Ed Tech Tips, Tricks & Hacks – OER Edition

Ed Tech Tips, Tricks & Hacks – OER Edition

 

This edition of Ed Tech Tips, Tricks & Hacks contains nuggets of wisdom on:

  • OER Commons
  • Amazon Inspire
  • Net Texts
  • OASIS Search
  • Share My Lesson
  • OER World Map
  • PhET Interactive Simulations
  • Problems of the Week – National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • Approved Free Textbooks – American Institute of Mathematics
  • OER – Big List of Resources
  • SeeSaw
  • Educause OER Resources
  • Find OER
  • Alberta OER
  • BC OER Textbooks
Dynamic vs. Static Software

Dynamic vs. Static Software

These may not be the official terms for the software, but I’m going to choose to use these terms to try to help with the distinction between “cloud” software and installed software. To ensure our definitions are aligned, when I refer to static software I am speaking of software that you purchase and install to your hard drive (back in the day, on a disc or CD).  By dynamic software I am speaking of applications we use that are updated automatically without incurring additional costs.

The technological revolution has occurred at an alarming rate. As a society, we’ve not had the internet in our homes for even 25 years yet. And if you recall that first internet we all had (it used your telephone cord – back when telephones plugged into the wall) and it made “that noise” when it connected you to the internet.

Once you were connected, you had to wait… for practically everything to download. Remember how images looked as they gradually loaded onto your screen? The internet, as it were, could barely handle one-way traffic – it sent data to you. Few websites offered any interactivity whatsoever. The Internet was still a baby.  

Then along came cable internet! We could bring in the guys from Shaw to hook this modem thing into our cable jack and it would allow data to travel through those wires. And it was WAY faster. It was also the era of 

Napster where people were beginning to use the web interactively. To share music illegally. (You’ve gotta love humans). Regardless of the ethics of sharing music, the capacity of the internet to handle traffic was improving! It’s around this time that Web 2.0 began to be a thing. And all “web 2.0” means is the internet with two way traffic. News stories that anyone and everyone can count on. YouTube videos that provoke discussions. Social Media. The Internet became a place where we could participate. We could collaborate. It ushered in a new era of computer usage. (For those who are curious, web 3.0 is where the internet will begin to move into 3D cyberworld.)

GSuite is a prime example of the evolution of web 2.0 – the dynamic web – making its way into productivity software. With GSuite we are never “three versions behind” in our software. It updates automatically as Google rolls out updates.  Google Classroom is the same – when I began using Google classroom in 2014 when they first introduced it, there were some things that needed attention. It was obvious that the application was created by software engineers and coders, not by teachers. But the question mark in the bottom left of the screen allowed teachers to give feedback. The first feedback I ever offered was this:

 

I need my students to be sorted (or able to sort) alphabetically by last name.

That’s classroom 101 to a teacher. Not so obvious to a software developer. We don’t understand their job, they don’t understand ours. But with feedback, improvements come. Around the end of the first semester I came to work one day, and ALL MY CLASSES WERE IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER!

I didn’t have to install/update/patch anything to have this take place. When Google had the code ready to make this happen, it happened.

This process of updating software in real-time is the reality of web 2.0. Think of your smartphone – almost daily you likely have at least one app that updates itself (or depending on your settings, asks you to update it). 

So, as we move to Google as our backbone, we now have software that is dynamic. It updates. It improves. Without requiring money, time or skills from us. It’s pretty awesome, to be candid.