Ed-Tech grows – and grows up

It might be shocking that while state education budgets shrink, Education Technology or Ed-Tech is on the upswing. Many of them are free, though the full-blown versions are quite affordable. Here are my favorites:

Padlet_SRE_STEM-Night2014Padlet – a collaboration and aggregation tool that feels like a website. What’s even clever isit lets you export that page as an image file, PDF, csv file; you could email it as well. I’ve written about it before here, since I use it as an events page for STEM, robotics, and even to submit a project for a class at a community college.

LinoIT – a canvas, with sticky notes that is a bit like Padlet, but acts like a bulletin board, rather than a website. Perfect for students! For added convenience, you could add a sticky note to your Lino page by emailing it to the page!

Voki – a way to create an avatar that could speak on your behalf, or tell a story!  You could set up a classroom that uses it, or use it to make an announcement! So many uses for this, especially if you want to open up a discussion about animation.

Story Jumper – a simple way to teach students what e-books are like, and more importantly what publishing involves.

PollEverywhere – I love the way it lets you create pop quizzes, to get class responses on the fly. Few schools allow mobile devices in class (mine too) but that’s easily overcome by pushing a link to all computers and have students click on answer choices.

Suddenly Ed-Tech beginning to look like the 2010 all over again, when ‘social’ was the flavor du jour.

(A bit of good news: The global Ed Tech and Smart Classrooms market is expected to grow from $43.27 Billion in 2015 to USD 93.76 Billion in 2020 –an annual growth rate of 16.7%  from 2015 to 2020.)

Digital Learning Day, tomorrow: An opportunity to teach and learn

Tomorrow is Digital Learning Day across America. For me it’s an interesting way to focus on the ever-changing landscape of education and knowledge tools; With schools upping the ante on the sciences, and adopting what’s known here in the U.S. as the Common Core Standards, it’s time we experimented with digital learning.

And if you’ve read this blog you’ll know that by Digital Learning I don’t mean thrusting a small screen in front of students and expecting knowledge to automatically be transferred from hyperlinks to neurons.

There’s a lot more about how I’m approaching #DLDay on my school blog. Here’s are three things I will be trying out this week. I bet they could be easily applied to areas outside education.

VOICETHREAD:
https://voicethread.com/share/5326162/

This is an interesting way of allowing a group to collaborate on a topic, using voice or video. The spoken word could be a powerful way to get a team or a class to focus on the content, not the presentation. When I interviewed the CEO of Voicethread last week, Steve Muth used the phrase “No Bling” to describe why Voicethread is powerful.

PADLET
http://padlet.com/wall/m2iy0fn1fy

For some reason the embed code is not working here. Padlet is essentially a way to create a multimedia story on a blank wall, and share that story in a variety of ways. So you could have a small group curate ideas from multiple sources and quickly assemble them in one place. A bit like a wiki, but with a visual look and feel.I like the fact that it also gives you a QR code for each project.

VOKI
http://www.voki.com/
When I first heard that Voki was about creating avatars, I didn’t want to take it seriously. It reminded me of the avatar fetish we once had when Second Life was all the rage. But on second look, Voki is a neat way to get students to engage in digital storytelling, by getting them interested in creating content. The ‘voice’ of the avatar could be created in many ways: by uploading text, uploading a pre-recorded voice recording, or by recording it live. Once again, your avatar generates an embed code.

How will students take to these new ways of engaging? No predictions. But I could tell you that just this week I tested out voice recordings with first graders, and they were beginning to record mini stories in less than 30 minutes of showing them how to use Audacity.