Weekly Education Roundup 11/6/11

Weekly RoundupIt’s Sunday afternoon, and the last seven days already feel like a distant memory. We invite you to sit down and rifle through some interesting education articles (with a strong focus on education technology) we collected over the past week. Presenting ShowMe’s weekly education roundup!


Apple for the Teachers: iPad Shows Promise in the Classroom
A small survey of ed tech directors found nearly all of them testing or deploying iPads in their schools. Is this trend proof that Apple is delivering on their promise of handheld education?

The Benefit and Danger of Education Technology
There is an inherent lack of fairness in the funding of schools, something that greatly affects the new technologies schools can adopt. However, this also threatens the American ideals of democracy and equality.

Response to NYT article about Waldorf School
We’ve seen some excellent responses to the NYTimes article about the Waldorf Schools, and now Jeff Novich of VocabSushi shares his thoughts. Waldorf schools are private schools that focus on physical activity and learning through hands-on tasks. Technology is not allowed in the classroom. Like most things in life, there is no clear cut answer to the debate.

Educators Evaluate Learning Benefits of iPad
There are stories everyday about another district or school buying iPads. These are surprising statistics considering that K-12 educators are traditionally slower adopters of new technology. However, as Rob Residori puts it, “Is this the best use of our funds, or is it simply a tool to engage and motivate our students?”

Are teachers paid too much?
A new report called “Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers” makes the argument that teachers are overpaid. Are public school teachers really earning more money than people with the same skills in the private sector?

Khan Academy Gets $5 Million to Expand Faculty & Platform & to Build a Physical School
The $5M recently raised from the O’Sullivan Foundation will be used to expand the faculty, create a content management system, and also build a physical brick-and-mortar school. Khan Academy summer camps, anyone?


Featured User #6 – Meet Ixchell

Featured User - IxchellMeet Ixchell, an outstanding ESL teacher hailing from southern California. Her English tutorials are inspired by her ESL students and we are proud to have her work showcased here at ShowMe.

Visit Ixchell’s awesome ShowMe portfolio:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently teach English as a second language for students getting their master’s degree. Both my parents were university professors so I was constantly surrounded by academia. Having studied several languages as a child, I was always interested in how words played a part in sentences and wanted to teach a language when I grew up.

How has ShowMe played a role in your classroom?
The ShowMes I create are based on a certain English textbook, so anyone using that textbook can following along. Since a lot of fellow teachers don’t have iPads, I try to set a certain standard for my ShowMes so other teachers can use them as well. It’s especially exciting when I realize that my students are watching my ShowMes without me even having to assign them for homework!

What are some things your students have taught you?
Definitely cultural awareness, especially since these students come from all around the world. For example, body language is very important to students from Saudi Arabia.

What are your future plans for ShowMe?
I definitely plan on using ShowMe more in the classroom and creating more grammar tutorials. Students constantly ask if I will continue making them. The lessons are especially helpful since ESL learners need concrete, physical examples and they eliminate the need for me to repeat lectures.


App Store Volume Purchase Program Tips

Education Apps

Are you an educator looking to buy apps for your school’s new iPads? With all the awesome education apps out there, prices can quickly add up in your shopping cart. We learned some great tips from Gina at #EdCampNYC on how to best utilize the App Store Volume Purchase Program (ASVPP) to get special pricing on bulk purchases and maximize your school’s tech budget!

App Store Volume VoucherIn order to participate in the purchase program, you or someone else from your school should enroll as a Program Manager. The Program Manager can use the management tools provided by Apple to buy app codes and distribute them to the end users. End users can be students, teachers, or administrators, anyone who will be using the iPads. Program Managers can also set up Program Facilitator accounts to help distribute apps to the end user.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you purchase 20 or more of the same app, the app becomes discounted (50% of the original purchase price!). It actually costs the same to buy 20 copies of the app as it does to buy 10. Don’t have that many iPads for the apps right now? We recommend saving the extra codes for future expansion. There’s no expiration on Volume Vouchers!
  • Apps can be purchased with voucher credits or directly with a credit card or PCard. Volume Vouchers are physical cards in denominations of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000 that are shipped to your school. They must be used at the ASVPP portal and cannot be used to buy apps directly from the App Store.
  • Once you are set up as a Program Manager, you can establish your list of Program Facilitators. Facilitators need to provide Apple with valid email addresses that aren’t currently used as Apple IDs.
  • You will not be charged sales tax if your institution is tax exempt

For additional details on the program, check out Apple’s education section, program FAQ, and App Store Volume Purchase Program webinar. Happy app shopping!


Featured User #4: Meet JR Ginex-Orinion

JR Ginex-OrinionMeet JR Ginex-Orinion, one of our original beta testers who has created numerous outstanding chemistry ShowMes. He’s been very busy lately with a happy new addition to his family, so it was great to finally sit down and catch up over Skype!

Visit JR’s awesome ShowMe Portfolio:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I currently teach chemistry at my alma mater in Orange County, California. It was a bit strange at first when I started teaching though since I taught alongside the same teachers who had taught me in high school!

What are some tips you can share with other ShowMe teachers?
Avoid creating ShowMes that are too long – I recommend sticking to 2-4 minutes per lesson. People usually go online to search for specific topics, and you need to maintain the audiences’ attention and segment information so the main message is clear and direct. This is especially true for instructional videos.

Prep the brain by writing the ShowMe topic on the video screen from the start so people know what to expect. Remind the viewer why he or she is watching the lesson.

When you’re recording, make sure you’re in a room that has sound dampeners (ex: curtains). This will greatly affect the quality of the sound recorded.

What are some other cool tech products being used in the classroom right now?
We actually use Google applications quite a bit with the students. It’s an easy way to communicate outside of the classroom and disseminate worksheets and assignments. Doceri is also a great classroom tool, which automatically projects what’s on the iPad onto a large whiteboard screen.

What are your future plans for ShowMe?
I found Showme to be particularly helpful last year during the end-of-year review process, and I will definitely continue using it as a review tool this year. As I continue to move in the direction of flipping the classroom, I hope to eventually implement a 50/50 hybrid instruction curriculum using a combination of instructional videos and on-site teaching.

Right now I’m still brainstorming some new lesson ideas. I might create some ShowMes that help other people produce showMes. I look forward to working with other people to help produce better lessons!

Any closing remarks?
I really hope technology changes the face of education. The tech is out there, and people are finally starting to use it.


Technology in Hong Kong Schools

We are happy to present today some insight from Iris Qiu on the state of education in Hong Kong and how technology is reshaping the way students are taught. Don’t forget to check out her awesome ShowMes on learning Chinese (like this one on making egg fried rice)!

Iris QiuI am currently working at 3D Avatar School (3DAS). 3DAS is an online education company that uses 3D gaming technology to run live classes. It is a school that is trying challenge the traditional classroom teaching model. Being a high-tech education company, we are willing to try any new tools which can help us to enhance our online offering. And guess what has inspired us so much lately? ShowMe! It is such a useful tool. We plan to use it in following ways:

1. A demo video on our website to show how our classes use our technology platform. It is up already: http://3davatarschool.com/mandarin/

2. Free ShowMe videos on our blog: http://3davatarschool.com/teamblog/

3. Produce some video lessons as a supplement to our classes. For example, there will be ShowMe videos about Chinese Characters, Pinyin Systems, Synonyms etc. (Under development.)

4. Post videos created by our teachers, so that our clients can choose teachers based on videos they like. (Under development.)

HK Schools Receive Funding

In fact, technology is transforming the way of traditional teaching and learning. In Hong Kong, we (as educators) are not the only fans of technology.

The Hong Kong Education Bureau has been promoted electronic teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools recently. There is a three- year project – School E- Learning Polite Project that has received government funding of HK$ 60 million. True Light Middle School of Hong Kong and its three affiliate schools received about HK$ 2 million from the project fund to buy 96 iPads for English teaching.

In the meantime, the City University of Hong Kong financed itself to buy 400 iPads and iPod Touches for the newly promoted “mobile- learning” scheme.

“Around 400 students from the departments of Asian and International Studies, Biology and Chemistry, Electronic Engineering and Information Systems have enrolled in the scheme. They have been given hundreds of iPad or the iPod Touch for learning. More departments are expected to join the scheme in the new academic year.” (CityU NewsCenter)

New "Mobile-Learning" Scheme

I would say using technology to enhance teaching and learning is a trend in this century. We found that both teachers and students love iPads. This is not only because iPad is portable and has a multi-touch screen, but also because there are so many innovative apps coming out. iPads , ShowMe and many other educational apps have great potential in teaching and learning. We are still on our way to maximize their potential. Finally, I hope under Hong Kong’s high pressure, exam-obsessed education system, technology would bring some fun to the students.


InspireMe Contest Highlights (Pt 2)

We met the first batch of InspireMe talent in last week’s blog post – check it out! Part 2 showcases more of the fantastic contest entries along with the creators behind the lessons. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next as we enter the school year in full-swing!

InspireMe Contestants

Terry Woolard
Watch now! The State of New Jersey

The State of New JerseyTell us about yourself
My name is Terry Woolard and I am the Supervisor of Educational Media and Technology K-12 Online Learning. I hold a Masters Degree in both Curriculum and Instruction as well as Information System Management.

What inspires you?
What inspires me is watching the faces of my students light up when they understand something for the first time, when they realize they are able to achieve, succeed, Be Better. I am happily married and the father of five, four boys 16, 14, 8, and 5; and a girl 6.

Brian Davis
Watch now! Gerrymandering

GerrymanderingTell us about yourself
My name is Brian Davis, and this is my 9th year teaching in Memphis City Schools in innercity Memphis, TN. I taught computer literacy to middle school students for five years, and I am currently teaching U.S. Government to 11th and 12th Graders at Whitehaven High School where I also serve as the school webmaster. I completed the process for National Board Certification this past year, and I am waiting to hear whether or not I passed this December. I love using Showme, because it enables me to provide instruction to my students on their own time at their own pace, allowing me to give them more remediation and different learning activities during classtime that was being used for instruction. The ease of getting the videos to the website is a HUGE plus.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by seeing the faces of my students who dreaded Government because it is boring light up when they see that Government is a fascinating topic when it is taught with enthusiasm and a heavy dose of multimedia and technology. Students tell me all the time that they did not want to take Government and they took it only because it is required for graduation, but that they ended up learning more from this class than any other class because it is interactive. This really excites/inspires me.

James Sutton
Watch now! The bloomtrigger project

The Bloomtrigger ProjectTell us about yourself
My passion is in architecture, design, digital concepts and rainforest conservation. This has led me to launch ‘the bloomtrigger project’ as a revolutionary way for people to protect their own part of the rainforest. To discover more check out bloomtrigger.com. Little known facts about me… I’m learning (Brazilian) Portuguese, I keep bees and I’m part bionic (I have a mechanical heart valve).

What inspires you?
Baz Luhrmann “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” I agree with Baz Luhrmann on this, I think worrying is pointless. You’re much better spending your energy on thinking up creative solutions for problems rather than worrying about them. This one thing that inspires me why to develop simple, affordable and creative tools to help people to protect rainforest and I think Showme is an excellent example of an empowering educational tool.

Janine Ritter
Watch now! Chain Rule

Chain RuleTell us about yourself
I’m a secondary maths teacher from Brisbane Australia. I was fortunate to attend the ISTE conference this year and this inspired me to produce flip lessons for my math classes. The students view these lessons before my class so I only have to spend a little time at the board and the students have more time to work on questions in class. The students have responded well to the lessons and have told me they have also used them for revision as well.



InspireMe Contest Highlights (Pt 1)

We want to extend a warm thanks to everyone who participated in the InspireMe Contest! We witnessed an incredible amount of talent and we want to highlight some of those fantastic contest entries along with the creators behind the lessons. Of course, there’s still a lot of knowledge to be shared, and we look forward to seeing what’s to come down the pipeline!

InspireMe Contestants

Spencer Leu
Watch now! Compound Interest

Compound Interest ShowMeTell us about yourself
I’m a financial guy (CFP(r) Professional) who enjoys helping people understand personal finance and investing better. I’ve spent over 10 years in the financial services industry and have held roles in service, marketing and sales. My favorite role has always been making financial topics easier to understand and helping people make better financial decisions.

What inspires you?
New concepts in education like the Khan Academy and technology that promotes this type of education like your ShowMe app.

Watch now! Writing a Conclusion

Writing a Conclusion ShowMeTell us about yourself
I am an ESL Instructor at a University in SoCal. I’ve taught ESL overseas, and have taught from pre-k to college level. Because I teach international students from all over the world, at all levels of Second Language Acquisition, my job is full of fun cultural and language challenges! There is never a dull moment.

What inspires you?
My ESL students, of course! They are so brave to come study a new language in a foreign country, so when I make them feel that they can overcome the fear of English, they try very hard to improve their skills. The best ideas for lessons have come from observing them. This quarter I taught English through Social Media and I’ve used ShowMe for many tutorials for students who were absent or needed review. They love it!

Laura Holmgren
Watch now! Stepping Up with ShowMe

Stepping up in ShowMeTell us about yourself
I earned my B.A in English from UC Irvine, a certificate in Web-based Instruction from Simon Frasier University, and a Masters in educational technology from Leslie University. A high school English for twenty-four years in private and independent schools in Southern California, I also coach my school’s fencing team and recently started offering an interdisciplinary, project-based elective course entitled New Media Psychology and Application. In the classroom, I might describe myself as a cross between Jane Eyre and Mary Poppins: a mix of seriousness of purpose and focus with the spirit of play that manifests in the creative use of technology rather than in magic, song, and dance.

What inspires you?
The possibility to make a positive difference in students’ lives if I can engage their interest, spark or fan the desire to learn, and help them surpass their self-imposed limits to achieve personal growth inspires me to give as much to my students as they give to my class. Learning to communicate effectively and, equally important, developing something worthwhile to communicate empowers students to then make positive differences in the world themselves.

Iris Qiu
Watch now! Chinese 上

Shang (Up) in ChineseTell us about yourself
I am currently teaching at 3d Avatar School.  I installed ShowMe when it was still at testing stage.  I did not pay much attention on it at that time.  I was actually inspired by watching my son (7 year old) playing with Showme. He was drawing, talking to himself and laughing. Then  I thought I probably can create some interesting stuff for my students. The first idea came into my mind is about 书房(study room) and 厨房(kitchen) which my students always struggled on. Chinese character 上 is actually my third ShowMe entry. I believe ShowMe has great potential in language teaching.  It is such a great tool for us!



Featured User #3: Meet Pedro A Tamayo

Featured User - Pedro A TamayoMeet Pedro A Tamayo, an economics professor from Madrid. Learn about basic economics concepts in Spanish! ShowMe has truly gone global 🙂

Visit Pedro’s awesome ShowMe Portfolio:

Keep up with Pedro through Twitter, Facebook, Blog

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I teach Economics at the Spanish distance University (UNED), to students of different areas like Social Work, Law, and Public Management. My teaching activity is fully based on e-learning, that’s why I try to select the best tools to develop content for my students. When not working, I like to read novels, watch movies, and try new tech gadgets.

How do you currently use ShowMe?
I’m trying ShowMe as a tool to be used massively next course into an Economics teaching & learning open community, Facebook based, we are designing. Its simplicity to use and to embed, with its powerful explaining capabilities, make it perfect to review complex ideas and to show graphical explanations of economics concepts. And so we will contribute to enrich the open community of ShowMe.

Do you have any advice for someone new to creating a ShowMe lesson?
Try to make it simple, as if you were using a piece of paper to explain a single idea or concept. And make it short, a five minutes recording as much.

What’s the coolest ShowMe you’ve seen (aside from your own, of course)?
I think all ShowMe lessons are cool because each of them has something to explain. I value very much the power of simplicity when explaining something, as if you were in front of a whiteboard into a classroom. If I have to choose someone, I like very much those recorded by kids, because they show a great creativity when explaining something to others or to themself, much more creativity than adults.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers face?
To engage students. It’s a challenge that we can afford using properly new tools, and new approaches, competing with the informal learning they have access to.

Where do you see education technology headed?
I think that education technology and its future development is headed to foster open learning and teaching, and to change the places where we teach in. Learning is no longer only an activity closed into bricks schools or universities, and there are very interesting movements in that way, as the Flipping the Classrom experiences are showing.


Featured ShowMes: 8/5

Ideas for classroom use: Britt created a great ShowMe about different ways to use ShowMe. We’re huge fans of all the ideas in this one, so any teachers thinking about incorporating ShowMe into their classrooms should check this one out!

(a + b)^2: Daniel’s ShowMe is a great example of how ShowMe can be used to visually represent some concepts that are difficult to understand verbally. We love content like this. Way to go Daniel!



Featured User #2: Meet Erica Brown

Featured User - Erica BrownHey everyone! This week we had the opportunity to chat with Erica Brown, an Honors and AP Chemistry teacher in Cape Cod with about 20 years of teaching experience. We love her chemistry ShowMes – be sure to check them out!

Visit Erica’s awesome ShowMe Portfolio: 

You say that it has been awhile since you created a ShowMe, but what can we look forward to once you’re back in the ShowMe game?
I plan on creating some general interest videos like “Why Ice Floats”. I also want to develop some ShowMes for this interactive textbook I’m working on. The students can watch the videos as they go through the curriculum. I really love how showmes can be easily embedded into my personal website.

What are some interesting ShowMes you’ve watched?
I mostly watch chemistry ShowMes. The “First Order of Kinetics” ShowMe was very interesting. However, you need to remember to put yourself in the students’ shoes. The difficulty students might have with ShowMe is that each video concept is very isolated. It would be great to watch lessons in a more organized curriculum/playlist.

Speaking of watching online videos, how do you feel about the flipped classroom concept?
I started assigning videos last year (ex: Khan Academy) for students to watch at home. Some of the more advanced students complained about the videos going too slowly, while other students loved the assignments. I’m actually pushing for more teachers at my school to start using online resources in their curriculum. It’s been an uphill battle so far.

Any future plans for ShowMe?
I want to have students make their own videos for extra credit. On a side note, I also plan on using Skype at night to interact with students. Students are so busy nowadays after school with extracurricular activities!

With school out, what have you been doing with your spare time?
I spent a lot of time this summer at the beach. I also love to garden. It’s actually a nice break from all the electronics to just take a step back and spend some time outside with Mother Nature. The fresh air really helps clears my mind, and you never know where new inspiration may strike!