EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Feb. 27, 2015

news image

Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"Should Students Have a Role in Professional Development?" – Edutopia

Several examples of students playing a role in teacher PD are presented here. It runs the gamut from including students in discussions on driving student engagement to learning how students use technology outside the classroom and bringing that inside the classroom.

"Steps to Create the Conditions for Deep, Rigorous, Applied Learning" – Mindshift

A group of schools that calls itself the Deeper Learning Network has systemized what it believes are the core qualities of "deep learning". They are captured in an interesting infographic at the link above. In addition, they’ve created a planning guide to help educators implement and run this model.

"How AltSchool Blends Old-Fashioned Learning with New Technology" – edSurge

If you’re not already familiar with AltSchool, it’s a $20,000/year K-12 school with millions in venture funding from Silicon Valley. The author of the article visited one of AltSchool’s four micro-schools. He found that some of their success is attributed to factors other than expensive equipment and software and that other districts could learn from some of what AltSchool is doing: a combination of small learning communities, project-based learning, and personalized learning for teachers and students.

"How Teachers Will Change the Future of Tech" – Edudemic

This article offers teachers three different ways they can take control of technology in the classroom and the effects that can have on their students and beyond. It’s divided into three parts: Teacher Tech Enthusiasm Can Change the Course of Tech Development; Getting Started: Tools for Technophobic Teachers; and Taking Technology Outside the Computer Lab.

"10 Things Students Should Know About Tech by Fifth Grade" – THE Journal

This is written by an instructional technologist in a K-12 district and it's intended for the parents at her school. Some of the “things” include digital citizenship, troubleshooting technology, and collaborating using technology.

Subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with other news and stories like this from Haiku Learning.

Subscribe Now

App of the Week: Coggle

app of the week image

In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes will be giving readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Coggle?

From their site: "Coggle is about redefining the way documents work: the way we share and store knowledge. It's a space for thoughts that works the way that people do — not in the rigid ways of computers." It's a web-based freeware program for mind-mapping, time-lining, and structuring documents organically, like a beautiful tree.

In Haiku: Coggle embeds into Haiku Learning like a pro, defaulting to SSL embeds. Yay! You can right-click and zoom in and out, or just click and drag to move your way across the Coggle easily. They look beautiful, and simple, and fit into the Haiku Learning design aesthetic, too. And hey, you can even store your Coggles in Google Drive!

  • Website: https://coggle.it
  • Price: Free
  • HTTPS Option? Yes, by default
  • Account Required? Yes

family tree in coggle
Here's one example of mapping relationships using Coggle.

How do I get the embed code?

Coggle has created a great how-to article on embedding your rad Coggles, but finding the code is intuitive and simple. Click on the "Share this Coggle Publicly" icon, then copy the iframe provided. Their links allow your co-conspirators to see an embedded Coggle without needing an account, but you can also create organizations, share with individuals, and other great options.

Why should I try it?

Coggle doesn't just represent your flow of information. It gives you a way to manipulate it, build it, create and move things around. It fosters new ideas, not just displays them. I used Coggle to build a rough organizational chart for Client Services here at Haiku Learning, and the drag-and-drop beauty of it helped break down hierarchical barriers and open things up to the what-if.

Plus, Coggle is organic, simple, and beautiful. Adding branches is as easy as clicking anywhere on your Coggle and choosing your color. Then just hold Alt and click to delete a branch. Love those hot keys!

Overall, Coggle is a mind-mapper's dream: pleasing colors, the satisfying ability to drag branches to move or reshape them into any curve or sway you need, and more advanced options like robust version history, markdown text support, and image uploads.

Don't miss Emily's next app review! Subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with all the latest from Haiku Learning.

Subscribe Now

Question of the Week: How Can I Suggest New Features to Haiku Learning?

news image

Whenever we visit schools using Haiku Learning, see customers at trade shows, or speak to customers on the phone, the conversation oftentimes ends like this: “You know what what you guys should do...”

That sentence almost always ends with an idea for a new feature. And since we want to make sure that we keep building a tool that delivers the experience our customers expect and love, we have a place that customers can go to suggest new features.

It is our online user forum. This forum is where we

  1. track new feature requests and

  2. gather feedback from our users on which requests are most important to our community.

Some of our customers are familiar with it and use it often! Others don't know about it or forget that it's there, so we want to make sure everyone is aware of our user forum.

It really is the best place for customers to place that thought that begins with “You know what you guys should do?” In addition, someone else may have already had that idea, so you can vote for that request or comment further on it.

Yes, we look at the requests!

We monitor this forum every day, and it influences our development plans. We also get really excited about it every Fall as we prepare for our annual company retreat. We take a few days each November to gather our team and plan our roadmap for the coming year. Your feature requests are a huge part of that conversation.

In fact…we just released a new feature that came as a result of a user request! We'll be posting a blog about it later this week, so stay tuned! It’s a great story of educators and an edtech company working together to drive innovation.

Getting started on the forum

To get started, you need to sign in to the user forum. Click the Sign In button in the top right corner and enter your email address and name. You will be sent a confirmation email with a link you can use to create a password to secure your account and set your notifications preferences. Once you have logged in, you can vote and comment on existing feature requests or create your own.

Vote for a request

To vote for a request, click the Vote button for that request and choose 1, 2 or 3 votes. You only get a total of 10 votes, so use them wisely. The number of votes for a request tells us how many users are interested in a feature. The features with the most votes also show up on the front page of the forum, so more people can see them and add their support.

user forum screenshot
You can vote, comment, and see what the status is of a request.

Comment on a request

Join the conversation about a feature you'd love to see added to Haiku Learning. Click on the title of a request, and the page that loads will show all the comments the request has received. Use the comment box to add your ideas for how this feature would improve your class, how you would like to see it implemented, or just to voice your support (in addition to your votes). Our team keeps track of these comments and will often join the conversation to ask questions and update interested users on the status of a new feature.

Make a new request

Have an idea for a new feature that isn't already on the forum? Use the Suggestion Box on the front page of the forum to search for similar ideas. If you can't find anything similar, use the Create New Idea button to add yours.

Tip: Make sure you give a good title and a thorough description so that other users can find your request and add their support. You'll need at least one vote to create a new feature request.

Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas and keep 'em coming!

Be sure to subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with other news and stories like this from Haiku Learning.

Subscribe Now

EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Feb. 20, 2015

news image

Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"Game Face On: Gamification for Engaging Teachers in PD" – Edutopia

According to a recent book on the topic of game playing, people who play games are filled with these emotions: creativity, contentment, awe, excitement, curiosity, pride, surprise, love, relief, and joy. Two colleagues at Cathedral Catholic in California wanted to create a PD program that inspired teachers to feel these emotions while learning and developing technology skills for the classroom. They created a PD game, available through the iTunes U platform, called Conquering Technology. Teachers learn skills like accessibility on the iPad and using Google Apps, just to name a couple. Incorporated into the games are badges, awards, levels, gift cards, and public recognition.

"From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts are Retooling Professional Development” – edSurge

Here’s a handy catalog of articles that edSurge has published over the past year on PD. Some of the categories they’ve organized them into include Field Reports (what’s going on in schools) Toolbox (helpful apps and software), and Getting Started.

"Digital Games and Learning: Study Finds Helpful Features, Gaps" – University of Michigan & NYU

Rather than focusing on how effective individual games are, this report focuses on useful features that are common amongst games, how they're useful to teachers, and how they can be improved. The report, released by the A-GAMES Project of the University of Michigan and New York University, is the second part of a report that was first released in December.

"A Class Full of Geniuses" – THE Journal

When Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts was preparing to role out their 1:1 iPad program, they knew they were going to need to account for the extra support that students and teachers were going to need. The solution? A student help desk that is part of a graded, half-year elective inspired by Apple’s in-store Genius Bar. The course is a "hands-on study of technology integration in an educational context" and the article details the evolution of the course.

"Creative Hacks for Increasing Student Productivity” – Edudemic

Digital distractions, student apathy, disruptive behavior: What teacher doesn’t deal with these on a daily basis? There could be some help from technology. This article offers up a combination of some good old fashioned teacher sense plus apps that can help deal with these behaviors.

For those using Haiku Learning, here’s how you can combat some of these problems in our platform. Digital distractions: During exams, use Safe Exam Browser (SEB) a specialized web browser that allow teachers to restrict student access to tools and resources while they are taking an assessment. Apathy: we have recent blog posts on topics like using polls to increase student engagement, adding musicand adding video in creative ways, and embedding apps like Voki into your class.

"Blended Learning (pt 2): Policy Issues and Best Practices" – Huffington Post

Last week we included a link to Part 1 of this article which featured a Haiku Learning customer Riverside Union School District in California. This part focuses more on the policies—or lack thereof—guiding blending learning and what schools are doing to address tech challenges and prepare teachers for new uses of technology.

For Haiku Learning customers: There are a couple articles this week on professional development, and we’re really curious to learn more about how our customers are using our platform for PD. Please share your experiences with us in our customer forum!.

Subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with other news and stories like this from Haiku Learning.

Subscribe Now

App of the Week: Voki

app of the week image

In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes will be giving readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Voki?

From their site: "Voki is an educational tool that allows users to create their very own talking character...Voki characters can be customized to look like historical figures, cartoons, animals, and even yourself! Give your Voki a voice by recording with a microphone, using our dial-in number, or uploading an audio file."

In Haiku Learning: Voki embeds quite well into Haiku Learning. A cute little widget embeds into your class, which can be completely customized. Click the Play button to hear the voice recording, and that's it! (If you get a mixed-content warning, follow these directions.)

  • Website: http://www.voki.com/
  • Price: Free, with upgrade options like Voki Classroom and Voki Presenter.
  • HTTPS Option? No
  • Account Required? Yes

How do I get the embed code?

Select any Voki you've created from your MY VOKI menu and select "Publish your Voki". Copy the embed code at the bottom of the Share menu, in the "Grab the code and place it on your webpage" box. It's that easy!

Why should I try it?

First, your peers have given it their stamp of approval. Haiku Learning teachers seriously love Voki; you can tell because there are over 18,000 Voki embeds in Haiku Learning!

You can customize your avatar, background, and widget theme however you'd like. As a quick, cute way to record your voice for your students, Voki makes it easy to incorporate audio, visual, and animation into a class. Side note: The eyes in the avatar even follow your cursor around the page!

For vocabulary pronunciation, quick messages to your class, or foreign-language lessons, Voki catches the eye and appeals to young students and teachers alike. And for that, we think Voki is pretty awesome.

Don't miss Emily's next app review! Subscribe to the Haiku Learning blog to keep up with all the latest from Haiku Learning.

Subscribe Now