Summer 2015

I have vowed over and over again to be a blogger, a good blogger, an interesting blogger, a consistent blogger.  I am not. I sit here at my laptop feeling guilty because I do not post often.  I will try.

Since my ED 620 class is required to post, I will post too.  I suspect nobody will read it, but that’s not the point.  I try to model reflective learning, yet I tend to consistently avoid it personally.

In order to start this re-blogging mentality, I wanted to start off my sharing my “pain.”  I have 2 online graduate classes that I am currently teaching as of yesterday.  Each class is exciting, interesting, and great fun to teach.  But one is a new class and is taking much of my time related to planning and designing.  I am always uncomfortable with new courses and I always suspect that I will not be able to create a valuable learning experience for students.  I think I’m usually wrong, but there is a lot of stress that I place upon myself.

The other “pain” I am feeling is that me and my family are at a beach house this week  I probably shouldn’t share this, in case a student does actually read my post.  But in reality, I guess it doesn’t matter.  I don’t think it was a good idea to plan a vacation and the first week of classes on the same week, but I think we’ll all survive.  I have great Internet access, all the time in the world to devote to class, and no other commitments.

I hope I can live up to my and my students’ expectations!

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A New Semester Begins…

After a hiatus from blogging with WordPress, I’m back.  I’ve tried several other blogging platforms on several occasions, but I always come back to WordPress.  I find myself always missing the ability to customize posts in the WordPress way.  So, after six or seven months of trying other platforms, I’m ready to stay with old faithful.

As I write this, my mind is focused on the upcoming semester.  It’s hard to believe that the “Spring” semester is beginning in just a few days.  But the thing that is even harder to believe is that it’s Spring 2015.  I remember so clearly picking up the phone at about 12:01am on January 1, 2000 to see if the Y2K bug had killed our infrastructure.  That was 15 years ago?  My goodness, how technology has changed during this time.

In those days I was teaching ED 217, a cutting-edge technology course for educators.  We explored futuristic devices like CDs, DVDs and the World Wide Web.  We were talking about how the internet may someday be available for everyone.  There were no iPods, no iTunes, no cellphones with cameras.  The changes since then are mind-blowing.

As the Spring 2015 semester begins, the technologies we are exploring will likely be gone in just few short years, replaced by unimaginable new devices.  Where do you think we are headed?

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Just a test…

Here’s to hoping I can help a classmate.  She is trying to embed a digital story into her WordPress, but not having success.  So I’m trying to embed it in my blog…  Seems to work for me.   The problem may be that while creating the new post in WordPress, you must switch to “Text” view instead of “Visual.”  The “Text” view allows you to paste the embedded content.
PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

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A Week Under Our Belts…

ED 620 is already into it’s second week.  During the first week I was introduced to some old and new friends, and I look forward to working with them during our class and beyond.

Week 2 may be a challenge, because their is lots of content and some of it is stuff teachers often don’t look forward to doing.  

It should be an interesting week for me too… our two youngest sons are on a mission trip, leaving just Leeann and I at home.  It’s really quiet, however… our oldest son and his wife are vacationing at the beach.  We are doggysitting their two dogs, giving us a houseful of 3 dogs.  So far, so good…

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ED 620

Internet Applications for K-12 Education is probably my favorite class to teach! It’s always a lot of work to plan, but the actual class involves a lot of exploration by the students. It always amazes me how much we learn during this class.

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Mobile Educational Technology Class…

This post is geared toward my ED 610: Mobile Educational Technology students.  I suspect few, if any of them will read this since I failed miserably at consistently posting to my blog.  Even though I promised that I would keep up… I failed.

Throughout the Spring 2014 Semester, my ED 610 students have posted a plethora of amazing mobile apps for educators and education.  I’ve compiled them into Word documents based on the module for which they were posted, but I wish I could do more.  I’m considering some sort of searchable database or website in order to share these apps with the world.  Does anyone have an idea of a good way to keep these apps available?  My only idea right now is to create a Google Form for data entry, then the apps would be stored in a Google Spreadsheet.

I’ve concluded that requiring one app every week from the students was probably a little too much for a 15-week class.  When I taught the class during the summer, 5 weeks was more reasonable.  I suspect that the students tired of doing that assignment each and every week, and it became obvious that many students were only doing it at the last-minute.  I might consider changing this assignment in the future.  However, the list of apps the resulted was astonishing.  There were some duplicates, but do the math… 19 students posting a new app every week for 15 weeks.  Whoa!

If you are reading this post as a current or former ED 610 student, I would enjoy your suggestions on what you might find important to teach in the Mobile Educational Technology class.  What is important?  What is not important?  What did we miss?  What did we overdo?

Finally, if you are reading this post for no reason other than because you follow it, what might you hope to learn in a course about Mobile Educational Technology.  I tried to stay out of the technical realm of how things work and also avoided the topics of how to get mobile devices in the classroom.  We just focused on what’s available for a variety of educational purposes.

Thanks for reading.

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Find Yourself!

Imagine you are a budding teacher candidate, ready to take on the exciting challenges of student teaching.  Or, imagine you are a newly certified teacher, ready to take on the exciting challenges of looking for a teaching job.  Now imagine what happens when your name is presented to your future cooperating teacher or to your potential future employer.  What do you think those future colleagues do?  Of course, they “Google” you, they “Facebook” you, they “Twitter” you, or they just generally scour the web for information about you.

Is your online presence something you want those future colleagues to find?  When they view your Facebook page or your Twitter feed, is there anything they will see or read that might make them question your value to their students?  If the answer is “Yes,” then “Houston, we have a problem.”  If the answer is “No,” then rock on.  My experience has been that most young, budding, wannabe teachers have concerns about future colleagues seeing their online presence. So what is a teacher candidate to do?

The solution that many of my current and former students try is to change their Facebook or Twitter names to their first and middle names.  Oooh… that’s devious, that’s genius, that’s far too difficult a security strategy for any future colleague to crack.  Never mind the fact that your transcripts include your full name, as does most publicly available University information.  So, it’s likely they’ll still figure out your strategy, even though you’re probably the first person to ever think to try changing your Facebook name {insert sarcasm}.

Another solution is to “disappear” from social media.  Delete your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagram, everything, just delete it all.  By golly, they’ll never find you!

Here’s the problem and the point of my post.  I won’t drop names, but a local school superintendent and a worldwide respected educator have said the same thing.  They explained that if your future colleagues search online for you and they find information about you that they don’t like or they find questionable, you’re done… they won’t hire you or work with you.  On the other hand, they also said if they search online for you and they find NOTHING, they will assume you are hiding something and they won’t hire you or work with you.  What a catch-22, but I agree with them wholeheartedly!

So, you need to be found online.  The real solution in my mind is to develop a strong, professional online presence.  Create a new Facebook page and share your professional side.  Create a new Twitter account and follow and post only about educational topics.  Create a new Instagram account and only post photos of you working in the classroom.  Create a website and share your resume, your philosophies and your beliefs.  You can still have a dark side, just make sure your professional side is brighter.

What do you think?

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Me and Weebly…

I’ve always been a website-from-scratch designer.  I learned some html code, but I cut my teeth on programs like DreamWeaver for designing advanced websites from scratch.  So, although I’m not a purist coder, I have always been skeptical of web design websites and their self-proclaimed ease of use.  Having said that, I rarely use Dreamweaver anymore, except for an occasional update of a Canadian Fishing Lodge website that I still administer, the Lunge Lodge.

These days, I’m more into simple website design programs for simple projects.  There are a few tools that I like.  Google Sites is good, but it’s limited and clunky.  The sites work, look decent, and play well across all browsers, but they’re not fancy.  Plus, the templates are confusing and the themes seem a little cartoonish.  Others, like WordPress and Tumblr are really blog platforms that hope you’ll use them to create pages too.  A recent tool that seems popular around social networks is Vizify.  I really dislike it’s design, but admit that I haven’t worked hard at customizing anything created with Vizify.

My current favorite website design program is Weebly.  The more I use Weebly, the more I like it.  I’m sure the coding purist could find enough html-law-breaking to put me behind Internet bars for life, but I really don’t care.  Weebly allows me to make a professional-looking and detailed website using little or no html coding.  Beginners never need to even look at the code, they can just add elements to their page using a drag-and-drop interface. And of course, it’s free for the basic features. Although the website address is a subdomain of Webbly, like “yourwebsite.weebly.com,” I can easily transfer my Weebly site to my own domain if I wish. I’m a Weebly fan!

Here’s a quick description from Weebly…

weebly

Weebly gives millions of people a surprisingly easy and affordable way to create a site that is as unique as they are. With a Weebly site, people can start their own business, communicate with their clients, showcase their achievements, and be an authority on personal and professional interests.

Weebly gives everyone the freedom to start a site, blog or online store that works brilliantly across computers, phones and tablets. Offering a range of pricing options including a free plan and premium plans starting at $4/month, Weebly has everything you need to plan, build, publish and grow a site that meets your goals.

If you’re looking at a simple, inexpensive way to create a more detailed online presence, take a look at Weebly!

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Week 4… The Honeymoon’s Over

Welcome to Week 4 of the 2014 Spring Semester.  For me, the honeymoon is over.  The first couple weeks are fun and exciting.  Now I will go through a couple weeks of sluggishness.

In each of my classes, the first major projects have been completed.  So what have I learned?

In ECH 415: Learning and Teaching Mathematics Grades 1-4, I’ve learned that 30 students in a hands-on undergraduate course is too many.  Activities in which I have always loved in the past, have become much more work this semester.  I still love the students and the content and the activities, it’s just harder work.  And I think my experiments with Flipping the Classroom are working.  We’re spending more time on projects and activities and all my “lecturing” is online.  And finally, this will be my first attempt at requiring peer reviewing in an undergraduate class… wonder how that will go?

In ED 417: Teaching with Technology, I’ve learned (or at least been reminded) that even though seniors in college act really bored when I say I’m going to show them some new features in Microsoft Word, they actually know very little about the advanced features.  The same rings true for PowerPoint.  I backtracked a bit this semester and decided to “force” my students to prove that they can do more with Desktop Productivity Tools (like Word and PowerPoint) than the average student.  So far, they haven’t been able to prove they know much about either.

In ED 610: Mobile Educational Technology, I’ve learned that staying current is really tough.  It seemed like teaching the same class I taught last summer would be a breeze, but tons of apps and links I used in Summer 2013 no longer work or exist in Spring 2014.  And of course, there are tons of new apps and links available.  This course will be a totally different course every single time I teach it, but thankfully it is great fun!

This week I hope to use an app called Nearpod to help with a presentation I am doing at Clarion for student visitation.  Anyone that is in or has taken ED 610 will learn about how Nearpod really rocks my world, but I wonder how it will work with high school seniors and their parents?

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Screenflow…

This week I experimented with a program I used briefly a couple years ago.  Screenflow Screenflow logohas really grown up.  It is a powerful screen recording and editing tool for the Mac.  If you’ve ever heard of Camtasia for the windoze platform, Screenflow is very similar.  I am looking for reasons to use Screenflow in my classes and hope to be posting a new video soon.  If you have a Mac and want to experiment, you can download a trial version of Screenflow.  It’s quite cool

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