Free the Frogs!! (or how technology makes school way cooler)

Do you remember the dreaded frog dissection in high school? I do. It was miserable. Turns out I’m good at a lot of things but frog dissection – not so much. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the strong suit of my lab partner either. In the end we mutilated the poor dead frog and had to look at another lab group’s just to take the practical.  Not the best learning experience since more than the anatomy of the frog I just remember what a disgustingly bad job we did!

Apparently, some of today’s students can be spared this horror. A new app lets you virtually dissect frogs. The awesomeness here is multitude – no nasty frog mess, you can’t mutilate it accidentally, you can learn the anatomy without the frog nastiness, no frogs need be hurt in the making of this lab experiment.

There are many interesting ways that emerging technologies are changing the way we do things, but I think that some of the most interesting applications are in educations settings (and apparently so does Mashable who has had several articles on best education apps lately – here, and here).

My brother teaches and has this nifty thing called a Smart Board in his room. It lets him do some really neat interactive stuff with his class including doing review games like Jeopardy and fun critical thinking and problem solving scenarios.  It allows students to interact directly with the content displayed on the board individually or in groups. His students beg to learn when the Smart Board is involved.

There seem to be a plethora of ways that technology is involved in today’s classroom and in education more broadly from educational apps, to online tutoring, to research. Some of it is great – clearly. Some applications of technology seem to be less so as we’ve seen with reports of rampant cheating at some of our nation’s top schools. But there are also great online tools to help teachers identify plagiarism and cheating.

Technology in education is a two way street, but I think that there are many more benefits than there are negatives. What do you wish there had been an app for when you were in school?

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7 comments

  1. Great post, Mary! It is amazing to see how technology is changing in the classroom. Very exciting times! I wish that I had some of the apps we see today especially when learning a foreign language – I use these all the time when I am traveling internationally for conferences. It would have been good to have these to help in my studies in Spanish and Afrikaans.

    1. Thanks, Karen – I didn’t even touch on all the language resources but you are right – they are vast and create a very different language learning environment from when I was studying Spanish back in the day!

  2. Linda Holifield · · Reply

    Hi Mary,
    Great posting! I went to school “back in the old days” and am also in graduate school now. I just wish I had my smart phone/PDA through my entire education! With WiFi and 4G, I have instant access to every kind of information that I could ever want!

    What I currently love is an app called Flashcards. I have an online account to “Flashcloud” that allows to make Flashcards and the site syncs to my iPhone so that my study materials are instantly available. I could not agree with you more- the benefits of technology far outweigh the negatives!!!

    1. Thanks, Linda. It is crazy to think of how many resources we have at our finger tips now especially when I think back to all my hours in the library and wonder how many I’d actually need now?

  3. So I totally had to read this because I had to know how you got from frogs to technology. Great hook. And I think I need a smart board in my house. Not sure where I’d put it though!

  4. Well, I am glad for the frogs! But I do hope my body gets to medical school before technology makes work on actual bodies unnecessary . . . dead is the only way I’ll get into medical school, and for many reasons that is really important to me.

  5. I’m so glad the frogs are being spared! Part of my regular job is helping to promote physical activity in schools above and beyond Phys Ed class. Because we were able through a grant last year, to purchase nearly 300 of them for schools, West Virginia is encouraging the use of Xbox 360 Kinect in schools and currently has the largest Xbox education project in the country going right now.

    With the Xbox 360 Kinect there is no need for peripherals like controllers or mats in order to play the games. A couple of kids can stand in front and be the avatars but the rest of the class can follow along too. The Just Dance games are very popular. I can attest that it’s a workout and so much fun! Schools are using the Xboxes for before and after school activity as well as rainy days when they can’t get out to the playground and coming up with new ideas all the time.

    This is just phase 1 with Microsoft. They are developing incredible ways to incorporate Xbox 360 Kinect activities into core lessons. Kicking soccer balls with the correct answer to the equation, using your arms to make greater and less than signs for problems and practicing speech and presenting skills as an avatar are just a few of the really cool things they already have developed. Kids seem to really respond to this technology. I can’t wait to see what phase 2 will bring.

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