Live Tech Showdown

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So many times we talk about technology in the classroom, but an interactive classroom goes beyond just implementing great tech. Interactive tech has to be applied in a practical manner with a clean, simple implementation. In the past two weeks, I had the great opportunity to be able to test out multiple applications of interactive tech both from a student’s point of view and from a teacher’s perspective. To do this properly, I have to break them down to the basics. At the root of every category, I will seek to find the simplicity and minimalist structure forming each interactive system.

Teacher Usage
As I assessed my three main interactive websites from a teachers point of view, I found myself focusing once again on flow. For a site to be able to function intuitively in a classroom, it has to have an unobstructed flow to mace its implementation smooth and straight forward. With this in mind, Socrative stood out as a clear leader when it came to teacher implementation. Right from the login screen which had quick Google sign on and clean home screen perfect for smart board or Epson integration.

Now let me direct you to polleverywhere.com. This website holds so much potential, everything from taking a pole on a character in a novel, to hypothesizing on a science experiment, the possibilities in any class are so vast.. But its login window does not have a simple one Botton login like some of the others, and this could easily take away from your classroom flow if, you are logged out by accident. On the other hand, once you are on the page you can easily access everything from a clean and straightforward layout. You can tell right away that this system was designed for an interactive screen and a live presentation system. The booths on the side make it simple for a teacher to live to customize virtually every aspect.

Moving on to Padlet, I have mixed feelings about this site. First, it was ver easy and simple to sign on, because of the straightforward Google implementation. But here is where the flow seemed to begin to be disrupted, first it had an excellent organization, and design window on the left for each Padlet created. Since you had to scroll down and menus were hidden within menus, there was a disconnection when it came to pure creation. Then it completely lost significance in my teacher vision, when it would not save, even when switching programs and computers. This sent up red flags for its live implementation in the classroom.

Student Usage
Socrative once again does a fantastic job when it comes to implementation, from the separate login screen with simple code sign into clean integration with multiple devices. This can be made even easier if the teacher pays for a subscription plan, but even without it, the site shines as a clear leader from simplicity and flow standpoint. Being a student with multiple learning disabilities, I love how clean and organized it is, this create a distraction free implementation. Socrative speaks minimalist power from start to finish.

With cell phone classroom integration becoming an everyday occurrence, being able to engage your students in a positive way is key. Polleverywhere.com seems to have found a gold mine here with there text-based live interaction system. Though the flow at times might be hampered from infrastructure hitches, I believe the positive side outweighs this. Also, the ability for a student to be anonymous is impressive, especially if you have some student that are shy. They are now able to interact with the class as a whole, where else wise they might not.

Since I gave a bit of a scathing review of Padlet from the teacher perspective, they have a bit of a come back in the student integration arena. The ability to link pictures and ties in an interactive screen system that can be viewed live and commented on is amazing for multiple classroom implementations, On the student side, flow and simplicity shine brightly with minimal hiccups.

Flexibility, and Variety of Questions
If you haven’t already been able to envision my front runner now will defiantly make it clear. Socrative is a powerhouse of possibility. From quizzes, games and an exit ticket format, the options seem almost too much to handle. Not that there couldn’t be more but what they have already mage this site just phenomenal in any lesson. Now add the ability to have three question formats: Multiple Choice, True/false and Short Answer, and I say if you aren’t using this in your classroom now is the time to start.

Polleverywhere.com, on the other hand, is a little bit limited, in that it only takes a question and survey format. But then again what do you expect from a live polling app. The ability to ask questions and get an extended written response live is amazing in itself. Since it has designated itself to this realm of implementation, it has limited itself in a way, but in no way does this take away from its flow and relevance in any classroom.

On the other hand, Padlet has clearly set itself out as an instant classroom live blogging interface. By doing so it has limited its implementation to a write-up and a picture format, But I ask you is there any simpler way of getting your class into blogging than such a format? I know I haven’t fount one, and since its singular simplicity stands out from its counterparts, it holds its own in a field of giants.

Diagnostic Feedback
Here is where Socrative once again seals its place at the top, with only a free plan, a teacher has tremendous resources on hand. First, you have the ability to turn names on and off when you want to show the live class results. Then capacity to keep the data and return to it later is awesome, take that with the ability to print off reports in multiple formats and this site I would pay off any day to be able to use it to its full potential.

As we come to poll everywhere, well I can’t speak mush to this since I have not paid to be able to view reports and diagnostics. I found this to be a hindrance; mainly they are pushing you into a structured payment system to make it pay off in the classroom. The least they could have done is given a small print of a system with simple stats.

Once again we compare a system that seems not to be designed to fit the same box like the others. There is no real feedback section in Padlet since the posts themselves are comments in their right. You can print the page off if you need a hard copy and you can share it with your other resources and sites if needed. Ultimately just a great live feedback system that sticks around as long as you keep them.
Finally, after looking at all three in depth, I can say that they all play their parts ver well. The key is to know their positives and negatives well before implementation in the classroom. But in the end my number one pick is Socrative, second place is Padlet, even though it has shortcomings, and in third place is Polleverywhere.com, mainly because of the lack of results and reporting in the free version.

Blogging and Education, Different Flows

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I found it fascinating to look at different blogs, that all focused on the topic of Education. Each one had its own individual style, and each one had its own focus. I noticed, that not every blog had a flow or transition between posts. Let me clarify this, for instance if you looked at Education Weeks Blog on Special Education, though each post had a particular focus on Special Education they were not written in a linking way. In other words not describing what happened one day, then what happened another day. This doesn’t mean that there is anything won’t with this type of flow. It just differs from that of a classroom blog designed to depict a student’s progression. Now don’t get me wrong, Education Weeks Blog on Special Education, is absolutely fascinating, I loved How they were able to Talk about how test accommodation not being a solution to students with ADHD, for one I am a student that struggles with ADHD and secondly I know I will have students that also do. This will defiantly be one of my go to blogs to find up and coming information, to assist my own classroom implementations.

Now, lets refocus back to blogging flow, specifically on on a day by day class blog, done by a teacher in the field. I loved Larry Ferlazzo’s blog entitled websites of the day, First of this might not appear to be exactly what I am talking about, but if you look close, he has found a way of mixing the day’s events with what is happening in the classroom and cultural. Not only that but he usually has a week in review blog, essential if this is the flow you are trying to achieve.

Finally not exactly an education blog, but if you are a tech teacher and want to stay updated on the latest and greatest tech, with a Canadian twist. MobileSyrup will fill that Canadian sweet tooth. This is a blog I follow passionately on a daily basis, and it will surprise you how many things they discuss that is relented both in the classroom technology implementation but also current Canadian events. Which if you were a socials teacher might come in handy. Plus, their layout is fabulous, great mixture of modern with that touch of minimalism, can I say that I have a little Blogvy(envy of a Blog). I hope some day I can have a blog that looks as refined as theirs.

Until next time Keep Smiling, and grow that minimalist side of yourself.

Technology and Education, The Key to Upstream and Downstream Flow-Part 2

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Lets now look at the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) framework which has been laid out by Alberta Education. First, of I I think that every student should have access to the latest and greatest tech, especially in a world that is driven by Software and Electrical engineers. But this poses a couple of significant problems, not every child will have access to the latest and greatest technology, and secondly, you are probably not going to be an expert on it. Therefore What do you do with the kids that are now at a significant disadvantage to the others and what do you do when your time is now being spent fixing or helping students through the hiccups on multiple operating systems and devices. If you talk to any large corporation, they will tell you how important it is to have a cohesive Technological system. Many of them require their employees to carry and use a dedicated work cell phone because they know the productivity benefits that follow a well-oiled machine. So I pose the question, where do we draw the line between an effective classroom and technological growth for our students?

Being a minimalist I love the latest and greatest technology, but if it is not productive and it creates undue issues I have to find that middle ground. Wherein though I am not as fluent on windows I see the need to use it and the school devices that are provided, to create the efficient machine that I so long for. Give and Take, herein lies the key to the rivers flow. #MininalistTechnology

Technology and Education, How to Make it Flow

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Technology and I have always gone hand in hand, I can remember back to my elementary school where the teacher was trying to use a typing program with my fellow students and myself. Most of the time it went great, but then there was always those occasions that something would go wacky and it seemed like the whole world turned upside down for her. On the other had I loved these times, I was always ready and willing to step in and help, problem-solving is a passion of mine. Now and then neither her nor I could figure it out. It is these moments that frighten me, what happens when I am teaching a class, and something goes wrong, and I can’t fix it and neither can the tech savvy kids in the class either. As an educator we are always looking for better ways to teach our students, but what happens when the better way turns itself into the worst way ever. This brings me to my point, Have made ourselves so dependent on technology that we can’t work without it. Here is where my minimalistic side kick in, maybe the key is to use just enough technology in uncomplicated ways that everything just flows. You see I love Smart NoteBook, but the key is simple lessons that flow. With that being said, always have a backup!

Now being a minimalist does not mean using the least amount of technology as possible, on the contrary, it means to make every piece useful. In other words, if you are doing a lesson on robotics make sure you are an expert with the technology first and implement it into the classroom in the most straightforward and simple way possible. There is no reason to complicate you job more than it already might be. In the end, if you find it is too difficult a task for you to accomplish on your own, well there is always someone who probably is an expert in it, therefore use every resource possible. By doing so, we will be able to meet our Teacher Quality Standards in straightforward and efficient manner.