Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013: The Year of Educational Data and Learning Analytics?

According to the 2012 Horizon Report, "learning analytics" refers to:
the interpretation of a wide range of data produced by and gathered on behalf of students in order to assess academic progress, predict future performance, and spot potential issues.
Data are collected from explicit student actions, such as completing assignments and taking exams, and from tacit actions, including online social interactions, extracurricular activities, posts on discussion forums, and other activities that are not directly assessed as part of the student’s educational progress.
The goal of learning analytics is to enable teachers and schools to tailor educational opportunities to each student’s level of need and ability. Learning analytics promises to harness the power of advances in data mining, interpretation, and modeling to improve understandings of teaching and learning, and to tailor education to individual students more effectively. Still in its early stages, learning analytics responds to calls for accountability on campuses and leverages the vast amount of data produced by students in academic activities.
So basically, what counts as "Education Data? What about the political aspects of the data and the business of the data and learning analytics? Who really owns the data?

Audrey Watters tries to answer those questions in the Hack Education post entitled, "Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012: Education Data and Learning Analytics." Again, we aren't endorsing Watter's opinions, but we hope her post will spark a discussion as there are a lot of decisions to be made concerning educational data and it's predictive benefit and value.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SREB's Worthy of Note: A Great Resource for Educational Technology and Digital Learning

Worthy of Note
SREB's Educational Technology Cooperative started a great resource a few years ago (and archived since June of 2012) and I have been sharing it with friends and colleagues ever since. I have also posted several of the individual resources with you since its origin, but I have decided that I've been selfish and I should share this wonderful resource with you.

So exactly what is "Worthy of Note?"
Worthy of Note brings to your inbox a free monthly digest of notable news on education technology, digital learning, webinars and other timely topics. June Weis, a consultant for SREB, prepares the bi-monthly eNewsletter and it is chocked full of timely and relevant information.
Subscribe via one of these two lists:
eINFO e-mail list, for information on technical, instructional, and management topics as well as upcoming webinars of interest and Worthy of Note enews. Subscribe to eINFO>
Online Teachers e-mail list, for information and "cool tools" for effective use of technology in teaching and learning, plus notice of upcoming webinars and online professional development for K-12 and postsecondary educators and Worthy of Note enews. Subscribe to Online Teachers>
I hope you will subscribe to this resource as June really does a great job of researching information to share with you and I'm still holding out hope that she will share some of her "research tips" with us in the future.

Please read the following posts for additional resources from SREB:
SREB ShortTakes: Online Teachers Share Web 2.0 Strategies
Recognizing Academic Achievement in Career/Technical Education
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute
The People We Meet
New Study Reveals Professors Use Social Media
5 Ways We're Diminishing Learning by Assuming Face-to-Face Instruction Is Best

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Surviving and Thriving: Preparing High School Students for Adulthood

Surviving and Thriving by CIMC
I want to share a new curriculum product from CIMC:

Surviving and Thriving prepares high school students for adulthood by giving them the skills and knowledge they need to transition into college, other job training, or a career.

The full-color student edition includes “Knowledge Check,” “Career Spotlight,” and “Living Green” features in each unit. The teacher edition is done in a wrap-around format with plenty of suggested activities, including FCCLA integration.

A teacher resource CD, purchased separately, includes Powerpoints, all consumable pages, written tests in Word and RTF format, vocabulary crossword puzzles, and writing assignment prompts.

Units include:
  • Communication Skills
  • Understanding Self
  • Making Decisions
  • Leisure Activities
  • Etiquette
  • Personal Safety
  • Understanding Grief and Loss of Life
  • Choosing Food for Good Health
  • Preparing Food
CIMC is offering unit 3, "Making Decisions," as a free sample to download:
Making Decisions sample - student
Making Decisions sample - teacher
Contact the Customer Service Division online or at 800.654.4502 to place your order!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Project Gutenberg: Offering Over 42,000 Free E-Books

The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln
by Francis Fisher Browne
I wanted to share a free site with you that has been around since 1971. According to the site:
Project Gutenberg offers over 42,000 free ebooks (no fee or registration is required): choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. All of the ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers and were digitized and diligently proofread with the help of thousands of Project Gutenberg volunteers.

The ebooks are free in the United States because their copyright has expired, however they may not be free of copyright in other countries. Readers outside of the United States must check the copyright laws of their respective countries before downloading or redistributing the ebooks. Project Gutenberg also has a number of copyrighted titles, for which the copyright holder has given permission for unlimited non-commercial worldwide use.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leap Motion: Changing the Way We Interact with Computers?

I wanted to share a new gesture-controlled system that I read about called Leap Motion.

I believe the creators have designed something that could change our interaction with computers on many educational and occupational levels. Here are a few statements from their website:
  • For the first time, you can control your computer in three dimensions using just your hand and finger movements and Leap Motion enabled software.
  • The possibilities are endless, really. Art. Healthcare. Engineering. Gaming.
  • Set down that stylus. The Leap Motion controller lets you create onscreen artwork, including 3D images, without any other devices.
  • Interacting with 3D modeling software has never been easier or more intuitive.
  • Whether you're on a Mac or PC, now you can click, grab, scroll and pinch, using only your hands.
  • Sign on the dotted line without ink or paper. Just point your pen and sign your name in the air.
  • Gaming addiction? With the Leap Motion controller, now you can crush the enemy with your bare hands.
  • Surgeons, leave your gloves on. The Leap Motion controller lets you control 3D medical data onscreen with a wave of your hand.
  • The Leap Motion works on Windows Vista/7/8 and Mac OS X, with Linux being on the agenda.
I also believe that Leap Motion can have a significant impact on any student or individual that needs assistance with the development of fine motor skills.

Please watch the video below to find out more about Leap Motion or click HERE:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Testing Integrity: Issues and Recommendations for Best Practices

Recent news reports of widespread or suspected cheating on standardized tests in several school districts around the country have been taken by some as evidence that we must reduce reliance on testing to measure student growth and achievement. Others have gone even farther, claiming that cheating is an inevitable consequence of “high-stakes testing” and that we should abandon testing altogether. To be sure, there are lessons to be learned from these jarring incidents, but the existence of cheating says nothing about the merits of testing. Instead, cheating reflects a willingness to lie at children’s expense to avoid accountability—an approach I reject entirely.

– U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, The Washington Post, July 19, 2011
  The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has just released a report entitled, "Testing Integrity: Issues and Recommendations for Best Practice."

This report is part of a broader effort by the U.S. Department of Education to identify and disseminate practices and policies to assist efforts to improve the validity and reliability of assessment results. The report draws upon the opinions of experts and practitioners who responded to the Department’s Request for Information (RFI), the comments and discussions from NCES’ Testing Integrity Symposium, and, where available, policy manuals or professional standards published by State Education Agencies (SEAs) and professional associations.

The report focuses on four areas related to testing integrity:
  1. The prevention of irregularities in academic testing;
  2. The detection and analysis of testing irregularities;
  3. The response to an investigation of alleged and/or actual misconduct;
  4. Testing integrity practices for technology-based assessments.
The report is available:

The National Center for Education Statistics is part of the Institute of Education Sciences, within the U.S. Department of Education.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Typetester: A Great Tool for Comparing Fonts

I just finished a conference call with a website designer and found out about a great comparative tool called Typetester.

What is Typetester?
The Typetester is an online application for side-by-side comparison of fonts for the screen. You can select three fonts at a time for comparison (in standard, bold, italics, all caps, etc.)
I believe Typetester can be a valuable time-saver, especially if you do a lot of web-based publishing or design.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Providing Effective Assessment Feedback

John Kleeman
I want to thank John Kleeman, the founder of Questionmark, for reminding us of the importance of assessment feedback and its importance in learning. His blog post below links to several reports that support his thoughts and I agree with their findings, but I would like to add a few thoughts of my own before you read the post in its entirety.

First, I hope that any learner will want to improve their score by use of feedback, but I'm not always sure that every learner will accomplish this on their own (for many reasons). As John points out:
"You must get the learner to evaluate the feedback and adjust their thinking as a result of the feedback, i.e. process the feedback and do something with it."
It can be a difficult thing to get an individual to change their thought process, even with feedback that demonstrates the obvious, so I believe that it's important for anyone that administers a test, whenever possible, to understand and consider all factors that affect an individual's test score (environmental, socio-economic, education, training, etc.) and to keep these factors in mind when interpreting results and developing effective remediation plans.

I also think it's important to note feedback is needed for more than just the student and that tests scores should be aggregated for group analysis as they provide feedback to instructors seeking to improve the effectiveness of their curriculum and instructional methods. Depending upon your organization, the aggregated results can also be used for overall program (organizational/statewide) improvement. I really wish that more people would understand that a test is a very effective educational tool that reinforces learning at all levels.

Here is John's post and some of it is Questionmark software specific, but it provides another great reference point on the use of tests for learning:
Effective Assessment Feedback Needs Motive, Opportunity and Means

Assessment feedback, whether it relates to a question, a topic or an entire assessment, has tremendous value – but only if learners make practical use of it! I’d like to share some solid approaches about feedback and talk about how a couple of Questionmark reports can help you put them into practice.
From Andrew Morgan (quoted in Valerie Shute’s excellent ETS research report on feedback), we get the concept that to be effective and useful, feedback needs the following:
  • Motive – the learner wants to follow the feedback
  • Opportunity – the learner has it in time to use it: it’s not given too late for action
  • Means – the learner is able to use it: the feedback is actionable
Another good way to think about feedback comes from Dr Steve Draper of the University of Glasgow School of Psychology in his presentation at eAssessment Scotland in 2012:

“There is no point in giving feedback to a learner unless the learner acts on it: does something concrete and differently because of it”.

Feedback that the learner doesn’t read isn’t valuable.

Feedback that the learner reads but doesn’t process isn’t valuable.

You must get the learner to evaluate the feedback and adjust their thinking as a result of the feedback, i.e. process the feedback and do something with it.

I’ve been wondering about how you can apply these concepts using the Questionmark coaching report when presenting an assessment score as feedback.

Most learners are motivated to use their score achieved in a test as feedback; they want to get a higher score next time. And if they can take a test again, they have the opportunity to use the feedback. But a score on its own is just a number. How can you help learners use their scores as catalysts for action?

Clearly, a score is more valuable if it can be compared to something, and there are three obvious comparisons:
  • Ipsative, comparing score to previous attempts: have you done better than last time?
  • Criterion referenced, comparing score to a benchmark: have you reached the desired standard
  • Normative, comparing score to how others do: how do you compare to your peers?Questionmark’s Transcript report lets learners view all their results and see how they improve or change over time.
Questionmark’s Transcript report lets learners view all their results and see how they improve or change over time. And Questionmark’s Coaching report includes the concept of benchmarks – you can set a benchmark for the assessment and for each topic. What you may not know is that the Coaching report allows you to compare a score against the average of a group of other test-takers. You can define the group of people by a variety of demographics and then display how the participant compares against their scores.

Giving learners information about how they compare to others can be a powerful motivator; I encourage you to explore this capability of the Questionmark Coaching report.
For more on general concepts of processing feedback, see Steve Draper’s interesting page here. Questionmark users can see more information on the Coaching report comparison options on the Questionmark support site. And if you want to hear more from me about assessment feedback, I’ll be speaking about it at the Questionmark user conference in March.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Compare your Country with Countries from Around the World

I found an interesting and fun site last night that I wanted to share with you. 

Comparison of Haiti vs. Oklahoma (United States) allows you to compare your country of residence with countries from around the world. As the site states:
The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person? is your gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use our country comparison tool to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. Start by selecting a region to compare on the map to the right, and begin your exploration.

You can also use our visualization tool to help understand the impact of a disaster. The Pakistan Flood and BP Oil Spill are currently featured. Check out the individual pages to gain some perspective on these awful tragedies.
Besides just being fun and interesting, there are some educational benefit to the site as well. Take a look and share your thoughts with us on

Monday, February 11, 2013

SREB ShortTakes: Online Teachers Share Web 2.0 Strategies

SREB ShortTakes

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has developed "ShortTakes" which showcases online teaching.

SREB ShortTakes are five-minute (or shorter) Web 2.0 demonstration recordings of online techniques that made a difference in teaching and learning (Each demonstration was recorded and contributed by an online teacher).

You'll find a variety of Web 2.0 topics such as:
  • GoAnimate
  • Animoto
  • Voki
  • Sliderocket
  • Voicethread
  • Google Hangouts
  • Weebly
  • Explore Learning Gizmos
  • Screencast-O-Matic
  • Smore
SREB will continue to post ShortTakes throughout the year. The next set of ShortTakes is scheduled for April 16. So, do you have a ShortTake to share? Don’t keep it a secret. Let the online teaching community know which tool helps you to make lessons relevant, authentic and engaging. Contact Parker for details at or (404) 879-5595.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom

I wanted to share the following infographic that I found on Mashable.

According to Mashable:
PBS Learning Media, in preparation for Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6, conducted a national survey of pre-K to 12th grade teachers to find out how many incorporate technology into their day-to-day classroom activities.
I few of the statistics that I find interesting are:
  • 74% of teachers say the "Educational technology is a student-motivator"
  • 69% of teachers say that educational technology helps them "do much more than ever before" for their students
  • 65% of teachers say that educational technology helps them "demonstrate something that they can't show in any other way."
I also think it's interesting that over "two-thirds of teachers want more technology in the classroom." It looks like very few teachers are not wanting to embrace technology which is an incredible thing, but I guess the next big bridge to cross are those concerning bandwidth and limited accessibility to some online resources due to school and/or IT department policies.

Take a look at the rest of the results below and do you think the use of educational technology will continue to grow?
Please visit Mashable and PBS Learning Media for additional information on this infographic.

Get Your Pep Talk from Kid President!

I have to admit that it's Friday morning, the coffee is really strong and I'm still barely making it... All I'm hoping for and waiting on is Saturday, but.... I just received A Pep Talk from Kid President!

Get your pep talk by watching the video below!

Watch the video on YouTube

To find out more about Kid President click HERE.

A Student's Guide for Conducting Online Research

Do your students only use Google, Bing, or Yahoo to conduct their research? Is Wikipedia their greatest source? How about Facebook?

I believe that many of us, especially our students, have limited research skills. We have more information available at our fingertips than ever before, but how do you find it?

The infographic below was created by Inmotion Hosting and features various web 2.0 research tools that you or your students may not have heard of. I believe it's a tool that will help you find additional information and sources that is useful and relevant for your research.

Source: inmotion hosting

Thursday, February 7, 2013

iTeach-CareerTech: A Wiki for Sharing Resources and Best Practices in CTE

A wiki is a website that allows anyone to add, delete, or revise content by using a web browser.

After hosting countless meetings over the years, I have always been amazed at the professionalism of our CareerTech instructors and their willingness to share resources and best practices when they get together.

I began thinking that it was really a shame that sharing only took place at random meetings and that it couldn't be accomplished on a daily basis.

This is when I had the thought that we should start a wiki that would allow anyone with interest in career and technical education to share resources in real time. Simply copy and paste your links or add your thoughts and then instructors won't need to wait on a "per chance" meeting to share ideas.

The more people share, the less time individual instructors will need to spend searching on their own for resources and best practices.

I hope you will join iTeach-CareerTech and help us grow the wiki into an incredible resource for CTE!

Please check out the following areas on iTeach-CareerTech and add your favorite resources!
Academic Integration
Aerospace and Aviation
Agricultural Education
Automotive and Diesel Technology
Business and Marketing Education
Career and Technology Education
Career Information and Exploration
Common Core
Construction and Building Trades
Culinary Arts
Family and Consumer Sciences Education
General Education Information
Graphic Communications
Green Living
Health Careers Education
Information Technology Education
Life Skills
Private Security and Law Enforcement
Skills Standards
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Study Skills
Teaching and Advising
Tech for Teachers
Technology Education
Test Development, Administration, Interpretation, and Remediation
Testing in the News
Using Wikis
Web 2.0

Monday, February 4, 2013

25 of My Favorite YouTube Channels for Education

YouTube is full of free educational content for instructors and students. I think it's a great tool to help keep students engaged in the classroom.

Here are my favorite YouTube channels where instructors can find quality information that is both timely and relevant.
  1. Khan Academy - From the channel: “It is our mission to provide a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. With this in mind, we want to share our content with whoever may find it useful.”
  2. SimpleK12 - This channel provides content on some of the most popular topic for educators today, like: keeping your students safe online, online publishing, Google, iPads, and much more!
  3. The Library of Congress - Timeless treasures and contemporary presentations from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. As the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, we are the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present.
  4. Smithsonian Videos - Learn from experts in art, design, history, culture, science and technology.
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.
  6. Stanford University - The Stanford Channel on YouTube is an archive of videos from schools, departments, and programs across the university highlighting faculty lectures, events, news, and more.
  7. Harvard University - This YouTube channel shares video content about life and learning that takes place on their campus and around the world.
  8. Yale University - Yale's philosophy of teaching and learning begins with the aim of training a broadly based, highly disciplined intellect without specifying in advance how that intellect will be used. The Yale Courses channel provides entry into the core of the University--its classrooms and academic programs--including complete sets of lectures from the Open Yale Courses initiative.
  9. Cambridge University - Find out about some of the research, discoveries and innovations that take place at Cambridge. In particular, check out the Cambridge Ideas series, a collection of short films in which top researchers reveal some of their latest findings and discuss subjects ranging from energy to disappearing languages, and policing the streets to the future of robotics.
  10. UC Berkeley - The University of California, Berkeley covers a wide-range of subjects from classic literature to emerging technologies (from the curricula of 130 academic departments).
  11. Sick Science - Easy hands-on cool science experiments you can do at home from Steve Spangler Science!
  12. YouTube EDU - YouTube EDU brings learners and educators together in a global video classroom. You have access to a broad set of educational videos that range from academic lectures to inspirational speeches and everything in between. You can find quick lessons from top teachers around the world, course lectures from top-tier universities, or inspiring videos to spark your imagination.
  13. TedTalks - TEDTalks shares the best ideas from the TED Conference with the world, for free: trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses, all giving the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. They post a fresh TEDTalk every weekday.
  14. At Google Talks - This program brings authors, musicians, innovators, and speakers of all stripes to Google for talks centering on their recently published books and capturing the popular and intellectual zeitgeist of the day.
  15. TEDxTalks - These videos were filmed at independently organized TEDx events and uploaded by the organizers. Enjoy the collection: 20,000+ videos from organizers in 130+ countries!
  16. Edutopia - Inspiration and information for what works in education. Edutopia is run by The George Lucas Educational Foundation.
  17. MoMA - Since its founding in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has collected and exhibited the art of our time, focusing on Architecture and Design, Drawings, Film, Media, Painting and Sculpture, Photography, and Prints and Illustrated Books.
  18. Common Craft - Common Craft produces short explanatory videos for use by teachers and trainers.
  19. The American Museum of Natural History - The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education and exhibition.
  20. Discovery Channel - Dedicated to bringing viewers amazing stories and experiences from the world of science, natural history, anthropology, survival, geography, and engineering.
  21. Periodic Table of Videos - Your ultimate channel for all things chemistry. A video about each element on the periodic table. They upload new videos every week about science news, interesting molecules and other stuff from the world of chemistry.
  22. Sixty Symbols - Cool videos about physics and astronomy.
  23. Nova - From PBS, NOVA's mission is to make science accessible to viewers so that they can better understand the world around them.
  24. National Geographic - Inspiring People To Care About The Planet!
  25. Reel NASA - As the channel states, "Get off my planet. Give me my space."
I hope you will comment and add your favorite YouTube channels to the list!

Also see the following YouTube Channels for great resources:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Educational Resources from the Library of Congress

If you have followed this blog for very long, you will know how much I like educational resources and how I believe they can reduce your planning time and enhance your instruction.

As you know, The Library of Congress is a tremendous resource and they also have some of the most incredible exhibits. I can't encourage you enough to visit in person, but in the meantime, they continue to increase their online capabilities which means greater access to resources for the rest of us.

Edudemic has created The Teacher’s Guide to the Library of Congress and they have divided the resources into three categories:
  • Tips & Ideas
  • Library of Congress Guides
  • Useful Resources & Tools
If you are like me, looking at the Library of Congress' website can be a bit overwhelming so I think Edudemic has done a great job of providing 27 topics within the three areas that should help with tips and ideas for activities, plus links to guides, resources, and tools that you can put to work in your classroom.
Please click on the following link to read The Teacher’s Guide to the Library of Congress.

Related posts:
More Great News from the Library of Congress!

A New Resource from The Library of Congress

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