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Smart Tools for Teachers

More than Just a Princess

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‘Girls- to do the dishes / Girls- to clean up my room’ vs. ‘Girls- to build the spaceship / Girls to code the new app’….hmmmm, seems like a bit of a no-brainer to us, especially as fathers of sharper than tacks daughters, who wouldn’t go ANYWHERE near the bedrooms of The Beastie Boys.

In case you missed it, there’s been some hoopla about the use of a Beastie Boys song from the 80’s called ‘Girls’ by the folks at Goldieblox– who are aiming to ‘disrupt the pink aisle’ by ‘building games for girls to inspire future engineers’. Now, what the Beasties claim is ‘copyright infringement’, we here at NXHQ see as the ultimate in reclaiming a word and bringing it home to its rightful owners- the girls!!

We first saw the famous vid the morning we happened to have a meeting with NCWIT (The National Centre for Women in Technology).  We had met them over in Dublin at Web Summit 2013 and wanted to have a chat about bringing their first Canadian startup on board. And guess what? Goldiblox is one of their Entrepreneurial Alliance Members- and NOW so is Nexed!

In the end, lawsuits were then threatened and withdrawn by both sides, and Goldiblox (perhaps showing their gentler and ultimately wiser nature) has now switched up the music that sent their video viral. It’s still great, but really such a shame that it had to come to this. Wouldn’t you think that the Beasties might want to get some good karma back for their misogynist ways back in the day? Or MAYBE, just maybe this was all a brilliant marketing scheme by the Goldiblox-ers- who certainly seem like they have the brains to stay one step ahead of the Boys.

IF you want to see it in all its original, pink-aisle disrupting glory,  go check out:

 http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/11/19/goldieblox_commercial_rewrites_the_beastie_boys_urges_young_girls_to_pursue.html

Hope that doesn’t get anyone in any more trouble…but sometimes a little disruption is exactly what the princess ordered :)

 

 

 

A Few of the ‘Crazy Ones’

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This time last week we were at the Paris airport, scraping together our last few Euros for REALLY expensive ham sandwiches and getting ready to roar back home. Good times in Dublin and at Web Summit, and it’s taken this long to comb through all the business cards and re-connect with the folks we met over there.

There were over 800 startups in the Alpha Village (or ‘Startup Alley’, as one investor put it). And while we couldn’t chat with all of them, we did make a point of meeting up with as many of our fellow ed-tech-ers as we could.

Today’s blog was meant to be a ‘Top 10’…but we couldn’t narrow it down- so here’s a ‘Top 17’ list for your reading and browsing pleasure. In no particular order, of course…

CLOUDPAGE http://cloudpage.co  create and publish a ‘stand alone’ webpage

FRUGOTON http://frugoton.com iPad games for toddlers

GRADQUIZ http://www.gradquiz.com helping connect university grads with top notch companies

THOUGHTBOX http://www.thoughtboxlearning.net  creators of ‘gameful learning’ apps

GLOBED http://globed.co  e-learning solutions and childrens’ literature online

CAMARA http://camara.org using technology to improve the education of children in disadvantaged communities worldwide

EDUONGO http://eduongo.com   allows educators to create and launch their own online academy or programme and share with colleagues and students

BOOKBOON http://bookboon.com  download free eBooks and textbooks

IQPOLLS https://iqpolls.com  live web-based audience response service

CHOREMONSTER https://www.choremonster.com  making chores fun by engaging and rewarding kids through a suite of web and mobile apps

TYROCYCLE http://www.tyrocircle.com  a social learning platform for students and professors in post secondary education

EDSPIRE http://www.edspire.co.uk  a beautiful, inspiring and award winning blog born out of the tragic loss of a child

APON http://www.apon.com   gives educators the ability to transform print materials into interactive media and repackage it as a native app, all without the aid of programmers

EXAMTIME https://www.examtime.com  changing the way students learn by providing free study tools for students and teachers

CODERDOJO http://coderdojo.com volunteer led, open source, global movement of free coding clubs for young people

RIFFSTATION http://www.riffstation.com learn guitar chords and solos from any mp3 by slowing down, isolating and looping the guitar track

In the next few posts we’ll be showcasing some of these great companies and discuss how we’d like to partner with them using ANSWERABLES! If you know of an Ed-tech startup we haven’t mentined here that is helping blaze the trail, feel free to comment below.

 

 

A spotlight on 2 Bright Grade 8 Oakville Entrepreneurs

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Came home the other day to find a flyer taped to my front door. After checking to make sure I hadn’t time- travelled back to 1983 before such old school marketing was trumped by SEO-ing and email blasting, I gently peeled, had a quick read—then bought in BIG TIME!

It was from 2 grade 8 students at our local public school. For privacy’s sake let’s call them AA (like the battery;). In their ‘Economy’ unit in Geography class, they had been given the task of stepping into the shoes of an entrepreneur and coming up with a business proposal for a product they might want to create. The project would cumulate with at ‘Dragon’s Den’ type presentation by the students to a panel of guest judges.

So, already a pretty cool assignment—but AA wanted to step it up a notch. They decided to create a REAL product, and put it out to market through the Google Play Store. So, while one of the A’s furiously coded (Grade 8’s with furious coding abilities—hello? Guess it really is 2013!) the other dove head first into developing a company name and logo. When it was all said and done, they both put together the description for their product, and, like the old nursery rhyme says—this little app-ie went to market!!

So far, the ‘Flashlight Infinity’ app has over a dozen downloads. Meaning that ‘Infinity Apps’ has done in a few short weeks what it takes some start-ups YEARS to do— bring in revenue — But more importantly, they took complete and total OWNership of that assignment. What could have been seen as mundane they chose to make exciting; what could have been seen as a chore, they chose to make a labour of love; what could have been seen as just another mark to go into their teacher’s spreadsheet, they chose to bring out of the world of the academic, and make it REAL.

And for that, ‘Infinity Apps’, ‘Flashlight Infinity’ and, of course AA, get the Nexed seal of approval, and a big ol’ fist bump for a job well done, and for reminding us who really is leading the charge into those outlying territories we keep mentioning!

And hey, if you have a buck, could use a flashlight, and want to support a coupla digital citizens peddling their wares in a 21st Century marketplace—click here to check out the app.

Inspiration for the Bullied

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Can’t believe we missed this one when it made its viral rounds in March. And thanks to a neighbour and fellow parent who shared it with me through Facebook. Hey—look at that, score another point for social media being used to elevate rather than deflate us.

It’s a spoken word poem titled ‘To This Day’, written by a man named Shane Koyczan. It is about bullying and if you are in any way involved with children, as a parent or educator, and you have not yet seen it, you really should. And you really should share it. REALLY.

We’re passing along two ‘versions’ to you here. One is the performance he gave at a TED talk, which is incredibly moving—but with a little spicy language, just so you know. And the other is a spice-free, animated version that would be AWESOME to view at home with the kids, or in your classroom- I’d say from Grade 6 and up.

It’s a little lengthy, but if we can spare 10 minutes to watch screaming goats and grumpy cats—we can spare 10 minutes to give ourselves a strong reminder of what far too many of the students in our classes and the children that we are raising, are facing every day.

TED talk “To This Day”

Animated version “To this Day”

 

 

Inspiring kids to create their own literary masterpieces

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Most days when I pick the kids up from school it’s bathroom, snack, then flop on the couch for a half hour of tv or iPad, or both, before settling in to homework time around the kitchen table. But the other day, my 11 year old surprised me by dusting off the kids’ ancient and massive (but still fully functional) laptop, and sitting at the kitchen table right away, forgoing snack and sofa. “What gives?” I asked.

What GAVE  was….http://www.bitstripsforschools.com

 

Alouette 1, Back on the Air

Alouette 1, Back on the Air

He and his class had been turned on to this by their awesome teacher, who had taken the time (and swallowed the expense) to set up her whole class (all 30 of them!) with Bitstrips. It is basically a way to create comic books online—my son prefers to refer to them as ‘graphic novels’ ;) It’s super easy to use, gives them lots of choices in terms of characters, backgrounds and props- they can even import their OWN photos or use the copyright free Flickr Image Search. Basically all the tools necessary to create some top notch comics—sorry, graphic novels, to either print out or share online with the other kids in his class.  No push to Facebook or Twitter yet—it’s actually kinda nice to know that somewhere, someone DOESN’T feel they need to get all their content into our massive social media karmic wheel.

And it’s also nice to know SOMEONE was inspired by our Chris Hadfield post a while back—cause now he’s full on into NASA and even obscure, lost in space Canadian satellites—

Check out  “Alouette 1, Back On the Air”
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