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Tech Review: Education City

Twelve months after having successfully adopted and implemented EducationCity in the Primary Department at Varee Chiangmai School, it is clear that this learning tool is not only user-friendly and engaging but also a very effective learning resource.

As a programme coordinator with over 1,200 students accounts, I was particularly impressed with how quickly teachers and students embraced this new learning innovation. The learning activities are well designed, clearly presented and motivate young learners to log on and learn. A large number of our students use EducationCity during the weekend too, regardless of whether they have homework or not.

From the teachers’ perspective, reviewing, assigning and evaluating student’s work is straightforward, and teachers, some of which are self-confessed technophobes find the system easy to navigate. The support team at EducationCity are also very helpful and always ready to help with any queries we have.

EducationCity’s functionality for assessing learning progress is also an excellent tool which enables teachers to quickly tailor learning to meet students’ needs.

Finally, I’d fully recommend EducationCity to other international educational institutions that are looking for an effective online learning resource for young learners.

I’d fully recommend EducationCity to other educational institutions that are looking for an effective online learning resource for young learners.”

Tech Review: ShowMyHomework

ShowMyHomework is a web resource I’ve only been using for a few month, but I’m a huge fan of it already.

Teachers allocate each student an account and students login in to check their homework schedule, complete homework assignments and submit homework online. The site enables teachers to track homework completion in real time, and create personalized quizzes for learners to complete online. Teachers using ShowMyHomework can also give parents access to follow their child’s progress, a useful option, but not one my teenage students are particularly fond of. The reporting functionality in ShowMyHomework is also a powerful tool for motivating students.

Although, ShowMyHomework is a great resource, i have encountered a couple of difficulties with this resource. On occasion, I have had some trouble using this resource when the internet speeds have slowed – with activities not loading, so this would be a concern for teachers in schools with limited internet connectivity. There is also a bug on the programmes which often appears when the students reach the last questions which leaves the students unable to click an answer and having to retake the test. The only other problem I’ve had with the resource is with the spelling test function often the voice is unclear and students unable to understand the word they are being asked to spell.

Finally, there is a smartphone app for this resource but the app only enables students to check their progress and the homework calendar. It would be great if a future upgraded enabled students to complete their homework quizzes on their smart phone.

Ed-Tech Review: Code.org

The ‘Hour of Code’ is an excellent initiative from the US which was first introduced in response to the lack of opportunities for school students to learn basic programming skills. The initiative, which has the support of a diverse range of public figures that includes; Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Malala Yousafzai, Richard Branson, Aston Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg, aims to ‘demystify the art of coding’ and expand student participation in computer science.

I’m not a computer science teacher but I appreciate the important of 21st Century learners being introduced to computer coding and Code.Org has some great tutorials that make coding exciting and assessable for students of all ages. The new Minecraft tutorial is a great place to start. It uses Blocky to introduce learners to the basics of computer code. Students use these blocks to program a Minecraft character to complete various tasks. Not only is the tutorial easy to follow and engaging but it also introduces learners to ‘commands’, ‘repeat loops’ and ‘if statements’, concepts which lie at the very foundations of computer programming. Once you’ve come to grips with the Minecraft tutorial they can move on to the Star Wars tutorial which allows students to create their own games and adventures. There is also a Frozen tutorial which encourages students to program Elsa to carve patterns by skating over the ice – a great activity for students learning angles.

Ed-Tech Review: M-Reader

M-Reader is a resource I stumbled across, as if by chance, during a professional development workshop in 2012. This resource is simple but very effective and it’s a great way to keep track of students’ extensive reading.

The resource was developed with research funds from Kyoto Sangyo University and the Japanese Ministry of Education and there are now over 4,300 quizzes in the database, covering virtually all popular graded reader series and a wealth of youth literature.

When students complete a text they take a quick comprehension quiz on M-Reader before moving on to the next book. I find the resource great for mixed ability classes because each student can go at their own pace and teachers can easily track each student’s progress. The librarian at my school also loves this resource because it enables her to quickly create reports on achievement and the students’ reading habits.

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