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HIS Tech Bytes – 18 January, 2018

This is a newsletter I have been putting out every other week for the staff at Harare International School in Zimbabwe.  I figured I might as well share it with the world at large.  I hope you enjoy it!
Alex

techbytes header3 Your bi-weekly peek into the tech world, because tech doesn’t bite, but not being informed does!
tech t & t Tech Tips and Tricks

Here you will find helpful tips, tech tricks or new resources you can use in your classroom.  Please feel free to submit any you would like to have shared to the staff or a request for a feature to abraden@his.ac.zw

The Answer to Questions Students Ask
imagtfy

 

Tired of students asking annoying questions that they could easily look up themselves?  Pass along a little “How to” with some visual sarcasm thrown in.  http://lmgtfy.com/ Let’s you type in their question and then gives you a link that visually shows them how to do it for themselves.  Quite funny and makes the point.  Here is an example from Kate R. – thanks for this!
Make a Dozen Cool Learning Tools From a Single Spreadsheet!
flippity

 

Flippity – Turns Google Sheets into flashcards, Quiz Shows, Random Name Picker, Memory Games, Word Puzzles and more. It is a simple add-on from Google. That takes your spreadsheet of data and generates all of those powerful learning tools.  If you are interested, but not sure where to start drop me a line and we’ll make a plan.
   
News icon What’s Making News

Here are some articles related to technology in education.  Each article is linked to the original story in case you wish to dig deeper.  Enjoy!

How Technology is Shaping the Future of Education
cropped-apple-logo4 In this article in Business Insider I was hooked by the line: “Even with technology being used in more and more classrooms, teachers will be as important as ever.”  This article looks critically at several aspects of the increasing use of technology in the classroom and how it is shaping not only what we teach, but how.
Hey, This is Getting Personal!  And That is a Good Thing!
666252_users_512x512 This article, originally titled Personalized learning gives students a sense of control over chaotic lives.  Looks at several school who had struggling students under their old curriculum system.  However, with the incorporation of Blended Learning, and then taking it further and personalizing it for individual students they achieved that panacea of education – student buy-in.
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Chromebooks Have Landed!

A few years ago when I was working at Poudre School District in Ft. Collins, CO we looked at Chromebooks for our Middle School students.  At the time I was teaching tech and History classes and as the resident “Who would like to test this out?” guy (they actually called is DIPS!) I was asked to trial some.  At the time I was completely against them; too limited, too restricted and they (and here is the key) wouldn’t do half of what I was doing in class.  Why was that?  Well, prior to the trial the district had made a big push for two platforms Office and Google.  Now with the later, Chromebooks are a dream, but with the former…not so much.  As you’ll know from reading other posts I am a BIG advocate of OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator (among other MS products)…best thing for a classroom teacher since chalk!  But, not on Chromebooks.  OneNote online just doesn’t have the functionality.  The district ended up staying with PC and it worked out just fine.

So, fast forward to last year and a new school, this one is, or has been until now, strictly Apple.  We have had iPads (1:2) from EC to Grade 5, 1:1 iPads from grade 6 to 8 and MacBooks from 9-12.  Thankfully when I arrived as the integrationist we also got a new tech director who has very similar ideas to mine, especially in regards to what is best for students.  Seems that when schools hire tech folks that have been in the classroom they have a much more empathetic view as to what goes on in the classroom, go figure! We both saw a need for students to be more productive, better managed and to stop thumb-typing five page science labs!  Hence Chromebooks.

Fast forward one year and one ordering cycle later and we are now in the middle of rolling Chromebooks (CTL NL6’s) out to two different grade levels: Grade 8 (1:1) and Grade 5 (1:2).  After a year of trying to manage iPads it is incredible how easy it is to adjust and control the Chromebooks.  The Admin console allows for such easy administration, especially if you can focus on separate grade levels or division levels.  I’m still getting into the nuances of managing the devices, and any suggestions or tips are always appreciated!

Next post will be an update on the progress for both students and teachers.  Wish us luck!

Cheers!
Alex