Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tech Trends

Choosing a tech trend to focus on for this week's artifact was challenging.  Learning more about educational analytics interests me but  I'm also interested in learning more about open content and using mobile devices in class. I settled on doing something with mobile devices and cloud computing.  I am currently involved with a pilot project which involves Chromebooks so this seemed like a natural fit for me.  I decided to create a list of features I wanted to use in an Edtech tool.  I wanted to find an educational tool that:

  • Helps me create an engaging BYOD lesson
  • Would work on multiple platforms
  • Has interactive components
  • Is easily shared with students

To begin with, I searched the Google App Store and found Nearpod.  Nearpod allows teachers to create interactive lessons which can be used on multiple platforms and it allows teachers to embed quizzes and polls into these lessons. I was not happy with what I created. The lesson I created looked great and the learning analytic function provided useful information, but I found Nearpod's platform awkward and time consuming to work with. For example, to include a video from Youtube, you first had to convert the video to something other than Flash. I also found it difficult to share the lesson with students as they would need to download an app and be provided with a pin for every lesson created. I was using the free version; perhaps these issues are resolved in the upgraded version for purchase. In the end I decided to abandon my Nearpod idea, and find something that allowed me to easily create a BYOD lesson and would still be an effective learning tool.

I decided to see if I could use Google forms to deliver content. We have recently adopted the Google platform in my school district, and I have experimented with Google forms with simple surveys. I was certain I could create a lesson that students could access on their mobile devices, go through at there own pace, and would give me some data on their level of of understanding. The lesson I created has a variety of sources which students interpret (an important skill in our social studies curriculum) and there is a variety of formative assessments the students complete as they work through the lesson. In using Google forms this way, I found a tool that has the technological features I was looking for that also enhances student learning.

This is a link to the lesson plan I created. Direct access to the Google form can be found here.

In completing this artifact, I have gained a greater understanding of the benefits of using mobile devices in the classroom. Until now, I have had students use their own devices as a research tool. I may ask students a question and have them Google the answer using their phones and tablets. Now I see that I can create a lesson students can do at their own pace or even do repeatedly until mastery is achieved. I can also direct them to information that specifically targets learning outcomes which leads to a more efficient learning environment. I have gained a new appreciation of what Google forms can do. Whenever I learn something new within the Google environment, I cannot help but think Google created these tools with educators in mind. I have even started thinking about where I take mobile device use in my class next. The next step for mobile device use in my class is to have my students create using there devices. Perhaps they can film an historic re-enactment or maybe create a presentation for their classmates to use. It may sound cliché but the possibilities are endless.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Horizon Report: An introduction to trends in educational technology

This week we were asked to read the 2013 K-12 Horizon Report which is published by the New Media Consortium.  The purpose of the Horizon report is to indicate which  key trends in educational technology tools are on the horizon.  Trends such as social media, educational analytics, cloud computing, 3D printing and many more are presented in this report.  I found I was excited about some of these ideas coming into my classroom.  Ideas such as 1:1 Chromebook computing in the cloud and mobile device use in classroom are exciting but two ideas really captured my interest.  Learning analytics and open content are two areas I would like to investigate further.

To guide us through the report, we answered five questions.  My answers to these questions can be found here:


We were also asked to comment on what did we found interesting or provocative in the report.  This is what I posted in our discussion forum:

"I'm not sure I really grasp the full potential of open content in education.  I think this is why I am drawn to it.  I want to learn more about it.  From what I understand, this may allow all schools to have access to high-quality educational materials.  In my mind, this increased access will help democratize education by allowing students from all communities access to the highest quality resources available."

I quite enjoyed reading the Horizon Report.  It allowed me think about the future for a moment and I feel optimistic that  education and educational technology is moving in an exciting direction.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

EDTECH Research

Over the last two weeks I have been working on my research skills.  I received my undergraduate degree 20 years ago and researching tools have changed since I last did any academic research.  Google Scholar was a welcomed addition to my research process.  I enjoyed how I could save items in my library and work from multiple locations.  I also enjoyed the precision of Albertson Library's search capabilities.  I was able to do my research in a timely manner and stay relatively organized as well.

My artifact this week is an annotated bibliography on EDTECH Research.  I researched how social networking affects student's ability to express a point of view.  This is one of many outcomes, social studies students must show proficiency in and I think social networking can reinforce this skill.  The articles I read reinforce this idea and take it even further.  Social networking and teaching social media skills can improve many social studies skills including the learning objective in my research.  Several of the articles also reinforced the idea that it is the educator that dictates the success of using technological tools.  When purposely chosen by an educator, students will see improvement in many areas.  When technology is simply placed in front of students with few guidelines or a lack of instruction, the benefits of the technology are lost.  I plan on suggesting the use of social networking to  my colleagues.  Final exam results show that some students in my school  have difficulty with the subject of my research and I think my department will be receptive to any suggestion that will help student achievement.

You can find my annotated bibliography here:

PlastowB_EDTECH Annotated Bibliography