Tag Archives: Educational Technology

Google’s Team Drives are a Great Tool for Project Based Learning

A few months ago, Google began testing a new feature in its Enterprise suite – Team Drives.

 

Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device. Unlike files in My Drive, files in Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done.

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Courtesy of G-Suite Learning Center

If you are incorporating more project based learning into your classroom, Team Drives are a great way for students to collaborate and share, especially on robust projects. In addition to creating content, they can use it to store materials, bibliographies, media, and more. Additionally, as everyone in the group “owns” the product, you don’t run into a problem when one of them tries to submit content via Google Classroom.

To learn more about Team Drives in G-Suite, click here. If you do not yet see it as an option for your G-Suite account, contact your administrator.

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A Great Interactive, Presentation Tool

Let’s be honest, there are a million ways out there to make a presentation and just as many tools designed to help you do just that. Recently, I was introduced to a new tool for creating beautiful, interactive presentations and infographics that actually impressed me: Visme. Visme allows you to create a variety of presentation media: traditional slide-decks, auto-flowing slide decks with embedded content, interactive infographics, design and product features, and more. Here’s a great introduction to Visme:

If you’re a teacher, Visme is a great way to create flipped content, empower students to create robust and beautiful presentations, or otherwise create material to distribute to others. In Visme’s Learning Center, you can easily learn about new features, access tips and tricks, and be inspired by what others have done.

The ATLIS Conference Schedule: Making Magic Happen

I am about to begin my second year as an Executive Board member of ATLIS and my third year as an organizational member. I have to say that my time with ATLIS has given me the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with my peers in new and powerful ways. I am so excited for the 2017 ATLIS Conference: Making Magic Happen in Los Angeles. The conference featured speakers Jaime Casap and Tim Fish are sure to inspire and the array of sessions will be amazing. You can view the full schedule here. Here are some highlights of the 2017 Conference:

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If you want to attend but still need to register, check out all of the details here.

Lifelong Learning is a Life Skill not a Buzz Word

Working in education, I have seen my share of buzz words (and concepts) come and go. Often they are rebrandings of past, failed initiatives or great ideas that simply don’t work among the established cogs of the modern educational machine. However, one “buzzword” that I believe has been unfairly branded as such is “lifelong learning.” Lifelong learning is “the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” In other words, it’s a self-driven desire to continue to learn and grown in all areas of our lives well after we leave a classroom. I have attended numerous educational conferences and events that highlight the need for educators to inspire “lifelong learning” in their students. In the world of educational buzzwords, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes and get back to the classroom. However, what I have learned in my world of education and technology is that lifelong learning is not the latest flash in the pan. Rather, it is now a necessary life and career skill.

In the past, job changes were few and far between and career changes (barring going back to school for a degree) were practically unheard of. Now, with automation and technology putting more people out of work and a shifting landscape in the economy, job-hopping and career shifts are becoming more prevalent. Forbes highlights that job hopping (moving to a new job every 2-4 years) is becoming a career necessity, often leading to higher salaries, more opportunity for advancement, and a better “cultural fit” at your place of employment.

But besides the fact that job hopping can lead to better opportunity, the reality is that job hopping and career shifts is not just an “acceptable practice” but becoming a necessary one, thus the need for self motivated learning. In his almost dystopian non-fiction work Rise of Robots, Martin Ford argues convincingly that automation and technology will not only be displacing factory workers and manual laborers, but traditionally “safe” jobs that require high levels of (often expensive) education–think lawyers, doctors, and even writers. If the trends that Ford highlights continue, unemployment and (more commonly) under-employment by even the highly educated will persist and grow. The Economist made a similar argument, stating that the solution to these trends is continued education throughout the life of one’s career (whether it stays within a single trajectory or takes a radical shift):

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades.

In their article “School and the Economy,” economists Murnane and Levy argued that the answer to helping students (and adults) be prepared for the new, shifting economy is to emphasize softer skills: expert thinking and complex communication, primarily “…the ability to solve new problems that cannot be solved by applying rules. (If the problem could be solved by rules, a computer could do it.)”

Lifelong learning empowers individuals to adapt to a variety of new jobs and career paths in the unforeseeable future. Levy and Murnane have a less apocalyptic view of future employment. While they argue that many traditional careers will shrink and even disappear, they view this shifting landscape as one that will open up new avenues and jobs. However, preparing for those jobs requires greater emotional and intellectual agility; a desire and passion to learn new skills and information.

Whatever the future holds for careers, lifelong learning is now a critical component for success. Your current job or position may downsize or all together disappear. New opportunities may be a better fit for your skill set and passions. Whatever the the future holds, being prepared and skilled at adapting to it through continuous learning is vital for success.

Free Literary Texts & Resources for Teachers & Students

I recently discovered CommonLit, a free curated repository of fiction and non-fiction works for teachers and students. This is a great resource for educators looking to infuse content into their course work. Educators can browse for content by grade level, grenre, theme, literary device, or standard.

As a history teacher, I especially liked that works included related texts and media. For example, I could access the Articles of Confederation, under paired texts I could then direct students to the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and Shay’s rebellion. They also couple it with related Media, such as a Crash Course video.

Teachers can also use CommonLit with their students as a portal to assign readings, assess work, and track progress. It is an all-in-one resource for English, Humanities, and History teachers!

Learn to Build Apps for iOS 10 at Stanford for Free

stanford-itunes-uStanford has released a new iTunes U Course Developing iOS 10 Apps with Swift. In this free course, learn how to craft Apps for iPhone and iPad on Apple’s newest operating system. iTunes U courses are self-paced and free via the iTunes store.

iTunes U is a great way to expand your skill base via free, world-class University courses. Try it out today!

The Privacy Paradox

I have written a great deal about the importance of privacy for ourselves and our students. How much data corporations and the government gather about us, our families, and especially our children should be an important topic for educators and parents alike. This week, the Note to Self Podcast began their quest to investigate how we can take hold of our digital world and privacy. Check out the first episode of their series the Privacy Paradox.

privacy-paradox

WNYC Privacy Paradox

Americans have struggled with their views on privacy, security, and convenience since the dawn of the internet; PEW Research center has published numerous polls and studies on just this topic. These problems have exploded with the advent of social media, smart tools (thanks Waze for getting me around that traffic), and now the internet of things (do you own a Nest Thermostat or an Amazon Echo?).

Check out this evocative series on privacy and your digital self.