Count Down To Digital Learning Day and Beyond

February 1,2012 is Digital Learning Day.  The motto is “Empowering teachers.  Promoting Innovation.” Find out about the day, partners, events, contests, blogs, and more here.   Register to watch webcasts on the morning of February 1st .  They include sessions entitled Leadership and Innovation, Instructional Strategies Session, and Effective Teaching and Learning Opportunities. 

The toolkits will be relevant long after February 1st has passed.  There is a lot of useful digital learning information to explore on this page alone!  

Get involved locally, virtually, nationally, or any way you want. Consider hugging a computer teacher as a start.  (Here’s a virtual one for you, Dad.)  Just pass on the digital love.  

Google In Education Provides Nice Resources

Google “revamped” its Google in Education site last week, announced the launch of Google+ Google for Education page, and highlighted its booklet Google in Education: A New and Open World for Learning. The Googe+ page looks like it has potential for dialogue.  The booklet shows some ways Google is implemented in education across the globe.  The site makes it nice to have so much Google information related to education in one place.  It has links for teachers, organizations, and students, and one that highlights its news and calendar.

I’m eager to take a closer look at the classroom videos on the You Tube for Schools.  It would be exciting to participate in some of the professional development opportunitiesThe classroom tools is convenient for quick access to all of Google’s educational resources.  My first impression is also that it is nice to see some student examples.  I particularly like the Google Sketchup information and can attest to how Google Sketchup can integrate fun and learning.  There are some videos showing students in action, lesson plans, and more.  

The timing of these is interesting in comparison to Apple’s recent education announcements.  Read our most recent related posts:  iBooks 2, Textbooks, iBooks Author, and iTunes U Initial Impressions and Quick Byte: Google Science Fair 2012 and TED x Winners from 2011.  The Google in Education site can now be accessed in our Ed Sites page as well.

Happy Googling!


iBooks 2, Textbooks, iBooks Author, and iTunes U Initial Impressions

At the Apple Education Event on Thursday, January 19th in New York, Apple announced iBooks 2 and textbooks, iBooks Author, and iTunes U app.  Watch the keynote video below to see them in action.

My first impression was that this links into what we’ve talked about since the beginning of this blog.  It connects to several of our earlier posts such as our Digital Curriculum Discussion and What’s A Book? Is This A Book?  We have talked about the possibilities of digital curriculum as a disruptive force in education to help differentiate instruction since we met, so this caught our attention.  We don't believe technology such as digital curriculum should replace the teacher or that one should be swept away with the flashiness of new gadgets, but we think it has potential to make some positive changes in education. Does Apple's announcement contain the solution or does it have hints of movement in the right direction?

Here’s a breakdown of our initial thoughts on Apples new educational releases.

iBooks 2  and Textbooks (On the video, iBooks 2 runs through minute 23.  Textbooks runs from minute 33 to minute 43.): The textbooks can be accessed through iBooks 2.  We’ve read various perspectives but have come to the conclusion that this is a move in the right direction in terms of textbooks. We both love the interactivity shown in the keynote. There will be no going back from this type of interactive textbook format!  Will all of the textbooks be this interactive?

The note taking feature is great. Also, having the dictionary as part of the book is a nice concept.  It would be good to see this linked into various online dictionaries, including bilingual ones.  As an ESOL teacher, I’d like to see a feature for subtitles to be turned on/off in the videos. Is this asking too much?  From the perspective of an online instructor at the university level, I hope quality texts become available for higher ed. as well.  Although it would be nice, it’s hard to imagine the price of $14.99 sticking for a university text. While I’m dreaming, I’ll place a request for a way to collaborate and discuss the content as an extension of the text.  What if it were a worldwide discussion and collaboration with public and private chat rooms or wiki spaces built into the text?

Just for fun, download the free The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine from iBooks 2.

iBooks Author (On the video, iBooks Author begins at minute 23 and ends at minute 33.): iBook Author allows you to make your own books and to integrate them with iBooks 2 and potentially iTunes U.  I’d love to try it, but I will have to borrow a Mac computer in order to.  There are some obvious large accessibility issues on several levels for education with Apple’s roll-outs.  Kacey was able to play around with the iBook Author software for a few minutes and thought it seems very easy to use.  She could easily drag documents, etc from Word. However, she felt there were only a few templates and hopes Apple will be adding more to keep it interesting.

We both think the concept of  iBooks Author seems like it has enormous potential in education! We could see using it in some manner in any of the classes we teach-- both in the hands of the student and teacher.  As an online instructor, it would be ideal to be able to easily make some of my lectures more interactive by using this type of tool if all my students could access the end product.
iTunes U (On the video, iTunes U runs from minute 47 to minute 57.): I’ve been using iTunes U for awhile now, but they have made improvements and made it easily accessible for K-12 and higher ed. in this app.  It is possible to create courses and apply to have them uploaded to iTunes U and/or access existing ones.  Courses are available for download from universities including Duke, Stanford, and Yale to name a few. OSU has some content out there too. 

It’s interesting how fluid this seems.  It appears that it can be organized in a way that the texts, lectures, and notes for example are all connected and accessible with a click on the app.  We are also for the concept of open courseware which empowers us to take learning in our own hands.  Maybe with the new layout more schools will post content.  It will be interesting to see how things unfold and how much of it will be free and useful.    

All of this is not completely new. As we’ve discussed in the previous posts accessible above, digital texts have been emerging.  There are ways to publish ebooks similar to iBooks.  We’ve used concepts resembling iTunes U on various platforms over the past few years.  Nonetheless, these all seem like another step in the right direction.  It makes us ask questions such as what other competition and possibilities will this stir up?  It reminds us of the potential of some form of flipped classroom instruction.  It makes us wonder what possibility all of this opens up for hybrid classes.

Of course Apple’s news comes with various view points and some fine print.  Here are some interesting additional links for further exploration.  
No doubt, we will hear more on this topic and continue to explore it ourselves.  Happy exploring!


Quick Byte: Google Science Fair 2012 and TEDx Women Winners from 2011

Encourage students to enter Google’s Science Fair.  It’s the world’s largest global online science fair in its second year.  It’s open for kids ages 13-18. The submission deadline is April 1, 2012.  They are accepting submissions in 13 different languages.  Click here to read details.  Here’s Google’s official blog post about the fair.  There are some nice prizes including a scientific trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Explorer.  Last year, Google received some criticism from The New York Times implying that it was a marketing scheme.  Here’s an interesting article from MindShift addressing the topic.

My interest in the fair was initially sparked when earlier in the week I watched TEDx Women with last year’s young women winners Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hodge.  “You go girls!” was the first thought that came to mind as I watched the excitement in these young ladies’ voices as they presented their scientific findings.  So, if you don’t advocate for the Google Science Fair, at least pass on some enthusiasm for science and the belief that young people can achieve amazing things by showing these role models in the below TED Talks video.


A Web of Reflections and App Picks

In reflecting upon this past year, we went be back to last year’s end of year reflection post.  We still find all of the tools discussed in that post useful—from email to smartphones.  We challenged ourselves to explore a few new avenues of tech.  Here are some of the results that seem to be a related web of events.       
Continued blogging in class:  We both blogged with our classes to various degrees this year.  We worked together during the summer when we blogged with 180 high school students.  The benefits of blogging are numerous!

Presentations:  Blogging and exploring tech on this site also led to co-presenting.  You can view our Keeping Writing Alive with Web 2.0 Tools  EERC presentation and our Blogs as a Springboard presentation.   Cheridy also guest posted and explored Jing on the Teacher Challenge blog.

Twitter:  Last year’s end of the year reflection post inspired us to give Twitter a whirl. We both see its advantages as one form of a PLN.   Here are a few links to get you started if you are new to Twitter.  Cybrary Man has a wealth of resources.  The Langwitches Blog has a nice Guide to Twitter in the K-8 Classroom.   This is a list of some popular educational hashtags by November Learning.  Just following these will give you a taste of Twitter.

Google +:  Seeing the potential in Twitter encouraged us try Google +.  We are both still in the process of contemplating its uses in education.  We are accessible on Twitter and Google + via the links on the right of this blog.

iPad/tablets:   We mentioned the iPad in our post last year as being new to us.  It has so much potential that it still feels new.   It’s possible to do all of the above on it.  Numerous apps and more choices in tablets are making these mobile devices a more viable option in education.  Cheridy’s kiddo has taken over hers, so she finds herself using it to find educational apps for her kid.  There are quality apps for everything from art to writing.  Kacey uses the iPad for consuming information. There are some amazing aggregators that are wonderful on the iPad. She calls the iPad her “toaster” as it is always right there and easy to use.

Apps we frequently use:  While we are on the topic of apps, here are a few more we like. 

Cheridy’s picksReadIt Later is useful for quickly marking sites and reading them later either on a computer or mobile device.  Evernote  and Dropbox are convenient organizational apps that sync to your computer.   Voicethread, Animoto, and ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard each have a lot of potential for students to display creativity as they synthesize and create. 

Kacey’s picks: Flipboard is a “personalized magazine” available for free on iPad and iPhone that allows you to add self selected content from different sources. You can add social media (Facebook and Twitter), magazines like Fast Company, aggregators such as Fancy, or RSS feeds via your Google Reader account. (If you still have not used an RSS reader, check out The Complete Educators’ Guide to Using Google Reader from The Edublogger). Flipboard makes everything look like a beautiful magazine. If you want to read a longer article, send it to Instapaper. This app is great for reading offline content. If you purchase the iOS version, you will have seamless updates to all your gadgets. Scrabble has an app that lets you play “online.” (Imagine if we had this app for our interactive white boards!) And you can’t pass 2011 without checking out Spotify for all your music needs. 

App Slappy and iPad Today are two podcasts full of good app suggestions.  Appy Hours 4 U with Lisa Johnson & Yolanda Barker is a good resource for finding apps and descriptions of ways to use them in education.   (These are just a few of our favs, so we forsee an upcoming post on this topic :-)

Topics we plan on keeping our eyes on this year:  Ways to apply technology meaningfully will continue to be a focus.  Cheridy attended a conference this year on immersive education and would like to explore it more.  She would also like to continue to learn about online instruction and instructional design.  Kacey continues to seek websites and apps that go beyond “flashcard” learning. Additionally, now that VoiceThread is available for the iPad she wants to capture student learning there. You can check out Bob Sprankle’s BLC 2010 VoiceThread for Beginners presentation slides and his blog post What’s Your Favorite Transformative Tool of 2011? where he posted BookCasts that he created with 3rd and 4th grade students. 

Future of Tech for Two Teachers Exploring:  We will continue to explore and make fits with technology that are useful to our given teaching situations.  We return to last year’s conclusion.  It really is about technology as a tool.  Sometimes the best tool is high tech, while other times it is no tech and good old fashioned sitting in a circle discussion.  Having the knowledge of the tools available to us and the ability to bridge the gap and put them to use in meaningful ways is important, so we will keep exploring.  We welcome you to continue the journey with us!


11 From 11: Learning By Blogging

11 from 11 was inspired by @yearinthelife Adam Simpson  to revisit some favorite posts from 2011.  My “twist” on the challenge is to write about the 11 posts I learned the most from writing.  Here it goes…
This was my first full year of blogging for professional purposes.  It’s a unique, challenging, and fun type of writing.  I’ve learned and continue to learn about formatting, audience, social networking, etc. as a result of blogging.  Thanks for joining the journey!


Listening and Watching: The Future of Media

Computer History Museum
Ever since I stumbled on Faith Popcorn's book, The Popcorn Report, I realized I enjoy watching trends. I’ve read her other books and check in on her company, BrainReserve. (Be sure to check out trends for 2011, especially This Holiday Season Watch Your Digital Diet for current trend information.) I am looking forward to her forthcoming book, The ARK: The Ten Commandments of the New Marketing and Popcornography, a Futurist's View, Backward and Forward.

After my husband and I visited the Computer History Museum this past summer, I’ve been thinking about how fast media content delivery is changing.  Having listened to podcasts for years, I’ve seen improvements in the ease of getting audio content onto portable devices. However, it still seems cumbersome and time consuming to download content into iTunes and then sync it to an iPod or MP3 player.  The good news is now you can listen right on your computer. I’ve convinced a few friends and colleagues to give the experience a try. When I first started listening to MP3s on my old iRiver, I always wished I could sync content directly to my car. Hey look… the new 2012 Fords include your own Wifi hot spot. We are getting closer!

I have to admit that instead of syncing my iPhone to my computer to load content through iTunes, I’ve been using an app called InstaCast to automatically stream content. It works effortlessly and I can opt to download too. If I’m listening to a program, it even remembers where I stopped. It is possible to stream through iTunes as well, but it does not remember my place.

Small Internet broadcasting networks are beginning to take hold. Individuals are starting their own networks without the help of traditional media. Check out Leo Laport’s TWIT Network, Dan Benjamin’s 5By5, and Revision3 to name a few. I thought it interesting that Revision 3 posted an article about audience viewing habits, trends, and predictions: IPTV Research for 2011.

Content…content everywhere! The following are some of my recommended picks for listening:  Leo Laport and Tom Merrit on Triangulation interviewed Daniel Kottke who is known for being one of the earliest employees of Apple. Daniel Kottke added an interesting point of view while I was listening to Steve Job’s biography. The interview with Gordon Bell, engineer and Microsoft researcher, is also worth a listen. Interestingly, he was instrumental in starting the Computer History Museum

Apple I signed by Steve Wozniak
David Sparks and Katie Floyd, hosts of  Mac Power Users, have recently joined the 5by5 Network founded in 2009 by Dan Benjamin. Mac Power Users is a show for all you Mac geeks as it gets pretty techy. I enjoyed their interview with Michael Lopp, author of Rands in Repose, where they discuss the Apple technology he uses for his day job as well as his writing strategies.

In addition, Martha Stewart talks tech and was interviewed at Google by Marissa Mayer. (Did you notice Marissa is speaking January 12th at the Computer History Museum? KQED Radio will stream it on February 23rd, at 8:00pm PST). Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is now publishing magazines for the iPad, and the content available online is amazing. See her pictures from the interview here.

Happy trend watching and listening in 2012!