Category Archives: educational apps & programs

Day 3 and 4: Interactions, Applications, and Considerations

So many ideas surrounding the virtual world have been presented in the last two days that it is difficult to give all of them the attention they deserve.  It is very apparent to me that those responsible for arranging the activities and lectures for the course, primarily (almost) Dr. Kyle Stooshnov, have chosen the A-Team of Virtual Reality knowledge keepers to share with us.

Some notable quotes:

“With VR, you either win or lose quite badly.” ~Michelle Knight,  Pound and Grain Digital Creative Agency

“Don’t create VR for the sake of VR. Create with purpose.” ~Michelle Knight

“The future is not a screen you can touch.” ~Meehae Song

“You don’t need somebody to teach you about gravity.” ~Stoo Sepp

Littering YouTube with 360 video that is without purpose is a grand waste of space and time. Having just completed my first 360 video with my group mates, it takes a heap of effort to pull a video off, as an amateur. Although we tried our best, I am sorry to say that it will not be showing at the Cannes Film Festival. The video was not long but it did take a lot of planning and editing.  As with many forms of technology, the troubleshooting process is real and non-trivial. In my opinion, 360-video is not quite ready for prime time, due to the challenges it can present, from start to finish.  Thankfully, taking a 360 still image is relatively easy, and over the last two days, I have learned a few ways to make use of “360 Junior”.

Warning: As these cameras come down in price, the more crappy video will be coming down the shoot. Prepare to be crapped on, YouTube!

Meehae Song may be one of the most creative and brilliant people that I have met in recent times. Her projects were absolutely incredible . To name a couple…

  1. The Digital Heritage Project: she has reproduced heritage buildings in VR that have been put on the wrecking ball list.
  2. Bioresponsive VR: utilising wearable technology that used to assist people with epilepsy, she can monitor breathing and heart rates as viewers are immersed in VR.  Using a treadmill, participants can stroll through a “Virtual Meditative Walk”…

Virtual Meditative Walk from Meehae Song on Vimeo.

Stoo Sepp also stepped into our class on both days.  He is someone that you can’t help but want to be around.  The kind of person that knows the right thing to say at the right time (if this academia thing doesn’t pan out for him, he may wish to consider a television career!) I very much appreciated learning about Google Street View and Google Tour creator applications of VR.  Both of these have grade school applications for any subject matter. (And for what it is worth, Stoo, I spend a heap of time teaching kids about gravity, haha!!!)

Lastly, on Day 4, we were treated to a talk by Dr. Sandrine Han. Specializing in visual culture, her talk helped us understand the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation within digital contexts, specifically within Second Life.  I was blown away by her choice of presentation methodology. Sandrine could have easily lectured about this topic, but instead, she created a story between two characters in the Second Life world. Within the story, the learning was weaved throughout. While she spoke, images from the Second Life landscapes were shown.

I felt like I was in the presence of greatness!

Not only was the content so incredibly important, but she opened my eyes to the power of alternative forms of pedagogy. Not everyone in the class felt the same way as I. Perhaps a little more explanation prior to the story commencing may have helped people earlier on in the half hour long presentation.  But then again, figuring out where the purpose of the story, without being told directly, was part of my heightened amazement.

And one last quote:

“I’m a ghost! Now, I’m not a ghost.” he said whispily. Kyle Stooshnov, July 11, 2018

I am not sure what piece of cheese or cloth Dr. Stooshnov has been cut from, but it has been delightful being in his presence this week. He’s got game!


As this week ends, and my 10th MET course is almost behind me, I am in a state of disbelief that I have made it through.  It has being a very difficult 3.75 years for me and for my family.  Having said this, I am also going to greatly miss being in these heightened states of amazement.  IN ETEC 521, I recall writing, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” I am not sure how I will be able to recapture these moments when MET is complete. I will need to find a way.


Filed under EDUC 490V, educational apps & programs, Google Apps For Education, Technology & culture, Virtual Reality

Opportunity Horizon Assignment

For our first official weekly assignment, we had two options.  Either source out a new, previously unposted market or trend in the world of educational technology, or critique a preexisting post.  To read the full instructions, click here.

We all know that as soon as you buy the latest iPhone, that within the year, the next iPhone will be one the market.  Technology evolves and advances so quickly that following trends, can be very time consuming and never-ending!

For my contribution this week, I chose to source out a trend that had yet to be posted. Truth be told, I have almost no background knowledge on any emerging trends and markets in EdTechLand! Before I could even begin this assignment, I had to spend a few hours just sourcing out a trending market both, relevant to 2018 and one that I could connect with professionally.  This is what led me to Adaptive Learning (AL).

In our first week, “Adaptive Software” was presented to us as an emerging market, yet I did not quite clue in to its relevance to my practice.  Armed with a multitude of clues, I added the following comment to the AS post:

Now that I have immersed myself with the topic of “Adaptive Learning (AL)” this week, I now realize that it falls under the umbrella of “Adaptive Software”. When I initially read the Adaptive Software post, I most definitely did not appreciate its enormity and relevance to the future of education. I have always LOVED crafting and delivery lessons and so the thought of being a fulltime, “guide on the side” has never sat well with me. Knowing the affordances of AL, and knowing the adaptability of the software, has completely won me over, however. I can still put my own spins on the lessons; I can still help students with the material; my expertise is still needed, in order for students to fully thrive. My new vision is to offer one AL-pathway for those students who are interested in a new approach. Students who have traditionally experienced math-anxiety, and for some, math-trauma, could possibly experience an entirely new set of emotions, in their math classroom. This truly excites me!!!!

Having completed my analysis of AL, I have also tried to make contact with McGraw Hill Canada.  I am very interested in piloting an AL environment for a group of adventurous math students at my high school.  McGraw Hill’s software can be used on desktops, Chromebooks, and iPads, making the infrastructure a non-issue for me. What I am concerned about, is the cost of the ALEKS software.  Anything more than “free”, may be problematic! I am hoping that if I am the first adopter in the region, I may be able to secure a deal.  What I do know, with certainty, is that if I don’t make shot, I won’t score a goal…

Wish me luck!

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Filed under Adaptive Learning, assessment, educational apps & programs, ETEC 522, Mathematics education

“The Real Deal” versus “Virtual Reality”: I think there is room for both.

OK, kids… Let’s go to the museum!!!

Two hours later, the diaper bag and stroller are loaded.  The kids are strapped into their astronaut-like car seats.  Snacks are packed and at arms reach.  If you are really on the ball, you have a potty in the trunk of your battered-down, spilled-upon, somewhat-off-smelling mini-van, because “when you gotta go, you gotta go”. Extra clothes are tucked into the trunk, since a “blow out” can happen at any time. Once everyone arrives as safely as a NASA space shuttle landing, the only thing that could go wrong at this point is forgetting to pay for parking. (Just kidding… 100 other things could still go wrong; a parking ticket is the least of your worries!)

Although it is a heap of work to make educational adventure trips like these transpire, and I am fairly confident that I did not learn a heck of a lot on trips like these due to spending more time chasing than reading, I always felt like it was time well spent. (In retrospect, would a virtual trip to the museum have been easier?  No diaper bags and parking tickets to deal with, surely would make things less hectic.) Those who have never experienced the “ordeal” of willingly bringing pre-schoolers to public learning places may be questioning why I would even bother in the first place.

In general, who amongst us even go to these types of places? Believe it or not, there are five categories of adults who tend to make the effort  to broaden their intellectual experiences in a public place. In 2000, Falk and Storksdieck began  a three-year study that determined that most of us will fit into one of the following broad categories. They are:

  1. Explorers: curiosity driven, science-loving types
  2. Facilitators: the adult chauffeurs who are wanting to expose others to scientific learning
  3. Professionals and Hobbyists: they have “drank the Kool-Aid” already and can’t pass up an opportunity to drink more
  4. Experience Seekers: bucket-list types seeking to cross it off the list; “been there, done that, checked-out-the-gift-shop” type folks
  5. Rechargers: these folks just need to get away from their daily grind; relaxation in the form of science absorption (apparently, they have already used up their massage benefits on their medical plan)

What kind of visitor was I back then? I desperately wanted to be the Explorer, but alas, time was spent keeping children accounted for and alive (no exaggeration).  I could make the argument that I was a Facilitator, although pre-schoolers are hardly old enough to really absorb too much scientific learning; for them, it is play-based and social learning, every waking minute. Truth be told, I think I was the Recharger! Getting out of the house and preserving my sanity was my number one goal back then. That being the case, a Virtual Field Trip (VRT) would not have met my needs, however, that is not to say that a VRT would not meet the needs of others, including myself, four years post-pre-school years.

In their study with about 60 post-secondary science students, Spicer and Stratford examined students perception of using a VFT methodology over traditional lecturing practices.  Much later in the school year, students participated in an actual field trip that reinforced the learning that was replicated in their VFT.  The researchers made some interesting conclusions and realizations:

  1. Students felt that the VFT made their learning feel more personal, over traditional lecturing. Each student interacted individually with the program, allowing more opportunities for independent thought.
  2. Students really enjoyed using the virtual Field Notebook which allowed them to keep track of their thoughts and learnings in a non-linear, textual and graphical modality.
  3. Students felt that the VFT contained too much text and information whereas instructors felt that there was too little text and information.
  4. Although students spent two to three hours with program, they felt like they needed more time.  Overall, 80% of the student feedback was positive.
  5. After having the real field trip, students saw the value of using the VFT to enhance their learning however, they were adamant that the VFT should not replace the field trip.

So perhaps there is an appropriate use for the virtual world, within a classroom setting.  

Blending pedagogical modalities would appear to be the most effective route.


Today, parents and educators have a cornucopia of virtual”Science Snack” options available to be used in conjunction with  real-life go-to’s.  It turns out that there a heck of a lot of “Explorers with a Mission” amongst us who spend their time crafting virtual museums for us to learn from and with. Take the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, for example. This is an excellent site for anyone who needs to unharness their Inner Science Geek.  Here, you can watch videos of demonstrations or create your own demonstrations. Creating your own demos is simplified by the Exploratorium folks, as they use everyday materials and the recipe-like instructions have been thoroughly tested so that even the most inexperienced can become experienced without much effort.

Of course there are many a blogger who complile many a list of online learning tools, as well.

Other virtual highlights from the ETEC 533 course have included:

  1. WISE: Web-based Inquiry Science Environment– utilize very adaptive, pre-made inquiry lessons or make your own!
  2. GLOBE: “The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.”
  3. PhET: “…free interactive math and science simulations. PhET sims are based on extensive education research and engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students learn through exploration and discovery.”
  4. Chemland: Interactive Chemistry Experiments

These are but a few of the avenues that educators of all backgrounds can take advantage of the affordances of digital technologies. The question that I ask myself, however, is this: Would I want my children to be in front of a screen for the duration of their scientific learning?

Of course not. (That would eat into their Minecraft and Pokemon Go time…)

However, I do believe that these technologies can and will help educators keep their students’ love of learning and interest piqued.

Will these technologies ever fully replace the “real deal” experiences?

Until we can’t leave our houses, I would say no.

Sometimes Mummy just needs to get out of the house!!!

Falk, J. & Storksdieck, M. (2010). Science learning in a leisure setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(2), 194-212.
Spicer, J., & Stratford, J. (2001). Student perceptions of a virtual field trip to replace a real field trip. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17, 345-354.


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Life on the Descoast: My LfU Application in FPC Math 10

LfU: Learning for Use

The LfU framework seems fairly “user-friendly” in that different educators can adopt the framework, yet still allow their own pedagogical styles be honoured. Using combinations of high tech, low tech, modern and traditional, as long as educators create an environment that creates opportunities for learners to be “mcr-ed” (“motivated”, “constructive” and “refiney”) with their knowledge, they are towing the LfU line! The key take away for myself was that LfU focuses on the application of knowledge as opposed to specific inquiry or learning models. (Edelson, 2000)
For those of us who have drank, er guzzled, the EdTech Kool-aid, technology use in combination with the LfU framework is unquestionably going to be a good time. Although prior to ETEC 533, I was utilizing LfU principles unknowingly, what is distinctly different now, is that I am choosing activities with more purpose, as opposed to simple hunches. It is not the first week during my MET experience that I have read about the affordances of constructivism, situated learning and reflection, however, what the LfU framework does, is it packages these principles up in a clear, understandable way. (Similar to Newton’s Three Laws! At least for me…)
So, the topic that I would like to touch on is one that I have taught for my entire career of 18 years—linear equations. I haven’t taught it the same way in all of these years; as technology has evolved, my approach has definitely evolved! Once we have already reviewed the concept of Cartesian Coordinate System, graphing with a table of values, domain/range and a bit of slope, I then move towards equations of lines beginning with horizontal and vertical.

  1. Motivate — Experience Demand and Curiosity
    • Desmos Faces: Through an inquiry process, students eventually construct a simple face using horizontal and vertical lines. There is a collaborative component to the pre-made, online activity, as well.
  2. Construct — Observe and Receive Communication
    • Not gonna lie— I utilize “Direct Instruction” to introduce slope-Intercept Form. In combination with Desmos simulations, my students practice from textbook questions. I show them how to use Desmos to their advantage, when completing their work.
  3. Refine — Apply and Reflect
    • Desmos Art Project: Students recreate a graphic of their choice using a minimum of 75 equations. Students may choose to use higher order functions (curves), but linear equations can also be used entirely. 10% of their mark is based from their reflection. Although some students only share their reflection with me on the Google Classroom, students that opt to publicly post their reflection on the Class Blog will have one of their blog contributions satisfied. I will say that the Reflections have been better quality when I have provided students with topics to discuss.


Please feel free to “Make a Copy” of the Desmos Art Project and supporting documents. Although I have only had two classes attempt this project, it has been very rewarding for my students and myself.  I have only used this project with Gifted Math 10 students so far.  I think for a Regular class, it could work with some adaptations for students who are extremely overwhelmed.

Reflection Guide


This project reflection guide and rubric was gratefully adapted from…


Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385.

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Filed under Constructivism, educational apps & programs, ETEC 533, LfU

My First Impressions of WISE: Web-based Inquiry Science Environment

The very first search I made in the WISE platform was “Grade 9 – 12, Physics”.
One lesson came up. (Three really, but only one was in English.)


I am a fan of not reinventing wheels, so having read many pages of research about the affordances of WISE, I was eager to dive into a plethora of ready-to-go senior Physics activities. Sadly, I was not off to a very good start.

So back to the instructions I went and began looking at the suggested lessons on the ETEC 533 Connect LMS. Thankfully, the suggested lessons were well chosen and left a really great second impression! The project that I tinkered around in was the Graphing Stories (with motion probes). Although it was categorized for Middle School grades, I found that much of it also could apply to the current (but soon to be turfed) BC Science 10 and even a Physics 11 course.

Without any trouble, I added another activity and played around with some “steps”. Adapting the “story” to an older student would be fairly easy and I think the project is fairly good “as is”. I am very impressed that the WISE interface can integrate Vernier Motion Detectors, although it appears that not all probes have been programmed into WISE.

Where my hesitations exist with WISE in general, is substituting a simulation with real equipment and real data collecting. I appreciate, however, that WISE opens doors to exploring questions that CAN’T be done in the classroom. I particularly like that the Graphing Stories weaves in the work with the motion detectors– getting students to move their bodies to produce the position-time graphs is fabulous.

For Physics 11, I would definitely add in an activity that utilizes, “The Universe and More’s Graphing Challenge”. Also, I would add in Mazur’s Peer Instruction process to get students’ misconceptions identified and resolved. Both of these “add ons” would layer more elements of SKI, via all four of SKI’s main tenets:
1. Making thinking visible;
2. Making science visible;
3. Providing collaborative opportunities; and
4. Promoting lifelong learning. (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002)
Another limitation with WISE is that on assessment pages, it allows for students to keep guessing when incorrect answers are given. I appreciate the effort to reduce the number of points after each choice has been made, however, for students who are disengaged, they will merely keep guessing until they are correct, as opposed to rereading or rewatching the material. Teachers may have a false sense of what their students actually know, because of this.

Without question, research has repeatedly shown that the reflection process is a critical piece to one’s learning process. This week’s reading reported on a study that 90% of students participate in asynchronous reflections with two or more pieces of evidence, compared to only 15% of students and little evidence, in a class discussion model (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002). Should student blogging not be established in one’s classroom, WISE provides a great way to take advantage of this research.

To diverge a tad bit, I have an overall concern with the lack of face-to-face experiences that we are having in our society. Most of us are likely old enough to remember how tacky it was to break-up with someone over the phone, but these days, a phone conversation “to do the deed” is more commonly replaced with a e-mail or a text. Although, screens engage our students in ways that worksheets can not, having discussions that are not typed has got to be woven into our practices still. And for that reason, combined with the importance of actually using equipment to collect data, I can not see myself adopting WISE to any great extent. I would, however, consider using it for a lesson, or two.

I am such a Moderate, when it comes to teaching!

If you are unfamiliar with Peer Instruction, there is much out there in YouTubeLand.  Here is a relatively short introduction to the process told by Mazur himself:

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Filed under educational apps & programs, ETEC 533, Misconceptions, WISE

WISE 101: A Brief Introduction to a TELE

  • What is WISE?

    • Web-based Inquiry Science Environment
    • Created in 1996 at The University of Calfornia, and Berkeley; has been expanded on from various researchers, educators and scientists worldwide
  • What was the motivation to create WISE?

    • Developers recognized that learners share a variety of misconceptions about every scientific phenomena and that learners also “deliberately” learn about science in order to expand on their own views of the world around them.
    • Developers hoped to create a platform that supported inquiry projects that lead to cohesive, sensical and thoughtful scientific reasoning
    • Utilizing the affordances of the internet, more realistic approaches could be weaved into the projects (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002)
  • In what ways does SKI promote knowledge integration through its technological and curriculum design?

    • SKI: Scaffolded Knowledge Integration
    • There are four tenets to the SKI framework:
      • 1. Learners should have opportunities to “make their thinking visible”.
      • 2. Learners should be provided with opportunities that facilitate science being accessible to them.
      • 3. Learners should be provided with collaborative opportunities.  
      • 4. The design of the learning model should promote lifelong learning.
    • There are four types of “Knowledge Integration” prompts within SKI:
      • 1. Overarching: the process of connecting views across the entire project
      • 2. Critique: prompts that require learners to assess the scientific content
      • 3. Interpretation: to reinterpret evidence in a new context
      • 4. Explanation: learners are required explain evidence in their own words. (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002)
  • Describe a typical process for developing a WISE project.

    • Should an educator wish to develop their own WISE project, creating a free account would be the first step. Although I have limited experience with the design process, in the first two hours that I spent with WISE, I was easily able to copy an existing project, then alter it to my own needs. My recommendation would be to tinker with pre-existing projects before starting one from scratch.  Overall, I would predict that the platform would be very user-friendly for those with a moderate amount of technological courage and experience, or more.
    • When developing an inquiry WISE project, researchers have narrowed down a few general strategies for problem-based learning and inquiry design:
      • 1. Ensure that disciplinary thinking and strategies are explicit
      • 2. Expert guidance (scaffolding) should be embedded throughout the project
      • 3. Complex tasks should be structured/scaffolded, thus reducing the “cognitive load” on the learners. (Lee & Chen, 2009)
    • Research has determined that reflections and explanations are more effective than procedural prompts
    • Although not too many studies have been done on how much scaffolding is needed within projects, educators should be mindful of the “Situated Knowledge Paradox”— when learners lack sufficient prior knowledge during an inquiry, thus their naivety misinforms and creates resilient misconceptions. (Kim & Hannafin, 2010)
  • How does this design process compare with the Jasper Adventures?

    • Compared to the Jasper Series, WISE is by far the more adaptable platform. In WISE, educators can choose to embed a vast array of tasks within the lesson, in addition to what Jasper can offer.  Students can effortlessly navigate from task to task, watching videos, performing experiments, reflecting on their learning, collaborating with others, visiting other simulations, and more.
    • Knowing what I now know about WISE, I would have rather spent two weeks investigating it as opposed to one week on Jasper and one week on WISE.  WISE “wins” by a landslide, as far as I am concerned!
  • How could you use a WISE project in your school or another learning environment?

    • From a senior Physics perspective, I would utilize WISE in a unit such as Gravitation or Modern Physics, where I lack the ability to demonstrate or conduct labs with my limited equipment. As a proponent of “hands on” learning, in units that I can bring into the classroom, I would be more reluctant to have students on screens.
    • I could also see the benefit of conducting an Earth Science 11 or a Science and Technology 11 course purely on WISE, as the students who mostly take these courses are not moving on to science related post-secondary programs.  I think more of our “reluctant learners” who just need a Science 11 credit to graduate, would have more buy-in with a format that was focused on learning fewer outcomes, but more in-depth. In courses like these, Final Exams could be eliminated entirely, in exchange for a Final Inquiry Project of their choosing.
  • What about WISE would you customize?

    • Everything.
    • Because I can.
    • “I like my teacher, but he never teaches us anything.” “We read a novel, did a project and moved onto the next novel without discussion.  I really wanted to talk about the first novel, but that wasn’t part of the process.” These are two comments from the daughter of a friend of mine who came out of an inquiry middle school model. Although she enjoyed picking her own projects, she also wished that her teacher had actually ran the show at times.  I believe that students want to have confidence in their teachers’ knowledge. Should teachers choose to run inquiry delivery models, they need to keep their essence in their lessons. Personalizing lessons within WISE, conducting class discussions, pushing students to think outside of their comfort zones and acting as the MKO (More Knowledgeable Other) at times, are all important actions and roles for educators to adopt.
    • As far as I am concerned, it is wise to keep our wisdom in WISE!

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Lee, C. -Y., & Chen, M. -P. (2009). A computer game as a context for non-routine mathematical problem solving: the effects of type of question prompt and level of prior knowledge. Computers & Education, 52, 530–542.

Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

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Filed under educational apps & programs, ETEC 533, Learning models, WISE

Week 11: Digital Stories—My Attempt at EdPuzzle!

Happy Spring Break Y’All!

So I went through the list of platforms and felt that EDpuzzle had some definite advantages for lessons that had to convey a process. We all have our special ways of explaining certain concepts— for me, I think I tendedpuzzle to be a metaphor teacher in that if there is a metaphor to attach to the math or physics, I will jump on the opportunity to exploit that!

The lesson that I searched for was on GCF (Greatest Common Factors).  I didn’t actually use my Redd’s That’s 70s Show line of “Human Fun Sucking Vacuum” in my audio voice over (I like to get the students to imagine that they are math vacuums that can only suck out GCFs to the front of their polynomials. Missed opportunity?) Missed opportunity or not, I can personally see real value in this program— being able to add you own spice to a video is pretty cool!

Here is my link.

Time to pack for the hills!  (Going to Sun Peaks for 5 days… #woot!!!)


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