Sharing Enthusiasm for Technology in Education

REVIEW


Educational Technology Facilitation: a guide for k-12 integration Kindle Edition

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2016-06-13

Recently I finished a self-published book titled Educational Technology Facilitation: a guide for k-12 integration Kindle Edition on my experience regarding technology integration.. It is designed to be a reference for those interested in directing technology in a K-12 school environment. Hopefully it will be a helpful for those looking for a little guidance.

This guide book is designed to help those tasked with integration of technology in k-12 schools. Technology is rapidly evolving and is very diverse in the considerations need to run a successful program. This guide will help those of all abilities to run a program while making sure that all possible facilitation considerations are though of. This book is not designed to read from beginning to end but rather as a reference.




Link: Link Reference.


Chromecast the Clear Classroom Screen Casting Winner

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2015-12-06

A few months back I reviewed options for streaming devices in the classroom (In Search of the Perfect Screen Sharing Device). Trying to find a decent screen sharing device for use in the classroom, where both teachers and students can easily and dependably share their work, has been difficult until just recently. Before today the only really decent option was Apple TV. It works relatively well for Apple devices, but was limited to Apple devices unless a paid connection program such as AirParrot or AirServer was used. This was an added expense and complexity to an already expensive streaming option. In addition, Apple TV was designed for consumer use, not classrooms. The movie ads which cannot be turned off can be somewhat inappropriate for certain audiences. Then there is the stability problem on large school networks making the finding and connection drops problematic.

Recently Google’s $25 Chromecast has added a screen sharing option that works flawlessly on all devices. Out of all of the options I’ve tried from Miracast, Apple TV, AirTame, and Chromecast, as well as built in projector WiFi, Chromecast is the device to use. I tested it out on our school network as well as at home. I was able to stream HD video and display everything on my desktop with audio enabled. The set up was extremely easy. There is also a benefit that students can queue YouTube videos into a particular devices playlist where the videos play one after the other. The only requirement is that each device has the Chromecast app or Chrome browser installed. It’s cheap, cross-platform and is fully functional. Schools can now rest at ease as the headaches are gone.






Link: Link Reference.


Work Smarter by Using Multiple Choice Assessing for Better Life Balance

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2015-10-23

Multiple choice tests (MCT) questions have a negative connotation in most schools for many reasons. However, as with every aspect of teaching, there is a right time for every teaching tool. As a technology integrationist, and having taught in elementary through high school, I often see a very large discrepancy in workload equity across subject and grade levels. Some teachers have a lot of grading but it’s very easy to do, while others have a great deal of intense grading to do and everyone gets paid the same. I see technology as a normalizer in regards to easing the workload burden of assessing. Multiple choice or closed questions don’t work all the time, but they are a useful tool for a good deal of assessing that does take place.

What I see as a benefit in addition to equalizing workloads across classrooms is students, that may not have full command of a language, can more easily use their background knowledge to discern answers from the poised questions and answers. Some would argue that this can lead to guessing but ETS has found that this is not the case. In fact, MCT’s can negate a lot of the subjectivity that may occur when assessing open-ended answers. Free versus closed response type questions do not have any difference in response patterns as shown by a 1993 ETS research report (https://www.ets.org/research/policy_research_reports/publications/report/1993/hxap).
Regardless, of where you fall in the debate of their use, technology can help those interested in using MCT’s in their classrooms using smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Two very good cross-platform choices include,
  • GradeNinja http://gradeninja.com Web/iOS/Android, Paid
  • ZipGrade http://www.zipgrade.com iOS/Android, Paid (Creative Commons)
Using mobile devices to assess hundreds of papers within minutes is a massive time saver and teachers with little cost or time can rebalance their lives using them. I firmly believe that working longer and harder does not mean you are working smart or efficiently. For a more balanced insight on the controversy of MCT’s see Boris Korsunsky’s article “Multiple-Choice Tests: Why the Controversy?” (http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/40990.html). To learn more about writing a good MCT see Writing Good Multiple Choice Test Questions by Vanderbilt University.







Link: ZipGrade.com

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Atlas Rubicon the Thorn in Teachers' Sides

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2015-09-09

Gareth Jacobson, “Why are things the way they are?” This is a quote I often refer back to when I think about teachers and workloads. It is inevitable that every school is inundated with initiatives handed down by administrators in order to make learning better. From clinical observations, knee-jerk purchases of technology gadgets, and implementation of initiatives there’s always something eating away at a teachers planning time.

Atlas Rubicon for many schools is a solution used to analyze, store, and align curriculum. Inevitably what it ends up doing is only whittling away a teachers planning time. True, Atlas is a very powerful planning and analysis tool when used properly. However in every school I’ve witnessed it being implemented, it is not used by the leadership team, curriculum coordinators, nor the teachers once its use has been mandated. In my cynical view, it is used solely for checking the box on accreditation reports.

What administrators need to understand is that schools have always operated in the past, before Rubicon Atlas just fine. Professional teachers already have curriculum from a source, transcribing it into Atlas to make it fit the bespoke format of administrators is doing nothing to better teacher practice. If anything it has a negative effect on student learning as it takes time away from teacher planning time. Spending funds, time, and effort along with a large dose of coercion and top-down directives will not make any tool useful if it’s not necessary. The only way in which to get teachers to use such a tool is to gain buy-in, or sell it to the point where teachers willing use it. With a successful sale job, Rubicon Atlas can be implemented and instilled in the culture of a school, although it still may not be the best option.

Not only have schools operated just fine in the past, but they also hire professional teachers who know their curriculum. This point can be argued against if a new hire teacher is just starting out their career.  Also, some teachers who are weak in their planning could also find a tool such as Atlas useful. However a more important push for those teachers should be with their administrators and mentor teachers, and should not rely on one tool alone. Professional teachers already know and have tools available for creating curriculum. They should be trusted to use the tools they are used to using thereby instilling a sense of trust and saving them time in which to create authentic curriculum.

As for the argument that teachers may not have a written curriculum to follow when a new teacher transitions into a new post, they can always refer back to their past school, otherwise known as suitcase curriculum. In addition, teachers can use textbooks as a guide or adopted curriculum from IB or AP curriculums. Finally each state has its own standards, scope, and sequences which can be used as a guide. Looking back at a detailed unit plan, even if noted in Atlas, may have little use to a new or returning teacher. Teachers almost always refine and modify what they did in the past.

If a leadership team and curriculum coordinators do not themselves model the use of Rubicon Atlas, then they should not require their teachers to use it. The administration team also needs to provide dedicated time that is not added to their workload in order to work on curriculum regardless if it is Rubicon Atlas or some other program. If a school desires that its teachers use Atlas Rubicon, then they should promote its use and sell it to teachers. If coercion and mandates are used, the teachers will only use it superficially and in a shallow way to  comply with the mandate. They won’t get the benefits of its full potential. A successful long term implementation of using a tool such as Rubicon Atlas, can only happen if teachers are drawn towards its use on their own free will. It can only truly be helpful to a school if it becomes part of the culture of curriculum planning. Before implementing any new initiative such as Atlas Rubicon, every member of the leadership team should ask themselves, “Why are things the way they are?” The decision should also be data driven, where teachers are asked about what tools they currently use. Perhaps there are better options. If an implemented initiative is working, or not, then perhaps it needs to be reexamined to determine its viability and usefulness with the benefit of saving teachers a whole lot of grief. 




Link: Atlas Rubicon Site

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Mobile Translation Tools for the Classroom

Author: Mark Page Posted: 2015-01-19

Teachers in the classroom who have students with limited amount of host country language proficiency can now use a couple of really good translations tool offerings from Google and Microsoft on their mobile devices. Having these tools on their phones and tablets really frees both the teacher and students from the confines of their desks. Google has combined their Google Goggles with the translation engine to create a robust translation app with a multitude of supported languages, as has Microsoft with their Bing Translate tool. The real-time aspect is a real winner for teachers who have students who need language support in the classroom, and have limited access to a language support specialist. The translations tools can translate text and voice. There is even an offline capability, but requires downloading of language packs that are not as comprehensive as the online versions. Microsoft’s translation program for their computers and mobile devices is very similar in all aspects to Google’s offering, but with a more limited amount of languages to choose from. Apple doesn’t offer their own translation tool, but both Google and Microsoft’s translations programs and apps work on their devices.

These tools can be used for host country language support, but also can be used for language classes for project creation and any lesson requiring work to be done outside of the classroom such as a field trip. As a teacher having the ability to work with students that don’t speak or have limited host country now have tools that are much faster and better than in years past. These tools are not perfect but are a stopgap measure that can help when a language support specialist is not available to help in the classroom. There are other companies that offer translations apps and tools, but both Google and Microsoft's offerings are by far the most robust. These mobile translations tools will improve with time and are worth downloading onto your devices as they are free.
 





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