Tag Archives: learning


What is learning in 'blinks', and why you should do it

For many of us, studying is over the minute we leave school or university. However, as we settle into our adult routines, many find that the craving for new information returns. Sadly, as an adult, it can be a little more difficult to find the time to learn new things, as we are often juggling many tasks and responsibilities. This is where learning in blinks comes into play.

Think of that non-fiction book you wanted to read to improve your career, to become a more mindful person or to simply learn something new. Well, a book-in-blinks is that book, condensed into a fifteen minute text and audio format, that you can dive into on your commute or as you workout, while cooking, or whenever you have a spare minute.

Why should you do it?

Blinks teach you new things
The most obvious benefit of a book-in-blinks is also the most important one – it will teach you something new. You don’t need to carve out time and money to attend an after-work class, or make painstaking notes as you read something new. Learning in blinks gives you information in short bursts, making it easier to commit to your memory and, if you forget something, the information is right there, kept safe on your phone.

Blinks help you maximise your downtime
In a world where every moment is filled with something and every minute is spent rushing from A to B, a tool that can maximise your downtime is invaluable. By learning in blinks, you don’t have to worry about finding the time to read, or fret about freeing up time on your schedule to sit down with a new book. Every spare fifteen minutes can be used to learn something new, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or worrying about your to-do list.

Blinks give you choice
If you are someone who is interested in a bit of everything, you might often be faced with the difficult choice of prioritising. Do you want to focus on improving your productivity, or would you rather discover new ways of being healthy? Should you find out about your subconscious or learn about great historic events? Books-in-blinks give you the chance to do all of this, switching from listening to one of the world’s greatest thinkers, to reading about corporate culture, in the blink of an eye.

Blinks allow you to stay up-to-date
Whether you are worried that you don’t have enough to contribute during work meetings, or perhaps you are the one left listening while your friends converse about the issues of the day, learning in blinks will make you feel more interesting. You can woo your friends with your knowledge of psychology, or impress your boss with your insights into sustainable business models, or maybe discuss the main points of Fire and Fury on your next date.

Ben Hughes is head of content at micro-learning app and platform Blinkist.

See also: There is more to learning that Ted Talks

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From Teacher to Student: How Learning Helps Us Teach

This past year, I had the benefit of being both a student and a teacher. I experienced the pressures of meeting someone else’s expectations, the demands of keeping up with assignments, and the challenge of organizing my own learning. At the same time, I continued working with other teachers who suddenly found themselves in the exact same situation but as my student. The merger of these two worlds – as well as significant research into cognitive science, adult learning, and professional development – has resulted in a complete redesign of my iPads in the Elementary Classroom workshop for this summer.
Though I have led this workshop more times than I can count over the past few years, 2016 promises to be completely different. Here’s why:

Learning About What You Don’t Know

None of us experienced elementary school with iPads. We have no idea what it feels like to be a young learner with this technology or in this type of environment. Many of us remember school as a structured, teacher-led experience requiring us to memorize, repeat, and behave ourselves. From a cognitive perspective, learning occurs when we build new patterns from prior knowledge. This becomes difficult when we have nothing on which to construct new understandings.
Workshop Plan
This summer, workshop participants are going to be encouraged to act the age of their kids. They are going to be elementary students in my classroom and engage in activities that will allow them to experience this new type of learning environment. We are going to use Popplet to complete visible thinking routines and engage in deep inquiry. With Explain Everything, we are going to tell stories, explain problems, and practice reading fluency. Throughout the workshop, we will curate, reflect, and share using SeeSaw as a digital portfolio. After three days, hopefully teachers will start to know more because they will have experiences on which to build new ideas.

Teachers (& Students) Need to be Comfortable

After extensive research into technology integration and adult learning, it became apparent that teacher comfort needed to become more of a priority. Teachers who feel comfortable with the tools will be more likely to use them in creative ways, and the only way to accomplish this is through repeated application and use.
Workshop Plan
At EdTechTeacher, we have a saying that “all the good apps fit on one screen.” This summer, we are going to only use about half of a screen. While excellent apps do exist, I have decided that I can do just about everything with Book Creator and Explain Everything. Yes, we will create books and screencasts, but we will also create posters, collages, puppet shows, and drawings. With those two apps, combined with Google Drive, we will collaborate, explore the potential to work with multimedia guide books, and build learning centers for students.

Leveraging a Constructivist Mindset

Multiple studies have established a correlation between a constructivist mindset and successful use of technology in the classroom. Teachers who possess an inherent belief in student-centered, active learning tend to use technology in more creative ways. Additionally, though all teachers report feeling pressure from administrators, parents, other colleagues, state mandates, common curriculum, and even students, the most successful ones cite their own positive attitudes and beliefs as the key to their success.
Workshop Plan
Shifting from a more traditional, teacher-led environment to a student-centered one is HARD! First, most teachers never experienced this as learners. Next, they may not be comfortable with facilitating this practice. To mitigate these challenges, we are going to use the Design Thinking framework to scaffold instruction. Not only will participants experience Design Thinking as students, but they will also explore how it might support their own instructional decision making

Letting Go of Control

One of the challenges with student-centered learning is giving up the control and encouraging students to guide the process. As teachers, this feels disorienting. We wonder how we can ensure that students are gaining the skills that they need as well as how to keep them on task, particularly with elementary students.
Workshop Plan
Though student response platforms such as Nearpod and Formative are typically viewed as formative assessment tools, we will explore the potential for using them to guide students through inquiry projects, design research stations, and assess progress while independently completing tasks. By structuring aspects of the process, teachers will experience the balance of voice and choice and accountability. With careful planning, young students can engage in deep meaningful work, and teachers can ensure that they are gaining the fundamental skills that they need.

Voice and Choice

Technology allows students to control pace, space, and place. Students (whether elementary aged or teacher aged) learn in different ways and at different speeds. They need to be able to choose the learning environment that best supports them as well as the tools that allow them to engage with content and demonstrate their learning. To encourage students of all ages to take ownership of their learning process, they need voice and choice.
Workshop Plan
This summer, participants will have lots of freedom to choose their learning pathway. They will be encouraged to take advantage of the accessibility features of the device, to choose how they want to represent their learning, and to work through scaffolded challenges designed to provide hands-on opportunities that meet them at their level. By presenting clearly defined learning objectives and tasks, teachers will be able to experience what it feels like to choose how they want to share their learning within a structured, student-centered environment. Hopefully, by the end of the three days, my students will have new experiences on which to base their instruction next year.

If you want to come learn with me, I’ll be in Atlanta and Boston this summer!


Featured Image via Unsplash

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Are you a connected educator? Take the quiz!

Do you wake up and immediately check your phone? Do you wake up and scroll through your Edmodo updates? Do you drop everything and respond to hashtag conversations happening on Twitter? If so, you might be a connected educator.
To help you better understand what that might mean – and to determine if you actually are one – we put together a fun quiz designed to help you understand just how connected you are. This is not a scientific quiz and is by no means meant to be a final “yay” or “nay” because, let’s face it, that’s only something you can answer on a long-term basis.
Use this quiz as a jumping-off point to better understand how much (or how little) a role tech plays in your life as an educator or just as a human. Ready to get started? Simply take the quiz below and enjoy!

Ready? Take The Connected Educator Quiz!

[viralQuiz id=1]
This is by no means definitive! We are building many other fun quizzes and would love to get your insight. What other quizzes would you love to see made? Share your ideas and expertise with the Daily Genius community anytime on the Facebook page and we’ll chat.
Keep an eye out for more quizzes and other fun stuff coming soon to Daily Genius. We’re expanding our coverage and offering an array of stories designed to help you learn something new every day.

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The journey of a connected educator

Becoming a connected educator is tough. Figuring out how to properly integrate education technology, innovative learning strategies, and how to develop your personal learning network is a daunting task. I’ve met many teachers who know about technology, have a smartphone, but have absolutely no time to invest in trying out new products and solutions.

So I thought it might be fun to put together a fun, albeit basic, journey of a connected educator. It’s meant to be a solid jumping-off point for teachers of all types. Whether you’ve never set up a social media account or already integrated a 1:1 Google Chromebook solution, there’s something here for you.

The journey of a connected educator is long (but fun!)

Getting to the end of this journey is actually impossible. As you can see in the below graphic, the important part of this adventure is to remember that it’s an ongoing process. I recommend you check out this fantastic set of resources from our pals at Edutopia on Connected Educator Month. Long story short, you need to always be learning and teaching yourself so you can share your newfound knowledge with others.

How can you share your knowledge, you ask? You can do so on social media, your blog (see step #10) or by speaking to your PLN. There’s a lot to do and a lot to research so I’ll get you on your way. Enjoy the graphic!

Want to zoom in? Just click the big graphic to explore each step.

connected educator journey

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How to integrate Google Apps with the SAMR model

Bringing high-quality (and free!) Google Apps into the classroom is a popular trend these days in education technology. Whether you’re using the all-new Google Classroom to simply working on using Google Calendar to track your field trips, there is a lot to think about.
But what happens when you want to take your Google-ization of your classroom to the next level of learning? More than likely, you are familiar with the SAMR model. That is the ‘Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition’ framework that is built to help use technology for improving learning.
google apps samr model

Not familiar with SAMR? No problem. Watch this video.

SAMR stands for “Substitution – Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition”. It is a framework for using technology to transform learning.

  • Substitution: Using new technology for an old task
  • Augmentation: Using additional new technology for an old task
  • Modification: Using new technology to change an old task
  • Redefinition: Using new technology to create new tasks

Got it. Total SAMR master now. So what about integrating Google Apps with the SAMR model?

First off, know that we’re big fans of Google in education and write it about it on a regular basis. Subscribe, follow, like, etc. to stay connected and learn more. I suggest you check out this article as your next step. But wait! Before you go all click-happy, let’s jump into a bit more about how to integrate Google Apps with SAMR. What better way to do that than with this fabulous infographic from Erifili Davis of Google Apps Action.

google apps and samr model

Example of SAMR in action using Google Apps

  • Original task: Write a report about a city using paper/pen/glue/scissors, etc, using books in the library for research.
  • Substitution: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report.
  • Augmentation: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher.
  • Modification: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher and other students. Students use the comments feature to provide peer feedback.
  • Redefinition: Use Google Hangouts to connect to a virtual tour of the city hosted by a class in the target city with a reciprocal arrangement. Questions and pictures are shared using Google +. Groups of students collaborate to create a reporting using their choice of Google Apps for Education solution, e.g., Doc, Slides, YouTube or Blogger. Report would include multimedia elements. Redefinition can help create more meaningful and student-centred learning experienced.

Sweet! I’m getting there. So what do I do now?

I now think it’s time for viewing this absolutely fantastic video that involves SAMR, LEGO, and education technology. It’ll help you take your first integration steps into the brave new world of SAMR-edtech.

So now you’re an expert, eh? Want a digital badge? This video is for you:

Want a quick video from the Google team? Here you go:

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How to Engage, Examine and Extend Learning Through Videos

How many videos can you remember watching in school when you were a student? Though I know we watched dozens and dozens of movies (and FILMSTRIPS!!), I can only remember two. TWO! One of them scared the living daylights out of me, and the other I remember because we watched it every single year. It dug itself deep in the memory stores of my brain, and there it still remains.
Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.40.16 PM
In my classroom, I am always looking for ways to use short videos to target specific skills. Each time we watch one, I have students follow the same routine so they are able to enjoy what they watch, learn something new, and think more critically about what we see. We called it Engage, Examine and Extend (or E³). Students have come to know the routine, which helps frame their thinking and expectations. Here’s how it all goes down:


Face it – kids just want to watch a video without having to take notes, or answer questions, or have a teacher stop it midway to point out something. Our Engage step allows students to just sit back, relax and enjoy. An added bonus: it also encourages all students to gather materials and transition more quickly so they don’t miss it! Before hitting play, I remind them about the importance of this first viewing: to engage their minds.


This second viewing is what students are traditionally required to do during a first viewing – take note of what is important and write it down. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge for students to watch AND write, especially on a first run-through. By already having viewed the video, students know better what to expect, and improve their note taking skills. Notes taken during this step are often fact-finding: vocabulary, dates, names, places, and ideas. We aren’t climbing any critical-thinking ladders in this step, but that’s okay! We have one more chance!


This is always our favorite viewing of the video, and I know students are getting the hang of the routine when they start to share deeper thoughts after a third viewing! I often tell them video producers go through a lot of trouble to share information. It is not our job to just smile, collect facts, and move on. It is when we have deeper connections with the content that learning becomes more meaningful. Isn’t that why people go through all the trouble of producing videos in the first place? During this step, students have several options to add to their paper and/or Google Doc journals:

  • How did you connect with the video, and why?
  • What techniques did the author use to convey information to students?
  • What questions do you still have?
  • What would be a better title for this video, and why?
  • What advice or suggestions would you give the author to make the video more effective?

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.48.48 PM
It’s time to face it: Gone are the days when teachers could plunk students in front of a 40-minute video while sitting and correcting papers. In fact, according to YouTube, their average video length is 4 minutes and 20 seconds. In that amount of time, I can hardly decide what color pen to use, let alone assess student work! And with our attention spans reportedly less than that of goldfish, we have to carefully consider the way we are using video in our classrooms.
Do you want to see how it works? Use this E³ reference guide, and watch the following 2-minute video (try it with your students!!). Feel free to answer the questions (or say hello!!) in the comments below.

So, get out there and collect some awesome videos! Students love commercials, human interest stories, music videos, tutorials, current events, cartoons – you name it! Your students will connect with them because they are short, informative and fun. You will be scaffolding their critical thinking along the way.
With millions of videos available to share with students, teachers have myriad opportunities to electrify the learning environment. Provide your students with experiences worth remembering. They will thank you for it someday.

Come learn from Suzy in Boston! She will be leading two Innovation Labs during the November 17-18 EdTechTeacher iPad Summit.

Featured image via Flickr

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Get 50% off all-new 'Social Media In Government' course

Whether you’re a civil servant, running a country, or want to learn more about social media in government, have we got the course for you. It’s one of the brand new options for you on Skills Genius, our new online learning platform designed to build skills for civil servants, educators, the military, and more.
So if you’re involved in civil service / government work, should you use social media? That’s the question Jimmy Leach is answering in ‘The Beginner’s Guide To Using Social Media In Government.’
The common arguments against using social media are that (a) your citizens ‘aren’t ready’ for this yet and (b) those who do use social media do it for trivial reasons – that social media is habitually used for personal and low-key messaging.
The second part of that argument ignores the fact that any instrument of creation, from the pen onwards, is only as trivial as the person using it. A pen can be used to write shopping lists – or a novel: the message, and so the medium, can be as serious or as trivial as you like. But don’t blame the audience for being trivial if you haven’t tried to raise the level of debate yourself.
And, in terms of digital readiness, the fact is, that wherever you are, if the use of digital tools in your market has not yet hit a tipping point… it will. And more likely sooner rather than later. What’s more, the early adopters will often be the key influencers – journalists and business who will inform their political classes.
This course does a shallow dive into the many reasons to get more familiar with the critical role social media plays for civil servants and governments in general. It should take you just under an hour to finish.
Want 50% off the course as a thanks for reading all the way down here? Use the coupon code GOVHALF to get half-off at checkout! Click here to check out the course to get started.

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Got a blog or newsletter? Get more leads after taking this (discounted!) course

Whether you run a personal blog or oversee a major organization, you likely want to discover new ways to bring in customers, subscribers, clients, etc. So if you have a blog or newsletter in particular, here’s the deal:
You need an outstanding landing page that works.
What’s a landing page, you ask? Quite simply, it’s a relatively simple web page (not an entire website) that directs people to perform a desired action. You don’t want to make it too cluttered and you certainly don’t want it to be confusing. A powerful landing page must be professional, efficient, and clear.
If it works well, you’ll get more leads and grow your community with relative ease.
So how should you set up a landing page if you’ve never done one before? What tools out there work best? How do they work? All these questions and many more are answered in one of my first-ever courses that I thought might be useful to those in education, non-profits, civil service, the military, and more. That’s the goal of Skills Genius: to help those who serve.

Get 50% Off The Course Just For Reading This Article!

The course I’m excited to share with you today is called ‘How To Build A Landing Page That Really Works‘ and I wanted to give the Daily Genius community the first opportunity to check it out. To say thanks for checking out the $29 course, use the coupon code DGHALF to take, you guessed it, half off! Hit the link to the course above and enter that code at checkout. You’ll be good to go.

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5 reasons to use world builders like Minecraft in the classroom

We know our students love world builders like Minecraft in the classroom but should we acknowledge them as powerful learning tools for the classroom? Here are some ways you can use World Builders to enrich and upgrade student learning experiences.

Creative Writing

When students create worlds they often feel a greater capacity to describe what they have created. This can be harnessed in the writing process as students build a story around a world that they have created.

Conceptual Learning

The big ideas and concepts that exist in our world like sustainability, change and diversity can be studied and analysed through World Building Apps like Topia. They allow for the introduction of fictitious species and give users the power to modify natural environments. What better way to study cause and effect than in a virtual simulation where students can modify the conditions. There is a device that lets you send analog signal from 3.5 inch to bluetooth so you can turn any old audio into a wireless solution.

Effective Assessment

Using world builders to demonstrate knowledge on Scientific Topics such as the ‘Water Cycle’ allows students to think about the topic on a deeper level. In this example students create a water world demonstrating their knowledge of water sources.

Authentic Mathematics Learning Experiences

Measurement, Shape and Number can be used with purpose in World Builders like Minecraft and Eden. Area, Perimeter, Volume become more authentic when students are applying knowledge through building and construction tasks.

Fosters Creativity

There is no better way to foster creativity and creative thinking than with a blank canvas! Allow students to build, solve real life problems and think differently whilst using a World Builder as a tool for new ideas and innovations.

Paul Hamilton is Head of Learning Technologies (Primary) at MFAC, International Keynote Speaker and founder of iPad Monthly.

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Apple or Google: Which professional development program is for you?

It’s not especially easy to quickly demonstrate your education technology skills when you’re not in the classroom. Sure, you may know how to effectively integrate Google Chromebooks or Apple iPads while simultaneously leveraging a project-based learning approach to STEAM subjects, but how do you actually convey that when chatting with colleagues or others?

It’s not easy.

That’s why many teachers are turning to professional development from the major tech companies like Apple and Google.

Since their names are both synonymous with education technology at this point, it’s no surprise they both boast some fantastic learning opportunities for teachers around the world. Anyone can apply and work to earn the certification, but there are a few things you should know. That’s why I really enjoyed seeing this visual guide to the key differences between the Apple Distinguished Educator program and the Google Teacher Academy.

As you’ll see, one of these programs may fit your needs and expertise better than the other. Since there’s no real way to determine which option is best, I wanted to lay out as many of the differences as possible.

I did want to give a shout out to my friend Adam Webster who is an Apple Distinguished Educator and can answer just about any question you may have about the program.

Okay, so let’s dive into the basics of each program.

About The Google Teacher Academy

The Google Teacher Academy (GTA) is a free professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies. Each GTA is an intensive, two-day event during which participants get hands-on experience with Google tools, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in a supportive community of educators making impact.

“My biggest takeaway wasn’t a new tool or trick, though we learned great ones, but it was the reminder of what’s possible with shared energy – that creative spark we hope to capture and recreate for our students.”
– Gretel Patch, Google Certified Teacher, Nepal 2013

Approximately 50 innovative educators from around the world are selected to attend each GTA based on the merits of their online application. Applicants include classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, technology advocates, librarians, administrators, professional trainers, and other education professionals who actively serve the world’s primary and secondary teachers and students. – via the GTA website

About The Apple Distinguished Educators Program

Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

In her quest for authentic content, Noemi Trainor, Founder/Principal at The Varmond School in Mexico, is spearheading a curriculum revolution throughout Latin America. With iPads at their fingertips the faculty is able to customize learning for every student and provide interactive, bilingual-based curriculum using Multi-Touch books created in iBooks Author.
– Noemi Trainor, ADE Class of 2012

There are now more than 2,000 ADEs worldwide, from the United States to China, New Zealand to Turkey. And they gather every year at ADE Institutes and education events around the world as well as online in the ADE community to collaborate on solutions to the global education challenges of today and tomorrow. – via the ADE website

The Key Differences Between Apple and Google Professional Development Programs

Now you know the basics of each program. Nice! It’s time to check out this handy visual guide from Where Learning Clicks to get a better look at how the two programs differ.

apple google professional development

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