Google Voice

Have you tried Google Voice yet? Chances are you probably haven’t. Well I want you to know this is a great product to use for any teacher who wants to keep up with their students and vice versa. Signing up for a Google Voice number is easy. If you have a Google account you are half way there.  Just search the web for Google Voice and then sign up for a number. The numbers can be local numbers or any other number of your choice.
Once you have your Google Voice number you can set it up to ring any phone you want, the simple process of entering the code on your home phone or your cell phone. Once you do this you now have a number you can give out to your parents and students to call if they have any questions, without giving them your home or cell phone number.  
Some of the key features are call screening and the ability to set up a voicemail for different people that call you.  Another great feature Google Voice has is the ability to send out text messages. If you like to send out updates to your students via text messages you can do this. So if you want to remind your students of the test or that the end of the grading period is coming up, you can. Wondering about legal issues with sending text messages to your students? Google Voice lets you store all the incoming and outgoing text messages for that purpose. A benefit is you can send out mass texts to your student by just typing it on your keyboard without having to fiddle with the keypad on your cell phone.   
If you have an Android or an iPhone you can download the Google Voice app so you can keep up with all your text messages. You can also make calls with your Google Voice number from your smart phone with this app as well.   
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Google Voice is something to consider if you are an educator, or just anyone who wants to stay connected.


Facebook for school?

Searching through some twitter posts I saw a retweet from edmodo which was posted by my friends at teachers 2.0. So I was curious to see what edmodo is. So I found out by exploring Edmodo. Edmodo is a social networking site for teachers and students. Edmodo has a user interface that looks very familiar to the dark blue social networking site. This site is for teachers and students to have a safe environment to collaborate outside of the classroom.
A benefit with Edmodo for a teacher is you can communicate with your students about topics in your classroom outside of the traditional brick and mortar classroom. There is a posting option for teachers if they have a question you can ask it with multiple choice answers so your students who are on Edmodo can answer. Edmodo could be useful for teachers post their assignments online for the student to receive. You could use Edmodo for extra credit, if you had an article that you wanted the students to read and comment on it you could have them do so on Edmondo.
One of the biggest problems I can see with Edmodo is a “cool” factor. After polling my students I had a mixture of my students that said they would use it, and others that said they wouldn’t. The students that said they would use it would only be for missing assignments and probably wouldn’t use it on a regular basis. One student said:” Why would I use this when I have a Facebook.” 
I have a strong belief since my students are high school students; they would not be very adapt to using this product. As I said before the “cool” factor is not there for my students. The concept of this site is great, because our societies move to social networking. It does give teacher and students a more secure way of networking without the problems of inappropriate relationships between students and teachers. I think a little tweaking and some better marketing this could be a real nice site for the future of educational social networking.

Rise of the eBook

EBooks you have heard of them, and you may have an eBook reader. The eBook is changing the way we consume books. In the old days if you wanted to read a new book you either had to go to the library or the local bookstore. Some of the hassles of going to the bookstore are getting in the car trying to find the book you want, unless you know what you are looking for and then waiting in line to check out. This is not so with eBooks if you have a reader you can almost instantly have the new release from your favorite author. There are many options available; some of the most popular eBook readers are the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. These eBook readers use an E Ink technology so readers can have more of a natural reading experience. You can also use and iPad as an eBook reader but its popularity as an eBook reader hasn’t caught on much.

Surprisingly enough as much publicity you see with eBook readers only about 5% of the people in the U.S. have one. But, that is on the upswing. I believe when people become more use to this idea of reading from an eBook reader sales will go up. There is a market for this product and it is at the beginning of its cycle.
So how does this translate into the classroom? Well, I don’t see any school systems going out and buying all of its student’s eBook readers and putting their textbooks on them right away, but I do see some private schools possibly doing this in the future. Colleges would also be ones of the early adaptors as well. Public schools will be the last ones if ever they do this type of transition simply because of cost. On the other hand I would be interested to see how school libraries could use this in the future. Some of the ideas I have thought of are like this. Libraries could possibly check out an eBook reader with a certain amount of books on it, freeing up space for more books or other resources they might need. Having an eBook reader in a library opens the door for multiple copies of books to be on one reader. Thus making it useful to have multiple copies on more than one reader to meet the demand of some books i.e. the twilight saga, or what the new hit book series would be.

The future of the eBook in the classroom will save paper, and we know that will make a lot of people happy as well. But I think it could be more cost effective in the long run because one student would carry one device and have multiple text books on it. Wasn’t it a few years ago parents were complaining about their children’s backs hurting because of the load they had to carry in books? This could be a simple solution for that problem.

I know it could possibly be about 10 to 15 years before this catches on with public schools but I believe that the private sector could benefit from this technology fairly fast.