Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Alternatives to Paper when Brainstorming

July 5, 2018

light bulb signifying ideasA very popular use of easel pad paper and post-it notes are for brainstorming sessions with groups. My team and many others at my workplace use these materials for generating ideas and then sorting them. What they may not know is that that easel pad of paper costs approximately $40 and the post-it notes are $24 for a box. That’s some expensive brainstorming that happens simultaneously across the district and the cost is multiplied.  So…what are some non-paper alternatives to use for these exercises? Here are possible apps to use: Padlet, Google Doc templates, Google Slides, and Lucid Chart-a Google add on.

Padlet is a free cloud-based software that provides an online space that looks a bulletin board, a wall, or many custom backgrounds. After you open a Padlet page you give the link to others and they can add what really looks like post-it notes and then you can move them around to organize them. Some things I like about this software is that there is a mobile app and everything is user-friendly. Padlet is often used in K-12 classrooms so I know that adults can handle it easily.

Google apps provide multiple options to consider. Google docs has many templates such as for SWOT input. Take a look at a nice graphic one here.   You can also just insert a simple 4×4 table like this.  Alternatively I’ve used Google slides with users creating their own text boxes on a slide. Of course these text boxes can  be moved around, resized and reformatted. I’ve also used the comment feature to facilitate discussion around the ideas on a slide.

Finally, Google docs has an add-on called Lucidchart. I started with a P&ID basic design, took away the connectors and made the boxes look like post it notes. NOTE: for users to interact, fill in and move the idea boxes you have to share the design in Lucidchart. After it’s moved over to Google docs it can’t be edited. Editing has to take place in Lucidchart.

Here’s what my self-created chart looks like:

lucidchart screenshot

Hope these suggestions give you some ideas to move away from using paper.
Do you have alternatives for paper brainstorming that I haven’t included here? Let me know via comments!

Paperless Update

April 24, 2018

no-printerFour months into my year without printing things are going surprisingly well.  Members of my team produced a video (spoofing The Office) to encourage others to save paper/printing.  I compiled a comprehensive list of high tech, low tech, and no tech paperless solutions.  This Friday we’re making our first pitch to a curriculum team who will experience a dramatic presentation, with props like these IMG_3863 showing how much the District spends on making paper copies.  After sharing my paperless solutions, they’ll receive a gift basket (paid for with personal funds-no District money was used) from our Paperless Tribe.  IMG_3865

We’re asking that everyone cuts paper use/copying by just 1/3, not as drastic as my paperless path.

So…how is your year going?  Have you tried any paperless solutions?

Photography Workshop

March 23, 2018

61LjTYo2ECL._SL1200_Last week I led a photography workshop for my team at work.  The aim was to help them become familiar with our team-owned SLR camera and give them basics to capture better images-with the SLR, or any camera really.  The training document that I created is here.
Today I want to share with you some of the props, homemade accessories and teaching aids I assembled for the workshop in case you might want to incorporate them into yours.

First, here’s a teaching aid I created using two household sponges.  I thought it would be a good visualization of the grain you might expect at those ISO settings and to show the concept of how fast light would be absorbed, relating it to water absorption.

IMG_3670

I borrowed some coffee cups from the team kitchen so everyone could practice adjusting depth of field.

DSC_0038

Have a ladder nearby reminded me to tell them about trying out different angles-high and low and how that brings new perspective to photos.

IMG_3652

Having some props to play with also helps make the workshop fun.

IMG_3666

Finally, I’m not afraid to show how to create homemade photo accessories like this light reflector, made from cardboard and aluminum foil.

IMG_3664

Have you ever led a photography workshop?  What are your tips to add?

About Preferences

February 16, 2018

no-printerThis week in my no printing saga I’d like to talk briefly about printing preferences.  In the Heath brothers book “Switch” they emphasized shaping a path and building habits.  With this quick tip you can almost effortlessly be printing less.  If you use Chrome as your browser (and why wouldn’t you?) you can setup your print preference to save as a pdf rather than send it to a printer.  Here’s what the preference screen looks like:

save as pdf screenshot

By saving this as a preference, anytime that I’m in Chrome and especially using Google docs, all I have to do is hit Command P on my keyboard and then hit return and voila!  I’ve saved my doc as a pdf on my desktop.   This makes it an easy path-just a few keystrokes, and forms a habit to save rather than print.  And I think it goes without saying that it’s easier to search for a particular pdf file than a drawer full of paper or, even worse, a pile of paper.  Happy saving everyone!

Taking Off with RocketBook

February 2, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 11.17.39 AMI’ve really revved up my year without paper/printing with the purchase of a Rocketbook.  It is rapidly allowing me to leave paper behind. This quick promo video gives you the idea behind the innovation:

I’ve been using it for a month now and have found no downsides.  It has been scanning and erasing flawlessly and everyone seems interested in it when I use it in front of them. The book costs between 20 and 30 dollars, but the app is free.  I’ve set it up to send material to my work email, personal email, work Google folder and my team’s Slack channel.  By purchasing the larger format book, I can also scan paper documents in an instant.  I’ve scanned documents, notes and even objects!  This is a major game-changer for anyone wanted to save paper like me and my team.  We’re thinking about giving them out as gifts to teachers and leaders!  Here’s the process:

I set up my scan destinations.

destination assignment

I decide what I want to scan.

Handwritten erasable notes, scribed with a “Frixion” pen:

notes taken

A three-dimensional object:

3d object to scan

or even a document (not obscuring the destination choices at the bottom:

document to scan

I open the free app on my smartphone and take a photo.  It automatically goes to all the locations I’ve selected with checkmarks:

destinations selected

Voila!  It’s arrived at its destinations!

So,  what do you think?  Any questions?  Are you using a Rocketbook?

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.

Online Course Design

December 1, 2017

Theo_van_Doesburg_Composition_VII_(the_three_graces)As the resident online learning expert of my team I’ve been asked to create an intake form/document with essential questions to ask clients when they approach us to design an online course.  Looking through my books and internet resources I did not find any comprehensive form or guide to fit our needs. So I went about creating one on my own and then receiving additional input from two of my teammates.  The resulting document is here for you to use and adapt for your own needs.

You’ll notice that the information we seek is both nominative and design related.  We separated them in to categories so that clients could see the overall logic of our questions.  There are also practical questions relating to ownership, timeline(s) and roles/responsibilities.

One important thing we learned in the process of working with a recent client is to give them this document to peruse ahead of time, otherwise it is overwhelming to answer all of them in an intake interview.  We also let the client know that we didn’t need answers to everything right away since it is a process and development of a course takes time.

I’m sure this document will change with practice over time and if you’re involved with online course design I welcome your comments on it.

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.

Gifs in a Jiffy

June 9, 2017

gif-iconTo support an upcoming streaming event I needed to create a gif. (Let’s not digress into a debate on how to pronounce gif.)  Denver Public Schools has a commitment box that is made available at all large culture-building events.  Since this upcoming event will be solely online I came up with an idea to make a virtual commitment box to interact with.

First, I needed to create a gif showing someone dropping a commitment card into the box.  I searched for gif creators that could do the job for free and with the least amount of hassle.  I tried giphy.com, Imgflip and gifmaker.me  with the latter winning out for ease of use.  I shot a four photo sequence of my coworker, Anna, dropping a commitment card into the box.  When I uploaded the images to gifmaker.me the interface was intuitive and simple.   Although all I had to do was upload and reorder the images, there were multiple choices available to me: resizing, animation speed, repeats, and even the option to add music. In about a minute total working time, I had my gif downloaded.

My next task was to create the Google form and add it to the top.  Google forms is becoming more and more open to customization.  I chose a blank form, changed the color to match the card Anna holds in the animation and then uploaded the gif to the description area of the form.  You can take a look at the finished product here:

I think this is going to work out pretty well for the event.  What do you think?  What is your favorite gif maker?