App Reviews – Summary of Personal Learning

ECMP455 has been the most practical, applicable course I have taken ever. I had something new I tried or wanted to try with students each week. I was very fortunate to have this after school program coordinator job, and I was able to try different apps or techniques.

StopMotion is the easiest app that anybody can use. Especially for elementary school students or beginners, the free version offers simple navigation to create movies. Take series of photos, record, etc. For students who are tech savvy, the free version is not enough and will want to upgrade.

I tried using Scratch Jr. with my Gr. 3 STEM program. I just let students explore first then showed them what coding can do. Some students really got into it but not all. I was frustrated with not being able to screencast iPad onto Smartboard to walk through the program. I have used Scratch with older students, and I like it better than the app.
LEGO is AWESOME! I borrowed Lego Mindstorms kits from the division library and started the program with it. Once again not all students liked it, but the possibilities of Lego in the classrooms are limitless. We did not get into the coding portion for this robotics yet, but I am looking forward trying it out.

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WeVideo is a great online video editing tool. I have been using the free version, and it served me well, but now I need an upgrade so because I need more storage.  Chroma Key feature was very easy to use, please read this if you are interested.

Touch Cast Studio is a free app for iPads, you can create videos using templates: annotating web pages, images, maps or file, or different styles of video casts such as News Studio, Talk Show, Business, Sports, How-to videos or Reviews, or simply create your own. I chose this app for my final summary. I was trying to create a talk show like, but I really do not like being on camera… This is something that I need to practice and become more confident in. But, I can see this app work for upper elementary students. I am thinking about organizing a group of students to broadcast the school announcements or the school newscast with this app in future. It will be FUN!

Initially, I planned to create a talk show with 2 characters and wrote a script for it. I did film it as I was switching the characters. I did not like it, so I changed it to the one above. Maybe I should have kept my first one too, but I erased it for my iPad’s storage space. Oh, yes, you do need a good storage space to do the TouchCast recording.

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Edtech and Social Divide

Generally we believe that the technology will level the playing field for less privileged students. If every child had an access to internet, filled with abundant resources, child will be empowered and child’s ability of self-teaching will be fostered.

Photo from olpccanada.com

One Laptop per Child (OLPC Canada) program tries to bridge the digital divide for aboriginal youth by providing specially designed laptop and/or tablet for Aboriginal youth. They also provide professional development for teachers. I know they are working with great intention for helping, but I cannot help to wonder why can they provide ordinarily laptop or tablet? Is this special Aboriginal feature limiting and forming them into ‘Aboriginal’? What happens when students finish high school and want to get job in company or move onto post secondary schools? Furthermore, school server that provided is designed to have no internet access required. It says, ‘capabilities for communication between machines and with a local School Server without internet dependence.’ As well, ‘Teachers can create interactive off-line “webpages” to share educational content with their students.’ Does this mean these Aboriginal youth are isolated and have no full advantage of internet? Perhaps this is not really bridging the gap at all.

Photo from Mindshift

I recently read an article, Is Technology Widening Opportunity Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids? Both advantaged and low-income neighbourhood libraries are equipped with same computers. Then, observation revealed that the way children use computer differs depending on the neighbourhoods.
Advantaged children are often accompanied by adults who monitored their children closely, steering them away from games and received guidance while using the computers. They spent their screen time with written words and reading text information five times more than the children in low-income area; as well, 39% of their web search were homework related while counterparts’ 9%.
On the other, children in the poverty area manipulated the computers on their own and accompanying adults tended to sit silently or even removed themselves to other areas of library. The children tend to switch programs frequently, younger ones became discouraged and wonder away. Ones who figure out the programs tend to spend on games or entertainments. Even in schools, some evidence suggests that the computers are used for drills and practice sessions instead of creative or innovative projects.

“While technology has often been hailed as the great equalizer of educational opportunity, a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases, tech is actually having the opposite effect: it is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared.”

The biggest difference between the two starts from how technology was used with children; guidance and scaffolding from adults. Technology does not teach children on its own and it does not break social divide. We can use technology as tool and work toward breaking social divide. As teachers, we must not to limit students’ potentials by assuming they have limited skills. If students lack in background knowledge in technology, we teach and foster it. I hope I can provide equitable learning opportunity using technology for all students.

Looking for Connections

lead-net-pro-relationship-marketingLook for Connections. When students use technology, it should be within the context of larger learning goals rather than in isolation. “Technology used in isolation is less effective than when it’s integrated into a curricular set of activities,” says Pasnik.

Quoted from Education.Com (http://www.education.com/magazine/article/effective-technology-teaching-child/?page=2)

History of Edtech

As I reflect on the lecture on Jan. 27, I thought about technology we had as a student in 1980s – 1990s. As well, how much technology used in school has changed in past decade, what I have seen since 2000.

We did not have computer in school, I used Word-processor to type and print for a couple of times in high school. I felt so special just typing… because I always wrote manually.
There were no internet connection at school either. I didn’t know about internet until 2000.

We were not to use calculator at school at all. There were charts at the end of textbooks and we manually calculated everything.

We listened to vinyl records, then cassette tapes, eventually CD for music.

I did not have it, but Pagers became communication device for teens and adults in 1994. (Like texting to each other in a way)

Wow, I feel ancient. Feels like it was stone-age comparing to what we have now. But I am sure we were advanced comparing to what was in 70s, 60s…

Yes, technology advances very quickly. Just think about past decade even.

Wired internet access to WiFi access, computer lab to mobile cart with classroom set of laptops, white board to Smart board.

It really changed how, what and where you teach. It seems like school became cooperative learning place among teachers and students.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring…