Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Educator's Guide to Hashtags

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Whether you're a social media novice or not, hashtags may seem confusing and inessential. These short links (hashtags) preceded by the pound sign (#) are integral to the way we communicate online and it's important to know how to use them.

Can hashtags be fun? Absolutely!

On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you want to post about the NFL Super Bowl, you would include #SuperBowl in your tweet to join the conversation (or simply search for the hashtag to follow the discussion). Clicking on a hashtag will allow you to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.

I also recommend using a social media management platform, such as HooteSuite, TweetDeck, etc., where you can create columns with hashtag topics.  I like the ability to monitor several discussions, i.e. #edchat, #lrnchat, #careerteched, at once and all on the same screen.

I've created a list of popular educational hashtags and tried to categorize them for you (see below). It definitely isn't all inclusive, but it's a good starting point and I hope you will share any new educational hashtags you find interesting and helpful!  (Also, hashtags are now a staple to social media and their use has been extended to other social media platforms.)

Popular Educational Hashtags

Hashtag Category

Career and Technology Education



Distance Education

Groups and Chats
#edchat Educational Technology
#educhat Education Chat
#lrnchat Social Media and Education
#oklaed Oklahoma Education Chat

#blendchat Blended Learning
#blendedlearning Blended Learning
#elearning Electronic Learning
#flipclass Blended Learning
#GBL Game-Based Learning
#ntchat New Teachers
#onlinelearning Blended Learning
#pbl/#pblchat Project-Based Learning
#studentcentered Blended Learning

#efl English as a Foreign Language
#ell English Language Learning
#esl English as a Second Languae
#tesol Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


#educational videos
#TLChat Twitter Librarians
#TT Teacher Tuesday where educators suggest others to follow

Special Needs
#gifted Gifted Education
#GTChat Gifted Education
#spedchat Special Education


#blendchat Blended Learning
#BYOD Bring Your Own Device
#EdApps Educational Apps
#edtech Educational Technology
#edtechchat Educational Technology
#elearning Electronic Learning
#ipadchat iPad
#iNACOL International Association of Online Learning
#iste International Society for Technology in Education
#mlearning Mobile Learning
#mobile Mobile Learning
#slide2learn iDevices and Learning
#vitalcpd Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year's Resolution: Secure Your Assessment System

It's unbelievable that 2016 is here and the school year is half over, but that also means we are closer to the busiest time of year for those of us in the assessment industry.

I hope everyone has created and follows a secure assessment policy, but if not, John Kleeman, founder of Questionmark, created Ten tips for Securing Your Assessment System, which provides a secure foundation for your assessment system.  It seems security breaches most often occur as we get busy and are more prone to creating shortcuts in our work, but a "system" should help minimize these errors.  Please read John's post in its entirety and address any weaknesses in your assessment security:

What can you do to make your assessment system more secure? How can you avoid a disruptive data breach where people’s personal information is disclosed? Using a vendor who takes security seriously reduces risk, as I wrote in my blog article Eight ways to check if security is more than skin deep. But security involves both vendor and user. This post gives ten good practice tips on how you as a user or administrator of an assessment system can reduce the risk of data breaches.

1. Don’t give yourself or other administrators unnecessary privileges. Follow the principle of least privilege. It may sound counter-intuitive, but most administrative users don’t need access to all capabilities and data within your system. Limiting access reduces the impact of a data breach if an account is compromised or someone makes a mistake. If you are using Questionmark, allocate appropriate roles to limit people to what they need.

2. When someone leaves the project or organization, remove their access. Don’t allow someone who has left your team to still have access to your assessment data.

3. Follow good password security. Do not share passwords between people. Do not use the same password for two accounts. Choose strong passwords and change them periodically. If someone asks you for your password, never, ever give it. And if a web page doesn’t look right, don’t type your password into it.

4. Install all the patches and secure the system. A common cause of security breaches is failing to install the latest versions of software, and attackers exploit known vulnerabilities. You need to be proactive and always install the latest version of system and application software, set up good technical security and follow the vendor’s recommendations.

If you haven’t got the time or resources to do this properly, move to a cloud solution. In a cloud SaaS solution like Questionmark OnDemand, the vendor is responsible for updating Windows, updating the application, monitoring security and ensuring that everything is up to date.

5. Install good quality antivirus / anti-malware software. Reportedly there are nearly a million new or variant malware and viruses produced each day. Protect your computer and those of your co-workers with up to date, professional software to address this threat.

6. Protect any downloaded data. Questions, assessments and reports on results are generally safer on a server or in an on-demand service than on a workstation. If you need to download data locally, set up security procedures to protect it and try to ensure that any download is temporary only.

7. Dispose of data properly. Deleting a file on a computer doesn’t erase the data, it simply erases the index to it. If you use a reputable service like Questionmark OnDemand, if a disk is repaired or reaches end of life, it will be securely destroyed for example by degaussing. But if you download data locally or use installable software to manage your assessments, you need to do this yourselves. A recent study suggested that about half of used hard drives sold online contain residual data. Make sure this is not your assessment data!

8. Be careful about clicking on a link or attachment in an email. Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites (clicking on a link) to collect sensitive information or infect your machine with malware and viruses. Such attacks could even be aimed at your organization or assessment activity directly (this is called spear phishing!). Think before clicking.

9. Be aware of social engineering. Social engineering is when someone tries to trick you or someone else into a security breach. For example someone might ring up and claim to be a student who wants their results, but really is an imposter. Or someone might spoof an email from your boss asking for the questions for the next test to review. Be wary of strange phone calls or emails that ask for something urgent. If something seems suspicious, clear it with a security professional before you give them info or ask a caller to hang up and call them back on an official number.

10. Conduct security awareness training. If you’re not already doing this, organize training sessions for all your authors, proctors, administrators and other users to help them be security aware. if you can, deliver tests after the training to check understanding. Sharing this blog article with your co-workers would be a great way to start.

To see more Questionmark posts click HERE.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Assessment Study Guides from the CareerTech Testing Center

The CareerTech Testing Center (CTTC) works closely with instructors, industry representatives and credentialing entities to identify and develop assessments and assessment preparation materials that are aligned with recognized industry standards.

Study guides are designed to help students prepare for the assessments. Each study guide includes:
  • information about the assessments within a content area
  • the standards upon which each assessment is based
  • test plans
  • practices questions
  • test-taking strategies
  • many study guides also include a crosswalk to instructional materials that may be used during instruction or when studying for assessments.
CTTC assessments are directly aligned to assessments needed to obtain credentials that are required and/or valued by industry. Assessments measure how well the student has mastered the content deemed important by industry, and while passing a CTTC assessment is no guarantee of future success, it does provide an indication of whether or not the student is ready for certification or licensure.

Click here for Study Guides and please contact us if you have any questions!

The CareerTech Testing Center has been developing skills standards and online tests since 1980 as we work closely with instructors, program administrators, industry representatives, and credentialing entities to ensure that our study guides and assessments reflect national standards and local industry needs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

OSU - CareerTech Digital Forum: Educating for Global Coompetitiveness

Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education invite you to watch their digital forum entitled "Educating for Global Coompetitiveness" on Friday, June 13, 2014 (Speakers are from 8:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. CST).

Featured speakers are OSU President Burns Hargis, CareerTech State Director Dr. Robert Sommers, Tom Vander Ark, and David Cillay.

I've had the opportunity to previously meet and discuss customized learning with Tom Vander Ark, author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World and CEO of Getting Smart, a education advocacy firm, but I'm excited to hear his newest thoughts on the subject and how learning is becoming more competency-based.

Dr. Cillay, Vice President of WSU Global Campus, led the 2012 launch of the Global Campus, which includes WSU’s online degree program. His responsibilities include expanding WSU’s market share, supporting faculty in technological innovation and using e-learning tools to ensure that WSU remains open and accessible. I'm also excited to learn from this presentation as it should add great value to what we are trying to accomplish with digital delivery at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Please join the discussion on Twitter at: #DLFTalk and click here to watch this free live event!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Google Contact Lens?

Google Glass
I'm sure you have all heard about Google Glass, but if not, Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD).

Google's intention is to produce a mass-market ubiquitous computer (advanced computing concept where computing is made to appear everywhere and anywhere) that displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format and wearers communicate with the Internet via voice commands.
The new Google lens?

But if you think Google Glass is cool, wait until you read about Google's newest patent application. Google has devised a way to shrink Google Glass into a single contact lens. The user will control its application with a series of unique blinking patterns. The Yahoo article mentions that the new lens could have significant application for the blind which is incredible, but as with most technology, applications will be discovered after production.

I also think that both of these products could be beneficial to career and technical education and to business and industry. For example, an automotive technician could search for help while repairing a vehicle, take notes, or take a picture and/or video and send it to ask for assistance. What are your thoughts on applications for CTE?
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