Thursday, 10 August 2017 / Published in Blog

After several internet searches about the different learning styles, I wasn’t sure if there were 4,7, or 8 different learning styles. Then I conducted some deeper research and concluded that there really isn’t any concrete learning styles. However, it’s obvious that a classroom full of kids cannot absorb learning material the same way. Teachers have been aware of this for quite some time, but there’s never been any legitimate changes to testing and learning for students. So how does a teacher, or even a parent for that matter learn to cater towards a student’s learning style? It seems almost impossible since all of the different learning styles require catering to one sense like auditory or visual, but we all know that we are required to learn how to process information from all of our senses. In the last blog post I talked about how the EdTech reader is the best method to get high school students to read, but now I will be discussing how the EdTech reader can be used to appeal to the various senses of the learning styles and how teachers and parents can adapt to the learning style phenomenon.

If you read the last blog post, then you should already be aware of the overlay functions of the EdTech reader. If you haven’t, I would recommend reading the post so that you’ll have a better understanding of all the different overlay functions. With that being said, I’d like to talk about how in the EdTech reader teachers have the ability to create extensions. Extensions are identical versions of an eBook that teachers can create so that they can group different students into them. This means teachers can add different overlays to each extension, so that even if two students are reading the same book, they may have different overlays that provide a personalized learning experience. Since overlays contain all of the sensory information that appeal to student learning styles, they are the perfect tool for teachers to engage learning. 

With technology becoming more and more prevalent in classrooms, students are becoming aware that they have different options to do their reading and school work on devices instead of the old fashioned ways. The EdTech reader is available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops, which are all of the most prevalent devices for students. While many teachers and parents would prefer that reading is done on print books, it may be more effective for students to read on a device instead. As many parents know it’s virtually impossible to kick their children off their devices and read a book without some form of major bribery or punishments. Fortunately, the Edtech reader keeps students engaged in their devices while being able to enjoy learning.

From the supposed learning styles I have read about, the Edtech reader gives teachers the ability to appeal to all of them. For your visual learners, there are image overlays, YouTube overlays, and video overlays. These are extremely helpful for the students who need visual stimuli in order to understand the material in the book. Aural and verbal learners can benefit from the MP3 overlay feature where teachers could provide audio for difficult pronunciations, or to add whatever audio they want to make the reading more enjoyable. There are comment overlays for those that like to discuss and collaborate with others to learn. The hyperlink overlays can be used to incorporate the shareability of google docs.

At the end of the day teachers are given all of the power to be creative in how their students can learn with the EdTech reader. They can group their students in extensions and create extensions that appeal to their learning styles. Even if the teacher decides not to group students, they can still add plenty of overlays to the textbook that will empower students to use more of their sensory information while reading. I have been blessed to have many great teachers that would go above and beyond to make their class fun. The EdTech reader gives that creative ability to teachers for the work outside of the classroom. As always if you want your school equipped with the EdTech reader you can go to the EdTech website to schedule a demo for a hands-on experience with the EdTech reader. Now it’s time to start learning!

Tuesday, 01 August 2017 / Published in Blog

Let me just get this out of the way by saying that I was never the biggest fan of reading in high school. Obviously, I’m not alone in this thought because that’s the reason why there are sites like Cliffsnotes, SparkNotes, and Shmoop. I know that teachers are aware of these sites, and are coming up with their own ways of catching the students who try to avoid their reading assignments. However, I have found that despite a teacher’s best anti-slacking methods, if a student has good writing skills, it would usually be easy for them to complete a book report without reading the book at all.  Students are able to write a report just by looking at a good summary.

Overall, I have to say that while looking at summaries and coming up with book reports did help my creative writing, I still have some trouble when I desperately needed to use a textbook in college.  That’s why I want to talk about what I think is the best method to get high schoolers to read. Since I’ve started working for EdTech Software, I’ve been able to do all sorts of wonderful work with their eBook reader. I can honestly say with certainty that if my teachers used the EdTech reader in high school, then I would have definitely been a more attentive reader and I wish it was an option in college.

You are probably wondering why I think the EdTech reader is the best way to get high schoolers to read, but it all comes down to the interactive features of the reader, that will force students to open up their books. The first thing I love about the reader is that it can be used anywhere and on all devices. Almost everyone has either a smartphone, tablet, or a laptop, and the reader can be accessed on all of those devices, so there is no excuse for a student not to  read their books. While I know that teachers would not want to give full access for students to use these devices in class, I feel as if the accountability aspect would ensure teachers to know that their students can always access their books.

The most important feature of the reader is the overlay features. Overlays are pieces of media that teachers can place directly inside an eBook to make reading more interactive and entertaining for their students. The overlays that teachers can add in the Edtech reader are text, images, videos, hyperlinks, quizzes, YouTube videos, comment boxes, and MP3’s. Since these overlays are the heart of the interactive features, I’ll go over each of them briefly and how important they can be in learning.

Text overlays are for adding notes for students to read in their textbooks. With all overlays, you can highlight the text that you want to place your overlay in, and with text overlays you can highlight a piece of text and add a note like, “Remember this for the test”, or “We will go over this next week so don’t read this now.”  Little notes like these can be very important for students to see what is important in a book, and what they can skip. I find that in a lot of textbooks, there is a lot of unnecessary information that can often overwhelm a student. With text overlays, a teacher can add their notes wherever they see fit in the book for the benefit of the students.

Similar to text overlays, MP3 overlays can be used to add audio files inside an eBook.  I could definitely see the musically talented teachers of the world having plenty of fun with it. The audio option is also great for struggling readers and ensures students know how to pronounce keywords in all subjects. In addition to text and MP3 overlays, teachers have more visual options.

Image and video overlays are for adding exactly what you think they would add. While some people might see these as being unnecessary for reading books, I think they can go a long way in breaking up some of the monotony of reading, while also adding more educational material. It can be very helpful for visual learners to see a concept that they just read shown in an image or video, rather than just reading about it. One of the most common uses of the image overlay that I’ve seen is an image of a stop sign that teachers will put for students to know that they are done reading a specific portion of the text. Video and YouTube overlays are similar since they both add videos, but what stands out about the YouTube overlay is that when teachers paste a YouTube link into the overlay, their students will only be able to see that specific video, and nothing else from YouTube, which can eliminate all of the distractions of YouTube.

Hyperlink overlays are used for linking documents and websites for students to access from their eBooks. It has become necessary for students to learn how to create and use google and word documents for the modern workplace. I think it’s nice to have them accessible with reading material. Since Google Classroom and documents are collaborative, I can picture teachers using a hyperlink overlay to have their students post their questions to a document, or to recite what they have learned. This could be an easy tool for teachers to add assignments to their students’ reading.

Comment overlays are for creating discussions for students to contribute to from inside an eBook. I have had to do a lot of discussion post assignments, in both college and high school, so this overlay is very prevalent. With this kind of overlay, teachers can assign a discussion post for reading and when their students get to the overlay in the text, the material from the textbook will be fresh in their mind. The comment overlay function contains the ability to for teachers to monitor their students’ posts.

If all of these interactive features fail to make students open up their textbooks, then using a Quiz overlay will certainly ensure that most students who care about their grade will keep them accountable for their reading. The Edtech reader’s quiz overlay function is fully equipped for most question types and records all of the student’s submissions and scores. With this feature, students at least have to find the quiz overlay and look through the book to find the right answers.

All in all, my time working with the EdTech reader has inspired my excitement for the future of technology in education. While playing with all of the overlay features, I thought about how all of the wonderful teachers that I’ve had in my school career could have used this software to enhance my learning experience. The EdTech reader encourages teachers to utilize their own creative skills to make their student’s learning experience much better. To get your school equipped with the EdTech reader, you can schedule a demo on the EdTech Software website and you will get a hands-on experience with all the overlay features. Please don’t pass on the chance to enter the digital revolution and reinvigorate the joy of reading for your students.

Thursday, 13 July 2017 / Published in Blog
The millennial generation is often associated with being the generation that grew up with the internet, social media, and cell phones. As for myself, I went to the first fully-implemented laptop high school in the U.S. So naturally, I have a lot of experience with using technology in high school and college settings. I think many adults would be surprised by walking into a college classroom and seeing all the students’ heads buried in their laptops. But that’s been the best way for me to do schoolwork for the past six years, and I would never go back to doing it any other way. My hope is for more schools to make the switch to using laptops and other digital technology to prepare their students for the modern work environment.

My first few experiences working with classroom technology came from my middle school’s technology lab, as I’m sure many others my age have experienced. At the time I didn’t know anything about using computers, and most of what I learned was how to type and the basics of creating documents. I still vividly remember using those bulky Macintosh computers, and their excruciating spinning beach balls of loading pain. I think if I was a middle school teacher at that time, my biggest fear would be a computer lab classroom of 11-year-old all having the spinning beach balls at the same time.

The biggest takeaway from my first few experiences with working with computers was that I always enjoyed typing my assignments instead of handwriting them because I have the curse of poor lefty handwriting. My elementary school teachers would routinely send my assignments back when they couldn’t read my work. Fortunately, when I got to high school I would never have that issue again. I think it’s imperative for students to learn to type and create word documents as early as elementary school, so they will be able to type beautiful essays in middle and high school. I feel like in your early education, handwriting is focused on way too much. Nowadays the only handwriting I’ll do is the occasional sticky note, or for a signature.  

As a freshman in high school, I remember being super excited to bring my laptop home after my first day of school. I was simultaneously disappointed to find most of my favorite sites blocked. Around my sophomore year, the school unblocked many of the fun sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for after school use. For me getting used to these restrictions in high school prepared me for being unrestricted in college. In college, most professors do not care about your technology use, so you’ll often see plenty of college students either on their phones or looking at non-school distractions on their laptops. I’m very fortunate that I got accustomed to using my laptop the right way in high school.

Laptop use was vital in my high school, but I think my teachers did a good job in preventing eyes from being constantly glued to a screen. Some teachers would not allow the laptops to be present during lectures and activities, and others didn’t use them during class at all. My English teachers taught us how to use Google Docs, where kids can share and edit each other’s work. Of course, the chat function would usually have to be disabled during class, but after school, it was extremely helpful for group projects since it eliminated the chance of a group member not doing work when their classmates would bombard them with messages. Each teacher had their own blogs containing their lesson plans each week and all of their assignments, so even if laptops were not allowed in class, all of the assignments would be available after school. My school also used PowerSchool for students and teachers to have instant online access to grades, and Turnitin for submitting assignments online to help teachers check if students are cheating or plagiarizing.

Going through high school this way prepared me for college, and even my internship, immensely. I fully believe that if high schoolers do not have the experience doing classwork on a computer or laptop, that they will definitely struggle in college and the workplace. I know that there are still many schools that cannot afford to give their students this kind of access, especially personal laptops. However, when I see that schools are still paying for overpriced textbooks instead of using that money for giving students access to technology, then I think that’s a major disservice. The world is changing rapidly and I hope more educators will make the digital switch to help their students keep up with the modern world.