Posts

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Time Saving Technology Hacks

Technology Hacks

Technology can be very easy to use. It can also be difficult. For those who did not grow up with technology, it can be a really challenging and frustrating experience.

For those who do not fully understand technology, it is a grueling and tortuous experience. In the world we live in today, technology is not going anywhere, and in certain job fields, technology is now commonplace.

In the education sector today it would be considered abnormal for a classroom to not have some type of technology. Whether that technology be a computer, an iPad, or even just a projector. Many classrooms do not solely have a blackboard in the middle of the room. The ways of learning are constantly upgrading, so the methods of teaching should be as well.

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”

– Nancy Kassebaum

Again, technology can be very easy, or it can be difficult. But there is good news. TED Talk speaker David Pogue has created a list of ten tech hacks that will save you some time. It will also provide you with some simple tips to use to help in the classroom. 

Watch the full video here

By Taylor

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Analytics for Education

Education Analytics

Education Analytics

In recent years, the idea of big data analysis and analytics has taken the tech and business worlds by storm. Every action that we take online leaves a digital trail. There’s an increasing emphasis on software that can analyze this large volume of data. Because this analysis is so vast, it can reveal fascinating trends and patterns in consumer behavior.

Learning analytics is the synthesis of user (learner) created data to discover correlations and predict on future outcomes.

George Siemens presents a holistic model for learning analytics that incorporates not only student class performance data, but also elements from all areas of a student’s online life. Predictions based on analytics would lead to adaptation, personalization, and intervention in learning.

This process helps educators and administrators as well. Recorded student interactions in the VLE (virtual learning environment) can be used to help create more dynamic curriculum design. There is potential for the learning experience to be optimized for each student. The impact of any updates or changes can be easily tracked.

Education AnalyticsWhy Learn Analytics?

Learning analytics is scalable – teachers can implement the basic principles as a way for individual students to reflect on their growth and success. An example of this would be to create a table with all class assignments. For each assignment, students can record where they completed it as well as their level of understanding. This also would include the grade they received on the assignment. Learners will be able to identify their optimal environment to complete assignments and predict how well they will do on an assignment based on various factors.

Learning analytics and educational data mining are powerful tools for improving learner performance, but they come with some ethical debates. Can students’ privacy be preserved? Additionally, would a prediction of success or failure during a course help or hinder students learning?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Don’t Be Invisible: Hacks to Boost your School’s SEO

Boost School SEO

Boost School SEO

In the era of 21st century learning, it’s important for schools to maintain a strong online presence. Having a strong SEO (search engine optimization) can help your school appear first in an online search. The first step is to create a top of the line website to engage students and parents, but it doesn’t stop there. Optimizing your site’s appearance in search engines will ensure that prospective families can find you. Here are 4 easy things you can do to make sure your school gets seen online!

  1. Content

    1. Make sure content includes keywords
    2. If you’re working in html, put page titles in heading 1 format that includes keywords
  1. Caption action

    1. Do you have videos on your site? Provide a transcript, as this will increase the number of keywords that the website contains. This can also be done with images. Make sure you post a caption with each picture. Search engines can’t interpret visual content (yet!) but they can certainly read text.

 

Boost School SEO

  1. Promote low-engagement content

    1. If a page or article is not getting as many clicks, post on soc
      ial media about it. This is a free way to harness your community to drive traffic to your site, improving its SEO.
  1. Make it mobile.

    1. Make sure your website is responsive to different screen sizes and can be accessible by smartphone.

With the implementation of these strategies, your school’s search engine ranking will improve! Still sound overwhelming? iClass provides a fully integrated website and mobile app solution with SEO included. 

 

Tech Tuesday: Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Why learn to code?

The number of schools implementing coding programs into their teaching process may seem unusual to some. The decision to teach with coding programs is part of the STEAM education trend. We communicate through reading and writing. Similarly, the process of coding uses a language to communicate with computers. A section of written code tells the computer how a program should operate and respond. It can also be used to create customizable visuals and web designs.

The ability to code has become very influential in the computer science industry and could prove helpful to students wishing to enter this field. Coding presents far more opportunities than a career working with computers and software. Teaching students about code is important. Coding can be beneficial in understanding different languages and ways of communicating. As students work towards coding solutions, they will practice critical thinking among other key skills.

The Positives of Coding

A 2018 survey by Stackoverflow found that about 87% of developers agreed that they have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course. These developers like many others are self-taught and practice the ability to learn on their own.

Learning code can help students work more independently. They will be more equipped to solve problems on their own because many coding solutions are found through self education. In addition, when students works through problems on their own, they will be better able to handle future challenges in both their life and career. Teaching students the basics of coding at a young age can establish the framework necessary for adding to key skills they will learn throughout their education.

Coding in the Classroom

The Technology

There are various EdTech companies that have developed kid friendly coding programs to help teachers incorporate code into the classroom. The products vary from games, to robotics, to basic coding programs. If you are concerned about finding the right product for your school, there are plenty of product available tdo meet the needs of students among varying ages and interests.

Below are a few creative coding products that could be right for your school:

Bloxels

A product using coding concepts that allows students to build a game terrain by editing the layout in varying depths of details. Bloxels uses colored blocks to represent different types of elements found in a simple game layout. At the most basic level the students can design navigation through the game. At each increasing level of complexity, the student can edit a character’s physical appearance. Although the product is based around video games, it supports the core fundamentals of coding in which you create a layout, design and style for every element.

Ozobot

It’s a small robot that allows students to code the robot’s actions. The product is an interactive way for students to understand the capabilities of coding as they watch their code come to life. Students can learn to code the bot online with their coding program. They can also use preset color codes drawn on paper. The bot responds rapidly to color codes drawn into a track on a piece of paper. Students can use the code to control the direction, speed and maneuvers of the bot as it follows the drawn out commands. Through Ozobot, students are able to learn varying methods for constructing a code, while also understanding its core concepts. 

Tynker

A company creating code based programs and games for students at varying levels of their education. The programs range from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced. To start, young students play games and learn the basic methodology by solving coding problems and sequencing events. At the intermediate level, students develop more complex code and explore games with greater challenges. Finally, the advanced level begins coding by using Javascript and Python to create games. Students working at the advanced level also begin to apply their knowledge by coding real world solutions and web pages.

By Megan

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Introducing STEAM: A New Learning Approach

Adult art artist

Introducing STEAM Title ImageWhat is STEAM?

Introducing STEAM! STEAM is derived from STEM, which is essentially a more specific curriculum of education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In order to understand STEAM, we first need to understand a little bit about STEM.

STEM was introduced in the early 2000s because it was noticed there was a decline in proficiency of the subjects in the STEM field. With the introduction of this new field, many more teachers are now being prepared and trained to teach these specific fields. STEM includes learning about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in completely scientific concepts.

This is where STEAM and STEM differ. STEAM, like STEM, teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEAM differs in that STEAM includes the arts as well. Included in the teaching of the arts is drama, dance, music, media and visual arts, among others. While this curriculum also includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the teaching of STEAM is different in that it looks at the subjects in a more creative and inquiring type of way.

Introducing STEAM

Why is STEAM Important?

The humanities give us the context of our world. They teach us how to think critically. They are purposely unstructured, while the sciences are purposely structured. They teach us to persuade, they give us our language, which we use to convert our emotions to thought and action. And they need to be on equal footing with the sciences”.

– Eric Berridge

One of the main reasons why introducing STEAM is important relates to the fact that there is much emphasis on preparing students for the STEM field. While this is not bad, it also means that schools are pushing the scientific fields, and shifting the humanities to the side, which does not serve students well. As Eric Berridge said, the humanities (arts) need to be equal to the sciences. By pushing the STEM curriculum, we are unintentionally sending these students a message that the sciences are the best career path after school.

Teaching the arts allows for students to think in a more creative way, because of the fact that teaching with a STEAM curriculum allows for questions. It allows for students to think more freely and because the curriculum is not specifically scientific, there can be many different answers, and it opens the classroom for a more varied, in-depth discussion.

 

The takeaway: STEM is important, but only teaching a STEM curriculum is hindering the chances of students fully learning what they’re truly passionate about. By teaching STEAM, not only is the STEM curriculum included, but the inclusion of the (A)rts provides a less structured way to discuss topics, and it may just inspire students to participate more.

 

Teaching tip:

Makerspaces are one cool way to introduce STEAM curriculum in your classroom. Learn more about how to start a makerspace easily here.

By Taylor

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Boring to Brilliant! Top Tips to Boost Your School’s Social Media Presence

Brilliant ideas to Boost Your School’s Social Media Presence

Teachers and schools alike can benefit from being active on social media. It’s a free networking tool, a place of inspiration, and a marketing resource. Teachers can find new ideas for their classroom, interface with fellow educators, and share top tips. Schools can connect with current families and recruit prospective students. It takes a small amount of effort to reap big rewards. Here are some tips to boost your social media presence.

 

 

  1. Hooray for Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to find what you’re looking for. Some we love are #edchat (learn about teaching trends from around the world) #edtech (keep up with the latest STEAM and tech news), and #educationforall (a movement started by unesco, powerful stories and tips). Hashtags can also be be used to promote your posts. Try searching for top education hashtags online and adding some to the end of your captions.

 

  1. Join the Conversation

Don’t be afraid to comment on other’s posts! Ask experts questions or congratulate people on their successes. The online community is vast and full of people to communicate with. Tap into the global network!

 

  1. Visuals

Did you know? Tweets and posts with visual media are more likely to be clicked on? This is an easy way to attract attention to your posts. Also, make sure your profile and header pictures are clean and easy to read. It’s a simple way to give your account instant cred! Use a free tool like Canva to create sleek graphics for your social media.

 

  1. Interact

Ask for feedback, retweets, or answers if something is important. This shows followers that their input matters to you, plus chatting makes it more fun for everyone. Interactions online are a great way to let your personality shine and show people that you care.

 

  1. Cultivate your feed

Curate your list of accounts you follow to develop a feed that is interesting and worth reposting! Search for accounts that inspire you as well as accounts that already have a big following amongst your audience.

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Analytics for Education: How Big Data is Changing Learning

How Big Data is Changing Learning

In recent years, the idea of big data analysis has taken the tech and business worlds by storm. Every action that we take online leaves a digital trail. There’s an increasing emphasis on software that can analyze this large volume of data at a high velocity to produce meaningful results. Because this analysis is so vast, it can reveal fascinating trends and patterns in consumer behavior.

 

Learning analytics is the synthesis of user (learner) created data to discover correlations and predict on future outcomes.

 

George Siemens presents a holistic model for learning analytics that incorporates not only student class performance data, but also elements from all areas of a student’s online life. Predictions based on analytics would lead to adaptation, personalization, and intervention in learning.

This process helps educators and administrators as well. Recorded student interactions in the VLE (virtual learning environment) can be used to help create more dynamic curriculum design. There is potential for the learning experience to be optimized for each student. The impact of any updates or changes can be easily tracked.

 

Learning analytics is scalable – teachers can implement the basic principles as a way for individual students to reflect on their growth and success. An example of this would be to create a table with all class assignments. For each assignment, students can record where they completed it, their level of understanding, the amount of time spent, any screens, etc. in addition to the grade they received on the assignment. Learners will be able to identify their optimal environment to complete assignments and predict how well they will do on an assignment based on various factors.

 

Learning analytics and educational data mining are powerful tools for improving learner performance, however, they come with some ethical debates. Can students’ privacy be preserved? Additionally, would a prediction of success or failure during a course help or hinder students learning?

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Must-Watch TED Talks for Educators

Linda Cliatt - Wayman

Looking for a way to be productive during breaks in your day? TED talks are a fantastic way to discover bite-size inspiration! Here are a few of our favorite talks for educators.

 

“Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about where inspiration can strike and the ways that she learned from her failures. She emphasizes the importance of staying true to oneself and learning from failures. Great motivation for Back to School!

 

“The difference between winning and succeeding” – John Wooden

UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden talks both coaching and teaching, providing profound insight into what he found was the best way to inspire both his students and his players. This is a talk with knowledge and wisdom everyone should hear.

 

“Help for the kids the education system ignores” – Victor Rios

Talking from personal experience, Victor Rios shifts the perspective on the way we think of children who do not finish school. He talks of a teacher who inspired him to stick with school and graduate with his class. This talk is inspirational and it has the capability to transform your thoughts and encourage understanding of every type of student.

 

“How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, Love hard” – Linda Cliatt-Wayman

School principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman has witnessed the struggles of urban public schools. But she is determined not to let the hardships deter her from giving her best to the students who show up to school each day. In this emotional talk, Wayman talks about what it takes to be an effective leader for the students who need it most.

 

“My story, from gangland daughter to star teacher” – Pearl Arredondo

In this emotional and personal TED Talk, Pearl Arredondo talks about her personal experiences, as well as how those specific experiences encouraged her to create a school with the specific purpose of reassuring students that they are cared for.

 

“Love letters to strangers” – Hannah Brencher

She’s not a teacher, and she doesn’t like technology. But she writes letters. She writes letters to strangers who need it. In doing so, she has inspired a movement whereby people write out how they feel instead of immediately resorting to social media. It’s an inspiring talk about the power of words and it might just inspire you to switch the smartphone for a pen and paper. 

 

 “Comics Belong in the Classroom” – Gene Luen Yang

Gene Yang, a secondary education teacher and comic book fan, noticed that there was a shortage of comic books in the education sector. He believes that comic books can have a place in education, especially for those students who learn better visually. In this humorous and innovative talk, Yang discusses the path he took to discovering that comics deserve a place in every classroom. 

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Get Inspired: EdTech Trends We Love

High school website in Dublin

Schools are rapidly adopting innovative strategies to boost student engagement and success rates. The use of technology in the classroom facilitates critical thinking, an enhanced learning experience, and student creativity. Here are some of our favorite trends in Education Technology. 

Maker Spaces

Maker Spaces are beginning to be seen in schools across the world. Featuring 3D printers, digital rendering software, art supplies, and more, they serve as a hub for student creativity. Pupils develop valuable STEAM skills while interacting with peers and teachers. While playing and working, students learn to problem-solve, design, and experiment in all areas of their life. Learn more about starting a Maker Space here.

Collaborative Learning

Research demonstrates that collaborative learning, whether in small groups or peer-to-peer, helps promote higher-level thinking in students. Students do not learn alone but strive towards learning in groups. This is especially helpful for learners in the 21st century as this is how many companies operate.

Teachers are taking collaboration to the digital level is with programs such as Google Drive, blogs, and video conferencing. Students are able to collaborate not just with their classmates, but on a global scale.

 

Gamification

Gamification in learning is an emerging teaching strategy based on the psychology of video games. Students are incentivized to learn and develop skills, boosting motivation and satisfaction. Gamification promotes active learning and engagement among students.

 

Seamless communication

Parents and pupils expect a seamless communications process between school and home. It’s what they experience in every other aspect of their life. To provide this, schools can use a platform like iClass, which allows for dynamic mobile messaging between parents and schools. With iClass, schools can manage all communications, including event registration, volunteer sign-ups, online publishing, and parent-teacher interactions. An intuitive communications process is critical for parent engagement and student success.

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#MondayMotivation: Lead Like A Pirate

Motivation to lead

With Back to School season around the corner, it’s time to start reflecting on classroom leadership. We have heard the phrase “Be A Leader.” It’s fairly common, actually. Most people would rather be considered a leader than a follower. In schools, it is imperative that the administrators and teachers are leaders. The creators of Lead Like A Pirate, Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, saw that effective leadership had many facets and introduced a new system of leadership training. They want you to lead…

 

Classroom leadership like a pirate: a pirate ship on the ocean with stormy skies above

 

…like a pirate.

So what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to Lead Like A Pirate?

The purpose of being a pirate leader is to make schools amazing with engaged students and empowered educators who know they are making a difference. The goal of being a pirate leader is to create a school environment where students are knocking down the doors to get in, rather than out. 

 

Do you have what it takes to be a Pirate Leader? 

Passion – both personal and professional

A willingness to Immerse yourself in your work

Good Rapport with your staff, students, and community

The courage to Ask and Analyze what is and isn’t working

The determination to seek positive Transformation

And the kind of Enthusiasm that gets others excited about education

A man in a suit makes a thumbs up.

To learn more about what it takes to Lead LAP, follow the conversation on Twitter (#LeadLAP), visit the website or read the book.