Why My School Uses Atomic Learning #44

20120830-062713.jpg #edtech #atomiclearning I am one of the lucky ones, I work in a school that is growing by leaps and bounds. Which is good for job security, but not so good for workload. Every year I am asked to teach more classes as our school expands, which means I have less and less time for doing my other jobs - like working one on one with teachers to help with their tech skills. This has caused me to rely on Atomic Learning more this year than in the past. Instead of sitting down with a teacher for some training - like our upcoming move to Windows 7, now I send them a link to the Atomic Learning video(s). It works out better for both of us. Atomic Learning provides training that teacher can not only do on their own schedule, but also at their own pace. If they need to watch the video 10 times before they get it, then they can, without the worry of embarrassment. Which is a lot better than having me sitting next to them and checking my watch because I have to get back to my classroom. - Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary

A Cheaters Way to Flip Your Classroom

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The other day I was asked how my classroom flipping was going, I mumbled something back and decided that I had better get at it before more inquiries come my way. You see, I had sort of promised some of my fellow teachers that I would have some of my instruction "flipped" by the time school started up again (which is now only two weeks away). By the way, flipping an elementary lesson is different than a typical flip. Instead of doing screencasts for students to watch as homework, the screencasts are used instead to differentiate class-time instructions so that students can do at their own pace.

So I looked at my lesson plan book and picked a typical lesson to try and flip. The lesson I picked was on adding transitions to a Powerpoint slide show, it is part of my third grade tech lessons. So to flip the lesson I knew I had to do a screencast of my lesson. That was when things started to go downhill. First, I needed some type of screen capture software, I soon found out the free and cheap ones where horrible and the good ones were expensive ($100 plus).

After chewing on it for a few days and cursing the day I decided to flip my classroom, it hit me.

Cheat!

I decided to use the Atomic Learning account, which is full of short little screen casts and just assign those to my students. Flipping made easy -- 10 minutes later I had flipped my lesson and moved onto lesson two. Assigning screencasts in Atomic Learning is easy as it gets. So if you get caught in the world of flipping and you don't know where to turn, just do a search in Atomic Learning and chances are you'll find the tech lesson you need.

But keep this on the down-low please, I still want credit for flipping my lessons.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

Why Atomic Learning - Why Now?

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As an edtech blogger I get to review quite a few products and services each year. Some things I like and incorporate into my school, some things I like but don't need, some things I want but can't afford and the remainder are things which I do not care for, to put it mildly. Which brings me to the edtech training subscription service called Atomic Learning.

I have had an Atomic Learning account for the past five years and it has saved my edtech-bacon a few more times than I would like to admit. If fact, I couldn't really imagine being able to do my job effectively or efficiently without it. I have never found anything that compares to it - in price or product.

So let me tell you about three of the ways I use Atomic Learning in my elementary school...

- Tutorials: these are probably what Atomic Learning is most known for. Every time I need a little help with an application, like our district moving to Office 2010 from 2003, I will use their little 2 to 3 minute videos to keep me on the cutting edge. After all, I am the tech guy in my building so I had better know what I am talking about. I also send teachers to these tutorials so that I don't have to stand over their shoulder teaching them step by step how to do something. This way I can be in 20 places at once. So I am up to date (they are adding new tutorials every week), and more efficient in my job.

- Workshops: it is by using their themed workshops that I got into podcasting and filmmaking with me students. It's like having my own little professional development course that I can take at my own pace. Plus, it is way better than regular PD because Atomic Learning never wastes my time. I only watch the lessons that are applicable to me. I have no time to waste in my job so I like the fact that I don't have to be stuck in boring ol’ PD meetings. Instead, I do most of mine while sitting on my couch with my iPad.

- Spotlights: this is something fairly new for Atomic Learning. They shine a “spotlight” on a new concept and show you everything you need to know to get better at it. They feature “best practices” so that I can be better at what I do. I go to tech conferences to steal ideas for my school and these spotlights kind of remind me of mini conferences, they give me ideas that I usually start using the very same day.

In the end we are all just looking for better ways to get the job of teaching done, for me Atomic Learning delivers.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School.