Instagram and Flipagram in Education

Looking for a new, creative way to showcase learning from a student perspective? Instagram may be just what you're looking for.

I tried Instagram in the classroom after getting some humorous inspiration from Jim Sill in a keynote he gave at the Google Education Summit in Singapore. How can you use it? One way is to have students document the process of learning during an investigation. You can  do so by having them post pics to Instagram using a unique #hashtag that you provide to them.

Then, take the photo compilation and create a slideshow using Flipagram. The 'show' can then be shared with the school community using Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or by embedding it in a web site. The use of these apps puts the power of pictures in the students' hands, and by using tools they know and love, you can create a multimedia presentation that is truly crowd sourced.

Power to the people!


For other ideas about how to use Instagram in the classroom, check out this post from Edudemic.

Watch this video to learn more about using Flipagram.

 

Learning to think with Code.org

"Everybody should learn to code 
because it teaches you how to think"
-Steve Jobs 


As a technology teacher who has taught coding for years, I couldn't agree with Steve Jobs' comments more. There's no doubt that teaching students HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby and Python so that they may create dynamic, interactive web sites, apps etc. are examples of thinking visibly personified.  But in a world of instant gratification, how do you get students excited about a process of learning that many students (but not all) view as time consuming and laborious?  Well, thanks to the star power of people named Will.i.am, Drew, Bill, Elena, Chris, Mark and Gabe, coding is now on everyone's radar and get this, coding is cool! Haven't seen the promotional video yet? Here's the 60 second teaser for Code.org:


Code.org

Code.org is a one-stop shop of on-line resources to teach students, both young and old, how to code.  For elementary students,  be sure to check out a video about Scratch and after watching the video, try Scratch by downloading it for free. Also for the younger set, try Robologic (iOS) and Lightbot (Android), which are programs in which the user drags commands to move a robot.  Codecademy is a web-based learning environment which offers 'Tracks', which are a series of courses which have been grouped to help the user master topics or languages that include Web Fundamentals, PHP, JavaScript, Python and Ruby.  For those not quite ready to dive directly into these courses, there's Kidsruby. For high school students, there's CodeHS. CodeHS is a site which will introduce you to programming. It is built for complete beginners, and you learn by watching videos, working in the browser, and then getting help and feedback from real people who know the material. CodeHS is the easiest way to start a programming class at a high school. All the materials and teacher support are provided, so the teacher doesn't even have to be a programmer.  While everyone can try the trial for free, additional modules come at a cost and depending on whether you are a basic or premium member will determine the level of support you will receive.

Code.org offers multiple entry points into the world of programming, all in one place.  So, if you aren't sure where to start with programming or are looking for where to go next, a visit to Code.org should be your next step.

"Great coders are today's rock stars. That's it." - will.i.am.


"The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future.  You are going to look like you have magic powers compared to everyone else" 
- Gabe Newell, Valve video game developer



Creativity, Integrity and Technology


As a technology educator in a 1:1 high school, one of my goals is to promote the use of technology in a way that encourages integrity and creativity.  Too often, students are using technology (laptops, tablets, smart phones etc.) for what I describe as non-purposeful communication via Facebook, Skype, etc. Other times, students are using technology to consume media produced by others by watching videos on YouTube, Hulu or Netflix or even downloading copyrighted material using sites like Mega.

Recently, I addressed this issue with our students at an assembly and emphasized that not only should students act with integrity and follow the school's acceptable use policies, but they should also use technology creatively.  In terms of acting with integrity, this is something I described as what students do with technology, "when no one is watching".   I also emphasized the need students for to consume less media and to create more.  As a school, we want them to know that "digital expression is the new literacy and that creativity is the new fluency." 


I highlighted these points by showing creative examples of technology use in our school and encouraged all of our students to do something great with technology.  In as much as I had a strong message to send about the consequences of the unacceptable use of technology as it relates to downloading torrents, harassing or bullying others on-line, etc., I didn't want the take away to be, "don't do this" and "don't do that".  The real message I shared was, "as a school, we challenge you to be creative and share all the great things that you are capable of doing using technology".  It was a message well received by students and teachers alike.  Now the challenge is to act upon it.

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