How is screen time affecting your vision?

Learn what CVS is and what you can do to help decrease the symptoms.

How many hours a day do you spend looking at a screened piece of technology?

If you are like most of us, your answer could be anywhere between two and ten hours a day. You may or may not be surprised by this number if you work on a computer, own a smartphone or perhaps have a mild addiction to your Xbox, Netflix or Kindle. But have you ever felt a pounding, throbbing or aching feeling in your head after using your device? You may have Computer Vision Syndrome, or more commonly CVS. Computer Vision Syndrome is a term optometrists have given this form of eyestrain for people who look at device screens frequently.

People who look at screened devices all day require their eyes to focus on screen text, which is not as sharp as text found on a piece of paper. We also use our eyes ciliary muscles for extended periods of time to help us focus at short distances. Both of these can lead to eye discomfort and vision strain.

Solutions

One way the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) suggests we combat the symptoms (which fade away after use of the device), is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. The 20-20-20 rule means we should stop staring at our devices every 20 minutes and focus on something else 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to help give our eye muscles a break and rehydrate our eyes.

Check out the video below from the Ontario Association of Optometrists, created to help digital device users break bad screen habits affecting eye health:

Here are four ways you can help reduce digital eyestrain with links to resources for further reading:

  1. Adjust your Display Settings
  2. User Proper Lighting
  3. Exercise your Eyes
  4. Increase Text Size & Colour

Share your tips below for helping combat eye fatigue from digital device usage; we’d love to learn more tricks!

Quizlet: Do You Need It? You Decide!

Study on the go, challenge your friends and engage your students with a fun and mobile quiz application.

Overview

Quizlet is an online study tool available on any device (desktop, iOS, and Android) for students and teachers to practice learning in an engaging way. Any age group of students can use Quizlet either in class, individually or with friends (see how they started).

Key Benefits:

    • Study on the go with Quizlet.
    • Encourage students to take ownership of their learning.
    • Promote in-class engagement using Quizlet Live.

Getting Started

To appreciate the benefits of using Quizlet, you will have first to create a study set and determine how you will deliver the content to the class using the many different study mode options. Below are two videos to help you get started using Quizlet.

Teaching Ideas

Idea 1 – Visual Knowledge Practice (K-12/Higher Ed)

Placing an image in any Quizlet study mode allows the student to review a picture and define what it is they see. An example would be a series of famous paintings from a particular art period where students are required to identify characteristics of the era or movement. The quiz could prompt them to determine the name of the artist’s style, the period, the artist’s name and name of the work. Students can add levels of complexity to their quiz questions as their knowledge on the subject evolves.

Idea 2 – Audio Knowledge Practice (General/K-12)

Using Spell study mode, students can review and test their vocabulary knowledge and “type what they hear” when they hear the audio. Users can also set up Quizlet to read descriptions of an object and have the student identify what it is that they hear labeled. Listening to audio allows students with accessibility challenges to participate and for all students to strengthen their listening skills.

Idea 3 – Vocabulary Strengthening (General/K-12)

Students studying vocabulary can review definitions or attributes of a word or phrase using Quizlet Flashcards. Images can be used to support student memory through repetition delivered in a fun game (remember images are only available in the paid versions). Adjectives can be provided to help students identify the word (noun) associated with the attribute. Students can use descriptive keywords in any language and can assist in strengthening their comprehension. Teachers can create their study sets or choose to explore other educator’s quizzes. Students are also able to search existing quizzes that may support their learning or decide to set up their own.

Helpful Resources

Quizlet.com | How Can Teachers Use Quizlet
A step-by-step guide to setting up your class on Quizlet

Edshelf.com | Quizlet Review
Video: Educator’s overview of Quizlet used for a secondary English class

Ditchthattextbook.com | Game Show Classrooms
Educator’s review of Quizlet, Kahoot and Quizalize features

PCMag.com | Quizlet Review
The pros and cons of using Quizlet

Cost

Free Version

  • Quizlet is available for free with a variety product features. Quizlet for free is available for desktop, mobile (iOS and Android) and is also available as a Google Chrome app.

Paid Version

  • Quizlet Plus is available for $19.99 USD/1 Year or 2 and 3-year discounted subscriptions. Quizlet Plus enables users to create their voice recordings, add their images, study over time with Long-Term learning and study ad-free.
  • Quizlet Teacher is available for $34.99 USD per year. School discounts are available for multiple users and larger groups. Quizlet Teacher enables teachers the ability to add their voice recordings, images and search teacher-created content. Additionally, teachers can use features for managing multiple class activity and student progress. Teachers with a Quizlet Teacher account will receive a specialized “Teacher” badge next to their user name, which means faster support when you need it.

3 Ways to Support Technology in Education (without breaking the bank)

Students today have a lot on their plates, such as school, jobs, volunteer commitments, extracurricular activities, home responsibilities and of course, their social life.

According to Statistics Canada, 85% of Canadians have access to a home computer, 87% have access to home Internet, and 86% have cellular phones.

Good, right?

No.

Why?

Because there are still 15% of households who do not have a cell phone or a computer or an Internet connection and out of that 15%, 42% are from low-income families.

These might be your students next year; they might currently be your students, and they might not tell you about the challenges they face.

We, as educators, can’t fix Canada’s internet access problems (the CRTC is handling that).

What can educators do to help bridge the technological divide in your school and classroom?

A Tech Swap

Similar to a ski swap, communities are invited to participate in a technology sale where participants drop off gently used technology meeting a specific standard (e.g. Under five years old) and can sell it on consignment it for a reduced price or choose to donate the item. A Tech Swap provides students with smaller budgets to access modern technology for a fraction of the original price. The key point here is that the tech cannot be obsolete and has to be able to run the latest operating systems to support the applications used. An online event or a community posting that provides the details of the swap is a good way to ensure people know what schools and students need.

Crowdfunding or Cause Funding

A crowdfunding initiative using GoFundMe or Booster could be helpful for an educator looking to support their classroom technology by setting a goal and requesting donations. Social media can be leveraged to help get the message out about the funding, why the need, and who is initiating the campaign. It is important to outline the funds are being raised to support technology inclusion in the classroom. Bonus points if you can get your local news publications and businesses to help promote it.

Booster allows users to create and sell t-shirts for donations. Students can be involved in the entire campaign process where they are responsible for concept development and design of the t-shirts.

In the U.S. there is a site called DonorsChoose.org, which is used by educators to set up projects for their classrooms to receive financial support. DonorsChoose.org enables individuals to donate to the programs of their choice in any denomination, which enables contributing to a local community cause very simple.

Invest in the Students

In a report conducted by Media Insights, Canadian educators identified “lack of technical support and maintaining software and hardware” as being the number one concern when using technology in their classrooms (Johnson, 2016). As part of the commitment to technology in education, it could be both constructive and inclusive to provide students the opportunity to form a “Tech Support” club, where teams of students can create a group and provide IT support to faculty and staff during scheduled extracurricular programming. Using the student talent pool is a win-win for both participants and school staff. Placing some ownership on the students to contribute to the technology support requirements can help alleviate some of the frustrations surrounding the integration of technology into the curriculum.

I would love to hear how your schools have overcome financial barriers to creating inclusiveness in your classrooms when it comes to technology-supported learning.

Please share in the comments below.


References

Dobby, C. (2016). CRTC rules high-speed Internet a basic service, sets targets. The Globe and Mail.

Dwelling characteristics and household equipment, by province (Canada). (2015). Statcan.gc.ca.

Johnson, M. (2016). Connected to Learn: Teachers’ Experiences with Networked Technologies in the Classroom | MediaSmarts. Mediasmarts.ca.

The Daily — Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2012. (2013). Statcan.gc.ca.

4 Ideas for Using Snapchat in your Classroom!

Is it sustainable to use this hugely popular messaging app in your classroom?

With 71% of users under the age of 34, why wouldn’t you at least try it?

 

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For those of you that aren’t aware, Snapchat is a messaging app that allows users to send and receive messages directly from each other, then disappear once viewed (see How it Works here). Additionally, Snapchat offers users the ability to create stories that can be seen by any follower for 24 hours.

So why on earth would you want to integrate Snapchat into your classroom you ask?

It’s simple.

To communicate and connect with your students in their preferred digital environments.

You’ll want to consider a few things first before you decide if Snapchat is a good fit in your classroom.

  1. Do you want to communicate using chat? Or using stories?
  2. What are the media messaging restrictions in your respective school boards?
  3. What parameters are you working within?

Snapchat Stories 

Stories provide a way for teachers to communicate content and allow students to access this information on their schedule.

Snapchat allows you to send a sequence of short “snaps” of video or images with the addition of text, bitmojis, drawings and geofilters, but instead of directing these to a particular group or individual, stories are published for your follower audience and are available for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, they expire, so students would have to explicitly follow the classroom or teacher and review the feed frequently to see the content.

An example of use would be for a teacher to post content when on a field trip such as sharing a series of videos and images from experience (Sloan, 2016). In higher ed or with older students the teacher could allow takeovers of the account and could be an excellent way to teach digital citizenship. Once parameters are set up, students have the ability to use the school account and engage with the community creatively.

Teachers can send snaps to students in groups to share reminders, congratulate or acknowledge successes and to describe real-world examples by posting images or videos with text overlay. In higher ed teachers will likely have more progressive policies.

Snapchat Messaging

Snapchat messaging is a user-directed way to communicate and may not be suitable for primary age communication (see Snapchat Terms of Service). Once you have determined the connection options, you can then determine which features of Snapchat you will use.

Students must follow the school or classroom and vice-versa to send images and video to each other. For older students, this can be a very engaging way to communicate with teachers and schools. For primary students (13 and older) this may not be available depending on school district privacy policies.

 

Classroom Content Sharing

One way for teachers to create relationships with their students is by connecting with them on digital media. Social media should not be forced on students, however, for those students who do use Snapchat this is a good way to share knowledge in an engaging way (Miller, 2016). Teachers can demonstrate how to use social media appropriately by modeling proper communication use with their accounts. When teachers use Snapchat to create a story related to the content in class, students may be more open to sharing their perceptions and interpretations of knowledge. Because the snaps expire quickly, you can be sure your students are paying attention to the content. The best way to approach this may be to provide your students your account info so they can follow you, as suggested by Madeline Will (Will, 2016). Madeline suggests you simply post stories and allow students to follow you, but to avoid encroaching on their personal profiles you would not follow students back. 

pexels-photo-24087

Give Students a Rich Media Experience

It’s 7 am, and your students have an exam in 2 hours, some are just waking up, some are on the bus to school, and some are in the front seat of their Dads truck. Either way, they’re likely on their smartphones. What if you were on your phone too…sending snaps of questions and mini quiz content to get them pumped up for their test? Perhaps your students are learning a new language, why not have them take pictures of items and share the name of that object in the language they’re studying? Students and teachers can practice vocabulary and use images to define and demonstrate terminology learned in class (Lee, 2016). All of these are examples of how you can use Snapchat to create a rich media experience for your students. You can’t guarantee that all your students will view your snaps and stories, and you shouldn’t force them to, but for those interested in extending their learning into this medium, why not make it fun!

Do you use social media to communicate in your classrooms? If so, have you tried using Snapchat yet?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences below.


Additional Reading 

  1. Does Snapchat have a place in the classroom
    http://blog.learningsciences.com/2015/06/23/does-snapchat-have-a-place-in-the-classroom-social-media-for-teachers/
  2. 3 Ways Snapchat can help schools engage with students
    http://crescerance.com/3-ways-snapchat-can-help-schools-engage-with-students/
  3. Teachers are starting to use Snapchat are you?
    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2016/06/teachers_snapchat_guide.html

References

Lee, J. (2016). 10 Seconds At A Time, A Teacher Tries Snapchat To Engage Students. NPR.org. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/03/29/467091289/how-teachers-are-using-snapchat

Will, M. (2016). Teachers Are Starting to Use Snapchat. Should You?. Education Week – Teaching Now. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2016/06/teachers_snapchat_guide.html

Sloan, C. (2016). It’s Time to Consider Snapchat’s Classroom Potential. KQED Learning. Retrieved 25 February 2017, from https://ww2.kqed.org/learning/2016/05/25/its-time-to-consider-snapchats-classroom-potential/