Friday, December 30, 2011

The Top Posts Of Web20Classroom For 2011

Is it 2012 already?

Another year has come and gone and like several of my good blogging friends have done I wanted to recap the Top 5 Posts from this year. I am sorta surprised at the mix but there are some, if I do say so myself, good posts.

Quick List Of iPad Resources For The Classroom-This was my top post of the year. It contains several of my favorite sites and collections of using not just iPads but mobile devices in general in the classroom.

Twitter In Schools-A Getting Started Guide-In this post I lay out things to consider when starting a class/school/district Twitter account. There's more to it than just signing up.Who will manage? What will you tweet? Even what should your name be? There are all sorts of questions to ask when getting started. 

Twitter Series-A New Kind Of PD- Back at the beginning of this school year I did a series of posts related to using Twitter as an individual. In this post I address Professional Development when it comes to teaching about Twitter and how I radically changed the way I do it. Is it possible to use Twitter without being a member? Sure. And for some that's all they need.

Twitter Series-Super Secret Tips And Tricks- Another post from my Twitter series, in this one I give you everything you need to know to get more out of Twitter and to find more good information.

Taking Care Of Your Digital Self- Cultivating a digital footprint is important and in this age it begins even before birth. What can you do to begin taking control and getting a positive message out there? And what can you do to protect yourself at the same time.

Here's to another great year of blogging, learning, reflecting and growing, together!

Image under CC License from Sunkato

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Address and A Big #Eddies11 Thanks

So if you haven't noticed, this blog has a new address on the web.

I have had the domain for a while now and am beginning to develop my complete digital portfolio in a few spaces. Adding my blog was a first step.

So that means if you subscribed via RSS you are going to need to update your subscription to the new address. And you can do that easily by just plugging the new address in your favorite RSS program and it will pick up the new feed or you can use the toolbar at the bottom of the blog to subscribe that way as well.

And while I have you here...

A big thanks!

I was honored to receive the Twitterer of the Year Award from Edublogs for 2011. I originally won this award back in its first year in 2009 and it really is an honor for me. To be recognized by your peers for something you get to do (and love to do) everyday is humbling.

I don't use Twitter for awards or #FollowFridays or mentions or retweets. (Those things are just awesome perks.) I do what I do and am involved in that space because of the people. The conversations I get to have, the questions I get to help answer and the friendships I make all mean more to me both professionally and personally than I could ever describe. I have had the opportunity to travel to more places, meet more people and do some of the most important learning I could have ever do and all of that is because of the fact that I am on Twitter and involved in social media spaces. And you reading this blog, following my tweets and generally putting up with me means a lot.

So thanks.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I Deleted My Klout Account


Pulled that trigger earlier this evening.

For those that don't know, Klout aims to measure social influence across the web. Basically you connect your Twitter account, Facebook page, Foursquare account, pretty much any social network you use and through their "sophisticated algorithm" they assign you a score based on the number of people you influence, how much you influence them and your reach. (You can learn more about how they say they do it on their Understanding Klout Score page.) The higher the score the more you are claimed to be influential.

Before deleting my page my score was 64, which for Klout is pretty high. I was a Top Influencer in the Education and Mobile Learning categories. I had received over 1000 +K. (Where folks give you a pat on the back or a thumbs up.)

Every day I would get an email saying Mr. So and So give you a +K. Or that I had a new category I was influential in. At first its intoxicating. Realizing that someone (or something) out there says you have influence. So everyday I would check my score. Seeing it go up and up.

And then I go on vacation this summer. And my score drops 20 points because I take a break from all technology while I am on vacation. So I guess I can't be influential on vacation.

No problem. I got back in the grove and quickly got back to the top. But for what? When I would check my score what did it really mean? How can a some computer decide how influential I am on the interwebs how judge how influential my interactions are with people?

So I quickly grew tired of worrying about when my score would drop tenths of a point because I tweeted too many posts with links or didn't engage with enough folks one day.

It's silly.

Being a top influencer is a great feeling to have. But the stigma of the number attached to it is what gets me. The rank. I don't need my social interactions boiled down to a number. If I am going to be influential I want people to decide. And really the only my "influence" can be measured is by the people I interact with.

The bottom line for me is that I value and cherish the relationships and interactions I have online. And that is what it should be about. Not numbers or scores or Klout. It should be about educators reaching out, sharing and learning and growing, together.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finally...You Tube Education

If you haven't heard You Tube Education officially launched today. It's actually been around for a few weeks but today was the unavailing of the site and the announcement of major content partners.

First, a video:

So basically as as district or school you can (if your filtering allows) unblock just the subdomain of You Tube Education, have access to the content there while keeping the rest of You Tube blocked for end-users. (Now I am not technical when it comes to specific filters so you will have to direct those questions to your IT folks. But in our district we just whitelisted and that was it. Here is the support page if you are tech savvy like that.)

I had the pleasure of talking with James Sanders, the project manager today about the vision for this and some things coming down in the future. I will say, I am pretty excited about this one.

You can search by Category (K-12, Higher Ed, or my favorite, Life-Long Learning). It's great because when you do a search, only the results in the EDU domain are returned.

Now, remember, this is a beginning. It's not prefect and not all the content that you want is in there. But I will say there is a great deal of some super awesome stuff. James wanted me to point out that you can suggest playlists and content you want to be in there by going to the You Tube Teachers Channel and clicking on, you guessed it, Suggest Videos. There you can also sign up to be a content partner and provide content too.

So head over to You Tube Education and check out the great stuff there and if your district blocks You Tube perhaps you can suggest they check it out too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Technology Integration Answer (Well Almost...)

Earlier this year our group adopted the TPACK model of technology integration.

What is TPACK you ask?

Basically, it takes the approach that planning for technology integration shouldn't be an event. It should be something that adds to what we are already doing. Through the use of Activity Types, teachers can take the activities they are already doing and match them up with appropiate technologies that may or may not work, depending on the context of learning.

You can view this presentation to learn more.

According to the feedback we have gotten from the folks who have embraced it has been overwhelmingly positive. Being able to take the content (which is king by the way) and the activities we always use or want to use with our kids and matching them up easily with the technology has made it much simpler to plan. And the Activity Types Sheets are great to keep in the plan book so they are always there.

Recently I came across something that you can also use to make technology integration easier for you and your staff. The Technology Integration Matrix uses examples for subject area and grade level to attempt to show how technology integration can work in any type of environment.

There are actually 2 that you can take a look at.

The first is the original from The Florida Center For Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida.

The other is an adaption from Northern Arizona University.

(You will want to visit each of the sites where these live because both matrices are interactive.)

Down the left hand side of each is the learning environment. Active, collaborative, goal centered are just a few. Across the top are the levels of integration, moving from entry to transformational, left to right. So you match up where you feel you are. Maybe you are a newbie. Maybe you have kids using technology (rather than passively engaging with it) and you are at the entry level. Go to that box, find your grade level and subject area to get examples of technology integration. Remember these are just examples to show you how it would work. Adaption is always recommended.

As you progress you move up the integration level and as your learning environment changes the types of integration change as well.

You will notice that this is just for lessons where kids are actively engaged with using technology. There is nothing here for the teacher presenting material or using technology singularly. Technology integration is about getting kids out of their seats and working hands-on with the technology to create products.

So between using the TPACK model of planning and the Technology Integration Matrix, using technology in the classroom doesn't have to be a mystery. It can be something that is pretty easy to plan for and do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quick List Of Mobile Apps For Administrators

When it comes to mobile learning there are loads of great sites for apps for kids and teachers. Everything from apps organized by Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy to apps organized by grade level and subject area. But what you might not know, especially if you are an administrator is that there are some great apps out there for you.

What are they? Well my administrator friend, here are my Top 9 Apps For Administrators

(All of these are for iPad but you can find many, or an equivalent, in the Android Market as well)

1) Google Docs-Where would I be with out Google Docs? Lost I am sure. My life is spent editing and creating documents, presentations and spreadsheets. And the ability to share those easily makes Google Docs my go-to app for editing, not only at the computer but on the go as well. I can edit, comment and view all my documents from this app, no matter where I am. So for the administrator, editing or viewing your school improvement plan, meeting agenda or walkthrough data can really increase productivity.

2) Dropbox-For those items I can’t keep in Google Docs, I use Dropbox. The app gives you access to all your files stored in the cloud so you can retrieve them, email them, view them, and show them, again, no matter where you are.

3) Adobe Ideas- You never know when a great idea is going to strike. Adobe Ideas is always at the ready to capture a drawing, sketch, list or what ever you need.

4) Pocket-I am a huge, huge fan of this app. Whenever you are reading a blog or come across a webpage that you just don’t have time to check out or don’t want to save it to your booksmarks before you have a chance to look at it, you can Pocket. Adding items to your list is easy as a checkmark in the address bar and the app gives you online and offline access to your entire list.

5) Skype-Desktop video calling is now available on the iPad. You can chat, make calls and even do free video calling, no matter where you are. Participate in a faculty meeting when you aren’t at school or meet virtually with other administrators to build your network. All on your iPad!

6) Zite-This is a Social Aggregator that takes topics you decide and pulls the most relevant stories related to those topics. They are then presenting and a pretty neat magazine format. And you can share what you read via Twitter, Facebook and email. So you can keep up with topics in education and share with your staff with ease.

7) Google Translate-In many of our schools English might not be the main language spoken. The Google Translate app is great for helping to break the language barrier with students and staff and you can put in text and get instant translations for emails and documents.

8) TED-These are inspiring talks given from some of the brightest minds on the planet. This app gives you access to the entire directory. You can use the TED talks build morale and challenge the thinking of your staff and students.

9) Dragon Dictation-Let’s face it, sometimes typing on the iPad can be challenging. Dragon Dictation does it all for you. Using the built-in mic you can dictate memos, documents, blog posts and more.

There are loads more apps out there for all different sorts of uses. Check out this post to learn more about how you can get more mileage out of your mobile learning device. 

Image Under CC License From joshfassbind

Monday, December 5, 2011

The 2011 Edublogs Awards Shortlist (A Shameless Ploy For Votes) #Eddies11

You may remember, last week I did my nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards. This is an annual event highlighting the best in the Edublogosphere and Twitterverse.

I am humbled that I made the short list for Best Twitter of The Year (an award I won in 2009) and this blog is also on the short list for Best Edtech/Resource Sharing Blog. #Edchat also made the shortlist for Best Educational Hashtag. It is truly an honor to be nominated and I am in good company on both lists.

I hope you will head over to the Edublogs Awards Voting site to vote (not just) for me but for all the other create producers and sharers of content. And, what I think, is the best part of this whole process are the new and exciting bloggers, blogs and resources to check out and share.