Module 8

 

1 What was your favorite module in this course? Why?

 I liked Module 5 — it forced me to take a look at Instagram in a new light, to see how it would work in the classroom and play with it. I thought it was funny that when I send an Instagram to Twitter — Instagram, a photo app — that the photo does not display in the Tweet. Well, it isn’t funny. I Googled the issues and found out how to display Instagram images on Twitter. I also found out that the reason we can’t post the image on Twitter is because Facebook bought Instagram and removed that ability. That makes it less usable for me, but I appreciated learning about it, and taking the time to discover why and find a fix.

2 Which module in this course was the most challenging for you? Why? What did you learn from that experience? 

The modules were all thoughtful and engaging; I had trouble with Facebook; it’s my least favorite community because of its company premise and purpose, design, Terms of Service, Privacy, none of which are acceptable to me. Yes, I am one of those people who read the Terms of Service and Privacy Documents, especially for ownership, privacy, and how my information is used. There are apps I don’t use at all.  I use Facebook solely as a minor connection to other educators, my major connection and communication with them being Twitter, Google Plus, and other online communities, although there are many groups like this one that I have found valuable in the last couple of months. As with any online presence, check the preferences and one’s profile frequently.

So how did I adapt? I learned to ignore all the sidebar barrage of ads and suggestions, and focus on the group’s notifications. I learned about controlling the ads seen. I learned how to search for Group Member’s names or keywords under the Discussion tab to find conversations to continue. Being able to find the people and posts relevant to the connections I made really helped manage both connections and my use of Facebook.

And I took the time to review the help documents: this is a great place to understand Facebook so it works within the parameters you choose.  They provide a “Privacy Checkup” to frequently monitor your settings, including this HowTo page.

Because the course information was valuable, and I love collaborative and connected learning, I took a chance. This was a great experience, and I so appreciate the well-considered design of the course and all the participants and their help. That’s the important part!

Sidenote: 

Facebook has the ability and finances to prevent scammers but doesn’t:
Current Status of Alec Couros,whose account is repeatedly hacked.

Alec’s Tips to prevent Catfishing
Facebook Policies
Facebook TOS

 

3 Choose two tools from this course that you would like to start using in your teaching or work. How exactly would you use them? If you don’t plan to use any of the tools from this course, talk about the reasons why.

coggle example.pngI will use Coggle more; it integrates easily with Google Apps, is easy to use, and allows information to be synthesized and connected in text, video, and images. I created this Coggle Thinking to show its features. Since the coggles can be embedded [although it didn’t stick here–seemed to disappear into the code], they add the multi-media dimension to understanding and to any project. This is important to the web’s expectation of visual information. Here is an example of a coggle from the templates shared by Coggle which I copied and adapted so students could find the root cause of an issue.

Of course, its uses are endless: brainstorm, outline, list, summaries, diagrams, definitions, etc. Love this list of shortcuts too.

 

The second tool I find as versatile and visual is ThingLink [Thinglink for Module 8 at top of post].

I find many uses for this tool:

New options for 360 Video make this an exciting option for sharing.

4. Browse the Teacher’s Guide to Tech and choose two new tools (or categories of tools) that you would like to learn next. Explain how each one might meet a particular need, help you reach a certain goal, or solve a problem for you.

Which tools would I learn next?

First, the book publishing tools intrigue me. My first year with NaNoWriMo, the students were so thrilled to get their novels actually published! I have had some amazing writers and poets, and I’d like to have both classroom books and ways for them to publish on their own in the future. I’d like to help them find that path, even as a volunteer at school.

Also, I’d love to publish my family stories and poetry, and now I have time. I appreciate having this information in the course; in today’s world, everyone can be a writer! Lulu looks like a good option.

One app I will try is Shutterfly because I remembered I had signed up for an account years ago — and it’s still there! Ha!

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Second, the group of content curation tools are important for gathering resources and sharing the ideas. Each one has a different purpose and depends upon the context needed. Anything of importance to save, I keep in Evernote and bookmark in Diigo.  I have a few Pinterest boards for an immediate gathering of ideas. Feedly looks interesting for blogs not on WordPress [I use my “reader” there]. Paper.li and Flipboard gather resources around hashtags and topics, both of which I need to play with more.

What I’m considering is an organized visual of resources for a particular topic. PearlTrees looks good for that [see Shelly Terrell’s eBook collection], so staff or students have all resources available in one place. One place I tried before and really like is BlendSpace, [this is a guide for new members of the CLMOOC]. And I love LiveBinders [this a Twitter intro]. Both allow me to organize and annotate the resources.

Therefore, after reviewing the content curation tools, I see that I can gather resources in many ways to display in different platforms [especially Flipboard, Paper.li, and PearlTrees.  I also will stick with BlendSpace and LiveBinders for the times when organization and annotation are needed.

5. Set three concrete, measurable tech goals for yourself. Set a deadline for each one.

By September 1st create a Thinglink of resources for Reciprocal Teaching; our principal believes that with a .74 positive effect on student learning, this is a strategy all teachers should include in their teaching repertoire.

By September 30th, present nine screencasts for staff on easy assessment strategies with Google Apps [forms, sheets, slides] linked within a ThingLink.

  • Create three videos for each: a) how it’s used, b) how to create/ provide template, and c) how to start with students

By November 15th, revise and update my main blog to a more modern theme, with an updated About page, and with a menu of categories for the new focus as a retired middle school educator. I need to time to consider the direction, especially since I may teach a writing course at the local college, and have been asked to blog on education issues for the local newspaper.
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6. What has been your most important take-away from this course? In other words, what is the most important lesson you learned?

The most important lesson I learned is how important it is to extend a helping hand, to offer assistance to those to whom this technology seems overwhelming. Some want to struggle through, because they are at that place where they know it’s within their grasp when trying. Others are on the edge of quitting, but with a friend and helping hand, will take that first step needed to understand, “Oh. I CAN do this.”

All of those who participated here as novices need to be commended: they realize that technology is here to stay, and to stay relevant, they need to learn. It is not easy. It is not easy to be a learner once again.

But once that first step is taken, that first frustration is overcome, then the understanding is made that technology is always a learning in progress — all of us are learning something new, just on a continuum.

By choosing platforms where participants can link to, comment/chat with, share struggles and successes, this course differentiated for novices and experts, allowing each to learn and all to grow together. It’s a great example for staff development or for other courses.

This course [JumpStart Tech 2016 by Jennifer Gonzalez] helped many people, I’m sure, become technology collaborators, willing to jump in to learn and to offer guidance. Those two things make the world better: collaboration and the tools to enhance our work and learning and connections.

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All images by Sheri Edwards

Module 3

WordPress Portfolio

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How does one start a blog?

NAME

Blogging: Jennifer is correct — choosing the name often takes the longest time. Luckily “Summer of Tech” was open! It’s the only name that made sense since this blog will be a portfolio of my work for JumpStart to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez.

TAGLINE

I have been blogging at WordPress since 2008 at What Else? 1DR, so WordPress and blogging are not new to me. So I knew I would like a “tagline” below my blog title. I’m thankful for this course, for newbies and for geeks, because it offers a chance to learn what may have been missed and gets newbies started in overcoming their trepidation of technology to become learners with their students in authentic technology use as tools for communication, reflection, collaboration, and curation. I knew I wanted a tagline that reflected how important jumping into tech is — just do it. There are many innovators today I could quote, but the name that shines in my mind is Seymour Papert. When I returned to school to finish my teaching degree in the 1980’s, one of the books read in my Eastern Washington University courses was Mindstorms: Children, Computers, Powerful Ideas [1st Edition, 1980]– far before the thought of a personal computer by most people except Seymour Papert:

“…computers can be carriers of powerful ideas and of the seeds of cultural change, how they can help people form new relationships with knowledge that cut across the traditional lines separating humanities from sciences and knowledge of the self from both of these.”

“In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of master over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.”   [Introduction]

But what tagline?  At the website of Stanford School of Education’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab [TLTL], I found the perfect tagline that fits my thinking of “doing” technology, not for the sake of technology, but by doing, we are learning deeper ideas:

“The good way to learn is to use it now.” Seymour Papert

I applaud everyone taking this “online collaboration,” for so many educators do not even try, do not find the time, do not see the relevance. But as Seymour Papert also said long ago:

“We see a much slower rate of evolution of the school, and that means we’re seeing a bigger and bigger gap between school and society. This gap is what I believe is responsible for the deterioration of performance in our schools and our educational systems. Because children can see this; they can see that school is irrelevant.”

Seymour Papert

Speech delivered at the eleventh Colin Cherry Memorial Lecture on Communication June 2, 1998, Imperial College in London

It is our students who do not see relevance in our schools, and educators reaching out to learn more will make a difference and close that gap, making school relevant to students again.

PURPOSE

Although this post is a reflection on the processes of creating a blog, the blog itself is more than a portfolio: it is evidence for a willingness and determination to be relevant for my students, who expect me to prepare them for a future neither of us know, but for whom “doing” and problem-solving together will provide them heuristics to apply when needed; they will be thinkers and writers and mathematicians and historians and scientists, creating and making, collaborating and communicating, networking and innovating through the resources of technology.

PRACTICALITIES

However, as Jennifer and several others have noted: technology is always changing, and while starting this blog, I discovered many changes in the administration area.  That means, a search for YouTube directions may not reveal the new help in video yet. Luckily I knew what I was looking for [categories, blog roll and links, tags]. I think that WordPress is in transition because sometimes the admin area looks like this:

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And sometimes like this:

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THEME

In choosing a theme, I look for this:

  • top photo, title, tagline
  • two or three columns [for widgets]
  • responsiveness: viewable on mobile [ tablet/phone] or desktop

WIDGETS

Widgets add information and personality to blogs, depending on the purpose and need. I added the “Recent Posts” widget as required. My optional widgets were:

Sidebar

  • Social Media
  • Search at the top [I often use that myself when looking for past posts]
  • Twitter Feed

Footer

ABOUT and CONTACT

The about page provides the authenticity of the blogger in purpose and picture. I explained the purpose and provided a picture and avatar. Then I decided to add a Contact Page as well. I learned to just play around and look at the possibilities. I can use Learn WordPress to know more because WordPress is a powerful platform.

I learned that while working and trying to decide what to do, the little circle with an i inside provides small help menus:

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In Learn WordPress I found this page which includes how tos for posts, categories, tags, menus, and more.  Very helpful.

MENU

With menu in place to display Home, Contact, About, and categories [reflection and tech practice], the blog is now viewable and ready for its three posts for Module 3.

NEXT STEPS

So, what do you think? Is the blog:

  • Professional?
  • Informative?
  • Personable?
  • Reflective?
  • Easy to navigate?
  • Easy to search?

What’s next?  Embedding!  I look forward to reading about this because it’s one area that always troubles me and causes me to go back to the How Tos!

I will also use what I learn here to update my own blog – it’s been awhile, and it’s purpose has once again changed.  At first it was reflective on lessons, then it was about school, and then it was reflective of educational interests, a more personal blog.

Update 7.3.16: I changed themes; it’s not as clean, but one  thing that is important to be able to show tags for each post on the post. I use those tags — by clicking on a tag, all posts with that tag are displayed.  As your blog grows, this is important!  My first choice looked clean and nice, but no tags on the posts! So, this theme design works better for my needs.  That’s the thing: as you blog, you learn what works for you, as with any technology.

So, how do you start a blog?

Just do it, and know that it will grow with you!

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How do YOU start a blog?

Module 2

Collaboration Tools

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Phone calls. Back and forth emailing of documents. Face to face meetings. Collaboration was once difficult across distances, and arranging for time zones differences was frustrating.

Now, we can collaborate in the cloud, meeting online through Skype, Google Hangouts, Voxer, Google Drive, and many more.

For this Module, I worked with Voxer and Google Drive to collaborate and communicate with my middle school language arts team.

VOXER

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Voxer is a free app for desktops and tables of all platforms that is like a walkie-talkie. I love that it allows for audio, GIFS, photos, links, and text. It’s such a joy to hear the voices of people I have never met face-to-face. I have a pro account because I like to customize my name and have more admin control. Even though I love it, I prefer Twitter and iMessage– I prefer to read text because it’s quicker, and because I live in a rural area with sporadic coverage so listening and responding during my drives in the car does not work; I must be inside with coverage.

One thing that helped is to speed up the speaking. Once you begin listening to the recording, a menu allows you to choose the speed:

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Also, in settings, I choose to “Tap to Talk” so I don’t accidentally start recording myself while I’m rambling in conversation that has nothing to do with our chat:

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I look forward to July’s conversations with fellow middle school language arts educators.

GOOGLE DRIVE

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Google Drive is the best — it’s secure and totally controlled by the user. It can hold ANY type of file, even if you can’t open it in Drive. That means I can upload my Apple Keynote and share it with other Mac users; even though we can’t open it in Drive, it’s stored and shared their easily. Photos, drawings, movies, etc. all can be stored in the Drive.

Google Drive works well with all MS Office products, if those are your preferred software. However, I’ve found I now use all the Google Apps products instead, and have not used MS Office for years [my Apple products also open all the Word and Excel files].

In addition, my school is a Google Apps for Education [GAFE] school.  The students love it — they can create websites, blogs, docs, slides, spreadsheets, drawings, etc. and share and easily collaborate on projects. Tons of extensions and apps add to the robust platform. One addition is Kaizena, which allows you to give audio feedback to your students’ work! I have not used it, but it’s been recommended many times.

Especially important is the ability to choose exactly with whom to share:

  • private [default]
  • with specific people
  • anyone with a link
  • public [can be found searching]

And how to share:

  • to view
  • to comment
  • to edit
  • editors can or cannot add people
  • viewers can or cannot download

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So, this Module 1 document is shared to “any one with a link can comment.”

So, collaborators, please do!


Note: After July, 2016, I will change “can comment” to “can view” only.

Module 1

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Module 1 Readings

1. What holds me back?

  1. No one to discuss ideas:  I’m pretty much the lone techie at my school; as much as I try to share, no one is interested.  I used to share my blog with colleagues, but they wouldn’t read them. It’s lonely. I think I’d be better with some feedback.
  2. Mandates: I feel obligated to get the standards taught and hold back projects to teach specific standards, although my experience is that in projects, students learn what they need and in directives, students still learn what they need but it might not be what I’m teaching and is less than they could be doing.

2. Why bother?

A. Video production tools did save me time and gave my students a resource to review when they needed it.  For example, students couldn’t post videos themselves, and they needed to be changed from .mov to .mp4 so I created videos for the project for how to save their video, open and change format, and upload to my video folder in my Google Drive.  Slick.

B. My students have learned two important skills as 21st century and independent learners: 1) key word searches in the research tool of Google Docs to find information for their chosen part of the project, and 2) the same tool cites the source AND find creative commons licensed images for students to use.

3 Two Tools

A. QR codes: I could use these in the hall to share student links for families and visitors; I could link to models of writing students could choose according to their needs.

B. Magisto: I wonder if students could use this for their projects as a trailer or conclusion.

4 Two Tips

A. Get Clear on the Reason: this is a mind shift — this is important for novices to wrap their objectives with the expectation that the tool helps the learning be more relevant and authentic. Take the writing process: students don’t want to re-write something any more when there are tools for cutting and pasting and spelling. More than that: it’s a visual world, and Google Docs helps students search for and insert appropriately licensed images they can quickly choose to enhance their words.

B. Do Test Runs: Do tests and in the school — sometimes what is visible at home for that great lesson is NOT visible at school do to IT management of filters. Often it can be unblocked, but know that before starting your lesson.

5 One Thing

Tech Gmail Account: That would have been a good idea; I’ll suggest that from now on.  However, my problem is that when I started with tech, the recommendation was to have separate accounts, and I had school, community, business, personal, volunteer activities so now I have a ton of email accounts. Little did we know that our lives would be more public and connected.

6 Tools

Content Curation: So many projects and so many resources. How do I curate them to share, rediscover, and contain? What purposes do I have? What tools would be best? I have many projects that could be gathered for different reasons, and resources I want to remember. With so much in the cloud, we don’t have scrapbooks and boxes [well, I do have boxes] filled with memories anymore. Where should we put them?

Book Publishing: That’s a good one. I love the format of the Tech Guide, the clickable pdf is awesome. How did you create that?  Adobe Acrobat? I have some ideas I’d like to publish. Jennifer answered that question: She created the pdf for Jump Start in PowerPoint, but changed the page orientation; she exported as a pdf.  I can do that in Google Slides and Keynote too.  Ideas are now forming…

 

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