Final reflection

My initial statement regarding my aims for this course:

“Due to the fact that I work as an IT Coordinator and Tech Integrator, I’m perpetually saturated with the fusion of technology and education at all times. Much of this course content will be covering tools and methods I’m already using and have trained others to use, so the true learning will occur through developing relationships and engaging in conversations with those perhaps newer to technology.

 

The most vital benefit for my own experience and education will be in gaining further insight into how my fellow coworkers approach and utilize the content and tools covered. I welcome the chance to work with inspiring teachers across all age ranges and subject areas, to view technology through the lenses of their world, and to discover fresh perspectives from their experiences with technology.”

 

That initial post remains true. I was previously familiar with each tool and program we used in class, so in my case the majority of learning took place in terms of gaining insight into how other teachers approach the use of these technologies. Furthermore, it was beneficial to view how teachers from a variety of subject areas interact and collaborate using the aforementioned tools.

In my opinion this course is a brief introduction to a few tools for integrating technology in the classroom, but for teachers wishing to effectively apply these tools within their teaching, it’s necessary to do further investigation beyond the scope of this course and compare and contrast other options as well.

Some reflections are listed below:

Techniques such as the pecha kucha can be viewed as a wonderful way to provide students with the chance to keep their presentations concise and to the point, or conversely, it may feel rushed and difficult for some students to embrace – especially if English is not their native language. I would suggest that teachers wishing to utilize this technique also spend time discussing presentation design and effective visual communication.

Diigo is an excellent method for online bookmarking and taking snippets of webpage content. However there are other tools such as Delicious and Evernote that offer additional functionality and should be considered. (Evernote is great!)

Netvibes is an excellent RSS reader, but there are additional alternatives such as Google Reader, etc to check out. There are also a plethora of smartphone apps that will sync with tools like Google Reader so you can continue accessing content no matter where you are, or whether you’re working on a computer or a smartphone.

Podcasting is an interesting method of engaging students with audio and perhaps visual content, but requires adequate planning and training when using this in class. Often it’s best to encourage students to bring material to class before the project begins so that in class you can assemble and edit material with teacher feedback instead of simply spending valuable class time gathering content.

Wikis have been around for quite some time now. However with tools like multi-user blogs, Google Docs, etc, the lines begin to blur with which tool to choose. If the purpose is to allow students to contribute and edit in real-time, Google Docs often trumps a wiki. Likewise, a blog generally provides more structure and may be more aesthetically pleasing in terms of design and navigation than a wiki. A drawback to tools such as Wetpaint are the distracting ads that may be less appropriate for younger students. With flashing ads and a variety of links and text, a Wetpaint site may feel distracting and confusing for some students. A wiki has a very specific purpose and many newer web 2.0 tools have challenged the effectiveness of wikis, but at this point they still have a place in the technology integration toolkit. Within a few years that may change.

Ultimately, this course has provided a taste of what tools are available for teachers wishing to integrate technology into their teaching, but as with anything, we should strive to ensure technology integration is conducted to improve student learning and expand the possibilities for students to collaborate, contribute and grow as effective members and leaders of the 21st century in a world which is evolving faster than any other point in human history.

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Screencast for HS Student Portal

To make learning and communication as easy as possible for HS students, I and David Collett developed the “HS Student Portal“. It serves as a one-stop location for viewing their teachers’ websites, teachers’ calendars they subscribe to, their Google Docs, and important information from the HS Office, CAS, ATAC and ISSBA – all in one location.

Additionally, we built in the functionality to view the ISM Portal, library resources, and even Powerschool.

Simple, effective, fun.

Below you can view the screencast that I created for students and teachers.

Reflection on pecha kucha

It’s interesting to observe how we, as educators, present to students on a daily basis and yet become nervous when presenting in front of our peers. It’s important that we keep our perspectives grounded when asking students to present; it’s intimidating for them to present in front of their peers as well. This round of presentations served as a reminder to all of us.

The most difficult part, for me, was to strive to memorize the content while knowing I had to keep a 20 second pace per slide. When presenting at my own pace, I have no problem remembering the content, but when trying to cram the speech into 20 second compartments it proved challenging and I ended up reading much of it from my notes.

It was the first time I attempted to use Keynote for Mac despite it being a tool available to me for years. I decided to push myself to take this as a chance to learn it. I found it to be more flexible and creative than PowerPoint; I recommend any Mac user to take a look at it as an additional alternative for presenting information. It’s best to choose the right tool for the task, and to arm ourselves with as many options as possible for content creation, regardless of what platform it runs on.

All in all, I like the idea behind pecha kucha but find that the style may feel rushed for some users, especially those with different learning and speaking styles or for users presenting in a language other than their native tongue.

The power of the iPad in education

An interesting article about the power of the iPad in education:

iPads Make Better Readers, Writers

“In a research paper titled “Unlocking Literacy with iPad,” Ohio English teacher James Harmon found that state-compiled statistics indicate that those students with iPad access in the year leading up to the Ohio Graduation Test had a 6-percent greater chance of passing the test’s reading portion than those without, and an 8-percent greater chance of passing the writing portion.”

How not to suck

“One of the things I learned about in the formative stages of my career was public speaking. I learned by watching lots of presentations, and one thing I figured out early on is that most CFO-level speakers — particularly CEOs, particularly male CEOs—really suck as speakers. They’re boring; they’re long; they wander around. I saw speech after speech, and I discovered that if there’s anything worse than a speaker who sucks, it’s a speaker who sucks and you have no idea how much longer he or she is going to suck. That’s a horrible feeling.

 

To prevent you from getting that feeling, I’ve developed a Top 10 format. All of my speeches are in Top 10 format, because if you think I suck, I at least want you to be able to track my progress through the speech so that you know approximately know how much longer I’m going to suck.”

— Guy Kawasaki

 

Full post here.

Podcast for SUNY – “Mock car advertisement”

Our group decided to integrate video into our podcast, thereby creating a video podcast. We felt it would be more applicable to students to create a real-world example of what’s expected in the Grade 9 Integrated Science classes, as they will be creating a similar project. Below we will share the steps required to complete the project.

The process involved was as such:

  • Pre-planning discussion: deciding upon a topic and podcast that would be applicable to students and able to be used directly in class
  • Script development: laying out the audio script for when recording will occur
  • Storyboard: listing scenes that would be photographed, videos to be captured, and deciding upon the setting
  • Capture: photographed and video captured the car
  • Editing: decide upon which clips and photos would be used, editing photos within Adobe Lightroom, import final clips to iMovie for editing
  • Clip order: laying out the order of photos, video clips, and titles/transitions
  • Audio recording: record voiceovers
  • Audio editing
  • Clip adjustments: final tweaking and orientation of clips to match audio recordings
  • Text overlay: overlay text titles, introduction and credits
  • Final overview: final check for mistakes
  • Export: export final project
Total time for completion from start to finish: 3 hours with a breakdown as follows:
  • Planning / discussion: 30 min
  • Storyboarding: 30 min
  • Capture: 30 min
  • Editing: 1.5hrs