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Education & Technology

Winston Churchill once said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Strange way to start a post about education and technology, but stick with me and I'll explain. It's safe to say that we're in an unprecedented situation with education right now. Or even truer, the world is in an unprecedented situation given the scale of the impact that COVID-19 is having.

I prefer to focus on the positives and the possibilities. So, what are the positives with education? Distance learning has been trending for a while with higher education. It was going to come to secondary, middle, and elementary on a widespread scale at some point, the pandemic just jump-started it. Not every student (or teacher) is cut out for it. But there are those that can be successful with it. It's exciting for me, but I'm a nerd.

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Even for the students and teachers that don't prefer distance learning, we have to recognize that we all had to jump in with more educational technology. There are so many great resources available and now teachers have been forced to experiment with at least some of the ones that are out there. Even the most old school teacher has implemented some educational technology! This will have long lasting effects for all of our students.

Sun-tzu, the legendary Chinese military strategist from 2500 years ago, famously said, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Obviously, he meant this to apply to generals, but it's applicable in all aspects of life, even education. Our enemy is distraction. The world is full of distractions at school or in distance/virtual learning. If we recognize this and understand our goals, we can plan to limit distraction and win the battle for our students' attention. If we don't plan for it, we'll "succumb in every battle." No one wants to succumb. Succumbing is for losers.

How do we plan to win the battles in our lessons? Technology is the biggest distraction our kids deal with, but it's also there for us to use. Fight fire with fire, or in this case technology with technology! Look for tools to engage your students, find ways to get them engaged, collaborating, and moving around. Don't know where to start? Find one and start there. Look for a way to implement one tool, then explore another later and so on and so on.

Here are some quick ideas to easily implement some technology. Prezi is a great free tool for presentations. PowerPoint is great and all, but Prezi takes it a step further to give the feel of a more dynamic presentation. Try letting students make their presentations on Prezi too. Speaking of presentations, Adobe Spark has great tools for presentation videos (Spark Video) or websites (Spark Page). There's an app for devices or you can used the web-based site. It's easy to navigate (Spark Video has a learning curve but even elementary kids get the hang quickly) and it's free! Moving away from presentations, try Lino for an interactive site. I like using it for Ticket Out the Door activities or having kids give me their thoughts on the day's reading or lesson. It's set up like a bulletin board and you can drag virtual sticky notes around. You can add text, pictures, videos, or files. I even use it to house resources for projects. Share the link for any web-accessible device to get to your Lino board. Project it up on an interactive whiteboard and have your students manipulate the sticky notes to sort items too. Looking for study tool? Navigate over to Quizlet and make flashcards or a quick quiz. Share the link to students so they can study, or better yet, have them create their own and share with you!

Still looking for ideas? Start a conversation and we'll toss ideas around and find a solution.

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