Thursday, March 31, 2011

Refining Google searches for file type

Navigating Google can be a bit overwhelming, at times like fishing for a minnow in the ocean.

You can refine your searches with this formula: (topic) then filetype:

Example: I searched for Shakespeare filetype: swf ... because I wanted an interactive flash video to show my students. I found this very cool animated, interactive site about the Globe Theater.

You can do the same thing for most file types.

Happy searching!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Endorsing Social Media: Fun w/ Fake Facebook

Ever since I dove deep into social media marketing, I've been struck by the thought that kids are writing more today than ever before - thanks to social media.

Critics argue this new platform has no depth; I prefer the glass half full, and say hey, let's encourage them. Some writing is better than no writing!

Here's a cool site students can sign up for quickly and on the fly (great for computer labs, etc.) - My Fake Wall. It's a neat creative outlet for the kids, in a language they understand and appreciate.

We're currently using this program for a lit unit on Macbeth. Thanks to my friendly neighborhood tech facilitator for the idea.

(Ps ... downside - program has a lot of ad clutter. You get what you pay for ...)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A technology utopia

What if every student, upon entering high school, were handed a lightweight, wireless-ready laptop and an e-reader? Heavy, boring textbooks instantly become a thing of the past ... and all lessons involve an interactive, tech-based component.

Everything instantly changes ... messy, tiring handwritten essays are typed with ease - as students surf the web, pulling in content and finding a world of resources at their fingertips. Skilled educators help these kids navigate the info superhighway safely and productively.

And classroom activities routinely center around smartboards and connected classrooms - as ideas are exchanged among classes, and even across countries and cultures.

So. What would the results of this digital revolution actually be?

I paint this dreamy scenario because so much of the education dialogue centers around tech, and the promise it brings. So back to my question: What would actually happen in this ultra-wired, digitally collaborative world?

My guess is very little, in terms of ultimate impact and short / mid-term academic progress.

Folks, we are polishing a bruised apple: Until we experience a societal shift in values, and education emerges as a true priority versus a political talking point, not much will change.

Discipline, hard work, ambition, accountability, morality.

Without these ideas being embraced by our larger culture, any tech utopia we construct will be built on a foundation of clouds.