Category Archives: Education

New Google Classroom Tools Feature Differentiated Learning

hero_logoGoogle just announced several key new features for Google Classroom that allow teachers to differentiate work for their students. Teachers can now assign work to students or groups of students.

With this feature, students can also discreetly receive extra practice if they’re struggling with a new subject.

They have also announced new notification methods for when students submit work late or resubmit. Check out the latest updates on Google’s blog here.

Google Arts & Culture for Android & iOS

google-arts-cultureI have long been a fan of Google Arts & Culture (previously Google Art Project). It allows individuals to explore museums, exhibits, and historical topics around the world. For example, you can tour the works of Vincent Vangogh, explore Ancient Kyoto, or wander around the Lincoln Home (to name a few).

Previously, the robust features of Google Arts & Culture was reserved for computers. Now, however, you can download the free pap for your iOS or Android device. This is a great way to let students explore the different tools and features available via Google Arts & Culture on your classroom tablets or even on student smartphones!

Take an Online Course from Harvard – For Free!

harvard_wreath_logo_1Harvard University is one of the most distinguished names in education. In addition to its brick and mortar classes, they offer a variety of online courses. In fact, a number of their courses are offered for free! If you would like to stoke your passions for Shakespeare, you can take a course on Hamlet. If you are interested in public health, check out the course on the Opioid Epidemic. There are hundreds of courses to choose from. You can browse and search on their website.

Be S.M.A.R.T. and set Goals for the New Year!

If you want to set some new year’s resolutions, try doing it the SMART way. Write down your goals and tweak them so that they are:

  • Specific: Clear & well-defined.
  • Measureable: Able to determine successful.
  • Agreed Upon: Agreed upon with all stakeholders.
  • Realistic: Within available resources, abilities, and time.
  • Timed-Based: A set deadline.

SMART goals are easier to achieve and measure. Give it a try!

View & Access over 6,000 Photochrom Prints from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has published its collection of more than 6,000 photochrom pictures from the turn of the 20th century. The collection includes images from Europe, Asia, and North America from the 1890’s-1910.

You can view and access the collection here.

chicago-river-elevators

Detroit Photographic Co. Chicago River elevators. ca. 1900. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2008679501/. (Accessed November 15, 2016.)

How to be Digitally Literate in an Era of Fake News

Courtesy of PEW Research

Courtesy of PEW Research

America just completed an especially volatile and polarizing Presidential election. This was the first major election where both sides waged war not simply using traditional means (pounding the pavement, call centers, and mailers), but using online digital tools. On Facebook and Twitter, stories were shared, hashtags were created, and mud-slinging took on new levels. New research from PEW suggests that most American adults now consume news via Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit being the most popular). Television news (both local and national) is still the most prominent source of news, but it is quickly giving way to the internet of things.

This in and of itself is not inherently bad. I have given up my print subscription to various news and magazines sites in favor of their digital platforms. This fits with my desire to have the most up to date news, travel-friendly options, and to keep a lower eco footprint. However, what has sprung up and been the topic of much debate is the prevalence of fake news, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook.

The Guardian and Buzzfeed News have both posted investigative articles highlighting the proliferation of fake news websites and stories targeting America’s vitriolic Presidential election. The motives are less about changing political minds and more about cashing in on the election’s most passionate members. Clickbait headlines titled: “Hilary in 2013: I would like to see people like Donald Trump run for office; They’re honest and can’t be bought!” or “Mike Pence says Michelle Obama is the most vulgar first lady we’ve ever had!” These are fairly mild titles, others claim to reveal sex tapes of candidates (or their spouses), calls for a race war, or endorsements from the Pope.

These news sites set up pages on Facebook and encourage their users to share, share, share! The more shares and clicks, the more revenue these sites see from tools such as Google’s adsense. While Facebook, Google, and other organizations are working on ways to combat fake news, the process will be slow and users should not rely on these media to serve as filters for them. Instead, educators should focus even more on teaching themselves and their students to be more digitally literate and savvy. There are a few tools that are in your arsenal to use right away.

Is the Story & Headline Over the Top?

No matter how much you dislike (or even despise) your political opponent, you should immediately be suspicious of a headline that reeks of sensationalism. Claims that an arrest is pending, signs of devil worship, calls for genocide, or other topics that just sound outrageous, go into the story with a cautious attitude.

Is the Story from a Legitimate News Source?

If you are reading a shared story, be sure to check the source. In this day of news clamoring for clicks and ratings, it’s not unusual for them to use sensational headlines to get readers. However, check for the author and publisher. Established news sources (The New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, your local paper, etc) have systems in place to confirm sources and vet information. If you have never heard of the news organization publishing the article or they do not have an author listed, be suspicious.

Read the Article

This may seem a little obvious, but a lot of people share headlines rather than stories. Read the story yourself and see if it matches the headline. I recently read a story

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

entitled “President of Mexico contacts President-Elect Trump to Discuss Details of the Wall.” However, when you read the story, it simply said that the President of Mexico had contacted President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his win (a common practice by all foreign governments). Reading an article may also make it clear that the news information is suspect. If it contains a lot of typos and grammatical errors, that is a red flag. Legitimate news sources proofread and edit all articles prior to publication. While a typo or two make sneak through, it’s a rarity.

Check the Source Information

If the article claims that Wikileaks, public statements, tax documents, or other information “reveals” information, they should be linking or providing copies of that information. I have seen New York Times articles on the Clinton email scandal directly link back to the Wikileaks information dump. If the article contains no evidence or sources to back it up, assume the information is false.

Look for other Verifying Sources

While one news source may trump another on a story, they all will get to it eventually. If you read a story, confirm it with another source. If you see a sensational topic being covered by one outlet only, the information is suspect. The issue of media-bias is often cited as the reason one news outlet covers a story. However, there are numerous left and right leaning legitimate news organizations. No single outlet is the purveyor of the truth. Follow the journalistic mandate of “at least two independent, reliable sources.”

Perhaps the best way to avoid getting tricked by false news stories on social media is to keep yourself well informed by reading, watching, and listening to a variety of news outlets. The more informed you are of the current trends and cycles in the news, the more likely you are to immediately smell out a false story.

 

 

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Bye bye public #Education in America

A wonderful take on politics (on both sides) and education in America. Public education must be prioritized.

EDUWELLS

Every 11 seconds on Wall street, someone has the thought “There are billions of dollars tied up in public education that I can’t make more money on using the money I already have.” The phrase “Corporate education” does not sit comfortably with most voters on both sides of the political divide and so right-wing parties and their financial market friends around the globe try to disguisecorporate education modelsunder better sounding socialinitiatives, such as “School choice.” Trump obviously hasn’t had a thought about education and so has borrowed one from the Koch brothers.

Learning is first about money making

It’s Facebook thatpersonifiesthe idea that all human activity should now be monetised as the social-media giantindirectly makes money on every photo and comment we upload. [Note: The scary prospect of how much money Trump made Facebook in the last 18 months.] So why shouldn’t the activity of learning be…

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