Technology Can Be Inspiring !



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The more I read, listen to and watch – the more I become convinced that using technology in the classroom is an excellent way to engage learners.  My engagement in this technology class is a prime example.  Even out of my comfort zone, I find myself drawn in by all the exciting tools that ignite the imagination.  I believe that if a professor had shown me a screen like the one above to explain some of the biological information about cells during my science degree – I would have been hooked in a different way.  I am becoming inspired to learn to use technology in the classroom and hope that I might spark student engagement in different ways than with the traditional teaching methods I have used in the past.

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Better Late than Never !


I was searching for online articles that show how technology in the classroom and having students engaged in their own learning can be inspirational.  I found a TED Ed talk by a woman named Shelley Wright in Vancouver who used to teach traditionally, like I did, and then she took a class with a man by the name of Alec Couros that inspired her to teach differently.  I really resonated with her opening and then, when she said who her teacher was – I could hardly believe it.


So you see, it must be a story more common than I realize. Teacher is going about their same old sameness until they realize that something could make a significant difference in their students lives – as well as their own.  Most teachers that I know, care enough about their students to want to make changes when they realize it could really help their students – so they give it a try. Here I am, walking a similar path to many who have gone before me, and I’m sure there will be many more to follow.


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In our reading last week, Bates suggests that teachers should consider their instructional approach, what content they want to include, as well as the skills they want students to develop. So now what lies before me is to do what Bates suggests: look at my audience, decide what I want them to know and how they will learn it, and then pick the style of lesson that will best meet learner’s needs.

This week I read a number of articles that lead me back to a term from a couple of years ago – student centered learning.  Underneath the discussions of online and blended learning there are ideas of having students be able to choose what they are interested in.  Also, they are able to work at they own independent pace, learn in different ways, and show their learning in a variety of ways. This is an example of one of the posts I read that reminded me of student-centered learning.


When I read Elizabeth’s blog this week I had a funny thought…  I have been feeling so inspired to explore the technology route, that I had not considered that people would write articles outlining the downfalls of using technology in the classroom.  Of course there are many things that could be considered ‘drawbacks’. One article indicated in her blog talks about how educators are not always properly set up for success with technology.  I would consider myself in this situation.  Yes, the responsibility is mostly mine, but there are many logistical factors that make using technology at our school difficult.  Firstly, there are computer carts that are shared by all teachers.  We are only allowed to book twice in two weeks for one hour of classroom use.  Then, there is the difficulty that not all students are able to successfully log in.  By the time the hour is up – sometimes, very little can be accomplished.

I am grateful for the technology education that I am getting at present.  If there were no online courses offered, perhaps I would not have been able to have access to this class.  Online learning allows people who are working and have families to have access to higher education.  What could be the downside to that ?


Print, Audio, or Video – What’s Your Preference?

23930918942_70de1a2f3aPhoto Credit:sanket.patel7989viaCompfightcc

      Do you like to look at text?




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                                                                                                                               Listen to a recording ?





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Or, watch a video ?


The more I review what Bates has to say in Chapter 7, the more it makes me think about how technology – with all it’s variances – carries potential to reach more students.  We know that individuals have different learning preferences/styles, so teaching using a variety of print, audio, and video presentations will provide opportunities for students to learn in a way that best suits them.  The idea of  blended learning   where students can have a combination of direct teaching, watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading books in print,  watching instruction at home on the computer, blogging and other technological outlets –  seems to me to be an ultimate idea behind educational diversification. In Bates’ words:

A large part of learning requires the mental integration of content acquired through different media and symbol systems.


I like reading information in text, but that is mostly under ideal conditions.  It can be frustrating to have to read something in print when conditions are not just right (lighting, external noise, time pressure, fatigue level etc.)


I have been trying to think about any audio that I have enjoyed other than listening to music.  I remember listening to an audio book that I really liked called The Alchemist.  Also, I remember listening to a children’s story on tape called Mozart’s Magic Fantasy: A Journey Through ‘The Magic Flute’,   

… but I think much of that enjoyment was due to the music as well as the story.


I found an interesting set of podcasts this week for teaching in the area of visual arts and they had been created using something called acast+.  I am not usually one who goes for auditory learning, but I found the few that I listened to quite enjoyable.  Then I found some videos done by the same person, and that confirmed it… I definitely have a tendency to want to see and hear what I am learning.


The persuading factors for video playing an important role in education can be see in the following You Tube video: Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education.  There is mention of flipped education and concentration on ‘mastery’ of any given area before moving on to the next level.


Lots of interesting thoughts in class blogs this week.  Both Stephanie and Chalyn got me thinking about how important it is to present a wide variety of learning options so that students can get a sense of what works best for them.

After this week’s zoom demonstration of how to use Tube Chop, I was able to chop the video but when I tried to get the chopped video into this blog – I was unsuccessful.  So I just included the whole thing video

If there is anyone who might be able to suggest how to do that – it would be great. Thanks.

Lots of Decisions to Make

Lots of Decisions to Make

Lots of Decisions to Make

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     I was talking to a friend who knows I am still trying to decide on a platform.  Today she said to me – “just pick one and move forward”.  I think she is right, so I hope to do that in the next couple of days (notice any irony here ? ).

According to Bates, it is important to pay attention to the “unique pedagogical features” of text, audio, and video when creating educational content. He suggests taking time and carefully choosing which is best in a given situation to deliver specific content.  I have not tried making a screencast before to deliver content, so this week I took on the challenge…

I chose Screencast-O-Matic, which is fairly easy to use and it is free (for the basic package). You can watch the following You Tube video if you want to find out more about it:


It gives you the choice of 3 different options : screen only, webcam only or both together. I created an example of each option as you can see below:


My ‘Screen only’ example:



My ‘Webcam only’ example:


My ‘Screen and Webcam’ example:

I tried a lot of different ways to get these files to play in WordPress.  I ended up creating You Tube videos, (which was a another new process).  I found a good You Tube video to explain how to upload videos from Screencast – O – Matic to You Tube.  You can check out Stephanie Davis’ demonstration here if you are interested in trying it yourself.

I feel pretty darn pleased with myself for accomplishing these feats this week. Come to think of it – I think these might classify as Vlogs (that I have heard others talk about). Yay! (now I sound like my students – making a ‘little deal’ sound like a ‘big deal’ 🙂

I checked out lots of great blogs from my classmates this week and learned many interesting new things.  One thing that really interested me was Ed Puzzle posted by Carla this week, where she explained that you can crop existing videos and then add an audio track or audio notes. She also drew my attention to something called Playposit where you can add text to an exiting video.

There were other things that interested me that I would like to try sometime.  Stephanie and Twana talked about using Adobe Spark, which I would like to check out in the future.  Also, Benita and Roxanne talked about GoAnimate, which intimidates me but intrigues me at the same time.  I am learning lots from my classmates.

If anyone is familiar with Screencast – O – Matic and wants to suggest other ways to transfer screencasts to my wordpress blog – that would be great.