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

DROPitTOme: a convenient alternative for the “Cloudless” hitchhiker.

Of all the emerging technologies that are revolutionizing the way we approach teaching and learning, which would you say is your number one tool that has the greatest impact on your day-to-day teaching now? Would it be MOOCs? Tablet computing?  Or even the smartphone?  Well, being an iPad fanatic myself, I would be really tempted to choose tablets over any other technology out there.  However, an iPad is only as good at the apps that are installed on it.  And for every model I pick up, the first couple of apps I install are Dropbox and Evernote.  And what do those two apps have in common? – Cloud Computing.  In fact, when I had my iPhone 4s “knicked” at a public square in Phnom Penh this year, not only was it a good excuse to get the iPhone 5, but I realized all I really lost was the hardware (and a touch of pride).  After all, everything I really needed was already “backed up” in some “cloud” somewhere.

Although there are a plethora of cloud services to choose from such as Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, SugarSync and the more recent Copy, the one API that most apps sync their services to seems to be Dropbox, which is a testament to its popularity if not it’s usefulness.  Even though, I have used Dropbox for what seems like forever, I am still a little surprised to find out that roughly 70% of my students in my university classes in Japan are not even familiar with it.  Inevitably any assignment I receive from a student gets backed up in Dropbox.  In the past semester, I have been taking advantage of creating shared folders with my writing classes.  However, there are those kind of classes where I don’t feel it’s necessary to do that. Yet, there is the odd file the needs to be handed in. For example, in my speaking class each student had to produce a PowerPoint presentation.  I’ll be honest, there is a learning curve with setting up shared folders in Dropbox that I don’t feel is worth going through for just one or two files.  Yet, the alternative method of having students email me the file makes me shudder when I think of all the work that it entails (i.e. weeding out the student’s email from my other mail and then downloading/moving each file to a Dropbox folder. Continue reading “DROPitTOme: a convenient alternative for the “Cloudless” hitchhiker.”