Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Vermont AOE adopts ISTE standards for students

The state of Vermont Agency of Ed has chosen to adopt the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards for students.  These are the standards that we have been using to created learning targets at CVSD for technology integration.

The standards align well with our Graduation Standards and can be found here.  I like how the site is arranged, in that you can expand each standard to view indicators.  

A press release from the AOE is here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hour of Code

Next week is the annual Hour of Code.  The idea is to get as many people as possible to experience programming for one hour during the week.  If you've never participated before, why not give a try? There are lots of fun tutorials available here, which can be sorted by grade level, platform, etc.

Teachers, I can help you plan an activity for your class.  You could even assign one of the tutorials in place of homework.  And you may want to try a tutorial out yourself.

Students, whether or not you do this during class next week, why not take a look at some of the high school tutorials.  You may find out that it's something you're interested in!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Recording & transcribing voice (and other audio)

Anyone remember Dictaphones?  They were small voice recorders that people used to record/dictate their thoughts and conversations for later transcription or playback.  They're yet another device made obsolete by smartphones. 

A teacher recently asked what students can use on their Chromebooks for dictation. 

Here are two tools that work well for audio recording

TwistedWave is a very simple audio recording tool.  You may need to enable Flash to get it working the first time.  You'll also need to allow access to your computer microphone.

SoundTrap is more like an online Audacity or GarageBand. It allows you to record multiple tracks and has lots of other features (such as musical loops and effects).

There are also tools that convert your speech into text on the fly

Google Voice Typing is built into Google Docs.  Find it under the Tools menu.  Just click the microphone icon and start talking.  When finished, click the icon again, then go in and clean up any errors.

Read and Write for Google is a tool that is available to all CVSD students.  Teachers can also use it for free (see me to get it set up).  It has a text to speech tool among other helpful reading and writing assistants. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Videoconferencing Tools

Some of us are old enough to remember actually dialing telephones (that only reached as far as the cord would stretch).  As well as busy signals and having to call back because people didn't have answering machines.  Back then, adding video to a phone call was an exciting idea, but it took the tech world some time to get there.

Well, times have surely changed.  There are now many ways to videoconference.  The educational applications are many; you can invite guest speakers to connect from their location, hold discussions with classrooms around the world, facilitate distance learning, and more.

Here are some tools that you can use, with a brief discussion of each (note that these apps are frequently updated, so you may find different functionality in the most recent version).

First off, here's what all of these apps support:
  • Sharing your screen, so other participants can see a presentation or document, etc.
  • Multiple participants
  • Ability to mute audio and/or video
  • Ability to participate by phone
  • Chat/text messaging 

This was the first well-known application for computers It requires installing software on your Windows of Mac device.  If you're on a Chromebook, consider a different application at this point. Users need to have a Microsoft account (Skype is now owned by Microsoft). 

Works in the browser, so it's great for Chromebooks as well as Windows and Mac.  Detects who's speaking, changing the video focus to that person. You can invite people who don't have Google accounts.

GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Adobe Connect...
These are popular apps in the business world.  They requires downloading software or installing a Chrome extension.  Free versions are limited. You may be invited to one of these by an organization or business, but I would not recommend using this for your class.
There are many other computer-based applications, as well, but I would start with either Google or Skype.

One thing I have found using these tools for distance learning is that they allow students to participate in the mode with which they are most comfortable.  Some like to broadcast video, others audio only, and others by text.