Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two Tools for Managing and Exploring Information

Over the weekend I found two online applications that seemed as though they could be very useful in an education context, TextFlow and eyePlorer.

TextFlow from Sweden's NordicRiver allows concurrent collaborative document editing supporting the modern way of working, where success depends on good collaboration in virtual teams that spread across physical and geographical boundaries.

TextFlow is easily accessible in most browsers and there is a downloadable desktop version as well which requires Adobe AIR. There are both free and paid versions. TextFlow features the ability to import Word and RTF files, export to Word and HMTL, directly publish on the web, manage seven concurrent versions, and a document portal for storage and access.
EyePlorer from vionto GmbH in Germany is an interactive, visual method of working with knowledge and information. Studies suggest that human thought has a strong visual component and that the brain can process images faster than textual information.

You enter a search term and eyePlorer quickly culls Wikipedia and generates a visual map of related terms. Mouse over one of these terms and a popup tells how that term is related to your original term. Furthermore, you can drag these popup facts into the notebook to collect and save information connected to your topic for later use.

EyePlorer is in beta and is free to use.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Because We Have a Hovercraft

In a previous post I expressed my concern about the way in which we sometimes use technology in education simply because we have it and we can.

This clip from a television ad for the travel service Orbitz in which a hovercraft is being used used to deliver a rebate check to a customer satrizes that "we do it because we can" mentality.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Maybe It's Time to Refocus

In this article from Tech & Learning, Barbara Bray, president of My eCoach, suggests that if you feel overworked and stressed, if you can't keep your students interested, if things seem to be spinning out of control, it might be time to REFOCUS.

Bray uses REFOCUS as an acronym for:
  • Recognize your strengths and achievements.
  • Empower yourself by reliving peack experiences.
  • Focus at the beginning of each week on the upcoming lessons and activities.
  • Redirect Objectives that you were unable to meet because of time constraints or other challenges.
  • Commit to following through on your new learning targets and planned activities.
  • Unburden yourself of the need to be the "expert" and allow your students more responsibility for their learning.
  • Surprise your students with innovation, imagination, and increased responsibility.

To learn more ... click here

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ed Secretary Arne Duncan on NCLB

From Dave Nagel's article in THE Journal, "Ed Secretary Duncan Wants To 'Flip' NCLB, Vows To Scale Up What Works"
NCLB got it "backwards," according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan in his first Congressional testimony since his confirmation in January. He told legislators it's time to consider reversing the role of the federal government and provide "clear guidance" to districts on how student achievement should be defined moving forward and offer support for efforts that are clearly having a positive impact on students.
Listen to or download audio of the whole article

Dave Nagel
, "Ed Secretary Duncan Wants To 'Flip' NCLB, Vows To Scale Up What Works,"
T.H.E. Journal, 3/13/2009, http://www.thejournal.com/articles/24141
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The 5W/5E Concept for Integrating Technology into the Classroom

The aim of this Tech&Learning article by Wanda Walters is to show that the 5W’s and the 5E’s can be combined to create an instructional planning tool that allows teachers to easily and efficiently integrate technology into any instructional program. The strategies presented are appropriate for all grade levels and content areas.

I have summarized that planning tool here:

… are you teaching?
  • Instructional goals
  • Specific educational objectives
… technological resources are available?
  • Templates and models
  • Specific productivity software, ie, Word, Photoshop, MovieMaker
  • Specific educational software, ie, Inspiration, Google Earth
  • Classroom response system
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Digital cameras
  • Specific web sites, ie, Grammar Ninja, Museum Box, GeoGebra
… technological resources would you like to use?

WHO is being targeted to use the technology?
  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individuals
  • Special needs students

WHERE will the technology be delivered?
  • In the classroom
  • . Teacher presentation
  • . Student activity
  • Outside of the classroom
  • . At home
  • . On a field trip
  • . On school campus
  • . Computer lab

WHEN will the technology integration take place?
  • Entire lesson or class period
  • As a warm up or review activity
  • What's the timeline?

WHY are you using this particular technology?
  • to ENGAGE students in the topic
  • to EXPLORE other aspects of the topic
  • to EXPLAIN or define the concept
  • to ELABORATE the idea and extend understanding
  • to EVALUATE understanding of the concept
Read the article.
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