Participate Adds eduClipper to Their Collection

Background

As most followers of my work know, I am a huge fan of Participate, the collaborative professional development platform. The many additions and changes that they have introduced over the just the past couple of years have been amazing.  I began using the app curation tool back in 2013, building collections of iOS and Android apps that were easy to share. Gradually, this expanded to allow online videos and websites in collections.

Participate Screenshot

Then they added the incredible Chats feature, revolutionizing educational Twitter Chats. The Chats feature eliminated the two primary obstacles that had kept me from becoming an active participant in chats- remembering to include the hashtag and losing resources because they went past too quickly.

When VIF International Education purchased Participate (and subsequently took the Participate name) they added online courses. The courses, many of which are created by Participate while others are presented through Participate by a variety of partners, have turned Participate into an amazing educational platform. I often describe the platform as covering the three Cs- Collections, Chats and Courses.

I also was an early user of eduClipper, the educational bookmarking tool originally founded by EdTech Rock Star, Adam Bellow. eduClipper was constantly adding features as well and soon integrated social sharing tools, the ability to “clip” anything (pictures, files, even mini-whiteboard sketches), and portfolios.

eduClipper Screenshot from eduClipper.net

Recent Announcements

It is mid-June and that means it is time for a barrage of EdTech related updates and news announcements. As a Participate “insider”, I was aware of some planned updates. On the eve of ISTE, Participate unveiled a planned update of the Participate website, especially the Chats area. They also released Chats as an iOS app. I was asked to beta test the app and while there are a couple of “missing” things that I hope are brought over to the app, overall it is a great experience for mobile participation in Twitter Chats. 
Personally, I thought this was the “big” announcement for Participate for ISTE
’17. Oh, how wrong I was!
Saturday afternoon, the news broke that Participate would be acquiring eduClipper. While no financial details have been released, I’ll first say that I am happy for Adam Bellow. I once had a great conversation with him sitting outside the conference rooms of the Tennessee Educational Technology Conference two years ago. (This conversation actually included Adam, Kathy Schrock, Leslie Fisher and myself- yes, to that point in my EdTech life, I felt I had reached the pinnacle.) Part of that conversation included Adam describing some upcoming updates to eduClipper and talking about how it was getting pretty big. He certainly wasn’t complaining but I had the impression that he was realizing that it was growing to a point that it would require a more substantial team to support its growth.
Adam Bellow, speaking at
Tennessee Educational Technology Conference, 2015.
(Photo by Keith George)

I am also happy for the team at Participate. From my view, this acquisition has great potential.  The press announcement indicated that “will work to enhance the eduClipper offering, while supporting existing users.” I immediately began merging the two platforms in my mind. Now, I have no specific information on any plans that Participate may have on this front. In fact, I hope that the folks at Participate read this and steal some of these ideas (royalties are negotiable!)

1. I have previously used, and promoted, a rebellious adaptation of Participate collections for use as lesson plans. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QgyakV2N2M). It seems like the assignment feature in eduClipper could be easily merged with collections as an optional feature to create a guided lesson for students.

2.  Imagine a smartphone/tablet app interface similar to the current eduClipper app that fed “clips” directly into new or existing Participate collections. Then I could add photos, videos or other resources directly from my phone.  I picture myself at a conference or EdCamp just snapping pictures of presentation screens and student showcases to save in collections. Then I link the app used into the collection. Oh, and they have some student samples, let’s scan those into the collection as well!

3.  There are already several student portfolio apps but those that I have tried don’t really fit the bill for educator portfolios. I envision a special version of a Participate collection that could serve as an ongoing professional portfolio. It should be shareable in a format that is professional enough for my preservice teachers to share with a principal during a job interview but flexible enough to include a variety of products. Adding the products to this portfolio collection should be easy from an app or the browser.

I look forward to what the Participate team has in store for eduClipper and the increased power to collaborate among educators. I see great potential in the combined features of these two wonderful platforms. My imagination continues to envision new uses for this combined educational powerhouse.



EdCamp Montgomery Recap

On Saturday, April 2nd the first ever EdCamp Montgomery was held at Montgomery Academy.  I was a part of the planning team for this event and overall, everyone agreed it went great.  We had a smaller than expected turn out, but in some ways that was better.  In fact, well over ninety percent of those in attendance indicated that this was their first experience with EdCamp.  That is a great thing.  The EdCamp experience is different than other conferences and I believe word of mouth will have a positive effect on next years event.

Once the crowd gained an understanding of how things worked, the activity level and excitement really began to grow.  Even with such a large number of first timers, the session board filled quickly.  Members of the planning team were prepared to jump in to lead multiple sessions in case the participants were hesitant to lead sessions but as it turned our, some of us had to hustle to the board just to lead one!

I heard multiple positive comments and many sessions had standing room only.  The Google Classroom session was packed and all of the sessions I participated in were well attended with eager participants.  Davina Mann (@DavinaMann), Instructional Technology Coach from Owens Cross Roads Elementary School, lead a great session on Nearpod (@nearpod) and I hosted a session on Participate Learning (@participatelrn).  Mark Coleman and I joined up to facilitate an EdCamp tradition by hosting a “Things That Suck!” session that had the attendees debating a variety of education topics in the boisterous way that proves just how passionate today’s teachers are about their jobs, their schools, and most of all their students!

Just check out a few of the Tweets from the events:

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March Apple Event Preview

Tomorrow, Apple will host a media event that is expected to focus on the release of an updated, yet smaller iPhone line, rumored to be called the iPhone SE, and a smaller version of the recently released iPad Pro.  While both of these releases are certain to cause a buzz in the mainstream tech media, they would have little impact on the education market.  iPhones traditionally are not part of the classroom purchases made be schools and the iPad Pro, especially in its very large 13″ form factor, has had little adoption in education.  While a smaller iPad Pro might bring the price point down to affordability for some schools, the iPad Pro line is still that, primarily a pro device.  The benefits of the Apple Pencil for drawing would be of particular use only in a few education niches and likely will have only a small impact.

However, there is an outside change that the Apple software team will spend a little time during the announcement to cover in a bit more detail some of the interesting education features of the previously announced iOS 9.3.  Released as a beta several weeks ago, 9.3 includes some much needed features exclusive to education and hopefully these will be more fully addressed tomorrow.

Two features really stand out.  First, Apple is releasing a new Classroom app that will allow teachers to see what each student is doing by viewing their screen.  Additionally, teachers will be able to launch apps and lock the devices into that app remotely.  Could this rival Nearpod and other similar apps?  We will have to wait and see, but it is always interesting to see how Apple incorporates new features directly into the software.

The second highly anticipated features relate more to device management.  Apple has long provided a device management system known as Apple Configurator but its limits quickly became obvious and third party Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions quickly overtook it, but they are limited by what Apple allows.  Now Apple is introducing Apple School Manager, a one-stop device and course deployment system.. ASM allows admins to management Apple logins, deploy iPads, install apps and even build courses all from one system.  This app alone to end the hassle of iPad deployments for technology administrators and could further spread iPads into schools.

I’ll be watching the Live Feed and will post a complete wrap up of all of the education related news tomorrow!

The podcast show title will be. . .

Just over a week ago I announced plans to launch a podcast this summer that would focus on helping Instructional Technology Coaches and the teachers they serve to stay abreast of the latest happening in educational technology.  The goal is to provide useful information related to technology news, the latest apps and software updates and tips for integrating technology effectively in the classroom.

I have been working on the format, the show features, and, of course, the show title.  So, here it is- the podcast will be titled “Today’s Tech Coach.” Take a look at the cover art below!

As I discussed in the original post, the show will begin as an audio only podcast with an occasional video post to my YouTube channel.  You may have also noticed the “& friends” listed along with The Big Tech Coach.  I have already begun contacting EdTech leaders that I have met and worked with in the past and hope to have them join me from time to time.
I am still looking toward a June launch, possibly to coincide with the Alabama Educational Technology Conference, and have even started the process of sketching out some plans for various features that I hope to include.  The show will include instructional coaching strategies in the Coaches’ Corner, app reviews and updates in Appoholics Anonymous and EdTech news in the News and Notes feature. If you have suggestions for additional features, I’d love to hear them. Just add a comment below, shoot an email to bigtechcoach@gmail.com or call the Today’s Tech Coach voice line at 334-595-9092.

The BigTechCoach Podcast is coming Summer, 2016!

Hello everyone!
I hope that you have been enjoying the BigTechCoach Blog over at www.bigtechcoach.com.  I know I have and I love that it is starting to get a regular number of views with each post.  I just wanted you to know that I plan to add audio and video in the form of a bi-weekly podcast starting in time for Summer, 2016.
The podcast will feature educational Technology news items, tips and tricks, app and product reviews, special guests, and, of course, commentary.  My current plan features a show twice a month with special edition events when necessary.  With a nod to“Buzz Out Loud” the BigTechCoach podcast will be a “podcast of indeterminate length.”
I plan to keep you in the loop on the show’s development and I would love to hear you thoughts and ideas.  The show will begin as primarily an audio podcast but I plan to add video at some point.  Do you have a preference?  Would you prefer audio, video, or both?  Are there any particular features you would like to see?  Let me know by leaving a comment! 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Patrick Breitenbach

Microsoft is taking over the Apple App Store

In my last post, I reflected on how I had realized that I was dependent upon a couple of apps by Microsoft on my iPhone/iPad.  No, that is not a typo.  Most of my frequently used apps on iOS for me are indeed Microsoft products.  Microsoft Outlook for mail, Sunrise (now owned by Microsoft ) for calendar, Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, PowerPoint for presentations, and OneNote for notetaking.

I also use a few other specialty apps from Microsoft and a few weeks ago I began to wonder just how many apps are there by the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” apple protagonist. Off to the app store I went.  I knew that the reliable way to determine the number would be to go to a known Microsoft app and click the developer name to see all apps by that developer.  Of course, the app store makes me select iPad or iPhone first.  I went to iPhone and searched for Word.  I clicked Microsoft Corporation in the developer field and waited.  The results came up and a quick bit of math gave me a total of 73.  An iPad only search came to 48.  Of course, many of these are the same app with iPad and iPhone versions but we are still talking about over 125 apps by a software company that was once viewed as Apple’s biggest rival.

Nine of the apps are games, a couple more are entertainment apps and another handful are iOS versions of not so popular Microsoft apps or services such as the Groove player for music, Bing for search or even the Cortana voice controlled personal assistant.

But most of the Microsoft apps in the iOS App Store are quality apps that are must have apps for today’s teachers.  Let’s take the big four out of the discussion- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are must haves (and if you haven’t tried Outlook on the iPhone recently, please check out my last post!).  That brings us to OneNote.  The multitude of uses for OneNote aside, this is a handy app for creating and organizing notes.  From quick notes with check boxes to hand drawn notes in the iPad version, a wide variety of information can be stored in individual, searchable notebooks.

To effectively use the Microsoft family of productivity apps, you’ll definitely want to sign up for a free OneDrive account.  You can manage all of the files you’ll save in this free account using the OneDrive

Office Lens is a great little app to turn your iPhone into a portable scanner.  Scan documents or whiteboards and they will be digitalized and trimmed.  Easily export them to Word, OneNote or just as pictures to your Photo Library.

Office Sway is a new way to share ideas using text, pictures and video.  Create a Sway by adding different elements and share it to anyone across the web.

If your school or district utilizes Microsoft exchange or Office 365, there are some apps just for you!.  Sharepoint users can get SharePoint Newsfeed to keep up with what is going on.  Office Delve can do the same for Office 365 users.  Outlook Groups gives Office 365 users access to their existing groups.  Microsoft Send for Office 365 lets you text anyone with an email address with the messages going to the users email account as well as too the app.

You can even improve the selfie with intelligent enhancement and noise reduction using Microsoft Selfie or translate live speech with Microsoft Translator.

It is obvious that Microsoft has realized that it is a software company and it should create software for all of its users regardless of what hardware they use.  There are a handful of Microsoft apps in the Mac apps store and Microsoft Office for the Mac is even sol in the Apple store.  Even on Android, Microsoft is making their presence known.  A quick check of the Google Play store found over eighty apps from Microsoft.  In fact, an International Business Times article just last week stated that the Office Apps have been downloaded over 340 million times on iOS and Android devices.  This is significantly more than the 200 million Windows 10 devices.  The article’s author, Mike Brown, concludes that this effort to bring apps to all platforms “is paying off” as Microsoft surpassed analysts earnings expectations by almost a half a billion dollars in their most recent earnings call.

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