I hit a fairly broad range of the SAMR components, and as Jeff says, not every example of technology use needs to be a reimagination or completely new way of doing things. Edutopia tells us that tech integration needs to foster “active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts,” and most of my activities hit the first three criteria. However, connection to real-world experts is not something I’ve managed to integrate. What would this look like in the real world? It should go beyond just research expert resources – that would fall in the “Substitution” component. My understanding is that kids need to interact with expert in order to move up to the Redifinition component. I don’t imagine too many history professors and think-tank members are going to want to interact with all six of my history classes. But what about armchair experts? Having kids add to Wikipedia entries or comment about current events on a site like the New York Times would expose them to authentic, content-related conversation.
So you’ve decided your school is into 21st century learning. You want specific, measurable, and achievable goals for your students; you want them to have a skillset that will enable them to be successful in the decades to come. In other words, you’ve decided to implements NETS.
So now what?
The fact is, NETS is not a set of standards for computer competency. They are a holistic set of habits and skills for the development of critical thinkers and independent learners that uses technology as a framework to develop the requisite traits. This means that implementing them is a shared – though not necessarily equally distributed – responsiblity in a school.
Here’s my Course 3 video. I didn’t finish it in time for the Course 3 Reflection, but better later than never, right? It was a fairly straightforward process to create it, but for me it looked like:
Brainstorm in my head, come up with initial concept
Outline on notebook paper
Match images to outline
Match music to outline
Write script & record voiceover (2 hours to this point)
Find images and music (4 hours to this point)
Add voiceover to iMovie; then add images and music
Shoot footage; add to iMovie (another 2-3 hours)
Tweak, tweak, tweak (probably 7 hours total from inception to completion)
I didn’t use a storyboard template to sketch out my scenes because I shot little original footage and relied mostly on images from the web. For the footage I did shoot, the purpose was instructional so it wasn’t as important to have creative cinematography.
I made my video using iMovie, still images, and the original footage that I shot on a handheld Panasonic camcorder recording to an SD card. Of the hours and hours that I spent, some of it was in figuring out how to work with clips in iMovie, but more of it was in tweaking the pace of the audio and figuring out when to cue music, video, and images. In other words, my problem was creative and artistic, not technical.
Here’s the video:
And here’s everything that could have been done better:
The first I heard of transmedia storytelling – using diverse media including TV, Web, games, and print – to tell a story was The Matrix. The creators started off with a movie, but also released animated short films, a comic, and video games. Each of these contained unique clues and backstory to the Matrix universe, so to get the whole story you needed to process several mediums and use several skills (for example, to read the comic or beat the video game).
The discipline of history and social studies emphasizes using a variety of sources to get students to understand a theme. Transmedia storytelling is a perfect match for this.
In my last post, I discussed whether international residents should bother following US copyright law. Besides the fact that many of the principles behind US law are also sound ethical principles, the main reason is that even if you live abroad, most of the online services we use are based in the US and therefore subject to US laws such as the DMCA. Hot on the heels of my post comes the news that notorious file sharing library The Pirate Bay is preempting legal challenges by getting rid of physical servers altogether, so as to free themselves from following any national laws at all:
The Pirate Bay is getting rid of its physical servers and exchanging them for virtual machines spread across multiple cloud services. By hosting its infrastructure in multiple data centers and even multiple countries, the widely used torrent site says it will avoid being shut down by authorities targeting BitTorrent sites.
This is an example of a site that expressly tries to follow only the letter of the law; or, more accurately, tries to be outside of legal juridisctions altogether! It seems like the cloud is the new Sealand.
At the last meetup of Kuwait COETAILers, we conversed at length about creating our Course 3 videos and particularly about selecting the media used therein. There was a lot of confusion about what we were allowed to use, and today when I sat down to plan out my own video I ran into the issue headlong. After researching fair use, I came to the conclusion that while grabbing photos from the internet and songs from your hard drive will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend making your video and result in a higher quality product, it is probably not permissible under US copyright law – but it should be.
In COETAIL Course 3, we’ve been talking about visual literacy and using mixed media to present a compelling message. I’ve always been more comfortable with text, but I’m coming around to the advantages of other mediums. It’s far from natural for me, though. The written word is thousands of years old, but infographics are much younger, so it’s no surprise they haven’t become a fixture in our lexicon. Florence Nightingale was one of the first:
Although remembered as the mother of modern nursing, Nightingale was an accomplished statistician too. She was particularly innovative in presenting data visually. The example above, of a type now known as “Nightingale’s Rose” or “Nightingale’s Coxcomb”, comes from her monograph, “Notes on matters affecting the health, efficiency and hospital administration of the British army” published in 1858. In the same year she became the first female fellow of the Statistical Society of London (now Royal Statistical Society).
It’s easy to speak of success in broad strokes: “America has a strong economy,” “America is powerful.” But how can we define success more clearly? This is an essential question of my World History courses, and to help students both define success and visualize what that looks like over time I use Gapminder.org at the beginning of the year to introduce the question to them. Gapminder takes statistical data from the past 200 years and charts it two-dimensionally. It follows visual hierarchy rules by distinguishing countries by size and color, and can animate its charts to show how statistics change over time. Here’s a great demo:
In this exercise, students analyze visual sources and construct their own definitions about success. First, I demonstrate how to use the Gapminder website, then give students a worksheet so they can engage in independent but guided investigation. Once students have had a chance to look at various indicators, I ask them to define success – do we want a country with high literacy rates? Long life expectancy? A high GDP per capita, or a high overall GDP? A low corruption index? This is where having an IWB works well – students can pull up Gapminder at the front of the room and single out countries for the class to illustrate their point.
History is, of course, the story of human civilization. The core skill of explaining change over time – which brings in elements of context, causality, and chronology, whether you’re in AP World, DP History, or regular ole history – requires that you paint a story in broad strokes. The problem that I run into is that we cover so much history in a short time that we can rarely stop and smell the flowers. There are so many powerful stories in history that we don’t need to learn in order to understand the big picture. Digital storytelling could bring these to students’ attention, increase their engagement while harnessing their creative talent, appealing to their individual learning styles, and developing valuable technology and communication skills (The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling).
How would this work? First would be the selection of compelling stories that fit with the content. I’d leave it to the teacher to provide a short menu to the students, with a short (140 character?) teaser for each. For example:
Emperor Romanos IV’s crushing defeat at Manzikert
Genghis Khan’s terrifying response to the insults of the Khwarizmid empire
Emperor Constantine’s stunning revelation at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge
The only thing I love more than Japanese food and standup comedy is a good presentation, so you can imagine my delight at Course 3’s videos on Presentation Zen and Death by Powerpoint. Actually, I may have just now overstated my preference for the aforementioned foods and performances. Nonetheless, I’ve always been a Harvard Outline Notes kind of guy. They’re neat, sequential, and got me through six years of undergrad and graduate school at Northwestern. As a teacher, I constructed my Powerpoints from Harvard Outline Notes, pasting a few bullets (only two or three, honest!) onto a slide. My only homage to design was a plain black background and single image per slide, both inspired by Steve Jobs’ product announcement Keynotes. Thanks to Matt Helmke and Garr Reynolds, though, I’m now a Powerpoint ex-con – someone no longer dealing death by Powerpoint.
I took several of Reynold’s Presentation Zen principles to make a Prezi for last week’s Open House, in an effort that has set the tone for all of my future lectures and workshops.
Planning unplugged: I work out a lot – powerlifting, swimming, and rowing – and I used that time to organize my thoughts and come up with a layout.
Focusing on relevance: I came up with topics that I felt were important to teachers, like the behaviors and skills that students need to succeed in my class and the specific, everyday indicators that would demonstrate that success.
Sticky ideas: my ideas were very concrete, especially my examples of how we would know that students were being successful in history class.
Noise reduction: I didn’t include number, figures, or specific evidence that parents could find in the syllabus. Instead, I expanded on those cold prescriptions and made a relatable document.
Simplification: I’m a kludgy, inelegant writer, so it’s a minor miracle my ratio of images to text
Take a look at the Prezis – embedded after the break.