The Paperless Educator Challenge: weeks 3 & 4

Paperless Challenge: Amber

28 days down, 54 to go.  Another two weeks of the Paperless Educator Challenge are over and while I am still pleased that I haven’t written anything down or printed-out anything I’ve hit a few problems. Nothing serious, nothing making me want to give up the challenge but just some niggles that have made me realise that unless you’re fully competent using technology (and, let’s face it, who is?), humanity is still a long, long way from giving up paper completely.  But maybe that’s OK, this challenge is not about ridding the world of paper but merely to see what problems someone in the year 2014 faces when trying to move away from using paper on a regular basis. Perhaps I’m already experiencing what will be the inevitable conclusion of this challenge: it’s fairly easy to give up paper for most uses but there are some tasks, for the moment anyway, that just work better using paper.Read more…

The Paperless Educator Challenge: weeks 1 & 2

GreenStatus: Good. 14 days down, 68 to go. These first two weeks of working without paper have actually been, much to my surprise, much easier than expected. The start of this challenge coincided with the start of the new school term. A period when it is seemingly traditional for an extra chunk of the rain-forest to be destroyed for the purpose of supplying teachers with an endless supply of booklets, handouts and policy changes. Despite this, I still have not written onto a piece of paper or printed out any materials for myself or my colleagues. There have been a few testing moments but also some unexpected and supportive comments from colleagues who have cheered me along.

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Location, Location, Location: Geotag your photos!

GeotagA geotag is an invisible stamp on a photo that details the exact location of where it was taken. This information is a rarely tapped resource by staff and students yet it’s likely that most students will already be geotagging their photos, even if they’re not aware of it. If they, or you, use a mobile device which has a camera and a GPS receiver (think most smartphones) then it’s likely that any photo you’ve previously taken, using that device, already has a geotag attached to it. If you don’t have such a device, don’t worry, it’s a relatively simple process to retrospectively add this useful information. As for the benefit and purpose of wanting to extract this geotag data, read on for some ideas on how to embed its usage into lessons for teachers or research for students.

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The Paperless Educator Challenge

Paperless_smallI’ve set myself a challenge for the next 12 weeks – not to printout or use paper for my school work. Quite a challenge in a world where, unlike predictions made back in the 1970s, paper usage has steadily been growing over the past few years rather than declining. This is despite the massive surge in the sales of personal mobile devices such as tablets, laptops and mobile phones (I do wonder if we’re all just printing out those emails that we get sent?). Therefore, I’m not sure how successful this challenge is going to be but if we’re to embrace a future where students are completing in-class activities on their personal devices, resources are emailed rather than printed and homework is uploaded rather than handed-in; I’ve got to know what the pitfalls, problems and benefits of being a Paperless Educator can bring. Read more…

Google Trends: Research the Searches

GraphIt may come as no surprise that what we search for is being logged, counted and analysed. What may surprise you is that there is an online tool, called Google Trends, that allows us to research-the-searches or, to put it another way, you can have a look at what is being searched for by other users who are using Google as their search engine. Just to be clear, you can’t see who searched for what but the data available offers an Aladdin’s cave of information, trends and quirks that can be utilised by students for in-class projects. Google Trends is an immensely powerful tool that is constantly being updated to reflect our searching habits.Read more…

Teacher Planners – who needs them?

Teacher_Planner_VerB-01I’m always amazed at how many teachers insist on using the ‘Teacher Planner’. For those of you unfamiliar with this exciting sounding publication, it is a (thick) book that contains pages for teachers to: keep registers and results of pupils, plan lessons, draw seating plans and make a note of anything else. For as long as I can remember these planners were a staple for every teacher in every school. No matter where you worked, you were automatically supplied with one. I’m just amazed that they are still so ubiquitously sighted in schools today. In an age where most information contained in them is held electronically, why bother using them at all? I have a solution.

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Lucidchart – An easy way to create flowcharts

I’ve always liked flowcharts, those handy little diagrams that help you understand a process or workflow. There’s a strong sense of satisfaction from carefully following the lines, answering the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, following more lines and then reaching a final box which offers advice, knowledge or a solution based on which lines you followed.  However useful these charts are, they have never been easy to produce. I have lost countless hours trying to create them in Word, Excel and Publisher using a host of shapes that simply won’t line up or re-size to fit my text. I was therefore delighted when I recently came across Lucidchart, a very user-friendly online flowchart creator.

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