Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Can't Google This

You willl never guess in a hundred years the receipient of my Tech Hero of the Week award.  I have chosen this technology innovator not because of what he has accomplished in education, but for his bravery.  View the video to find out why MC Hammer is a technology hero.

Good luck to you, Hammer.  Please accept my personal thanks for not wearing the gold harem pants as you made the announcement. 
Visit the Wiredoo website for more information on the launch of Hammer's new search engine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are you too cool for school?

Do you feel like you're the coolest teacher on your team?  If not, would you like help bringing the boys, uh, students to the yard?  Then look no further because today's Heros of the Week will allow you to wear an 'S' on your chest.
Meet Barbara and Chris.  These two professors are geeking out all over Boise State University where they record The Cool Teacher Podcast.  A word of warning, their conversation can at times be manic but it is always interesting. 

If you wish to be introduced to new Web 2.0 tools or simply use them in a different way, navigate yourself to their website right away.  If you need a morning jolt energ, download the podcast and find the energy to sustain you past Hump Day. 

Click the link above and be treated to a podcast that is sure to add that sparkle and leave the kids thinking you're one cool dude.

Follow the cool teachers on: Facebook and Twitter. You'll be happy you did.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Google+: The Educational Game Changer

For the past few years educators have sought a way to utilize social networking to communicate and collaborate with other teachers, parents and students.  From Twitter to Facebook teachers have created streams to alert parents of upcoming assignments, Q&A pages and be available for students long after the school doors have closed.

The problem with most social networking sites is they are blocked by most K-12 institutions.  Attempting to keep Tweets current is next to impossible when sending them from home.  imageSecurity and privacy issues have run amuck with teachers ‘friending’ students on Facebook.  In fact, teachers have lost their job for placing school administratively deemed inappropriate photos on their wall. My school district has mandated that educators follow certain guidelines for teachers to adhere to when students or their parents attempt to become our social network friend. Some people may call this extreme but I view said guidelines as a form of protection for all involved.

image With Google+ these issues are a thing of the past while adding a new spin on how to foster excitement in and out of the classroom.image

  • The use of circles makes it simple for teachers to separate their personal and professional lives.
  • Collaboration is easily fostered with the use of circles.  Check out this idea from the folks at Stanford.
  • Form a Hangout with office hours to answer questions from parents and students.
  • Share ideas with teachers
  • Engage introverted students
  • Unlike Twitter, conversation streams are archived should discussions need to be accessed months later.

The future of Google+ in education remains to be seen.  This tool can be amazing if K-12 institutions do not block the service.  Additionally, teachers need to be trained on how to effectively utilize Google+ with stakeholders.  According to Ashley May, a teacher in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and my former employer, “(HISD) even purchased Google Apps accounts for the kids last year.”  When the nation’s larger school districts start something, others will follow.  Jump on Google+ by viewing the video below and start building your circles today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Really Smart Friend

Have you met my friend, Salman Khan?  I don't mean to brag but Salman is a real life Superman when it comes to assisting everyday people with the things that confuse us. 

Salman is not my personal friend but after watching his Khan Academy videos you will feel like he is a person you cannot live without. Salman Khan has created videos to help people struggling with:
  • All forms of math from Basic Math to Calculus
  • Banking
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Civics
  • Credit Crisis - yes, mortgages are explained
  • SAT prep
  • and so much more
This guy is a BIG THINKER and he makes that problem that left the 15 y/o me crying during Algebra II easy to understand.

Did I mention that all of my really smart friend's videos are free?  Start using them for yourself.  Better yet, add the videos to the Guided Practice portion of your lesson, your teacher website, or just brush up on Chemistry so you can help your child.  There is no need for your child to spend evenings frustrated at the kitchen table.

Visit the Khan Academy or Salman's YouTube channel today. You may also follow my hero of the week  @khanacademy on Twitter.