Google Talk and GMail tips

On my Tech Fair Day 2012 course in Moodle I had listed some resources for using Google Talk and GMail. You can still enroll yourself in the course, but I’m also going to list those resources here to help you use Google Talk and GMail tips.

Google Talk


Of Bits and Bytes first issue now available

The first issue of what I will be offering as a monthly newsletter on educational technology issues is now available. Staff members will receive a paper copy in their mailbox, and everyone can download a copy here.

If you are interested in writing an article or are doing engaging and innovative work in your classroom with technology, please let me know!

Feedback for Of Bits and Bytes is welcome in email or you may leave a comment here.

eTech 2006 Technology Conference – Reference Materials

The eTech (organization formally known as SchoolNet) 2006 Technology Conference was held February 13 through the 15. For those that couldn’t attend, eTech has made available all the presentation materials from the various sessions that were held. Examples include:

  • Daily Agenda: Incorporating Technology Into The Classroom
  • Differentiating Instruction With Style
  • Bringing the Trip Back Home
  • Using eLearning to Support Advanced Learners in Multi-Ability Classrooms
  • And many more!

That is just 4 out of over 25 sessions on one morning!
Continue reading “eTech 2006 Technology Conference – Reference Materials”

Can Wikipedia be saved for schools?

Andy Carvin on his blog presents a case for Turning Wikipedia into an Asset for Schools. Instead of blindly following what’s in Wikipedia, use it to present “teachers with an excellent authentic learning activity in which students can demonstrate their skills as scholars”:

[…]Take a group of fifth grade students and break them into groups, with each group picking a topic that interests them. Any topic. Dolphins, horses, hockey, you name it.

Next, send the groups of kids to Wikipedia to look up the topic they selected. […] The horse, for example, has an extensive entry on the website. It certainly looks accurate and informative, but is it? Unfortunately, there are no citations for any of the facts claimed about horses on the page.

[…]The group of students breaks down the content on the page into manageable chunks, each with a certain amount of facts that need to be verified. The students then spend the necessary time to fact-check the content.
Once the Wikipedia entry has been fact-checked, the teacher creates a Wikipedia login for the class. They go to the entry’s talk page and present their findings, laying out every idea that needs to be corrected. Then, they edit the actual entry to make the corrections, with all sources cited. Similarly, for all the parts of the entry they’ve verified as accurate, they list sources confirming it.

The seven year old bloggers

Although it is a little old (June, 2004), I found the article at BBC News (The seven-year-old bloggers) inspirational.

Crucially, some of the children who attend the club have improved their knowledge of IT far above what is required of their age group by the National Curriculum.

“The Government target is for 80% of children of this age to reach level 4 by year 6. All of the webloggers have done that, and some have reached level 6. They are doing what 14 or 15-year-olds are expected to do.

What a fascinating way to get the children enthusiastic about learning!

Videogames are better teachers?

This Wired article brings up some very good points on how video games are teaching students today. Not how to carjack and shoot people, but how to manage a group of beings to solve problems (Pikmin), carry out intricate missions (Metal Gear Solid 2), and micromanage resources (Warcraft III).

How did videogames become such successful models of effective learning? Game coders aren’t trained as cognitive scientists. It’s a simple case of free-market economics: If a title doesn’t teach players how to play it well, it won’t sell well. Game companies don’t rake in $6.9 billion a year by dumbing down the material – aficionados condemn short and easy games like Half Life: Blue Shift and Devil May Cry 2.

The games teach the players how to play the game. The players are rewarded by applying what the game has taught them. There is also anecdotal evidence that playing some of these games are helping youngsters as young as 4 to read.

Are videogames a replacement for teachers? NO! We overlook that things should be done in moderation. A class that only plays Pikmin might learn how to manage an army of alien beings, but will it help them in History?

Are teenagers tech savvy?

Some adults are intimidated by the the technological knowledge of today’s youth, but it appears that kids today are not as good with technology as they appear.

The study found that, contrary to stereotype, teens as a group are not as adept as adults in navigating the Web.

When dealing with students and technology, one obstacle is the wide range of skills. This gap is getting wider with the advancements of technology, and will be something we’ll have to deal with.