Tech for Teach

A Band-Aid LMS

mzl.uftambvwRecently I discovered an interesting add-on for Line users (see Steve’s post on Line) that most of my students were unfamiliar with, called Band. The Band app is nestled within the Line program as a quick add-on, so there is minimal action required for students to use it. Anyone can create a Band and invite others to join it. Within the App are extra tools not found in Line Groups, which can help any social or scholastic group to stay organized and maintain communication during projects. Line Band offers a social networking type mobile environment which is both iOS and Android optimized.

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Tech for Teach

SkyDrive? Or Google Drive?

Apple users may not be familiar with SkyDrive at all; but Microsoft and Google have been in competition for a while now trying to control the cloud computing experience with SkyDrive being Microsoft’s offering, and Google Drive being, well, Google’s. As a PC user, I am not up to speed on what Apple is doing on this front, but last I checked iCloud was not as much of a peer-peer collaborative environment as SkyDrive and Google Drive are attempting to be.  In any case, cloud computing has opened up tremendous new possibilities for teachers, both in the areas of collaborative learning and teacher development of web based materials. So, let’s try and sort out these two major players in the game.

Both SkyDrive and Google Drive have downloadable folders for file sharing which can be placed right in your explorer window (that’s like Mac’s Finder), and fit in seamlessly with your typical PC environment. Both can be used on multiple devices to share files with yourself on multiple platforms, Android, Mac OS, and Windows. Both can be accessed from web browsers on any device. Both use the same login password you would use for your e-mail and are directly tied to your e-mail (G-mail or Hot-mail/Outlook/Microsoft account). Both offer web app versions of popular software such as word/document and excel/spreadsheet. However, there are some major differences.

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Tech for Teach

Getting Your Classroom in Line

How do you keep in touch with your students? Email seems to be the obvious choice, but it can be surprisingly ineffective when trying to get in touch with Japanese university students. It is not uncommon to hear from a student that they have never checked their campus email. To get around this barrier, I initially tried using the Moodle messaging system as a backup, but a quick look at the access logs usually shows that the students I need to contact haven’t logged in for weeks. Where to go from here? Facebook?

I tried creating a Facebook group for one class, and I really liked how it shows read data on each post. I could log into Facebook and check my postings and see “viewed by 12”, and know that most of the students had seen it. While Facebook was a step up from Moodle and Email, it was through observing students in the classroom that I discovered the tool I needed.

Line App
Line App

I often noticed students with smartphones using a chat-bot in an app called Line to translate words. Line is a phone-based social networking service, and its user base has exploded in Japan. It is fairly safe to say that if your students have a smartphone they also have Line. So, it was this discovery that led me to creating groups in Line to communicate with students. The response rate is a vast improvement over my previous attempts, as it is the first app that most students check when they pick up their phone.

So, if you want to stay in touch with students, maybe it’s time to get you classrooms in Line.