Friday, December 19, 2014

Adult Learners: Facilitating Social Learning Experiences


Aside: This blog entry started out as a blend of old and new ideas for facilitating online learning--building on an article I wrote in 2009, but has been fun to write as an exploration of neat tools (mostly, Google) that have emerged since then. The end result is an "updated" article. What would you include that I've left out?


Learning should be social…and in today’s world being social means being connected while you learn. Do we help create these social connections or are we to worried about the time students might waste being social and being connected?
 
Source: The Thinking Stick Blog
Easy access to course management systems (also labelled "learning management systems") like Google Classroom, Haiku LMS, GoogleApps as an LMS, Moodle, Sakai, among others, make online learning possible for K-16 educational institutions. This article encapsulates 8 tips that flows from experiences as an online learning facilitator and through the constant reading and reflection.
This online learning experience kept my interest and provided me with learning that I know will benefit me as an educator and, thus, will positively impact student learning. I especially enjoyed being able to login at my convenience and from multiple portals (home and work). The content was challenging and interesting and I found that the activities/projects were relevant and, thus, met my needs as an adult learner. 
Source: Texas public school district Online Course Participant

LEARNING IS SOCIAL
Learning IS social…and online learning environments engage students in that way. But we have to be careful to avoid trying to engage students in online learning environments with face to face approaches. . .the effects of F2F engagement methods may be different than what we expect. We have discovered this through our own professional learning experiences online as students and facilitators. Here are 8 tips that may be helpful to you:

Tip #1 - Address the logistics of the course in your course materials and make sure they are obvious and easily accessible rather than buried in a syllabus or other document. Logistics can include how often students should login and participate in the course, assessment rubrics, etc. 

  • Craft a syllabus
  • Develop an assignment checklist
  • Streamline organization of the course by chunking or "modularizing" content. This makes it easy for learners to break off and then dive back into the content that comes in bite-sized pieces (e.g. 5 minutes).
  • Blend text, audio and video into the content. 
These tips, that are perhaps obvious now in light of blended learning information shared, enables your virtual students to work their way through the content for a specific topic within the overall course of study. 
I too am a Middle School Math teacher. I teach 7th grade. What grade do you teach?Is this your first technology course? I just finished the [online] course and it was an awesome experience.  . .It's nice to meet you and I look forward to working with you this week.Source: Introduce Yourself Forum, Online Course
Organizing a course using Google Sites, as you can see from these examples, is a matter of organization and fun:
One of the challenges for any online course is keeping content up to date. Not having to deal with arcane systems make it easier to accomplish! 

Tip #2 - Personalize your online learning environment with multimedia. 

"These videos and articles put so much more into place and answered many of my questions that I had," shared one online course participant. You can accomplish this by including audio+picture or video testimonials from former students and course introductions by district facilitators. One of my favorite examples of this approach was, when designing a course for librarians being introduced to Web 2.0, to request audio introductions to the topics from well-known library advocates such as Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson and Joyce Valenza. The expectation was that they would provide a brief introduction from their "library" perspective for each topic. This kind of personalization helps build a real connection with course participants.

In one online class, participants had the opportunity to view videos that illustrated how to accomplish something relevant to the class. Some of the positive feedback from using the videos:

Before I took this class, I had no idea how blogging could be so helpful to myself and my class. I had wanted to create a classroom web page; however I see that a blogging site would be so much better. I think it will really help my class communicate with other classes and to gather ideas from other children their age. I can use it to reflect on lessons and classroom management. I can also use it to post special projects, lessons, homework as well as showcase their work. Subscribing to RSS feeds has made it easier to obtain information.  
Source: Participant, Blogging Online Course
Some screencast and video recording tools you can advantage of include the following:
  1. Screencast Creation Tools - 
    1. Computer and Web:
      1. Use either Vocaroo.com (web) or Audacity (computer) to record audio narrations. Both are free, works on all computer types. 
      2. Screencast-o-Matic is a web-based screen-recording tool that allows you to record your computer's screen. 
      3. TechSmith's SnagIt - This is the premiere $20 program to record screencasts on your computer.
    2. Chromebook:
      1. Screencastify - Absolutely my favorite for easy to use, allowing you to save videos for hosting at YouTube or GoogleDrive. For GoogleApps users, this is phenomenal since you have unlimited storage and GoogleDrive makes it easy to share the video, including with embed code. There is a slight delay while Drive converts Screencastify's webm video format to a more compatible one with most web users.
      2. TechSmith's Snagit app and extension combo - A solid choice that combines image and screencasting.
      3. ClipChamp - A very easy to use tool that works in tandem with a web site to facilitate the entire process.
      4. MediaCore Capture - Another easy tool to use to record your screen, as well as yourself (picture in a picture).
    3. iPad:
      1. Touchcast (Free) - This is a tool to flip communications,create videos while reading a script right on the screen. Read this blog post to see examples.
      2. Explain Everything ($2.99) - This is the must-have, go-to tool for creating screencasts on iPad and Android tablets. Let's you create and share content via GoogleDrive, Dropbox, etc. Watch this video highlighting its features.
      3. Knowmia (free) - It's a versatile tool like Explain Everything, although it does not allow you save your content as a video file, only host it on theknowmia.com web site. This is used by Domingo Martinez at ECHS!
      4. EduCreations (free) - Try EduCreations. Works great, is free, and easy to share online through their web site. Drawbacks: Can't export video and their web site is slow to load.
Tip #3 - Develop and share materials with potential participants. Making course materials available online--including organizing your class calendar and gradebook--is important, but it's also necessary to share the print resources you are using to advertise the class online. Often, course participants request access to the flyer that enticed them to sign-up for the online course. By revisiting the flyer, they can visually remember what their purpose for registering for the course was.

If you want someone to learn something online, "old-timers" may want to print and read content rather than view it all online. That's why making content print-friendly can help bridge their movement from 100% face to face and print to blended learning environments.


It's now much easier, especially with GoogleSheets and Gmail, to stay in contact with folks via email. Here are some helpful add-ons that can streamline communications:



  • Ultradox - Karen Harris shares the following: "I am using Ultradox to automatically email Certificates of Completion. I am using a Google Form to generate a personalized email message with a PDF of the Certificate attached.  This add-on can do more, but this is a very nice start."
  • Yet Another Mail Merge - This is a simple add-on that empowers you to use GoogleSheets and Gmail to send out information. From their web site: "This mail merge script will let you select a draft written in Gmail, replace template keys with names and other information from the spreadsheet and automatically send the email. Also, users can configure the add-on to notify one or more email addresses whenever a form is submitted. Another option will send an email to an address submitted by the form."
Another neat tool is one that allows for students to submit content via a GoogleForm, allowing you to respond and then have your response sent back to students through the magic of Flubaroo, as explained in their blog (#3)
When emailing grades, you can optionally send each student individualized feedback. The message will be delivered to the student in the email with their grades, along with any message you may have also supplied for the entire class
This can be used to heighten teacher-student reciprocal dialogue. If you are using rubrics (and you should be), consider these suggestions on how to use Google Sheets for Automated Feedback Using Rubrics:


A common concern is that anyone can submit an online form, unless you've specifically shared it with students. Another approach is this one via GLearning Blog, Using Google Forms with Secure Verification Numbers:
One quick solution for making a Google Form more secure is to create a dropdown list with your students names, as you can spot duplicates immediately. This works fairly well if you use the form only with one class and if the poll doesn't have to be anonymous, like in the case of student - teacher feedback. Imagine, however, 500 students voting for their representative in school. In such a case a nice and easy solution would be to use verification numbers (or TAN/transaction numbers). Each students gets assigned (preferably emailed) a number which can be used to submit a form only once.
Find out more at that blog.

Tip #4 - Set up forums that address the “social dimension” of introducing people and getting to know each other, as well as forums for dealing with technical aspects. If someone hasn’t logged in, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call them or send an email a day until they respond. In one instance, technical issues at the District level interfered with the class, resulting in this question from a participant in the Technical Support Forum:
Question from Learner #1: I just received and email saying that our district server was going to be down Friday through Saturday. Does this affect our internet course? Also I wanted to follow up on the blog request form. Is there still a problem with the setting up of our blogs? I submitted the request and still haven't heard anything. I'm just concerned about completing the assigments on time. I know that something was mentioned about an extension, but I wanted to know if that still applied and also how much longer we had. Thank you
Response from Learner #2: Yes, will we be allowed extra time to complete our assignments? With the blog site down and then the entire network down it will be hard to complete assignments on time.
The power of Support Forums is that when your online learners start to come together as a community of learners, they start to help each other out and respond. As facilitator, I did not get a chance to respond quickly enough but another participant stepped up...and stepping up to help others learn fundamentally changes--in a positive way--the teaching and learning dynamic.

Even if you're not using a traditional LMS, you can quickly facilitate online conversations--and presentations, like this one about MOOCs, using tools like WizIQ--using social media, from Google+ Communities which can be open or closed. Nellie Deutsch does just that for Moodle session participants:



Check it out online at https://plus.google.com/communities/113606017575012750254
In all honesty, I prefer the "bounded" nature of Google+ Community--readily available to school districts using GoogleApps for Education--to the openness of Twitter chats managed via hashtags, subject to easy hijacking by vendors or Internet trolls.

Tip #5 - Remember to scaffold and support learning conversations rather than dominate them. Part of your scaffolding and support is providing regular feedback and interacting with participants online. This is especially important up front since your level of activity serves as a model for the level of interaction students will exhibit when you are present but not as active.

This initial high interactivity sloping down to omni-presence enables participants to learn to rely on each other for answers, rather than you. Consider this exchange between participants in their first attempts to create a podcast using a free online service that, unfortunately, was blocked within the District (unblocked later):

Learner #1: After trying repeatedly at school to create a podcast without success I was very determined to accomplish this task. Finally, at home I had success.I find it very rewarding to achieve this. It was actually very simple once I was blocked by school servers. The possibilities are endless for this. I can envision student comments as they work on a project or go on a field trip as Ms Farias suggested. If I was undertaking a project on butterflies I would have my students comment on each life stage we observe. Once it was uploaded onto a blog it would be there for review. Pictures could be added to go with the dialogue. 
Learner #2: Great to hear of your success - I listened to your podcast and was inspired to give it a try - I too was successful and you're correct - despite the multi-steps, not too difficult. 
Learner #3: I like your idea about the butterfly, Jenny! As you already know since we work at the same school next year our campus will incorporate a gallery walk. The purpose of the gallery walk is to showcase student learning. Podcasting would be a great way to showcase a theme while incorporating technology. The students would showcase their expertise on the life cycles of the butterfly. Maybe each student could comment on a different stage of the butterfly and so forth. You could also discuss habitat and food. Great ideas, Thanks

Tip #6 - Don’t be afraid to pull in guest speakers. It has gotten very easy to include people using a variety of technologies like Google Hangouts, Skype, Adobe Connect, and many others. While you can rely on Speakers like these, if you know someone's Twitter address, you can definitely invite them to share 5-10 minutes of their time illustrating a point. I'm grateful for some of the work speakers did in elaborating on Writing and Technology. Diana Benner and I contacted these folks online and they were kind enough to do 20-30 minute presentations sharing their wisdom. These "talks" remain archived and can be re-used from time to time as part of courses, such as in the Writing Digitally series:
Of course, it's even more exciting to pull in folks in your own organization (e.g. school district, university) who have wisdom to share that reflects the context and culture of your school.

Tip #7 - Avoid long discussion posts, as well as posts that feature a lot of questions. Focus discussions around ONE central question that resembles an ill-structured problem. For example, consider how many questions are introduced in this discussion prompt. Each question achieves equal status for the participant; how could one question or scenario help participants focus?

Discuss the solutions to the following questions:

  1. A teacher entered a “T” for tardy in the gradebook for the wrong student How can this be corrected?
  2. Who marks attendance when the teacher is absent and there is a substitute in the classroom?
  3. What happens when a student is withdrawn from Teacher A and moved to Teacher B? Why does their name no longer show on the attendance report?
  4. Can teachers change/edit attendance in the electronic gradebook once it is entered?
  5. What are the steps for running an Attendance Totals Report?

A possible alternative way to introduce these topics for discussion:

"Ms. Jones," began Teri the new assistant principal in conversation with the principal, "Mr. Cervantez was absent from work yesterday and the substitute teacher marked attendance wrong in the electronic gradebook. What we think happened is that the substitute marked Ramon Johnson tardy, but it was really Ramon Jimenez that was absent. Ramon Johnson actually transferred from Mr. Cervantez' class to Ms. Derrick's class. What should I tell Mr. Cervantez about changing his gradebook? And, is there any way we can run a report on attendance totals to see what other issues there may be?"
While this is one attempt to weave in various questions and issues into a real life scenario, it's critical to engage course participants with ill-structured problems. Ill-structured problems can be an effective way of engaging students with experiences that scaffold higher order thinking. Such problems need to achieve curriculum objectives, be engaging but not frustrating, and be developmentally appropriate for the learner.

Tip #8 - Encourage people to discover each other’s strengths and what they each have to bring to the table. One of the most rewarding aspects of online learning conversations is that people discover each other--and themselves--online. Some of the feedback that can result includes the following:

I have found that this course has made sharing information with my students and their families. Online professional learning/development for work-related purposes is a great experience. It allows for you to learn at your own pace and still offers support for those who need support. I enjoy trying to solve each task set forth independently and only seek assistance when needed...I got many ideas and helpful suggestions from the other participants.
Online courses make it easy to obtain professional development in different areas of need...This online learning experience kept my interest and provided me with learning that I know will benefit me as an educator and, thus, will positively impact student learning. I especially enjoyed being able to login at my convenience and from multiple portals (home and work). The content was challenging and interesting and I found that the activities/projects were relevant and, thus, met my needs as an adult learner.
Finally, as online learners discover the benefits of learning online for themselves--especially when they work with other people--that positive reaction will encompass your online professional learning program. I encourage you to employ these 8 tips for successful online course facilitation. Be sure to share back other tips you learn along the way!



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Job Posting: Multiple Tech Positions in Texas

Interested in a job in education technology in Texas? Then, you might want to check out these two technically oriented positions:

Director of Network Services in Deer Park ISD - Deer Park ISD has an opening in the Technology Department for a Director of Network Systems. The job description is attached. More information is available at https://hrserv.dpisd.org/jobs/Jobpost.exe Please direct questions to Kari Murphy, Chief Technology Officer at kmurphy@dpisd.org.
Systems Interface Specialist in East Central ISD - If spreadsheets, datatabases, comma-delimited (CSV) and SQL queries are your thing, as well as interacting with others, then this position is perfect for you! You can find out more about this position online at www.ecisd.net.
Please share this information with potential candidates, including youngsters graduating from college or who have the requisite technical skills!




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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tech Incorporated: 5 Transformations for Classrooms

As many of us know, technology has always involved a close relationship between educators and vendor partners. That relationship has evolved over time, from simple software apps and programs to complex learning management systems "connected" to our school's student information systems. This blog entry explores 5 Transformations for Classrooms. I'm grateful to Misti Smith for the inspiration.

Image Source: http://goo.gl/dse7Ca

As Misti Smith points out in her blog entry, blending technology into classroom instruction today often involves:
Them: I want to try and incorporate more technology into my classroom
Me: What ideas do you have?
Them: Well I saw someone use a tool called [insert any “new” web 2.0 tool here] and I think I want them to have to use that for an assignment.
Me: What is the assignment?
Them: [Insert any regular boring activity] 
This is not in any way shape or form an example of incorporating technology into the classroom, but in my old position, faculty were the end all be all of what happens in the classroom and I was just there to teach them how to use whatever tool it is that they wanted to use.
How do we get past this superficial use? Misti goes onto make some specific recommendations worth reflecting on:

  1. Note-Taking: Use Evernote on iPad and other devices.
  2. Group Work: Take advantage of flipped classroom to maximize classroom collaboration and sharing using iPads, AppleTV and HDMI-enabled television.
  3. Learning Management System: Use a commercial LMS to facilitate assignment sharing and collection as well as virtual discussions.
  4. Engagement: Use technology to engage students through polling, class hashtag in social media (e.g. Twitter)

Misti has a great start on a few simple, straightforward approaches to using technology in the classrooms she is collaborating with. Do you think her efforts will yield the kinds of changes to pedagogy that she is seeking? How do we move from adapting existing learning activities to replacing learning activities?

When I envision changing what is happening in the classroom, I confess that some of the transformations I'd like to see include the following:

  1. Problem-based Learning, or at worst, Project-based Learning: For me, choosing one of these approaches involves rethinking how you approach teaching and learning in the classroom. As a result, far better than any other instructional approach I've seen, PBL engages students not with technology but powerful ideas and learning possibilities that technology usage can only accelerate. Read More about PBL | Visit Professional Learning Site
  2. Collaboration: The hallmark of today's technology-embedded classrooms must be increased communication opportunities, as well as collaboration. In my article on 3 Steps to Leverage Technology for Dual Language, any reader can perceive that these uses transcend technology and enable powerful, interactive activities that can be done at a distance. You're no longer collecting digital stories for classroom consumption, but creating a multimedia anthology of digital stories to be read, viewed, listened to across the wide global spectrum.
  3. Lifelong Electronic Portfolios: As consumers, most of our lives are captured through what we buy and sell. As learners, most of our work disappears at the closing of a grading period, if not sooner. Creating lifelong ePortfolios will enable students, parents, and teachers greater insight into what we learn, how we learn and what impact that has on us as human beings.
    Find out more: ePortfolios | Picture Portfolios
  4. Empower the Previously Impossible or Hopelessly Difficult: Technology should allow us to learn in ways previously impossible. If it doesn't, then we have to overcome the "So what?" factor. For me, this means that Substitution/Augmentation activities benefits are so terrific that it's a "Wow!" moment that leads to Modification, or that the fundamental learning activity has been redefined. Consider technologies like an iPad and Moticonnect, which fellow blogger Richard Byrne highlights through a guest post by Maggie Keeler and EdTechTeacher...I don't know about you, but MotiConnect is pretty incredible augmentation of what may have been done in the past. Communication and Collaboration fall into this, too. Gathering and analyzing data via GoogleSheets with students groups across the Nation is pretty incredible.
  5. Amplify Student Voices: Powerful learning can come when we hear our own voice in the world. Students are, to be obvious, human beings, too. Affirming their ability to impact social justice issues in their community--which goes well with PBL--as well as connect via social media to highlight their burgeoning efforts can help them develop their Voice. "Voice" because crafting a digital presence means recognizing that when we possess and use digital devices, we are on a world stage which can transform our lives in an instant for good or ill.

If we commit to these 5 transformations in our classrooms, we will have achieved the often-unrealized promise of technology in our children's lives. . .and, they will have learned much of what we hoped they would.

What transformations would you include in this list to achieve the future you would want for your own child(ren)?



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CTOs Role: 5 Tips +1 to Grow On--If You Survive #sony #hacked CTO

At the risk of incurring the ire of the hackers and vandals who took down Sony, allegedly over Rogen and Franco's The Interview, I want to say plainly--my family and I want to see this movie and I'm willing to stand in line at the movie theater to pay for it, +Regal Cinemas and +Santikos Theatres . Though I seldom find Rogen's humor funny, the movie preview piqued my curiosity and tickled my funny bone.


Aside: As an American, I am astonished that any business would cave into the demands of cyber-attackers' demands. Although Sony has made its mis-steps in privacy over the years, America should rally around Sony and proudly display The Interview everywhere simply for what it is--an act of comedy in a free society, free to succeed or fail. Rather than cheering from the sidelines or watching the censorship spectacle, let's demand this movie air in every theatre in the U.S. to send the message--Comedy, no matter how silly, is an expression of a free people. 
Regrettably, the backdrop for Sony's hack highlights a critical error that Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and the organizations they serve can make--to exchange network security/integrity for political expediency and short-term financial benefits.
Sony failed to secure its computer systems, servers, and databases(“Network”), despite weaknesses that it has know about for years because Sony made a ‘business decision to accept the risk',” the suit claimed...some of the emails released by the attackers show that the company's top lawyer as well as its IT department viewed its security setup as vulnerable to attack but the company didn't take steps to plug worrisome holes. 
Source: Former Employees Sue Sony via SC Magazine

This is a wake-up call to all those people in suits--listen to your network engineers and internet security folks when they say to you, "We have some big holes in our network. We need to close them up."

In K-12 public schools, based on my observations, some common problems that arise include:

  1. A failure to create and verify that backups for critical data exist. Disaster recovery is but a part of this problem.
  2. Data encryption is the BIG hole in the work educators are involved in. . .
    1. How many unencrypted files are on USB flash drives, stored in the cloud (e.g. Dropbox, Drive)? 
    2. How many unencrypted files are sent via "postcard" email, their only safeguard that no one is looking?
    3. How many of your staff are saving their passwords for critical operations unencrypted in text files or in a GoogleDoc?
  3. Unnecessary "holes" in the firewall that allow incoming, inappropriate intrusions.
  4. Failure to maintain anti-virus/malware software or to invest in quality solutions.
  5. Failure to conduct periodic security audits--get someone outside the organization to do it--ensure nothing "creepy" has cyber-crawled into your environment.
  6. And, finally, have a plan ready to go in case of a breach or hack.

What would you add?



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Power of Reflection and Tech: 3 Questions @drvcourt @misti227

Source: Wikipedia
David Vaillancourt shares this perspective in his blog, tech-know, article, Why are you doing it?
Teaching becomes more focused and effective when we encourage students to be meta-cognitive and reflective about what they have achieved in relation to their intended goals. We should explicitly explain to students, "we're doing this because... and we're learning this because...", otherwise any intended sense of relevance is lost. 
At the end of his blog post, he suggests a few questions to capture the idea of reflection:
  • What are [you] doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What does this help you do that's important?
As much as I like these questions as a way to foster reflection, one question that I would add is a question that makes connections between life and the task at hand. I often see this in regards to blogging. How does what I'm reading mean something in the context of my professional life?

When I reflect on Misti Smith's discussion of incorporating technology into classroom, I see us asking different questions:
  1. How is technology enabling what you are doing?
  2. How has technology helped you gain a deeper understanding of why you are doing this?
  3. How can technology make doing what's important a collaborative venture rather than a solitary one?





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Friday, December 12, 2014

3 Steps to Leverage Technology for Language Learners


Image Source: http://goo.gl/yE4tUD

Technology can change the way students communicate in the classroom. It can create new patterns of discourse. 

Looking for some ways to leverage technology to enhance dual language instruction? While the first impulse may be to buy content that has technology components, often materials aren't readily available for purchase. District and campus staff can leverage technology to enhance dual language instruction by using it to create content, facilitate communication between classes, and, then, facilitate sharing.

Some ways to leverage technology include the following:
  1. Students and teachers can use digital devices as tools for authentic communication and for accomplishing intellectually challenging, nonremedial tasks in the context of culturally appropriate whole activities. 
  2. Students can use technology to produce theme-centered, multimedia slide shows, electronic hypermedia books, and publish their poetry and written pieces. 
  3. Students can use technology to graph real life data and explore--with audio recordings--the relationships between data and their graphical representations.
  4. Students begin to learn the words for the graphics they wish to incorporate in their slide show, as well as the processes of modifying, saving and retrieving their work. Students learn to interweave audio narration using the microphone on their digital device, with some experimenting in the target language by reading or translating their work


Here are 3 easy steps you can follow in any classroom, but especially, a language learning class:

Step 1 - Create Content:
The tools for creating content have never been easier to use. Consider the following:
  • Narrated Audio Slideshows  - (read more)
  • Create eBooks - Students can create ebooks that incorporate audio, video, and text. (read more)
    • On iPad/Android tablets, use Book Creator app ($4.99)
    • On Chromebook and/or laptops/desktop computers, create ebook with GoogleDocs and/or LibreOffice, respectively.
  • Digital Storytelling - Students can approach storytelling from two perspectives - oral composition or written composition. Remember digital storytelling approach can be used for any content area, not just text. And students reading peers' context while listening to audio is powerful and supported in the research.
    • Oral Storytelling - Focus is on audio recording. Take pictures and then add audio narration. Or, simply record audio of a child's story, then have them prepare text to match it.
    • Written Composition Approach - Students write a script, match pictures to main events in the script, then narrate it, combining all the components into a narrated slideshow.
Step 2 - Publish Content
If your district doesn't have an its own online space where staff and students can publish video, audio and images, you can take advantage of GoogleApps for Education with its unlimited storage to house content and/or YouTube. There really isn't any reason why you can't share content with a global audience!


Step 3 - Share, Share, Share
Once content is shared online, consider creating a district clearinghouse for awesome content in a GoogleSite (web site). This can be organized by grade level, reading level, etc.

Conclusion
The main benefit of these 3 steps is that it removes the some of the pressure of finding dual language materials, and instead helps students and staff create content that is relevant, appropriate, and engaging, while building on students' key learning experiences. 


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When You Fall Out of "the Box"

What's it take for you to think "out of the box?" For me, it's the juxtaposition of two ideas (or activities) that force me to compare something I hadn't previously considered. It happened to me yesterday and I keep having that "V8 moment" when you slap your hand to your forehead and say, Why didn't I think of this sooner? 
Image Source: http://goo.gl/vEa5Oy
While I often think of screencasting to showcase how to use technology in instructional settings, I found myself stepping over the imaginary boundaries of screencast usage yesterday. I know, it wasn't that big of a step but mentally, it was. That bothered me because I should have thought of how to use screencasting to showcase for Transportation staff how to accomplish a simple thing--using GreenShot snapshot program on Windows to capture a screen then print it.

Here's my write-up on the situation, which featured two people involved. I suppose what was pretty "duh!" for me was, "Why didn't I think of using Screencastify to do this for non-instructional staff earlier?"

With that in mind, a new question I'm asking myself is, "How can you use screencasting in situations other than what you've typically used it for?"

And, in fact, how can I use technology in my role as a tech director in ways I haven't imagined before? For me, that's "out of the box" thinking.


  1. Find two disparate ideas or ways of doing cognitively different tasks and then put them next to each other. What does one way of doing things teach you about accomplishing the other?
  2. While working on one task, switch to another. Is there a way you can do the new, unrelated task similar to the way you did the first?
  3. Be open to possibilities via your professional learning network (PLN). How are they doing things that you can push yourself to try?



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Disclaimer

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure