Archive for the ‘Instructional Technology’ Category

Webinars on Location

April 7, 2018

pro-webcam-ultra-wide-angleThis school year we’ve started a monthly webinar series called “Schoology Stars” that features power users and creators on our Learning Management System(LMS).  Usually I co-host the webinars from my central office building.  But we decided to change things up and assemble a panel of teachers and bring the webinar to them.  It meant packing up some equipment and being creative with the setup but it was worth it.  We had the highest attendance of the webinar series so far and the energy of a professional panel certainly helped.

For my fellow techies I’ll give you the details of the setup, including some make/model info on the equipment I used.  The library that you see in this panel photo Schoology Stars Panel at South

was not the first choice for a location.  The first choice that was suggested for us to use was a computer lab in the basement that had inferior lighting (for a camera) and a noisy ventilation system.  The library, in contrast, turned out to be perfect for lighting, sound, and a very appropriate background/backdrop for teachers.  In the photo above you’ll also see my webcam (Logitech HD C920) attached to a library cart with a gorillapod and some duct tape to keep the camera angle constant.  On the table are 4 Shure microphones on table top stands.  These were connected to my Alesis Multimix 8 usb mixer-seen below:IMG_0360

The mixer connected to my Mac and then the Zoom webinar software we used.

Now one of the problems we had to solve for was how these five teachers and panel host were going to share the screen views of their online courses in Schoology.  The solution was for our panel host to use her computer, have each teacher’s course open in a browser tab and then project it on a screen facing them so they could see what we were sharing to the virtual audience.  This is what is looked like from the panel perspective:IMG_0366

Also in the right side of this photo are other staff members who came with me to help with setup, monitor the broadcast and during the webinar check the chat and pass messages and audience questions to the panel host.

BTW, you might wonder where the students were.  Well, this was a professional day for teachers (known at DPS at Teal Days) and so the date was perfect for teachers to attend in person and online.

How about you?  Ever hosted a webinar like this?  Any tips to share?

Top 5 Takeaways from the iLearn Conference

March 5, 2018

iLearn icon

As is my habit, anytime I attend a conference I share out my top takeaways/learnings. The iLearn Collaborative Conference was held in Denver last month. Here are my top five takeaways, based on my experience and interests.

1. Authentic Video
I often recommend that teachers/facilitators create and post personal “selfie” videos to introduce modules in their online courses.  Jessica Glynn from Denver Online High School took this concept and modeled three crucial elements in her video.  First, she was authentic.  Her video was direct and unedited.  The minor flaws gave it an authentic feel-not rehearsed or perfect.  Secondly the video gave the students the impression that she was “present” in the moment and in the course.  Videos like these are essential in maintaining instructor presence throughout an online course.  Thirdly, in something that surprised me, she not only modeled self-reflection but also lifelong learning as she shared a discovery she had learned in a PD session she attended.  With Jessica’s permission, you too can see the video example here.

2. Close Reading Tools
Jessica Glynn also shared her online approach to close readings-a protocol that is very popular with my literacy friends. Students are given three choices on how to participate: Join teacher-led small group in person, join teacher-led small group via Zoom,or read independently and use the tool Nowcomment. This was the first time I had seen NowComment.  It looks like a fantastic tool to facilitate discussion around a text.  I know this is something you could do in Google Docs, but NowComment has additional features such as giving you a quick count of the comments.

3.  The Science of Online Learning
When I saw, in advance, the presentation deck from Erika Twani and Bryan Goodwin I quickly changed my schedule and headed to their room.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The core of their message is this four step process:
1.     Interest -What do I know, What do I want to know?
2.    Research -Searching for and processing information
3.    Develop Skills -Exercises, Problem solving, Creativity
4.    Relating -How can I apply this to my life
I had some time to work with Joy Schnabel, an English teacher and I came up with this possible sequence for her students:
Have students choose a place to go on vacation.
Research the location.
Vet sources on the internet-what is valid info?
Create a brochure (or a video, audio, essay, letter) to convince their parents to take them there.
Using this sequence, students get a chance to create an alternative assessment and flex their online/multimedia skills.  It’s a win-win!

4.  Innovator Keynote
Catlin Tucker delivered the keynote on day two of the conference. Catlin has kids ditch traditional notebooks and instead document their learning with photos, videos, and writing online. She believes in creating an authentic audience for her students, connecting them with community member panels for large scale projects.  They ask the tough questions of the students.  When students know there is an actual audience, it is a powerful incentive. Her kids also go to TEDEdClubs and produce TED talks. This is a teacher who is not afraid to take risks, challenge and trust her students. She is definitely someone to follow. You can find her on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker

5.  Edcamp 2.0
Jeri Crispe, Chastity Stringer, and Dodi Schrader are from the Thompson School District. They were excited by attending an Edcamp (as I have been) and decided to roll out a localized version to their teachers. First they generated topics by surveying the teachers.
They produced a video to explain the Edcamp process. They listened and planned with educators with Edcamp experience.  Via email, flyers, and face-to-face interactions, they recruited presenters/facilitators. Finally, they designed an online session board and provided space and food. They call it 2.0 because it is their second iteration. They made sure there was a facilitator for each session, someone with a little bit of expertise.
And, in something that makes me very happy, they leverage Schoology for sharing the session materials.  I believe everyone who has Schoology should do this for conferences and professional development, even when it’s face-to-face.
Their new design for PD includes:
Outcomes determined by the learner
Teachers share expertise
Learn something new
Action-orientated
Apply the new learning
Evidence-based reflection to inform practice and next steps

Well, that’s my roundup of the iLearn Conference in Denver. I’ve made myself a promise to submit a proposal to present next year at this and several other conferences. I’ll let you know how that goes. I hop you get to attend some conferences and share your learning as well.

The Year of No Paper Starts

January 19, 2018

printer-37270_640I announced to my team about my plan to go for a year without using paper.  More specifically, not printing anything.  But wherever I can go without paper at all or use only hard recycled paper, I will do so.  My team members have surprised me with their enthusiasm and support.  On my birthday they wrapped a gift for me in recycled post-it notes.

gift pakcage wrapped in used paper

They also surprised me with this sign:

Dee w no paper sign

 

My next steps in the year of no paper include:

  • Blogging here with my progress, tips and observations.
  • Leveraging the No Paper Tribe that I’m forming at DPS and using the books Tribes and Switch for strategies.
  • Using high tech, low tech, and no tech solutions.

See you next time on this paperless wordpress!

Moving Away from Paper-Early Moves

December 15, 2017

367488-fujitsu-scansnap-ix500I started down the path away from using paper earlier this year when I took two file drawers-one at home and one at work-scanned all the important documents and filed them away on hard drives and Google drives.  Part of my motivation was to free up some space and the other was to make content searching more efficient.

A larger motivator happened in the middle of the year when I learned that the copiers/printers on my floor alone at work print 500,000 copies a month.  This made me think that my school district must be spending millions of dollars each year on printing.  So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could save money by printing less?

I read two books recently (Tribes by Seth Godin and Switch by the Heath Brothers) that are sparking my thinking on how to lead/create change in my organization.  The change I want to happen is to reduce the use of paper.  I will be posting here on my blog my strategies and progress toward this goal, and I will make the goal specific and attainable.

I’m looking at leveraging Google docs for handouts, interactive notes and personalization.  At my face-to-face workshops I’ve been using a Google doc with a basic outline for attendees to take notes as a group.  The doc also has resource links at the end which serve as handouts and future references.

This week I had a handout with fill-in boxes to give to my team.  Rather than print  out 12 copies I used the copy feature on Google docs.  I highly recommend this practice to everyone.  Here are the simple steps:

  1.  Create your Google Doc
  2.  Setup up sharing so anyone with the link can edit
  3.  Copy the link
  4.  The end of the link will look like this: J_M/edit?usp=sharing    CHANGE IT  to look   like this: J_M/copy
  5.  Share the new link with /copy at the end.  Users will be forced to make their own copy of the document!

I hope you get a chance to try out this copying method.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions as I set about to make institutional change around printing and the power of leveraging electronic documents.

Top Five Takeaways from Schoology Next 2017 Conference

August 17, 2017

Schoology Next BadgeAs most of you know, after I attend a conference I share my top takeaways.  I was very fortunate to attend the Schoology Next Conference in Chicago this summer.  Here are my top five discoveries:

1. Great tips on Gamification in PD

Jared Lopatin led a session with more tips than I could imagine.  Having us join the gaming in his course we first were divided into teams by responding to an Egg Sort Quiz in Schoology.  Based on our question response, we were placed on a team with a unique name.  Design tips from Jared include:

  • Using teams helps keep a social element that tempers individual competition
  • Use the word “challenge” instead of “assignment”
  • Go big with points, think 100’s for any activity, more points means more excitement
  • Create a video intro to each challenge
  • Use individual and team leaderboards
  • Don’t display who is on which team so that participant and to instruct with each other to find out
  • Award bonus points for activities like the discussion boards.
  • The weekly discussion boards became extremely active due to fun questions/challenges.

Given Jared’s advice, I may gamify one of my future courses.

2. How to prevent students from eluding the post first before reading other posts restriction.

A good control feature to elicit original posts on a discussion board is to set them so that students must post first before seeing the posts of fellow classmates.  I learned that students were eluding this by posting anything(even a single word), reading others, and then deleting their initial post.  To prevent students from doing this, set the discussion board so that students can’t edit/delete their posts, and let them know about this additional accountability setting, so that they’re not surprised by any consequences.

3. Using Schoology during F2F workshops

Throughout the conference we referenced a Schoology course that contained folders for every session.  This was a great way to find/share/save resources and save a lot of paper too! Folders contained slide presentations (Google Slides), links, videos and handouts.  In addition to just storage/reference, presenters also used the poll features to do live polling of the audience, and discussion boards for ideation, sharing, and questions that could be answered afterward in followups after the conference.  I’m still participating in some of the discussion boards weeks after the end of the conference!  I highly recommend everyone create a Schoology course for every face-to-face workshop you facilitate.  AT DPS we’re doing this for an upcoming professional development day where I’m giving a workshop.  I have a folder ready for all my material and activities.

4. Adult Learning Theory Applied in PD

Gina Harman and Rachel Gorton gave great examples of how they design blended courses.  They focus on the Why-telling what the benefits will be for teachers and their students.  They model adult learning principles by letting teacher choose their own path, including cohort collaboration and sustaining their course over nine months.  They’re fond of using simulations that put the learners at risk in situations.  Then they learn through feedback (automated in the simulation) and in the end receive digital badges and certificates to reward their achievement.  You should know that I’m a fan of digital badges/microcredentials.

5. Back Channel app  backchannelchat.com 

I’m a strong believer in the power of backchannel chats, and was so happy to find this app.  You can find it by going to your home page in Schoology and looking on the left for App Center.  Click on this and scroll down, find Backchannel app and add it to your courses. It will say “starting at $15” but educators can get a FREE account.  This app solves the problem of how and where to host real time chat and get backchannel discussions going.  What I really like about this app is not only does it fully integrate with Schoology, but it also has K-12 friendly features of teacher moderations, profanity filter, upvoting, teacher pinning, search and teacher locks.

Cool Quiz Feature in Google Forms

May 22, 2017

google forms iconRecently I had a request to create a check for understanding quiz at the end of a screencast.  Leveraging my updated Camtasia software with interactive hotspots, I was able to add a link to a Google form.  I chose Google forms to ease the access and share reporting with a group of people who would need to see the data.

This was my first time using the quiz features in Google forms and I found the process to be fairly straightforward and intuitive to setup. After opening a form and creating some questions.  Click on the gear icon (settings) to bring up this menu.  Choose Quizzes and toggle the swtich to “make this a quiz”

quiz settings screenshot

Full instructions are here.

Here are some tips from my experience:

  • Don’t forget, after creating your form/quiz to share it with the “send” button, rather than your editing link.
  • Always let users see if they were correct or not.
  • Add some language to the bottom of the form such as “After submitting, click on ‘view your accuracy/score’ to see how you performed.”
  • Even if tallying points isn’t crucial to your quiz, add points anyway to give people an idea of how well they performed and it adds a dimension of gamification.
  • Consider giving detailed feedback when someone answers incorrectly.

Are you using Google forms for quizzes/checks for understanding?  I’d love to hear your examples too.

It’s All Happening at the Library…

May 5, 2017

c811bd04107310c47788d5b937d7cc32Once upon a time, libraries contained books, microfiche, and maybe some film and LP records.  Today, libraries like the Denver Public Library are chock full of computers, but they also have some brand new 21st century resources we can all use.

Recently I visited the central branch of the Denver Public Library.  Of particular interest, to me, is their new digital media labs.  In one space, pictured below, is equipment to digitize analog music and video material.IMG_0026 In the next room is an audio recording facility.  IMG_0020These rooms can be reserved with a library card! For free! Also on this floor is another media lab with 3D printers and another audio recording booth.  If you’re a Denver resident and interested in learning more about these facilities and perhaps booking a room and/or a tutorial, you can find more info here at their website.  The room is called the Idea Lab.  I highly recommend you visit your local library and find out what new media resources may be available to you, for free.

Powerpoint Karaoke

February 13, 2017

microphone-closeup-by-paulRecently we held a Powerpoint Karaoke event at work to bookend our workshops on creating better presentations.  The purpose was to have fun but at the same time make clear the difference between great and awful slides.

So, what exactly is Powerpoint Karaoke?  It is an event where volunteer presenters come up to the front of the room and narrate slides that they’ve never seen before.  The slides change automatically and the presenter must improvise with every new slide.  The slides may or may not be related.  For the audience it’s usually a laugh-inducing event.  For the presenters, it can be a chance to show off their improv and presenting skills with welcome humor.

How did we do it and how can you do it?  Here is the way it worked:   First, we sent out a flyer advertising the event with a link to more info and a signup form.

powerpoint-karaoke-flyer

Since we only had one hour or less for the event I decided to have only 10 performer/presenter slots.  Each volunteer presenter would get 9 slides that would show for 20 seconds each.  The total running time of 3 minutes seemed reasonable for possible embarrassment or boredom.  I preselected slides with an intentional mix of good and bad examples.  This assortment added flavor and at the same time demonstrated the power of a well-designed slide.

Because I needed to control the breaks between presenters, I advanced the slides manually with a stopwatch app to measure the seconds.  You could do this with automation, but if so, then I would recommend a blank slide or two between presenters.

After the last presenter/improviser was done I brought out my iPad and opened a free app called Decibel 10th and we metered the applause for each presenter, going down the list and recording the number achieved.  The top applause winner chose one of the items I brought-a gift card, the book Slideology by Nancy Duarte, and a copy of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.  Second and third place winners chose from the remaining prizes.

This was so much fun that we are definitely doing it again in late Spring.  The next time we are also going to hold it in our public lunch space to draw a larger audience who might just stumble upon the event as well.  There is talk about doing this after-hours at a bar/restaurant to enable presenters full freedom in their speech.  I’ve seen this done at other places…just do a search on Youtube on Powerpoint Karaoke and you’ll see what I mean.

Finally, I want to note that this is also a great way to learn more about the talents of members of your team.  Let me know if you try it with your group.  I’d love to know how it went.

Getting to the (foam)Core

January 13, 2017

microphone-blue-lightSomeone was throwing out a very large piece of foamcore and, as I’m in K-12 budget world, I grabbed it for re-use.  The first purpose I used it for was as a light reflector for video and photography shoots.  Then a new need arose.  Our English Learning Acquisition (ELA) office asked me to make an audio recording of 4 narrators who would act out a screencast sequence.  I already had microphones and a usb audio mixer, but I knew that I needed some separation from each microphone during the live recording.  I grabbed the oversize piece of foamcore, cut it in half,  and made two slits in the center, just going halfway up the edge.foamcoreslits8x5

I then slid them together to form a +plus sign and set it on the table.  I placed microphones at each corner and proceeded with the recording of the narration track. foamcore-dividers-8x5

You can take a look/listen here to evaluate the results.

The only thing I would do in the future for this type of setup is to get an even larger piece of foamcore.  This one was originally 3′ x 4′  before I cut it into two pieces.  I might have even added some sound absorbing material to the sides.  But in any case, I’m ready for next time.

I hope this quick tip helps you if you ever need to make a low-budget audio recording of multiple voices.

Always innovating and problem-solving, Paul.

Always Have a Backup Plan

May 3, 2016

 

Leo Reynolds flcikr creative commonsLeo Reynolds Flickr CC

I’m on a committee planning a wonderful event called the Digital Educator and Personalized Learning Academy (DEPLA) to be held in June.  I volunteered to create a commercial to promote the event.

I was really excited to reach into my video production skills which were somewhat dormant.  With my coproducer Candy McGregor we developed an engaging storyboard and script.  My good camera and wireless mic were charged up and ready to go. An energetic coworker (Sarah Peterson) volunteered to act and we received permission to shoot on location at the coffee shop in the lobby of our building-which is run by older students who are learning job skills.

story arc

storyboardandscript

When we arrived to record during our lunch break, the coffee shop manager looked at our props (unusual coffee ingredients) and stated flatly that we couldn’t use them.  He said that they misrepresented what was served at the coffee shop and that people might become confused and start requesting these unusual ingredients.  (Producers Note: we deliberately chose these ingredients to bring in an unexpected element to the commercial-see Made to Stick.)

Rather than put up a fight with the manager or drop this engaging idea, I quickly shifted to plan b-the ever awaiting backup plan ingrained into my life.   We headed upstairs to a staff kitchen and quickly rewrote the script and storyboard.  Gone was the dialogue with the barista, now replaced with a monologue. A new establishing shot/sequence was created and newly found props were incorporated.  Here is the finished product:

Lessons learned:  Always have a backup plan. Always be ready for improvisation.  Work with folks who are willing to collaborate and improvise with you.

In creating a second commercial this week, we decided to build from the original video.  We used the ingredients metaphorically as Sarah read the new lines in a voiceover.  To add to the continuity (Nita would be proud of me) I shot still phoots of all the ingredients in their originally viewed bowls and re-used the tag appeal by another volunteer- Dale Downing who has an awesome announcer voice.  Here is commercial #2:

By the way, for video persons out there who might want to know, the first commerical was edited with Adobe Premiere and the second one with Camtasia.

Do you have questions or comments?  Please add to this blog or contact me directly.  THANKS!