Instructional Media or “What’s an Overhead?”

Entries Tagged as 'Internet Tools'

The Assessment, The Evaluation, the The Rubric…do they matter?

June 26th, 2010 · No Comments

This post is a discussion of the self-assessment I did for one of my many Wilkes Projects. I chose one from my first course, a Google Earth Virtual Field Trip for the course EDIM 508- Digital Media in the Classroom. I completed a rather unique and, I thought at the time, original, use of this kind of project. I chose to map out a Grade 7 novel, Remote Man, that I had used with my students. Author Elizabeth Honey had collaborated with me a number of times to create a live, online discussion with my students about the book. It seemed natural to explore this story using Google Earth. I blogged about this before in 2008. Later on, I polished the virtual field trip when I discovered a website,, that promoted the use of Google Earth as a way to teach literature. I was thrilled that my work was published. This kind of reward far outweighs the grade received from my Wilkes instructor or my own self-evaluation here!

The Rubric I chose was one of the samples provided and was a General Rubric for Multi-Use Projects, and includes a long list of criteria areas, as well as criteria unique to certain types of projects, including multi-media, Powerpoint and Google Earth field trips. Since it included the project type I chose to evaluate, it seemed a good fit.

I chose a limited number of criteria to self-evaluate my work:

  1. Multimedia Components
    1. Descriptive or narrative
      1. Shows evidence of pre-writing; well structured; does not ramble; length is appropriate and shows some editing. Mark: A
      2. Google Earth tour-Tour has 8 placemarks; connected with the GE path tool; displaying a photo ,a brief description, and a link or embedded material. Mark: A- due to GE path not used
  2. Required Elements
    1. Deep Reasoning & Understanding- The Rubric cited requires that teachers apply specific criteria that would be in their Assessment Plan for evidence of learning. My evidence is the fact that I elaborately connected material in the book Remote Man, information and insights of the author, my own personal experiences and insights, about the story, and its meaning, in a unique and creative way. My Mark: A
    2. Learning Targets-
      1. Factual Information-facts in the first 2 sections show a detailed and thorough understanding of concepts, processes, problems, benefits, or issues. Mark: A
      2. Mechanics of writing-Mark: A
      3. Ethical use of images and music;
        1. All images and music are from CC sources, used with written permission, or original. Mark: A
  3. Effectiveness and Impact
    1. Thoughtful, Persuasive, Creative, Original, Compelling, Emotional appeal
      1. 5 or 6 criteria are present in any or all of the parts of the presentation- Mark: A
  4. Injection of Personality
    1. The personality of the writer is evident through his/her use of humor, personal experiences, and development of a personal point of view. Mark: A

So this is the point where the Rubric ends. There needs to be some other criteria for this specific project, but the ones above, chosen from the example Rubric, certainly cover most of the product.

Here are some Google Earth skills and process criteria that would be useful for the evaluation, some of which were included in the original Course EDIM 508 Rubric for the project and should be included, in some form, in a student Rubric.

  1. Instructional design (clear instructions, logical flow between placemarks, etc.)
  2. Insertion of images
  3. Integration of content in placemarks
  4. Application- used the learning is a unique or original application
For further information about this project, the Reflection Paper document I submitted with it provides extra discussion and explanation.
Overall, I achieved an “A” and rightly so! My work was original, in that I applied my learning in a unique way and furthermore, had it published more widely as a result. Did all this matter? Yes! But the intrinsic rewards bestowed on me when I saw it published on the Internet were far greater!

Tags: Internet Tools

Mobiles in the Mountains Redux

June 25th, 2010 · No Comments

In my recent post about how Australian teacher Jarrod Robinson used mobile phones on field trips, I referred to Robinson’s well crafted Blog that is really worth following. I am pleased to say that has written a follow up to my questions about his Grampian Mountain Project on his Blog, explaining some of the challenges and successes of the project.
Check it out!

Tags: Internet Tools

Digital Portfolio- The Rodcast “Wiki Edition”

June 19th, 2010 · No Comments

Here is a link to The Rodcsat- Wiki Edition which is my continuing Digital Portfolio of the 10 classes in the Wilkes Instruction Media Program.

Tags: Internet Tools

Mobiles in the Mountains

June 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I noted that a number of the more innovative projects where mobile phones are used (mobile, by the way, is the term used almost everywhere but North America) is in Australia, from the list we were given for this analysis. I immediately keyed in on Jarrod Robinson’s wonderful class records of their trip to Victoria’s Grampian Mountains National Park. Australia is a geographic wonder, and a short (sometimes very long!) drive in any direction often leads one to very unique environments in which to explore and learn.

Wow! The Grampians (named after a range of mountains in the highlands of Scotland) are an incredibly unique geological feature of the Victorian landscape, and one of the many reasons I really liked this project was my personal familiarity with the area. We lived in Victoria in 2007 and as as family, we took four trips to the Grampians combined, due to its unique environment. Ironically, it was 6 months into our year in Australia before I encountered a wild kangaroo. That happened on my first visit to The Grampians, where hundreds wandered freely in the bush and in the villages, like the Joey pictured above. Students grasp the unique connections between the geography and biology of a place when they are evident firsthand.

Every school child in Australia has an equal opportunity to go to “school camp” and my youngest son spent his week in the Grampians on a similar trip to the one featured in Robinson’s Victorian Certificate of Education Year 11 Outdoor and Environmental Studies Trip. This course is one of the courses that can be taken for high school completion for year 11 in Victoria.

Robinson’s classes recorded audio blogs during the experience, captured photographs, and then created Slideshare Presentations to synthesize their learning after the trip, which are embedded in the class Blog page.

Coincidentally, our school trip leaves Monday morning for a cultural and historical learning experience in Quebec City, a UNESCO world heritage site and the only walled city in North America. Students “peuvent pratiquer le français” and be immersed in “the joie de vivre” of Quebec. We’ll be broadcasting live fom my iPhone back to the school on

I contacted Robinson in a variety of ways, knowing that he is in the middle of report writing mode at the school year’s halfway mark in Victoria, an extremely challenging and difficult element of the Victorian school teacher’s job. He acknowledged my inquiry on Facebook and then later, answered the edited questions I posed:

  1. How did you mange to convince the Principal/Headmaster to allow the use of phones by students?
  2. Were there any other policy obstacles you had to overcome before doing this?
  3. What was the parental reaction to  this project?
  4. Were there any other challenges (technical or otherwise) that you had to deal with?
He replied this way:
  1. In order to convince the principal I showed her the actual software and idea in action. She was then in a position to see the potential and realise how valuable it would be for the learning experience. She gave me permission to trial it as long as it was under the direct supervision of myself.
  2. Our school policy at the time was against use of mobile phones within class. This trial was an exception to see just how they could be used for good.
  3. The parental reaction was quite positive, parents were able to log onto the website and listen to their kids blogs as they were happening. The students reactions were only temporary, the students thought it was cool but in the end their mobile phones are everyday items to them. I didn’t expect them to make a fuss over what they see is normal technology. As teachers we shouldn’t expect them to think these sorts of things are amazing….because in our students world’s…they are just normal…
  4. The only potential challenge I faced was ensuring that all students had access to a mobile phone. So before deciding on the project I surveyed students to find out the data and then based my decision on this. It turned out that all students did have access, which meant I could safely go ahead with the project.
A point that emerges from Robinson’s use of mobile phones in class is that, when phones are banned, they become a clandestine tool for mischief by students intent on circumventing the rules. Outside of the supervision of teachers, they will be used for purposes that easily slip towards the lowest common behaviour. When they are embraced as a learning tool, as a means to document and describe learning, then most students understand the purpose and the expectations and rise to the challenge. There is a lesson here for reluctant adopters of mobile phone technology in their programs.

Jarrod Robinson also has an excellent, award winning Blog in which he records other innovative methods for using technology in Physical Education, Outdoor Education, and Environmental Studies, all areas in which I have a great interest. He also presents at various Australia conferences and his innovative integration of technology into his classes is noteworthy. I’ve added him to my Google Reader list. He can be contacted in any of the following ways:

Email –

Twitter – mrrobbo

Skype – robbo6486

Tags: Internet Tools

Convergence…or why I wanted to be a teacher

June 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Introduction- Part 1a- “Medium”

Introduction- Part 1b- “McLuhan”

To see a short video clip about McLuhan, visit this link.

Part 2: “Convergence”

Part 3: “Convergence 3”

Part 4: “Conclusion”

Part 5: “Credits”

Comments: text your comment to my Wiffiti screen!

Text @wif29422 + your message to 87884
Being a teacher is…

Tags: Internet Tools

Skype an Author- a webinar about…creating a classroom webinar

June 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

While checking the EdTech Talk calendar, I noticed a webinar for Tuesday this week that looked interesting. The timing was off, however. I just could not make the EdTech webinar schedule sync with mine, so I looked at the Classroom 2.0 list that I receive by email. I have, on occasion, sat in on one of these and they’ve been very informative. There was an announcement there about the Learn Central webinars for the week. Turns out they were offering one in just a few minutes time Monday night so I set up the MacBook Pro with headphones and clicked the link and got ready to go.

Skype an Author is a Wetpaint Wiki set up by an author and a Library media specialist. Mona Kerby and Sarah Chauncey, author and librarian, respectively, had an opportunity for one to meet the other on a school visit. In a subsequent year, the author visited via Skype, and the idea took off from there. Their Wiki links classroom teachers to authors and assists them in setting up virtual visits. According to the site, “The mission of the Skype an Author Network is to provide K-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits.”

The medium for Learn Central is Elluminate Live! a medium with which I am now quite familiar. I had hoped it would be via another delivery method to give me a different experience. The event was hosted by another person and the guests explained how their idea came to fruition and how it works.

There were lots of questions in the chat box in Elluminate as the audience became engaged in the idea of bringing authors to the children, and how it could work in various schools and settings. The presenters went through some “dos and don’ts” for arranging a visit, setting up the technology and prepping the audience for the exchange between students and the author.

This is an excellent example of the type of webinar that can really bring the outside world into the classroom, with lots of practical suggestions for a successful session. This is the kind of presentation that encourages teachers and allows them to explore the possibilities of virtual visits. Kids are naturally curious about books and authors and reluctant teachers (those who might be intimidated by technology) might be ready do something like this if they were to see this done successfully by a colleague. With over 200 authors on the list of available “Skype an Author” participants, there is probably one that will fit your grade and program. A quick search of the author list showed numerous Canadian authors, lots of US based authors, as well as a number of international authors. The choices are very broad. The medium for the exchange is also negotiable- it could be Skype, Elluminate, Adobe Connect or iChat. Short sessions are free, and longer ones may involve a fee.

Ironically, I arranged an author “visit” using a private chat room back in 2004, before Skype and its cousins existed. Australian author Elizabeth Honey met with my class on more than one occasion to discuss her book Remote Man. Having a live author communicating with students is really an engaging, motivating experience, especially from so far away . This was echoed in the comments by the presenters.

Every time I participate in webinars I find that there is some great idea or significant learning that can be used in a classroom context. I have, as mentioned, tried a few different webinar venues and will, no doubt, follow some more, perhaps over the summer when I have more time (and after finishing this Wilkes course, which is my last!).

Teaching Science next year, I intend to incorporate a virtual visit by a scientist, perhaps an astronomer or Canadian astronaut, to parallel our Space unit. But an author visit could be added to the language program or social studies program by our Grade 6 team next year.

The Skype and Author webinar archive can be viewed in Elluminate here.

Tags: Internet Tools

Phone film inspiration

June 8th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Just saw this film and had to put it up here! It may inspire my classmates who are working hard on creating a film entirely on their phone.

Tags: Internet Tools

Web 2.0 meets Web of Life

June 3rd, 2010 · No Comments

The assignment was this: take an established lesson that you teach, and rewrite it to include a Social Network. You might envision how grade sevens could use Facebook to do their fractions, or perhaps how Twitter could be used to explore word usage in Language Arts (come to think of it, these ideas have the seeds of successful classroom learning activities, but I digress). This lesson took a standard summative assessment task assignment for Grade 7 Science in the Ontario Curriculum, and used a lesser know Social network, Edmodo, for students to share and evaluate their products.

In the Ontario Science Curriculum, the unit Interactions in the Environment includes the following expectations:

  1. explain why an ecosystem is limited in the number of living things (e.g., plants and animals, including humans) that it can support
  2. describe ways in which human activities and technologies alter balances and interactions in the environment

Using the theme of “Local Endangered Species,” students will gather, organize and analyze information about a local species under threat and create a mindmap using a Web 2.0 tool. They must then post their mindmap to the Edmodo discussion forum, and use a Rubric to checklist their own as well as some peers’ work, and add their comments too. The Mindmap should include information about: biology, habitat, local range, status, an action plan for improving the status as well as images, maps or links. Of course, students would have received direct instruction about mind mapping as well as introductions to the various Web 2.0 mind mapping sites before beginning. They would also require an introduction to Microblogging, specifically the use of Edmodo.

I experimented with three Web 2.0 Mindmap tools in the process, and these were invaluable lessons in themselves for assessing the strengths and weakness of various tools for school use. Mindmeister was the most flexible (it has lots of features such as links and images), Mindomo the most robust features, but with a steeper learning curve and was the simplest to use, and also yielded the plainest mindmaps due to limited features. Each has advantages appropriate for various learners and could be used to assist in differentiating instruction.

The choice of Edmodo as the social network tool was simple. I wanted a tool that I had limited experience handling (I tried it out with a few colleagues one day over a year ago but never in the classroom) and it also had limited features that would not overshadow the learning goals of the unit. The focus was on local endangered species, and peer sharing and evaluation, not the many features of a full blown social network. Click on the image below for a closer look at the Edmodo environment.


Edmodo Screenshot

Edmodo Screenshot

Before starting, I reactivated my Edmodo account and became re-familiar with the Edmodo environment. It handles simple posts (140 characters) but also handles embedded objects, like the Mindmaps I was going to create. I made three “student” accounts and a class group in which to work, and then set about trying the three Mindmap products. When I opened Mindmeister, I discovered a map that I had created for a previous Wilkes course some time ago. It was related to the same ecosystems topic so I posted it as my sample.

Teacher Sample

After setting up my student account, I set out to improve on the quality of the teacher sample and use Mindmeister’s full set of features. The results are embedded below.

Monarch Butterfly Mindmap

Jefferson Salamander Mindmap using

Hooded Warbler Mindmap using Mindomo

The Mindomo embedded Mindmap may not appear, so its direct link is provided here.

An added element for evaluation would be to include a Google Form for the self, peer and teacher evaluation, like the sample below. The form would include all elements of the Rubric as well as comment spaces, that correspond to how well each expected feature was done and the depth of research that was completed.

Example Google Form for Evaluation

Please email me if you wish to obtain access to my Wilkes Edmodo group and see how the embedded links and student submissions appear.
This is a practical example of the merging of Science and Web 2.0, and I look forward to implementing it with students.

Tags: Internet Tools

UPDATE- Canada’s New Copyright Law tabled in House of Commons

June 2nd, 2010 · No Comments

Although it’s too early to tell for certain, it seems as though the rumours about what was to be in Canada’s new Copyright Law were pretty much dead on. A few weeks ago I blogged about the impending introduction of the new law, Bill C-32. According to today’s CBC report, Michael Geist, chair of Internet Law at Ottawa University claims that the Bill as written, “is flawed, but fixable.”

We’ll be following this one very carefully. Stay tuned.

Full text of Bill C-32 can be read here.

The announcement was made in a rather unusual way, from the headquarters of video game designer EA in Montreal. The news release is linked here.

Tags: Internet Tools

Web 2.0- Something for everyone is a problem for my Google Reader

May 29th, 2010 · No Comments

Following the feed of just a few Web 2.0 review sites in my Google reader is a problem for me. I find that I have to login to my Reader at least twice a day otherwise my unread updates overwhelm my ability to keep up with them, and that’s just the feeds about Web 2.0 apps. I follow some other Tech Leaders as well, and need to make time to read, in depth, what they are saying or commenting on.

The rapid development of Web 2.0 applications, especially those with relevance to education, makes keeping up a bit of a chore. Fortunately, I have learned that there are lots of other keen educators out there like me doing the same thing, and their feeds are often the place where the best tips about new apps come from. Reading a few blogs from these tech leaders, and the feeds from and Fedmyapp keep me up to speed on the newest Web 2.0 sites that are making waves in the Educational Technology world and beyond, but it is the experience of others that makes the difference about which apps receive attention for their suitability in schools. I may learn about an app from the two feeds above, but it is the community that provides the recommendations, the classroom proven tips, the filter (to use the expression that this blog post must reflect upon) that proves the value of an app.

A few human filters come to mind that should be on everyone’s Twitter or Blog list. My Number One is Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers. Byrne provides a daily post about great free stuff available for educators, mostly Web 2.0. My second human filter is the blog Teach Paperless. Although primarily an advocate for the environment, the Web 2.0 suggestions I’ve picked up from this site are great.

A site I started to recommend for teachers in my school, as well as students, who did not have Smart Ideas at home, was to use Meindmeister for creating concept maps or mindmaps. One of my colleagues tested it out, and discovered some questionable content when using the insert photo feature- the default photo was a scantily clad woman.  I was sure that Meindmeister was a useful educational tool and that it intended, by its documentation, that education was a target market. I emailed the support team and, after a few email exchanges, including an apology, the problem was rectified. I now suggest this Web 2.0 app for students needing to create collaborative mindmaps.

Here are 5 apps that I came across during the week that deserve a look, some which are educationally outstanding. I used and Cool Tools for Schools Wiki as my source of sites and chose a variety of tools: drawing, art, collaborative, audio and video. is an online diagram drawing tool which is really useful for creating flowcharts and other simple diagrams. The diagrams are crisp and there’s lots of styles to choose from, from classic flowcharts to more free-flowing, organizational and icon based diagrams. A jpg or png file can be downloaded, but only one diagram can be saved online at a time, and there is no EDU version. Students have to sign up. But for great digrams, this one is simple and straight-forward.

Scores–   Age Appropriate: 4 Cost: 4 User Friendliness: 3  Collaboration: 1  Final Product: 3 Higher-Order Learning: 3 Edu-Friendly Features: 2

Overall Points: 20/28

Recommendation– Lovely Charts is a great drawing tool for students, with a simple interface and clean layout in a safe, clutter free environment.

StatusRecommend is an abstract art creation tool. Click a tool and start drawing. The art is randomly generated depending on mouse clicks and the tool that is chosen. It’s fun and creative but the results are, well, just random! There is a quick save to jpg or png. No accounts are needed, but there is no collaboration tool, nor is there any way to save or embed the product. Being abstract, there is a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” argument about both the artistic value and the higher-order learning that would be taking place with students.

Scores:   Age Appropriate: 3  Cost: 4  User Friendliness: 3   Collaboration: 1  Final Product: 3  Higher-Order Learning: 2  Edu-Friendly Features: 3

Overall Points: 19

Recommendation: A little light on purpose, and not exactly the easiest to learn as the learning curve was a little steep, but can be used to create some very original, unique abstract art.

StatusRecommend is an online document markup and collaboration tool. It requires an email login and password, and would be most useful for high school students sharing notes on a reading or group assignment. It’s similar, in a way, to Diigo, but a lot simpler. Any Word, pdf or webpage document can be marked up, so its really versatile and the resulting document can be posted to another webpage or shared via social networks. This means that a group of students can markup a document and share their learning together in another format.

Scores:   Age Appropriate: 2 Cost: 4  User Friendliness: 4   Collaboration: 4   Final Product: 4  Higher-Order Learning: 4  Edu-Friendly Features: 3

Overall Points: 25

Recommendation: A nicely featured tool with good educational value that is a mix of Google Docs, Diigo and Word, all in a Web 2.0 package.

StatusHighly Recommended is an audio tool that uses your telephone or mobile phone to record a podcast, a “phonecast” as it were, and to have the audio converted to a web 2.0 tool that can be emailed, embedded or shared. This is an excellent tool for students and teachers. Not only can a podcast be created from anywhere using a toll free number, but the audio is then converted to text automatically. The uses are many: recording a speech, use with special education students, speech-to-text, an audio journal, news reporting…the list is limited by one’s own creativity. There’s even an iPhone app.

Scores:   Age Appropriate: 4  Cost: 4  User Friendliness: 4   Collaboration: 2   Final Product: 3  Higher-Order Learning: 3  Edu-Friendly Features: 2

Overall Points: 22

Recommendation: A great tool with limitless possibilities, which ranks even higher than the score indicates.

StatusHighly Recommended

The Newseum

The is a website that falls outside the strict defintion of Web 2.0, but when I saw it on Cool Tools for School Wiki I had to add it to my list. Although Washington, D.C. has free access to most of its amazing museums, one that charges a fee to enter, but that is worth every US cent, is The Newseum. Not far down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, in the direction of the US Capitol, and, coincidentally, next to the Canadian Embassy, the Newseum is an amazing place to explore. Featuring exhibits that help people of all ages to understand the way that news is made, collected, reported, shared and delivered around the world, in all its forms. It’s a place that should be on everyone’s Washington, DC to-do list.

You never know who you’ll meet there! While admiring my embassy next door from the viewing deck, I met “Flat Stanley,” who was also visiting D.C.

However exciting the Newseum is in person, the real benefit of its online presence is the ability to read the news from around the world, all in one place. Each day, the front page of papers from all corners of the globe are posted to the site, which is a great resource. The Newseum claims to be the “the world’s most interactive museum” but the website is, unfortunately, far less than that. There are some interactive areas of the site, but they lack the ability to produce and create content.

Scores:   Age Appropriate: 3  Cost: 3 User Friendliness: 2   Collaboration: 1   Final Product: 1  Higher-Order Learning: 2  Edu-Friendly Features: 1

Overall Points: 13

Recommendation: A good source of news headlines, but the lack of interactive features makes it less appealing.

Status: Worth a look only, unless the newspapers are needed for a class project. Otherwise pass on the website. Save your money for the class visit to D.C.

Tags: Internet Tools