Recently in Digital Kids Category

Today I discovered a mistake on my test and instead of reprinting the entire test, I made copies of the corrected problem and glued it on top of the incorrect problem...some additional work for me, but less paper used in the end.  One of the students was particularly happy to see what I'd done...the others, not so much.  With all of the controversy surrounding climate change, it makes me wonder how much of what we teach about personal responsibility actually makes a difference.  In this vein, here are some online environmental games centered around ecology and conservation.

Planet Science  is a collection of games about the planet Earth that includes space and nature puzzles. If you want to design a new planet check out Nasa's Astro-Venture.

Clim'way is about helping the larger community reach some specific climate goals. You have to create a climate plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage in a certain time frame. Your plans can include setting up alternative energy sources, reducing human consumption etc.  The best part of the game...it is written in French to reinforce the global nature of taking care of the planet!

WebEarth Online is nature’s game of survival in a Web based world of great beauty and danger.

Games about composting and recycling include Vermi the Worm and Recycle City.

What tech blog would be complete without a cool app...click for Sonogram.  This application is all about "visible speech" and is really a method to analyze voice patterns.  If you want to see how the sound waves look...explore Play a Piano.




"Digital natives" is not a new buzz-word.  It has been around for at least 10 years...yikes, has it been that long??  Anyway, there are some new ideas that are worth exploring.  For example, what implications are there for encouraging students to work together on a finished product?  Isn't that Wikipedia's basic premise....creating a body of knowledge from collaboration?  Or how about cultural knowledge...what do students know about, exactly?  Consider Helene Heggemann....

From an article in the February 10, 2010 New York Times..."It usually takes an author decades to win fawning reviews, march up the best-seller list and become a finalist for a major book prize. Helene Hegemann, just 17, did it with her first book, all in the space of a few weeks, and despite a savaging from critics over plagiarism."  Ms. Heggemann states that, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” For more read on....

This phenomenon has been explored by University of Notre Dame anthropology professor Susan D. Blum in her book, My Word!  In her book, Prof. Blum attributes this more to a culture in which students are increasingly asked to collaborate socially as well as academically than to a desire to overtly plagiarize.  A review of her book explains it as "Those who want to understand the ideas in the book may want to note the title; it's no coincidence that Blum wrote about college "culture," and not "ethics" or "morality." And while she did use "plagiarism" in the title, she faults colleges and professors for failing to distinguish between buying a paper to submit as your own, submitting a paper containing passages from many authors without appropriate credit, and simply failing to learn how to cite materials. Treating these violations of academic norms the same way is part of the problem, she writes."

A recent NY Times article on digital natives also suggests that the problem is cultural.  "But these cases — typical ones, according to writing tutors and officials responsible for discipline at the three schools who described the plagiarism — suggest that many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed.  It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism."

Each year since 1998 Beloit College has released the mindset list to help their professors understand why some students do not relate to their stories or examples.  This year's mind set reminds us that most students starting college were born in 1992....too young to know about Dirty Harry, Czechoslovakia or J.R. Ewing.  For the complete list....click here.


Final exam time always makes me either nostalgic for the olden days before computers OR grateful that there are so many cool tools for students.  Either way, I found these on a very interesting website, Make Use Of.

PinkMonkey

PinkMonkey is very much like Sparknotes and Cliffnotes, except that it has slightly more detailed summaries.

FlashCardExchange

Known as the “worlds largest flashcard library”...you can create your own Flash Cards or study using the hundreds of pre-made flashcard sets covering a variety of different subjects.

LectureFox

LectureFox is a great place to go for free university lectures. Choose a category and see a list of lectures from various colleges, including MIT and Yale.

PrintablePaper

With PrintablePaper, you never have to worry about running out of “special” paper. As long as you have a printer, you can print graph paper, lined paper, and even Cornell paper. Download 400+ different papers, all for free.

Evernote

Evernote is a note taking application. Get notes synced to the desktop, the web, and even your iPhone.

For the rest of the applications...read on.

This new generation of students has been the focus of workshops, employment seminars and books.  Even the commercials on TV have redirected their message to reflect this new "i"...as in, "I am a PC and Windows 7 was my idea."  In the most recent eWeek, author Larry Rosen (The Psychology of Technology AND Me, Myspace and I) talked about the challenges of teaching students who are constantly connected.   "Children born in the 1990s, dubbed the “iGeneration” by Rosen, live in a time of rapidly changing technology, in which they are constantly connected to a number of mobile technologies. Rosen said the “i” stands for both the technologies these students use—such as the iPod, iPhone, and Wii—and the individualized ways in which students use these tools.

“iGeners are growing up with portable technology. Literally from birth, these children are able to grow up using mobile technology,” he said. “But I also look at the little ‘i’ as reflecting the individualized culture—reflecting our needs and desires.”

Rosen said teenagers’ desire for individualized experiences is something they expect will carry over into their education. Jody Steinglass, president of Empire Edge, responded to that need when his company designed Adaptster, an SAT math study tool that differentiates and individualizes learning for its users.  Click here for the rest of the article....


One of the challenges (and ultimately worth many $$$)  of this "connectedness" will be to determine the method that will students access textbooks and other materials.  The publishing community has "jumped on the proverbial bandwagon" and aligned itself with either Amazon (in the form of the Kindle reader) or Apple (in the form of the iPad) but perhaps this more traditional format is NOT the eventual outcome...I remember the VHS vs BETAMAX tussle of the 80s.  The future of "e-reading" might just be Blio...developed by the Kurzweil Educational Systems, pioneers in assistive technology.  Read on.....


For those of you ready to jump...here is a collection of free online books and textbooks.


Another by-product of this digital lifestyle is the need for shortened language imposed by too-small keyboards and too-fast texting.  And, according to one California college prof, he is not ROTFL.  The controversy has raised questions reminiscent of the "ebonics" discussions and challenged the value of digital communication without thought to grammar or syntax.  The REAL challenge will be how to draw the line between spoken and written word....even as acronyms are replacing phrases...how many times have you had to explain LOL?   More here.... 
In this week's The Electric Educator, John Sowash complained that Google has made his life as a teacher MUCH more difficult.  In fact, he said, "We are in an age of information. Storing facts in our brains is a pointless exercise. In the era of the iPhone, any fact, statistic, or desirable piece of information is only a few clicks away."

When I was in college, we spent many hours analyzing Bloom's Taxonomy and designed hypothetical lessons that used the advanced skills.  What struck me about Sowash's blog post is that he also said, "The skill of the 21st century that will set people apart is what they can do with the information that is available to them. What new products, services, or procedures can be improved, created or derived from the information that we have? Knowing is not as important as using." 

This view was reflected recently when Jon Schroeder visited MPA and asked Spanish teacher Kari Kunze how language instruction has evolved over the last twenty years.  She answered by saying, "Language instruction used to be more concerned with being "perfect" or "right" but now it is more important to be able to communicate effectively.  Language instruction has changed to reflect this need."  Students must be able to use what they know in order to accomplish what they want.

Here is the proposed new Bloom's Taxonomy that illustrates the differences.

Bloom'sDigitalTaxonomymap.gif

The Technology and Learning blog, TL Advisor, suggested that, "The Google it! mode of education today should force all educators to let go of the notion that we hold the keys to knowledge. Instead we are facilitators of knowledge. If a question can be answered by Googling it, then that question should not be the first question we ask."

Technology and Learning provides a template to help teachers google-proof their questions...but as one teacher pointed out, it still a matter of trust.  Maybe that's where our discussions as educators really begin?

Here are a few free resources available that you might use in order to help your students learn about plagiarism through evaluating their work. 

Grammarly gave me a detailed report with details for extra money...so I knew there was a problem but not what it was.

Plagiarism Detect gave me several Google sources with the phrases highlighted but it’s kind of difficult to use.

Duplichecker was very easy to use and found sources the others didn’t.

Article Checker found evidence of plagiarism but did not give me sources.

University of Maryland site was easy to use and found my plagiarized source.

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This site is maintained by Upper School Technology Coordinator Theresa Reardon Offerman.

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