Teaching Online During COVID-19–More from my Inbox

I am so proud of how the education community has stepped up to the challenge teachers face to continue the learning despite apocalyptic changes in the delivery system. Definitely this means teachers, administrators, parents and students, but I also include the companies and resource providers in the education ecosystem.

Here’s a sampling of the many and varied emails I got this past week offering help:

  • New Remote Learning Tools and Resources
  • How to teach remotely

New Remote Learning Tools and Resources

Zoom is also offering a free upgrade to educators to help them to teach remotely during the pandemic. Here are a few tips on using Zoom to teach remotely:

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Teaching Online During COVID-19

Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging. We educators understand online learning, probably have taken classes this way, but we haven’t yet wrapped our brains around how to make it work in OUR classes. In fact, the biggest question I get from teachers in my online classes and on my blog is:

“How do I do it?”

I know–very broad–but teachers are worried. They are invested in teaching their classes and suddenly it seems impossible to meet yearly goals, build lifelong learners. What can they do to make that happen? To fulfill their personal goals of getting students excited about learning?

Here’s what I’ve heard this past week or so:

  • Issues
  • Pedagogies for distance learning
  • Curricula for online teaching
  • Links fellow teachers are using that work

These aren’t comprehensive, just what I’ve heard as most of us are only one-two weeks into this challenging education opportunity.

Issues

“The classroom teacher can’t be replaced by an electronic device.”

That’s not what happens in online teaching. The teacher is as critical or more in an online classroom as they are in the physical class. The old style of online class that was impersonally delivered has been replaced by an active teacher fully involved in the online experience. She is simply in the cloud rather than in the room.

How to I provide equity for those without computers or internet access at home is challenging?

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Resources You Need During COVID-19

My inbox–probably yours, too–is flooded with suggestions, how-tos, and don’t-do’s, on teaching online as a strategy for dealing with Covid-19. Though I’m not happy about the reason, I’m thrilled at the interest in online classes. I’m an adjunct professor – online only–for a variety of major universities (CSU for one). I’ve taught many years in both environments and love online teaching because it is flexible, diversified, self-directed, and self-paced. I agree with many studies—that online is more effective (one from IBM).

As I received the onslaught of teach-online resources, I collected those that made the most sense. Below is a short curation of the most useful articles, links, resources, and webinars to help you through this challenging environment:

Online articles:

Resources, tips and more for remote and e-learning (teaching online) — from Educational Technology Guy

Tools to prepare for school closures–suggested by Common Sense

Advice for new Online Teachers–from EdSurge

Navigating Uncertain Times: How Schools Can Cope With Corona virus–from EdSurge

Understanding the Impact of Coronavirus on K-12 Education–from EdSurge

Newsela COVID-19 resource center (and free access to their paid products this school year)

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Subscriber Special: April–Free Lesson Plan

Every month, subscribers to our newsletter get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

April

Free Lesson Plan

Click this link; apply code FREELESSONPLAN

Do something fun with students in this challenging educational environment!
Questions? Email askatechteacher@gmail.com

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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Why College Matters for a Successful Career in Tech

There is a lot of conversation about college vs. career–the pros and cons of each weighed against the needs of individual students. Here’s a thoughtful article from Peter MacCallister, an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, on why college is a good idea even when considering a career in tech:

Why College Matters for a Successful Career in Tech

Technology is one of the areas where self-education, or autodidacticism, can bring outstanding results and allow an individual to achieve professional success without holding official certifications to prove his knowledge and skills. Self-taught people study better without guidance and prefer to have full control over what, when and how they study. Why would such a person interested in a tech career spend thousands of dollars to go to college instead of learning at home? The reasons are plenty so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

A Prestigious College is a Playground for Networking

Getting into a highly-ranked college or university can give your career an incredible impetus if only for the fact that you’ll be surrounded by intelligent and accomplished people with similar interests. Colleges offer countless possibilities for networking both with professors who are experts in your field and with fellow students.

Imagine having attended classes with Elon Musk or Warren Buffet as a fellow student at an elite institution like the University of Pennsylvania. Good colleges and universities are filled with incredibly driven and passionate students from whom you can learn a lot and with whom you might collaborate professionally one day. Having many bright minds in one spot increases your chances of meeting future visionaries in your field.

Colleges Have an Extensive Network of Resources

At first glance, it seems that programmers, software developers and other tech professionals need little more than a computer with an Internet connection to develop their skills. However, no matter how motivated and passionate you are, there is a cap to self-education. A point comes when you need serious output from the external world to continue to grow at the same rate.

Libraries, laboratories, expensive software licenses, access to reputable academic journals and career assistance – all these represent only a part of the wide range of resources that a good university provides to students so they can excel in their field. Hunching over your computer for weeks and months to find a solution to a problem that your peers have solved long ago is counterintuitive. Meanwhile, having access to valuable resources allows you to keep in touch with the latest developments in the sector and make sure you stay on track.

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World Backup Day–Once a Year

world backup dayMarch 31st is called World Backup Day. At least once a year, backup your data files to an external drive (like a flash drive). This is one that isn’t connected to your local computer so can’t be compromised if you get a virus. It’s good to always backup data to cloud drives or a different drive on your computer but once a year, do the entire collection of data files to what is called an ‘air gap’ drive–one that is separated from any internet connection.

How to do this 

There are various ways to back up your data. You can back up your data to an external device or you can back up your data to a cloud-based backup service, or back up your data to both an external device and a cloud backup service. You might even make more than one backup to external storage devices and keep the two copies in different places (providing protection and access to your data even if one of the backup devices is destroyed or inaccessible. Preserving your valuable documents and images for future access and use requires planning, as well as the use of automatic backup services.

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Here’s a Preview of April

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up on Ask a Tech Teacher in August:

  • Teaching Online During COVID-19
  • World Backup Day
  • 8 Websites to Teach Financial Literacy
  • 7 Tips for Netiquette
  • 18 Easter Websites
  • How to Build Your Own Tech Curriculum
  • How to Assess Digital Literacy
  • Activities for Earth Day
  • Online class in Differentiated Instruction
  • Earth Day
  • Tech Tools for Specials
  • 13 Pedagogies that will make you a Better Teacher
  • 3 Apps That Energize Learning
  • Find Public Domain Images

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Why Teach Poetry?

April is National Poetry Month. For thirty days, we celebrate the value and joy that poetry brings to our world.  According to the Academy of American Poets, the goals are:

  • Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
  • Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
  • Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
  • Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
  • Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
  • Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
  • Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry

All across the nation, school, teachers, students, libraries, and families celebrate by reading, writing, and sharing poetry. Here are websites that do all that and more. Share them with students on a class page, Symbaloo, or another method you’ve chosen to share groups of websites with students.

When I was in high school, I was forced to learn poetry. I didn’t want to, saw no benefit to it, and unfortunately, the teacher didn’t change my mind. All that analyzing meaning and deconstructing stanzas went right over my head. Worse, selections such as Beowulf and anything by Elizabeth Barrett Browning seemed unrelated to my life and goals. Poems I loved like “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, “The Raven”, and “The Road Not Taken” were rare. It wasn’t until University, where I discovered that poetry speaks the language of dreams, that I fell in love with it.

Thankfully, today’s teachers communicate poetry’s essence much better than what I experienced.

What is poetry?

When many people think of poetry, they visualize flowing groupings of soulful words as pithy and dense as a fruitcake and for some, just as (un)appealing. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but first, here’s a definition (from Wikipedia):

an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content.

You are most likely to recognize a poem by its truncated lines that rarely end in a period (though this isn’t always true), the rhythm created when reading it, the liberal use of literary devices such as alliteration and similes, and its ability to tell an entire story in a very (very) few stanzas. A good poem not only communicates with words but with emotion, senses, and memories, it gives a reader permission to interpret the content in ways that speak to his/her dreams. It may ask a question or answer one but always, it encourages the reader to think.

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Britannica LaunchPacks free of charge to US Schools

There are lots of companies stepping up to help the need to move learning online. The latest is Britannica:

Britannica’s LaunchPacks® offered free of charge to all US schools

As schools across the United States close or prepare to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Encyclopaedia Britannica is offering all schools’ and students free access to its popular LaunchPacks® Science and Social Studies learning content.

LaunchPacks offers K-12 students a full range of articles, images, videos and primary sources of information to engage children in ‘factually correct’ learning content. Presented through an online engaging interface, optimized for smart devices, Britannica is offering free access to both LaunchPacks Social Studies and LaunchPacks Science.

Each content pack includes a variety of multimedia resources to match the PreK-12 science and social studies curriculums, to promote critical inquiry, and build connections between disciplines.

LaunchPacks offers the highest quality learning content, assessments, reading support tools, and translations that enable non-native English-speaking parents to engage with at-home learning. The wealth of learning content makes it ideal for virtual teaching and learning, to minimize disruption and impact on students, families, and staff.

To access the platform, schools can register at http://britannicalearn.com/covid-19-free-resources and refer to the ‘how to use’ guide for remote learning at LaunchPacks. A team member will promptly help users set up free access to LaunchPacks and share remote learning information and resources.

“Our team at Britannica is made up of dedicated teachers, educators, and parents,” said Rhea Vitalis, global director of marketing and social media with Britannica Digital Learning. “Your school and the wellbeing of your staff and students are our top priorities. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there are additional ways we can ease your burden. We are here to offer continued support, relief, and guidance through these uncertain times.”

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8 EdTech Trends to Watch Out for This 2020

As always, education is changing. There are so many new ways to differentiate for varied learners, back-fill for some while enriching others without slowing anyone down. Being a teacher and a learner today is awe-inspiring. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Wally Clipper, has a great run-down on 8 trends you’ll want to watch in 2020:

8 EdTech Trends to Watch Out for This 2020

Technology has vastly disrupted and improved numerous sectors around the world, be it the government and banking, or retail and marketing. Unsurprisingly, technology is also impacting the world of education. In fact, a study on Forbes found that global education technology (EdTech) is one of the fastest-growing segments today, and is expected to be worth $252 billion by the end of this year.

While EdTech has been helping schools and other educational institutions a lot since it was introduced, its benefits have grown even more this year. From digital certificates to learning analytics, here are eight EdTech trends to look forward to in the coming months.

Video-assisted Learning

Gone are the days when teachers had to drag TVs into classrooms to let students watch films. Now, nearly every classroom is at least equipped with a screen and projector. Additionally, Chron reports that some schools have even replaced the usual blackboard and whiteboard with smartboards this year. These devices double as both a whiteboard and a screen. Plus, they have apps that let you interact with whatever’s projected onto them with the touch of a finger.

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