Thursday, December 1, 2016

Highlights from GaETC 2016

This year's GaETC was arguably the best one yet (and I've been to three)! An educational technology conference specifically geared more toward K-12, we always walk away with really cool tools to use in our online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes. This year I attended with Tammy Powell, Stephen Bartlett, and Megan MacDonald, but there was a lot of KSU representation there from all over the university. Here are some highlights!


In our college, we like to encourage ungraded self-assessments because they help foster student success. Probably the three most common methods are through D2L itself, Softchalk, or Hot Potatoes. Well say hello to ClassTools! We Tammy, Megan, and I attended a game design challenge session where we got to play around with some of the games you can create using ClassTools, and they are even more fun than some of the ones we use already because they are games, and even have leaderboards! They are also very easy to use and take very little time commitment to create games. 

Here is my Verifiable Verbs PacMan game that I created during the session:

More than the games, ClassTools also has other cool apps that you can create, like fake Facebook pages for historical figures or characters (might be cool for History or Literature), a Star Wars-style text scroller, and more! Check out ClassTools here.

Best of the Web 2016

Richard Byrne gave us a huge list of some of the best web 2.0 tools of the year:

Creating and Remixing

  • Adobe Spark - social graphics, web stories, and animated videos
  • TouchDevelop - app development
  • Twinery - choose your own adventure!
  • Stoodle - online collaborative whiteboard
  • Stupeflix - make and download videos with no login
  • Canva - infographic creator
  • Sharalike - dump photos into a slideshow
  • StoryCorps - interview app (plan, record, and show questions while recording interviews)
  • Photos for Class - image search engine that auto-cites downloaded images
Workflow and Classroom Management
  • MultCloud - combine multiple cloud drives into one
  • dropittome - securely receive files from anyone into Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive
  • MicNote - voice recorder and notepad
Exploring and Learning New Stuff
  • Choosito! - search engine that distinguishes results based on reading level and more - has evaluation tool for evaluating sources
  • RefMe - free citation generator
  • Open eBooks - free eBooks open and available to students
  • Gojimo - exam study app
  • Flippity - make cool stuff like Mad Libs and Jeopardy from Google Spreadsheets
Checking for Understanding
  • Quick Rubric - easy way to make a rubric
  • Triventy - gamified quizzing tool (like Kahoot, but students can submit questions)
  • Vizia - video quizzing, answers go into a Google Spreadsheet
  • Dotstorming - group brainstorming like voting on Pinterest

More Tools, More Tools!

Here's my picture I drew (traced) of my dog and
cat during the drawing session!
Here are some other tools we got from some other sessions:
  • Venngage - free infographic maker
  • Piktochart - free infographic maker
  • - free infographic maker
  • Thinglink - interactive images, video, 360 degree photos for teaching and learning
  • Flipgrid - students capture short videos to share ideas, experiences, perspectives
  • Adobe Illustrator Draw - draw your own illustrations, clipart, and avatars (from Tony Vincent)
  • Timeline JS - create a timeline entirely from a Google Sheet (from the Knight Lab at Northwestern University)
  • Storymap JS - create a map that tells a story (also from the Knight Lab at Northwestern University)
  • Juxtapose JS - slider between two images (also from the Knight Lab)
  • SoundCite JS - add sound to a web page (also from the Knight Lab)
  • LMGTFY - "Let me Google that for you" - not really a tool, but it's a funny way to respond to someone who asks you stupid, google-able questions (probably shouldn't do it to your supervisor, but might be funny for a friendly colleague who needs a smile)
  • Momentum  Chrome Extension - this one I actually downloaded and am using now. It replaces your "new tab" page in Chrome with a beautiful picture and prompts you to type your "focus" for the day so that you can stay focused. Try it out!

My Wikipedia is Better Than Your Textbook

Okay, no I do not think you should replace your textbook with Wikipedia like the guy in this session. However, he did point out some really cool things about Wikipedia that I never knew, and I think they could make a reasonable case for actually allowing your students to use Wikipedia in your classes, and even teaching them to use it properly.

How Wikipedia works in 3 clicks (from any given Wikipedia page - I used the Harry Potter page during the session):
  • Click 1: Talk (tabs at the top of the page) - first thing you get is a "how-to" guide with info about accuracy of the page, policies, etc.
  • Click 2: find the page rating, click "show" next to it - shows you the rating information for your page.
  • Click 3: find your grade, click "quality scale" - shows you the rubric that the Wikipedia powers-that-be use to rate pages.
The way Jeff Utecht (the presenter) uses Wikipedia in his classes is this: at the beginning of the semester, his students can use any Wikipedia page that is rated a C-class or higher. Then midway he changes it to a B-class or higher. Then at the end, a GA-class or higher (GA or higher passes an official review process). He also sometimes assigns his students to go and "fix" Start or Stub pages.
"You want to teach kids about the importance of citation? Get them to work on Wikipedia articles."
When you have a Wikipedia account and you use it to make edits, all of your edits and rankings show up on your profile, showing how you have contributed to the world's largest body of knowledge.

If you do it anonymously and get blocked, your whole area (based on ip address) gets blocked. But if you do it with a username, only you get blocked. If your area is blocked, you can make a username and be able to edit again (until you get blocked again).

Did you know all that about Wikipedia?

Overall, we had a great time (as always) at GaETC 2016!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

EduCause - Anaheim, CA - October 2016

In October this year, just before Halloween, I got to attend one of the largest technology in higher education conference in the country, EduCause, in Anaheim, CA. It was a really amazing conference, and it's also not far from my family, so I got to spend a little bit of time with them as well. Not to mention Disneyland! So first things first, here are some of the big takeaways I got from the conference:

Keynote 1: Susan Caine, Quiet Revolution

The keynotes at this conference were the main reason I wanted to go because they each sounded so interesting in their own way. This one, however, ended up being a funny coincidence, because one night I went to dinner with a friend who lives out there, and she happened to have just finished reading Caine's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. Anyway, Caine presented on introversion vs. extroversion and how important it is to embrace both in work and learning. It was a very eye-opening presentation for me personally because I learned that I am an extrovert, and I learned what that really means - as well as what it means for someone to be an introvert. 

DefinitionExtrovert - your "battery" is "charged" by doing something socially demanding. That is, when you do something socially demanding, you are pumped and ready to keep going.

Introvert - your "battery" is "depleted" by doing something socially demanding, no matter how much you enjoy it. That is, even if you really enjoy doing something socially demanding, like going to a party, you are still ready to go home and curl up with a good book or movie when it is over and relax. 

So what's the difference between introversion and shyness?

Not all introverts are shy, and not all shy people are introverts (see definitions above). Introversion refers to how we react to stimulation, whereas shyness refers to a fear of social judgment. 

Tips for working with introverts and extroverts

  • introverts - speak up early
  • introverts - don't curb your enthusiasm
  • extroverts - you can curb your enthusiasm a little bit - be aware of how much you are talking in meetings
  • extroverts - engage introverts 1-on-1 and give them advance notice to prepare
Finally, Caine left us with a question to ponder:

Is personality the next step in diversity and inclusion?

CSUN's AppJam

I went to a really cool session from CSUN (Cal State University at Northridge) about mobile apps. CSUN has a one-to-one tablet initiative in some programs right now, and for a while, they were using standard productivity apps, but in the last couple of years, they started "AppJam," which is a student app-building competition. Students compete by building an app, and then CSUN hires students from the pool of talented students to develop curriculum apps in teams with faculty and instructional designers. So far, this process has resulted in four STEM apps that are free in the app store. 

Personally, I think AppJam is a really cool way to identify talented students for a project like this, and I wonder if something similar could be useful at KSU. 

Keynote 2: Sugata Mitra, The Future of Learning

Sugata Mitra is actually very famous in the education world (if you haven't heard of him), so it was really cool to see him speak in person about his experiments. I don't want to reinvent the wheel by explaining it all here, but here are his TED Talks on his "Hole in the Wall" experiment in which he discovered that children can teach themselves anything and his "School in the Cloud" experiment that is still on-going which is an expansion on the "Hole in the Wall."

I will point out two things I took from his talk:

Why do we assess with exams? "We are preparing our children for employers who have been dead for 100 years."

The glasses question - why are glasses allowed as assistive technology to assess reading, but phones and the Internet are not allowed as assistive technology for other assessments?

Keynote 3: Alex Sheen, Because I Said I Would

Sheen didn't say much about education specifically, but his general message was about making achievable promises and the power in keeping those promises. I definitely recommend looking at his website.

Cool Tools and Websites

Overall, EduCause was a really great conference with tons of good networking opportunities, and it was an interesting conference to attend on my own because it was so large. It certainly helps that it was located in beautiful Anaheim, CA (close enough for my mom to come see me) and was walking distance from Disneyland!
My mom and I in front of Walt Disney's statue :)