Category Archives: ETEC 565

Week 12: Sharing is Caring, Sharing is Caring, Sharing is Caring…

When I started teaching, absolutely everything I taught was created by myself and I poured countless hours into crafting beautifully designed skeleton notes for my students to dutifully copy off of countless overhead transparencies.

Being a student teacher (circa 1997), I was so incedibly happy that my sponsors allowed me to teach my own material as I heard that other practicum students were “forced” to use their sponsors lecture notes to a tee. Around Year 7, I had a student teacher, who had asked to simply use my skeleton notes, labs, quizzes and tests without  altering them. He didn’t want to focus on lesson development, he said. Rather, he wanted to just focus on delivering and classroom management.   And to boot, at the end of his practicum, he asked to photocopy my entire binder— I was floored.   Words that came into my head were, “lazy”, “second-rate”, “are you kidding me????”, etc.  Needless to say, I had yet to embrace the “Sharing is Caring” mantra; it was more a Gollum-like, “My Precious” mantra.

GollumCC image of Gollum courtesy of Tara Hunt on Flickr.

Skip ahead another ten years and I think that I am almost where I will eventually be an this matter.  Last year, I created my first public teacher site where I published all of my notes, quizzes, handouts— everything but unit tests. Funnily enough, with Google Classroom taking over my district, my material is now going behind closed doors again, as GC is very not public. Yet my attitude towards sharing has held steady, regardless of the “GC Curtain”.

If a fellow educator wishes to use my notes, alter them, not alter them, I now consider it a compliment.  I no longer care about how they choose to deliver, nor do I care that I may have devoted WAY more time into creating said documents. At the end of the day, educators need to prioritize delivering their courses with passion, integrity and skill— in whichever form that may take. Personally, I need to work with my own material most of the time. What I am now starting to do, is weave material from others and alter lessons from sites such as PhET to “remix” to my needs.

I am not keen on allowing folks to make money off of something that I spent time creating, but otherwise, I will share anything, and should somebody wish to publish my work in some way, I would require that the new version also be open and free!

To that end, the licence that I would be putting on my material, henceforth, would be:

Creative commons License



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How My Noodle Handled Moodle: The Sequel

I think that my summary in the documentation for Assignment 3, pretty much sums it up:

I can see why educators do not wish to leave “Moodleland” since to get to Moodleland, you have click and plan yourself into a near coma! The effort to learn, master and create a working Moodle is arduously, epic in nature.  That being said, once it is established, I believe it is also fair to say that eventually, an equally epic amount of the educator’s time will be saved for other activities such as undertaking a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology. A significant negative for me was that I found the quiz functionality to be too cumbersome and lacked the ability to efficiently add math text.  Should Moodle allow data banks of math questions to be imported, I would consider altering my stance on this, however, as ease in assessment is important to my practice.  Ultimately, since I can easily post videos and notes via the Google Classroom, I do not feel that investing time into creating a Moodle course is a path that I personally want to travel. Was this assignment a poor use of my time?  Not at all!  Being mindful of the effective design elements is a skill that every webpage, Google Doc, and YouTube educational video should incorporate and I look forward to building on what I learned in my journey to Moodleland!

When it comes right down to it, do you want to invest a schwack of time into your LMS or would you rather use Google Classroom and just jump right in?  As time is very precious to me at this point in my life, I need to take the GC-route.  This decision was pretty much made for me by my District, as well.  Victoria has officially embraced GC and is not going to let go in the foreseeable future. And it isn’t because I am just wanting to follow the herd– I really was disappointed in the amount of effort it took to make my Moodle site feel like a webpage. Click after click after click— it was endless mouse clicks!  With its tedious design nature combined with its inability to handle math script, this noodle is going to be staying away from Moodle.

Click here to see a tour of my content module.

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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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How my noodle handled Moodle

Learning a new skill always has a somewhat steep learning curve associated with it.  Historically, I have leamoodle free for reuserned well from traditional classroom models, however, since undertaking a degree that is delivered in a on-line format,  I have been forced to adapt my preferred learning style!

I must admit, that when I first signed into my Moodle site*, I was very intimidated.  Nothing made sense to me– I was in a foreign land and I did not speak the language!  Without too much trouble, I was able to change the theme, although I was not very impressed with the options— Moodle themes are very simple, to say the least.

Beyond theme choosing, however, I was immobilized. All I can say is thank God for YouTube!!!  Moodle itself provided a series of informative video tutorials and my Professor also provided us with a great YouTube tutorial.  If it was not for these videos, I would still be in the fetal position, I am certain!

Once the basic processes were in place, I did feel like some of my prior knowledge was useful.  I blended in my online Interest Inventory and Google Calendar, without any trouble.  My course outline was adapted from what I use in my classes currently (Having online versions of outlines is particularly awesome, however— providing external links is fantastic!)  I am happy to be learning how to manipulate the code of the page to make the formatting or functionality optimal, as well.

Overall, it was a very interesting process!  Without question, I would much rather do projects like this than write an essay, so I am definitely in my happy place!

*When watching this Screencast of my site, please know that there was a tremendous wind storm happening!  At first it sounds like sirens, but then you can here the wind fairly clearly. Talk about bad timing!


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Week 10: Why I do not use Social Media within my instruction

To be honest, I just do not have time to effectively do it, although it is on my “Pedagogical Bucket List”.

In my experience, effective use of any technology does not just materialize out of sheer wanting.  It takes planning— well-thought out planning— to make successful integration happen. Is it fair to say that we all agree that simply air-dropping technology into a classroom or practice does not guarantee that learning will transpire?

A major component to technological success is providing prompt and specific feedback to students who are engaging in whatever tech-driven practice, as mentioned in this week’s readings (Bates, 2010).  He also acknowledges that when engaging in more technology based delivery models, that more time is required on the front end of the course, as compared to face-to-face models. As a student, teacher, parent and partner, I do not feel like I would be able to provide such feedback, nor commit to the time required to just set Social media up and maintain it, once it is set up.

Not having time has been an issue I have had since starting this Masters, in fact.  It is incredibly frustrating to be learning and percolating about so many great ideas, yet not to have time to see these ideas to fruition! For example, I have attempted to start student blogging within my classes this semester, but have been drowning in my own marking, homework and personal life so the blogs have not hit the bullseye that I was hoping for.

But alas! I will not be a Masters student forever, and nor will my children be little forever (I am really hoping that I stay married, however!!) . Time will eventually come, and when it does, I look forward to jumping on the Twitter train with my classes.  I am not as keen to Facebook with students as I personally view Facebook as one’s window to their personal life.  I deliberately choose to not friend students, nor will I accept their friend requests (at least until they are many years out of graduation AND if I truly liked them). Twitter for me is the opposite platform: it is where I keep myself professionally aware and it is where I nurture my PLN.   I see tremendous value in teaching students how to create positive digital footprints within Twitter.   I believe that there is educational potential in the LinkedIn, as well, however, I am very inexperienced within that platform.

It is worth noting that Darren Laur, renowned Internet safety expert, has recently just created a new presentation geared to Grade 11 and 12 students, to help teach them about how to leverage their social media presence into future opportunities (entrance into post-secondary, scholarships, jobs…).  I do believe that we have an obligation to our students to prepare them for the demands of a digital world.

The magic just doesn’t happen, however.

It takes time.

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Week 8: e-Rubrics r Gr8!

The question that I would like to focus on this week is:   

Are there other methods that are equally as economical, particularly in terms of instructor time, that are more suitable for assessment in a digital age?

where the “other methods” the list included were:

multiple choice tests, written essays, project work, e-portfolios, simulations and educational games

For me, this is the Holy Grail of teaching pedagogy– how to be effective as an educator and effective as an assessor.  Unless you are married to a teacher, or you are a teacher, it is likely that you have no idea how much time is consumed assessing student work.  It is the biggest time consumer of my week, now that most of my lessons are fairly under control.

Having observed my fellow Physics and Math colleagues assess, we all do not put in the same amount of time and feedback into our assessments.  It can take me over 2 hours, sometimes 3 hours, to mark 30 Physics 12 labs.  It is so time consuming that I have allowed students to hand in one copy between two lab partners, whenever I can. When I employ a rubric, I definitely cut my marking time down, and it seems as though student satisfaction with the feedback has not been comprised.  

Recently, as a GAFE adopter, I tried using Alice Keeler’s Google Sheet Rubric which allows you to adjust and weight each outcome, it totals the score, and then emails the rubric back to the student.  It also provides a space to enter additional comments.  As the students completed the entire lab on a Google Doc, I also provided comments on their labs directly.  Because I work in a high school in a district that allows students to self-consent for their FIOPPA permissions, Google Apps are at my finger tips–  I recognize, however, that this is not necessarily the case across the board.

If anyone is interested in seeing an e-rubric in action, I just made a screencast of a lab I just assessed for my Physics class.

Since this was my first time using an e-rubric, the learning curve sucked up some of the saved time, however, now that I have tried it once, I know that it will be smoother in the future.

Ironically, one of the best forms of assessment that I have introduced this year is not very high tech at all. I bought 18 individual white boards (on Clearance at London Drugs for $1 each!) and I will start most classes with collaborative warm up questions.  If a pair of students seem stuck, I send other students to peer instruct them. It is non-threatening, very efficient and NO MARKING.  I love it!

I”ve dabbled a bit with Google Forms this year, putting a “check in” on the Google Classroom.  Students receive 2 marks for participating.  Using the Add-on called Flubaroo, I can run the add-on in Sheets and immediately email students their results. Although it is pretty cool to do, I honestly think that the whiteboards are better use of class time– collaboration via peer instruction is pure magic!  The one advantage to the GF is that since I have it as an “assignment” on the GC, students who were away are still responsible for completing the check-in.  Perhaps I should have both!!! 🙂


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Week 7: Reading Break

A break from reading or a break to read?

For me, the latter, fo shizzle!

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Week 6: Tourism Victoria should get in on this!

Gamification seems to be “so hot right now” in education. And although we may all not be the Mugatu’s of the education world, would it hurt if more educators attempted to bring a gaming component to their students’ learning?

On the one hand, I do not believe that learning has to be sugar coated in order to be delivered, 100% of the time.  On a similar vein, when I was a newbie science teacher, I relaxed quite a bit when I realized that I did not have to be Bill Nye the Science Guy, EVERY class, in order to be an effective teacher.

On the other hand, I have found over the years, that it does help to have a “bag of tricks”– that is, a source of lessons that are noticeably shinier than the others, to have students not only learn but really enjoy the process, as well.

Craig Brumwell’s  “Dilemma 1944: Kitsilano High School“,  exemplifies the shiniest of the shiny lessons, that I have ever come across.  It is so shiny in fact that he deserves some sort of shiny award to go with it! Dilemma 1944 perfectly marries history, with personal reflection, whilst using technology as a conduit. I am so incredibly impressed with what he has created, that all I want to do is think about ways to utilized this concept in a Math or Physics class.

But sadly, I mustn’t, as our question this week dastardly included the phrase, “other than schools”.  (To be exact, “What organizations or audiences, other than schools, may benefit from using this or similar mobile learning objects?”)

As other classmates have already touched on some great ideas, my contribution to this week’s discussion will be fairly specific.  I think that Tourism <insert your homeland>, should really tap into this idea, big time.  In my homeland, Victoria, there are at least two, possibly more, walking tours that take folks around the town.  The Hands of Time  and The Signs of Lekwungen are walking tours that have PDF brochures that lead their participants to historically relevant sculptures throughout the downtown core. Using the geolocation features of ARIS, along with QR codes, people could earn points along with their learning.

Although I have not had any appreciable experience with institutionalized mobile learning, I will say that when I use my own phone in an educational context, I feel empowered and very happy that my huge cell phone bill is somewhat justified. Most of the informal “learning” I engage in is most definitely not “gamified”– the knowledge itself, is my reward.  Do I get giddy when a tweet gets more than my usual amount of recognition?  Perhaps a little. I am not certain if popularity and recognition is the same as gamification, however– I think they may be two different things.

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Week 5: Cell phones: The bane of my existence-slash-best things ever


A typical, cell phone scene in my classroom, during testing.

This September, I changed my Course Outlines to officially state that my classes were a BYOD-learning friendly environment.  I did this for a few reasons.

First of all, I figured that if, as a student in a Masters of Educational Technology couldn’t find a way to successfully integrate this technology– this pretty amazing technology– into the classroom, then perhaps my admission should be revoked.

Secondly, every time I allow students to actually use their phones during class time, engagement seems to increase.  Admittedly, this is observational, on my part.

Thirdly, it makes my “cool” factor incrementally increase every time we use technology effectively.  (I do care about this, for some reason.  It is the same reason why I still have my tongue pierced.  #streetcred )

Lastly, incorporating a technology that for many high school students is more like a body part, than a piece of equipment, allows me to temporarily “sneak” into their world.  As a digital shepherd, I feel that this is an imperative component of my job— to make my students believe that I am not a complete Luddite, and that I can actually help them with their on-line development.  (I suppose this is somewhat the same point as the former— #morestreetcred)

I am fortunate to teach at a school that allows staff to have their own “mobile use policy”.  Many teachers out-right ban the phones from their classes.  Not that students don’t sneak use anyway. (There is a hilarious image I put on my desk top at the beginning of every semester– see below)

nobody looks at their crotch and smiles.

With that said, I am a firm believer in standing up for what you believe in.  If someone doesn’t want phones in their room, then that is fine with me.  Most educators and parents learn pretty early on that you have to pick your fights and if phones is a fight you like, then fight away!  Our school quickly abandoned the cell phone fight, however.

The policy was a four-step process.

One: Warning given

Two: Take phone for the duration of the class.

Three: Bring phone to administrator for the duration of the day.

Four: Suspension.

Thankfully, the “school-wide” policy has gone extinct. Handcuffing teachers to one, blanket mobile policy only serves to clip the wings of those wanting to soar to new places in education. This week, I have “Gone Google” in my classes for the very first time.  Being only two days into Google Classroom, class blogs and personal blogs, I’m am unsure how my students will feel about this new way.  I am not using Google for everything, but as I become more comfortable, I am certain that both my teaching and student learning will become more dynamic, engaging and overall, more awesome.

On the other hand, when students self-report to text message over 500 times per day, I think that non-ed-tech teachers have every reason to be wary.  In my last week of semester one, I caught a student cheating on his test with his phone up his sleeve.  Recent articles have also come out detailing  a new epidemic– students are not allowing themselves to be bored any more.  This brings an entire host of issues surrounding creativity and lack thereof. For me, phones are like my students themselves!  Sometimes I want to high five them, sometimes I want to hug them, and other times I want to toss them over a cliff!  Figuratively speaking, OF COURSE.

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Week 4: Benoit’s Case Study: To Blackboard or to Moodle, that is the question!

In this week’s readings, we were asked to read a brief case study that detailed the situation of Professor Benoit.  It seems that Benoit is a very popular professor and his department head wishes that he spread his “awesomeness” to the onl-ine format, so that more students can take advantage of his expertise.

Benoit’s dilemma: which LMS system should he choose to adopt?  His options are

1. Blackboard Connect  and 2. Moodle.

Only knowing a few details about Benoit, it makes this a somewhat difficult choice for me to make.  As he has a only a limited amount of experience with utilizing technology for the running of his course, my recommendation would be to go with Blackboard.


Blackboard would be a safer choice since, in this scenario, this is what the IT department is currently supporting.  Should issues arise– and they will, he willhave IT’s support and he will not have a problem soliciting the support from othercolleagues that are currently using it.   Although Moodle offers more freedom to develop his LMS without restraints, it is likely that he doesn’t even know what the restraints are at this point.

I liken it to learning how to drive a car, where Blackboard is an automatic andMoodle is the standard.   Why not get your “feet wet” with a LMS that is well supported, thereby reducing the number of issues to worry about whilst one is a “rookie”.   Then, as one progresses in their experience, and becomes moreknowledgeable with LMSs in general, take on a more versatile LMS that allows for more freedoms.

To respond to the question posed regarding how Benoit should organize his traditional, face-to-face course to an on-line model, I would suspect that he would be covering the same ideas in the same amount of time, therefore, he should simply follow the same organizational time line. What he would need to consider are the best discussion questions that have come out of his successful, traditional, classwork. Obviously, he wouldn’t be delivering content himself, so careful selection of relevant readings would need to compensate for his lack of “face time teaching.”

Without question, the learning curve is steep when adopting a new teaching methodology. Because of this, he should be prepared to have a considerable amount of time learning efficiencies and tricks of the trade. If his IT takes a long time to assist with issues, I would suggest that he make an appointment with someone for an afternoon, to get his “ball rolling”, then utilize his peers for the small things that will arise after that. Perhaps, the department head could request that IT make a series of short instructional videos that step people through typical trouble shooting scenarios, as well.

What I know form my own experience in this scenario, is that the first run-through is never perfect.  With determination and student feedback, however, the second time through is heaps better!

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