Friday, March 30, 2012


As their Website says, "Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets."

I was happy to have the opportunity to visit a couple of high schools last month (Kent City and Zeeland East) to check out their tablet programs. One had Android tablets and the other had iPads. I also attended the MACUL annual conference for a couple of days a few weeks ago. The one thing I came away with from all three visits was that teachers are using Socrative.

Here is the intro video from Socrative.

Here is a quick look at Socrative in action.

I signed up for Socrative (easy) and created a quick quick (easy). It worked great. Students don't have to sign up for an account. Just go to the URL and enter a room number to access my class and my quiz. Very cool! I think this is a great cool to quickly get student feedback, brainstorm, or just test your student's knowledge in an anonymous manner. Try it out.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Edmodo: CMS Products Part 2

Last time around, we discussed Moodle in part 1 of our tour of Course Management Systems (CMS). Today, we are talking about Edmodo. I had heard about Edmodo, but really learned about it a few weeks ago while visiting Zeeland East High School to check out their totally amazing iPad program. While on my visit, I was told told that up to half of the teachers at the school were using Edmodo. After my visit, I signed up and started "test-driving" it with my classes for a few weeks. My students generally liked it. Why? Because it totally looks and feels like Facebook.

Ah yes, a video.

Some of the features that I liked about Edmodo were I could easily set up my three classes by having students sign up for or my different classes codes. Easy. When students set up there profile they could choose to to get my updates by E-mail or by a text on their phone. This was probably a horrifying thought for some of my students that I would be texting class updates to their phones. Like most CMS products, it also has a calendar which let me add items to my calendar (color-coded by class). The quiz/poll feature is slick too. I can get immediate feedback from students as they enter the classroom or give a pop-quiz. Probably the feature I like the most is the fact that it did look like Facebook and have that social media feel. Students can message each other (or me) and ask questions from within Edmodo. You can also give parents an code to view their child's account. Of course you can post assignments, links, and upload files.

 Having a most of my materials already online with my Website, I am not used to using a CMS, but enjoyed my time using Edmodo. It has a pretty cool app for the iPhone, iPad, or for Android. Overall, I have to give Edmodo two thumbs up

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Moodle, Moodle, Moodle: CMS Products Part 1

Moodle, Moodle, Moodle. It is just fun to say. Try it.

What we are talking about, of course, is Moodle, a free Course Management System (CMS). What is a CMS you say? Well, they are a place to help organize your classes online. You can upload, store, and link materials. You can give online quizzes and tests. Have a discussion board for class members to discuss ideas and assignments. You can post grades if your school doesn't already have an electronic grade book. This is the first in a four part series on different CMS products. First up is Moodle. Here is a quick video on Moodle and some of the features:

Here is my history with Moodle. I started using it last year in my Programming class. I already had a Website, but was looking for a way to give some online tests and quizzes. Our intermediate school district hosts Moodle for member school districts, so I signed up for a user account and created my classes. Moodle was easy to use and my students were able to sign in without a problem. The test feature is very good. I can give practice tests, tests, and retests. My daughter's chemistry teacher also uses Moodle for his classes and has it set up so students must complete a reteaching loop before taking a retest. Pretty nice. My one complaint with Moodle (and it is a small one) is that is is not very nice looking. The interface is pretty utilitarian. But, what does one want for free? Here is another video that I though was good. A take-off on Lee Lefever's videos.

I think that having your classroom materials will be standard in the next few years. I have had mine up for a several years now, but I teach computers. More and more schools are moving to one to one computing with students having laptops or tablets. It is the way education is moving. If you are thinking about using Moodle, here are some helpful links. More videos can be found here. If you are interested in moving your class online or simply looking for a convenient storage place that offers some organization, you may want to look into Moodle

Good luck!