There is no doubt that iPads are revolutionising classrooms in terms of ready access and the provision of sound digital pedagogy.  It is little wonder that so many great apps are appearing.  Teachers using word sorts to enhance the teaching of spelling will be pleased to know of the newly released app,  My Word Sort.  My Word Sort on the App Store on iTunes

Teachers and students alike can now create OPEN and CLOSED word sorts from their own word lists. Word lists can be saved for future reuse, or shared with your students. Teachers: share your word list code with your students and the word list will appear on their screens!  Alternatively, key in a word list and share the generated code with your teaching colleagues - a great collaborative tool to save work.


Word sorts are a highly engaging and flexible activity in which students focus on similarities and differences between words. In effect, students become ‘word detectives’. In the My Word Sort app, students either input their word list or enter the share code from their teacher. This could be their weekly spelling list, a list from a reading activity, a list of capitals, or whatever meets the required learning outcome. If they are entering their own words, they have the option to record each word. The addition of audio is of enormous benefit in word sorts because it allows students not only to hear sound patterns, but adds another dimension to the word sorting categories (sort by sound). To commence the sort, there is a range of options:



Groups or individual students can choose the common features, decide categories for organising the words (category headings will display) and complete the word sort




One student can chose the common features, decide categories for organising the words (category headings will not display) and complete the word sort. His/her partner then works out the sort criteria.



The teacher tells students the sort categories and students complete the word sort.


The app contains a range of ideas for how to effectively use My Word Sort.


A feature to email your word sort to chosen recipient/s is also included.


VISIT http://www.wordsortwizard.com for more word sort apps.


As children, young children, everything meant playing and art. We saw the world as a playground and a canvass. It didn’t matter whether or not we could actually draw. What mattered was the thrill of creating something beautiful.

We were all artists. We still are.

So reminding students that inspiration matters, that art lives and breathes inside every segment of education also means tweaking your lessons a bit. Switching your perspective to what’s really important at the core of any lesson may mean the difference between losing your students’ attention and actually getting your point across.

Albert Einstein wrote:  The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. So the unknown, the mysterious, is where art and science meet.

Keeping his words in mind, educators everywhere are beginning to work art into education. Because we live in the 21st century, we have all the tools right at our fingertips, quite literally. The Internet hosts site after site devoted to integrating art into education. Right here, you’ll find some of the best websites and some interesting ideas that are easily altered to fit various lessons. Explore 50 ways to add artistic elements to the simplest and most complex lessons.


1. Lego Engineers

Besides LegoLand embodying a living, breathing demonstration of how Legos inspire children, Lego is making a fortune off the coolest kits around. Lego building requires everything from patience to vision. To achieve that vision, the builder needs good strategy. Strategy relies on mathematical skills. Everything from basic addition and subtraction to engineering skills blossoms when Lego’s pop into the picture. So, have students use Legos to demonstrate mathematical skills at each and every level. From robotics to engineering, Legos inspire learners. Visit www.legoeducation.us for more information.

2. Marshmallow Math

Stack them. Create shapes with them. Add, subtract, multiply and divide them.

Then eat them. If you take a bag of marshmallows and you tell a child, “I’ll let you eat these if you get all the answers correct,” then you let the child use the marshmallows to find the answer, that child will get all the answers correct.

That’s the art of teaching math. I used to think that the older kids got, the less they cared about silly rewards like those marshmallows, but I was so wrong. They care even more. Life becomes a series of “pointless” classwork and homework assignments with quizzes and tests to follow if teachers don’t force fun.

3. Design Parks

Mathematicians, whether they’re engineers or architects or otherwise, know the importance of technology so teachers need to utilize it when helping students understand the value of every lesson. At mathbydesign.thinkport.org you can find interactive games where students can design a park in the center of town.

4. I Hart Math Doodles

Take note of a girl and a math mission. She blows the concept that math means repetition and rudimentary mechanics right out of the water. Her site provides plenty of innovative “techniques” for seeing math in a different light. In one very amusing video, she shows how the typical factoring lesson turns into doodling stars, which she turns into a lesson on factoring itself. Check her doodles out at vihart.com

5. Khan Academy

If doodling isn’t quite enough, try the Khan Academy for more of Vi Hart and the basics as well as anything else your heart desires. Math, Science, Economics, Humanities, and even test prep fill the website. It’s different because it doesn’t condescend. It doesn’t condescend because the site and it’s master creator, Sal Khan, offer visuals on how to understand the basics of math and other educational subjects without the assumption that it’s impossible to communicate. Start with the link on how to use it in the classroom. It will make all the difference. www.khanacademy.com

6. MArTH Tools

At Math Munch, they’ve even conjured up a witty name for their merging of art and math called MArTH Tools. Teachers can find resources for inspiration, but more importantly, there are links to interactive tools that teach difficult concepts as well as practical skills. mathmunch.wordpress.com

7. Colors Multiplied

Multiplication can be taught with simple yet beautiful colors and shapes. Check out some beautiful images at mathlesstraveled.com. Even teach prime numbers using some manipulation.

8. Math Journals

Teachers can vary assignments and difficulty levels by creating a math journal, which is ultimately a math adventure in the same vein as Indiana Jones. It gives importance and application to www.mathsquad.com

9. Bridges

Basic word problems require students to draw or write out how they came to their conclusion. So why shouldn’t more complicated math be seen in the same way?

According to the Bridges Organization bridgesmathart.org, math needs art and vice versa. This organization plans an annual conference focusing on the connection between art and math. At their website, you can find a wealth of information on mathematics and art.

10. Cinderella

Cinderella.2 software offers users geometry, virtual laboratories, and university-level mathematics with analytical functions. Students will learn while creating.


11. GeoGebra

GeoGebra gives students insight into planetary motion, exterior angles of polygons, rotating triangles, and more. The site also offers loads of information and worksheets. http://www.geogebratube.org/

12. Mosaics

Mosaics are a great way to introduce shapes to young minds so why not communicate the same way with older students. You can create them the traditional way, out of glass, or use cellophane paper or even just regular paper. Review basic shapes then piece them together and have students create patterns.

13. Patterns

Tessellations, infinite patterns with varying shapes, can help you teach about the polygon, plane, vertex, and adjacent. Students can put patterns together on paper or use basic computer programs to tile images. Just taking the time to show students something so simple gives them the basis they need to move on to more difficult problem solving lessons. www.teachervision.fen.com

14. Origami Art

Origami art will add dimension with texture and movement. While giving young students a fun way to see shapes come together and create all sorts of animals or three-dimensional geometric shapes to marvel at, the origami art can evolve into a sophisticated tool for using math and engineering skills. Robert Lang explains the transformation at the following video:

15. Three-Dimensional shapes

With some compass points, scissors, glue, construction paper and bobby pins, students can create Polyhedra. Learn more about that at www.ldlewis.com

16. Wheel of Theodorus

Students calculate, draw and create new images while learning the Pythagorean Theorem. Find details at www.ldlewis.com

17. Alice & Algebra

Teach multiplication of fractions using the story of Alice in Wonderland. Melanie Bayley, an Oxford scholar, wrote a dissertation on this very subject. Just the manipulation of size from small to large and back again becomes a starting point for calculations to begin. Find out more on the practical implementation in the classroom atwww.newscientist.com

18. Triangle to Square

So many sites and blogs have great animation to teach all kinds of theories. Matt Henderson teaches signal processing with rotating circles and a digital square wave.  He also creates some cool doodle animation showing how drawing lines starting with a simple triangle can turn into a square.


19. Art in Labs

Students take a concept and turn it into art or even use the materials for art. Many artists do this anyway so why shouldn’t this be a part of coursework? Visit

www.biology.emory.edu Working in labs themselves, students then create art out of bacteria and fungi.

20. The Art of Biology

Students create beautiful works of art with imaging technologies. Use that to introduce various lessons or a concept and the brain’s eye will attach itself to the particulars much better than simply assigning homework and moving on to an exam. Visit www.cmu.edu to learn more.

21. Toothbrush Robots

If your goal hinges on recruiting girls into the scientific field then art helps. Try coolgirls-scienceart.org They gather the girls to shoot rockets, create art shows, and play with bugs. Just knowing that science is NOT a man in a white lab coat ready to slice open a dead animal might mean the difference between a career in fashion and a career in chemical engineering. You’ll also find information on unique activities such as making toothbrush robots.

22. Chemistry

Through the Art Institute of Chicago, teachers can access lectures and lesson plans on the value of art in teaching chemistry and the chemistry of physics and light plus art and astronomy. www.artic.edu

23. Fresco Chemistry

Check out issuu.com’s newsletter on various activities from green chemistry to music in chemistry. Several activities fill the newsletter with step-by-step processes followed by an explanation of how the chemistry works. One of those is making a fresco. issuu.com

24. The Golden Dream

Return to the beginnings of chemistry and art with alchemy at www.pbs.org

Follow the guide to turn metal into gold. The fascination with the process sparks curiosity if nothing else.

25. Unique Perspectives

Try www.cosmosmagazine.com for ideas and articles on the mixture of science and art. Article upon article covers current topics in relation to the importance of science past, present and future. Ready for students to read, bring reality into science fiction with articles such as “Earth-like Planets May Be Closer than Thought.”

Computer Science

26. Alice.org

Alice teaches students how to program through dragging and dropping graphics. They’re taking 3-D objects inside a virtual world and animating them. They ultimately learn to build stories, create interactive games or video’s for sharing. alice.org

27. Polynomiography

Dr. Bahman Kalantari, professor of computer science at Rutgers University, introduced the idea of polynomiography. It literally means the visualization of polynomials. “Polynomials are so important that all students need to know about them no matter what scientific field they would want to follow.

But because the foundation of solving equations can be identified with points in the plane, visually it is very appealing to all ages,” Dr. Kalantari explains. Visit  www.polynomiography.com to explore.

28. Scratch

Scratch is a site hailing from MIT. Students gain access to software that teaches them to create and share interactive stories, games, music, and art.


Movies used across curricula

29. BrainPop

There is nothing that BrainPop can’t teach. The films are silly yet humorous and by far, they’re educational. The mini movies run the gamut from Language Arts to Math to Science to Social Studies. Kids like it because it’s not in a textbook. Adults like it because it’s not in a textbook. www.brainpop.com

30. Bitesize

In the same vein as BrainPop, Bitesize delivers the basics in short movies or sound bites. Teachers can use this to help students practice or even begin their journey into standardized essays and Spanish basics. The visuals and set up make it a great place to return to in order to build upon different lessons within any subject.www.bbc.co.uk

31. Sheppard Software

Like Brainpop and Bitesize, Sheppard has mini movies and games. Choosing one over the other depends on the difficulty of the lesson and the extent of the film. www.sheppardsoftware.com

32. VideoLab

If you can’t actually demonstrate in the lab, the next best thing is video. At video.sciencemag.org teachers can show short videos to begin a lesson, transition from one to another, or just explain the facts and information with the necessary visuals.

Writing & Grammar

33. Art in a Word

Inspired by Doodle for Google, the annual competition giving students a chance to draw a new Google theme, the idea of Art in a Word challenges students to take the vocabulary word and turn each letter into the representation of its meaning. On the back of the page, teachers should have students use the word within context, writing it in a sentence, identifying the part of speech, then defining it.

34. Advertising

Have students create a full-page ad for their favorite product. Make up the criteria for them so that they have to use sentences with adjectives and strong verbs. Then have them edit their work. Meanwhile, teach them all types of grammar lessons in the process.

35. Bare Books

A book of their own means more to students than an ipod. They just don’t know it until they’ve created it. Depending on the assignment, teachers can buy books in bulk for as little as a dollar each. These books can be used for poetry or stories, leaving the rest of the blank space for art. www.barebooks.com If your students are more electronically inclined check out a new site that’s making it even easier to create e-books at www.holartbooks.com

36. Paint the Strawberry

For writing teachers who need to emphasize the idea of “show don’t tell,” have students describe the strawberry or another type of food commonly eaten. They need to reconstruct the image including taste and sensations in the reader’s mind.

This means they have to come up with 10 to 20 descriptive words (depends on difficulty level) and use them in a paragraph describing the strawberry.  The strawberry should be on display on a stool as the subject of their work of art. It sometimes draws a comedic response for an even better lesson.


Some students thrive in any reading environment. Others crumble. Over the years, I’ve noticed the basic difference between an engaged reader and one who struggles is the ability to visualize.

37. LiteracyHead

Whether students are struggling with basic reading awareness or writing skills, this site helps teachers use art as an inspiration to bridge the gap in communication. For comprehension, an image opens on the screen and asks the question, “In what ways does this picture connect to others?” www.literacyhead.com

38. Graphic Novels

Greek Myths can confuse even the most interested reader, but turn it into a graphic novel or a booklet with illustrations and you’ve got an active, engaged reader. There’s a reason why there’s a comic culture out there in which people become obsessed with superheroes.

39. Comic Creator

When reading Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe with students, I rely on an amazing website full of free lesson plans and links to everything you need. www.readwritethink.org For this one, I read the story in a scary voice, the room dark, only the words projected while the students predict the next twist. Then they have the option of creating a comic strip about it. They can use the comic creator if they don’t want to draw it themselves.

40. Poetry Café

This can be used as monthly or even weekly motivation for students to work on poetry. Decorate the room with poems and artwork inspired by those poems. Then let the students enjoy readings from other students. At the end of a lesson or as a reward for long, tough assignments, students can organize a coffee and cake session where they read their works or the works of poets around the world.

Social Studies

41. Map Art

Old maps hanging on a wall build an atmosphere of art and history combined with adventure. But, understanding them can be a difficult task. So having students create maps ignites the learning process and forces them to work through those difficulties. Visit historymatters.gmu.edu for simple explanations on the creation process.

42. Divide and Conquer

Teaching about different cultures means making them come alive. The Inuit people should live on a canvass, dancing, singing, hunting, and building. So, have students make a brochure from a poster cut in half. Bend it into threes. Divide into sections such as origins, tradition, geography, food and accomplishments.

43. Forget-Me-Not Dioramas

I haven’t met a history teacher who hasn’t had a diorama project quick on hand. However, requiring an artistic approach changes the dynamics of the criteria with which the student learns. Give the students an assignment they will never forget. Isn’t that the idea?

For example, war isn’t about guns and death as much as it’s about lost love. If World War I must be represented, let it be told with love. Start with the love letters of Harriet Johnson to her boyfriend and continue from there. This not only teaches the emotional loss at Wartime but adds value and meaning to a lesson.

44. Folk Art

It’s as simple as having students recreate folk art from a certain time period and a culture and presenting it with facts and information. The inspiration matches the assignment giving each student a firm grasp of the value of an individual within a larger segment of society. Visit www.folkartmuseum.org or www.mexican-folk-art-guide.com for more ideas and information.

45. Transformation

Change the entire classroom into a diorama. It’s been done many times in my own classroom. Entire walls become pyramids. Others become waterfalls. And, the great part isn’t even the fact that students will work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to build a pyramid, but they will learn everything about that time period while they’re doing it. It takes a lot of patience, planning, and very considerate faculty, but it’s worth it because of the pride and energy students earn from this lesson.

46. Film Recreations

Students, especially older ones, love filming anything. So have them recreate a historical event, film it, and present it to the class. Sure you could have them act it out but using video and technology will allow them to edit and start over if necessary.

47. Documentaries

In order to get students’ attention, tell them they need to mimic documentaries. Show them several types and then let them choose one to duplicate or even come up with a current event of their own to document. The student presentations not only reteach the subject matter to each other but give them control over their learning.

48. Write History

Have students recreate a time in history and include themselves. They can take on characteristics of certain people who lived at that time or they can create their own person from pieces of different types of people during that time period.

49. Hero History

Twist the concept of a hero into the ordinary citizen as a leader, innovator, and survivor of that time. Students can choose an actual “hero” or famous character to dress as and give a speech about or they can piece together a hero from the famous leaders of the time.

50. Twisted Timeline

There’s nothing better than a timeline to teach important dates in history. But, no one ever teaches that stories, which are what history is about, never quite move in a straight line. The timeline still flows in the same direction, students just twist it a little, take side routes and learn about details they might never have paid attention to when cramming for a test.

For example, if the time period focuses on the American Revolution then use the dates to carry students through to the next date but wind around to the left or right, take a detour, find out some interesting cultural facts within those two dates and add that to the timeline.

Visit timelines.com for detailed timelines with great images that students can add to their own.

As a final note, if the art warrants it, always make sure there’s a wall or a table for display. Displaying finished pieces gives artists a sense of satisfaction. Children who don’t see their work rewarded lose motivation, the same is true of young adults, and even more so of adults.

If yours is a virtual classroom, build a blog around your students’ creations. Creating one is simple enough nowadays. You don’t even have to know how to code. It doesn’t matter if the entire world knows about it. All that matters is that they know about it, that they can say they’re work “hangs” there.

Lastly, introducing art into any classroom means thoughtful planning but also a very real understanding that there will be loss of control. Knowing this can be very liberating for a teacher, but it can also be uncomfortable. However, once you allow yourself to be comfortable with it, students will master the lesson and, more often than not, surpass it.


Source: Informed
Cited From: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/50-ways-to-integrate-art-into-any-lesson/#ixzz2OW9rRHhi

education podcasts

Maybe you don’t have time to sit down and sift through the latest education blogs for ideas and inspiration. If the thought of trying to carve out more hours in your day leaves you feeling overwhelmed, this list is for you.

Podcasts are a great way to get information when you’re driving in your car, making dinner at home, or waiting at the DMV to renew your license. Podcasts don’t force you to find more time in your day; they give you the opportunity to capitalize on all the dead time that already exists in your day by simply downloading the .mp3 or syncing a podcast to your iTunes account on your smartphone.

Even though podcasts have been around awhile, a lot of people still don’t utilize the hundreds of free podcasts available on the Internet. Now is a great time to start.

Below are 50 educational podcasts you should look consider.

1. NPR: National Public Radio has an entire section of education podcasts that highlight current education news and events that happen around the world.

2. TED Talks: I have yet to listen to a TED talk that didn’t inspire or ignite new energy for an idea or topic. Subscribe to TED’s education podcasts to hear from some of the brightest minds in academia today.

3. A History of the World in 100 Objects: The British News Company has a great podcast for anyone teaching history or a related discipline.

4. ISTE: The International Society for Technology Education is a trusted source for podcasts on how technology is changing the classroom. Podcasts cover various topics from blogging to mobile learning.

5. Steve Hargadon: A leader in education technology with an impressive resume of experience hosts an ed-tech podcast on the future of education.

6. The State of Tech: These podcasts focus on education technology in the state of Ohio, but the podcasts can benefit any educator. Topics include new software, platforms, and innovative ideas for tech in the classroom.

7. The Ed Tech Crew Podcast: A weekly podcast about technology and digital advances in education, hosted by Darrel Branston and Tony Richards. Topics are varied.

8. The Compendium Blog of the A.T. Tipscast: This podcast focuses on Tools in Public Schools; giving students and teachers ways to use technology to further educational goals. Each podcast has a practical take-away tip for the classroom.

9. Classroom 2.0 LIVE: This website hosts a weekly webinar specifically designed for beginners who have never used the webinar technology before. Each episode is then offered as an archived podcast that is available for download.

10. EdReach: The focus of EdReach’s podcasts are on innovative apps and different web tools for teachers. Episodes focus on technology as a tool for students of all ages and abilities.

11. ESL: The website, “English as Second Language” offers a weekly practical podcast that concentrates on everyday topics for those learning to speak English. The podcast comes with a learning guide as well.

12. EDU-Talk: The mission of EDU-Talk podcasts is to get educators and students to talk about academia using technology. The site also encourages users to upload podcasts too!

13. G.A.M.E: Gamers Advance Meaningful Education is a site developed for people who want to use gaming to help in the educational process. For anyone who is interested in the creative potential of gaming in education, their webinar series is available to download in podcast episodes produced monthly.

14. Google Educast: Google certified teachers are featured on this weekly podcast that gives a roundup of new tech tools and Google products- many of which can be used in the classroom.

15. Infinite Thinking Machine: This is a high-energy TV show specifically targeted to educators, parents, and students who are interested in technology in education. They were nominated as one of 2012’s best Edublog podcasts.

16. Nerdy Cast: Hosted by Nicholas Provenzano, this podcast emphasizes pop culture, technology, and how it relates to and affects education. Expect funny!

17. EdTechTalk: This podcast is called Teachers Teaching Teachers and is a collaborative effort. Teachers discuss new software and tools they are successfully using in the classroom.

18. Blog Talk Radio: Their Therapy and Learning Resources podcast is great for educators of young children or those with learning disabilities and other handicaps. Examples of topics include stuttering, organization, picky eating, and vocal health.

19. The Back Channel: This podcast is offered every other week and gives the listener a round up all the talked about education technology news.

20. The ARTS Roundtable: This podcast is a fantastic resource for teachers in the fine arts. The focus is on music, drama, and the visual arts.

21. The Flipped Learning Network: This weekly podcast is hosted by Troy Cockrum and focuses on the latest practices and tips from teachers who are using the flipped classroom model.

22. Lit Tech: This is a podcast for librarians. It is held weekly and showcases all the cool tech gadgets and ideas for literary educators.

23. Grammar Girl: This site offers regular podcasts for anyone interested in teaching grammar or learning it for themselves!

24. British History: For history buffs, this website hosts regular podcasts that focus solely on the history of England from the Ice age forward.

25. China History: Another history podcast that focuses on Chinese history starting 5000 years ago and proceeding to today.

26. Smart People Podcast: Picking smart people’s “oversized brains” is what this podcast is all about. They interview people from various industries to bring their listeners episodes that satisfy those of us with insatiable curiosity.

27. EdukWest: A podcast started by a woman who wanted to follow all the startups and trends in education. Various contributors now host the EdukWest podcasts.

28. Radio Lab: Podcasts for the curious mind. Broadcast on over 300 radio stations across the United States, Radio Lab explores science, philosophy, and the human experience.

29. How Stuff Works: You never know what you’re going to get with this podcast. Expect topics that range from cars to food to pop-psychology.

30. StarTalk Radio: A podcast series that focuses on all things extra-terrestrial. Topics include stars, the big bang, space travel, black holes, and more.

31. Ropecast: Mini-podcasts designed for those who love English culture and language. The five-minute episodes are available once every two weeks.

32. eCorner: This podcast, titled Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, explores the principles that create successful business owners and leaders.

33. Chemical Heritage Foundation: A science podcast that focuses specifically on chemistry. Each episode looks at past breakthroughs and the effect it has on present and future scientific research.

34. Educate: This website offers a large database of podcasts for all subject areas and disciplines. They are specifically designed for classroom and student use. The database makes it easy to search by topic or theme.

35. Audiria: A podcast for those interested in learning the Spanish language. Each podcast is rated with a difficulty level or listeners can choose podcasts that concentrate on specific areas.

36. Teacher Created Materials: Podcasts for educators looking for new strategies to use in the classroom. Podcasts are arranged by topic and cover all subject areas.

37. Power to Learn: Cablevision’s Education Initiative offers a podcast that highlights user-friendly strategies and tips for teachers. Some examples of topics include plagiarism, common core standards, and mobile teaching ideas.

38. The History Chicks: A fresh look at history through factual and fictional characters. Podcasts go into detail about the time period, culture, and typical lifestyle of the person highlighted in each episode.

39. Math Mutation: Short podcasts that explore mathematics. Topics cover strange and quirky concepts that aren’t normally taught in school.

40. Astronomy Cast: This website offers a weekly podcast centered on astronomy concepts like planets and cosmology.

41. The Naked Scientist: Cambridge University researchers and physicians are behind this podcast filled with humor and levity as they explore a diverse set of science topics. Their goal is to strip science down to its bare essentials.

42. The History of WWII: Ray Harris, graduate of James Madison University and history buff, brings listeners a bi-weekly podcast of WWII facts, trivia, and information.

43. Day in Tech History: This podcast is hosted by Jeffrey Powers, a tech expert who loves to build desktops. He explores the history of technology along with what he calls “geek” science.

44. Classic Poetry Aloud Index: Podcasts of famous poetry. You can browse through themes or poets to find one that interests you.

45. BBC: Browse through podcasts about psychology, science, technology, or politics. The episodes are available for 30 days and updated weekly.

46. NOVA: Offered by PBS, the popular TV program also offers podcasts on a variety of science, human interest, and engineering topics.

47. NASA Science Casts: These video podcasts are short, fun, and bring unusual science topics to light. Podcasts are based on historical space missions completed by NASA.

48. Geek SLP: Podcasts that focus on technology and its place in education.

49. Music Education Advocacy: A podcast that interviews educators who are trying to restore music education in schools. Their mission is to mobilize musicians to donate to music education charities and breathe new life into the subject area.

50. Practical Money Skills: Podcasts that focus on financial literacy. Topics include how to afford college, tax preparation, and budgeting. Great for life skills teachers!

Source: Open Colleges

Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/50-educational-podcasts-you-should-check-out/#ixzz2IiNFtDBk



What latest gadgets and gizmos are going to change your classroom in 2013?

It’s hard to know exactly what will catch on and what won’t, but the following list showcases some of the emerging new technologies, software, and platforms available. With their innovation and practicality, many of these are poised to enter the classroom and change the way students and teachers learn permanently.

1. Flashnotes

Remember the days of doodling on the side of your spiral notebook while you tried to take copious notes from your boring biology teacher? Would you be more motivated if you knew that your notes would not only give you an edge on the exam, but could also earn you a bit of cash?

Flashnotes allows students to upload their lecture notes and sell them to other students who need more help or resources. The rating system allows the best note takers to get more business and the general pool of knowledge expands as students continue to share their work with one another.

2. Lore

The new startup is using a Facebook type platform- riding the wave of what works- and tailoring it for education. This social network allows professors and students to communicate, follow one another, and discuss class work and lectures.

In addition to the social aspect, it allows for document uploads, calendar sharing, and a grade book option. So why is this better than Facebook? Simply put, social networks aren’t always the best place to develop academic networks. Students can follow their professors and interact with them without worrying about that compromising photo from a crazy weekend party.

3. Study Blue

Imagine your smartphone as your primary source for study materials. This company has created an app that allows students to organize their coursework, store notes and flashcards, and share their materials with other students.

Study Blue’s main attraction is that it is mobile. Whether standing in line for coffee, riding the train, or waiting at the dentist, a student can easily access their class work and prepare for an exam. The social aspect also helps students find other people studying similar subjects, capitalizing on a different set of notes and study guides.

4. LEAP Motion

Imagine the ability to sign your name on a digital document using only your finger and the air. That is technology behind LEAP Motion, a company intent on giving people a more natural way to interact with the computer.

LEAP has developed a piece of hardware that allows anyone to write, draw, zoom, play, and interact with their computer screen using a finger, fingers, or entire hand. By moving your hand over the device, the mouse follows your movements.

This is a huge improvement from the days of the stylus and pad- even with the fine motor control- it was difficult to make drawings look authentic. LEAP is set to do that.

5. Papertab

Papertab won’t be ready to use in 2013, but I think it’s interesting enough to include it in this list. Paper, afterall, is HUGE part of the school life.

6. Chromebooks

Despite the rising popularity of tablets, Google’s Chromebook may ****** the competition in the lower grade school classrooms. The laptops have a few distinct advantages over the apple iPad:

-They are less expensive

-One-button-push easy setup

-Easy to control settings and restrictions

-Offers the traditional keyboard for fast typing and note taking

-Hardware fixes are easier and less costly

7. Celly

Teachers are continually fighting against the ever-growing list of distractions that a smart phone offers to bored or shy students in the back of the room. But Celly is a text-messaging network that allows anyone to create a network anywhere- at a rally, event, in the classroom, or on a field trip using smartphones.

Teachers that have used this in their classrooms have noted that those who normally never speak up…do. It forces students to write their thoughts clearly and concisely. Rather than fighting the tide against texting, instructors are using it for academic purposes.

8. Flipped Classroom

While not a technology per se, this teaching model is using technology to change the way instructors teach. Rather than spending the class time lecturing the students, the lectures are delivered to the student’s in video format for them to watch at home (or in study hall).

Then, the classroom time is set aside for 1 on 1 help, discussion, and interaction based on the lecture homework. With nearly every student carrying a mobile device or laptop, this model may give students and teachers more time to work on areas of difficulty rather than simple straight lecture. For too long, instructors have seen that precious class time go to waste while a teacher scribbles on a blackboard and has their back to the students.

9. Snagit, Jing, Camtasia

These screen capture video software programs are making it easy for instructors to give online tutorials. TechSmith offers a host of different products from a free screen capture to professional quality videos.

Imagine a tech-ed teacher trying to explain how to download an app. He/she can record narration while capturing the screen shots as he/she demonstrates the action. This feature can also be used for teachers who are correcting a paper or demonstrating a math problem.

10. LessonCast

Teachers need help and support with their lesson plans just as much as students need help with studying for exams. LessonCast allows teachers to submit a 2-minute lesson plan strategy, idea, or resource using video, documents, Powerpoint, etc. and share it with other instructors.

The free-based software is just another way to offer networking opportunities and a general pool of knowledge that globally impacts education in a positive way. Teachers Paying Teachers is a similar network that allows educators to sell their lesson plans to other instructors.

11. Kid Blog

Designed specifically for younger students; Kid Blog provides a safe opportunity for children to start up their own blog connected to the classroom.

Teachers can help students design a blog around a science project, a history lesson, or an entire year’s worth of school progress. The students get the benefit of other students and parents commenting on their work- a great motivation for hesitant writers. Kid Blog makes it easy to keep the child and content secure from the dangers of the Internet.

12. Glogster EDU

Gone are the days of laboring over a diorama made from a shoebox or wrestling with markers on a poster board. When it is report time, students can use Glogster to creatively display their research.

Glogster allows students to collage pictures, text, video, and custom graphics to create a visually appealing presentation for their latest project. The Glogs are easy to make and share!

13. Donors Choose

Funding websites are popping up all over the Internet. People who are frustrated with the bureaucracy of grant writing decide to strike out on their own and build a project from the ground up. With Donors Choose, you can pitch your idea for your classroom.

Teachers create projects they hope to accomplish with their students. Much like Kickstarter, individuals can fund or back any project they choose. Then they share it across social media and if a teacher has created the project pitch well, it gets the attention and money it needs.

14. Live Binders

Those handy three ring binders are now digital. Using the same idea as pinning and bookmarking, the binder allows educators to collect and organize resources for lesson plans.

The Live Binder can also work for students who are amassing resources for a big project. You can also browse other binders and share your own.

15. Knewton

This new technology company aims at personalizing content for optimal learning. The platform monitors the student’s activity and uses the information to give the student the best personalized resources based on their level of performance.

The technology also boasts integration among different disciplines creating a more comprehensive set of resources that interact with one another. Knewton grows more intuitive the more the student uses the software. It can follow a student through their entire education career.

Source: InformED

Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/15-education-technologies-check-out-2013/#ixzz2I1X39Mcz

Kid with homework

Many students agree that homework over the holidays really is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Upon returning from winter break, you’ll probably have a handful of students saying the dog ate their homework or it got blown away in a winter storm. But you’ll probably be surprised to learn that some research suggests too much homework can be a bad thing. A 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times, suggests that some districts have cut back on the amount of homework in the effort to consider children’s social development. In fact, the San Ramon Valley district modified its homework policy and no homework is allowed over weekends and holiday vacations, except for reading.

The US National Education Association recommends no more than ten minutes (of homework) per grade level, per night.

Homework has fallen in and out of favor over the decades.  California even established a law in 1901 limiting the amount of homework teachers could assign. Homework is highly in favor now a days.  With recent trends of information overload, packed activity schedules, and childhood obesity, it’s no wonder educators are reconsidering their stance on homework.

Here are 20 reasons why you shouldn’t assign homework over the holidays. Perhaps one of your students will print this list and encourage you to reconsider your ideas about homework.

  1. Students are learning all the time in the 21st century. According to a recent article in MindShift traditional homework will become obsolete in the next decade.  Thanks to computers, learning is occurring 24/7.  With access to software programs, worldwide connections, and learning websites such as the Khan Academy, learning occurs all the time. According to Mindshift, “the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear.”  Try to see if you can bridge the gap between school and home by getting students interested in doing their own research over holiday break.  Rather than assigning homework, create a true interest in learning.  They will often pursue learning about topics they like on their own.  After all, this is the way of the 21st century and information is everywhere.
  2. More homework doesn’t necessarily equate to higher achievement. Yes, too much homework can actually be a bad thing.  A 1989 Duke University study that reviewed 120 studies found a weak link between achievement and homework at the elementary level and only a moderate benefit at the middle school level. In a similar recent review of 60 studies, researchers at Duke U found homework was beneficial, but assigning excessive amounts of homework was counterproductive. The research found homework was more beneficial for older students than younger ones. The study was completed by Harris Cooper, a leading homework research and author of “The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents”. Cooper suggests that teachers at the younger level may assign homework for improving study skills, rather than learning, explaining why many studies concluded less benefit for younger children.  Many teachers do not receive specific training on homework. Cooper suggests that homework should be uncomplicated and short, involve families, and engage student interests.
  3. Countries that assign more homework don’t outperform those with less homework.  Around the world, countries that assign more homework don’t see to perform any better.  A Stanford study found that in counties like Japan, Denmark, and the Czech Republic little homework was assigned and students outperformed students in counties with large amounts of homework such as Greece, Thailand, and Iran.  American and British students seem to have more homework than most counties, and still only score in the international average.  In fact, Japan has instituted no homework policies at younger levels to allow family time and personal interests.  Finland, a national leader in international tests, limits high school homework to half hour per night.  Of course, there are other factors not taken into account in the study, such as length of the school day.  But in itself, it is interesting to see this issue from a world perspective.
  4. Instead of assigning homework, suggest they read for fun.  There are great holiday stories and books you can recommend to parents and students.  If you approach the activity with a holiday spirit, many students will be engaged.  They may want to check out the stories on their own.  You can start by reading the first chapter in class and leaving them intrigued.  For instance, you can read the first chapter of The Gift of the Magi and suggest students read it over winter break.   With younger students, you might promise roles in a play for students who read over break.
  5. Don’t assign holiday busy work.  Most academics agree that busy work does little to increase learning.  It is best to not assign packets of worksheets if they do nothing to add to student learning. You also don’t want to waste valuable time grading meaningless paperwork.  Some studies show that much homework may actually decline achievement. Assigning excessive amounts of homework may be detrimental. In fact, a 2006 study by Yankelovick found that reading achievement declined when students were assigned too much homework.  Actually, interesting reading such as Harry Potter produced higher reading achievement.
  6. Have students attend a local cultural event.  You can let parents know that instead of assigning homework, you are suggesting students attend a particular event that relates to your classroom.  For instance, if you are reading Shakespeare, they might attend a related play or ballet.
  7. Family time is more important during the holidays.  Assigning less homework makes it easier for families to have time together. Family studies at the University of Michigan, show that family time is extremely important to achievement and behavior.  Studies on family meals, suggest that students who have dinner with their family have better academic scores and behavioral outcomes.  Perhaps this is only a correlation, but family time is undeniably important to child development. Students spent most of their days at school while parents are at work. When all is said and done, remember what it was like being a kid.  The things you remember most about the holidays aren’t the assignments you took home, but the time you spend with family and friends.
  8. For students who travel during the holidays, homework may impede learning on their trip. The Holiday time is the one time of year that many families reconnect with distant family members or travel.  I remember having to pack hoards of books over some holidays to Spain and it was not fun.  I wanted to enjoy the time with family and experience the country fully.  Traveling in itself is a learning activity.  Let students experience their travels fully.
  9. Kids need time to be kids.  A recent article from Australia’s Happy Child website, “What is the value of Homework: Research and Reality” considers this issue and explains how children need unstructured play time.  Homework can have a negative influence on early learning experiences.  Suggest students use holiday time to do physical activity, such as ice-skating or sledding.  Many kids don’t get enough exercise.  Childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States.  Suggesting students play outside or participate in a sport is a good way to get them to value physical activity.  The holidays are a great time for kids to go sledding in the snow or play with friends outside.  If no one has homework, classmates might exchange phone numbers to play together.  You can suggest this to parents.    If the teacher thinks physical activity is important, students will too.
  10. Some education experts recommend an end to all homework.  Etta Kralovec and John Buell, authors of  The End of Homework:  How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning, controversially suggests that homework may be a form of intrusion on family life, and may increase the drop-out rate in high schools.  The authors blame homework for increasing the achievement gap due to socio-economic differences in after-school obligations. Consider challenging your own views of the benefits of homework and try to create a level playing field when considering assignments.
  11. Send a letter to parents explaining why you are not assigning work. You might want to take the Christmas holiday as a chance to engage parents to play a learning game or do some art with their kids.  If families know there is an intentional purpose to not assigning work, they may take the chance to spend more one-on-one time with their child.
  12. You can make the holidays a time for an “open project” for extra credit.  Students might take this time to do something related to the curriculum that they would like to explore on their own terms.  Before the holidays, you might talk about topics or provide books students for students to take home.  Learning for fun and interest, might produce more meaningful engagement than assigned homework.
  13. Suggest they visit a museum instead.  With families at home, the holiday time is a great time for students to see an exhibit that interests them or do a fun activity at a nearby museum.  Sometimes encouraging these field trips may be more beneficial than assigning homework.  You might want to print coupons, a schedule, or a list of upcoming exhibits so that families have the information at their fingertips.
  14. Encourage students to volunteer during the holiday time.  The holidays are a great time for students to give back.  Students might volunteer at a local soup kitchen or pantry.  Volunteer organizations are often at their busiest during the holiday time.  Plus, students learn a lot from the experience of doing community service.  I remember visiting a group home during the holiday time in high school and helping kids wrap Christmas gifts for their families.  This is a great alternative to assigning homework, especially for Generation Y who highly values civic involvement. 
  15. Develop a class game.  You might have the class play a learning game the week before vacation and have them take it home to show their family.  My fourth grade teacher had hop-scotch math.  We often drew with chalk outside to replicate her game at home.  Try to think of a holiday-themed game or one that the whole family can get involved in.
  16. Students might learn more from observing the real world. Learning isn’t just about paper and pencil activities.  Teachers should also inspire students to seek ways to learn from real-world experiences.  They might cook with their parents and practice measuring.  Or tag along with a parent who is putting up holiday lights or building a shed.  Ask students to observe a job around the house or ask their parents about their job over holiday break.  They might be enlightened to learn more about the real world and different jobs they might pursue in the future.  Perhaps some students might be able to go to work with their parents instead of a formal assignment.
  17. Go on a hike.  Students learn a great deal from nature.  Tell students to go outside on a walk and be ready to share their experience when they get back.  Did they observe natural phenomena you talked about in science class or different types of rocks you discussed in geology?  Or can you tie their walk into a discussion of poetry?
  18. Tell students to visit an amusement park.  If you are teaching physics or math, amusement parks give ample room to explain the laws of physics and mathematical probability.  This outing would allow students to think about the real world implications of science.  You may want to even plan a lesson beforehand that ties this idea in.  On another level, it allows students to create a lasting memory with their own families.
  19. Kids need rest!  Everyone needs a mental breather and the holidays are the best time for students to play and take a break from school.  Kids need a full ten hours of sleep and adequate rest.  The vacation time is a great time for students to take a mental breather from school.  With many family outings and vacations during the holiday time, they will have less time to complete homework.  They will come back to school feeling re-energized.
  20. Many parents and students dislike holiday homework.  You want parents to buy-in to your classroom community and support your endeavors with students.  Assigning holiday homework is usually unpopular with parents because it may the one time of year they have to give children their undivided attention.  Instead, you might want to take a survey to see if parents agree with the idea.  You can then send a letter with the survey results.  Taking parents’ perspectives into account shows you value their opinions and feedback.  Students prefer some free time too.  Not surprisingly one student created a Facebook page, titled, “Why do teachers give us homework over the holiday.”   If the students know you are giving them a break over the holidays they may work harder for you when they get back.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this fact sheet based on The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.  If you are still going to assign some holiday homework, at least keep in mind some guidelines.

The US National Education Association recommends no more than ten minutes per grade level, per night.  If you must assign homework make sure it is meaningful and doesn’t take away from time with families.  And most of all, remember what it was like being a kid during the holiday time. Homework is generally not a part of those memories, nor should it be. Those days playing outside and spending time with family are lifelong memories just as important as school.

Childhood is over in the blink of an eye.

*This is a cross-post from Open Colleges.
Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/the-tyranny-of-homework-20-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-assign-homework-over-the-holidays/#ixzz2FfJkd22U



An Infographic by Open Colleges


There is an age old adage that says “two heads are better than one”.  Consider collaboration in recent history:  Watson and Crick or Page and Brin (Founders of Google). 

But did you know it was a collaborative Computer Club about basic programming at a middle school that brought together two minds that would change the future of computing?  Yes, those two were of course, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft.

Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.  Why is this so?

Groups tend to learn through “discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other’s ideas”.  Perhaps information that is discussed is retained in long term memory.  Research by Webb suggests that students who worked collaboratively on math computational problems earned significantly higher scores than those who worked alone.  Plus, students who demonstrated lower levels of achievement improved when working in diverse groups.

Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.

Many consider Vygotsky the father of “social learning”.  Vygotsky was an education rebel in many ways.  Vygotsky controversially argued for educators to assess students’ ability to solve problems, rather than knowledge acquisition. The idea of collaborative learning has a lot to do with Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development”.  It considers what a student can do if aided by peers and adults. By considering this model for learning, we might consider collaboration to increase students’ awareness of other concepts. 

What are some ways to include best practices for collaborative learning in our classroom? 

  1. Establish group goals.  Effective collaborative learning involves establishment of group goals, as well as individual accountability.  This keeps the group on task and establishes an unambiguous purpose.  Before beginning an assignment, it is best to define goals and objectives to save time.
  2. Keep groups midsized.  Small groups of 3 or less lack enough diversity and may not allow divergent thinking to occur.  Groups that are too large create “freeloading” where not all members participate.   A moderate size group of 4-5 is ideal.
  3. Establish flexible group norms.  Research suggests that collaborative learning is influenced by the quality of interactions.  Interactivity and negotiation are important in group learning.  In the 1960’s studies by Jacobs and Campbell suggested that norms are pervasive, even deviant norms were handed down and not questioned.  If you notice a deviant norm, you can do two things:  rotate group members or assist in using outside information to develop a new norm.  You may want to establish rules for group interactions for younger students.  Older students might create their own norms.  But remember, given their durable nature, it is best to have flexible norms.  Norms should change with situations so that groups do not become rigid and intolerant or develop sub-groups.
  4. Build trust and promote open communication.  Successful interpersonal communication must exist in teams.   Building trust is essential.  Deal with emotional issues that arise immediately and any interpersonal problems before moving on.  Assignments should encourage team members to explain concepts thoroughly to each other.  Studies found that students who provide and receive intricate explanations gain most from collaborative learning.  Open communication is key.
  5. For larger tasks, create group roles.  Decomposing a difficult task into parts to saves time.  You can then assign different roles.  A great example in my own classroom was in science lab, fifth grade student assumed different roles of group leader, recorder, reporter, and fact checker.  The students might have turns to choose their own role and alternate roles by sections of the assignment or classes.
  6. Create a pre-test and post-test.  A good way to ensure the group learns together would be to engage in a pre and post-test.  In fact, many researchers use this method to see if groups are learning.  An assessment gives the team a goal to work towards and ensures learning is a priority.  It also allows instructors to gauge the effectiveness of the group.  Changes can be made if differences are seen in the assessments over time. Plus, you can use Bloom’s taxonomy to further hone in on specific skills. Individuals should also complete surveys evaluating how well the group functioned. “Debriefing” is an important component of the learning process and allows individuals to reflect on the process of group learning.
  7. Consider the learning process itself as part of assessment.  Many studies such as those by Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins have considered how cooperative learning helps children develop social and interpersonal skills.  Experts have argued that the social and psychological effect on self-esteem and personal development are just as important as the learning itself.  In terms of assessment, it may be beneficial to grade students on the quality of discussion, engagement, and adherence to group norms.  Praise younger groups for following collaborative learning standards.  This type of learning is a process and needs explicit instruction in beginning stages.  Assessing the process itself provides motivation for students to learn how to behave in groups. It shows students that you value meaningful group interactions and adhering to norms.
  8. Consider using different strategies, like the Jigsaw technique.  The jigsaw strategy is said to improve social interactions in learning and support diversity.  The workplace is often like a jigsaw. It involves separating an assignment into subtasks, where individuals research their assigned area.  Students with the same topic from different groups might meet together to discuss ideas between groups.  This type of collaboration allows students to become “experts” in their assigned topic.  Students then return to their primary group to educate others.  Here are some easy steps to follow the Jigsaw approach.  There are other strategies discussed here by the University of Iowa, such as using clusters, buzz groups, round robin, leaning cells, or fish bowl discussions.
  9. Allow groups to reduce anxiety. When tackling difficult concepts, group learning may provide a source of support.  Groups often use humor and create a more relaxed learning atmosphere that allow for positive learning experiences.  Allow groups to use some stress-reducing strategies as long as they stay on task.
  10. Establish group interactions.  The quality of discussions is a predictor of the achievement of the group.  Instructors should provide a model of how a successful group functions.  Shared leadership is best.  Students should work together on the task and maintenance functions of a group.  Roles are important in group development. Task functions include:
    • Initiating Discussions
    • Clarifying points
    • Summarizing
    • Challenging assumptions/devil’s advocate
    • Providing or researching information
    • Reaching a consensus.
    Maintenance involves the harmony and emotional well-being of a group.  Maintenance includes roles such as:
    • sensing group feelings
    • harmonizing
    • compromising and encouraging
    • time-keeping
    • relieving tension
    • bringing people into discussion
  11. Use a real world problems. Experts suggest that project-based learning using open-ended questions can be very engaging.  Rather than spending a lot of time designing an artificial scenario, use inspiration from everyday problems. Real world problems can be used to facilitate project-based learning and often have the right scope for collaborative learning.
  12. Focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  Design assignments that allow room for varied interpretations.  Different types of problems might focus on categorizing, planning, taking multiple perspectives, or forming solutions. Try to use a step-by step procedure for problem solving. Mark Alexanderexplains one generally accepted problem-solving procedure:
    • Identify the objective.
    • Set criteria or goals.
    • Gather data.
    • Generate options or courses of action.
    • Evaluate the options using data and objectives.
    • Reach a decision
    • Implement the decision
  13. Keep in mind the diversity of groups.  Mixed groups that include a range of talents, backgrounds, learning styles, ideas, and experiences are best.  Studies have found that mixed aptitude groups tend to learn more from each other and increase achievement of low performers.   Rotate groups so students have a chance to learn from others.
  14. Groups with an equal number of boys and girls are best.  Equally balanced gender groups were found to be most effective.  Some research suggests that boys were more likely to receive and give elaborate explanations and their stances were more easily accepted by the group.  In majority male groups girls were ignored.  In majority girl groups, girls tended to direct questions to the boy who often ignored them.  You may also want to specifically discuss or establish gender equality as a norm.  This may seem obvious, but it is often missed.  It may be an issue you may want to discuss with older students.
  15. Use scaffolding or diminished responsibility as students begin to understand concepts.  At the beginning of a project, you may want to give more direction than the end.  Serve as a facilitator, such as by gauging group interactions or at first, providing a list of questions to consider. Allow groups to grow in responsibility as times goes on.  In your classroom, this may mean allowing teams to develop their own topics or products as time goes on.  After all, increased responsibility over learning is a goal in collaborative learning.
  16. Include different types of learning scenarios.  Studies suggests that collaborative learning that focuses on rich contexts and challenging questions produces higher order reasoning.  Assignments can include laboratory work, study teams, debates, writing projects, problem solving, and collaborative writing.
  17. Technology makes collaborative learning easier.  Collaboration had the same results via technology as in person, increased learning opportunities. Try incorporating free savvy tools for online collaboration such as Stixy, an online shared whiteboard space, Google groups, or Mikogo for online meetings. Be aware that some research suggests that more exchanges related to planning rather than challenging viewpoints occurred more frequently through online interactions.  This may be because the research used students that did not know one another.  If this is your scenario, you may want to start by having students get to know each other’s backgrounds and ideas beforehand on a blog or chat-board.
  18. Keep in mind the critics.  As with any learning strategy, it’s important to have a balanced approach.  Cynics usually have a valid point. A recent New York time article, cites some criticism of collaboration for not allowing enough time for individual, creative thinking. You may allow some individual time to write notes before the groups begin.  This may be a great way to assess an individual grade.
  19. Be wary of “group think”.  While collaborative learning is a great tool, it is always important to consider a balanced approach. At times, group harmony can override the necessity for more critical perspectives. Some new research suggests that groups favored the more confident members. Changing up groups can help counter this problem.
  20. Value diversity.  Collaborative learning relies on some buy in.  Students need to respect and appreciate each other’s viewpoints for it to work.  For instance, class discussions can emphasize the need for different perspectives.  Create a classroom environment that encourages independent thinking.  Teach students the value of multiplicity in thought.  You may want to give historical or social examples where people working together where able to reach complex solutions.

By definition learning is social in nature.  Using different mediums, whether it be books, discussions, technology or projects we study and develop new ideas. We impart ideas and share perspectives with others.  Collaboration is a learned process.

If managed correctly, it is powerful tool that can allow educators to tap into new ideas and information.

Source: InformED by
Open Colleges
Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/facilitating-collaborative-learning-20-things-you-need-to-know-from-the-pros/#ixzz2Bki8FK4Q



Open Colleges Ludwig poster

James Joyce affirms that geniuses not only accept mistakes as part of the learning process, but willingly seek them out as doors to self-discovery.  In education, our perception of mistakes is important.  It challenges conceptions of what defines success and failure.

The greatest mistake I ever made in my education was failing a physics course at Cornell.  I opted to take an auto-tutorial class that did not require calculus because I was afraid to make math errors. Up until this point, I had never failed at anything.  It was a turning point for me.  I had to dispel prior notions of learning to succeed.  I accepted that there would be many errors along the way.  I relearned the basics I had previously memorized through difficult examples and repeated, detailed lab work.

If we see knowledge as just enough to “pass a course” then we miss the point of learning.

Changing the way we see errors and the time it takes to learn can help us produce better learning outcomes.  It allows students to engage independently in the learning process.

Why are mistakes important to achieve engagement and learning?

  • We live in an age where we are a bit afraid to let children fail.  Generation Y had ‘helicopter’ parents who were super involved in their children’s upbringing.  Support is a great thing.  But over-involvement in a child’s life can stagnate growth.  The New York Times ran a recent article that considers how allowing children to make their own mistakes naturally, helps them develop a stronger sense of self. Research on parenting suggests that children with responsive parents who balance high expectations while respecting a child’s sense of self fare better. Allowing age-appropriate mistakes can increase confidence and problem solving skills.
  • Educators can fall into the same trap as parents.  We want to be responsive, but not overbearing. The goal of education, after all, is to have students solve problems independently.  Students should be able to take a generalization and apply it to different situations.  Mistakes are the basis of application.  They allow for experimentation.
  • If we don’t allow students to fail in the classroom we are setting them up for failure in the real world.  If we see knowledge as just enough to “pass a course” then we miss the point of learning.  Sure, students might get the ‘right answers’ on an exam but know little about solving problems.  This is essentially what happened to me in Physics.  I memorized the textbook because I realized I was not very inclined towards left brain thinking.  Had I allowed myself to make more mistakes in my past learning, I would have probably fared better in college Physics.  When it came to college, my memorization didn’t help much-the gaps in knowledge produced a poor foundation for future success.
  • Taking time to engage in mistakes actually allows students to move to a deeper level of understanding.  We can argue that this type of in depth learning influences their entire life, rather than knowing “just enough” to pass a course.  One may question why more teachers don’t incorporate this approach?  Well, it is counterintuitive.  Mistakes are costly in terms of time.  And time is limited in classrooms.  But if we see learning as a continuum based on the individual, rather than set principles we must achieve, it breaks down this reasoning.
  • Every person will learn differently and perhaps focus on different parts of a topic.  If we see learning this way, allowing mistakes seems more logical.  For example, I just talked to my daughter’s first grade teacher about her reading skills.  She is currently reading on the middle of the continuum-she may very well progress to level 2 or stay at her current level.  Whatever her reading level is at the end of the year it is okay as long as she is challenged, because she has already mastered the basic skills of reading.  There is no “set” level she must achieve each month.  Learning is based on her individual progress.  A continuum allows room for errors.

Why do we avoid mistakes in our current model?

  1. Our education system often punishes errors, rather than rewarding risk-taking.  Schools were modeled in the Industrial Revolution to be efficient and reduce time spent on divergent thinking.  After all, in a factory environment, divergent thinking might break down a process or the status quo.  In today’s global technology-based economy, we often want students to do the opposite-to find a way of improving a process or a way of seeing things differently.
  2. Our grading system, on a scale of A-F follows with this approach of seeing failure and errors as a thing to be avoided.  In some cases, perhaps failure is just that, a lack of understanding that needs to be corrected or lack of preparation.  But mistakes on the way to mastery can be valuable learning opportunities.  They solidify learning connections.
  3. Mistakes require a time investment.  We can teach the entire textbook, but if students can not apply knowledge to solve problems it is meaningless.  We may want to focus less time on covering the entire scope of knowledge, and rather focus on real mastery.  As the saying goes, learning that is mile wide, inch deep is not very useful.  A student can go back and fill in the different topics if there understanding of a topic is deep enough to solve problems.  Application of knowledge is more important than acquiring additional superficial knowledge-which is easy in today’s day and age with technology.
  4. Our current standards focus on topics that should be covered, in addition to skills.  If we only focused on skills, teachers would have more time to go deeper into subject areas and allow students enough time to achieve mastery.  Sometimes, teachers are racing against the calendar to make sure all required topics are covered by the end of the year.  Less specific standards on a continuum might be more beneficial, rather than rigid requirements.
  5. We define success as limiting the times we fail.  Instead of focusing on complexity and mastery, we measure success as the number of times we avoiding making mistakes. On many exams, we are choosing the correct answer, rather than demonstrating we can solve a complex problem.We try to reduce the time spend on trial and error.  We don’t think students will clearly understand a topic if they make errors.  A better way would be to consider what errors students are making-and focus on how a student applies knowledge.  Exams can focus on building information, rather than regurgitating it.
  6. We focus more on lecturing and providing a foundation for knowledge.  Lecturing can afford students with a basic understanding of a field, but when solving problems trial and error is necessary.  For example, most homework is a problem set, or application of a lecture.
  7. At times as educators we try to avoid assigning problems that are too challenging.  We may not allow opportunities for blunders to occur. We are afraid that making too many mistakes might confuse students.  But when we lose sight of mistakes, we may be missing exceptional learning opportunities.
  8. Learning is teacher directed, rather than student-led.  In the old model, learning often focuses on listening to the teacher lecture and then applying knowledge to specific situations.  We might want to consider reversing the order of traditional learning:  presenting a problem first and then letting students learn how to solve it.  This type of reversed learning scenario allows opportunities for growth through trial and error.
Our current model often tries to curtail errors.  We limit the time students spend in class figuring things out on their own.

Mistakes can be a very powerful learning tool.  How we view mistakes can transform our classroom model.  Our current model often tries to curtail errors.  We limit the time students spend in class figuring things out on their own.  We see learning time as a limited resource, rather than approaching learning as a continuum individual to each learner.  We set standards that are the same across the board and allow little room for mistakes.

PART 2: Turning Mistakes Into Learning Opportunities

Today, if you asked me about my most memorable learning failures, I will tell you I am glad they happened.  My errors have made me a better teacher and learner.  I can now relate to students who have a difficult time understanding a concept.  The failures themselves may not have been my strongest point, but what I learned from them was invaluable.  Mistakes can be excellent learning opportunities.  It may seem contradictory:  to create situations where students will make mistakes purposefully.  We might allow extra time for class problem solving or focus on more challenging examples.  Errors often result in increased knowledge.  Controlling where and how these errors occur is an option.  Frustration can result if no resolution and feedback are given after errors are made.  A positive classroom environment that encourages students may also provide a good groundwork for allowing this type of learning.

How can we use learning errors to our advantage?

  1. Instead of discouraging errors, educators should find ways to support individual learning processes.  Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Standford studies motivation and found that rather than praising intelligence, educators should focus on encouraging students to think of their mind as flexible and support individual responsibility.  Similarly, Jonah Lehrer, in “How we decide” talks about how educators suppress problem solving and may  make students feel that mistakes are a sign of lesser intelligence.  Lehrer suggests relying less on praise and allowing time for students to develop skills on their own. “. . . Instead of praising kids for trying hard, teachers typically praise them for their innate intelligence. . . . This type of encouragement actually backfires, since it leads students to see mistakes as signs of stupidity and not as the building blocks of knowledge.”-Lehrer
  2. Accept mistakes as part of the learning process.  Half the battle is realizing that errors can be used as learning tools.  The other half is learning to use them correctly. Mistakes can work to our advantage.  Some students resort to memorization, rather than risk making errors.  But something is lost if education does not allow students time to try things on their own.  Many teachers steer away from this model because mistakes take away valuable instructional time.  But some new proponents argue there may be something wrong with this model.  Perhaps we must reconsider why we aren’t letting students make their own mistakes.
  3. Achieving mastery should be the purpose of education.  Professionals are essentially experts who after years of study have learned specifics in a field.  But the process of learning a concept is just as important as the concept itself.  Why?  Mastery produces learning that is meaningful.
  4. Use mistakes as part of a discovery process that engages students.  Allowing time for individual exploration will create opportunities where failures may occur, but they can be used as a tool. In a recent talk, Noam Chomsky discussed how education should allow students to search, inquire and pursue topics that engage them.  Chomsky believes that education should allow students to discover on their own.  Education should prepare students to learn on their own in an open-ended way.
    • The Khan Academy is a great example of this.  Their model focuses on students experimenting to achieve mastery.  The Khan Academy is essentially a series of educational videos in math and other subjects.  Their aim is to have a student be an expert before moving on to another subject.  Using interactive exercises, teachers can gauge student understanding.
  5. Focus on self-paced learning strategies whenever possible.  Media can be used to incorporate self-paced learning in the classroom, where students complete lectures at home, and “homework” examples in school.  This saves classroom time and switches the focus of learning to problem solving.  Students learn general information at home and practice examples in class. Allowing students to make errors in the classroom, rather than at home is beneficial.  At home, there is no teacher or at times, support may be absent to guide students who may give up and not ask a teacher the next day. Salman Khan compares achieving mastery through experimentation to learning to ride a bike.  The gaps must be bridged before students can move on to the next skill.  You cannot ride a bike without achieving balance first.
  6. Use technology can turn errors into a teachable moment.  Some teachers use student examples on the overhead or power point to show divergent thinking and how students might approach a problem differently.  Actually showing mistakes during class (with their names to avoid embarrassment), can make students realize that they are an acceptable part of the learning process.  Seeing another student’s mistakes can also help bridge learning connections.
  7. Use immediate feedback to reduce frustration.  Bill Gates pointed out that the Khan academy relies on “motivation and feedback” of a learning process.  Immediate feedback from mistakes in learning can actually be a powerful learning motivator.  The teacher can serve as a resource that helps students find answers on their own.
  8. Accept that learning is a messy process.  When attempting one of his inventions, Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”  If we want to encourage our students to achieve their ultimate best, we must acknowledge that learning is non-linear.  Each learner will have preferences and inclinations.  No two students are the same.  By accepting this, we allow room for individual differences.  By allowing students to make errors, they can better assimilate information to their needs and learning styles.
  9. Rather than resorting to memorization, allow students time to practice in class.  They may discover that their weaknesses are just different ways of approaching a subject.  Rather than a weakness, their errors can be ways to realize that they are just seeing things differently.  They are part of a greater learning process that is individual to each learner.
  10. See learners as apprentices.  An apprenticeship is a good way to understand how this model works.  An apprentice works for years under a Master until he is ready to complete the task on his own.  He is allowed to make mistakes, and even encouraged to do so.  After learning the basic skills from the master, an apprentice is often required to design a complex project on their own that showcases their unique skills.  Errors are considered part of the process of being an novice.  The trainee eventually develops his own style and point of view. After many trials, the apprentice becomes the master.

As James Joyce suggests in Ulysses, a true genius sees all learning as an opportunity to improve and discover.  Errors are taken at will.  In making mistakes, we can reach new heights and finds our true genius.

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. – Henry C. Link

Source: InformED
Read more: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/the-value-of-mistakes-should-it-matter-how-long-a-student-take-to-learn/#ixzz2BUn2YYtt

Free Online Courses: Top 50 Sites to Get Educated for Free


Source: Open Colleges



Whether you are looking for a master’s degree program, computer science classes, a K-12 curriculum, or GED study program, this list gives you a look at 50 websites that promise education for free.

From databases that organize over 1,000,000 students throughout 16 universities, to a small library of documents for those interested in history, the opportunities for free online learning continue to expand as the Internet becomes a crucial component in education.

1. UMass Boston Open Courseware

The UMass courseware offers a broad range of classes in areas like psychology, biology, early education, political science, history, mathematics, and others. Each department has a separate page listing the classes available. Along the side, you are given your syllabus, assignments, a professor bio, and recommended reading.

There are no slides, videos, or lecture notes, which makes this open courseware inferior to other universities that offer extensive resources.

2. Khan Academy


This website has a variety of video lessons for free. The course subjects are broken down into particular lessons, which is great for students who are looking to learn one principle without taking an entire course. For example, the biology subject has separate videos for evolution, photosynthesis, genetics, and others.

If you prefer reading to watching, this site may not be for you as the lessons are all video based.

3. MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware

For those looking for courses that will test even the brightest student, MIT is sure not to disappoint. You can download all the course material, which is nearly identical to the course taught at MIT (it even gives you the year and semester it was taught). Since it is an on-demand course, you don’t have any ability to connect with others who are taking it. It is simply an independent study for you to study on your own.

4. Free-Ed

This site is a bit difficult to navigate, as it is not as well designed as other open courseware websites. Similar to most databases, you search through the subjects and categories until you find the class you want to take. One advantage to Free-ed? When you find a class you like, there is the option to click on networking. It will notify you if there are Facebook groups or other online groups you can join that have individuals taking the course you are interested in.

5. Learning Space: The Open University

This website offers downloadable coursework in lots of different categories like youth and children, languages, business, engineering, and others. When you look through the coursework, you can view them according to rating. Other users can rate the class, which may help you in deciding what course to take. The main page does warn that there is a new site design coming in the fall of 2012, so there may be changes soon.

6. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

This website is well designed with ample content to explain how Carnegie Mellon’s OLI works. Unfortunately, you cannot view the course without creating an account. The tagline right above the courses says, “No instructor, no credits, no charge.” Like so many other free courseware, it is an individual study.

7.  Tufts Open Courseware

Tufts makes it clear from the start that their courses are not the same as the ones taught in the classroom. It is up to the professor’s discretion what is posted for free and common use. You don’t need a login ID to view the material, and the professors’ lectures are available as slides. Since there is not any more explanation beyond the slides, it may require you to dig deeper in your own research to understand the whole lecture.

8.  Stanford on iTunes U


Stanford on iTunes U gives you two options. You can either subscribe to the updated video lectures, or simply download the one you’d like to watch. In order to participate in this course, you do need to have an iTunes account and software.

9.   Utah State Open Courseware

These courses are easy to access and find with quick browsing. Each class lecture is offered as an MP3 file with an html document that outlines the assignment. This is a bare bones program, as the assignments are simply exams to test your knowledge of the material.

10. Kutztown On-Demand Online Learning

The Kutztown On-Demand program is focused mainly on business. You must fill out a brief survey before you can access the course, but the material is organized nicely, with small video clips for each topic. You can stop and start as you need to since it is broken down into small pieces. Aside from the slides, there aren’t any other materials to test your acquisition of knowledge.

11. USQ Australia Open Courseware

USQ’s courseware is limited with only ten different courses offered, mostly in technology. The modules are laid out right online with lecture notes and testing assignments. Unfortunately, there is no way to network with any other students enrolled in the courses.

12. University of California Irvine Courseware

The Irvine Courseware offers a variety of classes in different subjects. Unlike other open courseware programs, Irvine does offer a link to information about getting academic credit for some of the courses offered. All the information for the course automatically downloads as a Word documents when you click on the links.

13. EdX


This website offers an array of courses from different universities. The main difference between EdX and other online courses is that the class is a specific length and duration. When you sign up, you are committing to the class time and assignments. You can register for classes offered by Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and other prestigious schools. If you are looking for a class you can do on your own time, this isn’t the website for you. The classes here are similar to paid online learning classes.

14. Coursera


This is one of the largest website databases for University open courseware. Like EdX, these courses are at a set time (usually lasting for 10-14 weeks). You can access classes from 16 different Universities’ including Princeton, Duke, Stanford, and CalTech. With over 1,000,000 users, Coursera has established itself as the central “go-to” website for free online University learning.

15. Udemy

Udemy is an online institution that offers courses taught by leading experts. You can choose from classes on developing products for Facebook, SQL databases, Photoshop, Music Theory, Business, and many others. Udemy also allows everyday experts to create their own class, so you will have to be selective about the courses you want to take as anyone can create a course. There is a bio about each instructor, along with an Amazon-like review area for users to rate the course and give their opinions about the class work.

16. Connections Academy

connections academy

Connections Academy is a free online K-12 curriculum for homeschoolers and other children in non-traditional classroom settings. This academy relies heavily on parent involvement with a stated, 96% satisfaction percentage. Each lesson has an overview, a lesson, review, and assessment. There are tools, textbooks, and other resources to bolster the student’s educational experience.

17. K-12

This free online K-12 curriculum is offered by state. Currently, only 33 states offer the program. If your state participates, a list will come up of academies that your student can enroll in. K-12 is a network of schools offering education. It is not an independent curriculum developer. There are also private schools that network with K-12, but there are tuition costs.

18. GED for Free

GED for Free is a basic online course offered to students who have not been able to complete high school and need to get their GED. You simply fill out a student profile and begin studying. This site is only designed to teach the students the concepts that will be tested on the GED exam. There are no advanced courses or enrichment activities.

19. Free World U

This is a free online k-12 learning system that specializes in flashcards as a way to test the acquisition of skills. The school is free but if you want an accredited program, which comes with tests, certificates, etc., you will need to pay a monthly fee. Without registering, you aren’t able to see much about their curriculum, so it is a bit difficult to navigate.

20. CosmoLearning

This website is a database, listing classes by topic. For each class, there is a sidebar that tells you what school offers it, how many students took it, and the instructor. Unfortunately, the class material only comes in a video lecture format. There are no assignments or other materials.

21. OpenCulture

OpenCulture has compiled a list of University free courses. In their list, they identify what form the lecture comes in (iTunes, Web video, YouTube, etc.). In addition to course listings, they also offer lists of free audio books, free textbooks, and free language lessons. This site does not offer its own curriculum, but rather it compiles resources for easy navigating.

22. New York University

This site is a bare bones archiving of math courses offered by New York University. When you click on a class you like, it takes you to a list of files that are available as PDF documents. Perhaps the material is interesting, but the packaging is not done very well.

23. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses

Open Yale courses offers a great website that is easy to navigate and comprehensive. There are a variety of subjects offered, which can either be downloaded as a zip file, or viewed online. Each lecture has a video (which was recorded during the actual course on campus), plus a transcript and a PDF of slides used during the presentation.

Along the side, the video is broken into lecture chapters, so if you can’t finish the whole thing in one sitting, you can come back to it later. There is no need to sign up or create an ID. Yale has made it easy to take their courses.

24. Gresham College

Gresham College offers lectures for students in different topics. You can watch or listen to past lectures, or attend upcoming lectures. This college is in the UK, so if you are interested in a lecture, you’ll have to wait until it is posted online to view.

25. Notre Dame Open Courseware

Notre Dame has an extensive list of open courses available on their site. They are listed with small buttons next to each title, signifying what the course consists of (syllabus, assignments, video, exams, etc.). When you enter the course, a left hand menu bar helps you to navigate through all the different aspects of the course. There are required readings, which may force you to buy textbooks. Overall, it is a highly organized site and easy to navigate.

26. JHSPHOpen

The JHSPH open courses are comprehensive.  Choose from the list of available topics, and view the materials in a clean and streamlined format. Each lecture comes with slides and an MP3 for download. The classes have a calendar, recommended reading this, syllabus, and a final exam. They also have a place for you to email and give your comments.

27. Open UW

This website is a small initiative offered by the University of Washington. It has a list of ten courses, none of which can be accessed without filling out a lengthy profile and sign up. There are other universities who take more pride in their open courseware experience than UW.

28. Udacity


Udacity is a digital university that specializes in computer science courses. The web layout is extremely easy to navigate. You are given five-minute video lectures with quizzes and assignments. There are no textbooks required, and everything is free. In addition to the class, Udacity offers an online forum where students can collaborate together, study, and work in groups.

They can arrange for you to take a proctored exam to gain credit at participating universities. They even offer to hand your resume to partnering companies. This institution is about helping the student succeed on all levels!

29. University of the People

University of the People is a private online tuition free university. You apply just like you would for a traditional institution, and they currently offer an Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree in computer science and business administration. They are currently seeking accreditation from the US. Department of Education.

This university works like a traditional online distance learning degree program, where you sign up for classes, interact with other students, professors, and complete assignments. It is a great option for those who want a college education experience but don’t have the money to do it.

30. Academic Earth

academic earth

Academic Earth is a website that helps students find a degree program of their choice. They do offer free lectures, but that is not their main focus. Instead, it is geared towards matching students with the right online degree program.

31. Textbook Revolution

The Textbook Revolution is a site run by students who want to improve the exchange of free information. There are textbook exchanges, plus lists of online resources and free course offerings. This is a grassroots based organization- having been developed by students for students. This is a great site to use as a resource.

32. The Library of Congress Files

While this is not an online education site, the government has created a library of files pertaining to America’s history, literature, towns and cities, technology, war, and other important topics. These files are free to access and read, and can bolster a student interested in the social sciences.

33. Alison

Alison is free online education institution that offers lectures, videos, and class materials in various different topics like nursing and education. In order to enter the course, you must first sign up. Each course has a summary page, which outlines the materials provided, the instructor, a syllabus, and the amount of time it will take to accomplish. The site itself isn’t as easy to navigate as some of the others.

34. Webcast Berkeley


Webcast Berkeley has a very simple model. You simply watch a recording of the class that a professor taught on campus. There are no sign in ID’s, assignments, or other resources. It is simply something you watch and absorb. Some of the classes only offer audio lectures. If you are looking for a bit more structure, this school isn’t for you.

35. GCF LearnFree

This website advertises free courses, lessons, and apps. Rather than getting a degree, the classes are tailored to a specific skill like, “Learn Microsoft Word.” The layout is a bit complicated, so it will take some patience to navigate the pages to find what you want.

36. Google Code University

Google Code University offers computer science courses for those interested in coding and languages. You click on the course you’d like to take, and all the materials, videos, and lessons are along the side bar. There is no option to interact with others, so it is essentially an independent study.

37. e-Learning Center

The e-Learning Center offers a modest selection of courses in customer service, software, and computer science. In order to access the course, you must first sign up. This limits a viewer’s ability to see what is offered without first making a commitment.

38. Saylor


Saylor University is an advanced learning site, offering degree programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Once completed, you will receive a certificate (though the school is currently not accredited). Saylor promises that your knowledge and education will be equivalent to a traditional college education. The website is easy to navigate and understand and a great choice if you are interested in the material.

39. Master Class Management

Master Class Management is a website designed solely for those students interested in a business degree. You receive a certificate at the end of each class. Unfortunately, it seems this site is more excited about receiving money through advertising, as the Google Ads are strategically placed right above the “next” button. For someone who is not tech-savvy, they may click on the ads thinking that is the next step.

40. Brigham Young Free Online Courseware

This site offers courses not readily found at other schools. You can take a class in strengthening marriage, family history, honesty, righteousness, and other religious type topics. In order to view the class, you must register first.

41. University of Michigan Open

At the University of Michigan Open courseware, you can choose from a substantial variety of topics. The information all gets downloaded to your computer, after you’ve read the synopsis. There is no interactive component or ability to network with other students.

42. NLC Open Learning Courses

The NLC website is very basic, only offering a few classes. These classes are simply a collection of web pages with information. There is not a lot that has been done to develop this program, so look elsewhere first before using this website’s materials.

43. FlexiLearn

This website is part of the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Free courses are available after you have registered, though the site does make it clear that the courses are independent, and there is no access to a professor. However, there is an online forum attached to the website that allows you to collaborate with your peers.

44. Nixty

This website does not offer its own curriculum, but is a networking site for teachers, students, and institutions. You can log in with your Facebook account and use it as a resource hub for your online learning. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else you can discover without first signing up with an account.

45. Capilano University

The Capilano University offers a modest selection of courses for independent study. When you enter the course, you are provided with an instructor bio, syllabus, assignments, and lecture notes. It is a simple website, easy to navigate, and great for the motivated and independent learner.

46. TU Delft


TU Delft offers courses at both the bachelor and master level, arranged by degree program. You will have access to lecture notes, exams, and assignments in a broad range of topics and subjects. It is easy to navigate, free, and requires no sign-in!

47. United Nations University

This unique university offers courses in government, economics, electronic government, and more. Each unit is free to download, or can be viewed as a PDF file online. There aren’t many classes offered, but the classes are very specific to those who may be interested in government or International diplomacy.

48. Weber State University

Weber State University offers only six classes currently in automotive electronics, technology, health, and English. Each class has the same modules as other open courseware, but the program is small and only narrowly developed.

49. Universaid Colombia

A Spanish website for those who do not speak English. There are a wide variety of courses offered, and the site is well laid out and organized. There is no login required. You simply click and enter the course!

50. Kendal College

This college has been offering free distance learning classes, but it may not be this way for long. Their courses do provide certification that is recognized in the business world. They specialize in areas of learning, such as mental health field, beauty and fashion, performing arts, craft and construction, and media.

As online education continues to expand, a student’s opportunities will grow as well. More and more, traditional universities are seeing a need to reduce the cost of education and keep students interested in their programs. Private companies are also taking the opportunity to create dynamic programs that are free and accessible to anyone!

Image by thart2009


Book for NEW teachers

Posted by JCarr16 Jun 12, 2012

I'm searching for an outstanding book for NEW teachers. I want it to be an easy read, powerful, full of practical advice and good stories.

Help students learn their spelling and vocabulary using technology.  A range (over 300) word sorts already created.  Create individual student logons.  Monitor student learning.  Teachers, you can create customised word lists for sorting in any way you choose.  Great for independent work (e.g. rotations).


Check out:




APPR Resources

Posted by mgisondi Aug 19, 2011

I'll use this space to keep APPR resources as I come across them.  Seem to be discussing these with schools everyday.


NYSED.gov - Teacher and Principal Practice Rubrics


eCOVE Observation Software: Software for Gathering Data While Observing Behavior

Observations that save time, increase accuracy, and provide the basis for testing implementation of researched best practices and student behavior interventions.




Observation 360



Here is a forever growing list of found favorites.  In no particular order...



  • International Society of Technology in Education

    The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier membership association for educators and education leaders engaged in improving learning and teaching by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-12 and teacher education.


The vision of Project Tomorrow is ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.  We believe that by supporting the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in our K-12 schools and communities, students will develop the critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills needed to compete and thrive in the 21st century. 




The iSchool Initiative is a student led organization dedicated to fulfilling the vision and promise of a 21st century classroom. This promise includes the integration of technology into the learning environment, bridging the gap between students lives and the classroom.


Observations that save time, increase accuracy, and provide the basis for testing implementation of researched best practices and student behavior interventions.


To promote the use of Android based technology in educational environments



A GREAT site the Edutech has put together here - tons of resources focused on the iOS platform.


In 1996, the founders of EducationWorld recognized the need to create a home for educators on the Internet, a place where teachers could gather and share ideas. They wanted to create a complete online resource that educators could visit each day to find high-quality lesson plans and research materials.


eduTecher was founded in late 2007 as a way to keep track of the growing number of web tools that could be used in the classroom setting. The website’s mission is to help educators and schools around the world effectively integrate technology and web tools into the classroom.


Found this while searching for Apps - a Google Docs spreadsheet that lists Apps specifically for the iPad.  There was no other identifying info to give credit for this information. 


These pages include free or almost free apps for K-12 teachers and students.


Serving and supporting serving New York's school leaders


Just joined this group.  Haven't had time to read through a lot, but did see a great discussion on Best Education Apps that I'm looking forward to spending more time on.  Take a look!

    • Just spend a few minutes reading through this and found this GREAT site: http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/  Was playing a multiplication game on my Motorola XOOM and it was fantastic.  Definitely check this one out, especially for Android devices!


From their site: 4Teachers.org works to help you integrate technology into your classroom by offering online tools and resources. This site helps teachers locate online resources such as ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars. There are also tools for student use. Discover valuable professional development resources addressing issues such as equity, ELL, technology planning, and at-risk or special-needs students.


From their site: The "Top 25" Websites foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.


From their site: Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others. 

    • Stumbled upon this site recommended by a poster from another blog, only spent a few minutes here but definitely want to check it out, especially with my kids!


Just came across this site.  In the brief few seconds that I looked at it, I found these:


Definitely check this out.  Another one of those things that I stumbled upon and have yet to read all the way through it.  I did find this link though: Using Google Sites + ePortfolios

I'm hoping to make this blog a place to post information pertaining to the exploding number of mobile applications that are designed with the Special Education student and educator in mind.  Please feel free to share the apps that you've found that have proven effective in the classroom.



Articles / Apps focused on Children with Autism:


New apps from AutismClassroom.com


GadgetsDNA.com Article: 10 Revolutionary iPad Apps to Help Autistic Children


TheAutismEducationSite.com blog: 20 iPad Apps for Kids with Autism


App Resources


IEAR.org: Education Apps Review -  App Reviews and Educational Commentary


Edutecher.org: Explore, Share and Contribute webtools and apps


Found this while searching for Apps - a Google Docs spreadsheet titled Hilton School iPad Apps

     - No other identifying info to give credit for this information.


Stumbled upon a blog dedicated to Autism.  Here's a link from this blog with a List for Apps for Android

The US Department of Education plan document - Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology


The National Education Technology Plan, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, calls for applying the advanced technologies used in our daily personal and professional lives to our entire education system to improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement.


It presents five goals with recommendations for states, districts, the federal government, and other stakeholders. Each goal addresses one of the five essential components of learning powered by technology: Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity.


Click HERE to visit the site directly for more information.  Click on the picture below for the comprehensive 124-page document in pdf format.



Click HERE to order your own hard copy of this document at no cost.

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