I had a wonderful time at the California Teacher's Summit at CSUMB two weeks ago. In addition to being inspired by some awesome keynotes, I was able to leave the summit with a few new tech tools (to me, at least). In addition to the write-up below, I've also added these to our big bad list of technology tools which continues to grow. 

Included: Periscope, The Answer Pad, Asana, and SAM's Guide to Family Resources in Monterey County

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Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Nancy Kotowski, County Superintendent of Schools

  1. Roundup: New Tech Tools for August

    Mon Aug 10, 2015
  2. Beauty Over Brawn

    Thu Jul 30, 2015
  3. Review: Airtame

    Wed Jun 24, 2015

Roundup: New Tech Tools for August

I had a wonderful time at the California Teacher's Summit at CSUMB two weeks ago. In addition to being inspired by some awesome keynotes, I was able to leave the summit with a few new tech tools (to me, at least). In addition to the write-up below, I've also added these to our big bad list of technology tools which continues to grow. 

Periscope

Periscope is a free tool that allows free, live broadcasting of videos from virtually any iOS or Android device. Viewers can comment on the video or send hearts (their version of the 'like' button) as it happens in front of them. Fortunately for Ed users, you can set your videos to be private and specify the users who can see your feed. You can also archive your videos for later viewing, but only for up to 24 hours (free only goes so far - right?).

The well intentioned uses for this app are many, though I think the best way to use this tool would be to bring parents and community members into your classroom. Imagine if a parent on his or her lunch break could log-into your feed and watch one of their children presenting in front of the class or launching a water propelled rocket in science class. I could also see a savvy administration using this to connect district office staff to school sites so they could get connected to what is actually happening at the classroom level. 

Now, unfortunately it's live video open to the world, so the downside is...well...video open to the world. You give people a camera and an audience and quickly it devolves into not-safe-for-work content. I'd heartily recommend not giving this to students as Periscope hasn't quite adapted to the K-12 world yet. You definitely want to use the private feed option and warn any parents about the other feeds out there and reassure them that your class content is walled off from the general chaos out there.

So overall a neat tool with some potential, but it will require some careful planning on your part.

The Answer Pad

The Answer Pad (or TAP) is a lot like Formative - it's a web based app that allows teachers to get quick formative assessment data from students using a variety of different modes. You can have students answer multiple choice or true/false questions, make choices on a Likert scale, or draw their response. You see the responses as soon as the students submit them ("send out" as they say on their site) and can grade them based on your own set criteria.

Unlike Formative, it is a freemium product that offers a teacher and site/district level license that adds additional features to the mix such as uploading your own images and annotating on top of them. Their site/district tier allows for integration with other applications such as (possibly) your SIS or GAFE domain. I've not tested their 3rd party integration.

Overall, Formative seems to have the edge in the price-to-feature category as all of Formative's features are free, especially its best feature: being able to upload a document and quickly tell it where the questions are, turning a scanned worksheet into a fillable worksheet in seconds. I think TAP has a few more high-end features, but as a solo teacher with no funding you'd be hard pressed to make the choice of TAP over Formative. If you are a district that's another story.

Asana

Asana is a free, lightweight project management tool that doesn't require the use of e-mail. It is a great tool for teams working on a big project (WASC, LCAP, etc.), especially those that span different districts since you don't have to be on the same platform (no Exchange-Google calendar messiness) here. That of course is a downside - your calendar and e-mail will still be on a separate system.

Still, for many tasks outside of the classroom, this could be a great tool to get everyone organized and on the same page. (Hello PTAs!). In the classroom, I see less use, but boy I wish I had something like this when I was teaching Yearbook. For project based classes or extra-curriculars, Asana could easily help organize what needs to be done. You can assign tasks, give due dates, and even attach files to the specific tasks. You can also have people be 'followers' of the task so that they get progress updates. Naturally you can have your own private list for things that don't involve anyone else.

For all those coaches, administrators, publication teachers or debate club advisors, check out Asana and see how it can radically simplify the way you keep track of all your to-dos.

Bonus: SAM's Guide to Monterey County Family Resources

This isn't EdTech, but it's good information to have in your back pocket. SAM's Guide to Monterey County Family Resources is a 127 page guide that is updated twice a year and contains useful information about a myriad of services offered to families in the county:

"This updated resource guide includes information on 35 topics or areas of service.  Included are resources for food, housing, drug counseling, disabilities, health care, services for the homeless, parent education, child development, domestic violence, recreation programs, senior services, teen services, and transportation, to name a few.  More than 350 agencies and programs are listed in the guide.  This is an excellent resource for nurses, social workers, counselors, teachers, community liaison workers and all others who provide counseling on health and social services to families in Monterey County, California.  The guide may be downloaded at no cost."