education & tech

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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Tips to Protecting Your Student’s Online Activities

By Jennifer Thayer*
Hectors World Launch - Australian Communications & Media
More and more school districts across the country are starting to provide students with tablets for use in the classroom and for homework assignments. Millions more kids use their own mobile devices to stay in touch with friends via social media. This should come as little surprise, as this new technology offers innumerable benefits over traditional text books and can be a tremendous tool for learning.

Of course, online time can also pose a potential risk if not properly monitored. It's important to note that the Internet, for all its advantages, makes it easier than ever for students and children to access adult material. What can be done to prevent this from occurring while also enabling children to reap the benefits that being online provides?

No single online security solution will solve all of your problems. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or grandparent looking to safeguard children, taking a multi-tiered approach to online security can go a long way towards ensuring that your student, son, or daughter isn't accessing materials that are inappropriate.

Here are some safety measures you may want to consider.

The Technological Solution

One of the easiest and most effective ways to restrict a student's access to inappropriate material is through the device's built-in parental control settings. Most mobile devices include some type of restriction access within the settings. By activating these settings, you can limit access to Web content, applications, camera usage, texting, online app stores and more. You can also deactivate the phone's GPS should you have concerns about other parties tracking the location of your student's device.

The best thing about a phone or tablet's built-in parental control settings is that they're fairly bulletproof. Once activated, they can only be deactivated with the passcode you create. Keep this passcode to yourself, and you alone will have control over the content that is accessed on the device. Though third-party anti-virus and security applications are available, they won't be as effective as the device's internal controls.

Monitoring the Old-fashioned Way

A number of applications are available (such as My Mobile Watchdog) that will allow you to monitor someone else's device from your own. Should you decide to go this route, we encourage you to share this information with your student, son, or daughter. If your student knows that the phone activity is being monitored, he or she is less likely to partake in inappropriate behavior. After all, what would be the upside? Perhaps more importantly, this conversation will enable you to maintain a clear and open relationship. Though no student wants to be spied on, either by a teacher or parent, it is only made worse if it's without their knowledge.

You don't have to resort to such tactics, however. If you're in the classroom, you can simply be active and engaged with the students' mobile device usage. Monitor which websites they're visiting, which applications they're using, and whether or not they're attempting to access things that they shouldn't be. Simply walking around the room may be enough to discourage such behavior. As a parent, it's no less important to monitor your son or daughter's mobile device usage. If you have concerns about what he or she is doing, lay down ground rules.

Making Expectations Clear

Children are curious (and sometimes a bit mischievous). You likely won't be able to completely control what they access using mobile technology on their tablet or smartphone. However, they can also listen. It never hurts to have a conversation with your student about what you expect of him or her in terms of online behavior.

(*)Jennifer Thayer is a long time contributor for Education & Tech.

Education & Tech

Tech Tools That Have Caught Our Attention in 2015

Today's teachers grew up in a world that was still primarily analog. We hand wrote our class notes and assignments, typing them up only when our teachers demanded it (or we wanted to show off). It's understandable then that even the tech savviest and most affectionate among us would still gravitate toward analog tools by default.

Today's kids, however, are not analog kids. Today's students have never lived in a world without email or laptops. Heck, today's K-6 students have never lived in a world without YouTube.

It makes sense, then, that it would be the teachers who need to adapt their styles and tools to the needs and norms of their students. This isn't always easy. We get that. That's why we've put together a list of some awesome tech tools for teachers that have caught our eyes and we think will help you more effectively teach and interact with your students.

Digital Planners

Remember that notebook your school would hand out every fall, with the calendar and the room for class schedules and the pages of blank boxes in which you were supposed to write your homework assignments? Those are still around, but now many of them have digital counterparts. For example, Meridian is launching a new digital version of its planner called Meridian PRIME, which allows students to personalize their schedules while simultaneously making classroom management (like grading, giving/receiving homework assignments, etc) easier for you.

Curation Tools

In your day, you had to make giant collages and tactile representations of content you'd curated around a single theme. That's harder to do in a world that increasingly values being as paperless as possible. Even so, a simple curation tool like Paper.li can be used to create the same digitally-based effect as those collages and boards you used to have to make as a kid. With online curation tools, your kids can create their own newspapers (like what Paper.li offers), etc. Pinterest is another useful tool here, but privacy issues will likely come into play.

Online Collaboration Tools

The group project is a tried and true tradition in the classroom. In the digital age, however, you don't want your students to have to waste time sending files back and forth while they are working together. Google has a suite of tools that are helpful with this like Docs and Hangouts. If you're looking for something more structured (and that will allow you to peek in on and help guide your students' progress), tools like ProofHub and MindMeister are great.

Presentation Tools

Power Point is dead! Long live Power Point! Yes, the widespread use of Power Point has made tools like overhead projectors almost obsolete. Even so, Power Point can only do so much. It's kind of boring. To make your classroom presentations more dynamic, use tools like Emaze or Prezi. These tools help you create presentations that grab attention. Prezi even allows you to move around, zoom, etc., within your presentation which is helpful when you're trying to keep your students' eyes from glazing over.

Social Media

Setting up a classroom-specific social media platform is a godsend for teachers. Students can communicate with each other, ask questions, get help, etc. You can monitor these conversations and participate as needed -answering those questions, adjusting lesson plans when you see that everybody is stuck on something. Edmodo is a great tool for this. It sets up a simple, Facebook-like environment for your classroom, allowing students and you to connect with each other easily and quickly. Schoolology is another great tool, and has the added benefit of giving you a safe space in which to connect with other teachers.

Games

There is still a debate over whether educational games are truly educational or if they are just a market for money grabbers. Like with most other genres w've talked about here, there are going to be games that help your students and games that are little more than distraction. Still, having access to games that help encourage and enhance learning is a great way to connect with your students. FunBrain, MangaHigh, Socrative are all great tools for helping your students learn and allowing you to assess their progress in certain subjects.

More and more the classroom is going digital. Students can even go to school entirely online now, via virtual K-12 schools. Instead of fighting against it, why not embrace all of the digital tools that will help you do your job and make the learning experience richer for your students? And don’t forget, there are also plenty of tools out there that are just for teachers to use as well! Don’t forget about the benefits you'll get from having better connections with your colleagues.

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