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Posts tagged ‘edtech’

iPhone / iPad Apps and Games for Literacy!

Photo Credit: Mine all mine!

After scouring the app store for four hours (literally) I was able to identify and download 15 apps that I thought (and hoped) would promote literacy and a love of reading for kids and teens that used the apps.

This was initially a homework assignment for my “Mobile Phones and Learning” class at Columbia, but I found myself wanting to go far beyond the required review of a single app and look at as many as I could find.

The BAD news is that there really aren’t that many apps out there that focus on literacy and reading, especially when you consider the amount focused on math and other subject areas. There are, of course, many apps devoted to teaching kids the basics of phonics and letters, but few apps or games were to be found that helped or encouraged older kids to read and to love reading and find it an enjoyable past time.

The GOOD news is that I *did* find a few apps that I consider to be amazing and would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone with kids or who teaches reading or English.

So…in the coming days and weeks, I will share a review of each of the apps I test out. Hopefully you will be able to benefit from the reviews in a variety of ways, even if it’s just learning what app should be on your ‘must have’ list for your kid’s upcoming birthday.

Stay tuned: the first review will be out tomorrow!

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Twitter as a Personal Learning Network

Back from a long, mostly restful holiday break. School just started back up yesterday and I’m already enjoying my classes very much. I’m studying virtual worlds, mobile phones for learning, interactive media, and instructional design of ed tech.

But as much as I learn from my classmates and professors, I also learn a lot from Twitter. I’m still relatively ‘new’ to the Twitter scene, but I’ve already made some fantastic connections and picked up some great resources that have informed my research and studies. Twitter, despite my initial misgivings (aka: social media fatigue), is actually a wonderful way to start your personal learning network (PLN). It is truly easy to find and connect to other educators, researchers and #edtech gurus who all post excellent articles and provide a lot of ‘food for thought’ throughout the day. While at first, my English-major tendencies scoffed at the miserly 140 character limit, I now view it as one of the greatest benefits of Twitter: you can follow leaders in your field and other contacts, get their take on issues and avail yourself of their shared resources, without having to have long, protracted conversations with each of your followers or those you yourself follow. For a busy world, Twitter is perfection personified.

So, on that note: Follow Me @lindseyedixon and help me stay up on all things #edtech and I’ll do the same for you. I’m especially interested in the topics listed on my Twitter profile, but I’m also a musician, artist, polyglot (in training), multi-sport athlete and lover of all things pinot noir, so feel free to chat me up about those things, also.

New-Age Learning, Stone-Age Testing

This week I read and analysed the article by Matt Richtel in the New York Times, “In School of the Future, Stagnant Scores” that looked at the inclusion of technology in Arizona’s Kyrene school district in 2005. Though tens of millions of dollars were spent on the new technology, scores did not go up in Kyrene’s schools (though they did rise at the statewide level). Richtel posits that the expenditure on technology wasn’t worth it without “proof” that student achievement–measured by high-stakes tests–improved. My argument is that the type of learning done with the new technology isn’t what is assessed in this outdated high-stakes exams…

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html

An Image Worth 1,000 Words?

I’d like to take a brief moment (the time it takes to read this blog post) to point out the importance of properly and skillfully integrating graphics and images into websites and textbooks. Done right, and graphics can save readers a lot of time and better explain some concepts in ways print and text just can’t compete with. That being said, there are far too many examples (sadly) of images and graphics done the wrong way, where they become an eyesore and detractor to a page and to a readers’ enjoyment and comprehension of the content. I offer up two examples to make my point:

The Good: Apple’s “Apps for Education” Showcase.

http://www.apple.com/education/apps/

What’s great about this page is that each category (or school subject) is augmented and enhanced by the included pictures. Each section is not overwhelmed by the graphics and the menu below each graphic allows the user the option to see more graphics and examples, rather than the page being cluttered by potentially unnecessary images.

 

The Bad: Discovery Education’s Lesson Plans Page

http://www.discoveryeducation.com/search/page/-/-/lesson-plan/technology/index.cfm

Though it isn’t a truly “bad” example of graphics implementation (meaning that there is obviously a rhyme and reason for the placement of the graphics), Discovery’s page shows a less than stellar effort where graphics are involved. Each page, regardless of the topic or difficulty of subject matter, only has one picture. Each picture is a rather non-descript thumbnail that truly neither adds to nor detracts from the page. The images themselves are mostly low-res and don’t offer any functionality or improved experience to the user. …they are just pictures, and not worth a thousand words, or even two.

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