Thursday, September 20, 2018

K12.com

I believe that, for many families with school-age children, this may be a useful full-time program or as a backup/additional study course.  Today and Tomorrow, this world we live in is going to require much more than just the “Four Rʻs”. Early start equals better results. Whether you prefer homeschooling, have issues with accessing a preferred School, a Special Needs student, or live outside access to a Public or Private school, or additional classes not offered in your area,  K12.com offers classes and career learning in “most” States.

If you have been looking for an alternative, K12.com offers online Free Tuition Public School classes and Paid Private School classes.
Assess your needs by investigating the security and safety of this online service.
Now enrolling for 2018-2019 Classes.
K12.com

By: Bill Martin

Monday, September 10, 2018

Minecraft Education Edition!

Minecraft is a sandbox video game where the player designs freely by using blocks of material. This game was released in 2009 and without a doubt it became one of the biggest video game hits in history. The concepts which govern the game are actually quite interesting and there is great potential for enhancing creativity in its gamers. However, since this game is usually bought by parents for begging kids, its perception is that it simply is a video game, and perhaps maybe even a bit addictive. 

Fast forward to November 2016, Mojang releases a new edition of Minecraft in which is designed for education. In fact, it was so specifically designed for education that users must have a Minecraft: Education Edition subscription to use the software.  Schools can actually buy this software using volume licensing. 

Why Minecraft Education Edition?
The million dollar question. In 2018, there are a plethora of educational resources online, but Minecraft Education Edition stands out especially because students have a deeper connection with this game. The first second they walk into the classroom, they will say, "YAY we're playing Minecraft in class today!". That's actually a very good thing to happen because if they're more passionate about something they are doing in class, then they will more likely be engaged. 


With these educational resources having such stimulating features, educators are bound to ask if students will be able to stay on task. However, Minecraft Education Edition is like any other educational tool nowadays. Educators are able to control what the students can or cannot do in the game. To explore even more feature of Minecraft Education Edition, click here!




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bring Nearpod into your classroom!



If you are familiar with this blog, you would notice there are tons of posts about classroom tools teachers can utilize. Today, I plan on sharing with the readers of this blog another excellent classroom tool by the name of Nearpod. In some aspects, Nearpod is actually similar to the Apple's Classroom App that was shared a few weeks ago on this page. However, as previously discussed, the Classroom App by Apple can be quite pricey for the school districts with limited tech budgets. On the other hand, Nearpod is excellent because all you need to do is create a free account to start using this tool.

What is Nearpod?

Nearpod is a simplistic online computer program which allows educators to create assessments or lessons easily. One of the objectives of the program is for teachers to "spend less time planning and more time teaching". Teachers in Nearpod have the ability to create interactive lessons in a matter of minutes by importing existing lessons then also adding additional custom interactive tools. Students are also given a voice by the program with a variety of classroom discussion tools. For example, Nearpod can provide a classroom poll in which students can vote and discuss their thought processes for an answer.



To see more of what Nearpod can do, click here.

For a brief video explanation of Nearpod, click here.

Nearpod is simply an amazing tool. The fact that it is a free-to-use program means that I highly recommend educators to simply experiment with it. There are no risks involved in testing out a new gadget for your classroom.

Enjoy!

URL: www.nearpod.com
Video URL: https://vimeo.com/129830045




Monday, August 20, 2018

Photo Tools

THE PHOTO ARGUS
11 Outstanding (Free) Alternatives to Photoshop
<https://www.thephotoargus.com/11-outstanding-free-alternatives-to-photoshop/>

I have only tried GIMP.  It had a steep learning curve when I tried it out as a possible solution for struggling Free Lancers back in the early 80ʻs.
However, I hear that it has a cleaner interface and isnʻt quite the struggle it was.

As to the others, I have no feedback to offer.  They are free or donationware.

I am no longer a fan of anything Adobe anymore since they instigated the draconian pricing model of their subscription “service”.  I know many industry and service/printing companies are so tied to Adobe that they cannot extricate themselves.  But if you find any of these that offer compatibility/SaveAs features for current, “native” Photoshop/Illustrator apps, dig in.

If you are looking for a mostly “compatible”, commercial and affordable solution, look closely at Serifʻs Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are both just $49.99 $US each and NOT a subscription.  You pay for it and own it and all the files you create in them.

And guess what:
PSD import/export
Import and edit Photoshop files directly in Affinity Photo, keeping adjustments, effects and layers intact.
Support for large PSB files, Photoshop plugins and ABR brush files are also included.

Affinity Designer is a good replacement for Adobe Illustrator.  (Iʻm not sure if it will open and save out to Illustrator.

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are for both the Mac and iPad.  Both compatible with the iPad Pro Pencil.

Check them both:  <http://www.serif.com>

Full Disclosure:  I am not connected to Serif, nor do I get money or beer from Serif for hawking their products.  Just a happy user!!

By: Bill Martin

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fact Check IT with Gapminder!

Have you ever been in an intense or heated debate regarding a topic on the world in general? Have you ever wondered if the fact/argument that your opponent stated was valid? If so, you should definitely check out Gapminder Tools. The purpose of Gapminder is to promote basic facts regarding this world and to stop people from being ignorant about facts of the world. They actually provide a short 13 question quiz regarding the basic facts of the world that most people fail. Click here for the link to the quiz to see if you can pass!




Above are examples of topics that are often misunderstood. Gapminder erases all of these misconceptions by using concrete facts. In addition, all of these tools are interactive and easy to operate.

For example, if you were arguing with someone regarding wealth, Gapminder has a plethora of tools to fact check with. These tools include bubble charts, maps and graphs. Additionally, for all of these tools you can even select your own regions or countries. In the above graph, I selected a GDP per capita graph for 5 countries. My favorite part about this type of graph is that a general trend can be seen. 

Obviously, all these tools are free to use and are simply at your discretion. Check it out! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Classroom App (Apple)

Are you an educator who is hesitant about handing out those laptops or tablets to kids during class time? Well, you are not the only educator that is like this, and understandably so. There are two fundamental issues with cutting the tablets/laptops loose to the kids. First, the risk of damage towards expensive classroom material. Secondly, and most importantly, the kids would just goof off doing unrelated work with the devices. The following graphic depicts how long an average child should be able to focus on the same task.
Source: Studydog.com

Well... you must be thinking, "I thought this was a pro-tech education blog. Why are there arguments that may actually be against a greater use of technology in the classroom?".

However, I would use these arguments to support a specific educational technology called the Classroom App by Apple. Frankly, regardless of whatever task you are doing with your students, their listed "concentration time" above will still probably apply. I believe in the Classroom App and the usage of iPads because using these devices could make your students more engaged, leading them to reaching the upper echelons of the "concentration times" listed above. For example, an 8 year old having fun with an assignment on an iPad may concentrate for 40 minutes. On the contrary, when a teacher lecture is given, the same 8 year old may only have a concentration period of 16 minutes. 

So why the Classroom App?

I recommend the classroom app because of the vast number of co-op tools it provides, and sadly, it's big-brother like monitoring tools. 


As a teacher, you can remotely create assignments and group projects. In fact, you can even create groups using your teacher device. In terms of monitoring and making sure your students stay on task, the classroom app provides screen monitoring for every student tablet. There are many more tools to be discovered within this app and I encourage you to watch this demo.

You can also read the teachers' guide for the Classroom App here.

Costs
I understand that cutting-edge technology is usually not very cheap, especially Apple products. However, I believe technology is an investment worth investing in because students will become so much more engaged in classwork. I can honestly still remember the middle/elementary school days when my friends and I would get super excited if the teacher rolled in a computer cart into our classroom. As long as the devices are maintained in good condition, they could be used for many years to come, perhaps even cutting down on costs for other supplies. 

For your convenience, you can find the Apple hardware/software price lists for US institutions here

URLs:
Apple Teaching Tools:

Video Demo of Classroom App:

Classroom App teachers' guide:

Apple hardware/software price lists for US institutions:

Friday, July 20, 2018

Garageband!

Apples GarageBand has been updated for Macs and iOS devices.
And now, the video lessons are FREE in this latest update.

I know of at least three, well-known, Hawaiian professional performers who build their own backup band, both Composing and Performing onstage with GarageBand plugging their laptop into the sound system.
Over the years GarageBand has attracted many famous performers/musicians/singers/composers to contribute features to the GarageBand software.  Many of the loops are by your favorite musicians/performers.

Compose new music. Transpose for other instruments. Create NEW music.  Build your Podcast using audio/midi hardware you already own. 
Apple's Garage band can add instrumental accompaniment to your otherwise solo performance.  
Many professional singers and instrumental soloists use GarageBand to add an unseen Band backup.

Here is the Announcement from Macworld.com about the cost-free Artist Lessons just released in the newest GarageBand update:

Added information:
History of Appleʻs GarageBand

The current version of GarageBand for Macs and iOS.

Donʻt have a Mac or iOS device?  Hereʻs your intro to GarageBand for your PC:

Or, Google ʻGarageBand for PCʻ for other 3rd party solutions for getting Apples GarageBand onto your PC.

If you are a new or practicing musician/singer, and you arenʻt using GarageBand, you should take a hard look at this software.

By: Bill Martin