Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Friday, January 24, 2014

"We Learn Better in this Way" - a White House Film Festival submission

My students love music and they love technology. So when they heard about the White House Film Festival - a chance for them to make a 3 minute video about their love of digital learning - they were dead set on making a music video.

First they decided on a song. They wanted to rap at first but after a few iterations realized it was harder to come up with lyrics for fast songs. So they went back to the drawing board. Instead they picked a catchy "easy to sing" slower song - Royals by Lorde. Then they got to work on rewriting the lyrics. They created a shared Google Doc, started brainstorming topics that should go in their song - devices they use, how they use them, etc. Then they did a side-by-side table to look at the original lyrics and their rewrite.

After a few weeks of writing, practicing and rewriting, they had finally come up with their masterpiece. While I'm a huge fan of their lyrical genius and sweet dance moves, I'm even more impressed with the process they went through, their perseverance and the fact that they were really thoughtful about how to portray their use of technology to learn. Even more - that they used the skills they were singing about in the creation of the video itself!

So, without further ado, here is "We Learn Better in this Way" by Jaylen, Jean Paul, Grevelle and Latrell (5th Grade, NTA). Enjoy! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Latest EdTech Crush: Synergyse

I know it's a little early for Valentine's Day, but I'm in love. All of my paper hearts and candygrams will be headed to Synergyse this year (not to be confused with Synergy, the holographic computer from JEM and the Holograms).

So, what is Synergyse? According to their website:
"Synergyse is on a mission to teach the world how to use Google Apps™. To accomplish this mission, our team of former Google engineers built the worlds first fully interactive, measurable and scalable training system for Google Apps™."

But that really doesn't fully explain it. Basically it's an invisible helper elf who lives in your Google Apps and comes when you summon him via a magic "training" button. So, if you're in the middle of writing an email and forget how to attach a file, you can simply click the training button and an overlay appears showing you where to click and even includes audio narration explaining what you need to do. The training isn't just a video, it's a step-by-step interactive guide that gives you hands-on experience within your live account. Amazing. (See the video below for a demo.)

Synergyse has training for Gmail, Calendar, Drive and is expanding to other Google Apps. I know I geek out on a lot of techie sites, apps and devices, but this one is truly blowing my mind right now. The program even allows you to track analytics for who has gone through which lessons--- and it lets you add your own lessons should you so choose!

This has so much potential for impacting the use and adoption of Google Apps in our schools. Long, boring workshops or even short engaging ones still aren't as helpful as someone sitting down with you, one on one, in front of your computer, walking you through a process step-by-step. What's more is that since all of these lessons live in their corresponding Google App, it's on-demand learning. What you need, when you need it. Holy smokes, Batman - this is definitely worth checking out.

For a video demo see below!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chicago Tonight: Connected Education Impacts Chicago Schools

Last night I had one of the scariest yet exciting experiences yet... live TV. I was honored to be a guest on Chicago Tonight, a local evening news show. I've done televised panels or events in the past but this one was so different! The bright lights, quick pace and trying to answer unexpected questions while teleprompters for someone else scroll before your eyes... it required a serious game face.

All in all, I learned a lot and did my best. I was so humbled to be a part of the program and am so impressed by folks who do this on a daily basis. And, above all, grateful to continue to spread awareness of our schools' work with digital learning!

Connected Education Impacts Chicago Schools