If you're a teacher of students that are 13 years of age and older, and your students sign up for accounts themselves, you might find our new account type of interest: Student-owned accounts that are connected to a teacher account.
A quick review of Teacher accounts and their student accounts
Until now, if a teacher wants to monitor their students' activity, the teacher must create generated accounts and hand them out to the students. And give everyone the same password. And keep track of whose account is whose. This is an ideal solution for maintaining the privacy and safety of children under 13 on the internet. But it may not be ideal for teachers of a large number of students in higher grades.
Introducing... Student-owned accounts connected to your teacher account
With student-owned accounts, students can sign up for their own accounts, and maintain their own passwords. Sounds like just a regular account that has always been available? Not quite - now anyone with a regular (non-teacher) account will see a new option in their My Account menu: Join or Leave Class.
If you, the teacher, have one or more classes set up in your account, you can instruct your students to use the Join a Class option to connect their account to yours. When they do that, they will be prompted to fill in the alias/nickname and give you permission to access their results. The alias/nickname will be what you see on your class results listing (thus saving you some work figuring out who's who).
This option is available for both Teacher Basic and Teacher Plus accounts , but please note that you need a Teacher Plus account to view your student scores (Teacher Basic will just show you that the student completed the quiz - not the score).
We've just introduced a new feature that has been requested by some of our teachers: you can now force a quiz to go into strict test mode (with the other modes disabled).
If you've ever given your students a test, and and asked them to use strict test mode, you might have been frustrated by the one or two students who missed following your instructions. Problem solved! You can now set up a customized quiz that goes directly into strict test mode, with no mode change options on the screen at all.
Here is what you'll end up with: notice in the screenshot below that the quiz is in strict test mode - 1 point per question ie only one guess, no map or show me buttons, and no buttons to change the quiz to practice mode or test mode.
screenshot of a quiz forced to strict test mode
How to set up a quiz like this yourself
First, you must be signed in (to either a Teacher Plus account, or an Individual Supporter account), and select a quiz from the customize a quiz page.
On the customize screen you will see a new set of options, Quiz Mode Options, just below the options for coloring the map. Here's a screenshot of a customize screen, with a red circle around the new options:
Screenshot of where to find the mode options
The default option is that the Practice, test and strict test options are all available - this is the the standard quiz behavior that you're all familiar with. Select the second option, Force strict test mode, as shown in this little screen shot:
Force strict test radio button
After entering your title, description, selecting your locations, and your mode option, hit the save button, and you are done! You've got yourself a quiz that behaves ONLY in strict mode. This is a great option to set up a quiz to use just for testing. You can continue to use standard quizzes, or customize quizzes without this option, for your students to be able to practice and prepare for their tests.
Try this Demo quiz in Strict Test Mode
I've set up a Demo Quiz of 16 countries in Europe so you can try out what it's like when you use this feature.
The folks at Google are piloting an interesting immersive geography program that might interest some of our readers.
The gist of the program is a to take students on a kind of virtual expedition where they can experience more than 100 interesting journeys. These simulated journeys could include a visit to the South Pole, coral reefs or ancient American ruins. With the Expedition Kit, students will be able to look up and down, and spin to get a 360-degree view of a location, as if they were visiting in person.
Expeditions teams will visit selected schools around the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. Each team will bring a complete Expeditions kit with everything the teachers need to take their students on journeys anywhere. The team will show teachers how Expeditions works and help set it up before class.
There is no charge or cost involved in the program. You just need 6 interested teachers.
Anytime there's a new 'thing' combining geography and geeky - you know someone at Lizard Point is going to be on it. UK's Geographical site just published a piece describing how the British Geological Service (BGS) has recently completed a rendering of Great Britain done entirely in MicroSoft's wildly popular Minecraft world.
Minecraft is one of the most popular videogames in the world, especially among children. It's in a class of games called massively multiplayer online games (MMO). These games place the player in immersive environments where they can interact with other players and explore their environment. Minecraft is particularly interesting as it gives the players the ability to actually create and shape the worlds that they are exploring.
It would be incredibly interesting to simply explore existing surface geography in the Minecraft world, but the BGS has taken it another step further, or deeper. Steven Richardson, the geospatial applications developer at the BGS, says ‘we added the geological data too so that when players are looking at this map, they’re not just seeing where the M1 goes upcountry, they can dig down into the blocks and see what the geology is. It adds a third dimension to this data’.
It isn't hard to imagine the educational possibilities that this presents geographers. Instead of lecturing alone, or poring over maps - Minecraft would actually provide students a way to immersively experience the world and (in this case) see the geological layers under their feet.
We're always thankful for teachers who contact us and let us know what features they need. Big thanks go out today to Dean H, who asked about how to print the class results, or save them to a CSV file.
We realized, upon reading Dean's question, that the basic browser print of the class results included the site navigation, and was not exactly printer-friendly. So we got the print version cleaned up. We hope you'll find the printed version of the My Classes: Students scores and results much more usable now.
New and improved Print my classes: student scores page
As for saving to a CSV file, we don't have a function for that yet, but, it's actually pretty easy to do with just basic cut and paste, from your laptop or desktop.
We've made a quick video to show you just how easy it is... and here's your first opportunity to meet Bill, the other half of Lizard Point.
The use of technology by teachers is an subject of great interest to the Lizard Point team. Obviously, we would like to make Lizard Point Quizzes even better; easier to use for teachers and students, more engaging and able to impart real learning about our world. But beyond that, we strongly believe that our kids are going to be increasingly living in a 'digital world', and their experience in the classroom should reflect and prepare them for that reality.
In researching this post, we came across several articles about the use of technology in the classroom that were rather disappointing. Several of them were summarized in Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach by Benjamin Herold in Education Week in June, 2015. We took away a couple of key points from this article:
By and large, we have gotten past 'first order' challenges with adaption of educational technology such as lack of internet connectivity and access to technology. As evidence, the report mentions 75% of high school students reporting regular use of smartphones or tablets in the classroom.
However, 'second order' challenges are significantly hindering progress. These are reportedly mostly concerned with teacher attitudes, training, administrative support and knowledge.
"The introduction of computers into schools was supposed to improve academic achievement and alter how teachers taught..", according to Stanford University education professor Larry Cuban, ".. neither has occurred". The article goes on to describe technology adaption in the classroom as incremental and more likely to be related to helping teachers teach (ie. powerpoint vs. overheads) than in how students learn. Some good counter-examples are also cited, involving early adapters that have managed to create student-driven, collaborative learning opportunities. But these are definitely presented as the exceptions.
Based on the feedback we receive at Lizard Point, we are convinced that many, many teachers have found ways to use educational software to help students learn (and hopefully not create more work for themselves). We would love to hear from any teachers about their approaches to technology and how they have overcome challenges. Please send us a note or leave a comment. Perhaps we'll find some approaches that we can feature in a later post.
Also, if you have thoughts on ways that software could improve - we'd love to hear that as well. What if we had educational software that engaged kids the way that their video games do? What if they could collaborate and compete with their classmates in a visually stimulating way? What would that look like, feel like?