Google has launched add-ons for Google Docs which will bring more features to documents and spreadsheets. When you open a Google Doc you’ll see the following;
Click on “Get add-ons” and a whole new world will be in your service. When you install an add-on, it will be installed for all documents and spreadsheets so you don’t need to install for each single document but before talking about this new great update let me give you a quick information about what an add-on is.
As you continue using a tool constantly you begin to customize it to fit your needs. Take a look at your daily things carefully and you will see how you personalized some of those. For example, suppose that you and I bought the same coat and on the same day both of us will take a walk outside. You wear the coat and it is warm enough for you whereas I wear the coat and still feel cold so I wear a scarf. In this example coat is a common tool for both of us and scarf is just an add-on I chose to add to my tool. It made my tool function better for me. According to Wikipedia an add-on is a “plug-in which is a piece of software which enhances another software application and usually cannot be run independently.” What does this mean to us? You will be able to search and add new features to your Docs and Spreadsheets whenever you want to provided that it is in the list of add-ons.
This new update will make our lives easier because in time there will be lots of add-ons which will make document preparation easier both for students and teachers. As a mathematics teacher I always wish for additional features in the documents because what we write on paper is not just English words. They are symbols, formulas, images, etc. and it is not very easy (sometimes impossible) to do this with a keyboard.
I haven’t checked all the add-ons yet but at a first glance I can say EasyBib will be a life saver. With this add-on you can “search for books, journals, and websites and format citations using MLA, APA and Chicago styles, and create your Work Cited page all within your document.” Although the Research tool helps a lot this new add-on will make things easier. You can get more information about EasyBib from here.
Another remarkable add-on is Merge by Mailchimp which helps you to send your Doc or Spreadsheet as an email. You need to identify the emails in a separate spreadsheet though.
The list goes on and it seems that it will get longer and longer so if you don’t want to fall behind you should start digging today.
Blended Learning has always been a very popular topic in education. After having high-tech devices in the classroom it became more popular than ever. You can find many useful resources about Blended Learning when you make a simple Google search. Online resources about BL include some examples but they are detailed enough for a teacher who wants to implement the idea in his/her teaching methods so the aim of this article is not providing basic information about B.L. but instead giving a detailed example.
My example is from a Pre-Calculus math class. The topic was “Sums of Infinite Geometric Series” which was planned to be introduced right after “Sums of Finite Geometric Series”. The reason I’m sharing the topic is to emphasize that students were already familiar with the idea. This is a small(!) detail you need to be careful about. Although we are dealing with 21st century students sometimes they are resistant to changes in traditional education. They accept and follow the changes only if they feel comfortable and confident. I think this makes sense so if you want to apply BL or any other method in your lessons be sure that your students feel ok with the content.
Another detail I’d like to share before giving details of this lesson is the idea of preparing the students for the future applications, trials and changes. Whenever I apply a new method people think that I plan it in a week and just do it. In reality things don’t work like that. The change in the method also requires change in the behaviour of the students. If you want the new method to be successful you need to create a mind shift in your students as well and this requires time and planning. I met with these students in the beginning of the semester. I didn’t know any of them so I couldn’t apply any new method suddenly. The most important concept I tried to teach them was “becoming a learner” which involves taking responsibility for their own learning. I’d like to talk about this more but let’s get back to the lesson.
The first thing that I did was the change of the learning environment. I took my class to the library. The idea came strange to students because they are not used to go to library for a math class. I chose the library for a couple of reasons. First of all there are additional physical and electronic resources there. Secondly the environment motivates students to study and stay calm and silent. Thirdly I wanted to observe how students behave when they don’t have an instructor right next to them. Besides everything, there exists a traditional classroom in the library. I planned to use that room in case things go sideways. This was my plan B.
I prepared a document which includes instructions for the whole lesson. I shared this document beforehand and asked my students to read it before they come to lesson. When it comes to following instructions these young people easily become bewildered and here is the reason via Sarah-Jayne Blakemore: The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain
My lesson was 80 minutes long. I divided this 80 minute into 4 parts. In the first part I gave them a Google Form in which there were 4 review questions. In each question they got a feedback. You can check the document from here http://goo.gl/T5v3IA By the way I need to say that Google Apps was my main tool to create this lesson.
In the second part where learning new subject happens I gave them four modules. First one is the traditional way of using textbook. I prepared a guide on how to use the textbook, which pages to study, which questions to solve etc. and asked my students to follow that document. The last activity in this module was solving book exercises so I told them to take a picture of their work and upload it to a Google Doc for future evaluation.
In the second module I wanted to use power of Khan Academy videos. I carefully chose the videos and put them in order and of course prepared a guide for students. I observed that even though I mentioned clearly which videos to watch some students started watching wrong videos. Next time I’ll embed the videos in a web page to prevent this mistake. The last activity of this module was answering the exercises in Khan Academy. I had added my students into Khan Academy in the beginning of the semester to monitor their activities and give suggestions.
Third module was a different one. I knew that some of my students are eager to learn more. This module was for them. I asked them to do a research on the topic using library database. To me this is an adventurous way of learning. Your path is not clear and you are not 100% sure about what you are doing although there are instructions for you to follow. You can find really strange and interesting things in this journey or you may get totally lost. For those who chose this module I asked them to prepare a document to make a presentation to the class.
Fourth module was for the activity people. It included activities using materials to model the idea. There were 3 different activities and a task to finish. I can say that this module was the longest to finish.
During the second part some students finished their tasks earlier than others. I asked them to volunteer for being mentors to others and all of them agreed. It was amazing to see their efforts while helping others and I was so impressed to see that struggling students were asking for help instead of chatting and wasting their time.
The third part was designed for a wrap up. Although students finished their tasks with my help (when necessary) they still feel the necessity of solving questions together. This makes them feel comfortable because that is the only way they had been taught for 8 years. This part also included a feedback session. I believe having students’ feedback is crucial. It helps you to improve your techniques and methods and also provides information which you had never thought of. I used the following form. I have modified it according to my lesson. The feedback I got for this lesson was very positive. It appears that my students want to do these kind of activities a lot.
Since in BL you blend traditional methods with new ones you might wonder where the traditional teaching happened in this lesson. Well, it did not. Not in this lesson but the next lesson was a traditional one. I met with my students in the classroom, I gave them some questions about the topic and we worked together. By the way I forgot to mention that I gave them a small quiz in the beginning of the lesson to see what they learned in the previous lesson and the class average in this quiz is 87.5% which is pretty satisfying.
One of my colleagues, Burcu Aybat was with me and she took some notes during the lesson. I believe you’ll find them useful;
1) Setting up the class in the beginning takes too much time.
2) The study area is so wide that teacher has to run from one corner to another.
3) More than half of the students chose the second module.
4) Having print outs helped students who couldn’t reach internet.
5) If a students gets lost he/she is paired with another student.
6) Identifying slow learners before the lesson keeps the teacher on guard.
In my latest post I shared my first impressions on Google Glass and mentioned that our expectations from wearable technologies are nourished from sci-fi movies. Now it is time to make some comments on how to use it in education but since Google Glass meets only some of our expectations its use in education will also be limited.
What Google Glass does perfectly for now is creating a comfort by making it very easy for us to take pictures and videos. Without using our hands we will be able to take a pictures and videos of what our eyes can see. Google Glass’ camera can take pictures with 5 MP resolution and videos with 720p quality. These values are quite enough for documentation in education unless you are dealing with a special project. Since the camera doesn’t have a flashlight it is hard to take pictures and videos with low light. It could have a flashlight but battery life is already very short so it wouldn’t be practical. I’m pretty sure that very soon there will be additional products in the market like portable small flashlights which can be attached to the glass. Anyways, how would having camera in front of our eyes will help us? The first thing that comes to my mind is the change in preparing videos for flipped classrooms. In this blog I had shared what kind of ways can be followed in preparing videos (you can find them here) but Google Glass was not in the list. Now think about this; you are in a classroom, writing on the board or on a paper and making your explanations. In the mean time Google Glass records everything you see and you speak. You don’t need to use special effects and advanced video techniques to change the scene, attract the attention to a point etc. When you are done, it automatically uploads itself to Youtube and that’s it. There might be problems though. Moving your head too much will result in a blurred view and distraction. Also when you look at a view generated by a projector or a computer screen the camera might record it as if it is blinking or jumping. Nevertheless this is a technical issue and it will be solved in time.
During the lesson you can use Google Glass as a tool for sharing. When you see or hear something worth sharing with everyone else just record it and share it on Google+ easily. This is something you can do with your mobile device but it is much more easier with a camera on your glass.
Sometimes I put a camera at the back of the classroom to record the lesson for students who will be away for 1-2 weeks from school. Although the idea is good it is not enough in most cases. The angle of view of the camera and sound is always a problem but with Google Glass it’s not necessary to try to set up a perfect stage for the show. When you start your lesson start Glass’ video recording and everything you see and hear will be transferred to Youtube for absent students.
You can also arrange a Hangout session with absent students who have the chance to attend class virtually using Google Glass. This way they will not be distracted with cacophony and will be able to hear you clearly and speak to you directly.
What about field trips? Let me share a video about this;
As you see Google Glass makes documentation very easy. Additional to that I believe using handwriting to take notes is becoming obsolete (you might not like the idea but this is slowly happening). By using Google Glass, you can take a picture of anything or you can record it. With the help of different apps you can convert these documents into different formats. If you want to add an additional information you can use your voice unless you are in a meeting. During a meeting you can use your tablet device to take additional notes and insert your Glass documents into those notes easily.
In this article I could only share how to use only one feature (the camera) of Google Glass in education as a teacher. As you see I should write another article on how students can use this camera in their education life as well. And I should continue doing this for every feature Google Glass has and will have in the future… I think I am in trouble
Finally I had the chance to test Google Glass personally. Our school had visitors from a company called Monitise (formerly Pozitron) who brought us three Google Glasses. Before I start sharing my experiences I’d like to send my special thanks to Monitise since they spent a whole day in the school introducing Google Glass to teachers and students although education is not their core business.
Until today I only had an idea of what Google Glass looks like and how it functions. I have read lots of articles regarding use of Google Glass but most of these articles were mainly about future possibilities and written in a futuristic way. Instead of talking about current capabilities of this technology they were focusing on future. So in this article I will try to avoid this and will try to draw a picture of what we have for today. In my next article I will share some ideas on how we can use Google Glass in education. So, let’s start.
When I first took it I felt the unbalanced weight. Since the hardware is located on the right side I thought it won’t feel nice when you wear it. To my surprise it didn’t matter much. The frame was designed in a way where you don’t feel like someone is pulling your right ear down. By the way I was informed that this frame is a new one but there are more options in frame choices.
Starting the Google Glass is easy. You can lift your head up to a certain degree (which you can change its setting later) or you can simply tap on the right side. When they told me to tap it I searched for a button but the right side of the G. Glass was a touch pad. With this pad you can swipe left, right and down in the menu. Swiping left and right makes you move on to next item and swiping down works like a back key. Here is the main menu;
It looks very simple right? Well, actually it is. I mean I was expecting a much more complicated home screen but before I continue with the menu let me finish physical appearance. The screen is carefully located so that it does not interfere with your sight. Its location is a little bit above your eyesight so you need to look up to see the screen. This is totally an intentional design. Google doesn’t want to add a virtual layer to what our eyes can see.
Google Glass screen occupies only a very small proportion of your right eyesight which makes some actions like taking photos easy but some actions like reading websites hard, almost impossible. I believe this is one of the most important principle in the development of this device. In the discussions I see that people assume it works like Terminator or a Robocop screen. The trend might be going to that way or maybe it is an expectation for some people today it’s not the case.
There is a built in microphone and speaker. I won’t give details about technical specs but you might want to get more info on how speaker works because it has a strange technology. The only problem is it doesn’t have a voice recognition feature yet. In a crowded place your Google Glass might suddenly work with another person’s command.
Ok, let’s get back to the menu. I shared the main menu above. You can see a “ok glass” message. This is your trigger to start Google Glass. When you say “ok glass” it acts like a soldier who stands at attention and ready to take orders. After “ok glass” you give a voice command like “take a picture”. The commands are limited. The system doesn’t work like Siri and it is not an advanced artificial intelligence… yet.
Although the voice commands are limited it is obvious that more are coming. By swiping left-right, down and by tapping the right side of the Google Glass you can reach other features such as weather forecast, system status, settings etc. Moreover you can reach applications like facebook or twitter. Google Glass has the Android operating system but the interface is different. This means you can make the Andorid apps work in Google Glass. Of course these apps are not the ones in Google Play Store but you got the idea. You might want to check the following website http://glass-apps.org/google-glass-application-list as an example.
Since our expectations from wearable technologies are nourished from sci-fi movies Google Glass is a little bit far away from fulfilling those but this is a start and I believe a good one. I hope it will be in the market soon and even if Google doesn’t make any improvements I will be one of the first owners because I see a great potential in this device.
Recently I have attended Technology and Society Conference organized by Technology, Knowledge and Society Community in Madrid on 5-7 February 2014. Although the conference was designed for people in higher education I found the topics very interesting and decided to attend. When I went there I saw that I was the only high school teacher. This frightened me a little bit because I thought the conference would be a waste of time but it was quite the contrary so let me give you some details.
The conference was organized in both traditional and non-traditional ways. This was one of the reasons I wanted to attend. Along with parallel sessions there were talking sessions, garden sessions, poster sessions and focused discussions sessions. If you are planning to organize a conference I suggest you check this page first where you can get more information about these sessions. The presentations were grouped under four different topics; Tech. for Human Use, Tech. in Community, Tech. for Learning and Tech. for Common Knowledge. I chose the ones under Technology For Learning of course.
I attended many sessions. Some of these sessions were unfortunately not very productive and some of them were about things that I am already aware of. The ones that helped me to take away useful ideas are listed below.
- Plenary session with Rafael Capurro – “IT and Privacy from an Ethical Perspective”
During his speech Mr. Capurro asked some questions and brought some ideas to the audience and wanted us to think about them. Some of these ideas and questions were;
- How can you build a culture of trust in cyber world?
- The person on the other side of the screen may not have a real identity so which is the correct phrase; Who are you? or What are you?
- In cyber world who you are means what your data is.
- Are privacy and secrecy mean same?
- Having a common internet law is hard to construct due to strength of internet itself and cultural differences but there at least can be a common foundation.
He also mentioned the wrong use of words cyber-space and cyber-world. He said in the beginning we had a cyber-space because it was an empty place but today we have (almost literally) a world inside there so using cyber-world makes much more sense.
- I attended two Talking Circles each of them were 45 minute long. During these talking sessions all the participants introduced themselves and explained why they attended the conference. At first I thought we were wasting our time by introducing ourselves but our chairman used this information to create small discussions by asking how we are experience technology in our schools etc. By the end of the session we saw that we had talked about lots of things in tiny proportions.
- Among the poster presentations I found one of them very informative for my profession. It was prepared by Dr. Moanes H.Tibi, Head of Comp. Sc. Dep. AAIE, The Academic College Beit Berl from Israel and entitled as “Improving Collaborative Skills by Computer Science Students Through Structured Discussion Forums”. The study proposed a structure for asynchronous discussion forums and investigated its impact on the acquisition of different kinds of knowledge by the students and on the improvement of their collaborative skills. The statistical data clearly showed that a structured discussion forum has a significant effect. He shared a summary of a design of the structred discussion forum with us. If you are interested and want to get more information, you can get in touch with him via [email protected]
- Focused sessions and parallel sessions;
- A Self-Study Using Technology to Support and Transform Teachers’ Classroom Practice – Rabab Abi-Hanna, Montclair State University, USA
This presentation was about using technology to create a collaborative dialogue among two teachers who intend to refine their classroom experience.
- Teachers’ Role in the Technological Era of the 21st Century – Dr. Tsafi Timor, The Kibbutzim College of Education, Israel
This was about student-teachers’ perceptions about teachers’ role in 21st century. She says in a world of technological changes they tend to incorporate the old and the new methods rather than abandoning old for the sake of new.
- What Are Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions about Designing STEM/STEAM Unit in Early Childhood Education? – Dr. Wei-Ying Hsiao, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
This was also about a study on student-teachers’ perceptions. Contrary to previous item student-teachers believe that these new methods are very productive and efficient and they would prefer to apply it if possible.
- Social Media and the Transformation of Brand Communication in #highereducation – Adam Peruta, Ithaca College, USA
This presentation was about how higher education brands communicate via social media. During the presentation I saw that active social media pages bring lots of opportunity to the institutions. It widens the communication among all members of the system and contributes to becoming a brand in the field.
- Open Educational Resources Workshop: UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning – Prof. Rory McGreal, UNESCO Chair Programme, Canada
I believe this one was the most important presentation. It was about Open Educational Recources and Prof.McGreal convinced me about using OERs instead of copyrighted materials.
- Computer Instruction: A Place in Piaget’s and Vgotsky’s Worlds? – Dr. Tami James Moore, University of Nebraska, USA
This presentation attracted quite attention. As educators we always wonder what Piaget or Vgotsky would say about recent technological changes and their impact on education. Mrs.Moore from University of Nebraska searched for an answer by following the theories of Piaget and Vgotsky. Although it was not possible to come up with a certain idea discussing and digging for a clue in the theories was exciting. Her conclusion was Vgotsky would probably be more supportive whereas Piaget would probably not denounce it, however, be spinning out research about effective computer education design.
I tried to keep this article as short as possible and tried to give you a brief information about the conference. I gave you the names of the presenters so that if you are interested in any of the topics and want to get more information you can find their contact info via Google.
How My 2-year Old Son Uses an iPad / Android Device?
- In this article I’ll use the word “touch screen” instead of iPad or Android device.
There are lots of discussions going on among teachers about how touch screens revolutionized the way we live and the way we teach. We also discuss how these devices affected our students’ and our children’s lives. In this blog I had shared some of my teaching experiences with you and this time I’d like to share my experiences as a father.
I see lots of kids (even newborns) around me who play with touch screens as if they are professional gamers. I find this quite interesting because I also see many parents who complain about their kids’ addiction to these devices. I know that addiction is a very strong word but usually when parents use this word they don’t mean clinical cases. I don’t intend to give any advice about clinical situations since I’m not an expert. Instead I’ll try to share how me and my wife have designed our kid’s interaction with these devices so that they won’t bring any harm to his development. But before doing that let me share a video you can find in Youtube.
This video actually summarizes the idea but let me give you a list of ideas and thoughts on this subject. By the way you might find my words a little bit rude or maybe didactic but I can assure you that that’s not my intention. This is a very delicate topic for me so sometimes I find it hard to express myself.
1) Since touch screens are very new there is no significant data about their effects on child development. This means none of the ideas (including the ones here) can be considered as solid scientific facts. We have to find a way to analyze the few information we have. This task requires a lot of observation and interviews with other parents whose kids are older than ours.
2) As teachers we need to go through the learning-teaching theories, child development theories etc. we had learnt in university. (If you are not a teacher and haven’t studied these theories you may try to find resources from a bookstore.)
3) Every child’s development is different than others so comparison of two kids is the most dangerous and harmful thing we can do to our kids. Some people claim that touch screens help their kid’s development in a positive way. They simply compare the kids and try show a proof for their claim by asking their kid to do something unexpected in that age. They miss the point that the reason their kid can do it might not be related to touch screen. Maybe he/she is having a faster development in that area compared to others. We can not know that.
4) Thanks to studies on child development we know what our kids should be able to do by the age of 1,1 and a half, 2, … In every parental book you can find a list showing what your kid can or can’t do at that age. But every one of these books warn the parents that time intervals for skills are different according to every child. These lists can help parents to choose proper apps for their kids. If a kid is in a language development phase then an app which focuses on vocabulary skills might ease the kid’s job. This also means that if a kid is in a physical development phase then you should get rid of touch screens and go to a park. By the way development doesn’t happen in a sequential order but sometimes one item becomes more important than others and I call this situation a particular development phase.
5) “Never leave your kids with touch screens alone.” This may sound like an annoying order but this is our motto. Whenever my son starts playing with a touch screen his mother or I stay with him and interact as much as possible. Basically we don’t let him isolate himself from the environment. Also we don’t let him control the device. All control is on us. We open Guided Access so that he cannot quit or change app.
6) The most important thing about touch screens is that they have an interactive content (mostly). This is the feature that makes them so desirable. This feature also brings the opportunity of learning in high motivation. That’s basically what happens when kids start using them. In that sense, parents can use touch screens as enriched teaching materials as long as they observe their kids carefully and follow development phases correctly. Let me give you an example. My son likes peekaboo activities very much. Playing peekaboo games is very important not just because he is having fun and he is happy, it is because his object permanence skills are developing. In order to support this phase I have downloaded only two peekaboo games. Actually one of them is a flashcard game. There are 9 reversed cards on the screen and he has to find the matches. The reason I don’t use real cards is this app can present more data to the senses of my kid. When he turns a card by tapping on it the image starts animating and makes real sounds. Although this can not happen with physical cards we don’t fully eliminate them. We play this game using real cards as well, especially when we go out. In the second app there is a barn and it’s door is closed. My son hears the sound of an animal and when he touches the screen the door opens and the animal appears. In the meantime we hear another kid’s voiceÂ saying the name of the animal. While playing this app we imitate the sounds and act like that animal which makes our son laugh a lot. Besides digital activities we also play peekaboo games with real life objects. For example I bring two cups to the table and hide a dried nut under one. After shuffling I ask my son to find the toy. He really enjoys this game because at the end there is a tasty reward.
7) I believe that using a touch screen to calm down a child (in a restaurant, at home, while chatting with other people etc.) is one of the biggest mistake a parent can do. If our son becomes restless then we try to understand the reason. Is he hungry? Is he having a pain? Or is he just bored? When we understand the reason we solve this problem without using an electronic device. By the way in the above video they mention that being able to calm down is a skill that kids should develop themselves but if you do it with a touch screen every single time then they can’t develop this skill.
8) My son doesn’t know how to make drawings on a touch screen. I hear many people saying that there are amazing drawing apps. I ask them what kind of tools these apps use which do not exist in real life. Well, the answer is none. Drawing apps for kids do not have special tools but even if they have it why do we offer a touch screen instead of paper and crayons? Because it gets messy? Drawing and painting activities play a major role in a child’s development. Here is an excerpt from babycenter.com “Drawing with a crayon involves fine motor skills such as grasping and holding, for instance, as well as boosting your child’s visual acumen and tapping her imagination.” You can read the whole article from here.
9) This item will be a little bit fuzzy and maybe not logical but I have to share this. We all know that excessive practice of any sports activity harms the muscles and the body. The same thing happens with our brain. Exhaustion from overwork sometimes happens to all of us. Also we see or hear people who lose their mind health due to many reasons so we have to be careful about keeping our mind healthy. In the sixth item I mentioned that touch screen devices have an interactive content. With a proper guidance these interactive apps can help kids develop some skills which they should have at a later age. The question in my mind is; aren’t we forcing our kids’ brain a little bit too much? Since kids have an enormous energy we don’t easily observe exhaustion but we observe addictive behaviours instead. Some kids can not leave their devices and these kids have something in common; they are very good at on a particular app or skill which their peers are not.
Bottom line is; I’m not against giving these devices to kids. I’m saying that parents should utilize these devices consciously so that they will not harm their kids’ development. Also I’d like to add that I’m totally against the following product “apptivity chair” produced by Fisher Price. I’m planning to write an article for it later.
Although there is not a single definition for intelligence we all have a sense of it. We all know that intelligence is related to learning and it has been divided into categories and can be assessed by means of different tools.
Determining a person’s Intelligence Quotient – IQ is one of them. IQ is a score you can get from a standardized test. Although it sounds a very simple process creating that test is not a piece of cake. It is a very complicated process and there are many different psychological theories behind it. I’m not going to argue about if IQ tests are effective to measure a person’s intelligence or not. Recently I talked to some of my friends and they told me that they don’t know the theories behind this measurement but they expect a student with the highest IQ grade to be the most successful student (academically). They basically think that if your math is bad then so is your IQ level but this doesn’t mean that you are not intelligent.
There is another tool to measure intelligence; Emotional Quotient – EQ. This tool measures your emotional intelligence. It has complicated theories behind it of course and there are many arguments which support or rise up against the theory. High emotional intelligence means interpreting, understanding and acting upon emotions. Dealing with social or emotional conflicts, expressing feelings, and dealing with emotional situations are the key skills a person with high EQ can develop. As you see IQ and EQ are two very important concepts in our lives. We work hard to improve our kids’ and our students’ IQ and EQ scores.
But nowadays IQ and EQ are not enough to define a new type of intelligence; Information Technology Intelligence. So I say it is time to define a new term IT Quotient – ITQ. I am not a psychologist so I don’t have the necessary skills to create a new theory but I am a teacher and I can observation my students while they are on a task which requires use of technology. By the way I don’t know if this term has already been created and being used because I didn’t make any research about it. The only reason I decided to write this article is my class observations. When I assign a task, which requires using laptops, my students come up with some problems. These problems can be classified in two parts.
In the first part there are technical problems. Some of these problems happen due to lack of technical information, some of them are due to having high level of technical information. Some of them are related to bugs in specific softwares etc. Whenever a student lives a problem with his/her laptop another student runs for a help. I have realized that these helpful students are very eager to learn technology related stuff. Their interest in technology is not based on consuming. They enjoy fixing, manipulating, editing, creating, redefining… and moreover while they are doing that they learn very fast.
The academic and emotional background of these students is very different from each other. There are boys and girls, there are math students and art students etc. It is hard to find a common intelligence type among them. They don’t form a stereotype. This fact guided me to use a new term for these students.
In the second part of the problems there are behavioural issues towards technology. In different ways when I ask my students to grade how well do they feel using technology in the classroom I see interesting but common results. Approximately 20% is very negative. While all adults think that our kids can not live without technology the fact is there are kids who don’t like or let’s say who don’t use technology very often. Approximately 50% feel alright and the rest is highly satisfied and enjoy it. I again look at the profiles of the students in each group and it is very hard to find common points. So what type of intelligence drives students to these behaviours? IQ? EQ? or ITQ?
Some part of my observations are based on daily usage of technology. I don’t mean the amount of time students spend with their high tech devices. I mean how they use it to leverage their studies, organize their lives, be more creative and so on. I see that some students use WhatsApp to create a study group whereas some use it to chat about latest TV shows only. When I tell my students to open their laptops and check for a document I find some of them checking something else in internet. This is not a proper use of technology but the problem is they can’t stop themselves. Someone has to keep an eye on them and interestingly that’s what they ask for. When I talk to these students they say technology is a distraction for them. These students have problems in implementing technology in their lives wisely. Others need to be guided as well but they learn quickly. Some of them on the other hand are natural born technology users. They are aware of the effects of misusage of technology. They somehow know when and how they should use technology to entertain themselves or study for a lesson.
Now, would it be wrong to say that determining how to use technology is related to ITQ?
Yesterday one of my colleagues told me a problem he faced during the lesson. He had prepared a Powerpoint presentation to use during his lesson. When he went to class he followed the routine; he opened his laptop, connected it to the projector and clicked on the file. Surprisingly he saw a message saying that Windows doesn’t know how to open the file. He thought someone is making a bad joke. He tried to change file extension and it didn’t work so he thought maybe if he runs Powerpoint then he could open the file within the software.
Whenever you have a problem with opening a file this is a perfect solution unless of course you have the software installed correctly. When he tried to run Powerpoint he came up with a problem. The software wasn’t running. It kept on giving an error message which he couldn’t understand. So he gave up trying because he had already lost quite amount of time and he redesigned his lesson in a different way.
He was telling me this because he was trying to point out the idea that sometimes technology can be a drawback. Although I share this idea partially I told him that his example wasn’t a proper one. He had a chance to run his Powerpoint presentation. When he heard that he said maybe I didn’t hear him saying Powerpoint didn’t work. I told him that I heard him clearly and I wasn’t talking about using Powerpoint. I was trying to say Google Docs could help him.
As you know you can upload your files to your Google Drive account. When you upload them Google offers you two choices; you can keep them as they are (no format change) and preview by clicking on them. Other option is keeping your files in original format and creating a copy by opening them with Google Docs while converting them to Google Docs format. This can be done by right clicking on the file.
When you click on Google Slides a second file will be created and you will be able to see contents of your Powerpoint file. The catch is if you have advanced animations and other effects in your original file you may not be able to see all of them with Google Slides. Also some fonts, tables etc. might be changed so you need to take a quick look at your document before you present it but I can tell you that differences among softwares are getting lesser everyday.
When I explained this to my friend he said he knew how to use Google Docs but at that moment he couldn’t see that it could save his lesson. As I always say using few technology tools wisely is better than using lots of tools unconsciously.
As mentioned in the title TinyTap is an awesome game and book creator for toddlers and pre-schoolers. It is a very useful app for parents and for teachers as well. Before giving details about this app I need to clarify a very important point. People who know me personally are aware that I’m against the idea of introducing iPad and any other digital device to kids before school age. I believe they are harmful for kids in many ways; physically, mentally etc. but I also believe that with a very careful and conscious planning these devices can be turned into useful materials.
For instance my son is 2 years old and he knows what an iPad is and plays a particular game. But he doesn’t know how to swipe or what home button does because I use Guided Access feature so that he cannot use hardware buttons or run another app. He thinks there is only one thing that iPad can do. The game he plays is Sound Touch. It is a flash card app. He touches the cartoon character and picture of that animal/object appears with a sound. This app turns the iPad into a book with sound effects. Actually he has lots of physical books in which objects are hidden behind cards and when he turns those cards the sound of the object is heard. His interest in those books didn’t disappear after introducing this book and moreover he plays with iPad for 10-15 minutes only. I will write another article about this issue so let’s get back to our subject.
TinyTap game and book creator is for kids between 1 and 6 years old but this doesn’t mean that they’ll use it to create. On the contrary some parts of the app appear to be very complicated for a 6 year old kid. Adults can use this app to create a content for them. This content can be a game, a story or a presentation. I see many ways of using this app both in the classroom and in the house.
After signing up you can start creating and sharing your content but before that you might want to go to Market and check out what other users created and shared. In the market you’ll see that there are free materials and paid materials. This means that you can create a game and sell it. Besides games and books there also packages you can download to enrich your content. These packages include stickers etc. When you press Create, your canvas will be opened. Fortunately it is very easy to use the tools to create a content. Below I share some screenshots.
As you see you can create objects by drawing or using your camera. You can also use your Dropbox account or simply make a web search. When you include your actors into your game/book you can start adding sound effects to your objects.
If you “Ask a Question” then TinyTap will ask you to i) ask your question verbally ii) select a region (which holds an actor) as answer and iii) give feedback verbally again. This feature can be used in many ways. You can bring up a question, like “which one is a bird”, and ask which object/animal is the right answer, just like a multiple choice test. Or you can ask them to show a part of the object and you can give your feedback by explaining that part. For example you can give a map of your country showing cities and when the kid touches a city, a narration about that city can start. The content can also be a presentation which includes photos, annotations and verbal explanations. The thing with TinyTap is you can create anything for any purpose. Just when you think there can’t be a newer way of using this app someone shares an awesome content as if he/she tries to embarrass you
I also liked the parental control feature. Logging in/out, sharing in facebook, buying something from market requires an authentication. When you click on one of those, the message on the left pops up. Personally I would like to have a password protection but this is also nice.
I’d like to finish up by emphasizing the most important part. While your little kids (or students) play with iPad please accompany them in the meantime and interact with them as much as possible. Think about a situation such as reading a book or playing a board game together. Let the iPad be a material which helps you to teach certain skills by entertaining kids.
A teacher can always find apps regarding the subject area by going to the app store and making a simple search. I’m a mathematics teacher and when I go to app store I write “mathematics” or “trigonometry” (if I need to be more precise) and I always find at least one app. I call this method (and some others) “baby steps of technology integration”. If you are new to using these devices in your lessons this is the first step you should take; finding apps related to your subject and using them as a substitution to another material or method. If you are already doing this maybe it is time to move on to next steps; Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition which are known as SAMR Model. You can watch the following 120 seconds video to get an idea about SAMR Model; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us0w823KY0g
Screencasting Apps – These apps are very handy when it comes to flipping your classroom or creating a narration video with images and paint. Your students can also create videos whether to ask a question or make an explanation. Some of these apps lets you collaborate with others.
For iOS: Educreations, ShowMe, Knowmia Teach, Animoby
For Android: Animoby, Interactive Whiteboard, Z-Screen Recorder, Screencast Video Recorder
Notetaking Apps – Although it is a very easy job to do in real life, note taking apps are hard to manage in virtual world. Some of these apps are so simple that they are no different than Windows Notepad. Some of them are so complicated that they can be synchronized with other apps and devices and they offer lots of features. Answering the question which one works best is something I cannot do but I personally prefer to use UPad and Google Drive.
For iOS: Evernote, UPad, Google Drive, PenUltimate, Corkulous, Inkflow
For Android: Evernote, Google Drive, ColorNote Notepad, Google Keep, SpringPad, Papyrus
i) access your files anytime, anywhere even when you forget to bring your device,
ii) keep a backup of your files so if your device gets broken you don’t lose your data,
iii) keep your device at home because you can use any device. When you open yours at home it will synchronize itself with the most recent versions of the files,
iv) and many more reasons…. Once you start using it you’ll see what I mean. Some of these services require money for larger storage spaces but you can open an account in each of them and separate your files. For example I keep my personal photos in Dropbox, music files in Box and work related files in Google Drive.
For iOS: Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Copy, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync, CloudOn
For Android: Google Drive, Dropbox, Copy, SkyDrive, Box, Mega, Cubby, SugarSync, ZipCloud
Presentation Apps – Making presentations is an important part of teaching and learning but the word “presenting” has a wide meaning or let’s say presenting is not limited to Powerpoint or Keynote; you can try digital storytelling for instance.
For iOS: Prezi, Haiku Deck, Popplet, Doceri, Present, and all digital storytelling apps
For Android: Deck, Office: Presentations, Appafolio, Google Drive
Classroom Management Apps – These apps can help you a lot to organize your classroom in many ways. The main functionality of a CMS is controlling student devices by creating a controlled communication channel among them. But when we say classroom management we talk about more features like arranging a seating plan, choosing a random student to do an activity etc. so I’ll name many which have different features but I’ll try to keep the list short.
For iOS: Class Dojo, Teacher Kit, NearPod, Socrative Teacher, Class Act
For Android: Kolexio, Teacher Aide, Socrative, Classroom Organizer, myBskool
Images taken from