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Features,News

Kick-Start The School Year With This Cool Offer!

9 Jul , 2014  

Now that the EdTech conference of the year is behind us, it’s time to take a break, go through that long list of new ideas & tools and get ready for another epic year of innovation in class!

FreeUpgrade

To help you kick-start the year in style, we’ve got a fabulous offer for you! 2 months of free access to Themeefy Premium, with a host of cool features, including access to the amazing library of pre-curated, copyright free content from GGfL.

How to Get a Free Upgrade to Themeefy Premium

It’s pretty easy! All you have to do is create your account on Themeefy (or sign in to your existing account) and share a Theme published by you mentioning @Themeefy in your tweet. We’ll immediately upgrade your account to premium. Since the first month in Premium accounts is free, you will get an extra month of access to the premium, pre-curated content to build epic lessons for your students.

For more information about our Premium Accounts, please click here.

If you have any questions about this offer or Themeefy, do write to us at info@themeefy.com.

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Education

Maker Ed, Themeefy and Learning

1 Jul , 2014  

Maker Faire has been a hot topic at ISTE 2014, with education leaders from across the world discussing how the maker movement has embraced education and how we can gain so much from it as educators.

The democratization of learning via the Maker Ed movement has made it an extremely exciting time to be an educator. Maker Spaces in education nurture innovation, experimentation and independence. Learners are no longer consumers, but active participants and producers of content in their own right.

The Maker Ed movement is best illustrated in craft and the creation of actual physical objects and art work. But it doesn’t stop there. Maker Ed is all about innovation and thus about new ideas and new ways to think.

Technology being one of the most important tools of Maker Ed, allows students to break free of pre-packaged experiences and build their own learning experiences. This could be with a 3D Printer or one of the many sites that allow students to take control of their education.

What Maker Ed & Themeefy Bring To Learning:

Process v/s Product: A journey is more important than its destination. The Maker movement in education abides by this philosophy and emphasizes on the importance of the learning process during the entire exercise of creating rather than the final creation.

At Themeefy, the students can create their own lessons by searching the Web for content relevant to their subject. The exercise of searching for information, reading and choosing the most apt content is far more efficient in the learning process than consuming ready-made lessons.

(Re)Iterations & Perseverance: The process of creation involves many reiterations. Students aren’t expected to nail the project on their first attempt. With positive feedback from their teachers, they will have to go back to the drawing board and tweak their creation several times before they nail it.

 

While creating their Themes, students will often have to stop, rethink & even pivot, leading to several iterations of the Theme in the process of making it more interesting, pertinent and pleasing to their audience. The exercise not only encourages perseverance, it also redefines “failure,” making the erstwhile negative comment, nothing but the first step in the learning process.

Engaged Learning: The Maker movement is driven by interest based projects that value individual insights and personalization. The very fact of being responsible for their learning process rather than being passive recipients of knowledge handed down by their teachers, drives a certain passion and sharpens the students’ interest in the subject.

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In asking students to create their own lessons and involving them in the process of learning, educators are paving the way for more engaged and passion-based learning.

Sharing & Growing Together:  Maker Ed is founded on the principles of sharing and community-based creation and growth. The Maker Movement encourages the practice of sharing of knowledge and skills and mentoring in the manner of our forefathers.

Students are encouraged to share their Themes in their learning networks and discover the Themes created by others. Themes published inside a class are visible to all the members, thus students can learn from each other. Learn more about this feature here.

Sign up for a free account today to start learning and teaching in the Maker Model!

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Education

#NotAtISTE – How I Plan to Attend ISTE 2014 Virtually.

25 Jun , 2014  

ISTE2014The International Society for Technology in Education conference – an annual event that brings together educators and education leaders on a common platform to explore and exchange ideas about technology in education.

Thousands of teachers from across the world will be heading to Atlanta this weekend for the 2014 edition of the ISTE conference. Unfortunately, I am too far and cannot be there and join that wonderful melting pot of ideas. But if people who are actually present at the conference escape to a café or bookstore to watch the keynote and follow the activity virtually, I think I should be able to attend the conference from where I am!

So here’s how I plan to attend the conference virtually:

  1. Set up a folder in Google Drive for the notes I will take during the virtual conferences.
  2. Follow the #ISTE2014 hashtag on Twitter to get resources & ideas and also meet some great new educators from around the world.
  3. Follow all Pinterest boards, Flipboard magazines and blogs that cover the conference.
  4. Aggregate all the new tools and resources I discover in a new Theme, ready to explore & use through the year.

Are you attending the 2014 ISTE conference? Do you have a plan for what events you are attending and how you will organize, use and re-share all the new things you’ve learnt?

Here’s a Theme with some quick facts and great tips to make the most of ISTE 2014.

If you have any other ideas or want to share some resources, please leave them in the comments below!

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Education,Features,News

Global Grid for Learning Content on Themeefy

19 Jun , 2014  

GGfL_LogoThemeefy is now partnering with Global Grid For Learning (GGfL) to provide all premium account users with high quality, copyright-cleared digital learning resources from over 50 content providers, including leading brands in educational publishing such as Cambridge University Press, Corbis, Reuters, Helicon, Science Photo Library and Bridgeman Education.

The premium, pre-curated content from GGfL can be found in the Themeefy Library and includes:

    • Images, photos, illustrations and diagrams.
    • Video clips and animations
    • Audio clips
    • Web links
    • Educational documents

To access and add a GGfL resource to your Theme, you need to be a premium user. (To learn more about premium accounts, please click here). Once you have upgraded your account, you can access all the pre-curated premium content in our Library.

Library_Premium_GGfL

GGfL content is filtered to ensure that it is relevant to children’s learning needs and adapted to Themeefy filters. You can choose between images, articles and videos and add the available resources without any risk of copyright-infringement to your lessons!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGWbXFxmJbY?rel=0]

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Education

Amazing Teachers : II

13 May , 2014  

SandipMukherjeeSandip Mukherjee, Chief of User Acquisition & Growth Strategy, who has served in the army, remembers one of his instructors at the Academy.

“With a daily routine of 20 hours and the physical fitness routines, the cadets could sleep even while standing. Hence, when academics sessions offered us the luxury of sitting down under a roof with the fan providing a gentle breeze, few stayed awake!

It was a class on tactics in the fall of 1998 and the 30 Gentleman Cadets were fighting to keep their eyes open lest they be caught in the act and had to undergo extra drills as punishment. The experienced infantry officer suddenly stopped mid-way and asked us to fall-in (the military term for assembling) outside. We knew what was coming and tried to find out and curse the guy who was caught and hence was responsible for this interruption in what was supposed to be a full day under a roof. Strangely, instead of inflicting physical punishment on us, he said this:

soldier-60762_640I know that most of you were sleeping and will sleep in class. Remember, I have passed out of the same institution. I have brought you outside not to punish you but to make sure that you are awake – mentally and physically. Please remember that what you learn here, will be used in a war. And if you don’t learn now, there is no option to learn later without the risk of losing life or limb. And in the future, when you lead men to war, if you lose one of them because you were sleeping now; that burden will be too heavy to carry. You will not be able to face yourself or the family members of the martyr who gave up his life because you took a wrong decision…because you were sleeping today.

Needless to say that none of us slept in any class after that.

His words echoed through my ears every time I went out in an operation and I always hoped and endeavored that I should come back with all the people I was leading.”

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Education

Amazing Teachers : I

5 May , 2014  

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Month, we asked our team members to write about a favorite teacher and the impact they had on them.

Supra Manohar shares the story about a teacher who taught him something he uses every day.

“I believe every teacher had a tremendous impact on who I became and what I came to believe. The ironic thing was the most important lessons were not about core knowledge but things that shaped my approach in life and consequently work.

I can not teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.

While I have a thousand stories to tell, this story is about a teacher who gave me a lesson that I use everyday. Like everything you learn that makes an impact, it had nothing to do with curriculum or testing. While in college, one of the things that we had to do while writing and submitting papers was to follow the writing standard defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “The Journal Style”. This standard also abbreviated to APA Journal Style, was a series of specifications on how the formatting of the writing occurred. So Bruce was insistent that we follow this to the “T” and made sure the grades reflected our compliance. One paper was due was right after spring break. Being the master of procrastination, I waited till the last day to get my assignment complete, which obviously compromised my compliance to the APA Journal Style.

When we got our grades, I received less than I thought deserved. I had paid attention to the live presentations and felt that the quality of my content was better than the grade deserved. Bruce ran an open class where we could challenge him on anything, and I took the opportunity to challenge him on the grade. He proceeded to tell me that my content was exceptional but my attention to detail in the APA Style and presentation had cost me gravely. Well, I had to challenge and I did – why does content and thought take a hit because of presentation? Bruce’s answer has been a guiding principle for me:

Investors make an investment in you to do something. So when they have two proposals in front of them – one with exceptional content and shoddy presentation, the other with good content but with exceptional presentation, they will always prefer the one with detailed presentation. Why? If the presenter has taken care to address small details she/he has the nature to do due diligence, take care of the money and do the everything that is necessary to succeed.

This has been something I always remember and still live by – solving great problems and delivering great results are only effective if we pay attention to minute details. Apple led the design revolution and I firmly believe they did this, not because they had the best technology, but because they paid attention to the smallest detail. I try to make small details the guiding principle of what I do & for that I have to thank Bruce. D.”

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Tips

How-To: Using the Themeefy Library

24 Apr , 2014  

Searching for content and creating Themes has become so much easier with the Themeefy Library. We’ve added filters to help you narrow down the search results to the most relevant resources.

You can now find content using the search bar. Enter a keyword and use the filters to narrow down to the type of resource you need: articles from Google and Europa, Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr and Instagram, videos from YouTube or tweets relevant to your Theme.

If you are searching for resources specific to your class, you can choose educational content from our content partners. Premium users can look for pre-curated resources from our content partners, based on the grade level and the various Common Core standards.

Library_Filters_Grade_CCStandards

Once the search results have been displayed, you can browse through them and add the resources to your Theme.

Library_HowToUseWe will continue to add valuable teaching material from other repositories of content to help you go beyond the textbook and teach using the most relevant & up-to-date resources.

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Features,News

Themeefy Features: Library

15 Apr , 2014  

Welcome_LibraryWe rolled out the Beta version of the Themeefy Library last month, introducing a sleeker, more convenient way to search, access and compile open resources as well as pre-curated resources from our content partners.

This week, the workbench will be replaced by the Themeefy Library. Watch out for the following changes:

  • Reorganization of the curation resources with new icons!

Library_AddResources2

  • New filters to help you choose the best resources based on
    1. Type of resource (Image, Video, Article, Social Media or Educational)
    2. Grade (Elementary, Middle or High School)
    3. Standards (Common Core – Language & Arts, Literacy, Mathematics, SBAC CC ELA, SBAC CC Math)
    4. License (Open or Pre-curated premium content)

Library_Filters

  • New interface introducing cards which you can flip for a quick preview of the content or open in a pop-up, before adding it to your Theme.

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  • Single platform to edit the Theme, including page order, titles and descriptions of each page.

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Education

Oculus Rift : Changing The Way We Teach

11 Apr , 2014  

Orlovsky_and_Oculus_RiftOculus Rift’s acquisition by Facebook has brought virtual reality from the realms of gaming into mainstream daily life. While this hasn’t happened yet, it’s obvious that Zuckerberg and gang want to find a way of making the social network even more all-pervading than it is now. The challenge for Facebook, and almost every consumer web product is of staying relevant, interesting and exciting enough for people to sign up and stay engaged.

Oculus VR has pushed the boundaries of user experience of virtual reality (VR), for the first time on the history of this industry. To summarise its biggest achievement, Oculus has made it possible for people to enjoy VR experience from the comfort of their living rooms and without any major hardware investment.

With that problem solved, one can now think of a VR experience in almost any setting. Suddenly the Internet becomes 3D. Your social network is also a game at the end of the day. A very real game with your own highs lows and rules. So why not make that 3D? Experiences where you don’t browse news feeds and like. Instead you enter rooms, see friends in 3D and touch things.

The other major thing about Oculus is the development kit. We know what development kits do to a new technology – they take it from the hands of the few to the hands of the many, and elevate technology from being a geeky thing to being a mainstream part of our lives thing. Because it allows hundreds of creative smart people to build new stuff that the original creators of the technology never imagined was possible. We have seen this happen in phones. We will now see this happen in VR.

School-Subjects-BoxWhen I read about Oculus VR, the first thought I had was – WOW! This could be amazing for education. As a kid I always had problems staying awake in class and paying attention to my teachers. My only exception was Mr. Michael our history teacher, whose immense knowledge, coupled with the ability to dramatize and visualize events in class, through voice intonations and descriptions, could literally transport us to that time.

Not every teacher has that gift. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that every teacher who cannot achieve that level of realism is a bad teacher. Far from it, there are so many great teachers out there in the world – and there could be so many others if only there was a way to unlock the imagination of students through images, sounds and words that augmented the teacher’s knowledge.

Oculus VR brings us to that possibility. We are now looking at the beginning of an era in EdTech where students will take part in global class rooms, and experience a 3D learning experience – whether it’s being on the Alps while learning geography or watching the American revolution happen in front of their eyes. Or perhaps watch Lavoisier conduct chemical experiments in his lab.

Oculus will change the way we learn – it’s a matter of time before the platform opens up for EdTech developers to develop VR learning applications, augmenting the teaching and learning experiences of everyone in this world.

I for one, am dying to get my hands on the first development kit. I want to build a history VR app as a tribute to my professor Mr. Michael.

- Titash Neogi, Chief Product Officer.

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Tips

Themeefy How-To: Grading Assignments

10 Feb , 2014  

There is little else that is more daunting than a pile of papers, or in our case a list of Themes, to grade! Here are a few tips to help you grade assignments better on Themeefy.

Plan in advance and prepare your students well:

  • Explain the assignment and your evaluation criteria to your students before they start. If needed, go through the assignment instructions word by word to ensure that there is no confusion.
  • While setting an assignment, you can also include our tutorial for students, which they can download and use as a reference while creating their Theme.

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  • We also strongly recommend that you include a sample Theme and discuss it with your class, highlighting why it is a good Theme.

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Pre-Grading Preps

  • Before you start grading, review your criteria and the Themeefy grading scale.
  • Make a list of your expectations for each criterion, but above all, keep in mind the all-time criteria of relevance and quality. Here’s a sample checklist :

Sample_Checklist

Start Grading

  • While it may seem easier to grade as you go, it’s always a better idea to go through the submitted Themes and take mental notes, before you start grading them individually.
  • There are always a few assignments that don’t respond to the criteria outlined and don’t meet the standards you expect. If needed, set them aside and revisit them after a break.
  • Evaluation is always constructive. If you are not satisfied with a Theme, you can always send it back with comments and ask your student to work on it some more.

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