Published on December 12th, 2012 | by Jeff Herb2
12 Cool Educational Tech Tools for 12/12/12
With such a cool date comes some really cool educational technology. How can you pass up the opportunity to do a ’12 things’ list on a day where the day, month, and year are all the same (considering it won’t happen again until the year 3001)?
This will be a hybrid list – some things I have talked about on this site before, others will be new to the site and perhaps new to you as well. Please, share your own ’12 Things’ list in the comments (or even just one or two). FYI – this is not a Top 12 list, just a list of 12 things that I find useful for educators.
1. Microsoft Office 365
Offer the ability for your students to use some of the Office products for free – both in school and at home. Using Office 365, educators and students are able to use the web-app versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – as well as have Exchange email. This program saves thousands of dollars on software as the service is all web-based.
Here are some key included features:
- Cloud-based email, calendar and contacts
- Use your own domain name
- Instant messaging, voice and video chat
- Online conferencing with desktop sharing
- Web-based viewing and editing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files
For more information, click here.
2. Lego Education Simple Machines Set
Designed for first through third graders, the simple machines sets allow kids to explore pulleys, gears, levers, and wheels. The mini-sets offer a great way to teach observation and problem solving skills. By working together to solve problems given in the activity pack, kids learn important lessons about teamwork and communication in order to complete the instructions and build a machine. A set will cost you about $50, but it is a worthwhile investment as it can be reused over and over.
Check out the Simple Machines set and others at legoeducation.us.
3. Educreations Interactive Whiteboard
Educreations is an iPad app that acts as a recordable interactive whiteboard. It captures your voice and handwriting to create video lessons that you can share online. Students can then replay your lessons in any web browser, or from within our app on an iPad.
Recorded lessons are capable of being embedded on any website, adding a little extra functionality to your class website. Educreations is something that anyone can learn to use easily and can be a huge asset to visual learners.
Get started with your own interactive whiteboard by Educreations.
With thousands of active educators collaborating on Twitter each day, Twitter has become one of the most important Professional Development tools for educators. Whether you simply follow those who teach the same subject you teach or if you participate in multiple #chats, you will find a wealth of information and a vast amount of experience.
So many are more than willing to share information, answer questions, and collaborate to better education across the world.
5. Livescribe Pens
One of the educational technology devices that I am most excited about is the Livescribe pen. For those who are unfamiliar with the device, it allows you to capture your handwritten notes and synchronized audio digitally, as you are writing and speaking. Using a special paper (that is provided at purchase and is printable online), your notes are digitally recorded and synced to either Livescribe Desktop (if you have the Echo) or Evernote (if you have the Sky).
Just the other day we did a #PATUE chat about using Livescribe pens in the classroom and it is amazing to see what teachers are doing with this device. Some mentioned flipped classrooms, others are having students create ‘pencasts’ and having them share with other students. The learning potential when you combine writing, audio, and digital recording is pretty amazing.
Record your pen strokes and vocal cords using a Livescribe pen.
Evernote is a tremendous (and free) tool for educators. For those who are interested in digitizing their notes and developing a cloud-based repository for all their lesson plans and student work, Evernote is a perfect tool to use. The service is capable of holding notes created in the software, housing PDF and image files, and creating searchable versions of PDFs and images by using OCR, which is done on Evernote’s servers.
Also, make life easier for your co-workers by sharing documents with them with a click of a button.
Get your lesson plans organized using Evernote.
7. Satechi 12-port USB Hub
What doesn’t use USB? I know that as computers keep getting smaller and slimmer, and as the cloud becomes more popular as a means for storing files, USB ports seem to disappear from new computers instead of getting added. That isn’t a huge problem for the casual user, but for an educator that uses a lot of tech in the classroom you may find yourself in trouble. This 12-port hub has a ton of uses, here are a few:
- Charging 12 USB devices at once (iPad, Android, cameras, etc)
- Syncing 12 iPads at once
- Making room for external storage
- SMART Board cable, Flashdrive, Livescribe pen, iPad, wireless mouse/keyboard…get the idea?
- Classroom charging station
8. Circa App
Circa is a relatively new app, but has blown me away. Considering it provides ‘news in summation’ as I like to call it, the app is incredibly informative and free from opinion based editorial comments that could stray minds to think one way versus the other. Equipped with links, maps, and pictures, Circa provides consistent updates on top stories that bode well to many different classrooms.
Teach current events using Circa app, free from the app store.
What can’t you do with Dropbox? Many of my 1:1 teacher friends (and non 1:1 teachers as well) have been using Dropbox as a very efficient way to collect student work. With free accounts, it becomes a secure and simple way for students to submit work to teachers at any time. Gone are the days where students can say that my printer didn’t work or I lost my flashdrive. Cloud storage is accessible on any internet enabled computer. It is easy to setup shared folders with an entire class, or just a homework folder for a specific student.
When setting it up with your class, remember to share your referral link with them so that you get the extra upload credit!
Dropbox.com is a great way to manage student work and organize your classroom.
10. QR Codes
QR Codes are gaining in popularity as a quick way to convey information. You may have seen them in magazines, in stores, or on real estate signs. As with most great technology, QR Codes are also finding their way into the classroom in some pretty cool ways. I have seen teachers do scavenger hunts using QR Codes, share links to articles, distribute homework via a QR Code on the way out of the room, etc. All students need is a device that has a camera and an app to read the code (tons of free ones). One snap and they have any info that the teacher wanted them to receive saved right on their device.
Here is one option that I talked about a few months ago for use in a school. Use the QR code here to sign up for our mailing list!
11. Apple TV
The Apple TV is a killer sidekick to the iPad. One of the best uses of the Apple TV is the functionality it brings to the iPad – allowing for AirPlay mirroring of the iPad wirelessly to a projector or HDTV. It really is best used in a Mac and iOS environment – but there are certainly uses beyond just mirroring an iPad as it works great with streaming services such as Netflix.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding the idea of recording your lessons for student review when they aren’t in class. Screenr.com is a great way to accomplish this when you have demos that are done on the computer. The system couldn’t be easier. There is no software to download (great for our typically restricted school computers), works with Mac or PC, and will play on any device – mobile devices included. Best of all, it is free to do 5 minute recordings.
I think there are some great options for use here. It works great for a teacher wanting to create a how-to section for students to review. You could also create demos for when you have a sub in your room. For a hands on learning experience, have students create the recorded lessons to share with you or with other students.
Screenr.com – a free service!