Creating a World of Sound and Images

audio

Image by Valentini, V, (2009). Retrieved from
http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1240764

Apologies to anyone who might be reading this entry! I am struggling to find new ways to explain all of the amazing digital tools and applications that we have learned (some of which I have struggled with!), but this week is no exception.

As you can see below, we explored the world of podcasts and screencasts. For the mini podcast exercise I chose Muziboo as it was quick and easy, but I have used SoundCloud (also painless, but you do need to pay for more than some trial time). I found the Jing application very cool and will go back and revisit that one as I sort through my catalogue of new tools.

As I develop some facility with these, I can see that they will definitely intersect with my own teaching and learning. Many of the topics which my colleagues and I teach require hands-on demonstration. Our students often lament that they cannot remember all of the steps of a demo after the class is over (and note-taking does not seem to hold the appeal that it once did!). We have been exploring the option of using different types of digital media and this week I may have found some answers. Now we just need to try them – practice, practice, practice – and voila – demos that can be uploaded to an LMS system for future reference.

We also added Creative CommonsCC licenses to our blogs. Obtaining the license was the easy part. The suggestion was to add them to our header or footers. The theme that I chose does not seem to have a footer, nor does it have the plugin capability, where a footer can be added easily. I spent another unsuccessful 45 minutes trying to find a tutorial that did not require adding code (something I am not prepared to do – at least not yet) to create a footer, so my solution was to use the Widgets toolbar and add the license to the sidebar.  I will live with that for a bit and see how I like it.

In my Feedly reader this week, I found a blog on ways to eliminate Death by PowerPoint – bookmarked and ready to read when all of my courses are over so that when I prepare curriculum I can start to add some new techniques – to keep me and my students engaged.

The count down is on. One week to go!

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The Evolution of Presentations

blackboard

Image by Ilker. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1206709

Over the course of my teaching I have prepared many presentations, some so low tech as to be no tech! (overhead projectors and coloured Sharpie’s on transparency paper). As technology evolved most of the lecture presentations were prepared using PowerPoint with which we all fell in love. It offered the ability to add colour and graphics; use templates and animations; embed audio and video etc. and it also evolved – making it easier to create sophisticated presentations. But, it also made it easier to embed images and material that had been ‘borrowed’ from any number of internet sites – maybe credited to the source, but, perhaps not,  if the source was not readily available.

animoto-logo-300x67

Image by Animoto. (2013). Retrieved from http://animoto.com/

This week we practiced good presentation etiquette. I relaunched an older Animoto account  with plans to use this application to create my mini-presentation. But, after I started, and as I noted below, after I read Phil’s blog, I remembered that a limitation to the free access version, was the number of slides that you can add to the final product. You can either pay for the upgraded version or apply for the Animoto Plus account for use in education which allows more unrestricted access to many of the higher end features for creating really professional videos. I will do this over the summer when (and here is the refrain!), I have more time!

sliderocket

Image by SlideRocket. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.sliderocket.com/

I have somewhat sporadically used SlideRocket in the past, and decided to use it to create the mini-presentation on responsible use of copyright. Like every other application, SlideRocket requires time and practice to learn all of its features, but it provides templates & tutorials and I find it quite intuitive when using most of its tools (please take a look at my efforts and let me know what you think).

For me, the significant piece of learning this session is the increased knowledge that I gained about appropriate use of intellectual property. I must admit that I am going to have to print some of this and keep it for a reference, as some of the guidelines for educational use are slightly different than non-educational. I am still not totally clear about the restrictions on some types of materials.  The guidelines provided in the Cite it Right and Creating a Credit Slide are very valuable, as is the Fair Dealing for Media Education article. Also required viewing at a faculty meeting is the Creative Commons video. These will all definitely find their way into my PLE and potentially my PLN as I share these with my faculty colleagues.

From Feedly this week, I found a very cool article that I thought was a nice adjunct to what we examined this session. It describes the launch of a Google tool called the Peanut Gallery that allows us to add commentary to a silent film clip. Bookmarked it with Diigo as one more thing to fully explore ‘when I have time’.

I really do intend to spend some quality time and efforts into compiling some of this very worthwhile learning into a usable and readily accessible PLN for myself. It cannot help but make my curriculum design more relevant and engaging.

Presentations: Managing Copyright

CC

Image by foxhead128. (2012). Retrieved from 128.deviantart.com/art/Unofficial-Guide-to-Creative-Commons-Licenses-302720966

This week we looked at the impact of managing copyright appropriately when creating presentations. I explored Animoto which I have used before, but upon reading Phil’s cautions in his blog, I recalled some of the limitations to this video tool. As Phil noted, Animoto presentations are really good looking – they can make us appear much more competent than we really are – but they are limited in time and capacity in the free account for which I had signed up some time ago. I then decided to try to practice my skills in a presentation app that I have used before but where I can really use some practice to fine tune my dexterity.

Hence, my presentation in SlideRocket. I find this a very user friendly presentation tool. I like the engagement for viewers better than Prezi, but like anything else it requires practice, and of course practice requires time – of which I don’t have an abundance right now!

However, as like most other Web 2.0 tools, once you get started you can immerse yourself and play for quite some time. This is a short visual presentation outlining some of the core concepts that we learned this week regarding appropriate copyright usage. Most of the images come from a site where I again signed up (one more place where I have left a footprint), but I really like the variety and quality of their free images. It is called Stock.xchng and it can be found at http://www.sxc.hu/.

Anyway, here is my SlideRocket presentation address. Feedback very welcome!

Incorporating Voice: Ways to be Heard

voice

Image by Boita, E. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1065761

As we get closer to the conclusion of our course and I consider the number of tools and applications that can be transferred to learning and educational settings, I am astonished. It is incredibly satisfying when I can take directly integrate new learning into my professional and personal practice which makes the outcome so much more than a university credit.

VoiceThread is another of these tools. Self-described as a collaborative tool that functions in the cloud, voice thread gives individual choice in the way they choose to interact; voice, webcam, with audio files, in writing, both asynchronously or synchronously.  It can facilitate group learning, engage a variety of learning styles and augment or replace in-class discussion groups. I really enjoyed its interface capability with the visuals we were examining!

PollDaddy is another tool that we explored. I have used similar types of tools such as Survey Monkey, but PollDaddy’s immediate response capability was engaging. This means that in a classroom setting others can see the impact of their opinion directly so it can be used for group decisions, topic selection, course feedback etc. pd-small@2x

One or both will definitely find their way into my PLE. I am already building a “tool kit” from what we have learned to date, so that when I have some breathing space over the summer, I can extend my learning and find ways of including elements of it in my own teaching. I am also planning a faculty meeting to share some of these ideas with my colleagues as I look to incorporate this learning into my PLN.

Several of my Reader feeds include news sites and I have been following, somewhat on the periphery, the disturbing sex assault case from Steubenbville, US. Its relevance to our learning is in the impact that social media had in both recording and disseminating images and information from the assault. Take a look here at the social media usage regarding this case. Of course, there are other very significant issues at play but, as we explore Digital Rights and Responsibilities, elements from this case act in part, as a cautionary tale about respect, safety and responsibility. This message is obviously not being sent clearly enough to impact behaviours. As I noted last week, Digital Rights and Responsibilities need to be embedded into school curriculum’s from the primary level forward. Much more media awareness needs to focus on this as an issue in a way that highlights all aspects – positive and negative – of an individual’s digital footprint.

Rant over – now on to reading for Gender!

Academic Integrity: Providing Direction

compass

Image by angelalola (2011). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1341750

Scenario 6. John and his friend Mike both have camera phones. Mike sits in the back of class and uses his phone to photograph the test for John, who is taking the test that afternoon. Mike then emails the photograph of the test to John’s phone (Ribble, 2011).

As we review digital rights and responsibilities this week we have been asked to consider a number of scenarios including the one above, that I selected for review. These three questions are to provide the framework for our responses.

Is the individual in the scenario using technology inappropriately?

What actions make the scenario appropriate or inappropriate?

What could or should the individual have done differently?

I think that most of us would agree that Mike is engaging in inappropriate behaviour that would be a breach of an educational institution’s academic integrity policies. If this was extrapolated into a non-technology scenario where Mike provided the test or test questions to John it would still constitute cheating.  Brock’s own Academic Integrity Policy provides clarity around what constitutes a student’s academic responsibilities, “Academic Dishonesty refers to a Student’s engagement (knowingly or otherwise) in behaviours that serve to deceive members of the University community in an effort to achieve academic benefit.”

This statement makes it clear that Mike is trying to provide an academic ‘edge’ for John should John choose to use it.

As I looked into this a little further, I found two articles that provided some context. With new and emerging technology, the onus is on the institution to make it very clear and specific the intent of their Acceptable Use Policy – and this needs to be a dynamic set of guidelines that evolves as technology progresses. Lawrence (2012) states that many students who have grown up in a digital age do not always understand what actions constitute an academic breach – see her interesting blog here.  If educators want to ensure that digital rights and responsibilities are appropriately understood and practiced by all then Acceptable Use language needs to be embedded into every course and not just found on an institutional web page link that students may or may not read.

Additionally, I found some data regarding WHY students cheat and how educators and students  can work collaboratively to diminish it as a practice. This article was quite enlightening and somewhat alarming as it provides insight into the tensions between learners and educators. Further, it discusses the longer-term impacts of using technology to cheat early in education that can carry over to higher education and the workplace.

Being a Digital Citizen in a Civil Society

Civil Society

Spekulator. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/888077

A critical element that is increasingly apparent to me is the importance of digital literacy to a civil society. The theory of my New Media course converged again with our Digital Contexts course. We delved deeper into the components of Web 2.0 in Digital Literacy acquiring new skills, exploring innovative apps and discovering the potential of many online tools. This learning substantiates the theories  from one of my readings regarding the concept of Web 2.0, the designation of which Dahlgren (2012) notes is an “overburdened simplifier” given that it is loaded “it with new implications” because of the “increasing participatory character of the new media platforms” (p. 30). The dynamic, collaborative and community-based nature of Web 2.0 is its appeal; conversely as a digital citizen the vast quantities of information and participatory applications can be overwhelming. Additionally, it is apparent that the associated rights and responsibilities for a digital citizen in a digital society need to be appropriately understood by media consumers. Courses such as these two in which I am engaged need to be embedded as core curriculum for learners so that we ensure that we are indeed more than ‘tech savvy’; but are in truth, fully digitally literate.

Our focus in a relatively light week (nice break!) was on wiki’s and how this collaborative tool compares to the other tools we have explored, specifically blogs, Google Docs, and Evernote. Well, thumbs up, at least philosophically. Any tool that can be used to engage students, facilitate learning and invoke interest has merit. However, until I have an opportunity to really explore its capacity, wiki’s are slightly lower in the rankings for me. Google Drive is currently the clear winner right now, with blogs and their associated tools a close second.

We were asked to determine which of the components of digital citizenship we considered most important. Here are the three that I identified:

  1. Digital Etiquette –a critical consideration for anyone engaging in online communication. The ramifications from cyber bullying; from miscommunication; from inappropriate uses; from texting in unsuitable circumstances or injudicious cell phone use are all serious and need to be factored into any communication. One of our very first links “Netiquette” was one of the best finds for me and will find its way into my courses.
  2. Digital Literacy – having just finished our Drive presentation on Digital Literacy reinforced the concepts of digital literacy which includes the “ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, create and communicate with others…” (http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/dist_learning/dig_lit_standards.htm ).

And, perhaps most importantly the third element which resonates for me is:

  1. Access – ensuring that there is equal access and inclusivity is another core principle. Digital access for organizations and individuals needs to be considered so that we can work to eliminate the haves and have not’s in a digital world.

    Access

    Access. Hanisch, A. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/806152

I found a quote in Dahlgren (2012) this week and it speaks to voice as a critical social value. He states that narrative associated with voice “is a basic element of our humanity and thus to deny it to others is to at least implicitly to deny their humanity” (p. 37). Ensuring that access to a digital world is not impeded by socio-economic barriers needs to be an ongoing goal for all digital citizens.

Working Together: Collaboration in Practice

Collaboration

Baroncini, L. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1099064

I am sensing (and it is not taking any great level of intuition) that the overarching themes of this blog is the degree to which I am impressed (and overwhelmed) by the sheer volume of amazing digital tools that are free and at our fingertips. The problem really does seem to be one of knowledge: I did not have a clue as to the depth of my ignorance prior to taking these two digital courses.

Each week I attempt to stay abreast of the learning, make note of the applications I like, bookmark great sites (in Diigo!) and play, at least a bit, with a variety of applications. I had thought that I was reasonably technologically literate before; that reality has been shattered! The Prezi presentation that we viewed as part of our learning was truly loaded with invaluable information – so many worthwhile tips and sites that can be revisited.

We further explored the collaborative process as we worked on a mini presentation in our learning teams. The number of collaborative tools available is incredible and will definitely require more exploration when time permits.

This week the tools that I put into practice included TodaysMeet, a so-called “backchannel tool” that is designed as a sort of instant chat for classroom use. It is meant to enable and to foster classroom chat in an interactive format, but without the traditional raised hands and wait for acknowledgement by the teacher. The beauty of this tool is that it can easily be transcribed for submission and later review. It is limited in characters (similar to Twitter so you need to edit yourself).

The other tool that worked very well was Google Drive in which the presentation or document etc. can be shared and worked on together in real time, or when it suits individual group members, in an asynchronous fashion. The asynchronicity of this tool is what appeals to me – as an online learner, I like to structure my time as it all fits into my timetable, but there is a very good chat tool that allows you to work on the document simultaneously while discussing the work with your partners.  This will definitely be an aspect of team learning that will find its way into my classrooms going forward. As this semester progresses, I am increasingly impressed with many of Google interfaces – more learning needed here too!  Google will likely have a prominent place in my amended PLE – it fits into the collaborative and exploration categories that I had identified, but my PLE will clearly need a significant rework.

Many of you might have stumbled upon this site, but in my Feedly this week, I found this summary of some of the most valuable edtech tools for the month by Blogger Richard Byrne. This is fast becoming a go-to site to keep myself informed of educational applications for all of the very cool tools that we are examining. For example, he provides a nice link that shows how to clean up YouTube clips to make them more appropriate for classroom use. Take a peek and see what you think.