Thursday, May 26, 2011

Proud of My Ole Kentucky Home Moving Towards Social Media

An article/blog post came across my Twitter stream this afternoon and noticed it mentioned an article about how Kentucky was moving forward and Texas moving backwards.

The article discusses how Kentucky is embracing Social Media and that the Department of Education has created a Facebook Page and a Twitter Page.  The Commissioner of Education is also on Twitter.  In regards to Texas, a district is closing its Facebook page because of "negative comments" and moderating those comments has become to time consuming.

I am part of a group that monitors the Facebook page for Hopkins County Schools in Kentucky, the district I am employed by.  Negative or rude comments happen, and the majority of the time it is people venting frustration.  I can only think of a handful of times that we have had to remove comments that were negative and it took all of 2 seconds to do that.  Sounds to me like the district in Texas doesn't like hearing that people in the community disagree with their decisions.

I am proud that we have a commissioner that sees the importance of technology in education.  I remember him at the KySTE conference a few years ago talking about how he would love to get a mobile device in every students hand.  Great to have those goals....wish the Capitol agreed with him.

Welcome to the 21st Century of Communication Kentucky Department of Education and Commissioner Terry Holliday

Oh, and if by chance Mr. Holliday or anyone from the Kentucky Department of Education reads this and needs a regional employee interested in Social Media...find me on Twitter! :)

An EdTech Tip for Administrators - Walkthroughs with Google Docs

Every Principal has to conduct walkthroughs and get a gauge for what is going on in the classrooms of their teachers.  Several use an iPad and can use an eWalk software and pay for it.  Some use an iPad with the Google Docs App which is free.  Others don't have an iPad or technology to conduct walkthroughs with, so they use a form and a pen and then provide a paper copy to the teacher who then promptly looks at it and throws it away or files it to never be seen again.

For those administrators who are paying for an eWalk software or those still using Paper and Pencil I highly recommend that you create a Google Docs account and take advantage of their Forms Application.  As you do your walkthroughs on your iPad you can easily access your forms, complete the form on your iPad, and then send it to the teacher through email.  If you have a Wifi Printer you would also be able to print a copy...if that is necessary.

Those of you with a Pen and Paper could fill out the form, save it with the teachers name and date and then have an ongoing folder of walkthroughs with your staff.  You could then email the form to the teachers so that they have a copy as well.  this way you are cutting the amount of paper in half!

For more perspective about using Google Docs for Walkthrough check out this post on the Practical Theory Blog

Looking for a form?  Here is one already created that you could use as an example to start with.

Here is a great document: 21st Century Walkthrough I found through a simple Google Search.  Thanks to the Author Adam Truitt

For more information about creating forms in a Google Doc, check out the video below.

A Couple Wikis

Wikis are a valuable website for teachers and administrators alike.  I had a friend email me asking me if I could provide him some iPad resources, so I checked my Diigo, found them, and then sent him the links.  I sent some more and asked how it was going.  He said that he was preparing a Wiki for his staff so that they had all the resources in one location.  Here are a couple wikis that I came across this week.

1.) Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs is a wiki that organizes applications and other resources for mobile devices that can be used in the classroom setting.  You can also find on the wiki a tutorials for using the applications and mobile devices as well as articles discussing their use.  There are also links to conferences as well.  A valuable resource to share with special education teachers. 

2.) ICT Magic is another wiki created to share and discuss the valuable web tools that are available for teachers and students to use in the classroom.  Resources are organized by subject matter and in several instances are used on the wiki in order to show how they work.  A great starting point for teachers looking to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Sandglaz - Simply Powerful To Do List

Sandglaz, which is currently in Beta, is an easy to use To Do List application.  You can create an account or sign in with Google.  What is different about Sandglaz is the way that it organizes and prioritizes what you include in your To Do Lists.  Tasks are grouped into cells, inspired by Eisenhower's Matrix, by importance and how soon you need to complete them. Simply drag and drop tasks between cells to change their priority.  See the image below:

Each To Do List will provide email reminders to help you stay organized and remind you of important events.  You can also share your To Do List and therefore collaborate on a project with other people.  For students, and teachers, who struggle to stay on task and get things done, Sandglaz could be a valuable tool, especially for tasks over a longer period of time.

280 Daily - Daily Journal


280 Daily might be the most complete daily diary/journal application that I have seen to date.  Each entry is limited to 280 characters, so it is a short description of your day, but long enough to leave details.  In the age of texting, a software such as this would be beneficial to students.
(In case you are wondering, the paragraph above is 293 characters when including the spaces)

So what makes 280 Daily the most complete?  It is the numerous features that are available and the ability to post from your mobile browser as well.  You can sign up for daily email reminders so you don't forget to write your entry.  There are statistics that let you know about your writing as well.  When completed you can also export your entries to a PDF, save them, print them, and share it.  The overview view of your account looks my opinion and offers users freedom to change appearance and organization of the overview tab.

If looking for a journal/diary option for this generation of thinkers, 280 Daily would be a valuable tool.  See the video below for more information.

280daily: Sum up your day in 280 characters from 280daily on Vimeo.

SitePouch - Group URL's Together

SitePouch is another option for users looking to merge several websites together into a slideshow fashion.  You copy and paste the URL's and it will provide a new one where people can access and view all the websites from one location.  Another great option for teachers looking to provide students websites that they want them to look at.  For more tools to organize URL's click here.

Eyeooo - Multiple Webpage Viewer

Eyeooo is a website that allows you to copy and paste up to 3 website urls and then Eyeooo provides each website in its own window within one larger window.  A simple concept and for teachers and students without multiple monitors would come in handy.  I could see students and teachers using Eyeooo to conduct a compare and contrast of two webpages or viewing articles that have different opinions.  Easy to use and very practical.