Detachable Chromebooks – Your Thoughts?

We’ve told you they were coming. We’ve told you there were multiple detachable Chromebooks in the works. We just didn’t know when exactly they would break cover or who would be the first to market. Those questions have now been answered, and we couldn’t be more delighted to share with you all the fantastic details!…

via HP Unveils The World’s First Detachable Chromebook — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

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Do You Have The Chrome OS Bug?

At the end of 2017, an odd bug showed up in Chrome OS that caused some issue with users’ ability to control the size of elements on the screen in Android apps. For many of us, until the bug began being pointed out, we didn’t even think about resizing the display for Android apps. After…

via Bug Fix: Android App Display Size Fixed In Chrome OS 65 — Chrome Unboxed – The Latest Chrome OS News

Developing an Online Course Is Like A Box of Chocolates

Chocolates would be good right about now. Every time I sit down to work on the next piece of one of my online courses, I start searching for the one with the gooey caramel center. I mean, that’s what it’s like. I look for the nuggets of wisdom. The centers of rich and creamy perfection that I can share with my online students.

box of chocolates

Gee! Now I’m hungry – again!

Teaching online is a bit different than just taking your seated course and moving it to the cloud. Some universities and professors find that an acceptable way to educate adults online. Frankly, I haven’t seen it work yet. You have to find the richness that is found in your topic and make it relevant to the classroom.

The online platform requires a different set of skills for the learner. If I don’t find out what kind of learner they are, I can’t assist them in any way. Asynchronous courses – those that can be accessed and worked on at any time by teacher or student – are tough for those that aren’t used to self-directed learning and being in the proverbial closet when doing their work.

While I’ve tried to set up synchronous meetings in past online classes, the availability of busy teachers (including me) just hasn’t been helpful. My summer courses seem to have a bit more flexibility, but even then my students are often working other jobs to make ends meet.

So back to the development of these courses…

My courses are project based. They have to be. Writing papers for an online technology course is like asking a cat if he wants a bath. It just isn’t pretty. Besides, it doesn’t show me what my students know and are able to do.

I create tutorial videos and screencasts which help a lot. But, if my content changes every 10 weeks or so, it’s hard to keep up that recording schedule. My dog isn’t much help. He barks every time I need a quiet moment. Or the 3D printers start printing a remote job. Or someone comes to the door. Or, well, I could think of a million excuses.


Who did we ask before Google

The fact remains, that I keep searching. Searching for just the right chocolate. Searching for just the right center. And then Google changes the way they do something. Or links go stale. Or the LMS (Learning Management System) gets changed. Or I’m just not satisfied that I did my best work. Or I’m in a hurry because I also work a full-time job and have a family.

Do I love it? Yes! Do I need to keep reinventing my courses? Yes! Maybe you are a teacher reading this and you think you might like to learn more about learning online. Or you need CEUs and want to learn more. Come shake up one of my classes. Come try out your Growth Mindset because you just don’t have it all done YET. Oh, and bring chocolate. Because everything is better with chocolate!

Barbara Vinal is a full-time Instructional Technology Facilitator and Magnet School Coordinator. She teaches online for the New England Institute for Teacher Education. She also teaches piano and plays keyboard/sings in a contemporary Christian music band.

Am I Really Making A Difference?

At least once a week I ask this question: “Am I really making a difference?” I don’t ask it out loud. Sometimes it’s so subtle that I’m not sure if I really want to know. But every educator asks the question sometimes. I just find myself asking it more often lately.

No, I’m not looking for a pat on the back or even an affirmation that I’m really functioning well. Mostly I’m wondering if I’m “doing enough” or “making my work worth it”.

Do you ever feel that way?

So why do we question our ability when we know we’re doing the job?

Because the true educator is never satisfied with pretty good or finished. The true educator tries to find a better way or a more engaging topic. The lesson plan always evolves.

It feels like a restlessness. It might come across as if I’m unhappy with my job. I’m not. Not really. Mostly I’m feeling as if I could do more. Help more. Facilitate more. Listen more. Communicate more. Care more. Okay, answer fewer emails and phone calls!

Yet, I’m passionate about learning. My learning, my students’ learning and the teachers around me learning. But I can’t do it all. There. I said it. “I can’t do it all”. Not at work. Not at home. Not anywhere. So I start to feel like less than what I am. Silly, right?!?

Maybe you’re nodding in agreement right now. It’s okay. All educators feel it. Even you. Maybe especially you.

So do we look for a different job? Always. Do we change up what we do? You bet. Do we try to stop long enough to let the truth sink in? Probably not enough. The truth, friend, is that we are burned out. Our emotional bank is overdrawn. Our light is dimming under the bushel basket. And our energy is depleted.

Does that stop us? Briefly. Or maybe it paralyzes you like it can me.

So I cope. And I look for jobs. And I realize that I am what I do. I AM a teacher. I AM a coach. I AM a mentor. And all of those things meld together nicely in my life.

Do I need a change of scenery? Maybe. Do I need to reinvent myself yet again? Maybe. But the bottom line is that I love people. People of all kinds. People who need me just as much as I need them. To quote Barbra Streisand, “People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”

So, am I really making a difference? I think I am. Are you making a difference? Don’t be afraid, speak up. Tell someone. Tell me. We are stronger together.

Did someone say vacation?!?

‘Twas the Night Before Conference…

It never fails. No matter how much I prepare for presenting at a conference, I’m still putting final touches on my final product fairly late the night before. It’s not that I’m not prepared. More like I’m not satisfied with the work I’ve done. Not. Ever.

Google Classroom for Littles 101 NCTIES18Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a perfectionist. Not by a long shot. But, the images aren’t just right. The text doesn’t look right. The content is just not as complete as I want. Oh, wait! I’ve only got 45 minutes! Cut out a few slides or just plan to skip them if it seems necessary. Improvisation is the name of this game.

I’ve been presenting at conferences and workshops for over 20 years. I’m not a professional by any means and it’s certainly not my regular job. I just love to share knowledge – almost as much as I like to learn something new. My students teach me something new every day. They are amazing at finding some tip or trick that I didn’t know. They constantly make me re-think my methods and my motives. Sometimes they make me laugh and sometimes they make me want to go back to school and start again.

As I develop my session, I use authentic student work. Some work from my adult students and some work from my second graders. This cross section is amazingly similar. They are very diverse in ages but very similar in learning styles. So when I bring forth examples, I hope to guide other educators down the path that has kept me teaching for all these years: constant amazement at what learning does for the human soul.

So, I’ll go back and add another image. Or take one away. Or I’ll move the text over and change the background. Or I’ll delete another slide and add fewer graphics. Maybe I’ll even finish before 4:15 tomorrow when that first slide pops up and it’s showtime. Come to my session and see if I’m done! Google Classroom for Littles 101 in Room 302B at the Raleigh Convention Center at NCTIES 2018. See you there! #ncties18 #Google4Littles

 

Mac or PC? Does the debate really still exist?

I’ve always been a Mac gal. I have rebuilt my MacBook in various ways and I will continue to do so until it just can’t function any more. There was a day that I totally didn’t want to use or touch a PC because, frankly, I didn’t really understand them. Not that I couldn’t figure them out, but they just weren’t as simple as my Mac (or Apple IIe at the time). Yes, I just helped solidify that I’m well aged.

Now, of course, I not only use and work on Macs, but use and work on PCs. When I moved to NC from Maine, I went from Apple world to PC world. I had to learn fast as I was in charge of helping my school with their tech concerns with PCs. Windows XP was a far cry from Apple OS!

My first year in my school district, I was kicked off of the network constantly. Finding a Mac on the network was akin to a hacker getting into the secure space. Eventually the tech services folks got to know me and they stopped kicking me off. Made my work a whole lot easier! Because I didn’t have a PC laptop issued by my school, I had to learn my way around with the help of my geek husband. His skills on both PC and Mac made me look like a rock star in those early days!

So, here we are in 2018. The debate about which OS is better is less of an issue. Google Suite is cross platform and available anywhere. Microsoft’s Office 365 is the same. Everything living in the cloud has made collaboration across platform amazingly easy. No one has to know that I use a MacBook for everything that I can because, well, frankly, because I can! I’m more efficient with my Apple products even if I sometimes complain about the fact that they “don’t sync immediately” (read: spoiled).

What is your thought on the platform debate? Is there still a debate? I know that far more PCs exist, but I’m still sold on my 2010 MacBook Pro 17″ screen laptop – which my students claim is “HUGE!” – that gives me the most screen real estate I can get with an attached monitor. Besides, I’m finding that I can see that larger screen better now that I am a bit older!

The Digital Skills Gap – is Higher Ed falling behind?

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with […]

via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights