Some Good EdTech Tools to Use in Class

April 24, 2015
Sometimes the right tool can help augment your classroom or make a tedious chore a little bit easier. Here are some utilities that teachers have been talking about. Perhaps one of these may reduce some hassle from your day too.

1- Sway 
 A new online presentation creator from Microsoft that is getting attention from the education community.

Create video chats with colleagues and students easily, no account needed.

3- LearnCube 
 Set up virtual classrooms to teach languages online.
Helps nursery schools keep parents up-to-date on the progress of their children.

5- Permission Click 
Digital permission slips, payment, and data collection for K-12 schools (and daycares too!) 30 day free trial!

Want more? Check out these collections of tools .

Apps For the Classroom -
This is curated by educator Charissa Hoff.
This one is curated by educator Taylor Hansen.

Some Very Good Tutorials to Help Students Develop Online Search Skills

April 24, 2015
The key to unlocking the educational potential of the virtual world is through knowing how to effectively search it with the minimum time and efforts possible. Effective search in this sense refers to the ability to locate targeted information online using ‘informed search queries’. It does take time and practice to develop such an ability but it is worth every single second you spend learning it. Once you learn the skill, you will save so much time that would  be have been wasted tracing those search queries that render six figure number of responses.

We have been sharing several tutorials, tips, and graphics on how to help students develop effective search strategies which you can access from this page. Today we are adding another excellent resource from USC Beaufort Library. This is basically a tutorial made up of 20 well crafted lessons all geared towards helping learners build effective web search skills. The lessons are very short and feature only the basic things learners need to get started in the right direction. We have been browsing this collection of lessons and we found them a real treasure trove that teachers should definitely access and share with their students. Here is a round-up of the lessons covered by USCB Library’s Bare Bones Tutorial:

  • Lesson 1: Search Engines: a Definition
  • Lesson 2: Metasearchers: a Definition
  • Lesson 3: Subject Directories: a Definition
  • Lesson 4: Library Gateways and Specialized Databases: a Definition
  • Lesson 5: Evaluating Web Pages
  • Lesson 6: Creating a Search Strategy
  • Lesson 7: Basic Search Tips
  • Lesson 8: Searching with Boolean Logic and Proximity Operators
  • Lesson 9: Field Searching
  • Lesson 10: Troubleshooting
  • Lesson 11: Ask Search Engine: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 12: Clusty Search Engine: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 13: Dogpile Metasearcher: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 14: Gigablast Metasearcher: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 15: Google Search Engine: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 16: MSN Directory / Search Engine: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 17: Yahoo! Directory / Search Engine: A Closer Look
  • Lesson 18: Graveyard for Dead Search Engines
  • Lesson 19: Final Exam
  • Lesson 20: Beyond "Bare Bones" 

The Best 4 Chrome Apps for Taking Screenshots

April 24, 2015
When it comes to screenshot apps, the Chrome app store is teeming with all kinds of apps but only few do the job quite perfectly. We have been experimenting with a wide variety of these apps and ended up with the short list below. These are the apps we trust the most for doing the job they claim to do. Using these tools, you will be able to easily capture all or part of any web page, add annotations to your screen captures that include shapes, text, comments, blur sensitive parts, and many more. Some of these apps are also integrated with Google Drive. Enjoy

1- Lightshot

This is by far our favourite and the one we use the most for taking screenshots. Lightship lets you grab quick  screenshots of any page and share it with others. Besides  being able to edit your screenshots, you can also save them to your local disk or upload them to the cloud to access them anywhere.

2-Awesome Screenshot

This is another powerful Chrome app with over 2 million users. Since awhile ago, Awesome Screenshot made all of it premium features free for everyone. Some of the things you can do with this app include:capture screenshots of any web page, annotate images with rectangles, circles,arrows, lines and text, blur selected spots on a page or image. Awesome screenshot is integrated with Google Drive meaning you can easily save your screenshots to your Drive.

3- Fireshot

FireShot captures screenshots of Chrome web pages. You can edit and annotate your screenshots. The screenshots are instant and produce no traffic. No 3rd party websites and logins required!

4- TechSmith Snagit

"The Snagit for Google Chrome™ Application lets you take screencasts and screenshots, then edit, share, and collaborate around your screen captures. Plus, use the Snagit for Google Chrome™ library to view and manage your recordings and screen grabs anywhere."

5 Ways to Build A Compelling Story Using Data

April 24, 2015
This is the second resource we uncovered through Visage. Yesterday we shared with you their excellent post on the 11 tips for creating beautiful presentation slides and today we are introducing you to this equally important resource on how to tell a story with data. The process consists of five major steps. It starts with the identification of your overarching question and ends up with adding well designed visuals to illustrate your data.

Crafting a compelling story is no easy thing especially when you have to deal with so much data that is at your disposal. Sourcing the data, selecting the best out of it, creating a narrative out it, and then searching for visuals that can enhance readers understanding of your story are all elements that you should carefully attend to in order to ace your story.

This beautiful visual from Visage sums up the 5 steps to creating a powerful and compelling story using data. Check it out from this page. Enjoy

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Some Very Good Tips for Designing Beautiful Presentation Slides

April 23, 2015
Visage is a web platform that helps users create beautiful visual representations of their content. The website is still under beta request access. However, the site has recently published some interesting resources   that we want to bring to your attention. The first resource is an article titled "11 design tips for beautiful presentations”. In this post, Katy shares some very simple yet powerful tips that we can use to create visually appealing slideshows and presentations.

Image source:
As a teacher, you can share these tips with students and show them how they can create well-designed presentation slides using some very simple strategies that include , for instance:Avoid using built-in slide themes, avoid packing slides with too much textual output, forget about bullet points and build your slides in such a way that they tell a story, be judicious with the use of colours and fonts, use evocative pictures   and many more. Check out the full article to lear more about other tips together with more illustrations on each of them. Enjoy

Courtesy of TechChef4U through whom we learned about this resource.

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Two Key Advantages of A Flipped Classroom

April 23, 2015
Flipped classroom is a learning and teaching trend that is gaining  so much in popularity due mainly to the raise of web technologies and the proliferation of web 2.0 tools that facilitate communication and collaboration on a larger scale. And while some teachers have already started experimenting with the new concept, others are still skeptical and wary about whether to make the move or not. For those of you who are still not sure about the potential of flipped learning and what benefits it has over traditional instruction, this page packed full of resources on flipped learning is a definitely a good place to start with.

Image source: User-generated Education

We are also sharing with you this wonderful video from Jon and Aaron showcasing some of the key advantages of integrating a flipped instructional paradigm in your teaching. We have summarized these advantages in the points below. For more details about these points we highly recommend reading this interesting post by Jon Bergmann titled” Flipped Learning Toolkit: 5 Steps for Formative Assessment”.

The two key advantages of a flipped classroom are:

1- More time for formative assessment
In a flipped classroom where instruction is done outside of the classroom through videos and tutorials, teachers get to have more in-class time to work  directly with students and assess them formatively so they know where they are at with their learning and help them achieve more. More formative assessment with students means more important feedback and insights on how the overall instructional process is performing. Such feedback is also a goldmine of data to inform teachers lesson planning and enhance their instructional strategies. Unlike summative assessment which takes place only once in a term or at the end of the year, formative assessment is on going and accompanies students learning growth and therefore provides more relevant information on the teaching/learning process.

2- Individualized and differentiated instruction
Individualized instruction is a means and not an aim of flipped classroom. It is a means towards enabling students to make the best of their learning experiences.Also, individualized instruction is a correlative with formative assessment for it is through the latter that we get to design the former. In a sense, formative assessment guides teachers efforts in providing more focused and targeted individualized help to those in need.And because the time that teachers would normally spend in class directly instructing their learners is done elsewhere and through other means (i.e. videos), teachers have more time to spend on one-on-one  differentiated instruction.

The short video below by Jon and Aaron elucidates these two points more clearly.

Here Is What Google's Free Online Conference Has in Store for You

April 23, 2015
Google’s conference “Education on Air” is  around the corner (May 8-9). The conference schedule is now out and you can register for free to attend virtually from  the comforts of your place. Some of the interesting panels and keynotes that stood out from the schedule include:

What are the skills of the future?
In this panel, the Economist Intelligence Unit “will share findings from their ‘Skills of the Future’ report where they surveyed business leaders, teachers and students to examine how skills taught in education systems around the world are changing and evolving”.

Inspiring learners with the power of storytelling
This is a keynote by actor, director and author Levar Burton in which he will “discuss the influence of storytelling on his personal life and explain how storytelling engages those around us and impacts learning”.

Making change happens
In this keynote, Lisa bell, founder and CEO of FutureThink, will “provide three practical, actionable suggestions you can try at school or any work place” to start an innovation revolution.

Transforming learning with technology
In this panel, several high-tech district leaders will get to share with you their approaches to improving teaching and learning using technology.

You can check the rest of the schedule from this page. Enjoy