Category Archives: Blog Reviews

School leaders in EDAD 342 –Technology in Leading and Managing Jan Term 2014 at the St. Mary’s College Kalmanovits School of Education to share their reviews educational technology blogs they have followed during the course.

Simple K12 Teacher Learning Community Blog

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What is Simple K12 Teacher Learning Community blog?

Community.SimpleK12.com is an educational technology blog that offers a variety of alternatives to educators and administrators. Membership access fluctuates from free to couple of hundreds of dollars.  I only sign up for the free access, and I was able to navigate the site. I watched the tutorial on how to use this blog and it was clear and easy to understand. The catalog section provides access to several courses regarding a variety of educational topics. The majority of these courses have a fee that can go up to couple of hundreds of dollars. This blog also counts with webinars. They can be accessed when you purchase a full membership which is $357, but they also offer couple of the webinars for free. This site allows you to locate shared resources for most subjects which are mostly free. In the forum section, everyone who has signed up for this blog can express their ideas and opinions. The posts are current, done within the last hours. As you navigate this site and do different activities such watching tutorials, posting comments, you earn bunny bucks that can be redeemed for site’s merchandise like t-shirts, hats, slippers, etc. One more thing that is available is site licensing for schools and districts. Price for this is provided upon request.

 

Positives:

This blog offers a variety of free access opportunities. Its content is versatile and updated constantly. Every time I visited it, I noticed that several postings were uploaded in the last hours. Its navigation is friendly and easy to follow. The introduction tutorial was definitely a plus for someone like me who hasn’t had much experience with blogs. I also appreciated the resources topics. Most of them were technology based. What I also liked was the fact that you don’t have to have a paid membership to participate in the forum. Overall, I think this is a useful site that I will continue using to enhance my teaching skills.

 

Negatives:

The only thing I didn’t like about it was the expensive full access membership. I’m pretty sure it is worthy, but $357 a year is a lot for a teacher. The blog licensing is offered to schools and districts. They didn’t disclose the cost of the licensing but it is something I will suggest to my principal.

Blog Review – GettingSmart.com

GettingSmart.com Blog Review 

by Anna Perales

Overview – GettingSmart.com blog

Over the past few weeks I reviewed the education blog GettingSmart.com.  The GettingSmart blog is part of a larger business which focuses on the “shift to personal digital learning and its potential role in student achievement in the developed world and access to quality education in emerging economies” (GettingSmart.com).  In addition to the GettingSmart blog the company also offers consulting services, publications and speaking engagements.  The GettingSmart blog is a collection of articles describing and reviewing, and encouraging discourse developments in research, educational technology, educational entrepreneurs and educational methods.  Its intended audience is education leaders, education policy makers, K-12 and higher ed. educators, administrators, education technology organizations and education associations.  The articles on the GettingSmart blog look at the 21st century world and how our teachers can most effectively teach and students can learn.

Positives

Website layout is user friendly and intuitive.  The articles are easy to find and were all fairly concise with links for more information (good for readers short on time).  Very convenient and easy to filter searches by author or blog series.  There are a good number of articles to read on a daily basis on this blog on a variety of topics in education.  Ability to share articles on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest) is convenient.

Negatives

Not all of the articles had content related to technology in education.  Would have been nice to be able to filter searches by date and/or keywords although the search bar in the top right corner of the website allows for a general search.  “Featured Articles” window is a nice touch, but cycles through the articles too quickly.  By the time the user has read the name of the article and the brief description the slide has changed to the next article.

Technology Blog Review-Edutopia.org-Technology Integration Blog

By: Heather Burns

For the past three weeks I have been following the Edutopia Technology Integration blog funded by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The vision behind this site is to “inspire, inform and accelerate positive change in schools and districts by shining a spotlight on evidence-based strategies and best practices that improve learning and engagement for students; collaborating with researchers, teacher leaders and curriculum experts to advance the field and increase understanding of how strategies, such as project-based learning, can improve student learning” (edutopia.org).

The Good: This website provides many different topics in education along with different grade level ranges, and also position focused.  I appreciated how the user has to option of selecting grade level range to find information pertinent to what they are doing in their classroom.  I also appreciated there are blogs for not only teachers, but also teacher leaders, administrators and parents.  I feel like this blog offers information for most school constituents, which is important since we all share the role in educating children.

In regards to the integration technology component of this blog, each of the authors mainly included information that teachers or administrators can read about  the new trend of integrating devices into classroom learning.  In reading the blogs I felt they addressed common fears and problems teachers face when thinking about integrating technology into the curriculum, and how those fears and problems can be overcome.  Many blogs also share the benefits of technology, and provide information and ideas about how devices can be integrated into current practices and curriculum.

The Bad: The Technology Integration blog authors contribute about once a week.

The Bottom Line: The Edutopia-Technology Integration blog is worth reading.  I find that the authors address misconceptions about technology, and have a positive outlook on why integration is not only important, but also how it will help students AND teachers over time.

Educational Technology Blog Review

Educational Technology Blog:  by Rajnesh Naicker

            I chose to follow the Edutopia Technology Blog because all the topics are very relevant to what I do in my classroom. The technology integration helps to discover blogs fresh ideas for using technology in the classroom and at home to improve learning and increase student engagement and achievement. It’s great because different teachers and people who deal with technology in education are able to share their own experiences with their new technological tools. Teachers are able to share their rubrics, lesson plans, assessments and the training tools with others. As I read these blogs, it reenergized and excited me for new ideas for my students. I think the real goal of this site is to improve the way in which students learn by sharing ideas. It provides the inspiration and information for what really works in K-12 education. The really cool thing about this blog site is that it is linked to Twitter, You tube, Facebook, P Interest and Google +. Their webinars provides the audience with the opportunities to learn about the latest research, tools and ideas from experts in the field. Technology is the future for education. If we teach our students as we taught them yesterday, we will rob them of tomorrow. I will continue to follow and read the blogs because I have learned a lot reading different blogs. I have learned different practical classroom strategies, tips from real educators as to what really work in the classroom with all these technology around us, different lesson ideas, personal stories and more fun and innovative approaches to improving my teaching practice. I have also introduced this concept of following the blogs to my spouse. She absolutely loves it.  

            Android Apps: Math, ELA and Video Streaming by Monica Burns is a very fascinating read. I would recommend all educators to read this. It discusses the power of google apps. The google play store for Android is full of wonderful apps that can be used to support learning in your classroom. There are also apps in different content areas that can help the students to master skills. No doubts there are apps for every content area and grade level that can be very easily accessed. I really liked the Pic Collage App because it is a wonderful tool for children to create posters and tell their own stories. They can also add texts and pictures. 

            Options Increase as Google enters the education market by Andrew Marcinek was another fabulous blog read. Google’s foray into the educational arena is starting to make sense in the educational context. Google’s Chrome books are getting very popular. Student’s like the ability to take notes on Google drive or Evernote. Other common apps for students are Edmodo, Notability and Explain Everything. Digital Technology should focus on learning goals and outcomes and using the best technology available to reach them. As we enter 2014, it’s safe to say that the costs of devices, like tablets or chrome book are making it easy for schools to provide access to digital learning opportunities for more students.

            All schools should support the development of a student’s technology fluency. This will help prepare them to become digital learners so that they able to construct new tools and objects communicate ideas and solve new problems. Edutopia is a fantastic educational blog site with a potential to train a lot of teachers.

Exploring Edutopia.org

By Brian Cooper

I would gladly accept a half-day of professional development to roam the landscape Edutopia.  The educational technology blog serves the vision and mission of George Lucas for the “improvement of the K-12 learning process by documenting, disseminating, and advocating innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives.”  It seeks to create an inclusive community that promotes innovative project-based learning.  Topic categories include:  Administrators, Game-Based Learning, Project-Based Learning, New Teacher Support, Social-Emotional Support, and Technology Integration, among others. 

I have visited the site frequently and read many blogs.  In Ben Johnson’s “A Teacher Perspective: Advice for Principals”, I appreciated the notion that professional learning communities (PLCs) are not meetings inforced by administrators, but rather a teacher-driven entity that allows for collaboration and experimentation with relevant interests of the teachers.  Also, he points out that elective teachers are often lead to fend for themselves but can become powerful curriculum integration allies if brought into the fray.  

A blog post on Edutopia stated that teachers are among the busiest people on the planet.  Because I agree, Edutopia is a source of both inspiration and frustration for me.  It represents a common ground with urgent forward-thinking objectives, but much of its audience has very limited time to search the ethers for ideas to practice in isolation.  For those of us who are future administrators, how we will help create the structure for thriving PLCs to explore the Edutopias of the world?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Tech Blog: Edutopia.org

Educational Technology Blog Review

January 20, 2014

The blog Edutopia (http://www.edutopia.org/), sponsored by The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), “GLEF is dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by documenting, disseminating, and advocating innovative, replicable, and evidence-based strategies that prepare students to thrive in their future education, careers, and adult lives.” The topics that are offered on Edutopia run the gamut from those directed to administrators, education trends, new teacher support, and parent partnerships. It provides a thoughtful platform for “researchers, teacher leaders and curriculum experts” in the field to share their expertise and for all to “join the conversation” and add their own insight.

As in any blog there are those select few who use the forum to espouse their own agendas. Although I must say I did find this to be exception, rather than the rule, as most of the participants have a genuine concern for the topic.

Edutopia is an excellent resource for anyone with an interest in education. Followers are able to find information on current issues and relevant topics in education today, as well as access lessons. To quote from the website: “Through Edutopia’s vibrant community of change-makers in education, GLEF spreads the word about ideal, interactive learning environments and enables others to adapt these successes locally.”

Ed Tech Blog: www.purelypaperless.com

“Purely Paperless” from www.purelypaperless.com is a blog written by Kate Peila, an elementary school teacher from Montana and a self proclaimed “Teacher. Learner. Blogger. Nerd.”  This blog is a must-read for teachers who are looking to be on the cutting edge of technology use in the classroom and would like to challenge their students to be creative with authentic formative and summative assessments. 

The site is very engaging with a simple, easy to navigate, user interface.  She provides examples of “paperless” teaching strategies and easy to implement technology tools for the classroom.  In her most recent post she outlines how to create stop motion animation, using the MyCreate iPad application.  She provides commentary, directions for use and download, as well as YouTube videos of her students using the product.

All of her blog posts are specific, concrete examples of how to implement new technology in the classroom and lessons that can be executed immediately using free, web based tools and tablet applications.  In each post she also defends these authentic assessment ideas and their connections to the Common Core State Standards, which all teachers will need to begin addressing. She also provides many step-by-step screen shots for those that are less tech savvy and need visual cues.

In order to truly benefit and take advantage of Ms. Peila’s blog, teachers must be able to put technology in the hands of their students and have access to computer labs and/or laptop and tablet carts.  The author of the blog is an elementary teacher and therefore many of her examples are geared towards younger grades.  It would take a bit of thinking outside of the box to implement at higher levels, but easily adaptable.

Educational Technology Blog by Joy Inouye

As someone who is admittedly technologically challenged, I definitely do not follow any technology blogs; therefore, I began my search by looking at the sites suggested on PathBrite.  In looking at the sites, I selected EdSurge to conduct my review on because of the user-friendly way in which the site appeared.  EdSurge Inc. is an educational technology company that publishes newsletters and operates databases used by venture capitalists, teachers, school administrators and others.  The company was founded by Elizabeth Corcoran in 2011.  Corcoran is a former executive editor of Forbes and a former technology reporter for The Washington Post. 

EdSurge offers a free subscription to a weekly email that highlights the latest technology tools, tips and best practices from and for educators.  Each Thursday, an email is sent that delivers tips from teachers on how to use tech products to solve real-world problems, profiles that celebrate teacher-technologists, reviews of the latest educational technology products, links to upcoming events and job postings.

As stated above, the reason in which I select this blog was due to the ease of manipulating through the site.  EdSurge begins with a headline article and below are titles of four additional articles for viewing.  Below each of these four headings there is a brief description as to what the article will be about.  Following these links, there are several additional articles.  While this is fairly typical of any website, what I liked most about EdSurge can be found under the heading ‘EdTech Index’.  Within the EdTech Index, users can search for curriculum products, teacher needs (for keeping learning on-track), school operations, and college resources and a tab entitled everything else.  This section lists apps for children, discovery and for parents.  Under the tab titled Curriculum Products, the user can click on such titles as 21st Century Skills, which then provides you with a list of products that develop 21st century skills.  There is a section for technology that develops the arts, engineering, language arts, math, science and social studies.  I was drawn to this list because it presents a brief overview of the suggested app listed under the exact area of curriculum that you may be working on.  The list is an easy reference guide to the latest in educational technology.

While I don’t think that I will be a regular reader of the blog, I did subscribe to the weekly email update.  If something is sent to me and I don’t have to go out searching for information, I am more likely to read it.  Even though I don’t think that I will continue reading this blog, I will certainly use the feature listed in ‘EdTech Index’ if I wish to quickly reference educational technology.