Grading Tool for Google Apps

If I had the time (or someone paid me to have the time!), I could post several new technology and learning tools every day. THere are an incredible number of tools and services in EdTech being made available. That's great - and that's a problem. There is so much that many good things simply get lost in the pile.

Most teachers can't keep up with. If they are lucky, their school has someone or a department of someones who are able to keep up with what is new and point instructors to things that might work in their particular classroom.

A good example is some thing I stumbled upon that is worth looking at if you are a user of Google Apps for Education.

logoFlubaroo is a tool that can be used with Google Forms to do formative assessment. It is a free script that was developed by a
Googler during that "20% time" that Google employees get to work on a project of interest. (Some of those projects get into the Google Lab and end up becoming something that is offered to the public. Do you know any schools that offer paid 20% time to teachers to develop resources? Just a thought...)

Flubaroo helps teachers grade assessments quickly and easily. It's a bit limited at this point in the types of assessments that it grades but it is useful and may expand if it gets use. You can grade multiple-choice or fill-in-blank assignments, compute average assignment score, average score per question, and flag low-scoring questions. It shows you a grade distribution graph and gives you the option to email each student their grade, and an answer key.

Watch a 3 minute Flubaroo demo


More Space For Wikis

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Wikispaces.com is now offering free wikis to higher education. When they launched more than five years ago, they announced plans to make 100,000 of their wikis ad-free and private, load them up with extra features and then give them away to K-12 educators. That went so well, they decided to give away 250,000 more. And they kept going.

I have used Wikispaces for wikis a number of times. One example is the End of the Essay wiki I created for a podcast series that I helped Dr. Norbert Elliot put together at NJIT.  I have also had students create wikis as projects using the site.

According to their blog, they have given away 980,000+ free classroom wikis for K-12 education, and now they are extending their commitment to give away 2 million total free wikis for education. The features in these free educational wikis normally cost $50 per year, but are completely free when used for K-12 or higher education.

Teachers, students, professors, researchers, librarians — anyone can use their wikis in K-20 education. If your wiki will be used exclusively in higher education, you're eligible for one of the Higher Education plan wikis. On this complimentary plan, you’ll get a free wiki with more complete privacy settings, our User Creator tool to create student accounts in bulk, and other great features. Get your free Higher Education plan wiki.


If your wiki will be used exclusively for primary and secondary education, those wikis are free and ad-free, and you can make them private. You can also open student accounts in bulk — without student email addresses. Create a free K-12 plan wiki


20th Century Skills and 21st Century Tools

An article by Dan Gordon on http://thejournal.com argues that schools continue to deliver new graduates into the workplace lacking the tech-based "soft skills" that businesses demand.

It more of an indictment of K-12's failure to integrate technology, but I'm not so sure that many colleges are doing a better job.

The author references a 2007 report called "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System" which came from a task force of leading employers, ed tech advocates, and educators.

It was their conclusion that schools were barely using technology, so it was not a surprise that they also felt that schools were not developing technology skills for the workplace.

Of course, the question that is often asked in this discussion is whether or not it is the role of K-12 (mostly 9-12) classes to prepare students for the workplace.

Those workplace skills are often called "21st century skills" that we often hear employers demand. And yet, when you see lists of those skill sets, they don't really cry out "technology."

Beyond the core academic subjects, those skills include the ability to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, and solve problems. Those are skills that have been valued for decades and well before the current race to technology.

The current news item seems to be that in the four years since that report, no one is reporting any significant change or improvement.

For all the reports on millennial students who are "tech-savvy" (a very dangerous term to use) and are experts at instant messaging, texting, mobile devices and social media, employers are not finding any transferable tech skills. 

The secret sauce will be to combine those 20th century skills like problem solving and collaboration with the 21st century digital tools.


Microsoft Releases Math 4.0 Free

math

Microsoft has released a new version of its math education software Mathematics 4.0, making it available as a free download for the first time. Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 is designed for students in middle school through early college. It teaches users how to solve
equations and reviews fundamental math and
science concepts.

Microsoft had charged for the previous version,but this free new version has been downloaded 250,000 times since its January 2011 release. The programs runs on Windows XP, Vista, and 7, as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008.

The software includes a graphing calculator capable of plotting in 2D and 3D, a formulas and equations library, a triangle solver, a unit conversion tool, ink handwriting support for tablet or ultra-mobile PC use and a new feature enabling a user to create a custom movie where a 3D graphed image shifts among multiple shapes as variables change.

Microsoft also provides an 18-page step-by-step guide on the program's functions.

Guide and information  http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/guides/mathematics_4.0.aspx


Download  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=9caca722-5235-401c-8d3f-9e242b794c3a

Propose a New P2PU Course

shirt What have you always wanted to learn about and never got around to taking a course in?

The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) wants you to get involved in organizing the next cycle of courses for 18 April.

If you've got an idea for a course, study group or workshop you'd like to participate in, simply create a course plan or view existing course drafts to see how fellow organizers are planning their courses. If you feel like you need more support in developing your course, we invite you to join the orientation where experts will be on hand to help you out.

Courses are scheduled to begin after 18 April, but feel free to propose start dates and course lengths that suit your schedule.

P2PU is a global community and platform for learning, where all activities are free and open. Together, we're teaching and learning everything from mathematics to web development to literature, using open educational resources and learning in study groups. P2PU is run by our global community of volunteers who believe that the best way to learn is from and with other people, no matter where in the world you are. P2PU uses peer learning and open content to scale quality education beyond the traditional institution.

For more information, visit http://p2pu.org

An Open High School With Open Content

When I talk to people about open textbooks, I always point out that it is a subset of open educational resources. An article I read this week had caught my eye because it addressed a school using only open textbooks, but the interesting thing about the school is that ALL of its content is built using open content.

This virtual high school in Utah has left traditional textbooks and the "curriculum" that they drive to embrace open content for all of its coursework. In 2009, when Open High School of Utah started, it was with the plan to have no textbooks ordered, no buildings, and no classrooms. They would use a virtual environment.

Two years later, this Salt Lake City-based public charter school is using open content coursework created by its instructors and available on the Web at any time.

I first came upon the school via the article "Open Content in Practice" online at the THEjournal.com

On their demonstration site at http://www.openhighschool.org/the-ohsu-experience/see-how-ohsu-works they introduce the school by saying:
"At the Open High School of Utah, we combine our incredible Open Curriculum with an innovative teaching model that (1) provides students with one-on-one individualized tutoring when they need it, and (2) allows them to work ahead at their own pace when they don’t. The result is great flexibility for you and your student with the assurance that a caring, qualified teacher is there to help when you need it."

You can see some presentations by teachers on some of their courses (like English grade 9) on the site.

David Wiley was key in moving the school forward. Wiley is an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University and also the founder of OpenContent.org.

The school opened with 225 ninth-grade students, added 125 tenth graders in 2010. The course content for the new 11th and 12th grade students for this fall is currently under development.

If the only benefit you hear touted for using any open content is cost savings, then I question the effort. Whether it is selecting an open textbook for your class or puttingan entire school together, you would need to show that the coursework is up to date and relevant.

I like that teachers are curriculum developers and that they are paid a good amount ($8 -10,000) to produce a course. Free content, like the proverbial free lunch, has costs.

Open content is certainly easier to adapt because of local needs or changing state and federal core curriculums and standards. Teachers at the school know that curriculum writing and revising is part of the job description for teachers.

The school is accredited through the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. It is free to attend with nominal charges for yearbooks and equipment.

They will graduate the first class in 2013 and plan to expand to 1,500 students over the next three years.



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http://www.openhighschool.org
http://www.opencontent.org