Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Small Demons: Creating a Library of Shared Details

Small Demons is an interesting web app that lets users enter the name of a book and then the site reveals any references that are tied to the book.

For example, enter the name of a book and the site presents any references to people, things, places, media, etc. that are mentioned in the book.

What it kind of reminds me of is that you are getting the story behind the book or as the site states, you are getting "The people, places and things from books, and everywhere they can take you."

I have highlighted numerous other search engines on this blog, but Small Demons is unique because it "picks apart" literature and creates a huge library of shared details. I hope you will take a look, create your own collection, and see where literature can lead you.

Additional resource:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can Gaming Make a Better World?

I have occasionally revisited the Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal entitled, "Gaming Can Make a Better World" for the last few years and I have to admit that I'm still on the fence as far as my thoughts go.

I believe that as we continue towards blended and online learning that the technology and software will become more and more interactive and I can see where McGonigal is headed, but I'm not so sure it is obtainable. The thing that intrigues me is when she says that the average gamer plays 10,000 hours of video games by the age of twenty-one. When you consider the fact that, in the United States, a student receives 10,080 hours of instruction from the beginning of fifth grade until they graduate 12th grade we seem to have an entire parallel track of education. So how can we harness the time and abilities of gamers?

According to McGonigal:
Reality is broken and we need to make it work more like a game.

So why doesn't the real world work more like an online game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment.
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems?
In her work as a game designer and director of game R&D at the Institute for the Future, she creates games that use mobile and digital technologies to turn everyday spaces into playing fields, and everyday people into teammates. Her game-world insights can explain--and improve--the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives.

Also, several years ago McGonigal suffered a serious concussion, and she created a multiplayer game to get through it, opening it up to anyone to play. In “Superbetter,” players set a goal (health or wellness) and invite others to play with them--and to keep them on track. While most games, and most videogames, have traditionally been about winning, we are now seeing increasing collaboration and games played together to solve problems.

So can gaming really make a better world?

Watch the Ted Talk below or click HERE:

Additional resources:
Institute for the Future
Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where it's Going

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tagboard: Organizing Your Hashtags Across Platforms

Tagboard is a free tool that allows anyone to search hashtags across networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, App.net and Vine. To get started, you’ll just need a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account.

Tagboard allows you to follow hashtag conversations in a "bulletin board" display by simply entering any hashtag and then viewing all of the Tweets, Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, and Vine posts associated with that hashtag. From this page you can share the tagboard or individual tweets or posts with friends.

You can also create your own Tagboard page for your hashtag. A tagboard page can be used by an educator, brand manager, business owner, or twitter chat organizer to promote a hashtag or to aggregate posts using a hashtag for class or group projects, events, etc.

Related posts:
Follow the CareerTech Testing Center on Twitter
Have You Developed a Personal Learning Network (PLN)?
The A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags
The Complete Parent’s List of Education Hashtags on Twitter
100 Twitter Tips and Resources for Educators
The Ultimate Twitter Guidebook For Teachers
What Twitter Has Done for Me

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Predictive Analytics and Education

I'm beginning to read and hear more discussion about how predictive analytics could impact education.

So what exactly is predicitive analytics? According to Predictive Analytics World:
Predictive analytics is business intelligence technology that produces a predictive score for each customer or other organizational element. Assigning these predictive scores is the job of a predictive model which has, in turn, been trained over your data, learning from the experience of your organization.

Predictive analytics optimizes marketing campaigns and website behavior to increase customer responses, conversions and clicks, and to decrease churn. Each customer's predictive score informs actions to be taken with that customer — business intelligence just doesn't get more actionable than that.
In other words, Google, Bing, Chrome and every other search engine has been using predictive analytics in your online searches in hopes of refining your choices and maximizing your user experience.

So what does predictive analytics have to do with education? As Tom Vander Ark states, "I’m enthusiastic about the potential for data to improve global learning outcomes.  Predictive analytics have transformed every consumer activity and, as more learners engaged in digital experiences with embedded measurement, they will transform learning."

I believe education is undergoing a monumental shift from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more individualized and personalized model and predictive analytics has the potential to keep students more actively engaged in the learning process. Also, as we continue to mine (transform large data sets into intelligence) and gather data, the security and privacy of student information is paramount.

Additional Resources:
PAR Framework
Predictive Analytics Presents: A Typical Day in 2020
Blended Learning and the Promise of Data
Big Data is Opening Doors, but Maybe Too Many
Data for Action 2012: Focus on People to Change Data Culture

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Padagogy Wheel: Matching Bloom's Taxonomy with Mobile Devices

I previously told you about Kathy Schrock's innovative work in matching technology with Bloom's Taxonomy in the following post: "iPad Apps" and "Google Apps and Tools" Meet Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, but I think the work down by Allan Carrington at the University of Adelaide builds upon what Kathy started and provides a better structure for adapting the pedagogy possibilities with mobile devices, especially the iPad.

Please take a look at the Padagogy Wheel and read Carrington's post entitled, "The Padagogy Wheel...it's a Bloomin' Better Way to Teach." I believe many of the 62 iPad apps can be used in different areas of Bloom's but it's a great start in matching apps to pedagogy. I hope you will share your thoughts and please share any apps that you find and which areas of Bloom's Taxonomy that they correspond with.

Padagogy Wheel by Allan Carrington

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The National Digital Public Library is Set to Launch!

In honor of National Library Week (April 14 – 20, 2013), I wanted to let you know about the launching of the Digital Public Library on April 18th.

The purpose of this project is to aggregate the digital archives from around the U.S. into one portal. As the website for the Digital Public Library of America states:
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all. The DPLA’s primary focus is on making available materials from the United States. By adhering to the fundamental principle of free and universal access to knowledge, it will promote education in the broadest sense of the term. That is, it will function as an online library for students of all ages, from grades K-12 to postdoctoral researchers and anyone seeking self-instruction; it will be a deep resource for community colleges, vocational schools, colleges, universities, and adult education programs; it will supplement the services of public libraries in every corner of the country; and it will satisfy other needs as well—the need for data related to employment, for practical information of all kinds, and for enrichment in the use of leisure.
In a New York Review of Books essay , Harvard University Librarian Robert Darnton expressed the DPLA vision:
The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge...

...The user-friendly interface will therefore enable any reader—say, a high school student in the Bronx—to consult works that used to be stored on inaccessible shelves or locked up in treasure rooms—say, pamphlets in the Huntington Library of Los Angeles about nullification and secession in the antebellum South. Readers will simply consult the DPLA through its URL, http://dp.la/. They will then be able to search records by entering a title or the name of an author, and they will be connected through the DPLA’s site to the book or other digital object at its home institution.
I hope you will access the site and also share it with your students. Maybe I'm just a geek at heart, but I'm excited about the possibilities for learning and sharing!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Day and the Value of Accounting Services

I have to admit that I have been doing a better job of budgeting my time, taxes and donut expenditures this year, but as I completed my tax returns I began to wonder about the accounting standards and competency tests that we offer.

The CareerTech Testing Center offers skills standards and competency tests for Accounts Payable Clerk, Accounts Receivable Clerk, Payroll Accounting Clerk, and Full-Charge Bookkeeper.

Accounting is one of those areas of study that has both work and life applications. The principles of accounting can benefit your personal finances, that of your business, or it can provide a valuable career.

I hope you will take a look at our free skills standards and contact Customer Service if you would like additional information on ordering our competency tests at 800.654.4502.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How Can You Improve a Student’s Test Performance?

The answer to this question can be quite complex and many issues may be out of the educator's control (home environment, socio-economic status, cognitive ability, specific learning disabilities, etc.), but I have tried to comprise a list that any educator can use to optimize a student's test performance.

Below are some great ways to improve your student's test performance:

Provide the best possible testing environment.

The environment should be such that participants can concentrate on their assessments with minimal distractions. Considerations regarding the testing environment include:
  • Consistent/adequate lighting levels.
  • Temperature at a comfortable level with proper ventilation.
  • Space is quiet with minimal distractions.
  • Participants should be asked to behave consistently (no eating, getting up and moving about).
  • Avoid/delay the test administration when a participant appears hurried, troubled, or ill.
Adhere to the responsibilities of the Test Proctor (in a test center environment).

Testing should be "fair" to all participants (by limiting the ability to cheat and by providing accommodations to those with disabilities).
  • Participant authentication: a picture ID should always be shown and login should be handled quickly and quietly by the proctor.
  • Protection of the security of the online testing system. Username AND password should NEVER be revealed.
  • Prohibiting the use of all communication devices (photos of test items and text messaging are common problems).
  • Computer usage: Monitor whether participants are trying to access the internet or other programs.
  • The proctor should be vigilant in their observance of the testing environment: Note passing, hand gestures, etc.
  • Reference materials, texts, notes, etc., are not allowed in the testing area unless specifically allowed for in the exam or in a student’s Individualized Education Plan.
  • If a candidate is caught cheating during an examination, testing will stop immediately. The candidate will receive a failing result and the incident will be reported.
  • Students with an IEP may have special accommodations as specified in an IEP, IRP, 504, LEP, and ELL.
Timing is everything!

Ideally, students should be tested as soon as they have completed training and passed all skills performance evaluations. It is NOT a recommended practice to wait until the end of the academic year to test if the student is ready to test earlier.

Testing statistics prove that 70% of all certification exams are passed when students take their exams 3 to 7 days after course completion. This amount of time typically provides adequate study time and allows testing to take place while the information is still fresh. On the converse, the same statistics show over an 80% failure rate for students attempting their exam immediately after a class or if they wait more than 2 weeks after course completion.

Analyze test results.

Study the tests that you administer and learn to how correctly interpret the results to both students and parents. Whether its standard scores, T scores, age- and grade-equivalent scores, or percentile ranks, know your tests and know how to explain them in a manner that is understandable and with compassion! Every student is somebody's child and all feedback should be in a positive manner. Stress the strengths during your interpretation and remediate the weaknesses by building upon the strengths.

Results should be analyzed for each individual student (relative strengths and weaknesses), for an individual instructors and for the overall program. In other words, did an instructor adequately cover the standards? Did your curriculum align to the standards? Did the program meet your needs at the local or state level?

Develop and implement a remediation plan.

Relative strengths and weaknesses should be the focus of your remediation plan (Your test analysis will identify these factors for you.). A student may receive a 90% score on an assessment, but they still may have an area of relative weakness and this should always be addressed. You should place as much emphasis on this as you would on some that struggled on the assessment. The goal is to maximize every student's ability!

Your remediation plan should involve more than the student. You should also analyze the test results to identify any deficiencies in instruction (Were all of the educational standards covered during instruction?) or curriculum (Did our curriculum address each of the standards?).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How Will Technology Change Education by 2028?

Fifteen years ago, Google was born. Can you remember what life was like before that time?

I don't know about you, but thinking about the past always leads into thinking about the future. So now I'm asking myself how will technology impact education during the next 15 years? Will technology continue to impact learning in more of a typical cause-effect relationship or will it evolve to the point "where one absorbs the other, where information access, socializing ideas, and creative collaboration may be organic and completely invisible?"

So what will affect education the most in the future? Will it be adaptive computer-based testing? MOOCs or open source learning models? Blended learning models? Game-based learning? If not those, will it be biometrics, personalized learning algorithms, or will learning simulations begin to replace some teachers and some schools?

In "30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education by 2028" Terry Heick (TeachThought, March 2013) shares his ideas on how technology might affect and change education in the near future. I hope you will take a look and, whether you agree or disagree, I believe these types of lists are always fun to look at because they make you think about the future and wonder about the skills you will need to acquire to best serve your students.
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