Thursday, February 13, 2014

AirPano - Amazing 360 Degree Aerial Panoramas

After a few weeks of cold weather, cloudy skies and snow on the ground my mind begins to wander and think of where I would rather be than here. Hawaii sounds good, doesn't it? Unfortunately, my bank account usually says no to those types of dreams so I found which, at least, took my mind off of how cold I am and provided me a poor man's virtual vacation. was actually better than I expected as it provided incredible 360 degree imagery of landmarks and cities from all over the world. Their website features "over 700 panoramas showing over 120 amazing locations of all continents including Antarctic and the North Pole" and panoramas from some 50 other locations are in the works.


Much of the AirPano imagery now includes interactive pinmarks that you can click on to learn more about the places that you are visiting (as you can see on the Venice, Italy panorama below). I think AirPano is a great way to learn about other parts of the world, not only from the amazing images, but also from the history and facts about each site that they provide. Last, but not least, it is a great way to get your mind off of the cold winter weather...

Visit Venice, Italy on

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cheating Your Way Through High School and College: The Numbers

Academic cheating seems to be growing at an ever alarming rate. Cheating occurs at every level of education and certification and it includes students, educators, and administrators. Technology has also given cheaters new methods for cheating and, unfortunately, you can find most of these methods demonstrated on YouTube (you can find additional resources on cheating HERE).

Best College Reviews created an interesting infographic about cheating in high school and college that I wanted to share with you. They provide resons for cheating and how cheating occurs among other interesting factoids.

Please take a look at their website to find additional resources on cheating (listed below the infographic).

Source: (please follow the link for additional resources on cheating)

Friday, February 7, 2014

How to Search Google Images by Usage Rights

I found a great resource by Joyce Valenza on Never Ending Search that I wanted to share with you. In her post, Google search by usage rights, she demonstrates an easy way to find copyright-friendly images on Google Image Search.

First, enter your search term into Google Images and then click on Search Tools and then Usage Rights.

A drop-down menu appears offering the following options: not filtered by license, labeled for reuse, labeled for commercial reuse, labeled for reuse with modification, labeled for commercial reuse with modification.

Please read the rest of Joyce Valenza's article by clicking HERE to find many other copyright-friendly image search options!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tips on Reducing Test Anxiety for Online Test-Takers

I just read a great post by John Kleeman on the Questionmark Blog that I wanted to share with you concerning test anxiety. We have previously discussed test anxiety (here and here), but it is interesting to read Kleeman's take on the difference in test anxiety between online and paper and pencil assessments. Here is the post in its entirety:

I’ve been reading about test anxiety (concern or worry by participants sufficiently severe that it impacts test performance). I’d like to share some tips on how online assessment sponsors can reduce its likelihood.

When creating and delivering tests, you seek to accurately measure knowledge, skills or abilities. Often you want to check competence or mastery for workplace or compliance reasons. If some of your participants have severe test anxiety, this doesn’t just disrupt them, it makes your test less accurate in measuring real performance. You might end up failing someone who is competent, just because anxiety affects their test performance.

Many studies (for example here) report that online tests cause less test anxiety than paper ones. Here are some suggestions on reducing test anxiety:

1. Some people have anxiety about a test because they haven’t mastered the subject being tested. Provide a clear description of what each test covers before the time of the test, and provide study resources or instruction to allow people to master the subject.
2. Test anxiety can also feed on unknowns, for instance on unfamiliarity with the test or believing untrue myths. Share information about the test’s purpose and what you do to make it fair. Also share information about the content: how many questions, how the scoring works, how much time is available and so on. Explain what happens if someone fails – for instance is it possible to retake?
3. It’s hugely valuable to provide practice tests that participants can try out before the real test. This will tell them where they are strong and weak and allow them to gain confidence in a less stressful environment prior to the real test. See my article 10 reasons why practice tests help make perfect exams for other reasons why practice tests are useful.
4. Give participants an opportunity to practice using the same type of computer, mouse, keyboard and user interface as will be used for the real test. This familiarizes them with the test environment and reduces potential anxiety, particularly for those who are less computer literate. If you are using Questionmark to deliver the test, make practice sessions available with the same template settings and the same types of questions. (Sometimes this is done with a fun quiz on a different topic, just to get people accustomed to the user interface.)
5. If you provide guidance to test-takers, point to self-help resources for people who have test anxiety. ETS provide a good resource here for instance. Another resource from the University of California is here.
6. Some self-help resources suggest breathing exercises or other exercises people can follow to reduce tension for people who are anxious about tests. Provide an environment where this is practical and train your test administrators and proctors about the prevalence of test anxiety.
7. If you have a way of encouraging test takers to sleep, take exercise and eat healthily, all these things aid a rational approach to taking a test and reducing anxiety.
8. If it works in your programme, consider whether it’s worth having a series of tests rather than a single test, so there is not a single “make or break” moment for participants. A series of tests can have other benefits too. It makes cheating harder, and by spreading out learning and revision, it can make participants retain the learning better.
9. People with disabilities are more likely to suffer test anxiety. Ensure that your program of accommodations takes this into account. See this helpful article on reducing test anxiety for people with disabilities.
10. Above all, create good quality, fair tests. If you follow good practice in authoring your questions and assessments, then there is less to be anxious about, as the test will be a good measure of performance. See Questionmark’s white paper “Five Steps to Better Tests” for some helpful advice in creating tests.
Many Questionmark users provide very effective practice quizzes and tests which help reduce test anxiety, and I hope these tips are helpful, too.

I’d love to hear additional input or suggestions.
Thanks again to John and Questionmark for allowing us to share their thoughts on assessment!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Celebrate Creativity

I have to begin this post by apologizing for not realizing January was "International Creativity Month," but it should never be too late to celebrate creativity, should it?

The intent of International Creativity Month (founded by motivational speaker and author Randall Munson) is to remind people and organizations to capitalize on the power of creativity. My personal belief is that we are all creative in our own ways, but we might feel our creativity isn't wanted whether at school or work and we kind of "lose" our creative ability.

I believe we should encourage creativity with students, educators, and across all levels of employment. As Dictionary. com states:
Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
So why wouldn't we want to champion the creativity within individuals? Without creativity, as individuals, we become stagnant in our thoughts and development as do our products and services within a business setting.

In a belated celebration of International Creativity Month, I wanted to offer some resources for creativity:

The Link: International Creativity Month: found on ipl2 – news and information, this resource highlights Randall Munson's newsletter and  illustrates how creativity is implemented in workplaces, in education, with food, with children, and across cultures.

The Center for Creative Learning: this site believes that people of all ages can improve their skills and ability to use creative and critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making, and that research on learning style helps us to understand how people develop and use their talents in unique and personal ways. They offer free resources, i.e newsletter, journal article reprints, sample activities, and ideas on assessing creativity (Assessing Creativity: A Guide for Educators and Assessing Creativity Index: a database of creativity tests and inventories)

Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching: Created by Iowa State University, this site includes links to online resources, techniques for creative teaching, and evaluating creativity, etc.

The Torrance Center, University of Georgia: this site provides PowerPoint presentations, podcast lectures, activities and resources on creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?:  This presentation is the most highly viewed TED talk of all time. Robinson argues that we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says.

Is Creativity Innate or Can it be Learned?: This post found on the CareerTech Testing Center blog highlights a study released by Adobe entitled, Creativity and Education: Why It Matters.

The Phenomenons Called Curiosity and Creativity: Another post found on the CareerTech Testing Center blog highlights the concepts of curiosity and creativity.

Happy Belated International Creativity Month!
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