Tech-rific Semester

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Will you join me on my journey through my Educational Technology class? If you accept this mission, I hope you will comment and tell me your experience with #edtech.

Entering the Vortex

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It was a late evening in the dead of winter as I walked through the door of my ED tech class, “great” I thought to myself, I already know all of this so why do I have to take this class. Wow was I in for a MindShift, even though I thought I knew everything that was going to be taught, in reality, I know very little.

Every educator at some point in time will come to this fork in the road; one path leads to stagnation, while the other leads to fulfillment. What do I mean by that exactly? Well its simple, if I would have stayed in this mindset, I would have lost the chance to learn vital information. Whereas, by taking the open mindset path, I gained the opportunity to expand my knowledge and become and even greater instructor.

Luckily, I decided to take the open road; this involved me humbling myself and admitting that I didn’t know everything and that others could expand my knowledge of technology and its various implementations. After this first week passed and I attempted to amend my shortcomings, I tried to push myself beyond my comfort zones.

The SMARTest Way

Through my interaction with SMART Notebook software, I was able to see my shortcomings. I found that I was very competent in the software on my own, but my perfectionism came out during the creation of my lesson. I quickly lost myself in the details; I spent so much time trying to make everything perfect that I missed the flow of my work a little. I found that there has to be a nice mix of flow and interactivity; creating intricate lessons can quickly waste an instructors time.

SMART Notebook and quickly take a lesson that had partial student engagement to one that has 100% engagement if you incorporate it with interactive websites such as Socrative, or Poll Everywhere. With its ability to easily integrate videos, links, and assignments I can now create lessons that just flow. Not to mention incorporating QR codes that can be scanned from students Bring Your Own Device’s (BYOD). I have always been an advocate for living in a sustainable way; not only am I helping my students achieve their greatest potential, but I am also helping save our environment.

Your PLN Has Your Back

imgres.jpgThis takes me into the Personal Learning Network (PLN) section of this class, which I believe to be the key to any teachers existence. On your own, it is impossible to achieve flow, but if you have built an incredible network of fellow educators, it is achievable. There are many great SMART Notebook lessons that others have created that, you can shift to align with your teaching experience. Twitter provides a vast network detect individuals that can help you through new tech implementations or even provide links great resources that you could add to your lessons.

I have always been an indented individual, but I can now see that my job would be a whole lot harder if I don’t connect with what other educators that are flowing with knowledge and experience. Through my extensive PLN, I have the possibility to expand my impact. I want to be an educator that is known for positive change and my blog/vlog, Twitter, and Pinterest, allow me to grow and share the positivity that I gain from others.

Google What?

Education used to be about what you as an educator could bestow upon your students, but the internet has taught us that teaching and knowledge go beyond our classroom walls. Here is where Google G-Suite for education takes the stage, it allows an educator to bring the outside world in and provides the tools for students to consume and create. Through these tools, students can interact with their projects individuals or in group environments.

The greatest thing that Google G-Suite has been able to achieve is a new system of connectedness. A connection is a key to a great workflow, and the teacher can use other sites that incorporate this connection and be able to keep all of their assessments centralized. Instead of having to create multiple logins for your class one login provides access to various student resources and evaluation tools. I can see this playing a critical role in classroom scaffolding; here an instructor can create specialized quizzes and assignments that are leveled to the different learning levels within the class.

Not only does Google classroom simplify an instructor’s use of technology, but it also allows them to receive detailed analyses of students progress. Therein the educator can create lessons and projects that can be customized to individual students or groups of students.

Interactive World

Now we come to the part of the class that placed me outside my comfort zone, up till this point I had never actually experienced interactive websites in my K-12 education. Therefore how could I integrate them into my teaching experience? Well, I feel now, that the mountain looks more like a molehill, especially once I got to experience such a wide variety of sites for both a student perspective and a future educators perspective. Sites such as Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Quizizz, etc. vary in their classroom use and student experience. Each website has its set of pros and cons, but they all have the ability push your students beyond mere consumption.

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If they are well placed within a lesson, used as an exit slip, or even homework, and educator such as myself would have the ability to push students out of their comfort zones and better prepare them for a world filled with technology. That added with better student engagement, specifically positive engagement; wherein students would be more likely to retain and share the information that they have learned.

Lights, Camera, Action!

With the advent of YouTube and a world, where everything can be learned by watching someone else, it is key to teach students how to interact and share their knowledge with others. As I was able to experience multiple times throughout the semester; moviemaking can play a critical role in student expression and group learning environments. I was able to learn how to implement visual storytelling as a component of my lessons; I also experienced how video can be used as a medium to expand your PLN through vlogging.

2439081304_40d7d88c12.jpgI have come to realize just how important storytelling or reflection is to a student’s conception of course materials. Just as blogging can revolutionize the paper journal, vlogging has transformed the ordinary blog website. For those students that just don’t find a connection with writing their thoughts, vlogging provide a new pathway for the same end results. I decided to take a leap into this new world of expression, and after reading George Couros’s latest blog, maybe we need to be Providing students with the means to a whole new career.

The Round Up

Education is all about preparing our students to excel and find jobs in the world after school; Technology is at the core of every major job. I plan on finding ways to incorporate the tools that I have learned this semester in a way that will allow my classroom environment to flow smoothly. More importantly, I now have an open mindset, desiring to push my students beyond the core curriculum, to provide them with a great tech base. For instance, finding ways of incorporating Hour-of-Code and 3D printing into my core classes.

I am glad to say that spring is on its way, gone are the cold, dreary days of winter when I first entered this class, I am now armed with new teaching tools ready to prepare my students to become great digital citizens that are ready for what the future holds.

 

A Profound Narative

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This last month and a bit have been so crazy busy, not only have I been writing papers but I decided to mix up my final assignment. If you haven’t watched my vlog about coding and tech in the classroom, then you would probably not know about my venture into videography and vlogging. Because of this passion, I decided to take on two large final projects entered around this medium.

I had the opportunity to meet a successful Canadian poet, Shane Book; wherein I was able to witness his venture into videography, as a means to tell a story. I discussed with him my passion for videography and the techniques he uses to convey his message. He said that a story should be able to be understood through the visual arts without any words.

With this knowledge I approached my ENGL 301 partners: Stefanie Connor and Hawa Kamara, with an idea of using mini videos as a way of conceptualizing Athol Fugard’s play, “”Master Harold”…and the boys”. They both saw my passion and added their own to the project. Through the filming process, we were able to see Medicine Hat College’s student population as progressive and caring individuals. Not only did the process allow us to create a profound learning experience for our fellow peers, but it pushed us out of or own comfort zones and changed our perspective of or school and peers.

At the same time, I was also filming another video project in my GNED 234 class with Shae Fedorak. This production had a substantially different composition than the ENGL 301 project. Instead of focusing on profound mini video stories, we decided to create the story of community through a combination of interviews. Through these interviews, we were able to interview key movers and shakers in our community of Medicine Hat. By snipping and editing, we were able to create a unifying and profound narrative of our community.

Who knew an investment in tech could have lead to such diversely different, yet profoundly the same learning breakthroughs? Instead of just completing these projects, I found myself morphing through the production process. If you are an educator questioning taking the dive into moviemaking assignments with your students, I would tell you it is well worth every dollar you spend. Education becomes a game changer when it has the power to create a world full of creators than just consumers.

I spent a substantial amount of money on a professional video camera and professional editing software, but in the end, I cannot put a price on the knowledge that I have gained through these experiences.

Being a 3D Educator

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Since I am one of those educators that’s always wanting to try new things and learn as much as I possibly can; why not take the one hour 3D printing course at the college. So that’s what I did.

Up to this point, I have had little to no experience with 3D printing or design for that matter, so this was a new experience for me. But being an educator that loves innovative tech that works well, how could I not take the opportunity. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the products that it could produce, along with the almost nonexistent learning curve (for the printing part at least). The class left me yearning to print every great idea that has been sitting in the dark corners of my mind.

The Basics

To truly utilize the printer, you have to have 3D .STL files, there are two ways to get these. The first being pre-made designs From sites such as Thingiverse, the second is through your own creations. When it came to this second option I wanted to find some great applications that would be easy for an elementary student to create on; Tinkercad and Morphi app fit the bill.

Tinkercad is an online app, which is accessible from tablets and computers, it also works across platforms such as Apple, Windows, and Chrome. When it comes to classroom integration, students can log in using an email and password; now this could be different in the educational copy (which is free for educators and students). Once a student has logged in for the first time, they are directed to complete a series of exercises that teach them the basics for the program. This app does the basic instruction for the educator, and it has the minimalism that is essential for a smooth classroom implementation.

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On the other hand, Morphi is paid app that has a steeper learning curve. The app only runs on an iPad, and I recommend that you have devices with at least a 9.7-inch screen, the large the screens provide students with a large design surface. From a financial standpoint, this app has a price point of about $13 (but this is a one-time purchase). Its design process does not include a basic tutorial but has similar functions to Tinkercad. If you have some students that are needing a higher level of difficulty and find Tinkercad to be too simplistic, this app fills the spot nicely.

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Future Classroom Implementation

Overall after trying numerous apps, I can confidently say that 3D printing will be an investment I plan to follow through with in my own classroom. After seeing how easy it was to design and print a simple keychain using simple initials, I am looking forward to purchasing my own 3D printer over the summer and refining a lesson that can include the technology.

Education is no longer simply about imparting knowledge, but now involves students expanding their abilities through exploration and experimentation. 3D printing provides a new technological channel that will prepare our students for future job opportunities. The creator mindset has to be cultivated to push our society beyond the consumption rut we are now finding ourselves.

Social [Change]

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Ever since I was a child, my parents taught me about the importance of how you present yourself. My childhood did not consist of substantial time spent on social media or technology. Instead, I spent most of my time outdoors exploring the world around me.

Being raised as an only child, I would spend most of my time alone with my dog sitting and complementing life. My life has never revolved around what other people think of me, but rather what I think of myself. Everything I have done, I hold myself accountable for; It is for this very reason that social media has never been the center of my life. To this day the only real social media presence that I have is what this class has provided and my joint Facebook account with my wife.

Since social media to me was nothing more than a way to elevate oneself among others, I did not hold it in high importance among my life goals. To me, value comes from how you present yourself in person on a regular basis. But not everyone has the same values and standards, and social media to many has been a way of getting attention from their peers and friends.

Many people today call me a nerd or a techie, but to me, that does not mean holding a significant presence online. Rather it defines my ability to produce and create using the technology that I have learned to embrace. I have always viewed my social media presence as a way to influence those around me in a positive way, instead of consuming what others have placed haphazardly, I believe we should create with thought and passion.

Some people have described me as being too deep, but I believe that it is this depth that has created the best version of myself. Though I previously did not see the need for a social media presence, I now see how I can create in a meaningful way for others. I also have been able to see that other like-minded individuals are creating a significant impact as well.

I believe that as teachers we must strive to be a positive influence on not only our students but to the world around us. After researching my presence online, I am sad to say that I failed the online part till this class. Now I have finally found a way to create and present my depth in a meaningful way. I might not be able to change the world on my own, but with the help of those around me and around the world it very well is possible.

I have never been one to hide who I am or what I’m about, but with saying that, I do like to separate my personal and professional life. Everyone needs to have a life outside their job; I have learned the consequences of turning your hobby into your job. Therefore I do like my privacy. I do not want to be dealing with parents or students on a constant basis, which the internet provides regular access.

My parents raised me with the knowledge of when to check out, and my Saturdays are a rest day, one where I don’t focus on work, school or technology, but rather on what matters, and that is family and friends. Your job is always a part of your life, but to be the best educator, we need to have that valuable down time to recharge.

Each day I will continue to work towards building a stronger professional social network, One that will positively impact my coworkers, students and the environment around me. I will be known as the educator that stands for communication, creativity, and community. Our world is changing, and as teachers, we have to be the force that shapes it for the better. #BeTheChange #Positivity #SmileMore

The D.C. MindShift in an AC World

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The Internet is filled with facts and information, some of it real some of it fake. As educators, we have to know how to direct our students to information that is meaningful and real; the less is more philosophy flows right into this lesson and is the key to our online existence. The ability to have a small amount of sound and reliable facts, it is not always about having a ton of information.

Cammie presented us with a challenge, a time-based quiz to answer questions before our peers. My teammate and I tried to cruise through the quiz, but I am a slow and methodical thinker, and I was a little wary about the question and answers we were completing. If it were not for the time element, I believe I would have examined the sites we were obtaining information from in full detail. That was not the case here, for the sake of the quiz, I placed aside my questioning mindset and only pulled and placed information, without a second thought.

Such is the challenge of the internet, with so much information at our fingertips, we overlook the value of the information that we retrieve. After returning to the http://www.dhmo.org and http://city-mankato.us websites, I was able to see the error of my ways honestly.

First off both sites visually looked outdated and simplistic, if I were to compare the http://city-mankato.us site to our http://www.city.medicine-hat.ab.ca website. It is easy to see which one looks professional. Yes, the information is important, but it is vital that the information we use and consume is relevant and real. I took for granted that the sites Cammie gave us were genuine and consistent, I did not take the time to research into the city of Mankato or Dihydrogen Monoxide honestly. Instead of having “the first one done mentality” and striving for quality over speed, I would have been able to provide real reliable information, instead of fake information.

This task taught me not to take everything I see and read as reality; I need to prepare myself and my students, firstly to slow down and secondly to annualize the information that the receive from me and online. Digital Citizenship is not something we are born with, and even when you are a college student, it is easy to get lost in the speed of things. Therefore as an educator, it is key to remind ourselves what it means to be a savvy Digital Citizen.

Through research and intuition are key to our online existence. A reality that is quickly becoming essential to our daily lives. Students need to be educated in this new standard and realize how their actions have a ripple effect. I found  implementation so profound that it has caused me to have a mind shift with my application of its instruction in my class.

The Flow Creators in a Sea of Apps

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So when I started this assignment, I had a hard time finding an app that interested me and sparked my creativity. I like an app that works smoothly, without bumps along the way. The flow and function of an app should be simple to understand, without any prior training or understanding. Creativity thrives in an environment free from distractions and hurdles, for this very. The reason I picked Seedling Comic Studio app to spread my wings of creativity.

I immediately fell in love with the app Seedling had designed, it was straightforward and simple to use. Specifically with areas labeled add and edit. Your creative tools were at your fingertips, metaphorically and literally. There was absolutely no lag in the app performance, and as each page changed with it numerous editing features, the buttons stayed either at the bottom or top bars, with an occasional call to action pop up. Such simplistic design made for an easy learning curve, instead of running up a hill to take off, Seedling made it feel like I already had the momentum, with an easy downhill traverse.

The ability to shift and lengthen your story line by quickly changing the layout opens up the doors of possibility, whether it be a single page comic for a billboard, or a several page comic book masterpiece. If we look specifically at the later, it is easy to see how a simple classroom journaling assignment can get a twist of pizzaz. Or you could do a graphic novel study and then ask your students to create their individual or even in groups.

Where this app takes off is in its ability to import classic comic book style with modern image importation. Here I was able to take pictures of myself against a blank backdrop and seamlessly import myself into the comic using the handy cutout tool. I even went beyond its said capabilities and imported a picture of a keychain, by using the cutout tool to manually import the image that I wanted, using the touch screen selection tool within. This is where the program loses a bit of its flow and simplicity, instead of just incorporating a quick cut out tool for humans and faces, it should have the same simplicity for items that have been taken with a neutral background.

Depending on your student level of creativity, this app poses even deeper layers. Such as the ability to chance the filters on backgrounds and cutouts. By using locations around your school or classroom and then adding a filter to give it a comic book vibe, the students would be able to merge reality with imagination, it an entirely new way.

Apps like, Seedling Comic Studio have an essential place in the classroom; something that would take hours for a teacher to create can now be implemented in minutes. The visual outcome alone produces a finished product that many students would love to display and share with others. The group learning potential is fabulous. Seedling defiantly hit a home run here; education is no longer simply about the teaching providing capsules of information for students consumption. In the day and age where coding and apps rule the world, educators such as myself have to provide systems and devices that work smoothly together driving our students beyond the box into the unknown.

Just as a financial portfolio manager will tell you how important a diversified portfolio is to maximize your interest earning potential; a diversified education resource and tool system is fundamental every student’s growth. With that in mind, I hope you don’t take a second look and add Seedling Comic Studio to your educational resource toolbox. Just as I had to push myself to find my creative framework, I urge each and ever educator that is reading my blog to reach for these gems lost in a sea of apps.IMG_0153.JPGIMG_0154.JPG

The Tech MindShift

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Technology has always been an extension of myself; Therefore, it at times becomes just something that I must do. Because of this, I have struggled with thinking of interesting ways to apply it in my class or even make it fun again. This week I was able to experience it in a whole new light, one that gave me an aha moment. Our instructor gave us the task of going on a QR Code Scavenger Hunt using the app Goosechase; the work was engaging so much so that I could understand first-hand the importance of QR Codes. I realize how the college could simplify our interaction with the services offered, and expand student participation. Who wants to spend the time typing out a long URL or writing down all the information on an upcoming event? Since I claim to be a minimalist, what could be better than using a QR code to quickly implement Bring Your Own Device in my class, or even doing an interactive scavenger hunt to introduce a new unit? I could even go as far as getting the students to create their QR scavenger hunt, as a check for understanding, the uses are endless.