Sunday, February 16, 2014

Stop Using the ONTARIO EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE BANK


The Ontario Educational Resource Bank, OERB, provides Ontario students and teachers with thousands of resources from K-12, including entire course units, lessons, and interactive learning objects. The OERB has been integrated with the Provincial Learning Management System, or LMS. So, teachers and students may access these resources without having to login. Further, with this integration, e-Learning Ontario provides teachers with the links and embed codes that will bring students directly to any activity. This allows teachers to customize the way they use these resources to better meet their programming needs.

Learn more using the USING CONTENT FROM THE OERB GUIDE.

So, do not ever stop using the OERB, start using it with the LMS and direct your students to all of these great resources in a seamless, engaging way!

Friday, February 14, 2014

IWB in Your Pocket


  • Are you in need of an interactive white board (IWB) but don't have the $3000 to shell out to get one? 
  • Have you already got a data projector in your class and are looking for ways to enhance what you can do with it? 
  • Do you have a couple hundred dollars in your pocket and want to replace it with something else you can fit in your pocket? 
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then I have the tech for you: A portable device that you can carry around in your bag that turns any surface into an IWB.

I found out about this product last December when I was at the RCAC conference and sat in on Chris Knight's breakout session on Increasing Student Interactivity. Now although I suspect Chris would say that IWBs aren't actually as good as people think when talking about promoting student interactivity (and I might agree), he did mention that a nice option to have IWB technology in your classrooms for a fraction of the cost was a new product created by IPEVO simply called an Interactive White Board System (though the mention of this was merely an aside in his session).

Now I have written about IPEVO before (I really like their portable document camera) so it doesn't come as a surprise to me that they have continued to put out inexpensive but reasonably well performing products. This IWB is no exception.

Keep in mind that certainly a $3000 Smartboard works better but for the money, this works great. I have tried it on a regular wall (ie painted surface) and directly onto a regular whiteboard and I prefer the whiteboard. Somehow the slight texture of the paint felt when moving the pen along the wall is off putting to me. But it works just fine and I was surprised at how precise the calibration is. It comes with its own software (see menu to the right) that allows you to annotate anything on screen with different pens and take screen shots of your work. It can also be fully integrated with the IPEVO P2V document camera.

Setting up the system is pretty easy. Once you have the projector set up and plugged into your computer, just place the IR receiver so it is facing the screen and then follow the two step calibration procedure. For an idea of what that might entail, watch the brief video below.

If you are interested in purchasing this product, in the US you can do so directly from IPEVO here. In Canada (to avoid high shipping and any duties or brokerage fees) you can get it from Merconnet here. Either way you should be around $200 with shipping and taxes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Readable is Your Text?

I was sifting through my many YouTube channel subscriptions and came across this video:

Now to be fair the video is about how we blindly just click "Accept" when we come upon those Terms & Conditions pages when signing up for things online and is a bit on the dry side. So I am not sure whether you want to spend the 10 minutes to watch it. One of the topics was about how complex the wording is in these documents and how that is a deterrent, right away, for most people to read them. So at about the 3 minute mark they talk a Google Chrome Plugin they developed called Literatin that would take the text of any web page (or any text you copy and paste into it) and give it a general rating that goes from Green Eggs & Ham (at the low end) and Frankenstein (at the high end).
Using the plugin is pretty easy. Once you install it on Chrome, you will see an icon appear on your toolbar. When on a web page, just click on the icon and it will read the text on the page and give a report. So for example, this blog page of text comes back equivalent to Harry Potter with an adult Literacy level of about 2. 

If you want to use text from a PDF or Word document, just copy it and past it into the plugin. So for example I took a reading passage from the 2013 OSSLT and it came back equivalent to Moby Dick with an adult reading level of 2 or above. Or I went back to the 2013 Grade 6 EQAO test and took a passage from it and it came back equivalent to Harry Potter with an adult reading level of 1. Finally I looked at the 2013 Grade 3 EQAO test and took a passage from it and it came back equivalent to Oh the Places You'll Go with an adult reading level of 1. 

Now I am not a literacy expert but I still think that this seems like a useful tool. If you found this tool useful (or not) it would be nice to hear from you in the comments.