EdTechTeacher http://edtechteacher.org Leading Change in Changing Times Fri, 26 May 2017 12:27:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Beyond Google Expeditions: Creating Customized VR Experiences with iPad & Book Creator http://edtechteacher.org/custom_vr_with_bookcreator/ Thu, 25 May 2017 22:23:48 +0000 http://edtechteacher.org/?p=11320 Moving Beyond Google Expeditions: For classroom teachers interested in integrating virtual reality into their classroom, one outstanding platform for pre-created content is Google Expeditions.  With an extensive library of expeditions, Google Expeditions offers classroom teachers a reliable pre-packaged virtual reality experience designed …

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Moving Beyond Google Expeditions:

For classroom teachers interested in integrating virtual reality into their classroom, one outstanding platform for pre-created content is Google Expeditions.  With an extensive library of expeditions, Google Expeditions offers classroom teachers a reliable pre-packaged virtual reality experience designed for the classroom.  Each expedition includes multiple scenes with pre-created areas of interest within each scene and pre-created discussion prompts.  To learn more about Google Expeditions, watch this short EdTechTeacher video introduction.  While Google Expeditions provides a solid entry point for virtual reality in the classroom, it is important to also consider the ability of both teachers and students to not only consume, but create customized virtual reality experiences.   

 

Creating Customized VR Experiences:

While the library of Google Expeditions is growing and the content is exceptionally helpful to get started in the world of virtual reality in the classroom, classroom teachers can create custom virtual reality experiences for their students with a combination of: Book Creator, 360Cities and Roundme.  Through a process of curating 360° images via 360Cities and Roundme that are compiled in a Book Creator template, teachers can reasonably create customized VR experiences for their students.  The combination of virtual reality experiences and embedding those experiences in Book Creator files not only allow students to experience virtual reality in a structured environment, but allows the teacher to include video, audio, guiding questions and provides a space for students to react to the virtual reality experiences.  While a 360° image without any context would be challenging for a student to understand and analyze, the teacher creating the customized experience can provide the proper amount of background context via text, audio and video within the Book Creator template that is needed of for the student.  

 

Tools:

Book Creator

360 Cities

Round.me

 

Process of Creating Custom Virtual Reality Experiences:

Teachers can begin creating customized Virtual Reality experiences by exploring both 360Cities and Roundme as both have a search function based on the original location of the captured image.  Once an image is found on either platform, a unique link can be copied and pasted into a Book Creator template.  To improve the appearance of the custom virtual reality book, teachers may want to capture screenshots of the original image which can be inserted into the Book Creator project and then linked to the 360° image online.  Along with the link, teachers can provide context in terms of related text, links to readings or embedded audio & video.  The highlight of this process is that within the Book Creator template, teachers can embed student work spaces where they can insert text, audio, video or images that captures their reaction and understanding of the virtual reality experience through the 360° image.  To distribute the custom virtual reality experience, teachers can AirDrop the Book Creator project, upload to Google Drive or distribute through Google Classroom.  Students have to then select “open in” and send to Book Creator for exploration.   

 

Classroom Application:

There are certainly additional websites where users from around the world can upload 360 sphere images that are then shared online and increasingly media outlets are including 360 sphere images in their reporting.  It is encouraged that teachers use this approach as a starting point, a building block to begin curating virtual reality experiences.  YouTube has seen an increase in 360° video uploads which can also be included in a custom Virtual Reality Book Creator template.  

A history teacher for example might want students to explore the beaches of Normandy in virtual reality.  Or, an English teacher might want students to visit a specific city in virtual reality where a novel they are reading takes place.  Both 360Cities and Round.me can be used to find 360 sphere images for both instances.

Search for Normandy Beach results in sixty seven 360° sphere images on 360Cities

 

Conclusion:

While the process outlined in this post focuses exclusively on teacher created Virtual Reality experiences, it would be a powerful extension of this process to have students curate or even create 360° images to include in their Book Creator creation.  Students writing a creative story for example, could provide context and a depth to their story by creating links to 360° images that allow the reader to better understand and empathize with their story and the characters involved. If students desire to include their own 360° images, tools such as Google Street View allow students to create images that can then be uploaded to 360Cities or Roundme.

With a recent update to Book Creator, authors can now publish their Book Creator projects online where anyone can read the creation without the need of downloading the Book Creator project to an iPad.  This update allows students to publish via their classroom teacher to a broader audience without the need for the end user to have Book Creator or even an iPad.

While the impact and outcome of virtual reality in the classroom has yet to be completely determined, this process of slowly integrating 360° images can act as a logical first step to implementing this emerging technology.  To explore virtual reality in greater detail, please explore the extensive work and writing provided by the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

 

Learn with me!

To learn more about Virtual Reality, join me this summer in Chicago for a hands on summer workshop.  EdTechTeacher is also hosting their annual Boston Summit again this November where Virtual Reality will be one of the many innovative ideas explored.  Learn more and join us this November in Boston.

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Top 5 Things I’ve Learned About Creativity – From Michael Cohen http://edtechteacher.org/top-5-things-ive-learned-creativity-michael-cohen/ Tue, 09 May 2017 19:43:21 +0000 http://edtechteacher.org/?p=11303 Guest post from Michael Cohen, aka @TheTechRabbi In March, I was fortunate not just to attend, but present at SXSWEdu. I shared the story of my journey from designer to educator, and how my experiences as a designer have influenced my educational …

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Guest post from Michael Cohen, aka @TheTechRabbi

In March, I was fortunate not just to attend, but present at SXSWEdu. I shared the story of my journey from designer to educator, and how my experiences as a designer have influenced my educational practice. One area of education that my past experiences have had the most influence, is creativity. Not just as a vocabulary word, but what creativity is, what it isn’t, and what we as educators can do to help our students and colleagues become more creative people.

So in the spirit of creativity, here is a bite-size top 5 list of what educators can learn about creativity from creativity professionals.

  1. Creativity Is a Mindset Not a Talent

So what is Creativity? Depending on where you look, you might get 5-6 different definitions ranging from creating something that is original and unique, to something that is artistic or talent driven. It is definitions like these that frustrate me, because they place creativity out of reach for most people by defining creativity as a talent such as art, music, or cooking.

As a designer, I have discovered it’s quite the opposite. Creativity is not a talent, it is a mindset. It is an outlook that allows you to see people, places, and things and how they connect and synthesize with each other. That is because creativity is not about something from nothing, but making something into something more.

So how do we develop this creativity mindset? Practice! Like all of those creative talents, creativity needs to be practiced, and practiced often. To gain some creativity endurance, you can introduce a simple and fun exercise that will challenge you and your students to “stretch their thinking.” One such activity that I challenged SXSWEdu attendees to explore was “How many uses does a Lego wheel have?” The second question I posed was: “Can you come up with 10?”

By looking at creativity as a problem or puzzle-solving process, we can develop a new way of thinking that stretches our mind to think hard, and come up with unconventional ways to utilize commonplace items.

  1. Embrace Failure

As a designer, you learn quickly that your first go at anything is NEVER your best. For a designer, F.A.I.L. is more like Fifth, or Fiftieth Attempt In Learning, not First. While teachers might not have the flexibility for the fifth or fiftieth attempt for students to refine work, it is still critical for us to teach our students the concept of failure as not just growth, or a learning experience, but as an actual step in producing high quality work. Think about it, was the iPhone invested on the first try? What about the health and safety of plastic? Students need to see that failure is refinement towards success and not a final conclusion.

  1. Empathy is Key

One of the things I learned early on as a designer is to view your client like royalty. That doesn’t mean you hold back from sharing your expertise, but it does mean putting the client first. Many designers approach clients as the expert who will create something great for them. For me, this is not design. Design is about taking the vision of a client, mixed with confused and incomplete ideas, and turn them into a clear and crisp message, product, or solution to a challenge they face.

The success behind the above scenario is rooted in empathy. Empathy is a vital ingredient to success when engaging and help others. It’s absence is like making bread but hold the flour. So what is empathy anyway? Many tend to define it as understanding our audience, our clients, or students even. Empathy goes beyond that. It’s not just understands them, its understanding them so well that you design experiences that are the best for them and not because you know what’s best. This is what empathy’s role in the classroom needs to look like. Are the learning in the best interest of our students? Are they passive recipients of learning or are they the client looking for your to shape their vision and ideas? Are we designing and creating learning experiences for us, for experts, or for them?  

  1. Technology Is Just A Tool

In college I took a course on typography, which is the style and appearance of printed material. This goes beyond the type of font to choose, but also the spacing between letters, lines of text, and the overall layout of text. As a lover of lettering, I couldn’t wait to start using my Adobe software on my new MacBook to create some awesome typographic designs. My enthusiasm however quickly to a mixture of shock and confusion as we were informed by our professor that no computing technology would be used for the first 8 weeks of the course. Instead we would be using paper, pencil, and pica rulers to hand draw our fonts. I have to be honest, I didn’t appreciate it much then, but looking back, I now see that it taught me a life lesson. Computing technology is a tool, just like a pencil. It also taught me how the use of technology needs to be intentional. Efficiency, productivity, and product quality, are only as strong as the intention behind it. We must focus on meaningful learning experiences, and not solely the 21st-century processes that technology can achieve.

  1. Collaboration is a Prerequisite for Innovation

Everyone is familiar with the classic group-project scenario. One student does all the work, another takes all the credit, and a third shows up at the end and still gets a good grade. The reason for this is that we generally promote “cooperative” learning experiences in class where the focus is the final product, and not the growth experience that group work promotes. Collaborative learning is a completely different beast. When you look at design firms, or any innovative company, like an Apple or Google, you find that the unique skills of individuals are not just promoted, but celebrated. You would never have a UX Designer trying to manage a project, nor would you find a packaging designer trying to develop a website. In the classroom we need to help students discover and develop their passions and talents and the relationship that those areas can have with the learning experiences they encounter. That is true collaboration and it can make any classroom learning turn into a powerful and relevant learning experience rather than a passive and “pointless” experience for students. Don’t confuse this with fun, but until we begin to value engagement and determination as much as standardized test scores, innovation will take a backseat in the classroom.

For me, this top 5 is meant to spark curiosity, promote self reflection, and help you develop a more creative approach to the challenges you face. I have found that a truly creative mindset is empowering, and gives you the confidence to face your challenges head on.

Rabbi Michael Cohen is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a former Director of Educational Technology. Learn more about Michael at thetechrabbi.com/

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Three Little Known Features about Google Scholar http://edtechteacher.org/three-little-known-features-google-scholar/ Mon, 01 May 2017 11:27:20 +0000 http://edtechteacher.org/?p=11291 Though most students knows about Google, few realize the power of Google Scholar.  Unlike a regular Google search, Google Scholar limits its results to sources considered to be scholarly: books, journals, abstracts, theses, and even court cases. Also unlike Google, instead of …

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Though most students knows about Google, few realize the power of Google Scholar.  Unlike a regular Google search, Google Scholar limits its results to sources considered to be scholarly: books, journals, abstracts, theses, and even court cases. Also unlike Google, instead of ranking results by popularity, keyword, and past searches, Google Scholar examines the text in the documents, the credibility of the publication, and how often the work has been cited by other scholars. Particularly for high school students, Google Scholar can be a great research tool; and like all things Google, it also has a few hidden features that can prove to be invaluable.

1. Save and Organize Your Search Results

In high school, I remember learning the notecard system for tracking sources. Every time I read an article or book, I created numbered source cards so that I could remember where it came from. With Google Scholar, students can save and label specific search results so that they can easily create bibliographies and also find their sources again.

Once you have logged into Google Scholar with your Google account and found a source that you would like to save, click the save button under the link description. You can then find all of your saved searches and even label them to stay organized. The animation below shows how this could work.

2. Create Citation Alerts

Particularly if students are researching a topic over an extended period of time, or find themselves interested in the work of a specific scholar, citation alerts can be extremely helpful. Within Google Scholar, you can create an email alert pertaining to a specific topic or author. Want to keep up with the latest research about a topic like Global Warming? Interested in learning more about the work of an educational scholar? By creating a citation alert, this information can be delivered directly to your inbox. Not only can you create an alert for articles from a specific author but also for articles that cite that person. Now, instead of constantly searching for updates, they can come to you!

3. Add Your Library to Google Scholar

One of the challenges with using scholarly literature is that the results are often secured in databases. However, librarians have amazing powers and often possess subscriptions to some of the larger database systems like Ebsco, ERIC, and ProQuest. You may need to ask your librarian for help, but it is possible to connect your library databases to your Google Scholar account.

Assuming that this has been set up, navigate to the Settings gear in Google Scholar and then click on Library Links. From here, you can search for your library and add it to your account. Then, depending on your library’s configuration, you can access articles directly from the search page though you may end up having to login to your library to view the results.

As older students develop stronger reading and research skills, Google Scholar unlocks the entire world of scholarly literature and also gives students the tools to manage their findings.

 

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3 Strategies for Using G Suite for Education in the K-3 Classroom http://edtechteacher.org/3-strategies-for-using-g-suite-for-education-in-the-k-3-classroom/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:26:09 +0000 http://edtechteacher.org/?p=11280 G Suite for Education provides opportunities for students of all ages to learn and grow.  When combined with a Chromebook or laptop, the core G Suite programs create a powerful platform for learning.   By designing interactive learning experiences for students in …

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G Suite for Education provides opportunities for students of all ages to learn and grow.  When combined with a Chromebook or laptop, the core G Suite programs create a powerful platform for learning.   By designing interactive learning experiences for students in the K-3 classroom with G Suite, we also provide opportunities for students to start building the skills that they will need to be successful in the intermediate grade levels and in our digital world.

Google Drawings for Interactive Activities

By engaging students in Google Drawings learning experiences, teachers are creating opportunities for students to engage in sequencing, classification, evaluating, analyzing, as well as demonstrating their understanding of math, language, social studies, or science concepts.  Additionally, students are interacting with icons and menus, strengthening their touchpad or mouse skills, and navigating Google Drive as they work with files and folders.  These activities also provide opportunities for students to begin to explore concepts such as URL, website, hyperlink, and file.  Building working definitions for these concepts is a key component in successfully navigating more complex systems and sequences.

Google Drawings provides a blank canvas for generating almost anything!  It combines a drawing interface in which images can easily be moved and positioned with text boxes, creating a simple desktop publishing environment.  Additionally, with all the same features as Docs — such as sharing, comments, revision history, and the explore tool — Google Drawings has great power!  

Google Drawings provides gray space on either side of the drawing canvas where teachers can place images, text boxes, and other elements that can later be manipulated by students.  Teachers can create a wide variety of interactive learning experiences in which students move images and text around as they work through sequencing and classification activities.  Follow the links to see examples of both.

Using the new Explore function in Google Drawings, students can also search for images to complete graphic organizers, charts, or diagrams.  Even math activities can be created easily using Google Drawings.  Using the Insert Shape function, teachers can construct simple math manipulatives such as base-ten blocks or images representing coins.  Tables can also be inserted for activities such as place value and simple data charting.  

By engaging students in these Google Drawings learning experiences, teachers are creating opportunities for students to engage in sequencing, classification, evaluating, analyzing, as well as demonstrating their understanding of math, language, social studies, or science concepts.  Additionally, students are also interacting with icons to build literacy and fluency, strengthening their touchpad or mouse skills, and navigating Google Drive as they work with files and folders.  These activities also provide opportunities for students to begin to explore concepts such as URL, website, hyperlink, and file.  Building working definitions for these concepts is a key component in success navigating more complex systems and sequences later.

Google Forms with Image Responses

Google Forms has recently added the capability of inserting images as responses.  For our youngest learners who may still be developing their reading skills, the option to associate an image can help them decode the written word.  One example of a form for younger students might be a Morning Check-in.  Second grade teacher Stacy O’Sadnick uses a morning check-in form with her students to get a better feel for how they are feeling each day.  Stacy said that the answers in the form help her better meet her students’ needs.  Another example of a Google Form for young students is a book vote or a shape recognition activity.  Dawn Johnson, a Kindergarten teacher in Northern Illinois, uses Google Forms to create money recognition activities for hers students.   These activities are excellent formative assessment opportunities, helping to make student understanding and perspective visible to the teacher.

Google Slides to Make the Physical Digital

Although it is important to expose our K-3 students to digital learning environments and experiences, most of their day will be spent physically DOING.  Primary students write, draw, cut, paste, move, sing, speak, and listen.  The artifacts of learning that are created most frequently are physical – not digital.  However, recording and chronicling these artifacts can be a great use of the opportunities created by G Suite and a Chromebook or laptop.

In Google Slides, the Insert Image option allows users to Take a Snapshot from the webcam of their laptop or Chromebook.  By using this option to take pictures of physical artifacts of learning, students can record their work.  This activity could be the beginning of a digital portfolio that might be used to chart growth and development over time and possibly shared with parents.   But it could also just be an opportunity for students to practice skills such as taking digital pictures with the computer, inserting those images into slides, creating new slides, and typing letters into text boxes.  

G Suite for EDU provides a platform for a wide variety of activities for K-3 students. Manipulating images and text in a drawing environment, responding to images in formative assessment activities, and making physical artifacts digital through the use of the webcam are just a few of the ways that G Suite can help students build the skills they need to be successful in our digital world!

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Book Creator as an Image or Page Creator http://edtechteacher.org/book-creator-as-an-image-or-page-creator/ Sun, 16 Apr 2017 19:23:57 +0000 http://edtechteacher.org/?p=11275 One of my favorite iPad apps for use in the classroom is Book Creator.  I love the way it allows teachers and students to easily pull from the camera roll and incorporate a wide variety of file types, including images, video, and …

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One of my favorite iPad apps for use in the classroom is Book Creator.  I love the way it allows teachers and students to easily pull from the camera roll and incorporate a wide variety of file types, including images, video, and audio.  Recently, however, I’ve been using Book Creator for a different purpose: I have discovered that it can be a page or image creator on my iPad. IMG_0641.PNG 

I can utilize Book Creator’s drawing tools and its ability to insert a variety of elements onto a page, such as images, shapes, stickers, text, speech bubbles, and freehand drawing.  

Once my page is designed, I can export that single page out of the book.  To do so, I simply tap the “i” icon in the top right corner, and I make sure to select “Page” at the top of the panel menu.    At the very bottom of the menu, there is a “Share Screenshot” option which allows me to choose not only the camera roll, but also a numbeIMG_0439.PNGr of other export destinations including the Notability, iMovie, Google Drive, and Padlet apps.

The option to “Save Image,” pushes an image of the page to the Camera Roll of my iPad.  Save Image is different than taking a normal screenshot because the surrounding navigational buttons and options are not included in the image.  Just the page itself gets saved and exported to the Camera Roll.  From there, it is an image that can be used in another application –  shared to a Seesaw Class, imported into an Explain Everything video, added to a Google Slideshow, or even published to social media!  

One type of image that students and teachers often create is a photo collage.  In the past, I used photo collage apps like PicCollage, but now I have found that I can use Book Creator just as easily.  By using the Panels feature, I can take pictures directly within the Book Creator app, or I can pull from the existing photos in the camera roll.  As demonstrated in the accompanying photo, I can embellish the photos I import with text, stickers, free-hand drawing, or shapes.  IMG_0A8843CFA931-1.jpeg

There are seemingly endless ideas for pages or images that could be created with Book Creator.  Students could demonstrate their understanding of a math concept, insert an image and type descriptive language to describe it, draw something freehand, create a mind map, or annotate on top of a map to demonstrate understanding.   As students draw freehand or annotate on top of the page, the drawing canvas becomes like a piece of tracing paper.  Once the annotation or drawing is complete, it can be moved around like an image on the page. IMG_0438.PNG 

Book Creator has many wonderful multimedia features, but the magic of Book Creator’s Share Screenshot function is that a single page can be shared quickly for use in other apps and to demonstrate understanding. It’s such a quick and simple process, but can lead to so many exciting learning activities!IMG_4FBF61E9CA81-1.jpeg

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