The Preschool Connect Blog

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  • 8 Google Sheets Add-Ons For Educators

    Below is a collection of Google Sheets add-ons that I believe every teacher and educator should at least be aware of. These are tools that provide you with tons of functionality hacks to enhance your productivity and facilitate your workflow. Some of the things you can do with these add-ons include: creating forms of various types (e.g., quizzes, assignments, surveys, etc), generate PDFs and documents from Sheets’ data, grade and analyze digital assignments, create a class website from spreadsheets, and many more.

    FormsCreator

    An easy way to generate Google Forms to use for various educational purposes including for surveys, quizzes, assignments, feedback, etc.

    Doctopus

    Enhances teachers workflow by providing teachers with the ability to “mass-copy, share, monitor student progress, and manage grading and feedback for student projects in Google Drive”.

    Autocrat

    “Flexible, easy to use document merge tool that creates PDF or shared Documents from spreadsheet data”.

    Wikipedia and Wikidata tools

    This add-on is great for mining data for your classes. You can use Wikipedia and Wikidata tools to do a ton of information gathering, instantly. The add-on provides you with a host of custom lookups such as WIKITRANSLATE and WIKIGEOCOORDINATES. These functions pull live data straight from Wikipedia into a spreadsheet, enabling teachers to compile an up-to-date and accurate database of facts.

    Flubaroo

    A Google Spreadsheets Add-on that helps educators quickly grade and analyze online assignments and assessments, as well as share scores with students!”

    Sheet2Site

    Allows you to create a website for your class using Google Sheets.

    Form Publisher

    Allows you to generate documents (e.g., Docs, PDF, Sheets, Slides, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) from data on Google Forms and Google Sheets.

    Flippity

    Originally, Flippity was designed to help you create online flashcards from Google Sheets, but the range of templates now includes everything from quiz shows and crossword puzzles to spelling and typing tests. The add-on has recently been discontinued but all the same great templates are available directly via the Flippity website.

  • The 7 Components of TPACK For Successful Technology Integration
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    At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The TPACK approach goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation. The TPACK framework goes further by emphasizing the kinds of knowledge that lie at the intersections between three primary forms: Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).

    Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts. Individual teachers, grade-level, school-specific factors, demographics, culture, and other factors ensure that every situation is unique, and no single combination of content, technology, and pedagogy will apply for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching.

    May be an image of text that says 'TPACK P (or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) is a framework that highlights the interdisciplinary relationship between teaching, learning, and technology.'
    May be an image of text that says 'Contexts Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) Technological Knowledge (TK) Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) TPACK Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) Content Knowledge (CK) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)'
    • Content Knowledge (CK) – “Teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter to be learned or taught. The content to be covered in middle school science or history is different from the content to be covered in an undergraduate course on art appreciation or a graduate seminar on astrophysics… As Shulman (1986) noted, this knowledge would include knowledge of concepts, theories, ideas, organizational frameworks, knowledge of evidence and proof, as well as established practices and approaches toward developing such knowledge” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) – “Teachers’ deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning. They encompass, among other things, overall educational purposes, values, and aims. This generic form of knowledge applies to understanding how students learn, general classroom management skills, lesson planning, and student assessment.” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Technology Knowledge (TK) – Knowledge about certain ways of thinking about, and working with technology, tools and resources. and working with technology can apply to all technology tools and resources. This includes understanding information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in everyday life, being able to recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and being able continually adapt to changes in information technology (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) – “Consistent with and similar to Shulman’s idea of knowledge of pedagogy that is applicable to the teaching of specific content. Central to Shulman’s conceptualization of PCK is the notion of the transformation of the subject matter for teaching. Specifically, according to Shulman (1986), this transformation occurs as the teacher interprets the subject matter, finds multiple ways to represent it, and adapts and tailors the instructional materials to alternative conceptions and students’ prior knowledge. PCK covers the core business of teaching, learning, curriculum, assessment and reporting, such as the conditions that promote learning and the links among curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) – “An understanding of the manner in which technology and content influence and constrain one another. Teachers need to master more than the subject matter they teach; they must also have a deep understanding of the manner in which the subject matter (or the kinds of representations that can be constructed) can be changed by the application of particular technologies. Teachers need to understand which specific technologies are best suited for addressing subject-matter learning in their domains and how the content dictates or perhaps even changes the technology—or vice versa” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) – “An understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    • Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) – “Underlying truly meaningful and deeply skilled teaching with technology, TPACK is different from knowledge of all three concepts individually. Instead, TPACK is the basis of effective teaching with technology, requiring an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones” (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
    The TPACK Image (rights free). Read below to learn how to use the image in your own works. Right click to download the high-resolution version of this image.
    Photo Courtesy of TPACK.org

  • 4 Types of Cloud Computing Services

    “The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are located in data centers all over the world. By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines.

    Cloud technologies have transformed how organizations procure and manage infrastructure. With every organization today entering the cloud world, it is essential to understand the different types of services cloud computing offers. Although there are many types of cloud computing services, all these services have a few basic features and advantages in common and can be categorized into four basic cloud service offerings. Organizations can fly their business, small or big, to the cloud with these four different types of cloud computing services.

    1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    The lower end of managed cloud computing services where hardware resources are provided by an external provider and managed for you. IaaS provides users access to computing resources such as networking, processing power and data storage capacity. The lower end of managed cloud computing services where hardware resources are provided by an external provider and managed for you. IaaS provides users access to computing resources such as networking, processing power and data storage capacity.

    Examples of IaaS: Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine.

    2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

    This cloud computing service is an advanced version of IaaS. Apart from just providing the IT infrastructure, PaaS also provides the computing platform and solution stack as a service. PaaS is a cloud computing service that provides developers with a framework that can be used for building custom applications. Platform as a Service lets software developers build custom applications online without having to worry about data storage, data serving, and management.

    A typical Platform as a Service offering consists of – 

    • Hosting Solutions
    • OS
    • Software tools for design and development.
    • Environment for server-side scripting
    • DBMS
    • Network Access
    • Storage
    • Server Software
    • Support

    Examples of PaaS solutions include Microsoft Azure, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Force.com. by Salesforce, Google App Engine, Rackspace Cloud Sites, OpenShift, and Apache Stratos

    3. Software as a Service (SaaS)

    A special cloud computing service that incorporates both IaaS and PaaS service offerings. SaaS is a cloud computing service that provides application-level services tailored to diverse business needs such as business analytics, CRM, or marketing automation. SaaS is a cloud computing service offering that provides web-based software applications to customers on-demand. SaaS providers host a fully-functional application through a browser-based interface and make it accessible to the users through the Internet.

    SaaS offerings allows the cloud to be leveraged for software architecture thereby reducing the overhead of support, maintenance, and operations as the applications run on systems belonging to the vendor. SaaS is the most familiar cloud computing service offering as users most often interact directly with SaaS applications like Netflix, Gmail, JIRA, Dropbox, or Salesforce.

    Examples of SaaS solutions include SAP Business ByDesign, Zoho CRM, AppDynamics, Microsoft Office 365, Pardot Marketing Automation.

    4. Functions as a Service (FaaS)

    Before we understand Functions as a Service, it is important to understand the most popular tech term associated with FaaS – serverless computing. Serverless computing is a cloud computing model that takes away low-level infrastructure decisions and server management from the developers. The application architect need not deal with the allocation of resources as it is managed by the cloud service provider. 

    FaaS is a brand-new and very young cloud computing service acting as a game-changer for many businesses. It is a serverless computing concept that lets software developers develop applications and deploy an individual “function”, piece of business logic, or an action without maintaining a server. It increases the efficiency as developers need not to consider server operations because they are hosted externally. 

    Examples of FaaS include Google Cloud Function, Microsoft Azure Functions, Webtask.io, Iron.io , Open Whisk, and AWS Lambda.

  • Gamification In E-Learning and Training To Improve Retention

    Gamification is a technique used in e-learning to enhance user participation. Gamification techniques are intended to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism or closure. Gamification strategies use rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks or competition to engage players. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar or providing the user with virtual currency. Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players or providing leaderboards are ways of encouraging players to compete.

    Retention also improved when gamification was used in the workplace. In the future, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may also become a regular part of gamification in business. These two types of gamification put the user in an entirely different place (VR) or augment their surroundings (AR) to offer just-in-time training simulations and problem-solving situations. Read about ways to include gamification into e-learning programs.

    1. Stories

    Create a compelling storyline to captivate your users and take them on a journey. Create a story that embeds users in the plot as they tackle each section of the content. This is a great way to create immersive content and keep learners engaged throughout. Incorporating characters or avatars to represent employees can add an extra layer of fun to this.

    2. Visual design

    Eye-catching visuals and aesthetically pleasing designs can make your elearning more appealing and draw your users in. Combine bright colours and graphics for a visually-stimulating learning experience.

    3. Competitions

    Who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition? Allow users to compete against others in their team or anonymous players, or even against themselves to keep motivation levels high. Consider including leaderboards so learners can see how they’re performing against their peers.

    4. Challenges

    Reward your learners with smaller, more frequent tasks and then ramp up the difficulty level as the session progresses. This will not only help them get into the swing of things, but leave them primed and ready for more difficult, rewarding challenges using what they have learnt along the way.

    5. Rewards

    Incentivizing your users in the way of rewards such as badges, medals or unlocking new levels can help to boost their motivation and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

    6. Leader Boards

    They are dashboards that are used to provide a pictorial view of the overall progress—including against others. The analytics keeps learners connected to the learning journey and aligned to meeting their terminal objectives.

    7. Instant Feedback

    Providing instant feedback when a learner completes a task or quiz is a great way to keep them focused and engaged as it allows them to track their progress as they move through the different stages of the game.

    Will gamification truly help learners learn?

    The fact remains that the success of any learning strategy is determined by the effectiveness of its application. Remember, gamification can help create not only extrinsic motivation through rewards and competition, but can also be helpful in providing intrinsic motivators like skill development and autonomy for students.

    Use Of An Avatar

    An avatar allows employees to place themselves in a game. This type of game can be very helpful when everyone in the company needs to undergo a new training at different levels.

    Simulations

    As discussed above, gamification using VR and AR are great ways to teach hazardous situations without placing employees in harm’s way. First responders in the early stages of their training can use gamification in this way to make decisions or react to emergencies, but simulations are also effective for training in call centers and engineering and retail.

    Task-oriented approach

    This type of gamification in eLearning uses a specific, task-oriented approach to teach employees a specific process. This could be something as simple as teaching a new plumber how to hook up a water heater or as complex as developing a new system of resource management.

    Gamification in Assessments

    For companies that need a quick overview of what their employees know, either in theory or in practice, gamified assessments can provide a snapshot in a low-pressure setting. Some of these applications can be developed in such a way that employees don’t even realize they are being assessed. This is not to be done in a “gotcha” way; rather, managers can use this data to structure relevant future trainings and clarify anything that is widely misunderstood.

    Click the link below for more information on integrating your organizations content into gamification software from The Training Arcade:

  • Moodle Vs. Google Classroom

    These two platforms serve a similar purpose, which is online learning. A comparison of Google classroom vs Moodle helps us understand the different approaches towards online learning using different platforms.

    Moodle

    Moodle is preferred by many teachers and professionals as it is an open-source. Moodle also has many collaborative tools such as Chat, Forum, and Discussions. The Learning Management System facilitates efficient course and user management to allow for easy integration with 3rd party applications. It is based on a modular design that allows educators to design their curriculum using plug-ins to serve various purposes.MoodleCloud comes in two packages: Moodle for Free and Moodle for School.

    Moodle does everything that Google Classroom is capable of. But the vice versa is not true. Moodle is huge, vast, and offers a lot more features than Google Classroom. Simply because Google Classroom is not officially an LMS. Teachers can design the entire curriculum right from scratch as Moodle supports plenty of content authoring tools. Moodle also provides parents with access to the grades of their children.

    Moodle provides multilingual support, attendance tracking, videoconferencing through BigBlueButton, plenty of gamification modules, enables gamification of tests and quizzes, etc. To make sure learners stay on track and do not drop off, viewing trends of participation, submissions, and other data is incorporated. As a result, it improves the overall e-Learning experience, vastly helping retention rates and student successes.

    Tip: Make sure you use more clickable activities, gamification, audio, and video-based learning instead of going for text-based learning. Also, students love learning through games, points, badges, puzzles, crosswords, treasure hunt, and embedded videos.

    Google Classroom

    Google Classroom is part of the G Suite for Education. It provides a simple and straightforward interface and is accessible via Google account. It encourages collaboration between students and teachers to foster better communication. This tool is a free promotes free collaboration that allows instructors to create online classrooms, invite students, and conduct classroom discussions. For teachers and students to be able to use the platform for e-Learning, their schools must be first registered with Google Classroom. It simplifies the process of creating, distributing and grading assignments. Grading, class organization, and administration can all be managed in its interface.

    When working within Google Classroom, it is important to know that you cannot design your own curriculum in the LMS but it is fairly easier to set up classes and assignments. You can even reuse tests or assignments for future classes, set access rights, export grades to Google Sheet, share study resources in the form of videos, links and images with the students. With Google Classroom, you can easily manage classwork and homework assignments into one simple thread. It has everything top-down in one fluid thread for students and teachers to be able to easily find and access.

    Google Classroom is a cloud-based platform that integrates Google Apps for education and helps teachers co-ordinate day-to-day training activities.

    Major Differences

    Pricing– Google Classroom is a free service for teachers and students. However, they can’t sign up unless their school has registered for Google Workspace for Education. The Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals platform is free for qualifying institutions and includes many basic Google features. There are three paid plans:

    1. Google Workspace for Education Standard – This plan costs $3 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the Fundamentals platform, plus a security center and other features.

    2. Teaching and Learning Upgrade – This plan costs $4 per license, per month and includes all of the features of the Google Workspace for Education Standard, plus advanced Google Meet features (e.g., meetings with up to 250 participants, interactive Q&As, breakout rooms).

    3. Google Workspace for Education Plus – This plan costs $50 per student, per year and includes all of the features of the other plans, plus live streams with up to 100,000 in-domain viewers.

    Pricing– Moodle’s open-source platform is free to download and install. However, its cloud-based deployment, MoodleCloud, has five paid plans:

    • Starter: $120 per year for 50 users and 250 MB of storage
    • Mini: $210 per year for 100 users and 500 MB of storage
    • Small: $380 per year for 200 users and 1 GB of storage
    • Medium: $840 per year for 500 users and 2.5 GB of storage
    • Large: $1,490 per year for 1,000 users and 5 GB of storage

    Features- Some of Google Classroom’s key features include platform branding with school colors/logos, along with the ability to reuse tests, assignments and other content for future classes; share videos, links or images with other students; schedule postings of assignments. Moodle provides many features, such as a mobile app, content authoring tools and support for multiple languages. Some of the features include the BigBlueButton for video/web conferencing, Quizventure for gamification with quizzes and tests, another gamification module called LevelUp that includes progressive checkpoints. Google also has the ability to export grades to Google Sheets and set permissions for student access/commenting. Some new features introduced recently include the ability to send assignments to individual students, email and mobile notifications of assignments’ due dates, and the ability to customize the types of notifications received. Moodle also has Word Count for writing assignments, Chemistry Editor for chemistry assignments, Group Choice for group projects, and Checklists and Attendance tracking.

  • 10 Podcast Tools You Should Know About

    Podcasts are a great way to build a genuine connection with your audience. Instead of the fractured connection you make through social media, podcasts allow you to engage your audience with unique long-form content. Podcasts are more convenient than blog posts; people can listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or just doing chores around the house.

    There is a lot of unexplored space in the podcasting industry. There are at least 600 million blogs, 23 million YouTube channels, but only 800,000 podcasts in Apple Podcasts.

    That means for every podcast, there are 750 blogs and 29 YouTube channels.

    1. Zoom

    Zoom is an excellent free option. You can easily record right in the program, by clicking the “Record” button and choosing where you’d like to save your audio file. Zoom splits both sides of the call, giving you two separate audio tracks. This is helpful when it comes to cutting and editing in post-production.

    Zoom recording a podcast interview.

    2. Skype

    Recording a podcast using Skype offers both pros and cons. Of these pros includes the ability to record using the built in call recorder feature. Also, Skype has become a household name with caters to its popularity in the video conferencing and recording realm of technology. The cons of utilizing Skype is that all users have to have username and password to access the podcast features. The call is recorded over the internet, as opposed to ‘double-ender.’ ‘Double-ender’ call recording has become the default demand of remote podcasters in recent years. It basically means that both sides of a conversation are recorded on separate tracks, locally on the computer of each participant and saved directly to the cloud.

    3. SoundCloud

    Although this service is mainly for music, spoken-word podcasts are welcome here too. Unlike the other hosting types, though, Soundcloud requires listeners to have an account to download material. People will also need to search for your content in order to find it, meaning you need to create awareness elsewhere. 

    4. BuzzSprout

    Buzzsprout is another great podcast tool to which can be used on mobile devices. To learn more about this tool, check out the How To Get Started video on Youtube by clicking the photo below:

    Buzzsprout

    5. Audacity

    Audacity is an excellent free option for editing your podcast. It’s especially easy if you plan to use only one take, with few cuts. This option is great for beginners because of the simple cut, copy, and paste functionality. It isn’t the highest quality sound, but it gets the job done.

    Audacity editing software for podcasts.

    6. Ardour

    Ardour is a digital workstation software suitable for marketers working within tight budgets. All you have to do is arrange for a quality audio interface, plug in a microphone or keyboard, and record an audio track. Besides, if you already have an audio file, import it from your hard drive.

    7. Podbean

    An all-in-one FREE podcasting solution, Podbean is ideal if you don’t have any programming knowledge but still want to build a profitable podcast. Incorporate your corporate branding and customize the theme of your podcasting site.

    Distribute-everywhere

    8. Facebook LIVE

    Free online recording session. Facebook is easily accessible through Android and Apple mobile devices. Podcasters will need to create an account to access the online recording feature.

    How to Create Facebook Live Videos that People Actually Want to Watch

    9. Garage Band

    Garage Band is a free editing software that is available on and comes with most Mac computers. It’s mostly used as a beginner editing program, but is capable of mixing up to 255 audio tracks. It comes with basic editing features including volume levels, cut, copy, and paste. It also features a sound library with effects that you can include in your podcast.

    Garage Band for Macs editing podcasts.

    10. Podomatic

    Podomatic allows you to play your podcast directly from Facebook and Twitter feeds, and you can embed your episodes on the website or share it on social media to maximize visibility. Besides, you can attract listeners to fund your podcast via Patreon, and add your podcast to AdvertiseCast’s marketplace and run ads on Advertisecast. If you don’t have a podcasting site yet, you can make one using a drag-and-drop website building CMS, Weebly or Blogger.

    Listening apps
  • National Ice Cream Day- Freebies and Discounts

    National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 18, 2021. Check out the deals and freebies being offered through nationwide and local ice cream shops and parlors.

    Baskin Robbin

    It’s the perfect time to try the new Creature Creations, a magical lineup that includes a Dolphin, Shark and Sea Turtle with their own unique personalities that come to life through a playful cup design, edible white chocolate topper and a colorful explosion of sprinkles. On Sunday, July 18 Baskin-Robbins will serve up a free Kinetic Sand Scented Ice Cream Cone container with any purchase of $10 or more, while supplies last. Customers will discover one of two delicious scents, Mint Chocolate or Strawberry Banana, inside the ice cream cone container that doubles as a mold.

    Dairy Queen

    For this one day only, participating DQ stores nationwide are offering fans $1 off any size Dipped Cone (excluding kid cones) with the DQ mobile app.

    Insomnia Cookies

    Insomnia Cookies is celebrating National Ice Cream Day all week long, which means you can get a free ice cream scoop with any purchase with promo code ICECREAMDAY. This offer is valid for local delivery and in store.

    Godiva

    BOGO 50% off on soft serve and sundaes at participating reopened locations.

    Monkey Joe’s

    Join them for National Ice Cream Day at Monkey Joe’s on July 18 for a sweet day of jumping, sliding and bouncing fun. Get out of the summer heat and visit any Monkey Joe’s location on Sunday, July 18 and get one free ice cream.

    Burger King

    BK is celebrating Ice Cream Month by giving away a free vanilla soft serve cup or cone with any purchase of $1 or more. All you have to do is sign up for their rewards program on the app.

    Dreyer’s

    Dreyer’s is having a giveaway on their Instagram for National Ice Cream Day for a pint of one of their new Rocky Road Collection.

    7-Eleven

    7-Eleven is offering a free slurpie for the month of July. Stop by to celebrate National Ice Cream Day.

    Door Dash

    Order from The Ice Cream Shop on DoorDash Sunday and get a free pint of ice cream on orders more than $20. To qualify, add any pint of ice cream to your grocery or convenience store order more than $20 and use promo code ICECREAM at checkout.

    McDonalds

    Check the fast-food chain’s app for coupons and freebies. And with the new rewards program after making your first purchase you will have enough points to get a free cone.

    Pressed Juicery

    Get a size 1 plant-based soft serve (freeze or mini-frozen) with up to three toppings for $2 Sunday. Limit of three per customer.

    Wendy’s

    Through July 31, the chain is offering a small Frosty-ccino or brewed coffee with a purchase and an exclusive in-app offer through its Wendy’s Rewards program. There also are other deals on the app.

    Whole Foods

    Through July 20, get 35% off all ice cream and frozen treats, plus Prime Members save an extra 10%.

    Carvel

    Visit Carvel on Sunday and try one of their new churro products, and you’ll get a treat next time you visit. Or use this coupon for $3 off their products at a grocery store. You can also enter for a chance to win free ice cream for a year.

    Enlightened

    The healthier frozen dessert option is offering 20% off all products on the EatEnlightened.com site from July 1 through July 18. This also covers non-ice cream dessert options, like dough bites and cheesecakes.

    16 Handles

    Get three free ounces of soft serve with toppings when you scan the 16 Handles app in-store.