Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tools For Global Communication

Global communication has vastly improved and evolved along with technology. Communicating with students from another country was much slower and more difficult to arrange. I remember having a "pen-pal" from England in my 4th grade class. I remember writing a letter and waiting a few weeks for a response. The communication was slow, yet the anticipation of a response was much more exciting. Now global communication happens almost instantly. Social networking has vastly evolved with technology to allow people to stay connected regardless of location. As long as they have access to internet, they can create an account and make connection. Social networking tools like google +, facebook, twitter, pinterest, Devianart, springpad,  linkedin, Ning..etc. The list goes on and on. Some of these tools can be useful with global communication in the classroom, however they also require some caution. Social networking sites open up the potential "stranger-danger" anxiety and the risk of "cyber-bullying." As an educator the use of social networking sites requires a lot of monitoring, and a level of training to understand how to secure the networking and ensure that users are safe. 

Other tools that are specific built for schools to collaborate may provide more structure for teachers and students to ensure that there is still some level of control and that safety net is in place for the users. A few sites that provide this structure and can easily connect classrooms are:

 The Global Learning Collaborative -  The Global Learning Collaborative, in partnership with Asia Society, is a member of the International Studies Schools Network. Our common goals are to help students on a path to college readiness and global competency. As a member of the Brandeis Educational Complex, we are able to provide our students with a breadth of academic and extra curricular experiences catering to a wide array of interests and abilities, and as a small school, we truly get to know and support each student, attending to unique needs and goals, with a focus on global citizenship.

Taking it Global - VisionYouth everywhere actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world. MissionEmpowering young people to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges. Purpose: We facilitate global understanding and grow leadership among youth to enhance their participation in social movements for a better world.

ePals - The ePals approach provides an effective way to instruct and reach today's technology savvy students and teachers. ePals provides digital content designed for collaboration and self-paced, self-directed learning as well as a safe platform to share work globally. Authentic ePals projects are centered around meaningful content and experiences that require teamwork, digital literacy skills, higher-level thinking and communication. By engaging in authentic learning experiences about relevant issues, students, teachers and mentors learn and work together, strengthening core learning while motivating learners and building self-confidence and skills necessary for future careers. At the same time, ePals helps teachers learn to use technology effectively in their classrooms, providing professional development, curriculum, contests and other resources.

These three tools have the potential to easily link your classroom with other classrooms globally. It increases the likelihood of collaboration globally. Where the social networking sites require a bit more "leg" work to find and "friend" individuals from around the world.  If a teacher were to expand their classroom for global collaboration  they would need appropriate training and support. Different types of lesson planning are involved when students are required to be good digital citizens and be good representatives of the school. This website provides some lesson plans, and ideas for teachers to use with their students to help prepare them to be respectful digital citizens during collaboration  The teacher and students should be well prepared to collaborate globally and understand the potential difficulties and challenges when working with other students, teachers, and schools via technology. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

My digital footprint

I decided, what better place to find my digital footprint than to "google" myself. I'm sure everyone has done this at some point in time.  To no surprise I found myself on sites affiliated with the school where I teach. I found my name in the phone book, I also found my linkedin profile, my facebook profile, a few other blogs, my name listed in FINRA's approved brokers list. That was years ago, I forgot all about that. I started to look through some other social media to see what I've posted, with whom I have interacted and was pleased to see that there was no in appropriate material. If I were to run for a government office, they would have a tough time finding dirt online about me. I looked at my own personal computers temp files, and flash cache, cookies, and other traceable files to see what sites I had visited in the last few months. Again, to no surprise most of the traffic was to gmail, google +, facebook, Feedly, hulu, youtube, netflix, and a handful of music sites. Again, not too much dirt can be dug up. I did find my profile on goodsearch, and forgot all about that cause. I decided to log in and update my profile and continue using the service to raise money for a nonprofit charity through my google searching. 

I grew up with the evolution of technology. I remember atari being the one and only greatest gaming system out there. I remember when the internet was made available in like the late 80's. I also remember how the internet opened up your computer for maleware, viruses, worms, and all other bad things and started to take steps for security. Similarly  I remember becoming aware that the internet is similar to going out and standing on a public street yelling at the top of your lungs where everyone can hear you. Anything you put out there could be found and viewed. Since then I have taken appropriate steps to collaborate and interact respectfully and compassionately with others via online networks.  That old saying "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all," floats around in my brain as I read through social networking posts, and news articles, emails...etc. It really is important to establish a professional, respectful persona while online. You never know who may just google your name, and what they may find. 

Digital citizenship is now synonymous to citizenship. Most everyone in the industrial world has some type of device that allows them to access the internet. Anyone who knows how to read and write can contribute to things online. I think the earlier we start teaching students the importance of their digital citizenship the better they will be prepared for the chance that an employer, or college "google's" their name. Students need to understand that their interactions online may not have immediate repercussions  but it is writing that is archived and can be found by anyone who searches for that information. "The way young people socialize online deeply affects the relationships they have with themselves and the people around them" (Ikeepsafe, 2013). I think students should start learning about digital citizenship as early as kindergarten, and continue to learn right up through school. By the time they graduate there is potential that they may participate in online studies, or telecommute for a job, or be required to stay connected as they travel for work. 

Technology is not going to go away, it is only going to get better, more sophisticated and continue to become a part of the normal day. The earlier students learn how to "behave" online the better prepared they will be as technology evolves. Digital citizenship is part of life, it is how we keep current with technology, collaborate, research trends and transform into a professional being who is up to date (Lindsay.J. 2010). In order to be a valuable digital citizen, students need to learn appropriate ways to interact, and understand the trail they leave online, or their "Digital Dossier" if you will. 

How do we teach these skills. One great resource I discovered that can be valuable as we breach these topics with students is located here.  These lessons aren't the only tools out there, but we need to start somewhere. The sooner students understand how to interact safely and respectfully technology will be much more valuable for their own education. 


I Keep Safe Blog, 2013. Retrieved from:

Lindsay, J., Davis, V. 2010. Navigate. Learning & Leading with Technology, March/April 2010. Retrieved from

Digitalnavitves. Digital Dossier. 2008 Retrieved from

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Make a local Chrome App

Have you ever wanted a chrome app for something and were unable to find it at the app store?

well here are some simple ways to make an app.


Good luck, and have fun. Once you get good at it, go here to feature your app in the chrome store.

Friday, June 21, 2013

What is a technology integration specialist?

The technology integration specialist is a teacher who has the ability to share tools with other teachers and students that can enhance learning opportunities in the classroom. The individual should be able to teach educators how to best use a tool in the classroom and provide ideas for ways in which the tool could be incorporated. Technology integrator's also need to make themselves visible and available to teachers. Many teachers still do not incorporate much technology with their students, because they are either intimidated by the technology, or they are lacking in training on how to best use the tool with the students. The technology integrator needs to take the initiative to put ideas out to the teachers either through word of mouth, emails, blogs, flyers, announcements ..etc. They have to market themselves to the teachers and hold many a lot of training to help show teachers what some of these tools can do. Sometimes a teacher may not use a tool, just because they don't know to use it either. 

Similarly, students need to be aware of what tools are available how need some guidance on how to use them If the technology integrator has the flexibility in their schedule, they should be able to hold classes for students to show them  tools that can enhance any assignment  A poem can be brought to life and deliver a deeper meaning using something like animoto. Or presentation can contain layers using something like prezi. A history presentation could incorporate a live interview or conversation through Ustream. A science project could be presented through video presentation like youtube or better yet, the new Ted Ed clubs. There are so many tools and possibility the technology integrator just needs to provide some ideas and training to students to help them hone their creativity. 

With the evolution of technology we are in a Renaissance period where anyone has the potential to "become the creator, producer, innovator  and collaborator." (Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner | MacArthur Foundation). The educational standards are changing to incorporate technology more and more. The "real" world uses these tools to collaborate, and present information. Students are expected to become critical thinkers, and be able to solve problems. To solve those problems they have a plethora of tools available that can reveal a solution in an innovative way. All teachers and students should find ways to incorporate any technology tool, more than just Microsoft Office Suite (Sorry Microsoft  there is more to creativity than word processing.) Obtaining those word processing skills are important, but obtaining other skills is just as significant. The technology integrator needs to be the link between teachers and students, to provide tools to change the traditional face of education. Textbooks, and chalk and talk type of education is not the only way tot learn. Students can and should learn by doing, creating, troubleshooting, problem solving, and having fun. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 tools are online based tools that are free to access and have the potential to enhance education. There are a variety of tools for different platforms and different learning. The majority of these tools allow the user to be the "producer, creator, and collaborator," (Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner | MacArthur FoundationRetrieved from www,, 2013). The use of any Web 2.0 tool will provide a different perspective for the students to learn the content. The typical "chalk and talk" type of teaching and learning is fading away. Students seem to enjoy learning the content better, when they can apply their creativity using a tool to present their knowledge in unique ways, that differ from that traditional research paper or lab report. A time line project, or news story type of project can come to life with a web 2.0 tool like Meograph. It is much easier for students to  capture video, sound, images and edit that data to fit into a variety of formats. 

Remember these tools? It wasn't that long ago that these where hard to come by, and were one of the only ways you could capture video at home. You needed to have a VHS tape, a VHS player and editor to run the film back and capture the decent moments. It was a much lengthier process to stitch a video together to make a 5-10 minute film for a class project. Now students and most individuals can capture video on their cell phones, upload the video to youtube, edit the film, add music, still images, or animations to enhance the video and make a more attractive 10 minute video. 

Web 2.0 tools have the potential to engage students on a different level, where they have more ownership over the assignment, and have the freedom to express their knowledge creatively  Schools need to embrace this technology and provide appropriate training to educators to learn how to include tools like this into the typical classroom. The use of a word processing program is a step towards technology integration, but word processing isn't the only thing technology can do. Instead of typing a research paper, the student could record a podcast lecture of the topic, and enhance the podcast with images and animation. It is still a valid skill to stand in front of a group of people and speak, but delivering a more discussion based presentation after the audience has heard the podcast, or watched the video makes for a much more engaged audience. These tools have the ability to bring learning to a different level and engage students. The difficulty is providing the training and education to the teachers, so they are confident in using these tools to replace the lecture, the worksheet, the textbook reading assignment  and the typical multiple choice test. 

Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner | MacArthur FoundationRetrieved from www,, 2013