Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bring Your Own Device

Bring Your Own Device #BYOD

Guest post by Craig Crittendon

The Network Engineer’s Nightmare..

I knew it was going to be an interesting phone call (any call usually is before 8:00 in I.T.).    When the teacher asked why she couldn’t get to “insertwebsite.com” and her kids were arriving in 15 minutes for the first BYOD pilot class, I took my first deep breath of the morning….  

The second call came about 8:25…  She was still trying to get students logged into their devices…  A technology specialist and a tech were trying to assist….  Some had limited connectivity to our wireless; others were trying to reach their carrier network, which didn’t have a good signal in that part of the building.  The app she was trying to get everyone on wasn’t working and wouldn’t pull up for everyone.

And that’s how the first couple of weeks went...

The teacher was frustrated and her students were behind schedule.  The principal was not pleased.  One month and a half into the program, they ordered 30 iPads, and the official BYOD pilot unofficially became a 1:1 iPad project.

What happened?  The teacher seemed prepared the week before.
Here are lessons we learned.

1) Plan in the correct environment - The first thing I could point to was an obviously incomplete planning.  Any time you integrate technology into instruction, and especially when you have specifics in mind (i.e. websites, software, applications, etc), you have to test in the correct environment, which is always specific to your school and to the user.

To do this, you have to plan and test for everything to gain a working knowledge of how technology is going to work in your district. 

Questions to consider.
  • Do you understand how your webfilters  work?
  • Do you understand how the logins work? 
  • Have you tested that application or website and made sure you can get to it?  
  • Can you get to it using student logins?  
  • How many days/weeks in advanced are you testing your plans and do you have a plan B (C?, D?).  
It seems like for one reason or another, something is always going to go wrong with the initial plan, which leads me to my next question..

2) Know expectations - What are you expecting out of BYOD?  I think the aforementioned teacher was determined to teach the kids with a specific app, one day.  That app had technical difficulties.  There was no backup plan.  There WAS frustration and a negative perception of the network.

BYOD works best as an enhancement to instruction, rather than the focus of instruction itself.  In other words, devices do not all work the same in the same environment, sometimes even if both devices are iPads.  However in BYOD, where you may have Kindles, iPods, laptops, etc… focusing on one application seems even more limiting.  

For BYOD to work, you have to set your lesson plan, and then infuse technology into it to support it.  This is a good thing, and it means that the training needed to use BYOD is not as intense as you may believe.   

3) Device agnostic is key for BYOD - You will find that the technology you utilize should be more generic (i.e a website, as opposed to a specific app) and accessible by more devices.  Teaching applications or specific software is more suitable for a computer lab or a 1:1 situation where typically all students are using the same devices.

4) Apps or software are not best for BYOD - In our case, seeing how that project became 1:1 anyways, perhaps that was the desire and the best fit all along for that teacher.  Perhaps she didn’t even realize it. The goal for BYOD is to become a way of teaching, instead of something to teach.

5) Communication is key - The last thing I wish we had leaned on more was more communication.  We shared with this teacher that the technology department couldn’t support student devices because of liability issues, but I don’t think she truly grasped the significance of that, that is until she had 30 sets of eyes waiting on her to get them working.  I wish we could have worked through that with her and helped her plan better ahead of time.

When it comes to BYOD, it takes a lot of people to ensure success.  Most problems can be solved, but usually not on the spot.  A successful pilot is one that is planned in advanced and communicated with the people that need to be involved to make it happen.  Advance communication with other experienced BYOD teachers in and outside your district and seeing what issues they have run across may save you a lot of time, heartache, and headaches as well.   

The good news is that most of the hindrances are commonsense.  If you understand the benefits of BYOD and how it is best utilized, then all that’s left to do is communicate and plan on how you can implement it on any device and into any lesson.  By continually finding different ways to engage and collaborate, your students will be more engaged and focused on the lesson and less likely to get distracted.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mobile Learning

Bill Rankin's Mobile Learning Presentation

Bill Rankin took me back through a long journey to help me understand the roots of education. He showed me how the way we understand the world has been changing social, economic, and educational aspects at a tremendous pace.

The way Bill Rankin compared and contrasted the scroll vs codex was very easy to digest.  What really caught my attention was when he explained with very simple terms the age of books. People then invented the card-catalogue to find specific information in a library. I recalled when I was learning this system in 4th Grade. I didn’t know why to do that until I found myself surrounded by tons of books  trying to find where B587.3 was. I spent several hours hunting for specific information for a class project. Teachers back then served as primary conduit of information with students as receivers. Students mainly focused on memorization of facts and data in the early 80’s.

There has been a significant change in the age of data nowadays. More people consume and create information. By the year 2020, the information will be doubled every 15 minutes; massive information will be emerging from different sources. We will be very close to the movie MATRIX, figuring out what is real, and what is not!

My own perspective of education in time is that we are redefining our role as educators. We have to be guides and mentors to work collaboratively with our students to help them solve real problem issues such as: global warming, natural disasters (earthquakes lately in Mexico City), unemployment, just to mention a few.  Mobile devices could a very useful resource to start finding different solutions to our daily problems though social media, for instance. I strongly agree that mobile learning is changing  the way we teach and learn.

We need to innovate in order to teach our students to survive in this digital age world. We must teach informational model to assess information in any context. I truly believe that the lab Edisson had long time ago, could be a mobile device in our student’s hands today. Google and find anything you want to know: craft arts, cooking, astronomy, religion, etc. Children no longer need facts since they have smartphones or ipods. Instead of teaching memorization and facts, students need to learn skills: interpersonal skills, inquiry skills, the ability to innovate. As mentors, our first step would be to start changing education paradigms by bringing your own devices into the classrooms.

Education of the 21st century

How do we educate our children to take place in the economies of the 21st century?

Sir Ken Robinson mentioned some challenges that I found very interesting. The first concept that resonated with me is that public education was designed for the economic purposes of the Industrial Revolution and the intellectual tradition of the Enlightenment. Times and society have changed, but this system of public education has not, and it has alienated millions of people all over the world who do not benefit from it. 

Another concept that resonated with me is the myth that if you go to school, do well, and get a college degree, you will have an easy path to success.  Today that is not true, a college degree is no guarantee of success and most people know this to be true, further alienating them from the system. 

Still another idea is the over-prescription of ADHD medication, which is anaesthetizing children, putting them to sleep so that they conform to an antiquated public education system, and killing their creative thinking skills.  We should instead be freeing them to come up with new ideas using the technology of modern society.

I think that in order for modern children to be successful and meet the needs of future economies, our educational paradigms have to change in a way that takes advantage of modern technologies and let our students be as creative and divergent thinkers as possible.  Teachers and parents should inform themselves to help make this happen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some drivers that are reshaping the future landscape. This report looks at future work skills—proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings. This information concerns everyone, but specially to children who will have to face difficulties at their workplace. So if you are a teacher, please read the following information, so you can teach your students 21st century skills and have  a better idea about what the future work skills might be like. And your students will have more chances to be prepared for more demanding future jobs.

There are six drivers of change in this digital-age work:

  • a) EXTREME LONGEVITY. It is estimated that by 2025, the numbers of Americans over 60 will increase by 70%. That means that more elder people will need to work to earn money and pay for their health issues. They will demand more opportunities, products, and medical services to live active senior years. This demographic shift has already affected Mexico, where chains of supermarkets are hiring old people to do easy jobs as packing groceries.
  • b) RISE OF SMART MACHINES AND SYSTEMS. Smarter machines will replace humans in teaching, combat, medicine, security, and virtually every domain of our lives. We will be experiencing a plot like in the movie "The Rise of the Machines", where humans and machine have to fight a nuclear war in order to exist. We will be entering into a new kind of partnership with machines in means of collaboration and codependence.
  • c) COMPUTATIONAL WORLD. "Everything will be programmable". It means that with the use of data , some organizations could create more sophisticated smart TV's, smart cars, smart refrigerators, or even smart washing machines with voice control, for instance.
  • d) NEW MEDIA ECOLOGY. We are developing a new language for communication. For example, Qr Codes are everywhere nowadays: journals, advertisements, magazines, etc. The millions of users generating and viewing QR Codes from mobile devices are influencing on culture.
  • e) SUPERSTRUCTED ORGANIZATIONS. New technologies and social media platforms are reorganizing businesses. For instance, Mexican politicians are using new social tools to gain more votes for the coming elections on July 1st. In a way, more and more mexican citizens are being engaged in this driver of change.
  • f) GLOBALLY CONNECTED WORLD. Countries like India and China are innovating at a faster pace with mobile technologies. Employees need to be trained with new digital skills and infrastructure to be competitive in the digital world. 


  1. Sense-Making: skills that help us create unique insights critical to decision making.
  2. Social Intelligence: to connect to others in a deep and direct way
  3. Novel and Adaptive Thinking: to respond to unique unexpected circumstances of the moment
  4. Cross-Cultural Competency: to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational Thinking: to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New Media Literacy: to critically assess and develop web content
  7. Trans-Disciplinarity: to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design Mindset: to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive Load Management: to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools
  10. Virtual Collaboration: to work productively in virtual environments

Teachers, students and businessmen need to analyze these skills to take future visions and convert them into goals and actions to be prepared and succeed  in the future.  We got to continually reassess these skills with the right resources and infrastructure be updated.

I think that workers will need to become lifelong learners, otherwise they will not find well-paid jobs, or in the worst scenario, many workers will be replaced (and unemployed) by smart machines. Schools will need to interact new-media literacy into educational programs. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

Teaching digital literacy these days is not easy. Here you can find a list of digital tools to make your teaching funnier and more engaging. So get ready for this coming school year with  some of the tech tools, including some that are becoming increasingly popular and widely used, that should be part of any teacher’s tech tool arsenal, whether for their own personal use or as educational aids in the classroom.

Social Learning
These tools use the power of social media to help students learn and teachers connect.
  1. Edmodo: Teachers and students can take advantage of this great tech tool, as it offers a Facebook-like environment where classes can connect online.
  2. Grockit: Get your students connected with each other in study sessions that take place on this great social site.
  3. EduBlogs: EduBlogs offers a safe and secure place to set up blogs for yourself or your classroom.
  4. Skype: Skype can be a great tool for keeping in touch with other educators or even attending meetings online. Even cooler, it can help teachers to connect with other classrooms, even those in other countries.
  5. Wikispaces: Share lessons, media, and other materials online with your students, or let them collaborate to build their own educational wiki on Wikispaces.
  6. Pinterest: You can pin just about any image you find interesting on this site, but many teachers are using it as a place to collect great lesson plans, projects, and inspirational materials.
  7. Schoology: Through this social site, teachers can manage lessons, engage students, share content, and connect with other educators.
  8. Quora: While Quora is used for a wide range of purposes, it can be a great tool for educators. It can be used to connect with other professionals or to engage students in discussion after class.
  9. Ning: Ning allows anyone to create a personalized social network, which can be great for both teachers and students alike.
  10. OpenStudy:Encourage your students to work together to learn class material by using a social study site like OpenStudy.
  11. ePals: One of the coolest benefits of the Web is being able to connect with anyone, anywhere. ePals does just that, but focuses on students, helping them to learn languages and understand cultures different from their own.
These educational tools can help you to make lessons fun, interesting, and more effective.

  1. Khan Academy: Many teachers use this excellent collection of math, science, and finance lectures and quizzes to supplement their classroom materials.
  2. MangaHigh: MangaHigh offers teachers a wealth of resources for game-based learning in mathematics.
  3. FunBrain: If you’re looking for a great collection of educational games, look no further than FunBrain. On it, teachers can take advantage of fun tools for math and reading.
  4. Educreations: Educreations is an amazing online tool for the iPad that lets teachers (or students) create videos that teach a given topic. Perfect for studying or getting students to show off their knowledge.
  5. Animoto: Animoto makes it simple to create video-based lessons or presentations for the classroom and to share them with students or anyone else.
  6. Socrative: Available for computers, mobile devices, and tablets, this student response system engages students through games and exercises on any device they have on hand. Even better, teachers can easily assess student progress and track grades.
  7. Knewton: Adaptive learning has been a hot topic in recent months, and with Knewton it’s something that any teacher can access and use. The site personalizes online learning content for each student according to his or her needs.
  8. Kerpoof: On Kerpoof, students can get creative with their learning with games, interactive activities, drawing tools, and more that are both fun and educational.
  9. StudySync: With a digital library, weekly writing practice, online writing and peer reviews, Common Core assignments, and multimedia lessons available, this site is a fully-featured tool for teaching and learning that can be a big help in the classroom.
  10. CarrotSticks: On this site, teachers can take advantage of a wide range of math learning games, giving students practice while they have fun.
Lesson Planning and Tools
Use these tech tools to pull together great lessons and design amazing and memorable student projects.
  1. Teachers Pay Teachers: Have great lessons to share? Looking for something to add to your classes? On this site you can do both, selling your own class materials and buying high-quality resources from other teachers.
  2. Planboard: Make sure your lessons are organized and that your day runs smoothly with the help of this amazing online tool designed just for teachers.
  3. Timetoast: Timetoast is a pretty cool for student projects, allowing them to build sleek, interactive timelines in minutes.
  4. Capzles: There are so many different ways that Capzles can be used in the classroom, there’s bound to be an application that fits your needs. What does it do? Capzles makes it simple to gather media like photos, videos, documents, and even blog posts into one place, making it perfect for teaching, learning, or online projects.
  5. Prezi: Want to build presentations that will wow your students? Make use of this online tool that makes it simple to do all kinds of cool things with your lessons, even allowing collaboration between teachers.
  6. Wordle: Create stunning word clouds using Wordle, a great complement to language lessons of any kind.
  7. QR Codes: QR codes (or quick response codes) are showing up with greater frequency in education. If you’d like to get in on the trend, you’ll need a tool to create and manage the codes like Delivr and one to read codes, like any of those listed on this site.
  8. Quizlet: Quizlet makes it easy for teachers to create study tools for students, especially flashcards that can make memorizing important information a snap.
  9. MasteryConnect: How are your students performing with regard to state and common core standards? MasterConnect makes it simple to track and analyze both, as well as other elements of student performance.
  10. Google Docs: Through Google Docs, teachers can create and share documents, presentations, or spreadsheets with students and colleagues as well as give feedback on student-created projects.
  11. YouTube: Not all schools allow YouTube, but they are missing out as the site contains a wealth of great learning materials for the classroom. There’s even a special education-focused channel just for teachers and students.
  12. TED-Ed: TED isn’t just a great place to find inspiration anymore, the site also contains numerous videos that are organized by subject and can help you to teach everything from how pain relievers work to Shakespearean insults.
  13. Glogster:Glogster is a social site that lets users mash up music, photos, videos, and pretty much anything else you’d like. It’s a great way to create learning materials and a handy tool for creative student projects.
  14. Creaza: Want to bring your student projects into the 21st century? Creaza can make that possible, offering tools to brainstorm, create cartoons, and edit audio and video.
  15. Mentor Mob: On Mentor Mob, you or your students can create a learning playlist, which is essentially a collection of high-quality materials that can be used to study a specific concept.
Useful Tools
These tools can help you to stay connected, organized, and increase the ease of building multimedia lessons and learning tools.

  1. Evernote: Capture great ideas, photos, recordings, or just about anything else on your Evernote account, access it anywhere, and keep it organized. A must-have tool for lesson planning.
  2. Twitter: There are so many ways Twitter can be used in education. Teachers can connect with other educators, take part in chats, share their ideas, or even use it in the classroom to reach out to students.
  3. Google Education: Google offers a number of great edtech resources for teachers, including email and collaborative apps, videos, lesson plan search, professional development, and even educational grants.
  4. Dropbox: Easily store, share, and access any kind of data from anywhere with the easy-to-use and free Dropbox service.
  5. Diigo: Diigo lets you treat the web like paper-based reading material, making it simple to highlight, bookmark, take notes, or even add sticky notes.
  6. Apple iPad: One of the most widely used, though expensive, tech tools being used in today’s classroom is the Apple iPad. With a host of educational apps being developed for the device, it’s become a favorite of teachers and students alike across the nation.
  7. Aviary: Aviary is a suite of tools that make it easy to edit images, effects, swatches, music, and audio or to create and modify screen captures.
  8. Jing: If you’re teaching kids about tech or just about anything else, a great screenshot program is essential. Jing is one great option that allows teachers to take screenshots as images, record up to five minutes or videos then edit and share the results.
  9. Popplet: You and your students can use Popplet to brainstorm ideas, create mindmaps, share, and collaborate.
  10. Google Earth: From geography projects to learning about geological processes, Google Earth can be an amazing and fast way to show students anywhere in the world.
  11. DonorsChoose: Need funding for a classroom project? You can get it through this site that hooks up needy teachers with willing donors.
  12. SlideShare: With SlideShare, you can upload your presentations, documents, and videos and share them with students and colleagues. Even better, you can take advantage of materials that other have uploaded as well.
  13. LiveBinders: Like a real-life three ring binder, this tech tool allows you to collect and organize resources. Much better than a binder, however, the site also comes with tools to connect and collaborate and a virtual whiteboard.
  14. AudioBoo: Through this tool, you can record and share audio for your students or anyone else.