Giving Thanks

There’s a lot to be thankful for in educational technology: apps, devices, websites, collaborative tools, social media, etc.  We are all thankful for whatever educational tool(s) we have used so far this year.  The go-to, the frequently used tech, whatever that may be, deserves some recognition.

Thank you Twitter for allowing educators to connect across state lines and around the world with #edchat, #digcit, #nt2t, and so many other useful twitter conversations.

Thank you Google Drive for creating ‘cloud based storage.’  I will have fond memories of floppy disks and USB sticks (memory sticks, whatever you call them) but Google Drive has been a life-saver because I am able to access anything I upload to the Drive, from any internet connected device.  Genius.

Even more genius: Google Drive offers unlimited cloud storage for any ‘SchOOGLE’ account (edu account operated by Google)…PURE GENIUS!

Thank you Educational Technology.  You have given students an opportunity to have knowledge at their finger tips.  You have created the world’s largest maker-space.  You give educators the opportunity to do things out of the box, and reach students in a variety of different ways, and allow students to express their knowledge however possible.

For more information, find me on twitter @what2foxsay.  Tweet me using the #talktek.  Don’t be afraid, I don’t bite.

And that is your…EdTechReality2

Reflecting on ISTE 2015: The Monologue

Continuing about the thoughts about #ISTE2015…

Food

Food is crucial.  If the food is good, then convention goers will be energized, excited, and eager to go do all that they can everyday.

The food overall was better in Philadelphia.

Not only was the food better but I was able to make it to Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, which helps those less fortunate by allowing customers (who are more fortunate) to purchase $1 slices to feed the homeless.  It works on the honor system and needless to say, I bought $5 worth of slices for those that need some help.  I participated in the #SliceofISTE hashtag and with each $1 slice purchase, you can write a message on a post-it note and put it on the walls of Rosa’s.  Not only was the conference a great experience, but so too was the opportunity to give back to the Philadelphia community.

The best restaurant between the 2 cities was Gladys Knight’s (the best chicken and waffles EVER), but the best collection of eateries near either convention center by far, was Reading Terminal Market, right next to the Convention Center.  If you wanted it, whatever it was, was available at RTM. Seafood, Cajun, Gyros, Falafels, Burgers, and of course, Cheesesteaks.  But if you are ever making a return visit to Philadelphia, then you need to check out Beiler’s Donuts.  They are a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery that make the best donuts you will EVER taste.  I recommend the Blueberry Fritter or the Sour Cream donut (what you and I consider a traditional glazed cake donut, but more amazing.)

Layout of the Convention Center

I preferred Atlanta’s convention center to Philadelphia’s.  The layout in Atlanta had larger walkways, and had an easier transition from one part of the convention center to the other (because there is so much going on at an ISTE conference.)  In order to traverse the entire convention center in Philadelphia (or go from poster sessions/BYOD workshops to another area), you needed to be a floor above street level, whereas in Atlanta, you could traverse the entire center from the street level entrances.

Learning Opportunities

There was more opportunities for learning at this year’s edition of the ISTE conference, with more Playgrounds, a Mobile Megashare on Saturday (which I would highly recommend for any educator interested), and a huge Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) learning experience in one of the playground areas (on Tuesday I believe.)  There was opportunities to test and be a Microsoft Certified Educator somewhere in the exhibitor hall (which was not available last year), and ISTE did a great job publicizing the Networking fair and the Birds-of-a-feather sessions.

The App

ISTE 2015’s app had what was expected: the ability to favorite any event taking place at the conference, a usable map interface, and countless schedule downloads.  The game within the app was interesting, because there were a lot of tasks that needed to be completed within the app (in conjunction with other apps like Twitter) that were hard to complete because you had to access one app through the other. I think the game needs a bit of retooling or just some rethinking; what if users played a game, like angry birds (during down time) for points, and also completed some of the tasks asked of them from this year’s event. I know they want to foster collaboration and connections, and the pieces they have in place make for a great way to connect with many conference goers, but from a gamer’s perspective, I was not interested in playing because  the replay value was low and the aesthetics of the in-user experience were occasionally frustrating.

ISTE 2015 truly was an amazing experience because of the added presentation piece that I was able to be a part of.  I fully intend to submit another poster session (although how do I take a workshop entitled “Breaking Bad: Breaking from Publisher Content to Crystallize Your Own Methods”?) or workshop for next year’s event.  But in order to evolve and take the next step (presentation-wise) I will likely submit for an Ignite presentation; because that is truly a passion of mine and I think I would thrive, if given the opportunity.  That, and the chance to deliver a “mic-drop” Ignite at an international conference is something I certainly want.

And that’s your…

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Infographic-apalooza

Statistics and numbers can tell a story.  If you want to honest, in the eyes of the government, we are all really just a number (our social security number).  Think about it;  we guard that number with our life, literally.  We don’t share that unless we actually have to, like a job application, health benefits, things like that.  So why does the government issue every citizen a number?  Obviously to keep track of us….for statistical purposes, DUH.

So if our world is simply numbers, how do we interpret them?  How do we evaluate them and structure them in a way that makes sense to us? Or our students?

Infographics.  A creative tool to meet your needs would be Infogr.am 

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It is FREE and it allows for a complete customization of resources.  You can easily edit your content within an excel sheet.  Your infographic gets published into the ‘cloud’ on infogr.am and you easily share it via social media or embed it on your blog. Now while I wanted to embed my infographic on this blog, I cannot.  In order for me to do so, I have to email several people and I don’t have the time to wait on approval for an embed code.  So as alternative, here is part of my finished product below:

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The colors.  The ease of use.  The ability to convey a message with a graph and some colors.

Check out my full infographic here: Technology usage at a community college

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Get started making sense of all the numbers that surround us!

And that is your….EdTechReality2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Spring Season of Change

Well to put it midly, the Ed Tech Reality Check has been near non-existent over the last month or so.  While there is no true excuse for my inability to write a blog, our office has had to go through some reshuffling in the last month or two.  As such, a co-worker of mine, who really was a co-conspirator in a lot of our department’s projects, moved on to another job.  I don’t say this with any negative connotation; when you get offered a job that has ‘director’ at the end of it, you jump at the chance.  Lori was a great member of our team, who will be sorely missed.  I equate the time she spent in our office to “lightning in a bottle’:  It didn’t last long but it was powerful.

In the interim, while we search for the person to fill that void, we have had to ‘pick up the slack’ around the office.  Which has left me without much time to write.

So as I now have found a few minutes, I will tell you about some of the happenings that have occurred around our office.  We have held several webinars talking about web 2.0 tools and using them in the classroom.  To find out more or to watch those webinars click here.

I also helped an instructor use ShowMe to provide instant feedback for a science equation her student was having trouble with.  Check out ShowMe as an iPad app.  It is absolutely worth the time to learn and use.

Recently, I wrote about ‘Paper‘ as last week’s ‘App of the Week’ from IS&D. Read my review and why it is a great app to  get started using now!

And that is your….

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2014 In Review: App of the Year

This year would not be complete if I didn’t finish off with ‘App of the Year.’  This year for me as been about new things, new technology, and more specifically, new apps.  Apps are a driving force in education and in life in the 21st century.  Most of us have smart phones and therefore live and die with certain apps.  Education has driven some apps into the stratosphere, while our personal use of apps have created a new market for ‘the next big thing’ in apps.  To further this point, consider that I am not even mentioning the Chrome web store set of apps because it is so new.  I am almost sure that next year I will be considering an app or two from there in this category.  So without any further ado, I present to you the nominees for ‘App of the Year’…

Nearpod

When I think of an app that is a ‘utility player’, one that does a lot really well, I think of Nearpod.  Nearpod is a presentation app, which allows you to create interactive lessons for your classroom.  It allows student to interact and even submit responses during the lesson.  A really neat feature of Nearpod allows the instructor to control the activity of your students in real time; meaning if a student leaves your presentation, you know.  If a student does not submit a response, you know.  You can push the presentation to all of your students’ devices when you want, so they see what you want them to see.  Nearpod also compiles the student responses and answers to questions and allows the instructor to see individual or group scores.  Nearpod has a cool Pio-Near program that educators can try to be a part of, providing you benefits for using and developing resources for Nearpod.

Tellagami

You want to talk creative?  Tellagami is creative.  In keeping with the sports analogy, Tellagami is like player who wins the MVP award for the 1st time, you don’t expect that type of production from such a young player.  But Tellagami has proven time and time again, it is a resource that can play on the big stage.  Tellagami lets you create your own ‘Gami’ (virtual person) and use it for a short video.  You can give your ‘Gami’ emotions and change their outfits if you wanted.  You have 30 seconds to record your voice over for your ‘Gami’ and then can check to see the final product.  With Tellagami EDU ($2.99 at the App store) you can have 90 seconds.  But what makes Tellagami stand out, is its ability to allow the user to put the ‘Gami’ in any picture or background you can think of; you can even use a green screen to place your ‘Gami’ in any video you want to create.  As a result, Tellagami is not only a great app for educators, but it is an awesome app for students.   They can create book reviews, presentations, and so much more with Tellagami.  Once your video is finished, you can share it out via social media, or you can download it and string together other ‘Gami’ videos in software like iMovie, to create a movie trailer or virtual presentation.  Tellagami came out of nowhere this year to perform as well as it did.  The question for Tellagmi is can they sustain the success?  Can they add on new features to keep people coming back for more?  I think so.  Regardless, like Nearpod, Tellagami had a great year.

Twitter

Twitter has been around for a few years and has sustained success.  If Tellagami was the new player that won the MVP award, Twitter is the 8 year veteran that has been consistent, winning an MVP trophy and Gold Glove award.  Not only would Twitter be the best player in its league, but also one of the best defenders, which by most sports standards separates the good from the great.  Educators may spurn at the idea that a hashtag can transform a classroom, but imagine that the hashtag you create, can be an archive of a scholarly discussion, limited to 140 characters per comment.  Now not only to your students have to be clear, but they have to be succinct; a skill often lacking in youth.  Twitter can also be a PLN (personal learning network) where you can find ideas, articles, and new trends to learn from.  All it takes is a click or a search of a hashtag like (#edchat) and you are swarmed with resources and ideas that you can take your time sorting through.  Couple Twitter with something like TweetDeck and the ability to follow various hashtags (#digcit, #edtechchat, #nt2t) and find resources for any type of need.  Twitter is a constant performer; there is always content out there to find, search through, remix, and retweet.  And when you retweet, it becomes a part of your personal library which can serve as an archive for ideas you’ve liked and are interested in reading more about or sharing.  Twitter enables educators from around the world, let alone around the country, to connect and discuss just about anything; Twitter is not just for your students or your children anymore.  The power of Twitter is only growing and the more that educators use it and communicate and share resources with it, it will be a constant performer and will be there in the discussion of ‘App of the Year’ (or MVP if you choose) for years to come.

Each of these 3 apps could all very well make a case for 2014 ‘App of the Year.’  It is hard to separate which one I would like more because each of them have a unique skill set that is showcased in a variety of ways. But I do have to choose only one, and when I think of which one has truly made the most impact on my life this past year, there is only one:

AND THE WINNER AND 2014 ‘APP of the Year’ is….TWITTER!

I have expanded my PLN, shared resources, developed my own hashtag (#talktek) and have found a wealth of resources to use.  Furthermore, I have a following (albeit a small one) but a following nonetheless.  Twitter is further enhanced by the fact that I use TweetDeck to do so much with Twitter: scheduling tweets, retweeting, making lists and following various hashtags.

Twitter, the App of the Year for 2014.

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To find out the Instructional Support and Development ‘App of the Year, read more here.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2014 In Review: Conference of the Year

As my year in review continues, next up is 2014 Conference of the Year.  Let me be clear here: this was an incredibly difficult decision when it comes to selecting even the top 3, let alone the ‘Conference of the Year.’  Here is a quick list of those conferences that make ‘honorable mentions’ for this year:

New Horizons (Roanoke, VA) – Put on by the VCCS, it was a great conference that showcased all that is good among the 27 VCCS institutions; and keynote Dr. Adolph Brown was AMAZING!

IT Summit (Fall 2014, Germanna Community College) – A small, lowkey event, where I was able to network with other Instructional Technologists and see what the IT Summit was all about.  It was my first time there and a very useful one at that.

JMU CIT TLT Conference (Harrisonburg, VA) – One of our first opportunities to present to higher educators about apps/web tools.  It was an awesome experience and helped us shape future workshops at some of the other conferences.

All 3 of those conferences were awesome experiences and we were tremendously lucky to have the opportunity to go to those.  As we now look at the top 3 we have to consider why they are at the top and why they were the ‘creme of the crop.’

Coming in at #3 in 2014 was the IT Summit Spring Semester 2014, on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College.  It was here that I presented with Art and Lori on 2 separate occasions.  The first presentation was ‘Let Us Edu-Tain You,’ where we showcased 4 awesome apps/web tools: Office Mix, Thinglink, Prezi, and Glogster.  The presentation was well received with a lot of positive feedback about the apps and the future use of them in the educators classrooms.  The 2nd presentation centered around Google Drive and all of its amazing uses for educators.   From Docs, to Sheets, to Slides, to Forms, we covered it all and actually ran out of time because the attendees wanted so much hands-on attention.  The feedback from this presentation was amazing, with instructors emailing questions and positive feedback for weeks after the event.  Looking back, the IT Summit, while small and only consisting of several VCCS institutions, was among the top 3 because of the atmosphere and the reception of our presentations.  I came away from the conference with a renewed confidence in what we were presenting.

My runner-up this year for conference of the year was VSTE, held in Virginia Beach in December.  VSTE had an awesome maker space for attendees, including an area with a 3-D printer and maker software and tools like Hummingbird.  It was here that we, as a group, showcased our ‘Edu-Tain You with the Sensational Seven.’  It was our first major conference presentation (until ISTE 2015 happens) and the response was overwhelmingly supportive.  We had over 50 attendees to our workshop, which was surprising and awesome at the same time.  Now we had thought we might lose some people by attrition or perhaps changing at the last minute, but it seemed that more people wanted to come to the workshop last minute than had signed up (between 35-40 signups).  We all did an excellent job showcasing the tools we were presenting but we used a multitude of tech to do it, from a MacBook, to an iPad, to a Surface Tablet.  While we wished to have been able to be a part of VSTE for more than one day, we walked away from VSTE with pride and excitement for the future:  we realized that not only was our content well received by educators, but we were meeting the needs of educators and still ahead of the curve in content (like Aurasma and Thinglink).

Therefore, the winner of 2014 Conference of the Year is………….ISTE 2014

This was the event, that for me at least, set the stage for everything that happened this year; from workshops, to web tools, to motivation, to projects, to conference presentations (including my upcoming presentation at ISTE 2015), ISTE 2014 was the ‘straw that stirred our drink.’  Personally, I have never had so much fun ‘geeking’ out in my life.  I volunteered, and enjoyed it so much I wanted to keep helping others (but realized then I couldn’t enjoy parts of the conference I was looking to seeing).  I met some of the coolest people there, and am already starting my ‘must meet list’ for 2015.  The atmosphere was electric every single day.  Kevin Brown gave the best keynote address I have ever heard.  Yes, it was that good; so much so that I decided to do something that so big that it would scare the hell out of me (his words), apply to present at ISTE 2015.  Workshops were streamed live, others were packed to capacity.  There was a ‘bloggers cafe’ which acted like a meet n’ greet mixed with a discussion forum, which had a cool view of the vendor space.  I realized I stayed at the same hotel at Kevin Honeycutt and didn’t even talk with him or just say ‘Hey, I thin you’re awesome!’; I felt that busy.  In 4 days, I learned more than I thought I could and came away with a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience; except I get to do it again this year, AND PRESENT!  I would not be able to say that last part about presenting if I had not gone to ISTE 2014 and experienced Kevin Brown’s keynote.  While I know ISTE 2015 will have its share of awesome moments, ISTE 2014 truly was where it all started for me: engrossing myself in Twitter, using TweetDeck, blogging more, and trying anything and everything I could that was tech related.  I’m incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to be able to go to all of these conferences, and look forward to reflecting on next year, because while 2014 was big, 2015 is going to be HUGE!

To find out what Instructional Support and Development chose as 2014 ‘Conference of the Year’, read more here.

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2014 In Review: Tech Tool of the Year

When I start to think about what I would consider the ‘Tech Tool of the Year’ I think about a few characteristics: was this the first year I used it?  How often did I use it?  How easy was it for me to use it?  Did I do any cool things with it?  And so when I start to think about those questions I think there are really 3 choices for ‘Tech Tool’ of the Year: Google Drive, iMovie, and Photoshop.

Where do I start with Google Drive?  Personally, I think this has been the year of Google in Education.  They have transformed education with cloud storage, a learning management system, student centered apps, and unique Google Drive based software applications.  Google Drive, as I’ve alluded to is a “Swiss Army Knife” for educators and students.  Google Drive offers unlimited storage for edu accounts (which is unprecedented and nearly unheard of) and offers tools like Docs (rivals Word), Sheets (rivals Excel), Slides (rivals Powerpoint), Forms, and Drawing (rivals Photoshop).  To understand the uniqueness of Drive, you have to spend time looking at each tool within it.  Each tool (similar to a Swiss Army Knife, hence the term) does something different.  Now each tool on Google Drive plays similar to its Windows counterpart with a few exceptions and that perhaps is its biggest triumph.  Because the tools are easy to use, it makes using Drive even easier to start using.  Drive as I stated earlier, offers unlimited storage for accounts that are edu based (I call them ‘SchOOGLE’ accounts) and that is a HUGE deal.  Students, faculty, and staff can store virtually anything on the drive, from photos, to videos, to projects, to classwork, to, well, anything.  The day for a portable thumb drive are coming to an end and Google Drive is a direct reason for that.  Google Drive is without a doubt a top tech tool, if not the top tech tool, but you’ll have to scroll to the end of you want an answer to that.

Another awesome tool I had the privilege of using was iMovie.  Is there anything iMovie cannot do with digital media?  If you have a video, a picture, a song, you can easily click and drag them into a creation.  In the beginning, I was definitely intimidated with having to use iMovie; it seemed like a daunting mountain to climb.  What I learned, was that iMovie was and is a creation machine.  When I think about the larger question, ‘To Mac or PC,’ I would almost lean to Mac simply because of iMovie: it’s that good.  Once I started using iMovie it became easy to use iMovie for just about anything.  I wanted to create projects so I could simply use iMovie.  You can click and drag in an infinite amount of pictures and videos.  iMovie makes it easy to edit those clips and pictures, almost easy enough for a caveman to do it.  Seriously, you can trim clips effortlessly, drop audio at a moments notice, or even fade out music easily.  iMovie is fun to use, for any project.  I think the only piece that iMovie or Apple have to work on is developing an assessment piece into iMovie, so that when educators turn to using iMovie they can embed questions into their video lectures and video material.  iMovie was without a doubt, a top tech tool for 2014.

Where Google Drive is about storage and iMovie is about easy video creation, Photoshop is a tech tool about digital file creation.  Photoshop can do a wonder of things for digital pictures, and those pictures can be used to create cool logos for projects and departments and advertisements.  Our very own IS&D logo on Facebook and Twitter is because I used Photoshop to create them.  Photoshop, like iMovie, seemed daunting in the beginning.  While iMovie became more easily to use, Photoshop has still baffled me with some of the tools I still haven’t mastered.  Yet what makes Photoshop a top tech tool for this year, is that the logos you see on my blog, as well as those on Alexandria Campus Instructional Support and Development’s Facebook and Twitter page came from Photoshop.  I think that is pretty impressive and the reason why Photoshop is a top 3 tech tool for this year.

And so this choice for 2014 ‘Tech Tool’ Of The Year is slightly more difficult than NOVA Event of the year.  But after carefully considering all that I wrote, there is a clear winner for 2014 ‘Tech Tool’ Of The Year, and the winner is…………..GOOGLE DRIVE!

‘The Swiss Army Knife’ of educational technology tools.   Create, Share, Upload, and Collaborate with a click of the mouse.  Unlimited cloud storage.  Apps that make creating bibliographies easier, apps that read what you type back to you, apps that grade for you!  Google Drive has excellent tools beyond just Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.  Google Drive has revolutionized education: from educators using it to push out assignments, to students using it to create unique presentations, to everyone using it as a driving force in their education, Google Drive has all of the tools to defend this crown for years to come.

For a detailed look at IS&D’s ‘Tech Tool Of The Year’ check out our blog here.

And that is your…

 

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Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

2014 In Review: NOVA Event Of The Year

As 2014 comes to a close, I feel it is only just to reflect on the year that was. What better place to start than reviewing successful events that took place on the Alexandria campus.  I have chosen 3 events to as likely candidates for 2014 ‘NOVA Event of the Year’ including SMASH Pub, Fall Convocation, and the FIFA World Cup Tournament.

SMASH Pub was done as a opportunity for us to showcase apps and ‘how to smash’ them with students.  We had an iPad and a Surface tablet available for students to use when checking out the apps and what we created with the apps.  We showcased apps like Prezi, DoInk, YouTube, Dragon Dictation, and more, while also letting the students see what content was created through the combination of the apps.  Needless to say, students came away pretty amazed; not only that, most of the apps presented were free.  Who doesn’t like free, especially college students?  SMASH Pub was a great event and was easily one of the top 3 this past year.

Fall Convocation was our opportunity to ‘wow’ the Alexandria campus.  From the beginning, which included us being on the planning committee, we put our personal stamp on the event.  Convocation was held in the largest venue NOVA has on any of its campuses, the Schlesinger Center.  From there, the entire event was developed as our brain child.  We created the videos introducing new staff, had entrance music for the Deans, and even made a video thanking the businesses who offered raffle prizes.  While the event did not go off without a hitch, we put together something that no one on the Alexandria campus had done before; and it was a great success.  The faculty and staff that attended were all smiles and were giving us praise during and after Fall Convocation.  What made Convocation special was the technology we used to create our final product including iMovie, Camtasia, Audacity, and Photoshop.  Fall Convocation mixed educational technology with our creativity to create an event that certainly belonged in the top 3 events of the past year.

The Xbox One FIFA World Cup Tournament was held during International Education Week 2014 and saw over 30 Alexandria students participate.  The event was developed in partnership with Microsoft, which provided 4 Xbox One systems and FIFA ’15.  Students signed up for the event and were then assigned a national soccer team that participated in the actual FIFA World Cup just a few months prior.  The competition raised awareness about many things including: Gaming in education, education around the world, and uses for technology in education.  There were over 50 students who attended the event and were there watching the games as they took place, and there were prizes for the ‘final four’ teams (students).   The major takeaway from this event which puts it into the top 3 was that it showed us that there is a student audience who is passionate and wants to be a part of ‘a community.’  This event has given us as a department the impetus to have more events such as this; it was a ‘watershed’ event for our Alexandria student community and will surely be the beginning of future events similar to this one.  The Xbox One FIFA World Cup Tournament was a top 3 event on the Alexandria campus because it was a tremendously successful student event.

But among these 3 events only one can be crowned the 2014 ‘NOVA Event’ Of The Year.  Therefore, the winner for 2014 ‘NOVA Event’ of the Year is……………….FALL CONVOCATION!

For all of the reasons I listed above, Fall Convocation was the NOVA event of the year.  But if there was one clear cut reason why it surpassed the others, it was that we created 7 amazing videos, 10 unique walk-up songs, and throughout the whole process, we had to add and change and recreate.  While they were difficult to create, the final product was appreciated by many, specifically us.  We laughed at the videos, loved the walk-up songs, and were even given the chance to control the whole effects process throughout Convocation.

For a more careful review of IS&D’s NOVA Event Of The Year pick check out our blog here.

And that is your…EdTechReality2

Coding For The Future

This week was the the global movement that is #hourofcode.  For anyone not in the know, the hour of code is designed to get students and people of any age to think about coding and thinking creatively.  It is as the Hour of Code website suggests, ‘a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.” The movement is geared mainly at K-12 students, but Hour of Code can involve any one at any age.

We had an opportunity to show students on our campus the MIT App Inventor.  We use several Google Nexus tablets and laptops and allowed them the opportunity to engage in the app inventor.

Overwhelmingly, the students on our campus were engaged and enjoyed learning how to make an app.  What was even cooler was the fact that they were able to actually see their completed apps on the App Inventor on the Android device.

If 18-24 year olds can be engaged and enlightened during the #hourofcode, imagine how engaged younger students were; students can CREATE their future as opposed to being just a part of it.

#hourofcode should not just be something that is once a year or a one-time event in your area.  It should be something that becomes woven into the curriculum in our schools.  It promotes creativity and collaboration, and connects students with a force greater than themselves: the learning process. It enables students to CREATE and that is the message of coding….Create.

Students of all ages need the opportunity to CREATE.  They will be engaged and it will foster the things we want our students to be in school; their future is not one we can predict.  So why do we limit their possibilities with standardized tests and listless activities?  Learning takes many forms and showing what you know takes even more forms. Coding and app making allow for both of those to happen harmoniously in one fluid connection: Code.

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Connecting With Your Students

You scroll through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media you use and think ‘Why would anyone want to use social media to connect with their students?”  Maybe it isn’t that question, but you question the idea of the role of social media in your classroom.  Whether it be legal issues, parent concerns, or lack of administrative support on the idea, know that if and when you venture into social media for your classroom you are opening students to a new world of possibilities:

– Connecting them with students from around the world.

– Educating them on Digital Citizenship and their digital footprint.

– Educating them on the role of social media on society.

– Using Social Media as an archive of student work and thought.

– Forcing them to collaborate in unique ways.

– Engages learners with photos, infographs, and other media.

Consider using Twitter as a way of holding an online discussion about a topic.  You can use a hashtag (#) to archive the conversation so that all of the students can go back and review the content of the conversation.

Or perhaps you want to use Facebook, and you create a group that your students can join.  Now, you can post key updates on the Facebook page for your students to see when they are online.  This shows that the lines of communication are open.  What if your student is struggling with a key problem on their homework?  If they took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook, you and the rest of the group could address the problem as a community, without having to be ‘in the classroom.’

And those are just 2 of the many ideas that educators can come up with to use social media.  Another thing you may want to consider is Remind.  It is an excellent tool where you can get parent and student cell phone numbers and place them into a class and you can text information out to everyone.  This way, not only are you making parents aware of homework, projects, etc., but you are establishing another line of communication between everyone can be on the same page.  Perhaps Remind’s best feature is that parents and students cannot text back; thus avoiding confrontation within it.

Social Media in the 21st century is the medium in which students communicate with one another.  They post photos with hashtags and tag others, as a way to forming a community.  And as long as social media is a part of your current students’ lives and your future students’ lives, it makes sense that you showcase ways to be a good digital citizen and leave good digital footprints while expanding their knowledge through social media.

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