Tag Archives: reflection

Digital Storytelling Reflection: Take 2

Having used PhotoPeach before I knew that it was a powerful tool for a visual narrative and the story that I was telling had been well documented with lots of project photos. I was also extremely familiar with PhotoPeach using it myself to tell our District’s PD story and as a student tool in my social studies classroo . I knew that that it was easy to use, with drag and drop storyboarding and simple YouTube searches for music, as I had seen students as young as grade four effectively navigate through the PhotoPeach steps. The story of my Ed Tech coordinator position also serves a dual purpose. First, to complete the necessary requirement for this assignment and second to disseminate some information at an administrators meeting next week.

Student access to PhotoPeach is simple. So long as they have a reasonable internet connection and valid email address, which we provide each student in our district, they can use this tool. Student’s love using this tool as it gives them the ultimate control over their story; images, words and music. In particular the ability to use music from YouTube is extremely motivating. In my experience much of their time is spent on this step, finding the music to set the mood for their story. When scaffolding digital storytelling for student’s and teacher’s PhotoPeach is one of the first internet based tools I introduce because of it’s ease of use.

Wiki Collaboration

Wiki wiki martphoto © 2007 Andjam79 | more info(via: Wylio)

The wiki experience in this class was very similar to my other wiki collaborations, lacking something.  As a group we got the assignment completed and I agree, for the most part, to the top five’s but I found myself wondering again if there was a better tool for the job.

 5 Strategies for using Social Media:

  • Learning Styles: Enhance a lesson by reaching students through a multitude of learning styles; for instance, visual, tactile, and auditory.
  • Students are already there: Capitalize on the way that students already communicate during their daily lives and use social media to enhance their learning.
  • Collaboration: Utilize the wisdom of the entire classroom for the group to progress collectively to a greater destination than what they could have achieved on their own.
  • Action Research Project: Research other academic uses of social media to determine the advantages of field tested classroom techniques.
  • Digital citizenship: Teach digital etiquette. Discuss public identity management and the appropriate time and use of technology, privacy, copyright, and flame wars.

 5 Key Challenges in using Social Media:

  • Digital Citizenship: Navigating through copyright, plagiarism, privacy and digital identity and how these issues apply to the read/write digital culture.
  • Access: Supporting students with limited computer and/or internet access at home or in school so that they are not marginalized.
  • Pedagogy first: Providing another platform to network while yielding sufficient educational outcomes without negatively impacting student learning
  • Terms of Use: Ensuring age limits and/or other terms of service on various social media sites are followed and kept apprise of by the learning institution and its administrators.
  • Changing relationships: Navigating the legal, social and classroom ramifications of using social media between student and teacher.

 Using the discussion board has been wonderful for discussions.  Conversations can go off on tangents as students reply at different parts of threads.    You can tell who was talking, at what time and how much.  Using the wiki was great for gathering the initial thoughts but after that it got clunky.  It was hard to determine who was editing what and when.  I found myself copying and pasting to a word document and printing, which is something I never do, to try and give myself a sense of structure when editing.  A wiki as a collaborative tool is wonderful but the real power comes from the ability to edit the document in a meaningful manner.  See revisions, communicate with other users and create a final product that is a compilation of a number of people’s ideas.  My other experience with Wiki’s has been PB Wiki, Moodle Wiki & Moodle OU Wiki .  Of the three PB wiki was by far the best tool to have multiple users on at once to create and edit a document.  I am a little wiki jaded as none of these have allowed for the edits to happen in a meaningful, collaborative setting to produce a document that reflected the work of a number of users to create something bigger and better than what they could have produced individually.  I have had far more success with a shared google doc.    

I will keep working with wiki’s as I can see them as great tool, you need only look at Wikipedia to see that they can be incredibility powerful.  If this task had been assigned to the discussion board it would have been a logistical mess.  It would have been hard to follow, to print and to gather final information.  The wiki, while clunky, served its purpose of getting 18 people to put down their many thoughts and agree on a top five.

Blogging about Boris

 Boris is trying to find some way to create a stand-alone, self-directed review tool for students learning the Periodic Table. It should allow students to review material, then test their knowledge. In a perfect world it would give students instant feedback that not only tells them if they’re right or wrong: it would give them formative feedback that helps them move towards the right answers.

 Boris needs to expand his Moodle course.  He already uses Moodle for class notes and assignments, now it’s time to explore Moodle’s other features.  Since Boris does not have a minute of class time to spare I would suggest using Moodle quizzes, but that he should also think about adding a student created glossary, wiki, forum and other interactive learning objects.  The former will required a lot of set up, creating questions and quizzes, where the later will require minimal set up.  However, Moodle quizzes once set up have the feedback loop built in, where the other suggested options will require more of Boris’s time to monitor and provide feedback.

 Moodle quizzes, when set up properly, will give students the instant and remedial feedback that Boris is looking for.  When setting up the question bank Boris will want to ensure that the appropriate feedback in place for incorrect answers to move students towards the correct answer.  He might consider adding references to page numbers, worksheets or websites.  To save a bit of time he should consider importing  already existing Moodle question banks  and then tweak these questions and feedback to meet his needs. 

 My second suggestion would be to add a glossary, wiki, forum and other interactive objects to help students memorize the entire periodic table.  These activities could be set up as peer assessed because “Peer assessment can encourage motivation, both through students looking at peers’ work and knowing their own work will be peer reviewed” (Jenkins,  2004) and it will position Boris as a guide on the side, a facilitator, giving more learning ownership to the students.  These activities may be more engaging and active than a computer assisted assessment.   Boris wants students to have a place to review material, but in order to make the material more engaging than notes and PowerPoints he should consider adding this other learning activities. 

 Simply setting up these items in his Moodle course will not be enough, Boris needs to keep the conditions for which assessment supports learning in mind.  How will this stand alone tool fit into his course.  While the conditions of sufficient, timely and constructive feedback can be met with proper Moodle quiz set up, the condition of students “orienting them (selves) to allocate appropriate amounts of time and effort to the most important aspects of the course.” (Gibbs & Simpson, 2005) is a little harder to ensure.  Will these marks count?  Is this mandatory?  How will he encourage those students who need to review this material to do so?  While I would love to think students will do this for the love of learning, Boris will probably need to position this material in his course syllabus to give it the appropriate weighting it deserves.   I would suggest setting up the quizzes with a number of attempts and recording the highest as well as creating a quick checklist type rubric for the peer assessed activities. 

 Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C. (2005).  “Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning.” Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Accessed online 17 October 2010 http://www.open.ac.uk/fast/pdfs/Gibbs%20and%20Simpson%202004-05.pdf

 Jenkins, M. (2004).  “Unfulfilled Promise: formative assessment using computer-aided assessment.” Learning and Teaching in Higher Education , i, 67-80. Accessed online 17 October 2010 http://resources.glos.ac.uk/tli/lets/journals/lathe/issue1/index.cfm

Multimedia & Authoring: Video

Video authoring can suck the time right out of your hands.  Hours can be spent shooting, editing, finding the perfect transition and music. 

Movie Maker I have used numerous times, however since the switch to Windows Live Movie Maker I had been avoiding it because it looked different.  However after HAVING to sit down and play it is basically the same.  One issue I am having is that Live Movie Maker is not allowing imports from network drives.  I am trying to isolate this to a network problem or a new feature in Movie Maker.  It is not a bad idea, Movies tend to have large amounts of data stored and this is better done locally.  Problem is that it goes against everything we have every taught our students.

My short example, we are still doing post production on this, so I would call this my first edit.  I have figured out transitions, music, fading all over again.

On my hit list for months has been Camtasia.  Teachers have been asking for some Moodle how-tos, so I thought I would kill two birds. I downloaded the 30 day trial and I think I am hooked.  The interface will take a little getting used to and I need some practice selecting clips to apply zooming to.  So here is my first attempt, another work in progress.

Interactions to Support Learning

Learning Centered I think what Anderson argues, relationships first and differentiated instruction, is at the heart of any instructional setting. The online environment makes it particularly difficult therefore you must be purposeful in getting to know your students. My limited online experience has been learner centered but more because adult learners will make it about the learning. We will go on tangents, use prior knowledge and forge relationships we deem valuable. In my experience with young adults is that I need to employ a variety of tools (different modes of communication, pre-testing, face to face if possible) to engage learners and scaffold their construction of knowledge from their starting point.

Knowledge Centered Anderson’s idea of “grow your own knowledge” (Anderson 2008) and making connections is key to a knowledge centered environment. Informational is prolific, how do we make it our own? A skilful teacher will get students to reach out and interact with the information until it becomes a part of what they do. I do find that the E-Learning toolkit does that for me. There is a ton of knowledge there, but because I can use the tools to construct what I need for my context, I am engaged and making the connections with this material.

Assessment Centered Anderson asserts that “assessment that serves to motivate, inform and provide feedback.” (Anderson 2008) which is a tall order in any instructional context. I have found my most successful technology mediated lesson put students in the assessment drivers seats. Using forums, lightbox galleries and databases in moodle to allow students to self and peer assess/comment does more for motivation and informing learning than any multiple choice test I could give. I know that for this course I spend extra time and care preparing these responses because I know that peer assessment and feedback will follow, it is definitely a motivator!

Community Centered In my experience even 2 years ago having “students work together in an online learning context to collaboratively create new knowledge” (Anderson 2008) was difficult. Today with the Skype, google docs, elluminate, etherpade, live meeting, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on and on, you need but only choose the right tool for the job. Today I belong to a number of online learning communities (through Twitter mostly) that I have never met in real life, I learn from everyday, we work together without giving a second thought and they are my go to group to bounce new ideas off of. They are my community of teachers and I have a deeper relationship with many of them than the ones I know in real life.

How might you use the learning technologies tools you have at your disposal to help you to create meaningful interactions?

Tools, tools, tools there are so many to choose from. The trick is to purposively pick the ones that are “cost and learner effective” (Anderson 2008) that create quality learning environment. (Although I really just want to use the shiney new one) Elluminate, since we have a license, with its video capability, polling, whiteboard, chat and desk top sharing is at the top of my list right now. When delivering instruction I make sure to build in introductions, sharing and interactivity along the way. Forums when set up properly can facilitate excellent opportunities for interactions. At the junior high level I find that I have to do a lot of modelling of interactions before there is a buy in. Blogging also has the potential, personally I know that I have made many long last relationships via a great blog post. For that to translate to k-12, I think will take more teacher modelling. Personally, twitter is also incredibly meaningful, however I am having trouble convincing and showing others. At the heart of creating meaningful interactions has to be a safe, welcoming collaborative online space. For me that has to be moodle because that is the LMS of our district. This space has a place for student images, feedback and it changes depending on what we are doing and what my students want. By giving up a some control this space it becomes our space to learn not my space to teach.

Anderson, T. (2008). Towards a Theory of Online Learning. In: T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Edmonton AB: Athabasca University. Accessed online October 10 2010 http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/02_Anderson_2008_Anderson-Online_Learning.pdf

Multimedia and Authoring Tools: Audio

Audacity is a tool that I have had in my toolkits for a couple of years.  While I use it occasionally, I tend to set my students loose on it much more frequently.  Uses include an interview tool, oral response and most recently to have elementary aged children reading books.  The book reading is serving two purposes: a digital repository of books for “listening to reading” and a part of that child’s e-portfolio.

Where I am struggling with podcasting is finding the an appropriate moodle plugin.  Up until recently we used Podcast Activity module, but with load balancing servers this would not work.  IT also does not like this module because it is unsecure.  The suggestion found at Moodle is to use a MP3 attached to a forum post to generate the RSS required.  Has anyone tried this?  Does it work?

I find using audacity is not very labour intensive and very easy to use.  Even the most novice user is familiar with the record, stop and export interface.  The challenge for me is to now make the next leap to publicly publishing in iTunes.  Included in this is ensuring that any music loops and sounds are properly cited properly and have the correct attribution license for reuse. 

I will say that alongside Audacity I also use other web 2.0 tools for audio.  Some that I have found success with have been:

Babberize Me


Multimedia and Authoring Tools: Still Images

Picnik Editing

I will admit I was not expecting much with Picasa.  I am instantly turned off by anything that requires a download and install, a result of my k-12 profession.  We tend to rely on software that is supported and installed, Microsoft Picture Manager, or tools that are free online like Pixlr .  However, I was impressed and ended up downloading it onto both my machines and looking for an app for my iPhone.  Great new tool in my arsenal.

 When I started the photo editing I was online in my Picasa album, click on edit and it took me to Picnik .  While this was not the assignment, I spent a fair amount of time playing around.  It has some basic tools to crop, resize and editing as well as some funky additions like buttons and fangs that students would appreciate.  I also liked how saving here brought the image back to your Picasa album.   As our school division explores cloud computing options, the integration of Picasa and Picnik is a definite plus. 

 After downloading Picasa and playing around for a bit three things impressed me.  First the ability to edit an image and publish it to your blogger blog or twitter.  Since I have multiple blogger blogs this will save me a lot of time.  Second was the collage feature which I have been looking for.  It is as simple as my favourite app Strip Design  for creating drag and drop collages.  Now I don’t have to do it on my phone.  The third feature, which I need to spend more time exploring was the movie creation.  Could this be a tool that is more stable than Windows Movie Maker?  I will need to add this to my to-do list. 

 Overall I was impressed with Picasa as a photo editing tool, which surprise me!  It was very intuitive and for those of us that already live in the google cloud, it adds to the seamlessness of my online life.

Applying the Frameworks

My context in relation to Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Chapter 4: a Framework for Selecting and Using Technology. In Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. (pp. 77-105). San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers

The SECTIONS framework by Bates and Poole was more applicable to my teaching context.  The two sections that I find myself grappling with most often is students and cost. 


Students, and teachers, need to be at the forefront when making decisions about learning technologies.  But like Bates and Poole state, and I experience, you are dealing with insufficient and rapidly changing information from which you must base your decisions on.  Eighteen months ago, I would argue, I was dealing not with a digital divide but a digital chasm in our large rural school district.  While students and teachers that lived in town had access to high speed internet, a good number of our rural schools had only dial up with no prospect on the horizon of change.  When student information systems were put in place to allow teachers to work from home and parents to access student work, this did nothing for these rural communities.  Access to quality distance learning material was also hampered by the lack of high speed internet. Eighteen months later it is a totally different picture as many of these communities now have satellite internet. Polling students recently, up to 95% have home base computers with a high speed connection.  This completely changes the learning technologies landscape and what can be offered in these communities. 

The needs of different student demographics is also an area that I find myself struggling with.  What is required in a large urban high school is very different that the needs of a small rural farming community that has seen a recent influx of immigrants.  Likewise the changing teaching demographic, as the baby boomer bubble is hitting retirement and a large number of new teachers will hit the education system, has very diverse needs. What I find myself struggling with is how to adapt to these diverse demographics when we have standardized parts of our learning technology systems.  Keeping the learners needs in mind, how can I bend Moodle or Sharepoint or PowerSchool, all standard systems we must all use, to meet their needs. 


The part about cost that resonated with me in this framework was that the major cost of any learning technology is time.  Time to work, reflect, train, collaborate and connect with colleagues and time for professional development to ensure the successful implementation of a learning technology.  This expenditure item can often be forgotten after money is spent on infrastructure, software and IT, but without this (hopefully job embedded) time the success of a project is at stake.  Part of my job is to provide professional development and support for our technology plan.  This plan, most recently includes, a project to research the educational implication of cloud computing using LIVE@EDU.  The majority of the proposal cost is time. 

In education we are always looking to more with less.  The advent of free web 2.0 tools has opened up learning technology opportunities for many schools that cannot afford high prices software and installs.  I find myself frequently encouraging their use, sometime instead of the technologies that our school division pays for.  However, I find myself having to consider the cost of these free tools.  They are not free.  Many still require installs of Java or Silverlight.  They frequently disappear and have to be replaced and therefore retrained on.  Or go from being a free service to a paid service.  Our school division relies heavily on Moodle, open source software, it is free as we did not have to pay for the download but it is far from free when considering maintenance, training, backups and storage. Cost is one aspect of choosing technology that I would like to look at more in-depth.

Digital Age Teaching Professionals

Personal Assessment according to NET’s 2008 document.

Reflecting on my skill and confidence in using learning technologies to teach, I would say my skill level and confidence is fairly high. However, I do have to constantly remind myself that it is learning technologies and that learning has to go first. I am often guilty of putting the technology first and this is one of things I hope to work and get a solid foundation of during my MET courses.

During the past two years I was half time in a junior high classroom and half time providing support for teacher integration of technology into their classroom. Modelling digital work and learning is incredibly important. I have to be able to walk the digital walk if I hope for others to follow me. I use a variety of tools to communicate with teachers and students. Moodle forums, blogs, email and a variety of web 2.0 tools. It has been my hope that by exposing them to different mediums they may find the one that fits best for what they want to accomplish. Model teaching is something that I started recently. Offering to go to a classroom and teach a lesson, after planning it with the teacher, has been the most powerful in modelling digital learning. I think the most effective lessons have been the ones where the technology has failed. Modelling that digital work is not always a smooth process and even those who are seen as experts have difficulty.

Collaboration is also a theme that runs through NETS. I have found it much easier to provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate, to a lesser degree students and will need to work on parents and other stakeholders. The geographical situation of my school board, we are roughly the size of Whales, means it is important to harness digital tools for collaboration. We have a Moodle dedicated to teacher collaboration, of which I administer. In this space teachers can share and access the work shared by their colleagues. I try to keep this space fresh and find ways to encourage teachers to share what is going on inside their classroom by sharing a lot of my own work, encouraging the PD cohorts I work with to make this a part of our process and by recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of these teachers. Elluminate is another way that I try and foster collaboration. Last year I hosted, with my ET counterpart, a weekly elluminate session called Bright Ideas in Teaching and Technology: BITTS. We used the elluminate setting to meet to share ideas and reflections on teaching and technology. It was important that we were not the only ones doing the sharing. Recently while on Twitter I saw a group of colleagues struggling to find a meeting space for a conversation regarding the Daily 5, a literacy strategy my school district is just starting with. I offered up my room and myself as moderator for the Sunday morning conversation. The conversation that was recorded and later shared with others that could not make it, was an amazing collaboration of educators that have never “met” in person.

Part of my job as a Educational Technology Coordinator is to disseminate information on Digital Citizenship. A presentation about Wireless Internet to our Joint School Councils last year earned me invitations to present to students grade 3-10 and to other school councils on how best to manage your digital footprint and be safer online. Part of this presentation now includes a section on Creative Commons and Copyright and having students sit at a computer and bookmark the creative commons search engine. While this is a small portion of ethical use, it is a start. Being the Moodle Administrator also means I have to contact teachers and students, on occasion, and ask them to removed material that violates copyright.

I wear a variety of different hats which allow me to engage in professional growth and leadership. With our professional association in Alberta, Alberta Teachers Association, I am a PD facilitator for Region A in the north as well as the Region A representative for the Educational Technology Council where my portfolio includes learning management systems and professional learning networks. In these two roles I get to meet and work with people from outside my district and in some cases around the world. Being an active participant in the planning process for Professional Development from the far north has made me stretch my technical muscles to include such tools as Skype, Google Docs as well as moodle and elluminate which I am more familiar with. I am also actively involved with the Northwest Regional Learning Consortium in offering Professional Development sessions on Moodle, Social Studies and Smartboards,  and Podcasting. I am an active member of twitter and try to participate in Tuesday’s #edchats, I read and comment on a variety of educational technology blogs and belong to a number of online communities like Classroom 2.0 and Smartboard Revolution. My goal this year is to encourage more of my colleagues to become engaged in these global sharing spaces. In turn these global conversation will be brought into the classroom.

There are a couple of areas that I would like to work on during this course, and others. “Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice” is probably the area of greatest need for me. I am becoming well acquainted with the Educause website which in turn has forced me to pull out some of my educational technology books. Taking the time to see where current educational research is an area that I have not made enough time for. Another area of need for me is helping teachers and students manage and asses their own progress. The assessment tools in Moodle is an area where I have had very little experience, even though I know they are powerful, and I am looking forward to experimenting with them further. Finally I am intrigued with the idea of blog as e-portfolio, this is something that I have been wanting to do with my students and teachers and this will provide me the opportunity to explore this on a platform, WordPress, that I am not at all familiar with.