Content is King in Education

In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay saying “content is king.”  Although Gates was not talking about content in the web 2.0 era, he was on target.  In recent years the trend for successful companies on the internet has been to create meaningful content that will lure and retain visitors to their site.

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Here is Ice Giant’s take on content for the web:

“They want information. Their ultimate objective might be to buy that solar-powered hairdryer you’re selling, but before they hand over the cash, they need to know what it is, how it works, and why they should buy it from you instead of Amazon. And that’s exactly where content comes in.”

“Content informs your visitor; it builds a rapport with them; it conveys your website’s reputability. And if you’ve written, and structured your content right, it also gives your visitor a load of ideas how he or she can put whatever it is you’re selling to new, interesting, and essential uses. In short, content is crucial for turning a visitor into a customer.”

http://www.icegiant.co.uk/web-promotion-services/articles/who-said-content-is-king.html

One of the challenges for education is creating meaningful and engaging assignments.  The recent shift to Project Based Learning (PBL) as an educational model gives teachers, along with the 1:1 movement, a platform to create content that engages our students to fashion meaningful content in their assignments.  We must look at developing our curriculum so that we can take advantage of 1:1 to focus on creating meaningful content.

For example, imagine you are teaching about the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979.  Traditional classrooms would put the teacher at the center of the learning by spewing the data to the students, students taking notes, and then taking a test.  In the PBL model, students in the classroom are made aware of American hostages in Iran.  What is the responsibility of the American Government to those Americans?  What are the government’s options to free the hostages?  In this model, students would be at the center of the learning, providing options and solutions to real world problems. There is currently an American hostage in Cuba. Students could develop content that would provide solutions for returning the hostage back to America. The Iran Hostage Crisis gives us a framework in which to begin the conversation.

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Bill Gates introduced us to “content is king.” It is time for us to introduce this phrase to our students.

What type of assignment can you create in your classroom that will engage students to create meaningful content?

Design and Presentation Skills for Students

keynote example slide

Every teacher and student can create appealing and effective presentations.  There are a number of tools available today to create stunning presentations.  Three elements are essential:  Layout and Design, Presentation Skills, and Handouts.

Layout and Design

Our brains are wired to perceive visual data faster than any other input data.  The images we choose for our presentations are important.  A full screen image is a great way to gather your audience’s attention.  I am a big fan of Haiku Deck which only allows you to use a full screen image per slide.  If you are using Keynote or PowerPoint you can still use a full screen image.  Even if you do not use a full screen image, I would suggest using only one image per slide.

In regards to text on the screen, use only one phrase or word per slide.  You should not include information you are going to discuss in your presentation on the slides.  Keynote, PowerPoint, or Haiku Deck are tools for your presentation, not content delivery systems.  Again, Haiku Deck does an amazing job with this by limiting the amount of words you can include on each slide.

Haiku Deck Sample ImageSample Haiku Deck Slide

Presentation Skills

There are a few elements we should teach our students in delivering their presentations.  First, their physical position in the room is important.  They should find a spot in the room where they can engage the entire class. Roaming the room or not making eye contact with their classmates are not effective presentation skills.  Secondly, there is nothing wrong with using notecards, or something similar, outlining the data for their presentation.  As a presenter you should rehearse your presentation three to four times before presenting.  They should not be reading from their notecards but merely using them as a reference to keep them on track with their presentation.

Handouts for  your Presentation

I would suggest giving the students a copy of the presentation after you have finished.  Doing so prior to your presentation will lend itself to them looking through the slides and not focusing on the presenter.  In the 1:1 environment giving students a link after your presentation is simple and effective.

Layout and design, presentation skills, and handouts are important elements for our teachers and students to create effective and meaningful presentations.

Cloud Based Applications and Storage for Education

I am writing this article on Cloud Based Storage for Education using Evernote.  I have been writing this article using multiple devices and cloud based solutions to access the content from multiple locations.  This is a great opportunity to discuss the best options for teachers and students who are looking to create content using the Cloud.

Cloud Based Storage

There is some confusion as to what the cloud is and where it is located.  Jonathan Strickland, from How Stuff Works, gives a great explanation.

“While cloud storage sounds like it has something to do with weather fronts and storm systems, it really refers to saving data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. Instead of storing information to your computer’s hard drive or other local storage device, you save it to a remote database. The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database.” Jonathan Strickland  (http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-storage.htm)

Here are three applications that are great for Cloud Based Education:

dropbox logo

Dropbox is a free service that lets you store your documents, pictures, and videos.  You can share them with people or download them across multiple devices.  You can access these files from anywhere.  You can work on an assignment at school, send it to dropbox, download the file and work on the file from home.  Dropbox does not have any applications that let you manipulate or edit files.  It is primarily a storage solution.  Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free.  You can upgrade to larger storage for a monthly fee.

google drive logo

Google Drive is a free service that lets you create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings from web based applications.  Google Drive also offers a storage solution in the cloud.  Aside from the files you create, you can also save other files to your Google Drive.  Most of the applications Google Drive offers are simple to use.  Students will have few problems learning the applications.  However, there are limitations of the apps.  Google Drive offers 5GB of storage for free.  You can upgrade to larger storage for a fee.

evernote logo

Evernote is a free service that lets you create notes and store them in notebooks.  At its basic level, Evernote is a great tool to organize ideas and notes.  You can then share those notes with other students and teachers.  With its web based apps you can also save webpages and articles to your notebooks.  This is a great feature for research.  Check out my article on Evernote Clearly for Education.   Evernote will also let you store voice messages and pictures in your notebooks as well.  Evernote offers 2GB of storage for free.  You can upgrade to larger storage for a fee.

All three services offer great solutions for education.  How can you use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote in your classroom?

Evernote Clearly For Education

Evernote is a great application to create, organize, and share data across multiple platforms.  If you are looking for a great overview check out Brett Kelly’s guide to Evernote:

http://members.nerdgap.com/order-evernote-essentials/

Evernote Clearly Icon

Teachers and students have begun using Evernote on a daily basis in classrooms.  It is a great tool to take and organize notes for various courses.  Students can organize their classes into different notebooks, adding notes on a daily basis.  Evernote is also a great tool for collaboration.  One new feature is an add-on app called Evernote Clearly.  Currently you must use either Google Chrome or Firefox as your browser.

http://evernote.com/clearly/

If you are using the iPad you can use the Dolphin app.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dolphin-browser-for-ipad/id460812023?mt=8&uo=4

Evernote Clearly takes an article or a web page and sends it to your Evernote Notebook of choice.  Evernote removes the distracting content from the web page sending the article content to the notebook.  If your device has been synced then you can read the article offline.  As a student, this is a great tool to organize your research and data for your classes.  My students are currently researching World War II topics for which they will create a documentary using iMovie.  Evernote Clearly is a great tool for them to organize their research and share it with members of their group.

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screen shot of article before viewed in Evernote Clearly

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screen shot of article after viewed in Evernote Clearly

In what ways can you and your students use Evernote Clearly in your classroom?