Class 12: Google Hackathon

In today’s class we will explore the ever-changing world of Google apps for education. I’ve created a Google site with a section devoted to Google tools – docs, forms, MyMaps, slides, sites and more. After spending some time exploring the resources, students will have the chance to create an activity using a Google app.

  1. Use a Google tool to design an activity. Create a blog post that explains the intent of the activity and includes an embedded version of the Google tool.
  2. Prepare for using iBooks Author to showcase your critical thinking lesson. Check this page for getting your content ready for using iBooks Author

Image credit: Google photos icon link

Class 10: Teaching with Data Visualizations

Quite often edtech tools are used by the teacher rather than the students and don’t do much more than make things prettier.

Think: Teacher at Smartboard as replacement for the overhead.

New digital technologies allows us to “see” information in new ways.

Think: Students analyzing text using Wordle

Many apps and websites can be a great tool to introduce the research method – form a hypothesis, gather and analyze data, revise hypothesis (as needed), draw conclusions, assess research methods. Working in teams students can easily pose research questions, run the data, revise and assess their research strategy. Students can quickly make and test predictions. They can then present and defend their conclusions to other classroom groups. All skills called for by the new Common Core standards.

In today’s class we will explore a sampling of free online data visualization tools that can be used in the classroom. Students will be asked to incorporate one of these tools into a lesson design.

GapMinder World: manipulate moving bubble graphs, select x and y axis from a variety of data sets

 NGram Viewer: online research tool that allows you to quickly analyze the frequency of names, words and phrases -and when they appeared in the Google digitized books. Ideas for classroom use Books Ngram Viewer.  For more advanced searches using NGram Viewer click here.

Chronicling America has digitized newspapers from across America from 1836-1922. You can search word frequency here.   Search Chronicling America and visualize the results across space and time at USNewsMap project

Bookworm: a collection of simple and powerful way to visualize trends in repositories of digitized texts.

  • Movies: dialogues of movie and TV shows
  • ArXiV: science publications
  • US Congress: bills, amendments, and resolutions (by political party)

Timelapse: is a global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years.

Metrocosm: All the World’s Immigration Visualized in 1 Map

Combine multiple online tools for research: For example, Black History in America:
Map of White Supremacy mob violence here
Mapping the “Negro Travelers’ Green Book” here


Choose one or more of these digital tools (or use a favorite our yours) and blog about how you would use it in an activity, lesson or unit. A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Be sure you design a lesson that allows your students to be using the tool
  2. Be sure to include an embed of the tool (if possible) or at least a screen shot.
  3. Blog post due: 3/30

Image credits:
Header: AdobeSpark public domain
Insert: Teaching with a SMART Board / Flickr

Class 8: Flip content means more time for student interaction


From Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?

“A few months ago, I noticed an increased amount of discussion around the notion of blended learning. Many of these conversations started on a similar note: “We’re blended—all of our teachers use Google Classroom.” However, in probing further, I often discovered that these tools had merely digitized existing content and classroom procedures.

Instead of filling an inbox on the teacher’s desk with packets and worksheets, students now completed the exact same procedures online. Rather than write homework assignments on the board, teachers posted them to the students’ digital news feeds. While blended learning brings with it the promise of innovation, there is the peril that it will perpetuate and replicate existing practices with newer, more expensive tools.”

Flipped and blended learning can easily fall victim to edtech’s fascination with faster. Better. Shinier. Instead, we will utilize our new skills in digital content creation to design a lesson that utilizes additional class time to foster greater student interaction.

Class overview

Class will begin with a brainstorm session where we consider how we can use flipped and blended resources to enhance classroom interactions. After pitching some ideas to one another, students will get down to developing an outline of how they could design an activity, lesson or unit. Those designs will be incorporated into a blog post due 3/23.

Note: Some class time will also be devoted to updating our critical thinking design project and previewing iBooks Author which will be used for showcasing our lesson.


Next week (3/16) there’s no class because of  break. Students have two assignment due when we return. (3/23)

  1. Be prepared to give a 5 min demonstration of your critical thinking lesson.
  2. Complete your flipped / blended model lesson as a blog post.

See my sample lesson blog post here

Flipped / blended model lesson should include the following elements. See sample completed assignment here.

  1. Learning objective – content and or skills students will know or be able to do by end of the lesson
  2. Digital resource(s) you’ll use for flipped / blended elements. Note: it’s not necessary to develop them – you can describe it.
  3. Active learning strategies employed with freed up class time (follow this link for lots of ideas)
  4. How the digital resource integrates into other instructional elements of lesson – what’s the flow of the lesson?
  5. Benefit for student content mastery, collaboration or learning workflow – why is it worth it flip / blend some of the content.

Class 6: Screencasting Techniques

We will open our class with a student updates on their progress on our critical thinking design project and agree to some firm due dates. Then we will turn our attention to a new skill – screencasting.

Screencasting / Slidecasting

Edtech guru, Kathy Schrock defines screencasting as “the capture of the action on a computer screen while you are narrating. Screencasts can be made with many tools and are often used to create a tutorial or showcase student content mastery.” A related practice is slidecasting (creating a slideshow and then screencasting your narration of it as it plays on the screen). Kathy’s screencasting resources.

I make use of many edtech tools in my classes and workshops. Rather than teaching an edtech tool to everyone in a whole class setting, I think it is more efficient to make a short screencast and post it to my YouTube collection. That creates many flexible learning “tutorials” that I can use as part of flipped or blended lessons.

Here’s a few tips for screencasting:

  • I favor taking complex instructions and turning them into multiple shorter videos covering specific aspects of the task. Some students know one thing and not another. Why make them sit through a long how-to.
  • I use a plug in mic (just a standard iPhone earbud mic) rather than the microphone built into my Mac. (The built-in mic on my desktop sounds distant and echoes because of it’s placement in a corner of my office.) I check the volume level and mic position first to get sound level right and make sure I’m not “popping” when I say my “Ps.”
  • I first practice the skill a few times to find efficient ways to demonstrate and describe what I am doing.
  • If I will be entering much text as part of the task, I create a text document first so I can copy/paste text into the app I’m demonstrating ( I hate watching videos of people typing.)
  • I make sure any images, websites or other content I will use in the video are readily available.
  • I try and do the screencasts in one take. I don’t worry too much about flubbing words – hey, it’s only a screencast.

I typically use Quicktime Player, which is built into the Mac OS. It’s easy to use and quickly uploads to my YouTube account.  Here’s a screencast I made on how to use Quicktime Player to make a screencast. (very meta)


Screencasting with CaptureSpace

This week we’ll explore how to screencast / slidecast using the CaptureSpace tool that’s built into UP’s MediaSpace. It’s a robust app that opens up a few more options for capture and editing that using Quicktime Player.  It also provides a place – MediaSpace – where student’s can upload the finished product.

Note you might also want to check out video tutorials on Microphone setup and how to Edit Your Screencast Before Upload


Student’s will use class time to design and record a screencast (or slidecast)  using CaptureSpace. If they use Quicktime Player, they should plan to load it up to there YouTube account. It could be related to our critical thinking design project, an upcoming lesson they hope to use in their placement, or just some content or skills they would like to describe.

After creating and uploading the video to UP MediaSpace, students should write and upload a blog post that describes what they hoped to accomplish with the video and what they see as the challenges and opportunities of screencasting / slidecasting. They should use the MediaShare “Share” function to create an embed code so they can include to their screencast in the blog post.

Here’s a how-to video explaining how to do that (made with QuickTime)

 Image credit: Adobe Spark public domain media

Assignment: Find, Curate, Store

This assignment follows Class 2 – Jan 26: Digital literacy It will give us a chance to explore a few digital literacy skills – finding, curation,  storage and responsibly sharing non-copyright material.

To hone our digital literacy skills, we will explore effective search techniques with a focus on finding public domain or Creative Commons licensed content: including images, video, and audio. For more information on public domain searches visit our edtech methods toolkit / Digital Hygiene

We will incorporate some note taking tools to explore effective digital curation and storage.  I’ll suggest Microsoft OneNoteEvernote, or Google Keep. You may have another way to curate your collection.  This will allow us to also do a comparative analysis of these note taking tools.

Students should be sure to record the content (image, text, video) the URL, source institution or archive, and check to be sure it is public domain or creative commons licensed for use.

Here’s a sample image from Flickr showing where some of the information is located on a Flickr page.


Task 1: Now that you know how to find non- copyright images, students should find an image they like to illustrate their first post and update the post by adding a “Featured Image.” Here’s a video how to. 

Task 2: Many of the titles for the first post were rather “bland.” Consider updating title – It doesn’t need to be total clickbait – “I turned on the document camera and you won’t believe what happened next.” But perhaps a bit more descriptive?

Task 3: Working as individual (or in pairs) students should:

  1. Identify a topic to guide their source collection.
  2. Use a variety of search tools to locate at least ten public domain or Creative Commons sources related to that topic such as: text,  image, video or audio.
  3. Use one of the note taking tools (or other system) to collect the content – be sure to provide a hyperlink to the source institution or archive. The link should enable you to go back to the source material.

Task 4: Write a blog post that explores what you learned in this exercise. (Two person teams can cross post the same content.) You might consider reflecting on the task, search, note keep apps or the larger question of the need to teach digital literacy. If your selected note taking tool allows for public sharing, then include a link to your collection.

Featured image credit: 170/365: I can save myself… by Kit / Flickr

Assignment: First blog post

my first blog post
HOMEWORK for Jan 19

Task 1:  For your first blog post write a reflection on your use of edtech and where you hope to go with it. The post is due by midnight Sunday Jan 22. Read student responses here.

Students can access our YouTube Playlist for assistance with WordPress.

For specific prompts consider some of these (just some ideas starters, you don’t have to write about all of them):

  • What’s my current use of edtech tools in my placement?
  • How does the “tech landscape” of my current placement impact my use of edtech in the classroom?
  • How do the tech skills / demographics of my students impact my use of edtech in the classroom?
  • What are my personal uses of edtech tools to learn and network as an educator?
  • Where do I want to be in my use of edtech tools in 3 years?
  • What are you hoping for in this edtech pilot?

Task 2: Before our 1/26 class, comment on at least 3 student posts. It’s a conversation, not simply a “nice job.”