Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints

I wanted to share an article that I read this morning in Edreach written by Don Goble. In "10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints" the author contemplates some of the mistakes he made in puberty and how he, like me, is quite thankful that those events are not "Googleable."

However, this is not the same for our students and children so I thought this would be a great topic given all of the free time they will have during their Christmas break.

Click on the following link to discover "10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints" and I agree that "it behooves us as educators to help our students shape and build a positive legacy."

Monday, December 17, 2012

MOOCs are for Everyone!

University of Miami Global Academy
MOOCs (massive open online courses) are great resources for independent, lifelong learners. They are all about open, participatory, distributed, networked learning. Although they don’t necessarily lead to official certifications, in most instances, a MOOC can reach tens of thousands of students of all ages and they also have the potential to equalize education across social class and they have no geographical boundary.

To demonstrate the growth and the potential of MOOCs, in the Fall of 2011 Stanford University offered an artificial intelligence course that attracted more than 160,000 students.  This was followed by the launch of higher education courses on the Coursera platform which now includes 33 universities and serves more than 2.8 million Courserians.  Harvard also joined the MOOC movement by launching edX which offerts free online courses from Harvard, MIT, University of Texas, Wellesley, Georgetown, and University of California at Berkeley.

With the growth of higher education in MOOCs, I began to wonder if there would be any movement in K-12 or CTE and I wanted to let you know that the University of Miami Global Academy–an online high school sponsored by UM’s Division of Continuing and International Education, has launched what may be the first free MOOC for high school students–a three-week test prep class designed to get students ready for the Collage Board’s SAT Subject Test in Biology.

The 3-week course schedule will cover the following topics:
  1. Cellular and Molecular Biology
  2. Ecology and Genetics
  3. Organismal Biology and Evolution & Diversity
Each week students will prepare by reading chapters from the review book Barron's SAT Subject Test: Biology E/M, participate in 2 live teaching sessions, and review suggested online resources after each session.

If you are unable to attend one of the live sessions, don't worry! They will all be recorded and available to you on the website to allow you to catch up or review particular material.

The course is taught by UMGA lead science instructor Jennifer Taylor, an experienced online instructor. It runs live via Skype and a CMS, allowing students to ask real-time questions. Sessions are recorded and available for review as archived videos on the website. The MOOC uses Barron’s SAT Subject Test: Biology E/M as an optional text, but students are encouraged to read recommended chapters prior to the live sessions.

The plan is to offer the course once a semester. And if it works, UMGA promises that more high school MOOCs will follow.

I believe many high school students are going to take advantage of this free test prep and I look forward to seeing how MOOCs will affect other educational areas in the future!

Watch the following video by Dave Cormier to gain a better understanding about MOOCs or click HERE to watch the video.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Do You Have a Teenage Zombie in Your House?

Is this your teenager?
Why is it that teenagers think they need to stay up late at night? Why do they think something will happen in the world that they will miss out on if they go to sleep? Isn't that why we have TiVo, the internet and even newspapers that will inform you about every global event that happens while you sleep?

Although I'm the proud father of two teenagers, I frequently wonder why they stopped valuing sleep somewhere around their ninth-grade years? Why do they think they are all grow-up if they can stay up until a ridiculous time?

I have to admit that my eldest son suddenly realized somewhere around his senior year of high school that he felt so much better when he got a full night of sleep and that school even seemed easier so I still have hope for my youngest son. I am currently worried though, since my kids are spaced four years apart and I have experienced about four consecutive years of this teenage behavior, that I am at risk for zombification as well.

I have tried to educate my kids on how your brain grows while sleeping during your formative years and how a lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain and poor academic performance, but honestly... how well can you reason with a teenager? With that being said and if you know me very well, as my kids do, I won't give up easily and I'll find numerous "independent" sources to back up my claims concerning the benefits of sleep. Given this fact, my youngest son has a new reading assignment brought to him by Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day entitled The Best Resources for Helping Teens Learn About the Importance of Sleep. Hopefully, an independent third-party will have more influence on my kids than someone that says those things just because I'm "Dad."

Click Here to find 30+ resources for helping teenagers learn about the importance of sleep.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Impact of a Bilingual Home on Brain Development and Learning

I wanted to share a very interesting Edutopia article written by Judy Willis MD entitled "Neuroscience and the Bilingual Brain." Below is a brief summary and a link to the article:
A selective attentive focus and the ability to block out distraction are seminal executive functions that are minimally developed in youngsters. These functions gradually become stronger throughout the years of prefrontal cortex maturation, which last into the twenties. It is with regard to these executive functions that research about the "bilingual brain" is particularly exciting. A selective attentive focus and the ability to block out distraction are seminal executive functions that are minimally developed in youngsters. These functions gradually become stronger throughout the years of prefrontal cortex maturation, which last into the twenties. It is with regard to these executive functions that research about the "bilingual brain" is particularly exciting. Read More
I will agree that the research raises some important questions:
  1. The implications raise considerations of what other early exposures and in-school experiences can be designed to promote these executive function activations in all children?
  2. What other planned learning activities can be so engaging as to promote the activation and strengthening of young children's developing networks of attentive focus?
  3. Should second language instruction begin earlier in elementary school?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 Helpful Ideas for Testing

I thought I would share my thoughts on twelve testing issues in honor of 12/12/12 (and in honor of end-of-semester final exams):
  1. Create a successful testing environment
  2. Follow the recommended time for administering tests
  3. Establish rapport with examinees
  4. Limit test anxiety
  5. Provide test security and eliminate cheating
  6. Understanding the numbers I, II, III, IV
  7. Interpreting test scores
  8. Analyze individual tests scores across all levels - instructor, district, and state
  9. Provide positive reinforcement and build upon an examinee’s relative strengths
  10. Remediate an examinee’s relative weaknesses
  11. Implement improvements across all levels
  12. Read and learn “The Secret of Writing Multiple Choice Test Items”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

24 Questions That Test Your Mental Flexibility and Creativity

Here is a "fun" way to test your mental flexibility and creativity (not your intelligence or mathematical ability) that was published in the May/June 1981 issue of GAMES and called the Equation Analysis Test.

Now, onto the test and let's see how you fare (the answers are below and no peeking!)

The Answers

a. 26 = L. of the A. Letters of the Alphabet
b. 7 = W. of the A.W. Wonders of the Ancient World
c. 1,001 = A.N. Arabian Nights
d. 12 = S. of the Z. Signs of the zodiac
e. 54 = C. in a D. (with the J.) Cards in a deck (with the jokers)
f. 9 = P. in the S.S. Planets in the solar system*
g. 88 = P.K. Piano keys
h. 13 = S. on the A.F. Stripes on the American flag
i. 32 = D.F. at which W.F. Degrees Fahrenheit at which water freezes
j. 18 = H. on a G.C. Holes on a golf course
k. 90 = D. in a R.A. Degrees in a right angle
l. 200 = D. for P.G. in M. Dollars for passing “Go” in Monopoly
m. 8 = S. on a S.S. Sides on a stop sign
n. 3 = B.M. (S.H.T.R.!) Blind mice (See how they run!)
o. 4 = Q. in a G. Quarts in a gallon
p. 24 = H. in a D. Hours in a day
q. 1 = W. on a U. Wheel on a unicycle
r. 5 = D. in a Z.C. Digits in a ZIP code
s. 57 = H. V. Heinz varieties
t. 11 = P. on a F.T. Players on a football team
u. 1,000 = W. that a P. is W. Words that a picture is worth
v. 29 = D. in F. in a L.Y. Days in February in a leap year
w. 64 = S. on a C. Squares on a chessboard (or checkerboard)
x. 40 = D. and N. of the G.F. Days and nights of the Great Flood
*Note that today, question f would be recast as 8 = P. in the S.S. since Pluto is now officially considered a dwarf planet.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Free Gift: The Secret of Writing Multiple Choice Test Items

One of the things we have learned over the years at the CareerTech Testing Center is that Subject Matter Experts are definitely experts in their field, but many aren't aware of how to design an effective test question. Therefore, we created one of our most popular posts, "The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items." (This post led to the creation of the FREE GUIDE that you can can access below.

We believe that these "secrets" can help any instructor or test developer, at ANY level of instruction, develop more effective test instruments. We hope you take a look and remember... It's FREE!
(Download free copy from Yudu link below)

Click to launch the full edition in a new window
Digital Publishing with YUDU

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The 200 Best Apps for Special Education

Here is a great resource from Edudemic that states "if you are a special education teacher or are simply looking for an innovative way to reach a student... this is for you." I think it has a lot of useful apps and it narrows down the search when shopping through the app store.

Take a look at this Scribd document by Eric Sailers:
iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Apps for (Special) Education

Friday, December 7, 2012

Could Competency-Based Learning Save the Common Core?

Michael Horn
I read "Could Competency-Based Learning Save the Common Core?" written by Michael Horn (co-author of "Disrupting Class" and advocate of transforming education through digital learning) yesterday and I wanted to provide a brief summary and a few comments.

In the article Horn discusses how nervous educators are concerning Common Core assessments and whether states will stick with the Common Core state standards once the tests become available. He compares the U.S. educational system to Detroit's Big Three auto plants and how this represents America's factory-modeled public educational system against the way Toyota sets up their employee training. To briefly summarize, during "training at the Big Three plants, the time is fixed, but the result of training was variable and predictable. The "exam" came at the end of training. At Toyota, the training was variable, but the assessment was interdependently woven into content delivery and the result was fixed."

Horn believes the Toyota example illustrates how a competency-based educational learning system would work. More specifically, Horn states his thoughts concerning the development of assessments in a competency-based model (below are a few statements that I have selected):
"Of course, if there were instead systems of assessments in a competency-based learning system built for students to take an assessment on-demand when they were ready to demonstrate mastery on specific competencies, we would see a different picture develop with assessments that left no doubt that they were different. Perhaps there could be short assessments to verify basic objective mastery around a particular concept followed by rich capstone-like projects that could measure several competencies and be reviewed on an on-demand basis by an outside party, similar in some respects to how Western Governors University manages its assessments, for example (and yes, Western Governors’ assessments are designed by psychometricians).

The assessments could also presumably be more bite-sized and not interrupt learning in school for several days."...
...The learning objectives and assessments would be far more transparent to students and their parents, and they would understand why they had not passed a certain concept, as they could receive immediate feedback to inform what they would learn next—and understand the importance of true mastery. In many cases, students could move back down to an earlier concept from a previous “grade” that they might not have mastered if that made the most sense for them to move ahead ultimately and realize success, thereby avoiding the “Swiss Cheese” problem that is too prevalent in education today and that competency-based learning, such as that used in Toyota’s training, solves...
...Common Core creates a huge opportunity for innovation and personalization and the implementation of a competency-based learning system. It’s an opportunity we shouldn’t waste.

I hope you will read this article in it's entirety by clicking HERE as there is much more detail to his thoughts than what I am providing. Like I have said before, my problem with many summative assessments is that we do not address the remediation of individual weaknesses and the identification of strengths with each student (The transparency of objectives and results is also of great concern to me).

Career and technical education (CTE) has been long-time proponents of competency-based education which as I mentioned in a previous post leads to student engagement which is paramount to any student's success. CareerTech is frequently looked down upon by many educators outside of CTE, but I have always thought that our competency-based model of education should have been adopted by K-12 a long time ago. Furthermore, any of our assessments, even our summative assessments, uses skills standards that are broken down into a series of duties and tasks that provide remediation for students, instructors, school, and state-wide level (a much more transparent assessment system). I believe that CTE offers a competency-based educational model that should be reviewed by all educators and CTE needs to do a better job of sharing their educational story and take a leadership role in the competency-based educational discussion.

I hope you will read Horn's article and share your thoughts!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Study: Tech Classes Correlate with Better Achievement

I found a great article on eSchool News written by Laura Devaney that I wanted to share with you. I think it demonstrates how career and technical education (CTE) has evolved from the industrial era "vocational education" into a more robust training that integrates academic, employability, and technical skills that are in demand in today's marketplace. Please read the following excerpt:
High school students in Florida who took at least one technology course and industry certification exam had higher attendance rates and GPAs, on average, than students with similar backgrounds who did not take such a course, a new study finds (“Student Performance in Career and Technical Education,” conducted by Grunwald Associates with support from Adobe.)

Just what this means is unclear, but the researchers who conducted the study surmise that students who take technology classes preparing them with real-world skills might be more engaged in school.
I believe "engagement" is paramount to anyone's success and CTE truly answers the "WHY are we having to learn this?" question that so many students seem to have have. Certification is the other key component to this research study as it also demonstrates to the student why they are learning certain concepts, no matter how abstract, because they are now learning to meet industry standards in a career field that they have interest in. Certification bridges the gap between learning and the workplace and I believe this is why CTE engages students and I also believe that many people fail to understand this key component that exists in career and technical education.

Please click HERE to read the article (you will have to register to read all of it or you can click on the actual study shown above).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Do Certification Exams Give Business Benefit?

John Kleeman
 I saw an interesting post on Questionmark's blog by John Kleeman that I wanted to share with you:
Increasing numbers of technology vendors run certification programmes to help customers, employees and partners demonstrate competence in using or advising on the vendor’s technology. This is common in IT, in medical equipment, in the automotive industry and in many other high-tech industries.

Certification is an area where all stakeholders seem to be “winners”:
  • Vendors who set up certification programmes gain by being able to define the skill sets and knowledge that people deploying their technology need and encouraging stakeholders to develop the knowledge and skills and so deploy the technology more successfully for customers.
  • Participants benefit from certification as a way to learn and develop skills and demonstrate their competence, and it often helps in their career path.
  • Customers and users of the technology benefit from more effective deployment by being able to ensure the skills of experts deploying the technology and being more likely to get a successful implementation.
  • Employers of test-takers gain from their employees being more capable.
But how real is the benefit? How can you know if a well-designed and well-implemented certification programme will lead to improved performance?

There is some powerful evidence about this from an IDC study a few years back as reported on by Network World. This study looked at the benefit of certifications within IT network administration – surveying more than 1,000 IT managers. You can see some of the results in the chart below. For instance on average, unscheduled network downtime was about 20% lower at organizations with more certified IT staff.

This study related to one particular field of IT, but it seems likely that in any technical field, providing you follow good practice in developing your certification programme, similar results should apply. Therefore certification is likely to provide material business benefits.
I believe Kleeman's most important point is when he discusses the importance of certification on vendors, participants, customers, and employers. Measuring a construct is certainly complex, but what it boils down to is ensuring that the construct is being measuring in a valid way and then reporting/communicating that process to stakeholders (this is where the "value" of an assessment is added to all stakeholders).

The CareerTech Testing Center's competency assessments are used to help all stakeholders become "winners" and they have been providing value to students, instructors, and industry for over twenty-five years. Our assessments are used to evaluate student performance and the results reports communicate competency assessment scores to students and provide a breakdown of assessment results by duty area from within the skills standards. The results breakdown shows how well the student has mastered skills needed to perform major job functions and identifies areas of job responsibility that may require additional instruction and/or training.

Group analysis of student results also provides feedback to instructors seeking to improve the effectiveness of career and technology training. Performance patterns in individual duties indicate opportunities to evaluate training methods and customize instruction.

Please contact us at 800-522-5810 ext. 403 to find out more about our assessments and services.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers

I just watched an interesting TED video concerning Conrad Wolfram's thoughts on mathematics education (Wolfram runs the worldwide arm of Wolfram Research, the mathematical lab behind the cutting-edge knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha).

I believe his thoughts are especially important to career and technical education (CTE) as he poses the question, "What is math?" Wolfram believes there is a four-part answer to this question:
  1. Posing the right question
  2. Real world math formulation
  3. Computation
  4. Math formulation real world, verification
Wolfram believes the third step should be done, in most instances, by computer, but we spend 80% of math education on this third step when computers can do it better and with fewer errors. His reasoning is that we should stop teaching calculating and start teaching math and education should focus more on the other three steps. He continues to state that math is greater than just calculating and calculating is simply the machinery of math. As you noticed, "real world" application is important to his definition and that is what CTE does so well with math education.

Please watch the video below or by clicking HERE and listen to Wolfram's thoughts on why math has never been more important in human history and why we must change the way we educate our students.

For what its worth, I agree with what he is saying in many instances, but a part of me still believes you must know the theory behind the computation or am I still missing something?

Please read our previous post on Wolfram Alpha: Wolfram Alpha - A Computational Knowledge Engine

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Strategic Technology Trends for Education

I was reading the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013 by Gartner, Inc. this morning and found some interesting predictions for the next year that I wanted to share with you. I also want to mention that I realize that governmental and educational entities will seldom be on the cutting edge of these predictions, but the list does give us hope for where we might be headed and for how we might start planning for the future.

The top ten strategic trends for 2013 include:
  • Mobile Device Battles
  • Mobile Applications and HTML5
  • Personal Cloud
  • Enterprise App Stores
  • The Internet of Things
  • Hybrid IT and Cloud Computing
  • Strategic Big Data
  • Actionable Analytics
  • In Memory Computing
  • Integrated Ecosystems
The trends clearly show a change in the role and function of your IT department as the shift toward cloud computing continues and as our uses become more personalized. Gartner predicts that "mobile phones will overtake PC's by 2013 as the most common Web access device worldwide" and the internet is truly becoming the "Internet of Things" as cellular technology is being embedded into many new types of devices.

I hope you will read the "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013" by clicking HERE and please share your thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Who is Teaching Your Children? Teachers Hire Test-Takers to Take Their Certification Exams

Teaching has always been a time-honored and respected profession as a Gallup poll shows high school teachers rank as the fourth highest profession in regards to honesty and ethical standards.

Is this ranking in jeopardy given the cheating scandals in Atlanta and Houston and today's disturbing Associated Press article written by Adrian Sainz, entitled "Feds: Teachers Embroiled in Test-Taking Fraud?"

This fifteen year-long conspiracy involved aspiring public school teachers in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas who hired a proxy to cheat on the tests they must pass to prove they are qualified to lead their classrooms.

Although this has happened a few other times on teacher certification tests, most cheating involves students cheating on tests and those stories seem to be more and more common as time goes by.

Do people not think that cheating is wrong anymore?

Please read the article in its entirety by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is Creativity Innate or Can it be Learned?

Adobe recently released a study, Creativity and Education: Why It Matters. Here are some interesting statistics from this survey of 1,000+ Americans ages 25+ who are college-educated and full-time (salaried) employees:
57% of survey respondents believe creativity is a learned skill that can be learned in their career
65% believe creativity is a personality trait that is innate
78% believe creativity is important to their current career
85% believe creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career
88% believe creativity should be built into education curriculum
72% think they were more focused on subject matter than creative thinking in school
94% agreed with the statement "It is important for educators to encourage creative thinking in their students
Here are some additional statistics that are cause for concern:
80% of education majors (vs. 54% of engineering majors) believe creativity is an innate skill (a skill you are born with)
47% felt there is enough opportunity in school for students to demonstrate creativity
41% felt academic test scores are the best indicators for success in school and beyond
32% do not feel comforable thinking creatively at work
Why the disconnect with educators? Shouldn't every educator stress creativity within the classroom? Are educators worried that creativity cannot be objectively measured?

I agree that it is difficult to define creativity, but we can add more creativity into our instructional design. We must also recognize the importance of originality because creativity is what makes the world a better place. In other words, creativity improves the existing outcome in everything that we do.

Ask yourself if you are part of the 32% who do not feel comfortable thinking creatively at work and why? It's ok if you feel this way, but we need to get out of our comfort zone and focus on creativity in the classroom because 85% of us agree that creativity is important for success in our chosen occupation.

Also read:
The Phenomenons Called Curiosity and Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

There Are No Traffic Jams on the Extra Mile

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Free Online Libraries

I wanted to share "20+ Free Online Libraries" from the Getting Smart site. As the post states:
"It’s a shame more people are not aware of the wide array of free online libraries. Databases, books, videos, audio recordings and e-books are available, just waiting to be viewed and used. This guide will help avid readers, serious researchers and casual surfers alike get the most out of free web libraries."
There are a lot of great links to free online libraries that can benefit you and your students. The sites range from the Internet Archive to the Library of Congress to kobo and Bartleby. I think you will at least find a few sites that will be new and useful to you. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recognizing Academic Achievement in Career/Technical Education

SREB (Southern Regional Education Board) just released "Recognizing Academic Achievment in Career/Technical Education: Conditions for Awarding Academic Credit for Career/Technical Courses" which details the merits and challenges involved in awarding academic credit to caree/technical courses that embrace rigorous college and career-readiness standards equivalent to those found in traditional academic courses.

As SREB states in their summary:
Putting in place the right set of policies for awarding academic credit for CT courses is one way to recognize CT programs with signature features that truly advance students’ technical, academic and cognitive skills development. It is our hope that this report will assist states in their continuing efforts to develop rigorous optional pathways designed around authentic learning experiences that will result in more students graduating from high school and graduating both college and career-ready.
I hope you will take the time to read this publication and share your thoughts.

How to Get Started and Effectively Use Twitter

I still find that many educators are reluctant to use Twitter and they really don't see a need for it, but Edudemic has written a guide that should help anyone understand the many uses of Twitter entitled "100 Simple Ways to Effectively Use Twitter."

This article provides great information on how to get started on Twitter, how to conduct searches, get organized, build authority, and, most importantly, how to get value out of your Twitter experience.

Once you get started on Twitter, I hope you will follow us and please remember that the list on Edudemic is a great starting point, but you should modify your Twitter experience to meet your own needs. I think you will find that you enjoy your Twitter experience more than you ever thought you would!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Week in Review: The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good morning from the CareerTech Testing Center's world headquarters in Stillwater, Oklahoma!

The temperature outside has finally started to cool off and it feels like fall is officially here. This of course means much more football to watch and lots of great food in the next few weeks. I'll admit I'm not the greatest fan of turkey, but bring on the desserts!

I haven't been posting much lately for one reason or another, but I wanted to say thank you to all of you who are searching for and continuing to read the information that we provide. I have quite a few posts lined up for you in the next few weeks so get ready! 

I wanted to share the most popular posts of the week:
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today’s Employees Require Continuous Development

Did you know that the skills you acquire during college have an expected life of only five years?

Did you know that it isn’t only white-collar workers that face a major issue with skills obsolescence?

Technology and certification requirements have affected all of our jobs and it’s an ongoing challenge for employers and employees to remain relevant in the world economy.

All employees must constantly enhance their skills if they are to stay relevant and marketable in today’s workforce. Many employers provide professional development, but 28% of the most promising positions will require “considerable to extensive preparation.” To be honest, most employers will not offer training at this level so I believe “the future belongs to those who take charge of their own learning.”

Career and technical education is a key component in the training and re-training of America's workforce that, all too often, doesn't get the credit that it deserves. CareerTech provides nationally recognized competency-based curriculum, education, and training for a myriad of specialized and customized courses and training opportunities.

Just like I was asked last week, "Isn't CareerTech just for high school students?".... No, it's for high school students, adults of any age, law offenders, and business and industry.

I'm also frequently asked, "Isn't CareerTech just the traditional trade areas?".... No, we instruct students in not only trade and industrial programs, but business, marketing and information technology, health, family and consumer science, agriculture, and science, technology, engineering and math. To be honest, this list is only the major headings for the hundreds of programs that we offer from pre-engineering, culinary arts, 3D modeling and animation, drafting, aviation mechanics, etc. This doesn't even begin to encompass the various customized trainings that we do for business and industry.

CareerTech is a dynamic educational entity that has evolved over time, but they remain consistent in how they utilize business and industy's needs to drive their educational programs. These ties to industry are how CareerTech can best meet the needs of both employers and employees as the seek the training needed to be relevant in today's economy.

I believe career and technical education will continue to grow in significance and become a major force in the revitalization of America's workforce. It's truly a great way to make yourself or your company relevant in an ever-changing world economy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best of the Web: A Free Resource Featuring Websites and Activities for the Classroom

I wanted to let you know about a pretty amazing free resource from the staff of the Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center (CIMC)!

This popular resource for teachers and students entitled Best of the Web is in its 7th edition and features websites and activities for using the internet in the classroom, divided by career cluster area. They distribute this resource as a free pdf and in print form for free at exhibits of their curriculum, but it can also be purchased in packages of 10 (Call Curriculum Customer Service at 800-654-4502 and ask for the Best of the Web booklet or “item TA921").

The resources are categorized into the following areas:
  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
  • Architecture and Construction
  • Arts, A/V Technology and Communications
  • Business, Management and Administration
  • Education and Training
  • Finance
  • Government and Public Administration
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing, Sales and Service
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
  • Core Topics
  • Sample Activities Using the Internet
    • Try these activities!
    • Is that really true?
    • Wikis: Fact or Fiction
In case you aren't familair with CIMC, they are a division of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. The CIMC has existed since 1967 to produce competency-based instructional materials for career and technical (formerly vocational) education. They are a state education agency which also produces, prints, and distributes curriculum materials across Oklahoma and throughout the United States. The CIMC is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Who uses CIMC products?
High school programs, area technology centers, junior and community colleges, proprietary schools, and government agencies are users of CIMC products. Business and industry customers are also learning of the training and cost advantages of using CIMC instructional systems. Several industry groups and trade associations have participated in the development of our products and services.
You can reach CIMC online, by phone, or by fax:
• 800.654.4502
• 405.743.5154 (fax)

The 2013 version is in the planning stages and will includes lots of apps and I'll let you know as soon as it's available!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The 2012 Top 100 Tools for Learning

The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies have published their top learning tools for 2012 as voted on by 582 learning professionals worldwide (a learning tool is "a tool to create or deliver learning content/solutions for others, or a tool for your own personal or professional learning").

Check out the list below via Slideshare or by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Assessment Types and their Uses: Formative

Julie Delazyn
Here is a the second in a series of posts from the Questionmark Blog written by Julie Delazyn, Public Relations/Marketing for Questionmark that I wanted to share with you:
Assessments have many different purposes, and to use them effectively it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process.

Last week I wrote about diagnostic assessments, and today I’ll explore formative assessments.

Typical uses:
  • Strengthening memory recall and correcting misconceptions
  • Promoting confidence in one’s knowledge
  • Enhancing learning by directing attention to and creating intrigue about a given subject
  • Measuring learners’ knowledge or skills and telling them how they’re doing
  • Giving learners search and retrieval practice and prescriptive feedback
  • Quizzes
  • Practice tests and exams
  • Self-assessments
Stakes: low

Example: An instructor gives a quiz to help reassure students that they’re actually learning — or alert them that they are not learning and provide feedback to correct any misconceptions. Students can use this feedback as a study guide to understand where they’re going right and where they’re going wrong. Students also benefit from the search and retrieval practice they’ve had while taking the quiz – which can help them remember the material in the future. Formative assessments give instructors a way to ask students: “Did you get that?” Sometimes, a series of quizzes is used to collect data that contribute to overall grades – but generally, formative assessments serve as check-ups on learners’ understanding and guideposts for further progress.

For a fuller analysis of assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and assessment terms is our glossary.

In the coming weeks I’ll take a look at three remaining assessment types:
  • Needs
  • Reaction
  • Summative

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Does Your Student Have a Workspace for Homework?

I found an interesting article on Mashable written by Beth Blecherman that I wanted to share with you.

In "How to Set Up the Best Workspace for Homework" the author states:
With the right environment, kids can more easily transition from the fun of summer to the rigors of school and put their technology to work. Here are the five main components of setting up a home technology workspace for students of any age.
  1. Tablets, Laptops, and Desktops
  2. Ergonomics
  3. Wi-Fi and Parental Controls
  4. Tech Accessories and Peripherals
  5. Storage
Please follow this LINK to read the article in it's entirety and learn more about the five components of setting up a home technology workplace for students.

I also wanted to add that my kids would add an additional component entitled "6.  Food and Beverage." So here are few links to help you find healthy options for enhancing your student's learning:
What Foods to Eat While Studying
10 Healthy (& Yummy) Study Snacks
What Do Healthy Snacks Do to Your Learning?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Assessment Types and their Uses: Diagnostic

Here is a recent post from the Questionmark Blog written by Julie Delazyn, Public Relations/Marketing for Questionmark that I wanted to share with you:
Assessments have many different purposes, and to use them effectively it’s important to understand their context and uses within the learning process. I’ll explore each of these five key assessment types over the next few weeks:
  • Diagnostic
  • Formative
  • Needs
  • Reaction
  • Summative
Let’s start with diagnostic assessments.

Typical uses:
  • Identifying the needs and prior knowledge of participants for the purpose of directing them to the most appropriate learning experience
  • Determining knowledge and identifying skills gaps and needs
  • Placing learners in appropriate courses and tailor instruction to their needs
  • Providing instructors and mentors information on a student’s abilities
  • Giving feedback to participants and providing recommendations for products, services and/or learning activities
  • Setting benchmarks for comparison with post-course tests
  • Analyzing personality traits in order to predict behaviors
  • Creating intrigue about the content of a learning activity, which can in turn actually enhance the learning experience
  • Pre-tests
  • Placement tests
  • Self-diagnostic tools
  • Personality assessments
  • Stakes: low/medium
Example: A diagnostic assessment might report that a learner has mastered every competency in using Microsoft Word but can only perform 50 percent of those required to use Excel. The results of the assessment would prescribe a course on Excel. In addition, a diagnostic assessment can help place students within suitable learning experiences by asking questions such as, “Do you prefer instructor-led training or online training?”
For a fuller analysis of assessments and their uses check out the white paper, Assessments Through the Learning Process. You can download it free here, after login. Another good source for testing and assessment terms is our glossary.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

10 Apps for Student Safety

I read an interesting article on Edudemic today entitled 50 Apps Students Will Be Using In Your Classroom.

With the beginning of school and all of the news about bullying and student safety, I wanted to highlight one section of the article that deals with ten apps for student safety. Please read the following from Edudemic:

1. iHollaback:
This crowdsourced safety app maps out instances of harassment and discriminatory behaviors, including verbal and physical assault, and allows students to visualize the most dangerous sections of their cities and campuses.

2. StreetSafe:
If the $19.99 per month subscription plan is feasible, StreetSafe provides two services protecting the lives of users. One involves a silent alarm that dials 911 in an emergency, while the other connects anyone scared of their surroundings with an individual trained to advise them calmly and alert the proper authorities in case of anything compromising.

3. Flashlight, Brightest Flashlight Free, and Flashlight Free:
Turn that smartphone into peace of mind when walking in unfamiliar territory with these fabulous digital flashlights.

4. Silent Bodyguard:
Available for the iPhone and Blackberry, Silent Blackberry uses GPS tracking to discreetly send emergency messages to trusted contacts in the event something ugly goes down.

5. SaferBus:
Students who must take public transportation take advantage of this iPhone app to learn which buses meet or fail the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s standards and report any violations they encounter.

6. First Aid by American Red Cross:
This free download for iPhone and Android users teaches basic first aid techniques anytime, anywhere and definitely stands as a worthwhile bandwidth investment.

7. Circle of 6:
Pick six trusted individuals and keep tabs on one another’s whereabouts and actions in order to lower the risk of victimization. iPhone only.

8. Emergency Rescue Alarm:
For use on the Android, the Emergency Rescue Alarm provides three very loud, very common signals to alert the proper authorities on a disaster or crime’s whereabouts.

9. Marine Martial Arts MCRP 3-02B and Marine Martial Arts:
While you probably won’t walk away from these apps ready to teach Predators a thing or two, they do offer up some great self-defense training tips.

10. ICE: In Case of Emergency:
In the event of a scenario where you go unresponsive, the ICE app makes first responders’ jobs faster and easier by providing them with medical information, emergency contacts, and other valuable, potentially life-saving bits of data.

Please read the article in it's entirety by clicking HERE and you'll also find more great apps on Productivity and Organization, Reading and Writing, Reference, and STEM.

Friday, August 10, 2012

EdTech Cheat Sheet - Understanding New Trends in Educational Technology

Are you overwhelmed by educational technology and all of the new terminology? Are you familiar with MOOC, OER, asynchronous learning, or blended learning? Then take a look at the infographic below created by Boundless as they provide a little clarity on many of the current educational technology issues.

I also hope you will join my PLN (Personal Learning Network) by following this blog or by joining me on Facebook and TwitterIsn't "sharing" what education is all about?
EdTech Cheat Sheet Infographic
You can also click HERE to view the infographic on the Boundless Blog.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

35 Sources for Curated Educational Videos

I found a great resource written by Carri Schneider (Getting Smart, July 3, 2012) that I wanted to share with you.

As the author states:
While many teachers begin by creating their own content and videos, most start by sifting through free online sources. The amount of available information out there is staggering.

YouTube users across the globe upload 48 hours of content every minute. And a google search for “science video” yields over 4 billion results!

Fortunately, there are some great websites and services that take the guesswork out of finding and sorting educational video content.
Here are a few of the curated video sites that Schneider highlighted:
  • The Futures Channel: Based on the goal of using new media technologies to create a channel between scientists, enginners, explorers, visionaries and learners, The Future Channel partners with schools to provide these high-quality digital learning resources.
  • EduTube: Launched in 2008, EduTube focuses on popular and high quality educational videos that are sorted by EduTube index – a measure of quality, popularity and educational value.
  • Edutopia Video: Edutopia’s large video library is sortable by topic and by grade level.
Please click HERE to find additional resources educational videos and read "35 Sources for Curated Educational Videos" in it's entirety.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Complete Parent’s List of Education Hashtags on Twitter

CareerTechTest on Twitter
I wanted to share a great list of educational hashtags for Twitter provided by OnlineCollege.org. Also, don't be fooled by the title because these are great hashtags to follow for any educator. Some of the ones on the list that I currently follow are: #edchat #lrnchat #edu #mlearning and #edutech. Some additional hashtags that I follow that pertain to career and technical education are: #CareerTechEd and #acte.

Take a look at the additional resources provided by OnlineCollege.org by clicking HERE.

Also, don't forget to follow the CareerTech Testing Center on Twitter. We tweet about alot of things that you won't find on the blog that we still find interesting concerning testing and educational technology.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Computer Viruses and Threats Explained By Common Craft

Common Craft has recently released a great video entitled "Computer Viruses and Threats Explained." The three minute video explains how computer viruses, worms and trojans work and what you can do to protect yourself.

According to Common Craft's site:
This video explains computer viruses by comparing them to human viruses and focuses on the role of prevention in being protected. Major points include:
  • A basic look at computer viruses as computer programs that can spread like a disease and can be prevented by anti-virus software.
  • An introduction to worms, how they cause damage in networks and can be prevented by software updates.
  • An introduction to trojans, how they trick people into downloading a virus and how awareness is important for prevention.
You can watch the new video on the Common Craft website.

Related videos that you should also check out are Secure Websites in Plain English and Protecting Reputations Online.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

There Are No Traffic Jams on the Extra Mile

So what type of people do you admire the most?
Those people who seem to have success without really working for it or those who work their tail off to even have a modicum of success? For me, the latter group is a no brainer as I will always side with the Rocky Balboa’s and the Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger’s of the world. My respect is most earned by the road you travel to arrive at your destination (goal) and not so much by those who “inherit” their position by one means or another.

Another trait that I admire in individuals is when they focus on their dreams and they let nothing deter their efforts to achieve their goals. We have all heard the story of how Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team as a freshman and I recently heard the story of how Russell Westbrook, the All-Star point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was lightly recruited out of high school and more than one college recruiter suggested that he should run track instead of playing basketball. They obviously worked through any self-doubts and went back to chasing their dreams. I also believe, besides a lot of natural talent, they simply out-worked everyone along the way. The extra mile is quite often a lonely road, but they were willing to do everything within their power to achieve success.

I’ll ask you the same questions that I ask myself when I question my own personal effort and productivity:
  • Are you willing to go the extra mile when meeting the needs of your customers, students, etc.?
  • How competitive are you? Can you be competitive each and every day to provide to your customers? Everyone is pretty good, but what do you need to do to be “great” at what I do?
  • Do you have the creativity and freedom to be different in your job? What makes you unique and special and can you think of strategic ways to maximize your abilities? Have you done anything recently that pushes the boundaries of your job description?
  • Do you have the hunger and burning desire to win and succeed while developing relationships with your stakeholders (customers/students)?
Are you willing to go the extra mile?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Can Amazing Things Happen When Farmers Meet Rap? Watch "I'm Farming and I Grow It"

I believe the three Peterson brothers from Kansas, Greg, Nathan, and Kendal, are the newest viral sensations on YouTube. They recently took LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” rewrote the lyrics and created a fun and entertaining music video to showcase their farming lifestyle. I mean the video has it all...cows, tractors, combines, hay bales and steaks!

They have over 2.8 million hits on YouTube and 8,000 likes on Facebook in only one week. Their Facebook page also documents their trip to New York City this week as they discuss their parody on Fox & Friends. They have even received kudos from Kansas Senator Pat Roberts as reported in the Salina Journal.

As Nathan says in the clip, "We really want agriculture to be promoted. Without agriculture, none of us would have food or clothes."

Please watch "I'm Farming and I Grow It" below or by clicking HERE:

MAVCC's Orientation to Graphic Communications is Available for Purchase!!

We are happy to announce that MAVCC's Orientation to Graphic Communications, Second Edition is available for purchase!!

Orientation to Graphic Communications introduces students to job opportunities in the printing industry and the basic concepts and skills necessary to be employed in an entry-level graphic communications occupation.

Orientation to Graphic Communications is available as a Teacher Edition and as a Student Edition. The Teacher Edition includes a Teacher CD and one Student Edition. The Student Edition consists of a Student CD and a spiral-bound Student Guide.

The Teacher CD contains customizable Word files for the learning activities sheets, written tests, and unit reviews, as well as PowerPoint presentations for each unit. Test banks are also available for each written test and unit review. These RTF files can be used in testing software, such as ExamView.

The Student Edition consists of a spiral-bound Student Guide that contains the unit objectives, information sheets and student supplements, and a Student CD that contains interactive assignment sheets and job sheets. Please note that you will receive a discount, if you order six or more Student Editions.

These competency-based materials are structured so that instructors and students have a clear understanding of what will be covered and how students will be evaluated as they move through each unit of instruction. The contents of Orientation to Graphic Communications are tied to measurable and observable learning outcomes that align with the latest PrintED competencies.

To download a sample unit from this book, the Instructional/Task Analysis, PrintED Crosswalk, and Basic Skills Matrix, visit http://www.mavcc.com/resources.htm.

For more information about this publication or to place an order, visit the MAVCC online catalog, or contact their customer service department at 1.800.654.3988, or e-mail Cheryl Dorris at cdorr@okcareertech.org.
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