A First-Timer’s Takeaways from CUE ‘17
Type of technology: Various
SAMR Model Rating: Various
Grade level: All
Subject area: All
This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Computer Using Educators (CUE) National Conference in Palm Springs. For those unfamiliar with CUE, the conference is designed for educators “looking to see how technology can support student achievement” (CUE.org). Between sessions titled “Literacy in a 1:1 Classroom” and “20 (Free) Tech Tools to Make Planning and Teaching Easier,” I saw just that, and much more. Here are a few tools and takeaways from my time at CUE…
- The use of tech isn’t going anywhere. I thought I implemented a decent amount of technology in the classroom. CUE made it clear that I can be doing more, and that there are many educators out there who are. Although the question of balance will always remain, there is no question that the use of technology is here to stay. George Courous, CUE keynote speaker and author of The Innovator’s Mindset, shared an interesting quote from a student: “Social Media is like water. You can either let us drown, or teach us to swim.” Replace “social media” with “technology,” and you’ve got a pretty telling image of our students’ day-to-day experience.
- There a LOTS of tech tools, many of which do the same thing. The sheer number and variety can sometimes be overwhelming, but it’s an opportunity to choose what fits your purpose best.
For example, I often find myself having to give URLs to students in class. Perhaps I need them to fill out a Google Form, access an article, etc. There are numerous URL shorteners out there (TinyURL is one, Delivr is another), but even a shortened URL can be cause for a headache, especially when they are case sensitive. Take this one by Google’s add-on: goo.gl/w0rmI6. Is that a zero or a capital “O”? Is that a capital “I” or a lowercase “L”? Given the potential for confusion, my new favorite URL shortener from CUE is ShoutKey. For one, ShoutKey gives you a URL with an actual (simple English) word. For example, ShoutKey.com/can or ShoutKey.com/papaya. This makes it a bit easier to give (or “shout” out) a URL to students. Second, you select when the URL will “dissolve” (no longer be accessible). This can be anywhere between 5 minutes and 24 hours (24 hours is the max because the site needs to recycle words for other users). This feature is good for when you don’t want students visiting the site past a certain point, like an in-class quiz. As an added bonus, it will also create a QR code if you prefer to go that route.
- It’s a good idea to check “old” favorites for updates. I sometimes find myself dismissing crowd favorites like Kahoot because, in my mind, “everybody is already doing it.” But crowd favorites are crowd favorites for a reason—they are engaging, easy to use, and sometimes, when the stars align, both.
Moreover, when learning platforms like Kahoot get a favorable response, they’re more likely to pump funds into further research and development. That means that your “old” crowd favorite gets even better and newly added features give you (me) reason to take it out of the “I’m not going to use that” mental file. Kahoot, for instance, boasts a new two-step join (so that students can’t text their friends in other classrooms to join the game), a way to play YouTube videos in as the background of the join screen, and several Inspiring Ways to Play, including Ghost Mode (play against your previous score or someone else’s).
- The good news: you’re not alone. The better news: it doesn’t have to be perfect. Since all the world’s information is literally at our fingertips, only a few keys and clicks away, education is shifting from individual products to process and collaboration. Along with this mindset is the freedom to make mistakes, and the introduction and use of tech in the classroom is no different. So go ahead. Connect with other educators on social platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Explore new technologies or rediscover past favorites. If you’d like a starting point for exploration, check out this presentation on 20+ Tech Tools to Make Planning and Teaching Easier by Brooke Ahrens and Melanie Duffin, or explore education presenter extraordinaire Leslie Fisher’s website.