After twelve years of teaching K-8, I know as sure as I know August comes earlier every year that kids will try harder if its fun. The challenge for us as teachers: How do we make a the geeky side of technology ‘fun’?
The answer is keyboard shortcuts–aka shortkeys. According to Wikipedia, keyboard shortkeys are:
a series of one or several keys that invoke a software or operating system operation when triggered by the user.
Shortkeys are one of the teacher tools that scaffold differentiation. Students learn in different ways. Some excel with toolbars, ribbons, drop-down menus, or mouse clicks. Others find the mishmash of tiny pictures and icons confusing and prefer the ease and speed of the keyboard. Give students the option to complete a task in the manner best suited for their learning style. Once they know shortkeys, these will be an option available when they can’t find the program tool, or when it’s nested so deeply in menus, they can’t drill down far enough to find it. Shortkeys provide an alternative method of accomplishing simple tasks, like exit a program (Alt+F4), print (Ctrl+P), or copy (Ctrl+C).
My students love them. I start in kindergarten with the easy ones–like Alt+F4–and build each year until they discover their own. Throw in a few quirky ones and you’ve won their hearts and minds. My two favorites are –> and :):
- To create the first: Type – – >; many programs automatically switch it to an arrow
- To create the second: Type : followed by ); many programs automatically switch it to a smiley face
AATT contributor, Krista Albrecht, has a balanced evaluation of Chromebooks in the classroom I think you’ll find useful. Krista is a NY State certified Instructional Technology Specialist working in public education on Long Island, NY. She has over 15 years experience in the field ranging from classroom teacher to tech teacher, to Professional Developer, to 1:1 integration specialist.
Chromebooks in the Classrooms… Friend or Foe?
Chromebooks…those little computers that everyone is talking about. Everywhere you look in education people are talking about Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education, Chrome Apps, etc. So what’s the big deal with these things? Are they really useful in the classroom to help your students achieve greater understanding? In my opinion, yes, but like any other piece of technology they do have their own list of pros and cons. So here’s one Instructional Technology Specialist’s (this girl, right here) attempt at laying out what I see to be the pros and cons of Chromebooks in the classroom. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have a better idea of how these devices fit in your educational setting.
What is this Chromebook you speak of?
Do you have chrome books in your school? They’re those lightweight thin laptops that cost almost nothing and are taking the ed world by storm. When asked, teachers don’t say, ‘I got a set of computers for my classroom’. It’s always, ‘I got Chromebooks’ much as they’d say ‘iPads’ to mean a digital device that’s more exciting, useful, and cutting edge than the boring old desktops.
Before I talk about what’s to like and not like about a Chromebook, let’s look at what it is. In the education world, there used to be a battle between two types of desktop computers: Macs vs. PCs. They both did the same things, but in hugely different ways. And from that difference grew an avid love/hate among their devotees (especially Mac users).
Today, ‘desktop computers’ are only one of the digital devices in the education toolkit. Consider iPads with their focus on the visual, ease of use, engagement of users. Then Chromebooks arrived–able to do ‘most’ of what ‘most’ students need–but it must be through the Cloud.
That gives educators three options (desktops, iPads, Chromebooks) as they select tools to deliver education. The challenge is to understand the differences between these options and select based on personal criteria. That includes classroom needs, infrastructure, and–yes–money. What gives the most service for the least investment?
In this last, I think the debate is settled: Chromebooks win every measure of value for dollar.