Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Semester Wrap Up

Wow, my last blog post of the semester. I can't believe how fast the semester ended, seems like it was the first day of class last week. I learned some useful knowledge this semester. A couple things I learned in this class, Gen 2243 Exploring Your Digital Portfolio, was how to utilize the internet and  the vast resources it provides the world. I was able to develop a personal learning network in a professional manner, and also how to create a website. Before this class I was unable to use the internet to its full potential, my only experience with it was social media, news, and youtube videos. After this class I was able to create my own digital identity in a professional way, connecting me to thousands of different online users and potential employers. My professor Kyle Calderwood showed us how to use a plethora of different tools that would benefit our college experience and personal lives. I used to be close-minded about the internet because I saw only the negative uses of it. I am now aware of what an extraordinary tool it really is and it's all thanks to Professor Calderwood. I highly recommend taking this class if you are interested, it can really benefit you if you're not to tech savvy or even if you want to better understand how to use the internet. The class was as much fun as it was educational and I know I took a considerable amount of knowledge from it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crucial Components to About.me Pages and Websites for Education

For our final project in class we have to design a website. It can be designed for any purpose we choose but it must include certain aspects. One specifically is an About.me page. An about me page is exactly what you'd think. A social media account all about you. It's just a picture of you, a short bio and then you may list some of your achievements. The purpose of an About.me page is to sum up who you are, whats your purpose and what you can do for others. These are just some tips to creating an About.me page.  An important part of your About.me page is your picture. You want to choose a picture that others may relate to, a picture that will draw others to your page. Some people will go above and beyond with some crazy type of picture which sometimes can be cool, but often may be perceived as obnoxious. However, YOU JUST DO YOU AND SCREW THE HATERS!! Seriously though you want to post something that will attract positive influences and won't get you fired from your job. Your About.me page can even be used as a promotional tool as well so it's a good idea to pick a photo that exerts professionalism in some form of way.   

Weebly is a website creator that is frequently used by technologically inclined educators. A big factor is that it is free to create a Weebly website. Educators can connect easily with students by creating a Weebly website and having the students submit assignments as well as blog on the site. There are no advertisements which makes it even more of a reason to use. Creating a website for educational purposes can make teaching a lot more convenient for both parties. Educators can interact with students almost anywhere at anytime. Parents can check in and view everything the student is learning. Students enjoy using the internet and are more engaged in learning through technology. 

Our final reading was the last chapter of The Connected Educator. Chapter 9 was titled "What the Future Holds". The chapter went on to summarize the perspective of the authors views on learning 2.0 which essentially is learning through connecting, sharing and collaborating with others over the internet with the use of internet tools. The four components of learning 2.0 are Knowledge: the information that is all over the internet and is consistently growing, Pedagogy: meaning the practice of teaching, how it is has drastically changed due to the internet, and how it is still changing. Connections: all of the sharing and collaborating that is happening between educators through tools on the internet. How these connections are improving education and changing the way we learn and educate one another. Capacity: the amount of information being shared resulting in the development of new teaching methods and improved ways of learning. Essentially our ability to absorb all of this new information and then apply it. The chapter ended saying that a new era of education is upon us and it is our duty to adapt to this new way of learning. It's an evolution, a change that some are hesitant about but this change is necessary for improvement.   

Monday, April 13, 2015

Creating websites/utilizing IFTTT recipes

Last week in class we were given an assignment
to create our own website. Creating tools such as Weebly and Wix were explored. I had previously used Wix years ago during my junior year of high school and I remember how generic and bland the site was. It has improved a tremendous amount since then. I haven't yet decided which of the two to use for my final project, Weebly uses a very organized platform but Wix has a little more to offer with customization. I think for presention purposes I might choose Weebly. I really want my website to be clean and organized with proportioned features, probably boxy with tags on the right making it easy to explore and access any information I display. This video was a very helpful demo of how to create a Weebly website.

Like I said Wix offers so much freedom in customization of the website. If I were planning on building a professional website Wix would definitely be my number one choice. The website offers a plethora of platforms to choose from that you can actually customize yourself. Wix allows you to integrate social media platforms to share to viewers as well as other platforms/applications such as calendar. A Wix website can be viewed on mobile devices and the user can customize the setting of the mobile viewing so that it is more attractive on the smaller screen of smart-phones. Wix allows users to really build their own personal/professional website to exactly how they want it. Wix presents a great selling point for users that are looking to create a website for retail purposes. Some tips from actual Wix professionals on how to design your website. Some great tips were; Emulate your favorites; they suggested tallying your favorite websites and designing yours based off of their features. Use accent colors; you want your website to be appealing but not overbearing. They recommended using colors and designs to draw the viewers attention to where you want them to be. Less is still more; you don't want any unnecessary clutter, keep it neat and organized.

For those who have not been introduced to IFTTT, it is an automation tool that uses designated triggers to enable actions. The user can create or choose different recipes. The recipes are two applications that connect and share information depending on the trigger. The IF is the trigger, TTT (this, then, that) are what happens after the trigger is performed. So say you chose a recipe of Instagram and Dopbox. The trigger is a picture taken on instagram and the TTT is that picture being saved to your dropbox. There are a lot of recipes to boost picture sharing with instagram, recipes that will allow you to automatically share to facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc. Instead of making you go back and forth between the apps IFTTT does it all for you. Some really great recipes to help with making the most out of your time include; facebook/twitter profile changes, when you change your profile pic it will change the other social media sites as well. Weather app to sms, receive a text when the weather changes. Calendar to sms so you can receive reminders of events. There are quite a few recipes to save you time and keep you updated.

Chapter 4 of Untangling The Web discussed social networking tools and how they can be used not only to connect with one another but learn and collaborate with each other as well. TodaysMeetSkypeKidblogEdmodo, and Twitter are just a few social networking/ learning platforms that were mentioned in the chapter. TodaysMeet, Kidblog, and Edmodo are specifically developed for student, teacher and even parent interaction. Educators can create a class chat on TodaysMeet and connect with students to guide them with any help they need. Teachers can help guide students develop communication skills on the web so that they establish proper online etiquette. Chat rooms on TodaysMeet will expire whenever the user wants, they just pick the length of time (1 hr, 12hrs, 1day, 1 week, etc). Kidblog is exactly what it spells, a blog for kids. Kidblog is overlooked by teachers and parents. It is a blog specifically designed for schools and is moderated by teachers. Edmodo is like facebook but for more educational purposes. Specifically designed for schools. Instructors can create an account and give a code to their students. Students then can create their account and with the code they can connect with their instructors and accept assignments. All of these social networking tools allow for exceptional ways of learning and connecting online.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chrome Extensions/Apps That Will Save You Time When Studying

As you all know, note taking is a crucial part of learning, especially in college. These 6 Google Chrome Note Taking Apps help improve your note taking productivity. 4 of the apps can even be used offline. All have auto save with an option of cloud save as well. Quick Note is a popular chrome app used for light note taking. You can save clippings from any sources and upload them anywhere through cloud. The app also has a search function that allows quick and easy recovery of saved information. Memo Notepad is another note taking chrome app, similar to Quick Note but more basic. Memo Notepad saves as you type, when used offline automatically upload to cloud, can upload bookmarks as well. Scribble, another note taking app, lets users customize it to our personal liking by adding colors and lists. Has similar features to Quick Note but with more customizable functions. Writebox is very simple like Memo Notepad, it is an offline text editor for Dropbox and Google Drive. Automatically saves to both platforms and is easy and simple to use. Last two Chrome apps are more for recreational and personal note taking or journaling. Journal is personal blog type note taking app that you can add pictures to with specific dates and locations to revisit/relive your experiences. Sticky Notes is a fun note taking app that lets the user customize colors, fonts, texts etc. The app allows for functions similar to the rest such as web clippings, sharing, cloud syncing etc.

Another great chrome extension, specifically for long article reading, is TDLR (Too Long, Didn't Read). TDLR condenses long articles into shortened versions. The app also gives you the option of picking a certain percentage of the article to summarize. The app is able to do this all while remaining on the same web page as the article. This Chrome extension can provide quicker productivity for students summarizing or just reading articles. For users that like to have their bookmarks or extensions at their finger tips, Symbaloo is a great extension that allows the user to create and customize shortcuts and bookmarks. Symbaloo lets you organize your shortcuts into specific categories and lets you access your bookmarks quick and easily. 

This week I read chapter 5: Using Tools to Support Connected Learning, of theThe Connected Educator. The chapter discussed various different tools to help build and manage a personal learning network. Topics discussed were tools for documenting and archiving learning, tools for connecting and collaborating, tools for social networking, tools for extending learning in the classroom and lastly managing your online reputation. Bookmarking tools such as Delicious and Diigo were introduced. These tools allow users to annotate, web clip, share and organize all their information stored. Blogging tools to connect and collaborate such as Edublog were recommended, edublog allows educators, students and parents to connect. It allows for the parent and educator to guide the student and add input. Some great tips for managing your online reputation were given. One tip in particular to help you see how you are perceived online is using google alerts and analytics. The google alert will show you when and where your name pops up online to keep you aware of your reputation on the web. 

Last class each of us presented our social media etiquette presentation. We all picked a specific person who displayed bad social media etiquette and posted negative remarks, ultimately costing most of them their professional careers. For my presentation I used the Prezi presentation tool, I used Businessinsider's former CTO Pax Dickinson as an example of a person who displays bad social media etiquette. Pax posted many sexist, racist, and demeaning tweets which in the end got him terminated from Business Insider. One of my favorite presentations of the night was Nick Barlotta's Haiku deck presentation of former NFL running back Larry Johnson. Larry had tweeted some negative tweets to fans using gay slurs and tweets suggesting 9/11 was a hoax. The former NFL running backs track record was hilariously atrocious. Over 5 arrests with assault and batteries involved with other men and women at clubs, needless to say the guys a maniac and Nick's presentation showed well of that.   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Amazing iPad Apps That Make Learning A Lot More Exciting...

Since Apple invented the iPad it has been used in a variety of ways, recently it has been revolutionizing how we learn. Specifically learning for our younger generation. The iPad is very easy to use and more appealing then traditional pen and paper. Children respond really well to learning on their iPads and teachers are realizing this. A very popular application that thousands of educators have become fond of is Educreations. Educreations is a whiteboard application that allows educators to connect and share lesson plans within a cloud between all of their students. The app is extremely user friendly for children and has multi functionality. Educreations allows for voice recording, picture uploading and editing, and a convert to text feature for messy writing. "One of the values educators look for in tech tools is student usability, and with Educreations, teachers say the tool is straightforward enough to incorporate into student work"(KQED). 

Another emerging educational application is the ShowMe app. Similar to Educreations with its whiteboard visual learning aspect but broadened a bit with more direct approach to productivity. ShowMe is a platform that is fairly new and has already captured thousands of educators attention. With 1.5 million lesson plans uploaded and shared to the platforms cloud, the app is consistently expanding its educational realm. The app has a directory of great tutorials to start off with created by the ShowMe team."Educators can use Show Me app in various ways. They can use it to easily explain a range of topics from math to chemistry to music theory. They can also use it to Grade student work with commentary explaining the reasoning behind their performance. Show Me can also be use to deliver short and concise lessons to students or even get them to share these lessons between each other"(article). The apps sharing feature between the cloud is a great way of sharing an enormous amount of information between thousands of students and educators. 

An absolutely intriguing new augmented reality application, Zookasm has been blowing people away. The augmented reality application uses targets that can be printed, the application then reads them and voila you have a miniature 4D animal displayed on your smartphone. Weather and lighting effects can be added to expand the realism. Educators have recently used the app to have students match animals to their specified habitats. Students can also take pictures and videos so they can label each animal into classification. The application is young and still being updated but gives users a great visual learning experience with a realistic 4D animal right on their tablet or smartphone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Digital Storytelling and It's Impact on Education

I have recently experimented with a digital storytelling application called Pixton. It was the first time I used digital storytelling to make a presentation and it was a cool change from slides in a Powerpoint. Digital storytelling is a way of presenting a story through multimedia. It's a great way to expand on ones creativity. Digital storytelling can make more of an impression on audiences then just any normal slide or powerpoint presentation, the digital storytelling aspect is a cool change up for any type of presentation. Applications such as MindMaple and Popplet are great ways of brainstorming and organizing ideas. Both applications display ideas by web and lead from main focuses to subsets and other add-on ideas. These two applications are great because instead of having the user work on one slide or piece of the project at a time it displays all of the slides to create a larger perspective of the presentation which allows the user to remember their point.

As you can imagine, digital storytelling has become a popular educational too for teachers. Applications such as AnimotoPowtoon, and Toontastic have a variety of tools to create a fun and engaging educational presentation. Digital storytelling has become a very popular educational tool because the educator creates the story how they want and based off what they want to teach the student. These apps give educators the tools to create their own type of cartoon show that students can really engage in and take from. Voki is another digital storytelling app that mainly focuses on audio. I think Voki is unique because it brings the oral aspect of learning into the electronic educational  platform. Majority of the time communication is based of emails, messages, blogs etc. With Voki students submit assignments but still have to engage in the oral aspect of the presentation. Even though the student is still behind a laptop or tablet there is still a verbal presence through the presentation. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Evernote: An Organizing Tool That Can Help Boost Productivity

 Recently I have become familiar with the app Evernote. The Evernote app allows users to store, organize, and collaborate almost anything. Similiar to Dropbox, Evernote allows you to upload and store different files and have the ability to access them anywhere through devices with the app. You have access to all of your work at home anywhere, as long as theres internet. Evernote even has a mobile phone app that allows you to upload pictures, videos, notes, etc, and then access them on your PC. It's a great app to have if your constantly on the go or if you need help staying organized.

   After reading an article about Evernote I was able to really utilize the app. One tip was about replacing your PowerPoints with Presentation mode from Evernote. Although it is only available through the Premium version and costs $5/month, Presentation mode has way more of a variety than PowerPoint and would be way more appealing to viewers in my opinion. For certain people it could be a wise investment. Another tip was sending emails to Evernote, this can help organize your inbox between spam and the important stuff or people. I really never run into this problem because I have 5 different emails but again for certain people it can help. For the user who creates and upload thousands of notes Evernote allows for a search engine to pinpoint exactly which note your searching for. Evernote is all about organizing by consolidating, the app allows you to merge certain notes that maybe be different but will be used in the context of a project for you. Merging the notes can really help consolidating your work and keeping everything neat and organized. Another great ability of Evernote is webclipper. Webclipper allows you to save articles, pictures and notes from the internet right to your evernote account. The app has become popular between educators such as college professors and highschool teachers.

      Evernote has a third part connection with Sunrise, an app that combines your calendars from Facebook, Your PC, etc to form a well organized version of them all. This aspect helps with consolidating and enabling more productivity. Like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple and Dropbox; Evernote also has two step verification to keep your file extra secure. Enabling this feature is a good way of keeping your stuff safe. Evernote also uses IFTTT (if this then that) to enable streams from different accounts. Stream Twitter posts onto your Evernote and again search through them with Evernotes search engine. This helps eliminate the time scrolling through posts so you can re-read old and missed tweets. I am a person that is impacted by the visual aspect of things. Evernotes ability to add pictures to reminders can really help visual learners like myself remember things. "This being Evernote you can of course attach notes and reminders to your snaps as well, so you can create a fairly complex to do list that matches the way you work best. You can use tags to sort tasks out into urgent and non-urgent, for example, or into separate buckets for entries related to work and entries related to your personal life."

 I found the hangout chat with Adam Taylor informational as well as entertaining. He made a great point when he said to follow the lists of professionals you are following. I originally was just following a bunch of organizations on twitter with occupational therapy or actual occupational therapists accounts and some of them post informational tweets but most of the time its conversations between other people. I started looking through their lists and they were a lot more helpful. I am currently talking to a therapist through Twitters DM. I eventually want to have a hangout with them. Overall I found Adam's advice helpful and I agree with him that Twitter is a great tool to make connections. I liked his comment about how using twitter just to follow celebrities is for losers lol.

Chapter 3 of UTW discussed presentation tools and how they have evolved from less appealing slides on PowerPoint to more eye catching and resourceful presentations such as Prezi. Another presentation networking tool is SlideShare, you can embed different links on your feed or blog and customize presentations however you desire. Many educators have familiarized themselves with these applications because it enhances learning. Presentations can really affect learning in a positive way, especially when the presentation is resourceful as well as captivating to the audience.