Teachers' Guide to Using Blogs in Class

In an earlier post here in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, we argued that setting up a class virtual space in the cloud is an indispensable task for today's teachers. This space can preferably be a website, a blog, or a wiki or, if possible, all of them. The educational benefits of having such a space for students include:
  • Improve students writing skills through posting and commenting
  • Helps students have a voice 
  • Promote the notion of independent and personalized learning
  • Promote a spirit of collaboration among students
  • Engage parents in the learning taking place in the classroom
  • Connect with students from other schools and exchange with them learning experiences.
As for teachers, they can use these class virtual spaces to :
  • Post assignments and homework to students
  • Upload documents and other learning materials to students
  • Post classroom announcements, important dates, event calendars...etc
  • Create portfolios to document students learning
As for the blogging platforms, below are some of the best places you can use to host your class blog:

Blogger

Blogger is a free Google service which provides users with a simple and easy to use blogging interface. Users can choose from a wide variety of templates and with just drag and drop functionality, one can set up and run the blog in few clicks.

Wordpress
Similar to Blogger, Wordpress is also easy to use and is  free for basic versions. There are several guides and video tutorials on its help page that will help you through the process of setting up your blog.

Kidblog

Kidblog is designed for K-12 teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions

Edublog

The World's most popular education blogging service... Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts - it's safe, easy and secure so try out an Edublog today!

Glogster Edu

Glogster EDU is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond. It empowers educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS - online multimedia posters - with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more.

3 Good Alternatives to Evernote

This post is a response to a couple of questions we received from some teachers asking about alternative apps to Evernote. While we do recognize the huge educational potential of Evernote for teachers and students, there are also some other amazing apps out there that can do most of what Evernote does and probably in more enhanced ways. Below are examples of three apps we would recommend the most for those of you thinking of alternating Evernote. Have a look and let us know what you think of them.

1- Trello

Trello is a great organizational iPad app. You can use it to organize your to-do lists, create checklists, assign tasks to your collaborators, upload photos, PDFs and videos and many more. Everything you create on Trello is synced and saved to the cloud so you can access it anywhere you are with Internet connection.

2- Quip

This is another wonderful productivity app that enables you to do a wide variety of tasks including: taking notes, organizing task-lists, editing documents with your collaborators, embed and edit spreadsheets. You can import your documents from popular cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Google Docs. It also lets you export docs to PDF and Microsoft Office and export spreadsheets to Microsoft Excel.

3- Post-it Plus


“The Post-it® Plus App takes the momentum from your collaboration sessions and keeps it rolling. Simply capture your notes, organize and share with everyone. That way your great ideas don’t stop when the meeting ends.Getting started is easy. Use the app to capture an image of the Post-it® Notes from your work session. Arrange, refine and organize the notes and ideas on your board anyway you see fit. Then share your organized board with your team and send to your favorite applications—including PowerPoint, Excel, Dropbox and plenty more.”

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Improve Students Writing with This Beautiful Periodic Table

Figurative speech is the language we use to spice up our writing. Besides their aesthetic value , figurative expressions and axioms cast a flavour of 'writerly professionalism' on the written piece. It does take so much practice for students to be adept at the use of figurative language and there are no shortcuts to learn that quickly. There are however some useful tips to help them in their learning process. Periodic table of the figures of speech is an example of a very good document students can draw on to consolidate and learn different ways to use figures of speech.



Periodic table of the figures of speech,which I discovered through a post by Lifehacker, is a work realized by designer Curtis Newbold. The visual features two main genres of figures of speech namely: tropes and schemes. Tropes cover expressions like personification, metaphor, irony, hyperbole..etc and schemes cover things like ellipsis, alliteration, parenthesis..etc. Curtis provides ample explanation of each of these genres and also offers some useful tips on how to use each of them.

This full-size graphic of Periodic table of the figures of speech is available from this link.

An Excellent Rubric To Assess Students Multimedia Projects

Here is another wonderful rubric for evaluating multimedia projects in your classroom. This rubric which I came across through North Carolina State University website is realized by Multimedia Mania. As a teacher, you can use this document in your instruction to assess your students’ digital projects. The rubric uses a wide variety of criteria grouped under different colour codes.



From the technical design of the project to citing resources, the rubric covers almost every aspect you will want your students to attend to while doing their multimedia projects. This document is also available for free download from this link.
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3 Easy Ways to Record Educational Screencasts Using Your iPad

In today’s post, I am sharing with you some interesting tips I learned from Jonathan Wylie  to help you record your iPad screen and create instructional screencasts and tutorials. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of creating a screencast on iPad are those popular apps such as Explain Everything and Educreations but the thing with these apps is that they do not allow you to record what you do on other apps. For instance, you can not open Explain Everything and go to Evernote app to record your screen there, once Explain Everything window is closed , recording stops.

To be able to navigate your iPad and record this navigation, you will need to mirror your iPad screen to a bigger screen that is your computer. Once you can access your iPad screen  from your computer, you can then use a screencasting tool to record your iPad screen. Here is how you can do it all:

1- Mirroring apps
There are actually 2 powerful mirroring tools that would allow you to project your iPad  screen onto your computer. None of these tools are free but they all provide a 7 days free  trial so you can try each of them and see which one suits you the best.

Some of the features that Reflector provides include :
  • Connect multiple devices to one computer for side-by-side app comparisons, multiple presenters, competition, screen monitoring and more.
  • Password protect Reflector to limit access and keep unwanted presenters out.
  • Include device frames, audio and full video in recordings for later review or webcasts.
Check this step by step guide to learn more about how to use Reflector.

B- Air Server


"With AirServer you can wirelessly beam your iPad display to your Mac or PC and from there to your projector, smartboard or HDTV. This gives you the freedom to move around the class with your iPad in hand. AirServer also supports multiple simultaneous connections, so one or more students could mirror their iPads to share their ideas and their work with the rest of the class. "

2- Connect your iPad to your computer and activate AirPlay mode
To establish a connection between the mirroring tool you installed on your computer and your iPad, you will need to activate the AirPlay mode on your iPad. make sure that both your computer and iPad are on the same WiFi network. AirPlay is located in your iPad’s Control Centre which you can access by swiping up the bottom edge of your iPad screen.

3- Start recording your iPad screen
Once the AirPlay is activated you will be able to see your iPad screen on your computer. Now whatever you do on your iPad will be automatically displayed on your computer, of course through the mirroring software you initially installed.

To record your iPad screen from your computer, you can use one of these screen recording tools:

A- ScreencastO--Matic


ScreencastO--Matic is a wonderful web tool to use for recording your computer screen. I have been using it for a couple of years and I really love it. ScreencastO--Matic is web based so you do not need to install anything. The recording you create can be easily uploaded to your YouTube account, Vimeo, or several other social media websites.

B- Camtasia

Camtasia from TechSmith allows you to easily record your screen movements and actions and create step by step screencasts to share with others.Camtasia has all the editing tools to create the great video content you need to get the job done. Quickly record your webcam or screen, engage your viewers with a variety of effects, and easily share your videos to anyone, anywhere.

C- Cam Studio

CamStudio is another good web tool for recording screen and audio activity on your computer and create video files to share with your colleagues.

D- Screencastify


Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. So you can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations etc.

E- Google Plus Hangout


This is one my favourite ways to screencast and record my screen. The recording you make is automatically saved to your YouTube channel where you can share it with others. Here is a step by step guide on how to record your screen using Hangout.

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4 Important Apps for Paperless Classroom

Planning a paperless classroom? Here are four important apps you should definitely consider. Using these apps will enable you to create and distribute assignments to your students, provide feedback on your students work, organize your classroom materials, conduct quick formative assessments via quizzes, polls or exit tickets, track grades, record attendance, create seating charts and many more.

1- Showbie- Paperless Classroom


“With Showbie, you can quickly and easily assign, collect and review student work on your iPad, then provide rich feedback to your students by adding annotations, text notes and voice notes directly onto their documents. Students can show their learning creatively by submitting to Showbie from thousands of compatible iPad apps, or by completing assignments with Showbie’s built in tools. Showbie keeps everyone organized with individual student assignment folders, email and push notifications.”

2- Teacher Toolkit


“Over a million educators worldwide trust TeacherKit with managing their time and activities. TeacherKit helps you organize classes and students easily. Create a seating chart, record attendance, log behavior, and track grades all with few taps. TeacherKit lifts the headache of routine administration, allowing you to focus on what really matters to you – teaching.”

3- Socrative Teacher


“Engage, assess and personalize your class with Socrative! Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races all with their Socrative Student app. Socrative will instantly grade, aggregate and provide visuals of results to help you identify opportunities for further instruction. Save time and visualize student understanding when it matters”

4- Nearpod


“The Nearpod platform enables teachers to use their iPads to manage content on students' iPads, iPhones, iPods or Macs. It combines presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.”