Friday, 7 August 2015

The Fruit of ETEC 510

Introducing the ETPD Resource: Collaborative Technology Tools

While the regular blogging I had hoped might occur for the duration of my third UBC MET course did not manifest, at the conclusion of ETEC 510 "Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments" this month, my colleagues and I created some very useful online learning spaces that are well worth documenting.  Check out the extensive Design Wiki we were able to contribute to by clicking their image below and look for a future post here providing a curated list of the sites created by the other team's in my cohort.

My team consisted of myself, Lexi Nichols, and Briar Jamieson.  We initially began collaborating over a shared Google document devoted to our course readings, and our partnership for this final design project grew naturally from this experience.  The topic of technology-supported collaboration was well-suited to our own situation, as the three of us hailed from three different provinces and timezones and were it not for the affordances of digital technology, would never have been able to accomplish the work we did.

Our resource, Collaborative Technology Tools, is an online learning experience designed for teachers, in some specifics for middle school, but easily scaled for K-12 and Higher Ed.  Our site targets the need for increased exposure to/experience with using online edTech tools for student collaboration, both within the four walls (metaphorically speaking, if you teach in an open-concept school like I do) of their specific classroom and then deliberately beyond.

We each selected a particular edTech tool and developed a complete module of study for teachers who may not have heard of using this tool in their classroom and/or who are interested in integrating it but want to see some examples and ideas of what other teachers are already doing.  We then combined these three units of study into one learning site, stringing them together with introductory research and information on the value of collaborative learning as a 21st Century skill, and closing with additional cross-curricular examples and resources for those wishing to dig even deeper.  An acknowledgement of the need for digital technology standards, such as those provided by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), provided support and guidance for the direction of our design.  As a caveat to our preference for open-source resources, we ensured the licensing of the Curriculum Guide that accompanies the online component was as an OER (Open Educational Resource) free to reuse, remix, and redistribute.

The three tools we chose to showcase were Skype in the Classroom (myself), Kidblog (Lexi), and VoiceThread (Briar).  As you will discover if you choose to engage in our learning experience, these three online tools offer distinct, yet similar, capabilities as digital collaboration tools.  All of them have the potential to open your classroom to the world in a variety of ways, yet each tool caters to a slightly different learning style and affords a variety of synchronous or asynchronous collaboration options.

We also wished to model the value of collaborative learning as professionals by blending the units within an environment deliberately designed to encourage the building of communities of practice for those choosing to learn with us.  Expanding PLNs was encouraged in a number of ways, through the embedding of relevant hashtags from the active and useful Twitter communities, by the creation of a series of inter-activities which provide deeper learning and contextualization to the ideas presented, and by including a forum for colleagues to share that learning, as well as tips and questions, with us and with each other.

It is our hope that you will explore this resource, integrate these tools into your classes, and connect with us when you do!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Jaw Dropping Collection of ICT Tools and Resources for Educators

As part of etec510's first week of readings, we were instructed to explore a link made on something called Mindomo.  It's a mindmap generator (that has an extension for Google).  At first glance it looked meh to me but as I began to explore and expand the map I could feel my eyes getting bigger and my jaw dropping.

As an educational technologist I have a thing for collecting the tools and resources that can support those I work with.  Whoever made this (the info is outdated, their Twitter is not in a language I recognize and the blog is no longer active) put a mind blowing amount of work into curating this list.  Most accompanied by live links to visit the sites and some with thumbs up and heart icons which I take to mean they're recommended and approved (note the thumbs down beside Windows Movie Maker, I like this guy more and more) ;)

I still find the huge canvas of the expanded map clunky and annoying to navigate, maybe because I am a more linear visualizer.  If I had my druthers I would prefer this list in something like Diigo but still, worth a look.

It is too large once expanded to see properly when exported as an image that you can actually see clearly or navigate so I encourage you to visit the site and check it out for yourself.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Continuing the Technology Journey

My next Master in Educational Technology course is "Design of Technology Supported Learning Environments" and I am very excited!  Some of my fellow student-colleagues have inspired me to keep a more public record of my learning.  We shall see if I can continue the momentum to the end but here's a start:

Our first assignment was to create a digital story introducing one way our professional experience relates to educational technology and design.  Several platforms were suggested to consider including VideoScribe.  I've been enamoured of these whiteboard presentations for some time so I signed up for their seven day trial and am considering whether it is worthwhile to buy a membership in the future.

Here's my very first VideoScribe!

For future reference, and by means of thanks to our instructor, below is the directly quoted list of resources and tutorials from the Digital Storytelling course tab which she provided for our consideration.  I didn't find these resources myself or write the info below, all the props go to Chelsey Hauge and her co-authors of etec510.  I watched the first three basic tutorials from VideoScribe and found them very helpful.  I will be watching the whole series if and when I decide to invest in this tool more permanently.  One colleague created something via Creaza that looked pretty cool.  I hope to check that out next.

Tools and TIps for Making Digital Stories

Digital stories can be made using programs like iMovie or MovieMaker, or with one of many open-source apps. Some suggestions:

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Praise for "In Praise of Slow"

Some of you know that this week I began my Master's in Educational Technology (MET) via UBC. I'm beginning with a course titled "Foundations of Educational Technology" and to start off the course there is a short reading and couple of AV links discussing the concept of SOUL (slow online ubiquitous learning). I had never heard of it and I was pleased to make its acquaintance, to say the least. Although I found the song by Ok Go catchy, I can't say I want to return to the days of dial up!
However, as part of it, there was a link to a TEDtalk by Carl Honoré that was inspirational and, I dare say, quite possibly revolutionary for me.

As professionals on a never-ending time crunch, I felt I MUST share this with you. May you, too, be inspired to slow down.

Here's some of what struck me after absorbing this Talk.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Smooth Sailing Procedures

Look, Mom, I created my first presentation with HaikuDeck! :)

smooth sailing procedures - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

I've been intending to explore Haiku Deck for awhile and the start of school procedure discussion for our first day seemed like a great fit. I was not disappointed by the ease of use and the powerful images provided via this web-based tool. I have not yet tried their mobile app, but when I do (and when my students begin to explore and use it, too!) I am confident that it will be just as intuitive, beautiful, and user-friendly. Presentations as they're supposed to be, more images, less text, and more TALKING to our audience. Thank you, Haiku Deck.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Greenheart Ship Designs 2013-2014!

Earlier in the year when I was super gung-ho and diligent about getting Skype in the Classroom routinely into my classrooms, I discovered this interesting Skype lesson hosted by Greenheart Ship Designs called Designing the Green Ships of the Future.

Check out this video from Al Jazeera that Greenheart shared which explains the need for these projects:

  (Click here if it won't play)

We connected our Intermediates with the project and opened it to students voluntarily. Only those who felt they had something to contribute worked on the project and would be invited to the follow up Skype call. Then life happened and months passed. Now, finally!, we are ready to connect those successful student designers with the Greenheart people themselves and bring a real-world relevance to our eco-friendly shipping adventure.

The photos of their designs are too large to send to our wonderful Greenheart contact, Gavin, via email so here's my solution! Enjoy, and stay tuned for an update on how our Skype finale goes... :)

UPDATE: June 19, 2014 Well today was the day! Almost all our designers made it to our Skype call, despite it being the morning of Grade 8 Graduation and an acceptable day for more than half of them to NOT be here. Our call started promptly at 9:15 am (14:15 pm in the UK where Gavin was). After months of planning and missed dates, the students were nervous but excited to finally hear from a real grownup working in this career that they had an opportunity to contribute to. As a teacher, it was amazing to connect students to such an authentic learning opportunity. It was also fabulous to hear how so many of the ideas the students came up with through their independent research, discussion, and creativity were truly viable and even already being implemented. Gavin gave quality feedback on more than element of each design and even students who were originally reticent about sharing on camera chose to read and talk about their designs. Below I've included the videos of our call, and within each group, their discussion and feedback.
The Highlights Reel!

Cole & Stephan (Grade 7)

Amber & Diana (Grade 7)

Kristen & Sarah (Grade 7)

Alexa & Sanobar (Grade 8)

After talking with Alexa, Gavin provides feedback for our absent Grade 8 designers Kayla, Sam, Sarah & Skyler, as well!

Kayla & Sam (Grade 8)

Sara & Skyler (Grade 8)

(Apologies to Sara who was actually present in the building but did not realize she was one of the VIP groups invited to the call!) :(

Josiah & Mohammed (Grade 8)

(no explanation provided)

Saihaj & Shakira (Grade 8)

Hiba, Caitlyn, Ben, & Kaitlyn (Grade 8)

Djellza & Sukhdeep (Grade 7)

Phew! So many great designers! After receiving such encouraging feedback, we had the opportunity to ask a few questions of our own...

This was a wonderful experience for students and teacher alike and I hope to be able to continue connecting with Greenheart and similar authentic learning opportunities via Skype in the future! Many thanks to Gavin and all the students who participated! :)

Here's the collection of live tweets from our special event, via Storify...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Just for Kahoots!

Our students have been LOVING Kahoot! Here's what we've figured out for staff and students that want to utilize this powerful web-based assessment tool. Kahoot! is a web-based multiple choice quiz game. The appeal is that it's accessible on any device with an internet connection, it gives immediate feedback to students after each question, as well as ranking them with other students and displaying a leaderboard for each question, and it has the option to download results to a spreadsheet for instant assessment data for teachers.

To play Kahoot! you need at least two devices connected to the internet. One will be game host (teacher) and the other ones will be the game players (students). It's recommended that the game host device be connected to a projector for larger games. Teachers need to set up a free account requiring an email and password with Kahoot by visiting Once that's done you have a couple options - search and play a public Kahoot or create your own. Public Kahoots are created by other users and searchable with a variety of fields, including audience level or topic. Click on the title of the Kahoot to review the questions and see if it's what you're looking for. Then you can play directly from the search page or choose "Favorite" to add it to your personal list for faster access at a later date.

To create your own Quiz, Discussion, or Survey simply click the appropriate icon. It prompts you to add a title and begin creating questions. You can type a question of up to 95 characters. You can also add a related image or video for each question. Hint: If you require more characters for your question, print it and take a picture then upload that instead. Under each question there are a possibility of four multiple choice answers that usually allow 60 characters of text. You can choose whether the question is a "points" or "no points" question (used for calculating leaderboard ranking) and also adjust the amount of time students have to consider and answer the question before it automatically reveals the answer. You can reduce the amount of multiple choice options as needed but you cannot add more than four choices. It prompts you to select which answer(s) is correct before moving on to the next question.

When you've finished building your Kahoot it allows you to reread and reorder the questions, then it prompts you to choose a privacy level (public if you want others to be able to benefit and enjoy your hard work!), audience level, and add tags and a description. Finally, it allows you to add an image that will display once the Kahoot is launched or even a YouTube video that will play in the "lobby" while students are signing up and their names are appearing on the projector screen. Hint: To add a YouTube video simply copy ONLY the number and letter code of the video at the end of its URL and paste that into the box at the bottom of that screen.

When you're ready to play the Kahoot with students, fire up the game host (by going to and logging in to your account) and select the Kahoot of choice and turn on the projector. It will prompt you to Launch the Kahoot and give you four toggle options. I recommend turning ON all options (except perhaps the "randomize question order" option if you've created the Kahoot in a particular order) especially the first one that will keep the Game Pin displayed at the bottom of the screen throughout the game. That way if student devices have issues or if someone comes in late, they can quickly and easily join the Kahoot already in progress.

On the game player device's end there's a few hints:
1. If they're joining the Kahoot they need a working browser (not Explorer, no surprise there) and they type in in the URL box (create a link if you're playing with younger ones and/or have networked computers where this is possible). If they type it in the Google search field or click any of the suggested links it will NOT take them to the right screen, this must be exact.
2. They will be prompted to type a Game Pin and then touch Enter. The Game Pin is only displayed from the game host device as are all the questions and answers so they must be seated in a place to allow easy viewing of the projector.
3. After entering a valid Game Pin they are prompted to type a "Nickname". We've established the norm that this means their first name only. It's not a big deal for "just for fun" Kahoots but if you allow them to type random things as nicknames for Kahoots you want for assessment then the data will be useless unless you have them submit their nicknames to you in advance. Hint: Teachers can eject a name from the game on the lobby screen by clicking on it. (Great update!)
4. Once all players have joined the game you're ready to begin! Hint: If students are using a device with a screensaver, such as an iPad, when the screen goes black their name will disappear from the lobby list and from the player count. Don't panic! As soon as they open the screen again it will reappear.

Playing the Game:
1. Teacher begins once all students have joined the game.
2. Students read the question and answers from the projector while their device shows a count down followed by the four (or less) colours and shapes. THIS IS ALL THEY SEE ON THEIR DEVICE. They must read all the text via the projector and then make their selection from the colour shape on their screen.
3. Their choice is displayed on their screen once made and their is no real editing of the answer. Hint: If you're using this for assessment have students seated and set up with something to block their screen from other students. It's also a good idea to have played Kahoot for a fun a few times to get the noisy excitement out of their system and discuss the noise expectations (such as not calling out the answer) during a "real" Kahoot just like they wouldn't do during a paper and pencil test.
4. The question will show the correct answer when the time is up, when all players have answered, or when the teacher selects "next".
5. Immediate feedback is given on the projector in the form of a bar graph of all the answers and which one was correct, followed by a leaderboard and also on their devices in the form of whether their answer was right or wrong and their ranking compared to one other student in the game. (Leaderboard and rankings seem to be determined by speed of answering correctly.) The "winner" of the game is whoever is first on the leaderboard for the last question of the game.
7. When the Kahoot is finished the next screen is a feedback screen which appears on their devices and allows students to rank their feelings and learning and recommendations for this Kahoot. Total feedback shows interactively on the projected screen.
8. Following the feedback screen the game host device is given the options to favorite, play again, play a different Kahoot, or return to previous screen. Students can refresh their browsers to bring them back to the Game Pin menu to play a new Kahoot.
9. For assessment, teachers select the fifth option on this screen Download Results. This will populate an Excel spreadsheet, opening on that computer that shows students ranked from best to worst performance and includes fields for their name, the amount of correct answers, the amount of incorrect answers, their points score, and their responses (colour-coded red for wrong and green for right) for each question. Fantastic time-saver!