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When it comes to online classes, discussion boards typically form an vital crux of group participation. It is through this medium that students share their ideas, interact with each other, clarify doubts, offer suggestions and learn in the process.

As an online teacher, you are responsible for facilitating engaging discussions while enabling students derive value from it. It’s important to note how you are approaching these discussions – are you letting it run on auto pilot? What is your tone like? How clear is your communication?

All these factors have an impact on the students’ learning experience. So, in order to make this a productive space, here are 5 practical ways to manage online discussion boards and set it up for success –

Respond to Everyone

It can be rather intimidating to be the first one to answer a question in a large group. Being the online instructor, you need to create a welcoming environment for your students and appreciate those who respond.

You must look into every assignment or query and take time to form a constructive reply to each one of them. Don’t rush to give your judgement on answers in the form of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ as that might impede the others from sharing their point of view.

Your students need to know that they are dealing with an active, approachable and enthusiastic teacher. Due to the lack of facetime in this medium, it is imperative to take extra efforts to make them feel like they are being heard.

Give Specific Instructions

It’s easy to complain about receiving poorly written discussion posts but take a moment to think about how clear your instructions were in the first place.

Establishing specific instructions while designing an online discussion is extremely important because it sets the tone ahead. From the number of words and deadline to the writing style and grading parameters – you must clearly set forth your expectations so students can work accordingly. It is also a good idea to share examples with them for better understanding.

By doing this, you save time and are able to create an engaging and fruitful learning atmosphere.

Challenge Students

The most effective way to get students to learn is by asking the right questions. While multiple choice questions have their own place, it’s the in-depth, complex questions that really challenge students to do a deep dive and work on their critical thinking skills.

So, make sure your eLearning course has open-ended questions that opens the forum for a lively discussion wherein students can share their unique view-points and justify it with strong examples. This keeps the excitement levels soaring high while letting everyone learn more about new perspectives.

Assign Responsibilities

Apart from just answering the question you put forth, students need to also interact with each other on online discussion boards.

A good way to ensure this is by assigning roles and responsibilities to students for increased participation. For instance, you can have a student facilitate the discussion, get someone else to summarize the points at the end of it, someone to pose counter-arguments, etc. These roles can be rotated every week for everyone to get a chance.

This way students are able to take ownership of the discussion and will eventually feel more involved.

Work with Small Groups

It’s a good idea to hold small group discussions rather than having all your students in one. When lesser people are involved, everyone gets the scope to voice their opinion and that leads to a deeper discussion rather than one that is bustling with too many responses and ends up beating the whole purpose of having a discussion in the first place.

So, always break your class into smaller groups of 5 to 6 people to drive more focused conversations and achieve higher levels of interactivity.

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Informative, inspiring, or just plain interesting education and digital technology content from across the web, posted on Twitter over the past week and collected here to share with our blog readers.

This week in the wrap … several stories about schools sharing tech and innovation at school fairs and in other longer impact ways, classroom management tips from Vicki Davis, a new podcasting tool, powerful simulation and visualization tech in medical schools, a 16 year old student is using machine learning and computer vision to improve spinal surgery… 

3 Simple Habits to Improve Critical Thinking (good for students, teachers, everyone!)
https://hbr.org/2019/05/3-simple-habits-to-improve-your-critical-thinking

Free ebook from @coolcatteacher! 22 Classroom Management Tips
https://convertkit.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/documents/9152/2142314/22_TOP_TIPS_FOR_BETTER_CLASSROOM_MANAGEMENT_1097.pdf

A festival of technical: St. Joseph's student tech fest puts coding, robotics on display
https://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/a-festival-of-technical/article_9dab3382-ca4e-5afc-9d00-269b6acc875e.html

Soundtrap for Storytellers, New Podcast Creation Tool Launches Globally – Powerful, All-in-One Solution Enhances Student Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration (looks interesting!)
https://www.soundtrap.com/storytellers

PopUp Science spreading around the globe
https://hfchronicle.com/article/2019/may/12/popup-science-spreading-around-globe

Journeys Toward Modern Learning https://modernlearners.com/journeys/

University Medical Center’s “iEXCEL” program employs real-life visualization and simulation technology to educate students in the healthcare industry 
http://siliconprairienews.com/2019/05/iexcel-revolutionizes-healthcare-education-through-immersive-technology/

Animas High School students strut their science prowess 
https://durangoherald.com/articles/277465-animas-high-school-students-strut-their-science-prowess

16-Year-Old Engineer Works to Improve Spinal Surgery Using Machine Learning and Computer Vision
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/16-old-engineer-works-improve-180500408.html

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Inspiring new book helps educators discover ways in which technology can help to humanize the classroom and empower student success

Stacey Roshan is Director of Innovation and Educational Technology at Bullis School, an independent K-12 school in Potomac, Maryland. Stacey assumed this position after a number of years teaching and she continues to teach math classes. Stacey has long been a frequent contributor to the online edtech world through Twitter (@buddyxo), her blog (techiemusings.com), and other endeavors .

This year is a very exciting year for Stacey because she has written a book, Tech With Heart! I was delighted with this book from the moment I started reading it. Stacey brings a lot of heart to her role. Notice the subheading on the book's cover: leveraging technology to empower student voice, ease anxiety, and create compassionate classrooms. I believe that where technology truly shines in our schools is when it enables teachers to be caring and to strive to understand and help the students sitting in their classrooms, looking to them for guidance and to learn. Stacey is a wonderful example of that kind of thinking.

Stacey Roshan - Tech With Heart (Book) - Interview May 2019 - YouTube

I hope you will watch and enjoy the interview as we discuss the book and Stacey's experiences. Stacey makes a point of clarifying that she is writing about what worked well for her and while she hopes these ideas can help other teachers find some ideas that can work for them, she knows that not all of these ideas will resonate with everyone.

Here are just a few of the things we talked about, which are explored further in her book:

  • Tech tools that can draw students out and let every student have a voice without being put on the spot or worrying about responding quickly.
  • The anxiety that Stacey experienced as a student and how that informed her approach to the classroom.
  • How and why recording videos in place of lecturing changed the classroom dynamic (“more than I could have ever anticipated”).
  • How requiring students to provide feedback after watching an instructional video can position you to make the better use of class time.
  • Opportunities to fail and make mistakes are essential and important. Students need to know they do not need to be perfect and right every time.
  • “Pedagogy > Tech” – the pedagogy always comes first, the technology is just a tool, and the pedagogical technique is more important than the tool that enables it.
  • Meta-cognition – how can we help students learn how to learn and reflect on their learning?

Much thanks to Stacey for taking the time to talk with me and share with everyone. I highly recommend her book, available here on Amazon (lengthy preview available here). Also, here are the great resources Stacey has made available to help educators get a jump start on some of the tools and techniques she gets into in her book.

Please do drop a comment if you read the book and want to let others know what you thought of it. Thanks!

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Informative, inspiring, or just plain interesting education and digital technology content from across the web, posted on Twitter over the past week and collected here to share with our blog readers.

This week in the wrap … 30 Higher Education “IT Influencers” to follow (I'll bet you know some of these already!), the Learning Counsel weighs in on how tech will impact teaching going forward, applying Maslow's hierarchy to digital learning and collaboration, a look at the growing use of chatbots in universities, and more to explore! 

Twelve Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities
https://www.freetech4teachers.com/2019/05/twelve-tools-for-creating-end-of-year.html

Project-based learning boosts student engagement, understanding (really, who'da thunk? lol)
https://hechingerreport.org/project-based-learning-boosts-student-engagement-understanding/

Check out the Learning Counsel's look at How Technology will Alter the Teaching Profession: The roles will change, but not their importance
https://thelearningcounsel.com/article/how-technology-will-alter-teaching-profession-roles-will-change-not-their-importance

Amazing to be on this list with so many respected and influential colleagues!
https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/05/2019-deans-list-edtechs-30-must-read-higher-education-it-influencers

Educators everywhere remember Maslow. Take a look at how the wise and wonderful @KtBkr4 has adapted the classic hierarchy to digital learning and collaboration:
https://flippedlearning.org/syndicated/collaborating-with-maslow/

UB op-ed: Chatbots in universities – Enhancing the student experience, improving operations
https://universitybusiness.com/chatbots-in-universities/

Oh yes, please, please, please … Ditch the Math Worksheets and Stop Killing Kids' Curiosity
https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/05/08/ditch-the-math-worksheets-and-stop-killing.html

Ed Tech Hits Right Note for Teaching Students About Music
https://www.govtech.com/education/news/Ed-Tech-Hits-Right-Note-for-Teaching-Students-About-Music.html

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Texting CAN be an Educational Tool

Teaching has changed in the last years. Students are more involved in their own learning, having the necessary space to discover solutions. Professors, on the other hand, are able to do things that were not possible before, such as going on virtual trips, sharing content online, and engaging with social media. Allowing the use of technology in the classroom can encourage active learning, producing new understanding and knowledge, inquiry, and, last but not least, exploration.

One of these technologies is texting. If you’re a teacher, the words ­texting and ­classroom might sound pretty contradictory. Almost every school has some sort of “no phones” rule in place. Texting is generally considered to be a major distraction. Or so we think. Technology isn’t inherently bad and, in the hands of a gifted and passionate teacher, it can be an excellent tool that boosts student engagement and facilitates informal learning.

The surprising correlation between texting and writing skills

For decades, teachers have been under the impression that texting affects students’ writing skills, forcing them to become more and more concise until they supposedly lose their ability to express themselves in anything other than abbreviations and emojis. However, one Stanford study offers fresh insight on the matter. As part of this study, researchers compared 877 papers written between 1917 and 2006 and found that there is no significant increase in the number of errors. Even more interestingly, students write longer and more thorough papers compared to those of their predecessors. So no, texting doesn’t cause students to lose their ability to write. Though abbreviated, texts still follow the same correct grammatical structure and there’s even an increased phonological awareness because students learn what letters to use in their abbreviations to get their message across.

Texting and digital storytelling

Storytelling is one of the best ways to communicate. It provides information, understanding, and context. Out of all the knowledge that you can try to instill in students, storytelling makes the biggest impression. Students love to share their personal experiences and relevant connections. Sharing stories and events can be done through words, sounds, and, of course, visual images. If you want to try informal education with contemporary methods, teach storytelling with SMS messaging.

Ask your students what story they want to tell. No matter the genre, whether fiction or non-fiction, everyone has a story to tell. Pick someone from the class to start the story. The student that has been chosen to break the ice will write the beginning of the story and sent it to others via text. The rest of the class will pick up the story from there. Each individual contributes to the narrative, adding their own elements. When the assignment is completed, you can read the story out loud or print it. The result may be more compelling than you think. For example, there’s already an app that does something similar. Hooked, which was dubbed “fiction for the Snapchat generation” lets users write short stories in the form of text messages and the play on short sentences and punctuation marks can create some amazing thriller, mystery stories.

Use texts to make fun translation exercises

Translation has its rightful place in communicative methodology. It does not confine language practice to reading and writing. Translation is a complex process that encourages thinking in one mother tongue and transferring the meaning into another. If you want to get students excited about translation exercises, use text messaging. Electronic messages help students learn how to deconstruct sentences, not to mention that they are a great way to improve grammar. The students need as much translation practice as possible, so make the lessons more captivating.

Start by greeting the class with a friendly question like “What are you up to?”. From there, focus on maintaining an informal tone and, most importantly, keep the conversation live. In the end, make sure that the learners translate the text exchange. Photocopy the text messages and their English translations and transform this into a worksheet. Talk about abbreviations and acronyms. Students should be able to decipher any text language that they encounter. Even though it might not sound like a crucial translation exercise, it applies to real life situations. Translating books, newspapers and academic sources is a great way to practice, but a language is like a living organism and students should be able to use it outside the classroom as well. A student that enrolls in a foreign exchange program will text with fellow classmates at one point or another, so your fun translation exercises will come in handy. Remember, texting is a major means of communication and students should be able to translate messages via this channel too!

Teaching students how to do online research and filter information

As an educator, you are able to communicate answers to various questions quite fast. Students put the information into their own words and learn by discussing notions and concepts with their classmates or with you. A considerable portion of their knowledge comes from the Internet. This is the primary medium for seeking knowledge, which is why you have to teach the young generation how to use it as an academic tool. Teach students how to gather and filter information from an Internet search. There are many methods that you can use, but here is one that has the desired effects.

Try teaching students how to do a reverse phone lookup. Send out an SMS to the entire class, preferably from an alternate device, and have them track down them find out who sent it. It is not possible to deploy Google’s phonebook search anymore, so the alumni will have to use a reverse phone lookup tool to obtain owner details. By searching the number on the Internet, they will know who is texting and if it is necessary to take action. Ask your students what the best websites are and teach them what to do with the information provided by those sites. There is a lot to be learned from finding, filtering, and using information.

Implementation challenges and things to consider

As you can see, texting and education don’t have to exclude each other. By using a format that students are familiar with, you can get them to engage in informal activities that develop literacy and writing skills. However, like any unstandardized teaching method, it has some implantation challenges that you should be aware of:

  • Teaching via texting isn’t appropriate for all ages. Junior and senior high schoolers all have phones, but most kids in primary schools are too young to use them or bring them to school.
  • Lessons that include texting should be organized in advance because it’s highly unlikely for a class of 20 students to have charged phones with an active data plan at all times. Keeping a few extra chargers around class is also a good idea.
  • You’ll have to talk to the school board to get their approval. If your school has anti-phone policies in place, asking students to use their phones might get you in trouble.
  • Students need to understand that, while it may be informal, texting in the classroom is still a school activity. To make sure things don’t spiral out of control, set up some ground rules and only allow students to use texts for the purpose of the class, not to chat among themselves.

In spite of these small barriers, texting can be a great way to complement traditional education. It’s fun, engaging, intuitive and, although it may seem distracting, it can help you boost class participation and develop communication skills.

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Informative, inspiring, or just plain interesting education and digital technology content from across the web, posted on Twitter over the past week and collected here to share with our blog readers.

This week in the wrap … digital games can take the stress out of testing, take a closer look at critical thinking skills with a great free course, explore the arc of higher ed digital literacy initiatives (from digital literacy to digital fluency), easy tools for creating audio slideshows for end-of-year events, and much more to explore! 

How Digital Games Take the Stress Out of Formative Tests
https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/02/06/how-digital-games-take-the-stress-out.html

7 Things That Can Spoil Your Relationships With Your Students
https://www.emergingedtech.com/2019/05/things-that-can-spoil-your-relationships-with-your-students/

Exploring this free Critical Thinking Course from the Critical Thinking Academy
https://criticalthinkeracademy.com/p/what-is-critical-thinking

Cengage, McGraw-Hill Agree to Merge to Become 2nd Biggest US Textbook Publisher
https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-05-01-cengage-mcgraw-hill-agree-to-merge-to-become-2nd-biggest-us-textbook-publisher

Michigan FlexTech High Schools named one of top blended schools in country
https://www.wxyz.com/news/flextech-high-schools-named-one-of-top-blended-schools-in-country

Competent, Literate, Fluent: The What and Why of Digital Initiatives
https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2019/4/competent-literate-fluent-the-what-and-why-of-digital-initiatives

Whaling, SMiShing, and Vishing…Oh My!
https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2018/12/april-2019-whaling-smishing-and-vishing-oh-my

3D printers making a difference at Harlem Middle School
https://wrex.com/category/2019/04/26/3d-printers-making-a-difference-at-harlem-middle-school/

How Long Will We Wait To Give Students Choice?
http://ajjuliani.com/choice-learning/

Schools must evolve for the 21st century 
https://tacomaweekly.com/guest-editorial/schools-must-evolve-for-the-21st-century/

5 Ways to Quickly Create Audio Slideshows for End-of-Year Events
https://www.freetech4teachers.com/2019/05/5-ways-to-quickly-create-audio.html

Singapore Students Receive ‘Tamper-Free’ Digital Certificates On Blockchain
https://bitcoinist.com/singapore-students-tamper-free-blockchain/

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Teaching should be about guiding and inspiring your students, not punishing them

Has something like this ever happened to you?

You’re about to start a new course at university. You’re excited and ready to invest your whole reservoir of productivity to do your absolute best. But, after a few lectures, you realize that you hate it, you don’t want anything to do with it, and you’re absolutely turned off.

Why?

Your professor absolutely murdered your motivation.

According to the stats, there’s a small percentage of students drop out because of ineffective teachers and bad school environment. Given that there are more serious reasons why students drop out, like using drugs or needing to make money to support the family, bad relationships between students and teachers should not even be an issue.

I had bad relationships with teachers during my experience as a student. And now, being a teacher, I sometimes catch myself behaving the same way that drove me mad when I saw my teachers behaving like that.

This made me think: what are the things that we, teachers, do that spoil relationships with our students? Based on my experience, and the experience of my students, I’ve made the following list.

1. Allowing Personal Influence the Professional

When I was still a 6-grader, we had a new math teacher. I always loved math and was one of the best students in my class. However, with this new teacher, my grades started to worsen. I started failing test after test and eventually started hating math lessons. After some time it turned out that the whole class started failing math because our teacher was nervous all the time and didn’t pay attention to our performance at all.

Eventually, after I graduated, I met this teacher one day on the street and she apologized for her behavior, saying that she allowed her personal life to affect her professional life. She was single and couldn’t find a partner for a long time, and this made her bitter.

For a teacher (and it applies to any profession out there), separating professional from personal is the first thing you should think about in the morning. Remember your mission: your function is to teach and guide, not make your students hate you for the reason that’s not even their concern.

2. Grades Become Weapons

One of my students told me the following story. He dropped out of his first college because a teacher used to threaten him with grades, saying that if he doesn’t perform better, he will fail him. Failing this subject meant that my student would have to take another semester studying it over again. Eventually, he decided to drop out and start all over at another college, because it was too much pressure on his nerves.

The study, published by NYU, showed that teacher-student relationship influences a student’s academic performance. Threatening your students and using grades as weapons means that you are responsible for their bad academic performance. And you’re not interested in helping them be more diligent, don’t fool yourself. You just want them to perform better to make yourself seem like a caring teacher when in reality you’re not.

3. Playing Favorites

It happens very often: after a few lectures, you notice that your teacher already has a few favorite students, pretending that other students in the classroom do not exist. If you do this, don’t be surprised if the majority of the classroom will fail your subject and won’t care much.

In a panel discussion, published by Slate, a few teachers discussed the problem of favoritism in the classroom. Although they admitted that choosing favorite students is common, this doesn’t give a teacher the right to give other students invalid criticism. Favoritism is a straight way to spoil teacher-student relationship, so be objective in your evaluations.

4. I Am a Teacher Here!

Honestly, there’s nothing worse than a know-it-all teacher that points out their dominance all the time. In my opinion, no matter how much you know, you still cannot know absolutely everything about your subject.

In the age of the Internet, where billions of new data are uploaded every day, staying updated is extremely hard. Moreover, your students may know something that you don’t. Even in the world of business, companies always listen to their customers because they give them valuable insights. Peter Jefferson, a marketing specialist at the international company Flatfy, shares: “We built our whole company using feedback from our customers. You may know something, but your customer always knows better.”

The same goes for teacher-student relationships. No matter how much teaching experience you have, you can always continue learning, even from your students. There’s nothing shameful in that.

5. No Patience for Feedback

Taking time to answer the questions and giving extra explanations and feedback is important for the learning process. This shows your students that you care. However, many teachers tend to be “too busy” to find a few minutes to make sure that students received the feedback they really need.

The best example is students hating essay writing. Lack of feedback and explanation drives them to order essays and research papers online, which is absolutely unacceptable. So, find the patience to give necessary feedback to strengthen your relationship with students.

6. No to Technology! Yes to the Textbook!

Yes, there are teachers that hate technology. I hate to admit that I used to work with such people. But can you deny something that has already become an integral part of our day-to-day lives? Or should you probably use it for your benefit?

Integrating technology in the educational process contributes to academic performance. It’s already known that students enjoy using smartphone apps for studying purposes, and digital assessments have an advantage over paper tests. Using a textbook is often necessary, but relying solely on the books is obsolete.

7. Is Teaching Your True Calling?

Lastly, if you hate getting up every morning and going to work to meet your students, your relationship with them is already ruined. Ask yourself, whether teaching is really your calling or you’re just doing it by default.

If you do, you should probably consider doing something different. When teaching, you’re dealing with people who have their whole life ahead of them. And if you already hate them before even meeting them, teaching is not your thing.

Final Thoughts

Having a good relationship with your students is truly a blessing. Teaching is all about guiding and inspiring your students. If you keep that in mind, your students will be forever grateful.

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While this is not an “ed tech” topic, I thought it was important to share. I think we've all known friends and family who have suffered from mental health challenges. If this post helps one educator deal with such a challenge, then it was clearly worth sharing. – KW

You know how stressful the teaching job is, yet the people who claim you’re not stressed have never taught in their life. Teaching is a job that tends to be undervalued and a bit vilified, with some teachers being thrown under the bus for the flaws in the education system. Here are some reasons why your career as a teacher is stressful, and what can be done about it.

Teaching Uses a Lot of Brain Power

Teaching is a job that is extremely mentally stimulating. On one hand, this is a good thing. The more you use your brain, the better it will be as it ages. That’s why you have older teachers who are still sharp and can run laps around their students.

However, burnout is real. Cramming facts in your head to teach students, trying to have a lecture planned every school day, answering questions, trying to figure out how to make your lessons interesting and fun for your audience, the list goes on and on. It can cause mental exhaustion, and even though teachers have breaks, it sometimes isn’t enough.

Teachers are Bullied

As a teacher, you are often blamed for many things. If one of your students is failing, their parents may yell at you about why you failed their child. Students may often mock you, and think of you as the bad guy. Even if you are the nicest teacher in the world, some children want to make you into the bad guy.

And as we said before, too many teachers are thrown under the bus. Sometimes, a teacher has to work off of the materials provided, and it’s difficult to make some of that material presentable, no matter how brilliant you may be.

All this ridicule can definitely take a toll on your mental health, even if you believe you shouldn’t take it personally.

Teachers Are Overworked

This goes along with the first one a bit. As a teacher, the work is never done. Even as you dismiss the class, you still have to grade papers, answer questions, plan lessons, and when you think you’re done, you’re not.

Teachers Are Sleep Deprived

If you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you are definitely one of the lucky ones. Plenty of teachers find themselves not getting enough sleep. It’s understandable as to why. You can be up all night grading papers and only get a few hours of sleep. You may think that taking energy drinks and being on your feet can reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but this isn’t the case. Even if you feel like you’re used to the insomniac lifestyle of a teacher, you are still going to suffer from health effects, crashing, and no matter how much you try to catch up on sleep, it’s never enough.

Teachers Don’t Seek Help

As teachers, we can be a bit stubborn on getting mental healthcare. We are the providers and the ones who give help. However, even the best need help. A therapist can help you when you need it the most. From helping you organize your schedule so you get more sleep to letting you vent in a safe place, therapists are there when you need it the most.

And thanks to the Internet, teachers now have plenty of ways to receive the care they need. Online counseling allows you to talk to a therapist at any time, which is important for a teacher who is always on their feet.

If you’re interested in online counseling and therapy, click below for more info: https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-online-therapy/.

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Informative, inspiring, or just plain interesting education and digital technology content from across the web, posted on Twitter over the past week and collected here to share with our blog readers.

This week in the wrap … several pieces exploring the science of learning and leveraging it to teach well, the challenges and benefits of teaching online, a look at how one New York school has gone all in on digital, reasons who outsourcing online program development is a bad idea, lessons in being a discerning media consumer, and more to explore! 

Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies (study)
https://educationaltechnologyjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41239-017-0087-5

The Secret to Quickly Learning New Skills, According to Science
https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-secret-to-quickly-learning-new-skills-according-to-science/

The Highs and Lows of Teaching From Afar
https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/04/24/online-teachers-can-work-anywhere-its-not-always-easy

Impressive long term, strategic effort by SUNY Oswego: “The Digital Campus”
https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/4/suny-oswego-the-digital-campus

Neuroscience Research: 5 Ways To Superior Teaching
https://www.coolcatteacher.com/neuroscience-research-5-ways-to-superior-teaching/

Online learning ‘app’-ortunity for budding digital entrepreneurs
https://www.opengovasia.com/online-learning-app-ortunity-for-budding-digital-entrepreneurs/

For Colleges, Outsourcing the Virtual Future (i.e. OPMs) Is a Bad Idea
https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-04-22-for-colleges-outsourcing-the-virtual-future-is-a-bad-idea

How one small college helps its students find ‘purposeful work'
https://www.educationdive.com/news/how-one-small-college-helps-its-students-find-purposeful-work/552695/

National Report Calls for More Focused Studies of Digital Apps and Games to Enhance Pre-teen Learning and Development
https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/national-report-calls-more-focused-studies

Checkology – Lessons in Being Discerning Media Consumers
https://www.freetech4teachers.com/2019/04/checkology-lessons-in-validating-online.html

Teachers to be schooled in science of learning: A new yearlong program aims to expose educations to new brain research
https://www.localdvm.com/news/i-270/teachers-to-be-schooled-in-science-of-learning/1953936590

Key takeaway from blended learning research: all of the instructors engaged in blended learning had the common goal of improving the student experience and learning, and as a whole they (Ss) did better (Future Trends Forum, April 26th, 2019)

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Powerful Apps Like SelfCAD 2.0 can Help us Make so Much More of the 3D Printers in our Schools

Introduction

3D modeling software is being used for design and it has replaced manual drafting through an automated process.

In the past few years, there has been an advancement in software tools, and a good number of the programs have been developed.

There are lots of different kinds of people out there with all kinds of different goals that they want to achieve with 3D software. Some people want the most powerful software for making professional level animation, artwork and games. But that power comes with a price. To get really good with the software takes thousands of hours of practice. Sometimes, people just want to make something for their classroom or home 3D printer.

Comparing SelfCAD With More Complicated And Advanced Software

Being able to just jump into 3D without devoting months learning it first is valuable to a lot of people who aren’t ZBrush, Blender, Solidworks etc nerds like me. So that’s why I’m reviewing this new 3D package called SelfCAD. The idea is that it’s so easy to use, that you can make basic 3D models.

In addition to this program being easier to use, it has the following features too:-

– Amazing selection modes which allow you to select your model with ease.

– Very simple objects view with both light and dark modes.

– Sketching brushes which allows one to create various 3D profiles with a lot of ease.

– Both 3D, 2D Sketching and Free drawing tools available.

– Measurement option which makes it easier to design accurate Models.

In addition to that, the first thing I was impressed with the program was that the interface is pretty intuitive and clean. Now, experienced 3D pros might scoff at how simplified everything is. But that’s the point. A 3D pro already has something like Maya, ZBrush or Solidworks. SelfCAD does helpful things for beginners like visually explaining what the difference is between a vertex, polygon and edge is right here where you choose which selection type you want.

Myminifactory And 3D Slicer Availability

Something else interesting about this program is that one has access to more than 45,000 ready to print models through the Myminifactory account. You can download them to the editor and start modifying them to suit your needs and you can also upload your models for the whole world to be able to see them.

The best thing about SelfCAD is the availability of the slicer. This allows one to slice their models before 3D printing. Usually when using other programs one needs to install other software or extensions to prepare their models for 3D printing. But thanks to SelfCAD, the all in one program.

The ease of this program allows even novice users to make use of their creative talents.

Object creation

Like any 3D software, SelfCAD has a way to create primitives. I actually prefer SelfCAD’s way of making primitives over Zbrush and other professional programs out there. It just works fast and easy. One thing I really like is it’s screw and nut creator. It lets you customize a screw and automatically creates a nut that will fit it perfectly.

Image to 3D

Here’s a feature that either doesn’t exist in much more advanced software or SelfCAD’s implementation of it is much easier to use than other software. You can take a photo and turn it into a quick and dirty bas-relief 3D model. It even can detect the background and remove it! It’s not perfect, it can result in less than beautiful results…but if quick and dirty is all you need, then this does the trick!

Custom drawing

If you want to go beyond ready-made objects, you can make your own. Now, don’t expect pro-level tools here. SelfCAD is all about doing things in the simplest way possible so that anyone can start making basic 3D objects quickly. There are tools for making 2D shapes that can then be extruded or revolved into 3D shapes.

Sculpting

There’s also a sculpting component to SelfCAD and it has all the basic functions that you would expect from any other basic sculpting software. It uses a quick voxelization function to re-mesh which you can run manually as you work. So it’s a lot like using dynamesh in Zbrush. Now, I use a Wacom tablet for sculpting and at the moment, SelfCAD does not work well with tablets…it is made for use with a mouse. For this reason, sculpting in SelfCAD can feel clunky. If you want a beginner level sculpting software, I recommend Sculptris instead. However, Sculptris hasn’t been updated in over 10 years and SelfCAD is in active development, so it may catch up soon!

Deforming objects

Like any 3D software, you have tools and deformers for making modifications to your 3D models. The features are pretty standard and self-explanatory so I won’t go into them here. Just know that it has the basics covered and it’s all quite easy to use.

Adding and subtracting objects from each other

Moving on, SelfCAD has some boolean features, but it doesn’t call them boolean like all other software because your average joe doesn’t know what the word boolean means and it sounds funny…so selfCAD uses the term Stitch and Scoop. So just like any other software, you can fuse two objects together or subtract one from the other, or make a new object that is just the shape where two objects overlap, or just the shape where they don’t overlap.

3D print

While you could technically use the models you create in SelfCAD for basic games and animation, this software is more geared towards 3D printing output. So you’ve got a variety of options for sending models to all kinds of different printers.

Whether you will be working with innovative concepts, unique shapes, and basic 3D designs, SelfCAD will help you realize and unleash your imagination easily.

One can finalize their shapes with a click of a button and you can also work with polygons and issues effortlessly drawing functions. Facilitate and automate the designing phase with The set of macros facilitates and automate the design phase of the model and whatever one conceives they can bring it into a reality.

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