3 for the week

34 Minutes Guide to Creating Graphs and Charts in Google Spreadsheets

There’s nothing particularly earth shattering about a 4-minute video on using Google spreadsheets to create graphs and charts. The prevalence of this kind of information on the internet should prompt all educators to reflect on the value they add to the classroom in a changed world. Recently, we have had some discussions at the board level around providing a teacher at the middle level to teach just these kinds of computer skills. Is it really the best use of scarce resources to have a teacher devoted to teaching basic computing skills when so much of the information needed for learning can be found, for free, on the internet. And shouldn’t students be learning these skills on a just-in-time basis? For example, if students are studying temperature in science and could best represent the data using graphs and charts, they should then take the four minutes in class to learn how to use graph/chart feature in Google Apps. Learning the skill in an isolated context, away from any practical use, does not promote “sticky” learning. We know that for sure. The students might learn the skill for the computer class, but would likely forget about it in short time due to lack of application to real world work. Now that content is so easily accessible on the internet, how must we rethink the added-value of teachers in the classroom?

Here’s How to Undo a Sent Email in Gmail

If you use Gmail, you can take advantage of one of the most recent additions to Gmail Labs, the place where Google trials experimental new features. The addition is an “undo” option on sent emails. Click on the above link to learn how to set it up on your account. Once set up, the default is a 10 second window to undo the send. The article outlines a few steps you can take to increase that window to 30 seconds. At school we use Google Apps for Education, and I think this will be a nice feature to share with the staff and students.

Kids Talk About Learning at the Inquiry Hub

I think it is important for teachers and students to share what and how they are learning. Sharing provides an opportunity for others to learn from successes and failures, but it also provides learners with opportunities to connect with and learn from a larger audience. This webinar features students and the lead administrator at the Inquiry Hub (a school in Canada) sharing how the school works and the kinds of inquiries they involve themselves in on a daily basis. The school is particularly interesting to me because I believe student inquiry (where students are encouraged to explore their own questions) is one of the keys to a successful school, especially as education moves more and more to a technology-rich learning environment. I enjoyed hearing from the students about the different kinds of inquiries they are working on. You can learn more about the Inquiry Hub model on the web and on Twitter.

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Learnist

learnist

This post was originally posted at TL2014.org. It is just as relevant here!

With access to technology, today it is easier than ever to learn just about anything. One of the challenges, though, is how to find the information we want and need quickly. One way is to develop and refine our search skills. Recently, Google offered a MOOC, Power Searching with Google, to anyone interested in becoming a better searcher. Another way to sift through the large amount of information on the internet is to use content curation services such as Learnist.

What is Learnist? Learnist is a site that allows learners of all ages to consume and curate content around specific topics and subjects.  Learnist is becoming popular in education because it allows for creation, consumption and sharing of curated lists of resources around a whole variety of topics. Learnist‘s tag line is, “Use Learnist to learn new things and share what you know.”

Where is Learnist? Learnist is located at http://learni.st

When should me and my students use Learnist? Access Learnist whenever (1) you want to learn what content experts find most useful on the internet or (2) you want to share your own expertise around a particular topic.

Why should I use Learnist? With a personal computing device, you and your students have access to an abundance of content on the internet. Content curation tools can help you and your students locate the best content vetted by a human rather than an algorithm (Google). We can also use Learnist to curate and share our own expertise around a particular topic.

How do I use Learnist? Watch the short introductory screencast below and share your learning with Learnist in the comments to this post.

Other Resources:

Blended Learning – Pt. II

My district is in the early stages of examining virtual learning. The primary objective, at the moment, seems to be to create our own virtual school in order to “bring back” students who have left the district to enroll in cyber charter schools. While that is fine (assuming we hold the mirror up and ask the question – Why are they leaving?), the creation of our own virtual school doesn’t necessarily benefit our current students. The variations of blended learning shared in an earlier post provide some traction to the question – What can we do better than simply create our own virtual school?

In this post I want to share some of the resources I’ve discovered over the past few days. The ideas shared here will likely find their way into our conversations. What other resources would you suggest as we research the topic of blended/virtual learning.

7 Things You Should Know About First Generation Learning Analytics – The latest in the 7 Things You Should Know About... series from Educause sheds light on an important component of effective online learning. Learning analytics are in their infancy, but it is exciting to think about how they will improve in the near future and what that improvement will mean for the teaching and learning process. Learning analytics will need to become more sophisticated if online learning is to reach its full potential. I have no doubt we will get there.

The Rise of K-12 Online Blended Learning – Almost a year old, this report outlines in more detail the models of blended learning explained in the Education Elements video shared in the Blended Learning Pt. I post.

A Closer Look at Cyber Charter Schools – In this TEDx video, Ali Carr-Chelman asks good questions about cyber charter schools. Her talk helps point us in the direction that whatever solution we arrive at must be greater than simply a cyber school of our own. That would be too much for the good of the organization and not necessarily the good of our current brick and mortar students. This doesn’t have to be an either/or. Whatever solution we arrive at – and it may be a two-pronged solution – virtual and blended/hybrid – must be driven by the need to improve and grow what we currently do.