ometimes, words are not enough. To grab an audience’s attention and make an explanation remarkable, explainers need ways to stand-out, to be interesting.
Thankfully there are a growing number of resources that can help explainers turn their ideas into experiences that captivate audiences. I've listed a few below. (Note: I am not affiliated with the services below and receive no compensation from them).
While you're thinking about these resources, consider this... These tools are helpful and can truly make a difference. But they must be built on you and your ideas. A truly remarkable explanation cannot depend on software alone. I hope that you'll see the potential to apply the lessons from The Art of Explanation to whatever software or platform you use.
It was late, the football game was over and I was ready for bed. The problem was I couldn't find the remote control. It wasn't right next to me on the couch in my hotel room and I was too lazy -- or drunk -- to dig between the cushions to look for it. So after a couple of glances, I decided to just turn the TV off manually and worry about finding the remote in the morning. I slid my hand down the sides, ran my fingers across the top, bent down and looked along the bottom and even tried tapping the screen as if it were a 48" iPad. Nothing.
Unlike their parents who went back to school with new notebooks, pens, pencils, and binders, today’s young people are likely readying for the coming academic year with laptops, tablets and mobile phones. But, before parents arm kids with the latest Internet-enabled devices, it’s a good idea to share some do’s and don’ts about online safety.
Whether it’s a new laptop for research and writing, a tablet for reading, or a mobile phone to get in touch with mom or dad in the event of an emergency, kids are using mobile technology more than ever. Data show that 52 percent of kids ages eight to 12, and 77 percent between 12 and 17, own mobile phones, with teenagers 14 to 17 sending an average of 100 text messages a day.
University of Maryland (UM) College Park students last week finagled with federal spending and deficit reduction so that, at the very worst, they could delay economic Armageddon in the United States.
UM students, most of them majoring in public policy, experimented with ways to get the country’s fiscal house in working order Sept. 19 during the launch of “Budget Hero: Election Edition,” a web-based game that invites players to find a way – any way – to trim the nation’s debt by raising taxes, doing away with certain tax deductions, raising the age of Social Security recipients, and reining in the defense budget, among dozens of other options.
There have been many talks about games and education recently. I just ran into two great videos of Katie Salen, the director of Institute of Play, talking about game, play and design, and am really impressed by the way she describes gaming and playing. In this video Play, Salen talks about play as a way of being that makes players open and comfortable to explore new possibilities and ultimately forget themselves in these engaging experiences (but sure, there are also issues related to such condition like addiction). She suggests that “such a state of being might hold answers for the reimagining of education. And our enterprises. And our lives.”
As a designer, she is eager to unpack what makes those engaging gaming and playing experiences. Among various elements, she describes this unique social contract between a game designer and the players that seems to me the ultimate guideline for any great game design (she explains this in this video, starting 4:04 to 4:40):
A few weeks ago, I wrote an analysis of how Apple’s secret weapon in the 7-inch tablet war, if Apple were to enter that market, would be in education. I cited Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, who has reiterated that sales of the reduced price iPad 2 to K-12 schools have been particularly strong.
However, pre-existing conditions with schools, especially K-12, have created many difficulties. It’s not an easy matter in the U.S. for schools to simply buy a tablet for each student, load them with educational apps and e-textbooks, and enjoy the benefits of tablet technology. In fact, the whole situation is in a rather messy state, and Mr. Cook’s glowing sales report doesn’t begin to go beyond the surface.
In the course of my research, I was introduced to a particularly accomplished fellow, Christopher Dawson, who has spent years trying to introduce advanced technology into schools. We Skyped for awhile, and right away, I knew that I wanted to share his perspectives and experience. Here’s how our conversation went.
Facebook, despite its massive size, is one of the least talked about social media tools in the education technology world. But a high school class in Amsterdam has started using it for educational purposes and you can check out the hard work they’ve done!
The iEARN Collaboration Centre enables youth to learn with, rather than simply about, the world. Browse student produced media or join interactive curriculum-based groups in which students are creating, researching, sharing opinions, and becoming global citizens.
If you’re a teacher in the US, you’ve surely heard of the Common Core Standards, the national academic standards for K-12 schools.
While there’s always a lot of mumbling and grumbling when it comes to anyone mandating what should be taught and how to get there, the Common Core Standards have been adopted by 45 of the states, so they’re not exactly something that can be easily ignored.
One of the most powerful moments in my teaching journey was the summer I immersed myself in feedback and checking for understanding. It forced me to ask myself what and if my students were actually learning. I learned the importance of the language I used. I also learned effective ways to track student progress toward learning goals that will inform the feedback I give students. While my effectiveness as a teacher has grown exponentially, I still have a lot to learn. Since I teach in a lab, I also have both the challenge and the perk of most student work being completed on the computer. These are some of my experiences, ideas and resources for using technology to provide meaningful feedback to students -- and making the process more streamlined for everyone.
Experts maintain that regular opportunities to engage in activities requiring use of higher order thinking skills can significantly improve student achievement as measured on standardized tests. My own experience as a classroom teacher, site administrator, and professional development provider supports this assertion. To this end, mobile apps and Web 2.0 tools can facilitate implementation of activities requiring students to use skills at the top three levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy--analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Here are five examples of activities that target these levels of the taxonomy and can be used with students across grade levels in a variety of content areas. Teachers of very young children can implement these ideas as whole class projects.
When it comes to talking about technology and kids, there’s a tired strawman propped up and being poked at in the old parenting best-practices barn. It seems like the debate is always framed in terms of either/or. Do I let my kids sit at the technology du jour (tablets, phones, TVs or game consoles) for hours on end, or do I banish all technology from their lives until it’s time to teach them how to drive?
That’s the kind of balderdash that fails to recognize the nuance and improvisation it takes to be an effective parent and helps embed a sense of guilt in many parents who just can’t achieve the perceived perfection demanded by whichever camp is yelling loudest.
Blended learning exists at the intersection between traditional face-to-face instruction and online learning, although to what extent each component is employed is open to interpretation. The ratio between offline and online instruction can vary widely from school to school, but both elements must be present to qualify as true blended learning.
According to a 2009 study by the American Life Project, 97% of teenaged Americans play some form of videogame, be that on the computer, the internet, on a handheld or on a console. Games are everywhere, and they’re here to stay.
On the flip side of that coin, a 2006 educational report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation entitled The Silent Epidemic identified that upon questioning large stratified sample of US high school drop-outs over why they hadn’t received their high school diploma. 47% of the interviewees cited their main reason for a lack of success as ‘classes not interesting.’ If we correlate this with a separate study by the Alliance for the Excellence in Education which puts the amount of drop-outs each year to be around 1.2 million, we can make a reasonable case for there being around 600,000 drop-outs who just couldn’t find themselves motivated by the educational system in its current guise, and that’s just in the US alone.
There are two things that make optometrist and neuroscientist Lotfi Merabet's new computer game unusual: The various rooms and corridors in the game exactly mirror a real place, and players aren't able to navigate by looking at graphics on-screen. Instead, players must rely entirely on different sounds that tell them where doors, walls, jewels and monsters lay in wait.
Feel like something's missing from your YouTube viewing experience -- like some good 'ol multiple-choice questions? The chronic learners among us will be happy to hear that the site is testing an interactive -- and potentially educational -- feature that lets users add quizzes to their clips. A new page on the YouTube site describes a "Video Questions Editor Beta," which lets channel owners display multiple-choice questions on top of their videos as they play. The page is pretty blank at the moment, but the beta is up and running for those who opt in. Don't get too excited, though: YouTube's disclaimer states the feature "represents work in progress," and "there is no plan for long-term support of the feature."
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