case with every 'new technology' doubtful and cynical voices are the first to be heard.  When writing was first invented  some 6 thousands years ago, people were very critical of the new invention. In Phaedrus, for instance,  the popular Greek philosopher, Plato  expresses serious reservations  about writing. He viewed it  "as a mechanical, inhuman way of processing knowledge, unresponsive to questions and destructive of memory."(Orality and Literacy, Kindle location. 891). The same criticism and initial rejection were levelled against other inventions that transformed humanity (e.g invention of telephone, radio, TV, and Internet).

The argument here is that everything has an inherent polarity of negative and positive  aspects and it behoves us to foreground the positive aspects and make the best of them while also devising strategies to deal with the negative sides. The same with digital and video gaming, their advantages greatly outweigh their disadvantages. If you doubt it, here is a set of some really wonderful books that shed more light on the importance of video games and how they help kids in their learning.

1- What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee

“James Paul Gee begins his classic book with "I want to talk about video games--yes, even violent video games--and say some positive things about them." With this simple but explosive statement, one of America's most well-respected educators looks seriously at the good that can come from playing video games.”

2- Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, by Jane McGonigal

“In this groundbreaking book, Jane shows how we can leverage the power of games to fix what is wrong with the real world-from social problems like depression and obesity to global issues like poverty and climate change-and introduces us to cutting-edge games that are already changing the business, education, and nonprofit worlds.”

3- Fun: Inc: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century, by Tom Chatfield

“Fun Inc. is the most elegant and comprehensive defence of the status of computer games in our culture I have read. The sheer pervasiveness of game experience—99 per cent of teenage boys and 94 per cent of teenage girls having played a video game—means that instant naffness falls upon those who express a musty disdain for the medium. In fact, as Fun Inc. elegantly explains, computer game-playing has a very strong claim to be one of the most vital test-beds for intellectual enquiry.” (Independent [London])

4- Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee

“This book discusses a broad range of topics concerning video games, learning and literacy. These include the ways games can marry pleasure, learning and mastery through the sense of ownership, agency and control players enjoy when gaming, as well as controversial issues surrounding games. The book explores relationships between values, identity, content and learning, and focuses on how to understand and explain many young people’s differential experiences of learning in gaming and schooling respectively.”

5- Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning, by Marc Prensky

“Marc Prensky presents the case—profoundly counter-cultural but true nevertheless—that video and computer game playing, within limits, is actually very beneficial to today's "Digital Native" kids, who are using them to prepare themselves for life in the 21st century. The reason kids are so attracted to these games, Prensky says, is that they are learning about important "future" things, from collaboration, to prudent risk taking, to strategy formulation and execution, to complex moral and ethical decisions.”

6- The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning, by Katie Salen Tekinba

“This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners. The Ecology of Games (edited by Rules of Play author Katie Salen) aims to expand upon and add nuance to the debate over the value of games--which so far has been vociferous but overly polemical and surprisingly shallow.”

7- Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age, by Kurt Squire

“ This accessible book describes how educators and curriculum designers can harness the participatory nature of digital media and play. The author presents a comprehensive model of games and learning that integrates analysis of games, games cultures, and educational game design. Building on over 10 years of research, Kurt Squire tells the story of the emerging field of immersive digitally mediated learning environments (or games) and outlines the future of education.”

8- Games, Learning, and Society: Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age, by Constance Steinkuehler (Editor), Kurt Squire Ph.D. (Editor), Sasha Barab Ph.D. (Editor)

“This volume is the first reader on videogames and learning of its kind. Covering game design, game culture, and games as 21st century pedagogy, it demonstrates the depth and breadth of scholarship on games and learning to date. The chapters represent some of the most influential thinkers, designers, and writers in the emerging field of games and learning - including James Paul Gee, Soren Johnson, Eric Klopfer, Colleen Macklin, Thomas Malaby, Bonnie Nardi, David Sirlin, and others”

9- How to Do Things with Videogames, by Ian Bogost

“Bogost, a leading scholar of videogames and an award-winning game designer, explores the many ways computer games are used today: documenting important historical and cultural events; educating both children and adults; promoting commercial products; and serving as platforms for art, pornography, exercise, relaxation, pranks, and politics. Examining these applications in a series of short, inviting, and provocative essays, he argues that together they make the medium broader, richer, and more relevant to a wider audience.”

10- Digital Games and Learning: Research and Theory, by Nicola Whitton

“Digital Games and Learning: Research and Theory provides a clear and concise critical theoretical overview of the field of digital games and learning from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Taking into account research and theory from areas as varied as computer science, psychology, education, neuroscience, and game design, this book aims to synthesise work that is relevant to the study of games and learning. It focuses on four aspects of digital games: games as active learning environments, games as motivational tools, games as playgrounds, and games as learning technologies, and explores each of these areas in detail.”

11- Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century: Literate Connections, by Gail E. Hawisher (Editor), Cynthia L. Selfe (Editor)

“Gaming Lives explores the complexly rendered relationship between computer gaming environments and literacy development by focusing on in-depth case studies of computer gamers in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This volume examines the claim that computer games can provide better literacy and learning environments than U.S. schools. Using the words and observations of individual gamers, this book offers historical and cultural analyses of their literacy development, practices, and values.”

12- Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, by Steven Johnson 

“ In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing big idea book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper.”

13- Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things, by Brian Burke

“Gamify shows gamification in action: as a powerful approach to engaging and motivating people to achieving their goals, while at the same time achieving organizational objectives. It can be used to motivate people to change behaviors, develop skills, and drive innovation. “

14- The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. By Karl M. Kapp

“"Kapp argues convincingly that gamification is not just about adding points, levels and badges to an eLearning program, but about fundamentally rethinking learning design. He has put together a brilliant primer for learning professionals on how to gamify learning, packed with useful advice and examples." —Anders Gronstedt, president, Gronstedt Group”.

8 Good Android Apps to boost Teachers Professional Growth

August 19, 2017
For our Android fans here in EdTech and mLearning, here is a collection of some very good apps to help you with your professional growth. These are apps that provide you access to a treasure trove of online courses and training videos covering a wide variety of topics from computer programming and coding to photography and music. Courses are offered from leading universities from all around the world.  Browse through the collections there and pick out the courses you are interested to start learning anywhere, anytime.
8 Very Good Android Apps to Enhance Teachers Professional Growth

An Interesting Converting Tool that Supports Over 200 Formats

August 19, 2017
CloudConvert is an excellent converter to use for converting almost anything you want.  We have tried several converting utilities in the past and this one stands out from the crowd. It is fast (even with large files), simple, easy to use, and most important of all, it is integrated with Google Drive and other cloud services such as Dropbox. ‘It is possible to use Google Drive or Dropbox both as input or output destination for your converted files. This makes it possible to start a large video conversion, leave the app and just wait until the file appears in your Google Drive / Dropbox.’

CloudCovert supports over 200 different formats including: audio (MP3, AAC, FLAC…), video (MP4, AVI, MPG…), document (PDF, DOC, DOCX, ODT…), ebook (MOBI, EPUB, CBC…), archive (ZIP, RAR…), spdreadsheets (XLS, XLSX, ODS, CSV…), and presentation (PPT, PPTX, ODP). Some of the types of conversions you can carry out using CloudConvert include:
  • Extract ZIP, RAR etc directly on Google Drive / Dropbox
  • Merge multiple PDFs, JPGs, DOCs into one PDF
  • PDF to DOC 
  • AVI to MP4 
  • M4A to MP3
  • MOBI to PDF
  • DOCX to ODT
  • PNG to JPG
CloudCnvert does not require any software installation. You simply upload your files to the site and once the conversion is finished, files are permanently deleted. The free version of CloudConvert supports up to 1GB maximum file size and provides you with 25 minutes maximum conversion time per file.

10 Great Android Music Apps for Young Learners

August , 2017
Here is a collection of some very good Android music apps for kids and young learners. This collection is featured in Google Play App Store and embeds some highly rated apps in this category. Using the apps below,  kids will get to explore the world of music and sound and  learn the basics of how to play different musical instruments such as piano, guitar and flute. Check them out below and share with us your feedback in our Facebook page.

10 Awesome Android Music Apps for Young Learners

10 Useful Books on Autism for Teachers

August 14, 2017
Here is a collection of some popular books on autism. Get to explore the autistic world from multiple perspectives and learn more about the inner emotional life of autistic individuals. Some of these books are first-hand stories and autobiographies of people dealing with autism and how they managed to positively shape their life and the life of those around them. (See links below).
10 Great Books on Autism for Teachers and Parents

1- Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison 

‘Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.’

2- Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism,  by Jenny McCarthy

‘ Louder Than Words follows Jenny as she discovered an intense combination of behavioral therapy, diet, and supplements that became the key to saving Evan from autism. Her story sheds much-needed light on autism through her own heartbreak, struggle, and ultimately hopeful example of how a parent can shape a child's life and happiness.’

3- NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman (author),  Oliver Sacks (Foreword)

‘Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.’

4- Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism , by Temple Grandin  (Author), Oliver Sacks (Foreword)

‘In this unprecedented book, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world. What emerges in Thinking in Pictures is the document of an extraordinary human being, one who, in gracefully and lucidly bridging the gulf between her condition and our own, sheds light on the riddle of our common identity.’

5- The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, by Temple Grandin  (Author), Richard Panek

‘Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it.’

6- Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism's Silent Prison , by Ido Kedar  (Author)

‘Ido in Autismland opens a window into non-verbal autism through dozens of short, autobiographical essays each offering new insights into autism symptoms, effective and ineffective treatments and the inner emotional life of a severely autistic boy. In his pithy essays, author Ido Kedar, a brilliant sixteen year old with autism, challenges what he believes are misconceptions in many theories that dominate autism treatment today while he simultaneously chronicles his personal growth in his struggles to overcome his limitations.’

7- Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, by Barry M. Prizant 

‘Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.’

8- How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move?: Inside My Autistic Mind, by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

‘An astounding new work by the author of The Mind Tree that offers a rare insight into the autistic mind and how it thinks, sees, and reacts to the world. When he was three years old, Tito was diagnosed as severely autistic, but his remarkable mother, Soma, determined that he would overcome the “problem” by teaching him to read and write. The result was that between the ages of eight and eleven he wrote stories and poems of exquisite beauty, which Dr. Oliver Sacks called “amazing and shocking.” Their eloquence gave lie to all our assumptions about autism.’

9- In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

‘Nearly seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi, became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family’s odyssey, In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism’

10- Life with an Autistic Son, by B's Dad

‘This book is for anyone starting out on a pathway with their child that they did not expect. It’s also for people who, like me, are a little further down that road but still learning, still asking questions and still getting it wrong sometimes. You are not alone.’