EC&I 833

Swimming Through Ed Tech … A Summary

After great contemplation, I decided to try PowToon as my presentation tool for my final summary.  I also used audacity to complete the voice recording for PowToon.  While PowToon has its own voice recording available, audacity provides a much clearer sound and better quality.  I will show this presentation tool to my students this week as I think they will love it.

Here’s a brief overview of what I perceived as the pros/cons for PowToon:


  • can create an account for free
  • many ready made templates to choose from or you can start from scratch
  • can import or create your own voice recordings and/or music within it
  • can import your own photos or use what they provide
  • easy to use to navigate each screen and time your recording to the movement of the images
  • can make movies or have slideshow view depending on purpose


  • videos can only be 5:00 long in the free version
  • limited music selection and noticeable jumps when the music loops
  • free version has limited images; must upgrade to use all images
  • higher quality upload requires paid version
  • it can take a very long time if you take a long time making decisions 😉

Anyway, here’s my summary!  Thanks for the journey EC&I 833!

Credits to Neil Postman and Jackie Gerstein in my video.

EC&I 833

So – I can use AR/VR and not be a Trekkie?

I enjoyed our Augmented & Virtual Realities (AR/VR) presentation from the delightful Logan and Bill this past week.  The information they provided as well as their witty antics kept the pace and my mind racing.   I can barely keep a grip on my own reality at the best of times so the thought of entering a virtual or augmented reality exhausts me (in retrospect, perhaps entering a different or augmented reality is the solution!).

Photo Credit: KAZVorpal Flickr via Compfight cc

Prior to this class and this week’s readings, I could not have explained either VR or AR let alone told you the difference between them.  Similar to Amy and Jayme Lee, I’ve associated all things “video gamish” with my husband (and increasingly my son) as his area of interest and VR/AR seemed to fit within this make-believe world.  VR/AR reminded me of Star Trekkie things and the sci-fi world.  Sci-fi is not my world or area of interest (I’ve now officially insulted many of you – sorry, but I cannot love Star Trek).  So, when I saw ads for weird head contraptions and encountered people guided by their phones on my running paths (aka Pokemon Go players), I assumed a certain type of person was interested in this type of recreational, technological play, but I never imagined I would use or understand AR/VR.  — one quick amendment: I did go on an amazing VR Transformers ride at Universal Studies which I remembered after typing this.  It was very cool and one of my favourite rides.

After this past week, I now understand that in virtual reality I become a part of another world or experience a different reality.  Augmented reality allows another reality to enter my current world and is embedded into my physical reality.   I also now understand that there is great potential in education to use both AR/VR. Reede and Bailiff (2016) indicate that VR is a useful tool and “perhaps even a productive enhancement to human interaction, bringing together people from around the world to engage and interact.” Dunleavy, Dede & Mitchell discuss studies that report that AR implementations result in substantial student motivation.  In addition, in his article Augmented reality brings new dimensions to learning (2013), Minock states  

Educators know that learning deepens, not just through reading and listening, but also through creating and interacting… After all, profound learning occurs when students create, share, interact and explain.

So…what does this mean for me as a non-gaming, non-head gear wearing, non-Trekkie educator?  I will tell you that it leaves me a bit overwhelmed.  I can see the amazing experiences that AR/VR create and there is no question that my students would be completely engaged and the learning experiences would be rich.  However, I lack the knowledge about where to start or how to attain what I need to make this technology a part of my classroom.  So I will suggest that the digital divide goes beyond our students. Perhaps there is a dividing digital line between educators as well.  A lack of training or available resources between teachers and schools also creates a gap of equity.

As an educator, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner.  I desire to learn more in order to provide better experiences for my students.  When something outside of my scope (AR/VR) is presented, I feel both excited at the opportunity and overwhelmed at how to practically implement it into my current practice.  I am learning that I don’t need to know how to do everything.  My students are super quick at discovering and teaching me if I give them an opportunity.  This means remembering to move toward Web/Education 3.0 thinking.

That being said, I need a practical way to start (as I am the mother of practicality) .  So, I went searching to find ways to utilize AR/VR:

  1. I came across this article that suggests 32 apps to implement AR.  I can do apps.  That makes sense to me.
  2. As well,  in her blog post, Jayme Lee mentioned using AR to set up videos for circuits in PE.  This is a great idea as many of my students need to see an example.
  3. Finally, I found a video of using AR in math. The student hovered over an image to watch a video which explained concepts.  I currently teach two grades of math at once and using this strategy would be a great way to change up instruction and increase my availability.

While these are good places to start, I know the use of AR/VR requires time and intentionality as well as resources.  I hope to start small, but I still sweat a bit when I think about it!  So, here’s to trying new things.  How will you use AR/VR?  Are you a confident user or more reluctant like myself?

EC&I 833 · UDL

UDL or bust

Tyson and Benita alluded to growing up with little awareness of assistive technology in their classrooms.  As I think back, I can’t remember any assistive tech in my super small town classroom experience.  Was it there?  Did we have access?  Was there a need?  Who knows?

Flickr: Creative Commons

Now that I am a teacher, what I do know is that there probably was a need – perhaps not a recognizable, “diagnosable” need, but a need nonetheless.   All of my students need different tools to assist their learning based on differing physical, mental, intellectual needs and based upon what it is that they’re learning.  I have yet to be in a classroom where my students all learn the same way and need the same thing (wouldn’t that be easy… and boring).

As far as diagnosed needs, I’ve had students with hearing impairments, learning disabilities and mental health issues.  Students have received assistive tools in the form of an amplified FM system, laptops, programs (Kurzweil, etc.), scanners to implement transfer to computers as well as talk to text features.  In addition, if we look beyond electronic technology, I’ve used fidgets as well as seating and standing options that assist in learning.

The difficulties I have with assistive technology are twofold:

  1. Availability and access – In the article Rethinking Assistive Technology, Edyburn discusses that the current delivery system of assistive tech is based upon a deficit model.  In other words, something must be “wrong” in order to warrant a need for assistive tech.  Not only do I disagree with the entire philosophy of the deficit model (which I will discuss later) but the time, money and resources it takes to identify, diagnose and implement the technology is wasteful.  To request assistive tech in our system, a SETT (Student Environments Tasks and Tools) assessment is completed.  A request must be made for the assessment including paperwork to verify the need, the assessment must take place (which takes a while to book) and then need is determined.  The process can be months in the making.  Meanwhile …. we still teach and the student(s) still tries to learn.
  2. Professional Development –  Once my student receives said tech, I am given a package and told who it’s for.  That’s it.  Now I must figure out how to use it, how to best implement it with the rest of my curriculum and find time to teach the student one on one.  There are times when that is easier (setting up a chrome book) and times when that is much harder (Kurzweil !! – okay I did receive some training on this, but still so overwhelming).  Teachers are lacking time and training to implement assistive technology well.

This week, Alec (like he needs a link!) mentioned the Universal Design for Learning and Nancy  posted a link to a journal article on Google + about it.  In addition to the article Nancy posted, I read a journal article entitled  Universal Design for Learning and Assistive Technology: Leadership Considerations for Promoting Inclusive Education in Today’s Secondary Schools.  Both of these readings discussed the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which is a holistic view of the curriculum that provides access points for all students.

FLickr:Creative Commons

Hitchcock and Stahl (2003) state that “Universal Design for Learning looks not to the student but to the curriculum itself. The underlying assumption is that by using flexible media, options can be embedded within the curriculum so that adjustments may be made to meet the needs and preferences of each learner.” They compare UDL to defensive driving and indicate that it’s a way of thinking and acting.

Messinger-Willman and Marino (2010) discuss the differences between AT and UDL; AT focuses on the individual whereas UDL focuses on the curriculum. In their article, they give the following example which helps convey the differences:

“Consider an example where a language arts teacher has a struggling ninth-grade student in her class. When she views the student’s learning difficulties from the AT perspective, she considers how word prediction software can help that specific student answer a writing prompt. When looking through the UDL lens, she acknowledges that learning barriers reside within a curriculum that forces students to manually write responses. She then alters the assessment so that the barrier no longer exists for any student by allowing all students to use technology during their responses.”

I love the philosophy of UDL.  I believe it is contrary to the deficit model that Edyburn discusses.  It allows teachers to be proactive and plan for the learning of all students.  It looks at the problems inherent in curriculum and finds tools to use to support the learning and implementation to all students.  As I’ve mentioned in other venues, I believe the need for assistive tech goes far beyond what our resources allow as many of my undiagnosed students really have a need for assistive tech.  In theory, a UDL approach is a better viewpoint as it looks beyond a deficit, beyond an individual and examines the problems in the curriculum while acknowledging that all students need assistance in some way or another.

Now as always, UDL is a philosophy.  I haven’t done a lot of research on it.  How does this work itself out in the real world?  How do we still meet the vast needs of our students with UDL?  Can we really manage to develop a curriculum that is this inclusive and still implements the assistive technology required?   I don’t really know… Do you have any ideas?

EC&I 833

Oh Google (forms) … How I love thee

I’ve been using Google Docs for a few years and have developed my own convoluted (but fairly functional) way of organizing all my student work into folders using the shared features.  This year I thought I would give Google Classroom a try as I’ve heard so many people talk about the ways they’ve used or appreciated it. I am enjoying that I can keep all of my assignments posted in a few places and it allows me to see who is finished and has submitted the assignment.  There are already a few drawbacks that I am seeing.  However, Kyle let me know that Google often takes suggestions and tries to implement ideas to meet teachers’ needs, so I intend to do that.

Here is the assignment posted to my classroom page.

I’m really just beginning my use and understanding of all of the ways that GAFE can be used.  This week, I wanted to try out Google Forms as my new assessment tool.  I wanted to use a tool that I could post within my google classroom.


Google forms is a productivity tool that allows you to create a question/answer response survey.  You can choose multiple choice, short answer or paragraph answers.  When going into forms, you are given the option of creating a form from following options:


I chose to create an exit slip.  I wanted to create a quick assessment that my students would complete independently after they finished a water displacement lab related to volume and density.  I asked three questions.  Two of the questions I planned to use as a formative assessment to determine what the class perceived about the lab and density to  know if I needed any further teaching.  The final question related to an overall relationship between density, mass and volume which I’m hoping to use as summative as we’ve worked with the concept a great deal in class.



Once the students complete the survey, I can access it by going to my Drive or to Forms.
Within this format, my results are aggregated by question.  It gives me all the results per question without student names attached.  student-response-google-formsIf my purpose is to look at class understanding of a concept – this gives me a great formative snapshot.  I’m able to see what misconceptions there are, what I may need to reteach or if the students have a solid understanding of the outcome.  If I find that there are just one or two misconceptions, I can turn the data into a Google sheet that links the responses to each student.

I did find that the spreadsheet is fairly convoluted as you can see below.  You are able to follow the rows along to see each student’s response with each question listed in a column, but it’s a lot of data to look at at a glance.



If I just wanted to track a misconception or two, this may be okay, but if I am looking to get a child’s entire understanding, it’s a lot of information to scroll through.  So, I thought to myself – Google is smart.  google-forms-save-on-doc-picSurely there is a way to create a document from this.  Alas, there is.  Google has created an add on called Save As Doc which you can add through the chrome store to your Google sheets.





Using this format, you can create a document per child (row), per column (by question) or for the whole class/document depending on what you highlight in the spreadsheet.  It also gives you some options about how you would like it organized.  An example of a whole class document is below.


While this format is a little more helpful, it doesn’t list the questions so you have to infer which question the student is answering.  I am just experimenting with Forms and the add ons so perhaps there are more options available to organize the results of the data collected.

Overall, I really like the use of Google Forms.  I found that it was very easy to create.  It was very engaging for my students (far more than pen and paper despite the fact that it simply replaced it).  My students can’t LOSE it!!  I loved that it gave me a quick snapshot of student understanding to inform my teaching. Also, when attached to my classroom, I can see I am still missing 7 responses so Google classroom tracks who still needs to complete it.

On the negative side, trying to view the information for one student was a little more onerous as it wasn’t very neat and tidy.

To conclude, in How Technology can Change Assessment, Blair and Schwartz (2012) state “Assessment has a powerful effect on education, not only serving an evaluative function, but also shaping what is considered important for students to know. Expanding the scope of assessments from evaluating only end-state knowledge to evaluating learning processes themselves has the potential to transform what is taught and how” (p.11).     Google Forms is a great tool for formative assessment to evaluate learning processes and determine further teaching.

I would definitely use this tool again.  Have you ever used Google Forms?  Your thoughts Any tips or tricks that you know of to help with the viewing of the spreadsheet?




EC&I 833

Move Out of the Way, Teacher…


Photo credit: Pixabay

If you would’ve watched me while I watched Philipe Modard in his TedTalk, How web 3.0 will change our lives?, I’m sure you may have observed a furrowed brow, some deep breathing and after deeper analysis, a gradually increasing heart rate.  

Why you may ask?  My fridge might be able to determine which groceries I do not have for a recipe and order them?  Wait. What?!?   I feel like I can barely keep up with all the new innovations of technology and possibilities within Web 2.0 let alone Web 3.0.  Even my involvement in this class has opened my eyes and facilitated new learning and discoveries for me – which I love and get excited about. However, I feel like just when I’m nearing the surface to breathe a little, a new wave splashes in and I have a great deal more to learn.  In Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0Jackie Gerstein listed many reasons as to why educators may not implement Education 3.0.  I don’t feel as though I am really implementing Ed. 3.0 but not for the reasons she suggests.

As an educator, I feel like I am constantly trying to learn more, try new practices and seek out the interests and needs of my students in order to provide the best learning environment possible.  I don’t feel like I am making excuses.  I feel like I have a growth and positive mindset which Gerstein alludes to, but I feel like I can’t keep up.  What is it that I am even trying to keep up to?  I’m not even sure how to define Web 3.0 or Education 3.0. From what I am reading, I sure need to move to the side and get out of the way.

As I read Gerstein’s article, I loved the visuals that she used to demonstrate the evolution of education especially with reference to the teacher:

Photo Credit – Creative Commons Attribution

I know the representations above are small, but bear with me.  In the Education 1.0 photo, the teacher dominates and she’s easy to find.  In the second image – Education 2.0, the teacher is smaller and part of the circle, but there is still more emphasis on her than the students.  In the final image, can you find the teacher?  There is so much going on and so much connectivity that it’s hard to determine who or where the teacher is …. Perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps that’s where I need to start my thinking.  Less of me.  More of them.  So I will attempt to unpack my thinking of less of me, more of them…

1. Let’s go back to my viewing of Modard’s TedTalk.  After my heart was palpitating and I had newly developed wrinkles, I thought I would tell my students about Web 3.0.  After my very engaging speech about the “smart, semantic internet”guess what their reactions were?

  • “Hey – that’s so cool!”
  • “I want a fridge like that.”
  • “I wonder what else we could get?”
  • “Wow – that’s amazing.”

I don’t know what I expected, but what I received was excitement, awe and wonder.  That tells me something.  Excitement and curiosity breed learning.  I know that.  I want that for my students.  Understanding how to merge to 3.0 is my obstacle.

Learning 1 – Students are curious and 3.0 enamours their attention and learning – not me.

Obstacle – How???

2.  In her blog post, Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education, Gerstein discusses that Education 1.0 devastated her as a child.  She states that “education 1.0 for many students results in boredom, a wasting away of their time and sometimes their minds.  But there are bigger consequences than boredom. There are especially dire consequences for learners with oddly shaped minds.  This is not meant to be derogatory.  It just means that they see, think, hear, visualize, imagine the world a little differently than others.”   I see these kids.  These kids are the ones that usually require extra attention and often patience.  When I hear an adult reflecting on having to “survive” and “recover” from Ed. 1.0, it makes me cringe.  I would be devastated if a student had to recover from experiences in my classroom.

Learning 2 – Education can harm students and sometimes those teacher-directed traditional paradigms are more than “not ideal”, they are harmful.

3. As I read through Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0, I came across a beautiful quote by Gerstein:

Learners as young as the elementary level have the potential to engage in educational experiences based on heutagogy.   In other words, they can engage in self-determined and self-driven learning where they are not only deciding the direction of their learning journey but they can also produce content that adds value and worth to the related content area or field of study

After you read this quote, you may question why I stated it was beautiful.  I feel as though my eyes were opened when I read this.  I’ve always interpreted my students’ products as an output related to assessment.  They create because I tell them to …. In this reference, their creation is adding meaning to the world!  That’s amazing to me.  Imagine if I can help them see themselves this way.  Imagine if I stepped out of the way and asked them to add value and worth to their area of expertise…..  What would happen?!?

Learning 3 – My students are creators of knowledge that the world needs to know.  I just need to help them see themselves and their abilities.

As I conclude this blog post, I am still left with the obstacle of fully understanding Web 3.0 and Education 3.0 as well as how to practically implement it in my classroom.  However, I do know that I need to embrace what I’ve learned/know.  My students are curious and engaged with 3.0.  Certain practices can actually cause harm to my students.  Finally, my students can add valuable meaning to this world, even at their age so I need to restructure my thinking about why they are completing tasks and rethink my role.

14522998942_d2c0e7b77f_bSo … Less of me.  More of them.  I need to get out of the way and let my students learn.  How this will happen is still evolving, but I’m on my way.  I hear them urging, “Move out of the way, teacher, and let me learn.”


What’s your thinking about the phenomenon/reality of 3.0?


Photo credit: Flickr

EC&I 833

Breaking Open the Box of Teaching


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Online learning – Until last night I considered EC&I 833 my first experience with online learning, meaning that this is the first academic class I’ve taken where I didn’t physically sit in a classroom.  That part is still true. However, after I watched Tyson’s vlog (which you should watch!), I realized my view of “distance learning” was very narrow as I’ve been learning via the internet for many years – how to build a fence, recipes, painting tips, medical tips and tricks, etc.  This learning – while not prescribed by a syllabus (or paid for!) is valid, so apparently I’m an old pro at distance education!!

Ironically this past week I had a student go in for double knee surgery.  We were beginning a new math unit and math is not this student’s greatest love.  In the past I would try to prepare materials ahead or inevitably try to pack a week’s worth of learning into a brief conversation which lacked instruction and would overwhelm my students upon returning to class.  So – I decided to create a screencast of my initial unit lesson on using models to multiply integers to try and teach the concept to the student as he recovered at home.  I uploaded the video to YouTube and gave him a few instructions.

Shockingly, it worked!  He understood the lesson, completed his work, scanned it and sent it back to me. He even left a comment indicating how helpful the video was for him.   I was so proud of him, but pretty proud of myself (blush).

Thanks to this class, I’m learning about tools that extend my thinking and ability to teach beyond the confines of the classroom.  We are about to venture into Mystery Skyping with classes around the world and I feel as though the use of the tools I’ve encountered this term (Zoom, Google Hangouts, wordpress, screencast-o-matic – to name a few) are not only giving me confidence but helping me to widen the scope of my ideologies and perceptions about teaching.  While I don’t teach an online course, there are aspects that can/should filter into my classroom as I try to best meet the needs of my individual students.

As far as teaching my students regularly via distance education, I think I would really struggle with that.  The reason I love my job is the relationships that I develop with my students.  I love the unplanned banter and humour that happens amidst the ongoings in the classroom.  I think it would be much more difficult for me to establish authentic relationships – or at least require a different perspective.

In the article The work of education in the age of the digital classroom: Resurrecting Frankfurt school philosophies to examine online education  Dayley and Hoffmann (2015) indicate that students don’t receive the individualized attention that they would get in a classroom and that often social isolation is one of the most obvious differences between traditional and distance education.  I would struggle with this piece of the distance learning puzzle.

In addition, I think I would need to have highly engaging lessons (even more song and dance from me!) and have very organized lessons with a lot of broken up, planned components to keep the attention of middle years students.  The online tools that are available would definitely provide opportunity for engagement.  I would just need to rethink my focus in delivery of lessons.  However, as I’ve learned with my student this week, sometimes rethinking my focus is necessary.  I need to push myself outside of this box called teaching to see the possibilities available and refocus my thinking about ways to meet the needs of my students. All too often, I think I do what I do because it seems to be working.  There is some validity to that, but it can also perpetuate stagnancy.

So … thank you to all of you for providing innovative tools, ideas, and support in order to make me a better teacher and to see beyond myself.  Here’s to breaking apart this box called teaching!

Have any of you had any changes in thinking or in your perceptions of teaching since starting this class?


EC&I 833 · Uncategorized

Distractions … An Obstacle to Real Learning

Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?  Has the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it? – an insightful prompt this week … 

As I watched Single-tasking is the New Multi-tasking, I felt as though James Hamblin was speaking for me.  I hadn’t seen this video before so in anticipation of blogging about it, I thought I would watch it, complete a few tasks and blog later so that I could form some thoughts.  When I started viewing, I was eating my breakfast, having a coffee, getting reading to pay some bills and sending an email.  My daughter called me so I went to help her in the washroom, but I didn’t want to stop the video so I took my computer.  Just as I got to the washroom, I realized I was reacting to some ideas in the video and opened a google doc to track my thinking (just as James Hamblin suggested that I was probably doing something else while I was listening – insert rolled eyes).  At that moment,  my son walked by and asked, “Mom – are you seriously watching a video in the bathroom?” Caught.  Point-blank. Multi-tasking with the internet and in real life …

I have two reactions to this week’s prompt.  First of all, I do believe the internet is a productivity tool.  In many aspects, it increases my productivity – ability to order online, pay bills, do group work, participate in EC&I 833 in my pyjamas (and perhaps a glass of wine!) without having to get a babysitter as well as communicate with others far away in a time frame that works for me.  As well, I find email allows me to be more productive despite some of the drawbacks in this week’s article about the impact of email.  I can quickly update families about class information as well as communicate with other professionals without having to play phone tag.  The internet has opened up many aspects of productivity for me.

Secondly, while I believe there are many benefits to the internet, I do believe that the internet’s ability to silently promote multi-tasking is problematic.  I think it’s affecting our ability to be present in a moment.  Sometimes I tell myself that today’s students are natural multi-taskers because that’s how they’ve grown up, but perhaps that may be multi-taskers because they’ve rarely been shown how to live in one moment and choose to be present.  As well, I find myself increasingly distracted while completing one task.  When I’m finally taking time to sit and watch a TV show, if I’m even minutely bored, I will pick up my phone and search through any number of social media apps or read news articles until my attention is drawn back to the TV.  I was not raised with the internet so these are habits I’ve learned.

The following short video, What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, discusses how our thinking and memory is manipulated by distractions with relationship to the internet:

We are living in this perpetual state of distraction. That mode of thinking crowds out the contemplative, calmer modes of thinking and that focused, calm thinking is actually how we learn … memory consolidation  … Nicholas Carr   author,  The Shallows

This week’s video, prompt and the video above caused me to be more reflective on my multi-tasking and distractions – specifically related to the internet and technology.   I can tell that when I try to store too much information or try to do too many things at once that I am less effective and productive.   It makes sense as an educator that creating long term memory requires focused work with few distractions.  As I age, I can’t afford for my memory not to store information, so I need to be mindful about the distractions that I create and allow – for myself, my own children and my students.

Do you notice a link to your distractions and your ability to retain information?