6 Technologies Propelling Online Education and How Students Are Affected

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Education is undergoing a technological revolution that’s occurring worldwide at different speeds and extremes. Thanks to the following key technologies, we’re seeing the development of learning platforms and environments that are unlike anything ever seen before in human history. Their impact on students, teachers and entire education related industries will be increasingly profound in the years to come.


1. High Speed Internet

High speed internet connectivity hasn’t yet reached every corner of the world but the latest statistics for 2013 show that subscription penetration worldwide sits at about 10% for fixed line connections and 29% for mobile connections. Furthermore, these numbers only reflect actual subscriptions, not necessarily total numbers of users, which can easily be much larger as students use school and work based connection subscriptions.

What these numbers signify is an absolutely wonderful trend whose impact on education and learning in general is already showing immense results. Since broadband internet technology is the foundation of all online learning capabilities that we are developing as a society, spreading the enormous data transmission power of broadband (be it mobile or fixed line) is giving millions of students around the world, and especially in developing countries, access to high quality online video courses, interactive programs and powerful information download options.


2. Tablets & Smart Phones

With the inexorable spread of broadband technology, there’s also a natural need developing for electronic devices which can access all the connected resources of the data charged high speed internet. This is where tablets and smart phones come into the picture. Though they aren’t quite as powerful as their more software and hardware heavy desktop and laptop counterparts, they’re quickly catching up and at a far cheaper price per unit –especially in the case of tablet computers.

Thanks to these varied little devices, millions of students are given access to powerful video platforms, reading applications and interactive learning software in the form of thousands of extremely diverse education related mobile software applications.

A student with a tablet that they bring to class regularly can use it to download the most up to date information on any in-class subject, find instruction videos and tutorials for their coursework and access massive archives of free online tutorial videos in every available academic subject from websites like www.khanacademy.org with its 3000+ teaching videos on everything from math to history to physics.

Tablets and smart phones are already organically permeating online student learning worldwide, the real trick will be seeing clever educators and school administrators learn to incorporate these devices into their general curriculum in practical ways.


3. Mobile Apps

Along with the nearly exponential proliferation of portable connected tablets and smart phones, there is also a massive market developing for mobile apps that can be downloaded and used for so many different digital tasks that it’s hard to even comprehend the sheer scope of what a student can run on their device.

The apps marketplaces of both Android and Apple, the two largest tablet OS developers, hold nearly two million apps between themselves. Of course, of these hundreds of thousands of apps, only a tiny fraction are useful for online education and information hungry students. But even amongst this tiny fraction, we’re still talking about thousands of incredibly powerful, highly interactive software tools for collecting information, sorting it, collating it into interesting projects and building whole new ways of learning class materials. Apps like these are just a small sample of what’s available.

Thanks to mobile applications like those listed above and others, students learning from anywhere through the web can reach out and grab onto more tools than any student of any prestigious university could have dreamed of just 15 years ago.


4. Video Conferencing

Since the developments of high speed connectivity and visually interactive portable computers both took off during the last decade, it’s only natural that the long since anticipated technology of video conferencing also creeps into online learning.

Probably one of the single most powerful tools for online interactivity between teachers and their students, the ability to talk and share information via high quality video meeting software is becoming cheaper and more accessible than ever.

In some cases, these types of video calling tools consist of high end multiparty video meeting platforms like those offered by Oracle and InterCall, which can be used to hold entire classes online. And in other cases, we’re talking about free downloadable mobile video apps for tablets and phones. However, even these light free apps are incredibly capable thanks to the high tech video encoding and display capacities of modern computers and mobile devices.

Thanks to video conferencing and all its offshoots, we’re seeing the spread of classroom settings such as these.


5. Distance Education Programs

Video calling, high speed internet connectivity, thousands of education based mobile software apps and easy to buy mobile internet enabled devices; with so many beautiful technologies coming together at the same time and in the same setting, it’s only natural that the very old practice of distance education gets an enormous capacity boost!

The kinds of remote learning courses and programs that used to depend exclusively on mailing test papers, assignments and reading materials lists back and forth via excruciatingly slow physical mail couriers, are now giving way to instant online access to teachers, course materials, tutorial videos and information loaded cloud storage platforms that schools use to give their students access to materials 24/7 from any web connected machine anywhere on the planet.

Thanks to the fusion of all these technologies, we’re seeing the slow arrival of a situation in which “distance” education becomes almost as personal and interactive as the process of travelling to school and walking to class every day.

This technology driven revolution in remote learning is going to give rise to many more developed and highly regarded programs such as these from Olivet Nazarene University Grad School.


6. Social Media Platforms

The other, more organic and much more student driven side of the online learning coin is the immense and deeply interconnected world of social media that has grown up around students and teachers like an immense digital spider web.

Through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Students can collaborate with each other on all sorts of projects, contact their professors with questions and access human resources in the form all sorts of online learning groups from all over the world.


The overall contribution of social media when it comes to online education basically lies in the fact that it makes the digital connectivity between all these players that much more instant, constant and robust.


About the author: Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to education, education technology, marketing technology and brand promotion. He also loves to read and write about subjects as varied as the idea of a location-free business, portable business management, and strategic marketing and advertising tactics. When he’s not busy writing or consulting, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico. Connect with Stephan on Google+ and LinkedIn

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Student’s Guide to Technology in My Classroom

These are tools I have my students download to make their academic life easier.  I thought I would pass them along to my readers.

  1. My Big Campus- Online learning environment where teachers can initiate class discussions and set up online learning activities for students. It is a secure social network designed specifically for educational purposes. All activity is carefully monitored at all times. Everything that is posted/created/uploaded is recorded and can be seen and printed at any time by system administrators and teachers. I make a point of going over the reports several times a week. Download the App and bookmark the website:  http://mybigcampus.com/
  1. Socrative Student– Socrative is a smart student response system (like clickers) that makes class more engaging and interactive bookmark or install the “student app” via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Download the App: http://www.socrative.com/  Room #: 5638
  2. Evernote– is an easy-to-use, free application or website that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders. Download the App and bookmark the website: http://evernote.com/
  3. QR Code or Bar Code Reader– Many devices already have this, but please make sure you have it on any mobile device that has a webcam: that includes tablets or mobile devices. Download the App: Go into the itunes store or google play and search “qr code reader”.
  4. EasyBib– It is a literacy platform that provides citation, note taking, and research tools. Download App and bookmark website: http://www.easybib.com/
  1. A Gmail email account – it would be a good idea to create an email account, if you don’t have one already. I recommend Google, simply for the use of other applications, like GoogleDocs, Google Sites, Google Drive, etc.  IMPORTANT:  you will want to create a professional email address, so that it can be listed on job and/or college applications.  Here are some tips: http://www.ehow.com/way_5294924_tips-creating-email-id.html


  1. My Homework-Application or Website where you can manage everything about their school life. From classes and homework to before and after school activities, and so much more. Think of it as a planner on your phone. Download the App and bookmark the website:   https://myhomeworkapp.com/ 
  2. SoundGecko– Takes an Internet website and makes it a PDF. You can listen to anything on the web while you go to the gym, travel to an away game, and so much more. Imagine “reading” an article for class through your headphones. Bookmark the website:  http://soundgecko.com/
  3. Quizlet- It is a free website providing learning tools for students, including flashcards, study and game modules. Bookmark the Website: http://quizlet.com/
  4. Dropbox: Is a free service that lets you bring your photos, document, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Free File Storage on the “cloud.” Never email yourself a file or lose a flash drive again! Website: http://db.tt/KNyCU32
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Top 5 Innovations in Classroom Technology

Technology in the classroom has certainly been a touchy subject, what with kids using their cell phones as the latest way to “pass notes” in class. But savvy teachers understand that mobile devices offer them a means of connecting with students and enhancing the lessons delivered in the classroom. However, it can be hard to keep up with technology, which seems to advance at the speed of light. So here are a few innovations that every teacher should get behind in order to keep their classroom up-to-date with growing trends.


  1. The connected classroom. You can hardly operate a classroom these days without allowing for the enhancements offered by the internet, including the research opportunities provided by search engines and the education and entertainment value delivered by targeted video content. But there’s more to making your classroomClassroom-Tech connected these days. It involves not only hardware like smartphones and tablets, but also software, apps, and social media meant to help you connect with students on a level that they are comfortable and familiar with. Getting your classroom connected can help you to enhance your regular lessons, engage with students, and virtually find more ways to communicate with kids that might not necessarily interact otherwise.
  2. Facebook pages. Facebook is nothing new, but more and more teachers are starting to see the merits of creating group pages for each of their classes. With the proper protective measures in place (privacy settings, passwords, etc.) you can keep parents happy. And utilizing the platform provides you with a forum to interact with and help students outside of class, as well as encouraging them to help one another. In addition, you can use it to post assignments, add instructions, and facilitate communication for group projects. In short, Facebook (or similar social networking sites) could certainly add to the educational experience.
  3. Study Blue. There are all kinds of mobile applications designed to help students study smarter, but this freebie (with in-app purchases) offers options for study notes and flashcards, as well as the ability to message with the teacher or other students for sharing, feedback, and help. It’s a great way for students to stay on track with their studies, both inside and out of the classroom.
  4. Tablets and smartphones. Although many teachers remain hesitant about allowing students to bring their mobile devices to class, others have started to realize the many educational opportunities inherent in these gadgets. With options for apps, programs, and videos (amongst other things), tablets and smartphones are paving the way to a technological future through classroom usage.
  5. Digital lectures. With options like Ted Talks and Khan Academy grabbing the interest of older students, it’s not surprising that teachers at all grade levels are taking the cue and flipping the concept of lectures end over end. Boring speeches need not take up every class period when teachers create Power Point presentations or video lectures for students to watch in study hall or at home. And this concept paves the way for more interaction within the classroom setting. When students come prepared, having watched a lecture in their off-time, teachers can focus on answering questions and clarifying points, as well as engaging in activities that offer hands-on opportunities to drive home important information. Whether you teach at the grade school or high school level or you’re an instructor at WSU online, digitizing lectures can lead to increased opportunities for interaction in the classroom.

Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.

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5 Ways for Teachers to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

It is becoming all too apparent that kids who fail to learn about technology will be left behind when it comes to advancing in school and in the job market one day, as well. Not only have devices changed the way we socialize as a culture and carry out interpersonal relationships, but the rapid advancement of hardware and programming, especially in the online and mobile arenas, have led to a massive overhaul of the way business is conducted. Good luck finding a companyClassroom-Technology these days that isn’t connected 24/7 thanks to the internet and smartphones. The point is that it’s imperative for kids to become familiar with the devices and software that will dominate their lives, both personal and professional. And schools need to get on board with integrating the technologies that will help to prepare children for the future. Of course, most public schools don’t have a ton of money to spend on pricy equipment. So teachers may have to get creative when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Here are just a few options.

  1. Podcasts. Even teachers that don’t have a lot of extra cash devoted to their classroom may be able to finagle a decent computer or a single tablet out of the budget, or they can simply bring a personal device to class in order to use it as a teaching aid. And one of the best resources out there for lesson enhancement is podcasts. These targeted “radio” shows cover a vast array of topics and often include speakers that are experts in their field. As a bonus, many are free to download, making for an interesting addition to any classroom that won’t cost a dime.
  2. Online instructional videos. Any classroom with a large monitor or video projector can benefit from the bounty of video content to be found online. Teachers may peruse YouTube in search of videos that assist them in teaching myriad lessons on subjects like science, history, language, and more. It’s an especially good resource for current events. But there are also plenty of websites devoted to delivering instructional or otherwise academic videos. Khan Academy and Ted Talks are two fantastic resources for teachers.
  3. Cell phones. Most schools are banning the use of cell phones in their halls, but the teacher that finds a way to integrate these handy devices will win the hearts of students. At the high school level, many students have cell phones of their own, and teachers can use this to their advantage by having their pupils register their numbers with the school so that the teaching staff can send out assignments by text, for example. Or they might set up a classroom Facebook page and allow students to post questions and comments during lessons that the teacher will address at the end of the lecture. This allows students to use their technology in a creative and educational way.
  4. Tablets. The go-to device for classrooms these days is the tablet. And although it can be a hard road trying to get administrators to approve the budget needed to outfit a classroom with enough tablets for each student, the benefits are well worth the effort. There are so many ways that students can use these handheld gadgets; to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, to connect with other students and even other classrooms, and to interact with a slew of programs that provide just one more avenue for learning. The only real downside is the cost.
  5. Edmodo. Let’s not forget about the programs that make many modern devices worthwhile. There are so many apps out there for computers and mobile devices that you have your pick of the litter when it comes to software designed to enhance your classroom. But Edmodo is one of the best programs out there for teachers. It acts as a safe hub for students and teachers to connect in mobile space, providing tools that allow for interaction both in and out of the classroom setting. Teachers can also connect to each other to share insights and even lessons. And they can personalize lessons, track student progress, and even hand out badges and grades. It doesn’t take an online emba to see that the sky is the limit with hardware and software that practically begs for classroom integration.

Guest Post: Leon Harris is a freelance writer and editor based in sunny Southern California. In his spare time, Harris enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.

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Cell Phones in School

Some schools around the country regard cell phones use as disruptive and distracting, and have implemented policies that prohibit using them on school grounds. Students still use cell phones in school. According to the PEW Internet and American Life Research Project

  • 58% of teens from schools that forbid cell phones use them during class anyway
  • 31% of teens that take their cell phones to school send text messages during class everyday

Cell Phones are some of the most useful and least utilized technologies within classrooms across the country. It is time to enter the 21st century and encourage schools to use cell phones as a tool rather than treat them as contraband.

There is a wonderful blog I follow written by Liz Colb entitled From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning. The site in entirely devoted to encouraging responsible cell phone use in the schools. Another website is called Mobile Phones for Learning.

Application in the Classroom: texting homework, podcasts, quiz answers, polls, mobile videos, google docs, research, blogging, recording interviews, posting discussions, and so much more

Update: This semester I offered a texting option on the parent permission slip. I was shocked when every parent approved of their child (who had cell phone) to use  textblaster. What shocked me the most was that about 35 out of 55 parents wanted to have their number included on my mass text option in addition to their child’s phone number. Texting may be just the new wave of parent communication.

Useful Websites:

Other ideas for using cell phones in school?
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Make a Rap with Autorap

Want a creative way to make an announcement in your classroom? You can create an Autorap, which turns everyday speech into a rap! Your students can do it for a project or can spice up your classroom announcements. I learned about Autorap from Ann Beck on #sschat.  Autorap is an App that can turn your speech into rap and it even corrects bad rapping. After playing with this app it fairly simple to use and sort of addicting. This app work with Smule’s proprietary “rappification” technology, AutoRap maps the syllables of your speech to any beat, creating a unique rap every time you use the program. Check it out today!

According to Macworld, “Talk into the app, and AutoRap magically morphs your speech into a rap. Create your own original rap songs with Freestyle Beats, or use Premium Songs from artists like Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj, to AutoRap with the songs you know and love. RAP MODE: Switch to Rap Mode and flaunt your skillz by rapping along to your favorite songs, following the lyrics that scroll across the screen. AutoRap will correct your flow, snapping your syllables to the rhythmic grid of the underlying beat.”


Citation: “AutoRap.” Macworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.


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Mimic a Foreign Language

Mimic was designed to assist teachers and students by augmenting classroom and textbook ESL training via hours of casual conversation practice with native speakers available for free on any mobile phone. To become conversationally fluent, students must learn and become comfortable with the fundamental sounds and rhythms of a foreign language, which cannot be easily achieved by textbooks alone.


Mimic is the next best thing to a language immersion program. With the Mimic program, students can listen to the speakers and imitate what they say, exaggerating the sounds as they improve their prosody and automaticity of English. Users can choose to explore videos by select actors or subject matter, such as Future Events, General Conversation, Greetings/Introductions, Idiomatic Expressions, Likes/Dislikes, Making Plans, Past Events, Requesting Help or Uncertain Events.


Students should be encouraged to practice at their own pace and in whatever style feels comfortable to them, but emphasis should be on finding quiet time to listen and mimic a lot. Prosodic conformance and good conversation skills will only come from hours of exposure to the English language and Mimic is the ideal product for making it easy, fun and free. “With Mimic, we wanted to create a product that was both engaging and entertaining, that could teach complex grammar and expressions in a simple, easy-to-grasp manner that didn’t feel like you were studying,” says Wayne Clifford, CEO & Founder.


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Socrative for Review and Sub Plans!

I NEVER in my wildest dreams would assume my student’s would actually be able to play a “review game” on their mobile devices with a substitute. I have a dream US history class period 1, which means they are still tired. The classroom culture is such that they do their work, every one of them contribute to the class, and meaningful learning happens. It is one of my favorite classes. I am not sure I could leave a review game for some of my other periods, but with that being said you have to know your students and ideally have a good substitute!


I use Socrative for review games all the time. I also love Infuse Learning. I use both programs (free) interchangeably because they have different features. On Monday morning I had a review day scheduled before their test on Tuesday. I attended a conference in the city and needed to leave sub plans. My first reaction was “oh no, what can I have the sub do with them? I can’t lose another school day” (we’ve had 2 snow and 4 hurricane days this year, so far). I already had a Socrative review prepared for my students and I figured I would continue with my plans. Being my school is a BYOD my students could partner up or each use any device they owned to play the “game.”

My sub plans said:

  1. Have the students go to their Socrative app or the internet to access the website
  2. Give them this random code ##### to play the game
  3. Have them play the review game alone or with a partner

I preset the questions to have student’s see if they got the questions correct as well as a “why” if they got the question wrong. My student’s did really well and enjoyed the review game. If you want to access other teacher’s review games using the socrative share code- click this link.


After they played the digital review game I had them use white boards in pairs. I gave each pair an envelop of four vocabulary words with the definitions that were going to be on the test. They had to draw their vocabulary word. They then took turns guessing each others word. They played this game for four rounds so they reviewed over 40 vocabulary words in the period.


I graded the tests on Tuesday and my students did fabulous on the assessment! I am so happy I did not lose and day and most of all meaningful learning occurred and reviewed WITHOUT me being there. I hope you can try something like this in your class.

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Use Cel.ly in Daily Instruction and Communication

With administrative and parental approval, I use Cel.ly to send text message reminders, announcements, polls, and questions to my students. In the classroom, Cel.ly supports my instruction and creates an environment where every student has a chance to “voice” his or her opinion.  For example, when I show a short video clip I have my student’s text one significant fact or detail they learned to Cel.ly as they watch the video clip. After the video clip, I highlight some of the important topics discussed from their messages. Another way I use Cel.ly in my class is through polling.  I send a poll to student devices, they respond, and then we analyze the responses. It is an interesting way to gauge student comprehension, involve all student’s, and start a discussion. Through Cel.ly student’s text me with questions such as  “what is on the test tomorrow?” or “what did I miss in class today?” when absent. One student named Meghan commented that she enjoyed using cel.ly because “I could ask you a question at anytime and you would always be there to answer it!”

Here is what my student’s say about it: cel.ly

Cel.ly has also improved parent teacher communication in my classroom. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even enjoyed the in-class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.


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5 free mobile apps to capture student work written by Justin Stallings

Mobile technology has provided new opportunities for students and teachers to both capture and organize data.  With the advent of mobile technology in the classroom, students can do a number of things like capture notes from their spirals or the whiteboard to capturing pictures/video of a project they’ve been doing in class.        This allows students to both share and reflect upon their learning.
Here are 5 mobile apps to capture student work:
1.  Evernote (IOS, Android, Blackberry)
Evernote is a mobile app that is cross-platform friendly–so regardless if your students prefer the Iphone, Android, or Blackberry they will be able to install the app and use it.  With the Evernote app, students can take picutres of classroom activities (not to mention activities assigned outside of class) or they can take audio notes as well.  So if you have your students taking notes in a spiral or journal, they can make them into digital notes with the Evernote app and have access to them 24/7.  More importantly, once they’ve created the new note from the app, they will have it access to it on any other device which they have downloaded Evernote or they can simply access it from the main website www.evernote.com.
2.  JotNot (IOS)
Jotnot is a very impressive mobile app which makes pictures or “scans” very crisp and clear.  Depending on how new your mobile device is (which I still have the Iphone 3GS so the camera on it is not as good as some of the new models) taking pictures may not exactly be as clear as you want–especially when reading text.  With JotNot, you can take a picture and change the settings on it to make it clearer to read.
The only downside to the free version of JotNot is that can’t share via Evernote or Dropbox–that is only with the paid version ($1.99).  With the free version, you can still save the image to your phone’s photo library and upload it into Evernote or Dropbox app from there.
3.  Whiteboard Share (IOS)
Whiteboard Share is a app that I just recently started experimenting with.  Essentially, with Whiteboard Share you can take a photo and share via Evernote or email.  The main benefit of this app is that it when the image is uploaded into Evernote, it makes the text more readable (evernote.com).
The other benefit to using Whiteboard Share is that it gives you a “zoom” feature on the camera, which the standard camera on the Iphone (3GS model at least) doesn’t allow for that.
4.  Pinterest (IOS)
Pinterest is quickly becoming a fun and easy way to both capture and share photos.  With the Iphone app you have access to your previous “pins” and can take photos directly from the app and assign them to a “pin board” for easy organization.  The pin boards can be a easy way for students to organize photos into different categories (i.e. Group projects) and be able to reflect on what they did later on.
5.  Voicethread (IOS)
Voicethread is a very engaging tool that students can utilize in the classroom.  With the Voicethread Iphone app, you can take a series of pictures and categorize them into different “threads” and make them into a type of “slideshow” presentation.
What sets this apart from the other apps is that once you take the photo, Voicethread allows you to make comments on it either by voice, text, or video.  So instead of students just making a caption description of the photo, they can also take audio notes or even actually video of them describing what is going on in the picture.
Honorable Mention:
CamScanner (IOS, Android)
CamScanner is also another excellent app that students can use to capture there work.  With Camscanner, you can take a snap shot from your Iphone or Android device and save it as a PDF or upload directly into your Evernote account.
Thanks to Melissa Seideman (@mseideman) for suggesting the app!
If you are looking for a cross-platform app, Evernote is the way to go.  Of course, if students have the Iphone or even a Ipod Touch they have a few more options to choose from (for now at least). I’m sure that there are a few that I may have overlooked, which ones would you recommend?
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40 Creative Ways to Use Cell Phones in the Classroom

Here is a great post I thought I would share written by Online Universities.
4/52 - Homework

So many ruminations on what smartphone technologies offer the wired classroom begin with some permutation of how, at first, cell phones are often the bane of teachers’ existence because they cause disruptions. This isn’t one of those ruminations. Let’s just go straight to the suggestions, shall we?

  1. Use educational apps:One of the simplest strategies for engaging students using smartphones involves taking advantage of the thousands of educational apps as supplements.
  2. Create educational apps:After familiarizing kiddos with properly navigating smartphone apps, challenge some of the more tech-oriented ones to design and develop their own; Stanford already offers an open-source class on the subject!
  3. Scavenger hunts:Smartphone scavenger hunts have proven a popular pastime for technophiles, and teachers have been known to use them to provide interactive lessons about everything from natural history to nature. It’s an easy concept to adapt!
  4. Shooting video:Whether requiring short PSAs, as the linked assignment does, or another type of video entirely, students with smartphones make it easier than ever to shoot, edit, and share their digital projects.
  5. Backchanneling:Turn the classroom into an educational MST3K equivalent by equipping smartphones with Twitter and allow students to offer up their own comments and ask questions via a real-time feed that does not disrupt the flow of a lecture.
  6. Project Noah:Biology educators love transforming their students into “citizen scientists” by asking them to snap photos and videos of their wilderness finds and sharing them with pros and fellow fans alike.
  7. Send reminders:Whether through text or apps like Remind 101, smartphones offer greater connectivity so teachers ensure students know when assignments are due, what materials to bring, test schedules, and more.
  8. Text message rewrites:In order to get younger readers more familiar with the ins and outs of classic texts — such asRomeo and Juliet in this example — some intrepid educators are assigning rewrites in abbreviated speech through text messaging. Translating old stories into contemporary vernacular nurtures a greater understanding of the major themes, characters, and plotlines.
  9. Record podcasts:With mobile audio technology, classrooms featuring podcasts can record and share their commentaries and interviews on the go
  10. Geocache:Similar to a scavenger hunt, only more involved and detailed, classroom geocaching projects encourage participants to keep the movement flowing by adding their own treasure chests for other users to track down.
  11. Accessibility:Explaining smartphone potential in creating greater accessibility for special needs students is an article in and of itself, as there are myriad applications for different requirements varying in severity.
  12. Remembering notes:Some teachers allow their students to snap photos of the chalkboard or whiteboard as class wraps up in case they couldn’t finish taking their notes fast enough.
  13. Access textbooks:For classrooms where the textbooks are available via the Internet or ebook readers, smartphones equipped with browsers and e-reading apps lower the back strain associated with toting everything around in bookbags.
  14. QR codes:Create QR codes and let students scan them for quick access to class materials, supplements, and anything else they might need to earn the best grades possible.
  15. Encourage literacy:Whether teaching ESL, special needs, or mainstream students, numerous apps, assignments, and smartphone features allow users to learn grammar, spelling, pronunciation, and other essential literacy skills.
  16. Organizers:Both teachers and students alike laud smartphones as portable, quick, and convenient strategy for staying on top of anything and everything related to schooling. No assignments necessary — they just plain work!
  17. Going paperless:Green up the classroom by converting as many class materials to digital as possible and encouraging students to store everything on their smartphones, tablets, computers, or other device.
  18. Preserving lectures:Shooting videos of lectures allows students who miss class or may not have caught something the first time around play catch up come exam time.
  19. Alarms and timers:Almost every smartphone these days comes with a timer and an alarm function, so flip it on when students must complete tasks within specific temporal boundaries.
  20. Crowdsourcing solutions:Assign each student (or, more realistically, student groups) a smartphone and ask them to network with other individuals (or groups) to share their findings about what they’ve learned with the hopes of formulating more viable approaches to classroom content.
  21. After-school programs:Rather than spending classroom time creating smartphone applications, some schools have started offering such training as an extracurricular activity in order to build lucrative skill sets and keep students away from dangerous decisions.
  22. Field research:Laptops are bulky, and many educators and students alike have taken to gathering research out in the field in order to better conserve their energy and available space.
  23. E-mail:Seeing as how most smartphones sync up with e-mail providers, it provides one more convenient communication conduit between teachers and students.
  24. Clickers:Instructors who love punctuating lectures with visuals like slideshows can convert their smartphones into tools for scrolling through materials.
  25. Animations:For content unsuitable for shooting video, equip smartphone devices with the proper resources needed to draw up animations depicting anything at all – though physics and science demonstrations work nicely.
  26. Google Maps:Available even on non-Android phones, Google Maps and similar applications provide numerous educational opportunities for geography and history classes in particular. Some teachers might even like the idea of drawing up virtual field trips students can participate in via their smartphones.
  27. Storyboarding:Have students draw or shoot photos of sequential images and challenge them to draw up their own stories or storyboards involving both text and visuals.
  28. Blogging:Blogging provides a wonderfully diverse tool for establishing a digital classroom, and it’s easy for teachers and students alike to post, comment, read, and follow analytics.
  29. Critical thinking:Ask students to open up their smartphone browsers and send them to fake websites meant to nurture in them vital critical thinking skills about parsing fact from fiction on the Internet and beyond.
  30. Emergency numbers:Because so many preschoolers and kindergartners love playing with their parents’ smartphones, some teachers have incorporated the devices into lessons about dialing their country’s respective emergency lines.
  31. Calculator:Calculators come standard on pretty much every smartphone these days, and multiple apps exist for ones that either don’t have them or lack more advanced functions. It should be fairly obvious what benefits they provide the classroom!
  32. Grading and feedback:Not only do smartphones allow for grading on the go, text and e-mail functions mean teachers have a way to ship feedback students can’t lose (or feed to their dogs) as easily as a sheet of paper.
  33. Memorization skills:Create and distribute digital flash cards so students can stay on top of what they need to know – or, better yet, make them write and trade their own! Research suggests that fusing technology with traditional methods helps nurture memorization skills, despite stereotypes of smartphone owners as forgetful types.
  34. Pagers:For medical students and the pros who pass their knowledge onto them, smartphones have largely replaced pagers as the go-to device when things get real. In fact, some teaching hospitals and med schools even require enrollees to own one.
  35. Science:Encourage students to be as Tesla as they can be with these hacks meant to teach and analyze acceleration via censor.
  36. Augmented reality:Whether via apps or something designed specifically for the class, augmented reality enhances the classroom experience and are easily accessed and created on smartphones.
  37. Take attendance:Some intrepid educators love location-based check-in games like Foursquare for taking attendance that can’t be faked or lost.
  38. Teaching digital literacy:Responsibly using smartphones instills in students the digital literacy skills necessary to succeed in current — and, likely, the foreseeable future — job markets, so get them started as early as resources allow!
  39. Polling:Take quick surveys of what students think and want by asking them to respond via smartphone apps designed specifically for realtime feedback.
  40. Tours:OK, so technically this one isn’t the classroom, but it remains a great idea all the same. Some colleges, such as Berkeley, provide downloadable content allowing potential students to get to know the campus layout and history of the different features.
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Part 1: What is Evernote?


Hello, my name is Justin Stallings.  Melissa and I met through our Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and I recently became a guest blogger on this blog.  Before I go into my posts, I wanted to give a big THANK YOU to Melissa for allowing me to post on her blog.


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big fan of Evernote.  I discuss it a lot at my blog and I put together a Evernote Livebinder a few months ago that received a “Top 10 Livebinder of 2012” nomination.

When I started to look at the content I had for Evernote, I realized that there wasn’t much material that was “content specific”.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss ways Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, beginning a series titled “Evernote for the Social Studies Teacher”.  Over the next few weeks, I would like to discuss ways in which Social Studies teachers (History, Government, Economics, etc) can utilize this great and free tool.

What is Evernote?

Before we begin to look at how Social Studies teachers can use Evernote, we need to first understand what Evernote is and what you can do with it in general.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 10.50.37 PM

Need better organization?  Need a tool that you can create notes, clip articles, and have access to your uploaded documents from your computer, tablet, or mobile device 24/7?  With Evernote, all of this is now a reality.

Of course, the first thing that you’re thinking of is “How much does it cost?”  This is the best part of Evernote…it’s free!  With that being said, there is a paid version as well.  Here’s what you’ll get with the free version:

  • 100,000 Notes; each note can be a maximum of 25 megabytes (mb) for free users and 50mb for Premium users.
  • 250 Synchronized Notebooks (including Notebook Stacks). All 250 notebooks can be shared. There is no limit to the number of Local Notebooks (which aren’t synced) you can have.
  • 10,000 Tags.
  • 100 Saved Searches
(Source: Evernote.com)
Evernote on all of your devices
After creating a free account at www.evernote.com, you’ll want to gear up your devices to use Evernote to it’s full potential.  You can download Evernote onto your PC or Mac for easier access and install the mobile app for your smartphone or tablet.
Evernote Web Clipper
If you do a lot of research on the web, you’ll want to get the Evernote Web Clipper:

The web clipper can be installed on internet browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.  Once you find a article that you like like, you can “clip” it into your Evernote account for future reference.  The cool thing about this is that it clips the article itself and not just the url of the page.

Evernote Mobile Apps

With technology becoming a integrated part of the classroom, it’s important to have a tool that goes with you, on any device you have.  Evernote provides apps for your IOS devices, Android devices, and Blackberry devices.  With the Evernote app, you can quickly create notes from your mobile device, access web clippings, and everything else you have in your Evernote account.


All this is just a start of what you can do with Evernote.  Next week, we’ll be looking at different ways a History teacher could use Evernote in the classroom.

I recommend to browse around at evernote.com in the next few days.  The Evernote Trunk provides a exhaustive list of other applications that integrates Evernote with theirs, so Evernote provides a ton more uses.

Of course, if there is anything anyone would like to share, I’m always happy to learn new things myself!

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The “secrets to success” in breaking the ban on cell phones

This post is crossed posted at The Innovative Educator written by Lisa Nielsen


Mobile devices have become one the fastest and most popular forms of communication.  They can be an important classroom tool, however many many schools regard them as disruptive, distracting, and have implemented zero tolerance policies that prohibit them. The reality is that students still use cell phones in school even if they are banned. According to Time Magazine, “even though the vast majority of students own cell phones–something like 80% by eighth grade–more than half of schools prohibit the use of any mobile device.” I  am amazed that teachers of the 21st century are not embracing the power of technology in their classrooms.

Surrounded by Mobile Devices
As a member of the millennial generation, I grew up surrounded by mobile devices. I find it difficult to go to meetings with paper and pen, or store papers in a file cabinet, or even use a book for my lesson plans. My life is digital and I think it is time for educators to teach our students to become members of the 21st century. Our students need to be taught to use technology to adapt and THRIVE in this ever-changing world.


Breaking the Ban in Four Schools
Since my very first year teaching, five years ago, I have encouraged other teachers and strongly persuaded my administrators to approve mobile devices in the classroom. Due to my husband’s job relocations, I have taught in five schools in both New York and Pennsylvania. Every school, except one in Westchester County, embraced this new form of technology. I have used mobile devices in my classroom for parent communication, polling, instant response, peer to peer contact, first day of school sharing, QR code web searches, and so much more.

As a first year teacher, I went to my principal in Geneva, NY and asked for permission to use cellular devices in class with my 8th grade students. His response was an enthusiastic Yes! My students looked forward to coming to my class because it was cool to learn through this new method. When I moved to another school in Trumansburg, NY, my principal was on the fence about it. I was able to win him over with the line “do you want

Image from Edudemic

to see it in action?” before you give your response. He came to observe my classroom. My students were placed into groups of two and I posted questions using Polls Everywhere as an instant response tool. My principal was amazed to learn about this new method of assessment and class participation that he had me demonstrate it at a faculty meeting.

When I moved to Hanover, PA, my principal at South Western High School highly supported the use of technology. Unfortunately, I felt like I was in a league of my own as I was the only teacher embracing it. As the year progressed, I took great pride in demonstrating to colleagues ways mobile devices could be implemented in a safe, supportive, and educational way. I showed teachers how to use Cel.ly in the classroom.  With administrative and parental approval, I use  Cel.ly to send text messages to my students with reminders, announcements, polls, questions, etc. Students could text me and ask a specific question such as “what is on the test tomorrow?” or ask “what did I miss in class?” when absent. One student named Meghan commented that she enjoyed using cel.ly because “I could ask you a question at anytime and you would always be there to answer it!”


Improve Parent Communication
Mobile devices have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world. At Hanover, PA, I encouraged parents to join my text messaging cell classroom group. I was surprised by the results. Of my 55 US history students, 35 of their parents participated. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even enjoyed the in-class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.


Ways to Use Mobile Devices in your Classroom
One activity in which I involved parents and mobile devices I call “text a friend.” For example, my students text a family member or friend asking the question “Did you vote in the last election? Why or why not?”  Through the responses our class received we were able to learn firsthand far more than just having the textbook or teacher’s perspective. Mobile devices truly bring the

Two high school students participate in a QR code scavenger hunt about the Civil Rights Movement. One student in each group used their mobile device and a QR code scanner app to unlock the website and respond to the teacher’s prompt. Students explored the school looking for clues to learn about the movement.

world into your classroom.


This year I will be teaching in Cold Spring, NY, which is a very supportive and innovative district. This is the first year I am actively ENCOURAGING my students to use their mobile devices in the classroom. I made clear mobile device classroom expectations on an infographic. I am providing a student guide to technology assignment for homework during the first week of school.  I will be  urging my students to use applications on their devices: My Homework app to keep track of their assignments, a QR code reader for QR codes in my lessons, Easy Bib to properly cite sources, Evernote to take notes, SoundGecko to take any online text and convert it to mp3, just to name a few.   


Goals for the Future
My hope is that I will teach my students to be responsible with mobile devices and encourage them to use their devices for more than just for social purposes.  21st century technology has the potential to encourage student growth, collaboration, research, and skills they can apply throughout their life. Schools across the country need to be more flexible with their policies. Mobile devices can enhance instruction and learning if done appropriately.

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Use Cel.ly to safely communicate and engage your students!

As many of you know Cel.ly is on the top five lists of AWESOME programs I use with my students. It may even be # 1!!! No, I do not work for them, but I find it to be one of the most useful programs I use daily with my students to increase student communication and collaboration in a safe and support environment. Cel.ly is changing the face of education!


What is Cel.ly?

According to the Cel.ly website, “A cell is our term for a mobile group network. Messages and polls sent to a cell are forwarded by Celly to specified cell members. In this way, Celly users can communicate and collaborate as a group in realtime using the immedicacy and convenience of text messaging. Additionally, from the Celly website you can send and receive cell messages, polls, and access other Celly features. Celly works with any regular phone that has SMS texting, or from any web enabled device; for instance, a tablet, smartphone, or laptop.”


How I use Cel.ly with my classes?

I use Cel.ly to send text messages to my students with reminders, announcements, polls, questions, etc. Students can text me and ask me a specific question such as “what is on the test tomorrow?” or ask “what did I miss in class?” when they were sick. Cell phones have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world.

Video Demonstration: How to use Cel.ly?
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Interesting ideas to incorporate mobile devices into your classroom

  • Create a Poll– This past fall I used Cel.ly to get instant audience feedback to a series of prompts using student cell phones. Polls can be multiple choice or an open ended responses. The responses can be posted directly on the board and are an interesting way to get instant feedback, even from your quietest students.
  • Create Text Messaging Group– I have my students join Cel.ly, which is a group chatroom, where my students can communicate instantly via text messaging. I have found Cel.ly to be one of the most beneficial social media programs I use in the classroom. Students communicate more with me through the use of their cell phones compared to any other form of communication. What impressed me the most this year was the number of parents that wanted to be included on the cell phone group. 
  • Cell Sharing- Ask students to locate a photo, song, or video from their mobile device that best represents them. They can then pair share their selection with the class and why it was selected. (Idea from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Random Question or Poll- Students can be assigned a random question from Question Cup and then post their response using  Cel.lyWallwisher or Wifitti. Responses can be posted on the whiteboard. (Idea from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Texting Interview– Students can be randomly paired together and provide them with a series of interview prompts. The pairs can text their questions and answers back and forth. The interviews can be summarized and shared with the class and posted on a sticky not board such as  Wallwisher or  Cel.ly.  (Idea modified from Jackie Gerstein)
  • Text a Friend– Students can text a friend or family member (outside of school) a question and then post the response on the whiteboard using  Cel.ly,  Wallwisher or Wifitti. Last year I posed the question, “What was one history event that impacted your lifetime?” I am a history teacher so this was an interesting way discuss the concept of why history matters and how my students are historians. This idea also works well with any topic. I have used text a friend multiple times such as “What do you know about Richard Nixon?” “Why was Bill Clinton impeached?” “Did you vote in the last election? Why or why not” Questions like these bring interesting and multiple perspectives into  the classroom. Many family members have also commented that they enjoy the conversations afterschool about the lesson.
  • QR Code Scavenger Hunt– You can design a QR code scavenger hunt for your classes to get your students moving, sharing, and bonding. Check out this simple QR Code Generator from Teacher Tools.

How can it increase parent communication? 

Last fall, I encouraged parents to join my text messaging classroom group. I was surprised with the results. Of my 55 US history students, 35 of their parents participated. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even the in class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.


Previous Posts About Cel.ly

  • Here is a previous post about Cel.ly adding email as a new addition to texting.
  • Here is a previous post about mobile devices in the classroom
  • Here is another post about Cel.ly adding polling
  • Here is another post about making texting positive with Cel.ly



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Teacher Kit can help you stay organized

Often teachers have little time during the school year and any app that can save you time is well worth the money. Fortunatly for you, Teacher Kit is a FREE application. It is a personal organizer to help you organize classes and students. It is very simple to use and it can help you with attendance, grades, and student behavior.


After playing with it a little it seems like it would be a very useful application to use in the classroom. As a teacher you can set up your classroom, seating assignments, grades, and save student information such as their names, emails, parent contact information. Everything is stored in one place! From the app you can even email students or parents with a simple click…. You can take attendance and monitor student behavior.

Not sure if this is creepy… but you can even take a picture of the whole class and the app recognizes faces and asks you to identify them and it can help you build a roster with names and pictures for attendance purposes.


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