#UVaTeach Reflection

I had an interesting day at UVA a few days ago as part of their Innovation in Pedagogy Summit. I got the chance to talk to UVA’s Teaching Resource Center group and listen to some interesting educators talk about their practice. I was the closing keynote and I talked, as I have before, about what educational technology might be versus what it is. Essentially this was an extension and deepening of the It Could be Beautiful concept I did at VSTE a few years ago. It helps to see the depth of the perversion and misuse of educational technology before looking at ways it is working. Otherwise people tend to pretend it all sucks or it’s all going great (depending on their own stance). We seem to have created a populace, in the USA at least, that has a great deal of difficulty with things that are not stark examples of black and white. I don’t know if I should blame the media, capitalism, or standardized testing.1 What made this particular iteration a bit stronger was starting off by asking the audience to do something right away that set the scale of what we’re endeavoring to do in education. I asked them to go and read their college/university/departmental mission and vision statements and talk about them at their tables. What […]

It Could Be Beautiful: Aspirational vs Operational EdTech

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by ellyjonez1 This is a bit of brainstorming for a presentation I’m doing in a few months. It’s a bit of a remix of some stuff I’ve highlighted before but there are a few new examples in the mix (bolded below). I think they’re well worth looking at more deeply- especially Math Box and Keshif. I like Math Box because it tightens up the equation/interactive visualization connection in math. It’s one of the reasons I love Fluid Math. Math Box is not for the faint of heart (javascript library) but it starts to lead towards different expectations around how we might see and interact with math concepts. Keshif incorporates many of the elements that have had me chasing Simile Exhibit and FacetWP. It does it in a really slick visual package that enables some really interesting options. I really believe there’s depth to the different kind of understandings we can come to when data can be quickly sifted and sorted. It is interactive data visualization that can change the kinds of questions we ask. Have better examples? Am I getting too flaky? Throw some feedback my way in the comments or write in the document.2 A great deal of energy and attention has been focused on using technology to automatically grade […]

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Squirrels In My Pants

I did a presentation the other day on how one might use the Promethean software to do some interesting things with video. I don’t think the software is essential to do any of this but it did make it pretty easy and we already have it on all our computers and all our student computers. In any case, I used the video above to demo a few easy things for kids to do using screenshots from virtually any video. Yes, it did make my kids’ day to use a Fineas and Ferb song about squirrels in someone’s pants. I’m not sure what the teachers thought of it but sometimes you have to amuse yourself. Simplest- Visual Answers Take video screenshots to answer questions. Easy but a different level of involvement with the video. Depending on the questions this could be low level stuff or something more sophisticated. You could do simple things like ID the protagonist. Or you could ask harder questions like- Capture the most dramatic frame in the video. Summarize or Cartoonize Using simple screenshots you can add word balloons to summarize the video or just use the frame captures as fodder for comics in general. You can make it more complex by adding restrictions (see below) – things like you have to summarize the video in only […]

Introducing Randomness

I had a great time at UMW’s Faculty Academy. Got to meet a number of people face to face for the first time which is always interesting. I was lucky enough to be able to present as a plenary speaker1 as well. After being repeatedly told to “bring my A game” I had completely psyched myself out. In direct retaliation I decided to introduce as many elements of “randomness” as I could into this presentation.2 I’m not necessarily arguing that all three made the presentation better but it did make it more interesting to me and I think they did add some interesting elements for the audience. Element One The day before the presentation I had already come up with two slide decks with two very different themes. One, had tattoos as the visual element because I thought the idea of things people were willing to have jabbed into their skin with needles made for an interesting visual theme. The other presentation was based around the danse macbre woodcuts from the Black Plague. Neither one did quite what I wanted and the macabre one was too depressing even for me. So I decided to do a version of Deck Wars/Battle Decks. Essentially, I sent out an open call to Twitter requesting images. Punish me. Send me url to any image […]

Miami-Dade Workshop 6-11-09

Google Tips Google Advanced Search Google Book Search, News Search and Article Search PDF Tip Sheet – the shortcuts for advanced search Media Resources Archive.org – old Lucky Strike commercial, WWII British Propaganda Films, cultural and academic films WikiMedia Commons – picture of the day Flickr Commons – Simthsonian, Library of Congress, The White House, and advanced search (If Flickr is blocked give Compfight or FlickCC a shot.) Library of Congress Digital Archives – historic newspapers, audio interviews with former slaves, audio/video interviews with American veterans and a lot more iTunes Podcasts – audio and video of all kinds ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [poll id=”1″] Blogs Educational Examples Classroom organization Debate Richard III Elementary projects Outsiders Vocabulary Byrd Middle Book Reviews Tutorials and Free Blogs WordPress Tutorials WordPress.com – free blogs Edublogs.org – free blogs Google Earth Get Google Earth for free or use Google’s My Maps option(You’ll need a free Google account to do this.) Educational Examples Google Lit Trips – books in context Google Earth Lessons Google Earth Math Lessons You can search for Google Earth files by keyword through Google Tutorials and More Google’s tutorials The BIG Keyhole Site- lots of everything including help The 3D Warehouse – just about anything you’d like to put in Google Earth Good Education Resources


Picking Up Gauntlets is Heavy Work

So Dan threw down a challenge as he tends to do. I did the easy part but also felt I should do some critiquing to maintain some credibility in my own mind. I’m taking a shot at how I might change Ms. Mercer’s Powerpoint presentation. The main thing that made this difficult is I don’t know what she says during this presentation and that stops me from really considering how I might change things more fundamentally. So the following is given in the hope of providing helpful and positive feedback for Ms. Mercer. Please excuse any mistakes I make while attempting to determine intent. Here are the two title slides. Ms. Mercer’s slide will always be on top. I found that slide to be a little heavy and dark for my tastes and wanted to go with something similarly humorous but a little cleaner. I found a warning slide about killer electricity and dropped the background in Keynote using the Alpha Channel tool1 Here I’m just simplifying. If I’m going to be out there talking, I don’t feel I need any more specifics than this. I might drop the slide altogether. I’d probably use this slide to get the audience talking about why they use presentations. Get some top answers and then move on with what I’d bill as pedagogically […]


Information Fluency Presentation-Old Skills, New Applications – Part 1

We’ve been working a lot with 21st century skills and trying to figure out how to make them make sense to ourselves and to teachers in the classroom. It’s been interesting in some ways and incredibly frustrating as well. Here’s part one 1 my best shot at explaining how both the rate and the way information is created and published changes what we need to teach our students. No doubt some of you will find this rather obvious and boring but it was meant to be presented to teachers as way to encourage reflection in a non-intimidating way and to get a conversation going. By the way, I tend to freestyle my presentations based on audience reaction and interest so the text is just a rough attempt at getting the gist of each slide. image source To get anywhere with intelligence you have to know two things. Where you are and where you want to go. Let’s take a minute and look at where we are when it comes to our world and information. Question to the audience- How has the way you have to deal with information changed in the last ten years? Talk to your partner, you’ve got 2 minutes to come up with ans many differences as you can. I’d then call for volunteers to talk about […]


A Blogging Bestiary

Soooo, I had to do another presentation on blogging and “Bob on Blogs” wasn’t really the style I wanted for the UR crowd. Time for something new. This is my basic thought process in case it might interest someone. Concept (learning objective): There are two key things I want viewers to come away with A blog is just an easy way to get content (multimedia and otherwise) on the Internet and you don’t have to do commenting, regular posts, etc. There are lots of interesting ways to use blogs in education The problem I ran into was that I had lots of blog examples but when I started trying to break things down to show the flexibility it got way too complex. I was initially trying to show things like: Group blog, with comments, using text and images Single user blog, without comments, using text Group blog, aggregating via RSS, with comments using text, video and images So, instead I divided the presentation into two parts. The first portion would be a more traditional presentation with slides to add some humor and associate some interesting visuals with the relatively dry topic of the conceptual use of blogs, their limitations etc. I really wanted to keep the audience engaged and thinking about things in terms that made sense to them. The […]

BattleDecks- Presentation Ninjitsu

I found these beautiful notes from SXSW via Boing Boing where I saw Battledecks which led to this summary. credit Mike Rohde Powerpoint meets Karaoke in this battle of wits. Watch your favorite speakers craft an off-the-cuff presentation using slides they’ve never seen before. Eight competitors will have five minutes to complete their presentation. Three judges will score the participants based on their use of jargon, gesturing and credibility. Who will take home the trophy and who will totally choke? Come see for yourself! Two things came to mind for me. 1. Battledecks with your class. You set up a serious of slides that deal with your topic. Divide the class into groups and give out the deck. They’ve got X minutes to come up with the content to match the slides. Points are awarded for relevancy, creativity/entertainment, jargon etc. For English, this could get really creative. It’d be an awesome way to do work with vocabulary words or story structure. They could pitch a story Hollywood style using as many vocabulary words as possible while working the story through the basic steps (rising action, etc). You could add difficulty by forcing genres on the students (nice way to review those elements as well). Now, this won’t work at all if you’re giving them traditional bullet point slide decks to […]

Feel Like Going to TED?

There’s a TED Conference pass for sale on EBay. It’s now at $32,000 (starting price was $10,000 and it’s gone up $9,000 since I looked last night). Bidding ends on February 3rd so you’ve still got time. If you haven’t watched the TED conferences they are up for free on iTunes (video or audio) or the TED site. I’d check them out for three reasons. There are some great talks relating directly to education There are tons of options to pull these videos into class to introduce or enrich any subject you can think of This is a perfect chance to watch some really spectacular presentations and look for ways to use their techniques and style in your delivery