Wrapping up Course 3

Just like our last course, the final week of Course 3 is a time for you to catch up and make sure you’ve completed all the work over the last five weeks. Here’s what you should have:

  • One blog post for each week of the course (for a total of 5 posts)
  • A final project (with reflection) embedded into your last blog post for Course 3
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)

All of these items should be listed on your grading spreadsheet so that we can give you feedback.

Course 3 Final Projects & Sharing Media on Your Blog

CCO Public Domain: https://pixabay.com/en/cms-wordpress-265126/

CCO Public Domain: https://pixabay.com/en/cms-wordpress-265126/

Because Course 3 is very heavy with visual media, a few great questions have come up about how to best share media on your blog. You may have already noticed that there is a limit to the file sizes you can upload to your blog. This is because there are great places to host your media on the web where lots of other users will be able to find it and connect with you (and of course, we don’t have unlimited server space to host all the files everyone could possibly want to upload).

So, as you create your final projects for Course 3, you may want to think about where you’re going to upload your finished products.

Uploading & sharing Images:

Personally, we love Flickr. The free accounts are really generous, the sharing is super easy, and the community is really active. Of course, you can host all your images within Google Photos if you have an account already (which used to be Picasa). Another popular resource is SmugMug.

Uploading & sharing Videos:

Mostly people tend to use YouTube. The fact that it’s integrated with Google Apps makes it easy to manage. When we have longer videos, we tend to use Vimeo. You can upload videos to your Google Drive account and embed them in other places on the web if that feels more comfortable for you.

Uploading & sharing Presentations:

Google Slides has gotten so amazingly good in the last few months, that several of us at CoETaIL have almost entirely stopped using any desktop software – you can now use transparent colors to fill shapes, mask images to have them be different shapes, crop images and even enhance image properties – all right within Google Presentations.

If we have a lot of custom designing on a presentation and we don’t want to upload to Google Presentations, we usually create in Keynote or PowerPoint and then upload to Slideshare. Again, it’s easy to embed presentations from Slideshare pretty much anywhere on the web, there’s a good community there, and lots of great resources to look at for inspiration too.

If you’re planning to create a presentation and narrate the slides, you have a number of options. You can import your slides as images into your video editing software (iMovie or MovieMaker for example) and then record your audio and upload the video files as suggested above. You might also want to try making a screencast (here is a great guide from Kathy Schrok with a list of some tools you might want to try). If you have a Mac, QuickTime is so easy to use for screencasting with audio. If you do make a screencast, you can also upload that video file to the same services listed above.

Uploading & sharing Other File Types:

Pretty much anything else that we need to upload and share, we use Google Drive. It’s easy to publish almost any kind of file to the web on Google Drive, and then embed that work into a blog (or anywhere else).

Where do you prefer to host your files? Please feel free to share suggestions in the comments!

Comments Awaiting Moderation

Just a little reminder to be checking your blog regularly for comments awaiting approval.  We are noticing that there are many comments awaiting approval – it’s considerate to be approving comments as quickly as possible as people have taken the time to comment thoughtfully on your posts.

comment_discussions-10-16_at_4_50_34_pmYou might not realize this, but you can change the settings of comment approval – so that you do not have to approve any comments (you might be ok with this, personally I like to know when someone comments).

You can also get an email whenever someone comments (that way you can approve them quickly too).commenting

Welcome to Weeks 3/4!

Welcome to Week 3/4!

I say weeks 3/4 because I realize many schools in Asia may have had a Chinese New Year break just as we got started. I personally have two spring breaks this year with the first starting this Friday, so our cohort’s timing may be a bit asynchronous at the moment.

By now hopefully you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2 / 3″ in Course 3 under “My Courses”
  • written 2 or 3 blog posts and 2 or 3 comments
  • started using the “Course 3″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recorded the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • recorded the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • read through of the final project for Course 3 – it’s a little different than Course 1 or 2 – with even more opportunities for exploring and experimenting with different types of media

Making a Lasting Impact

This week’s focus is on presentation design, particularly the Presentation Zen style. Here’s an introduction:

YouTube Preview Image

You might also enjoy his overview of several other interpretations of the Presentation Zen principals:

Kim Cofino chimed in about her thoughts on this:

“I still remember first time I saw the Presentation Zen book (lots of his resources are available online, some of the key elements are shared in this week’s readings) and realized I would have to re-think my entire presentation process. Thankfully, I saw the book a few weeks before I made a series of presentations, I think at one of the Learning 2.0 conferences, and my presentations were a thousand times better for it!

Now that I’ve been through this process a few times, I feel like I have my own “style” of presentation design, based on Garr Reynolds’s principles (check this week’s readings for a overview of how both Jeff and I design our presentations). Personally, I really like the idea that when someone else views one of my presentations, they know it’s mine by the style and design, rather than the by-line. As you continue through this course, think about the ideas that really resonate with you, along with the styles and the design aesthetic, so you can begin to create your own personalized version of visual design.”

Keep in mind that it may take a while to develop this personalized “look” to your work. This visualization based on a story by Ira Glass is a great reminder that we all need time and practice to develop the skills necessary to create the image we have in our minds:

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

As you’re developing your style, you may find this process helpful. Please feel free to share your thinking in the comments below, or of course, in your blog posts!

Applying Design Principles on Your Blog

After reading your posts for Week 1, I noticed that lots of you are interested in applying the design principles we’re learning about to your blog, and you’re looking for some “how to” tips on these skills.

Many of you have noticed that you have limited formatting features in your posts – this is primarily because the designer of the theme has selected the font they think fits best, as well as sizes and colors. At a first glance, it seems that you can’t do much editing because there aren’t as many options as you might be used to seeing in an app like Pages or Word, but you can still do almost anything in your posts! The secret is HTML.

Using the text editor tab (rather than the visual tab) will allow you to use any HMTL you would like – which basically means you can change pretty much anything in your posts. Having said that, I would generally recommend that you don’t change much – the designer has gone through the time and energy to determine what looks best on your theme and they’ve made those choices for a reason. But, if you’d really like to change more, check out these HTML tutorials. You can also use HTML in comments and a text widget on your sidebar (to add a map widget, for example) as well!

For those who would rather stay within the WordPress visual tab menu, here is an article with some formatting tips, and the official WordPress visual editor support guide, as well as this video tutorial.

You will notice that we have some extra features here on our COETAIL blog – this is because we have a custom WP install – which actually gives us (and you!) lots more customization options. I love using the YouTube and Vimeo embed button to make embedding videos easy.

As I’m sure you’ve already discovered, there are so many tutorial videos about WordPress – so if there’s anything you want to do, and you don’t know how, I’m sure there is someone who’s done a screencast for you! Have fun exploring!

Welcome to Course 3!

As we jump into Course 3 and you begin delving into what things like CRAP stands for, I thought I’d share some previous projects to get you rolling. You have lots of flexibility with demonstrating your understanding of these concepts. Keep in mind you can choose whether to reflect on what you would like to change – or jump in and actually make the changes! We’ve seen great examples of both approaches. I know that for me, personally, I get completely sucked into web design and can spend hours on small details but thoroughly enjoy the act of doing so.

Try dabbling with your own site? Maybe start with the “about” page?


Here’s a post helping to break down the elements of CRAP from Coetail alumni, Jocelyn.

Screenshot 2017-01-27 10.54.04











Tricia took a different approach and discussed ways of implementing good design both on and offline. “We have a great deal of white space at my school, and according to this reading,  we shouldn’t. The bean bag chair is a new item, as is the green bucket stuffed with New Yorker magazines.  I’m an English teacher, if my room doesn’t encourage reading, I’ve failed.”



Rob chose to redesign his blog by clearly highlighting the differences with screenshots and clear explanations.

Screenshot 2017-01-27 10.56.55

Creative Commons Resources

Welcome to Week 4 / 5!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings up to, and including “Week 3″ in Course 2 under “My Courses”
  • written 3 blog posts and 3 comments
  • continue recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • continue recording the URL of the comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 2 tab
  • found and contacted a collaborative partner for your Course 2

Creative Commons

I’ve noticed that many of you are correctly citing your images used in posts, but considering we’re talking about copyright and Creative Commons, I thought I’d share some additional resources. I hope you’ll find this helpful going forward not only for yourselves but for your students as well. All too often students simply do a Google Image search for class material, not even realizing they’re plagiarizing (as do many, many adults).

These tools make it very easy to find great media, but also help promote responsible digital citizenship with students. They may help you in regards to sourcing, posting and embedding Creative Commons images in your own posts for the remainder of your Coetail experience. Or you may find it more rewarding to use your own imagery for your posts. Whenever possible that’s the route I choose to take.

In terms of seeking out Creative Commons-licensed images, here are a few that I generally use. If you have additional tools or sites please do share.

For these sites, you’ll need to consider your search terms carefully and toggle different parameters to find the best results. For example, if you’re searching for “flowers” but have set the search to only take those results from the title, you’re depending on the fact that the artist had the word, “flower” in the title of their artwork. However, if you search based on “tags” or “all text” then you can open up the search to encompass these variables as well.

Creative Commons Search

This is a fantastic jumping point for images, videos and even sound clips and music. You can use this also to launch into a Google Images search with the proper criteria already selected for filtering CC images only. This would be a great starting place for students who tend to go straight to Google Images for sourcing material (often not available for CC). And similar to our color palette generators, Google Images can be sorted by color, size, date posted, etc.


Flickr Storm

And lastly, Flickr itself has a built-in Creative Commons search tool:


When posting images from Flickr to WordPress, you may need to click “Share” (above the image). You can then drop down to “Grab the HTML” and after selecting the size you want (for WordPress, generally you want a width of less than 600 pixels, so in this case the medium size of 500px works well).

And from within your blog post, click on the “HTML” tab and simply paste in the code. The code will then result in the image displaying as below:

Tanah lot

Photo by Brandon Hoover

Week 2 and Highlights

As we wind down with week 2, there seem to be some common feelings shared amongst your cohort. You recognize the importance of developing positive digital footprints – not only for yourselves but working with your students to do the same. For some of you, it was evident that this may have been the first time you really evaluated your own imprints through Google searches (what page are you showing up on?), or perhaps the Wolfram Alpha Facebook Analytics tool.


Wolfram Alpha Facebook

It’s both invigorating and daunting to realize just how many breadcrumbs we’ve left behind. Keep in mind that if you don’t strive to leave your mark in a positive manner, others may do it for you. That random comment you left on a forum somewhere may surface more quickly than the wonderful post you proudly wrote last month.

Also, keep in mind that tools like Google use highly complicated and advanced algorithms to determine your ranking. One of the best methods of building your name is to use the same name/username on profiles across services. So even if it’s not your actual name but rather a nickname, having continuity across blogs, Instagram, G+, Flickr, etc is very important. Keep your LinkedIn account relevant continuously rather than waiting until job opportunities arise, continue to use and interact through Twitter on a regular basis, and of course as you build up your Coetail blog, those posts will begin to surface.

Also note that it takes time – the moment you hit publish may result in a semi-permanent imprint on the web, but search engines only periodically ‘crawl’ sites. The culmination of these actions will take time but will pay dividends in the long term.

Here some highlights from your cohort.

Pim said:

“As for myself as an educator, I will remain aware but I will not stop living my life. I have my settings and I’ll need to trust that my friends are not posting in appropriate photos of me (not that I have any since the birth of my son). My Twitter profile is maturing much more as an educator and I like where its at. Also, these blog posts allow me to be more reflective and communicate in a way I have never before in public. I intend to use this to continue to build my PLN as well use this as evidence of my technology literacy and coaching methods.”

Laura reflected on the impact on students:

“I also think we need to emphasize the powerful things that can be done online and through social media, using the example of Alaa Basatneh (of the incredible documentary #ChicagoGirl) to inspire students and show the positive impact they can have on the world through sometimes minor things (and use that to think about the power they can have if they choose not to be positive as well).”

Erin echoed something that I’m sure many of us can relate to. How is the desire for more “likes” and approval driving our decision-making and time?

“I am guilty of being quite delighted from the “likes” I receive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Am I intentionally posting things that will often generate approval even from complete strangers? Am I being my true self or a better version of myself?  Do we all have to start worrying about our social media “brand”, especially teenagers because their future lives could be potentially affected?  I get that we should have a positive online presence but at what costs? I don’t want to see our future generations or myself turning into mindless robots who are only out to please so we can obtain “likes” from total strangers, that for the most part are totally meaningless.”

Michelle asked some intriguing and important questions about the impact this all has on younger students. “Four things we can do to help elementary students understand what digital footprints are and develop positive online identities”


Steve finished his post with an exceptional statement:

“If we let our justifiable qualms force us into hiding behind Privacy Settings or into holding our tongue for fear of being too public, then we are the poorer for that. If we only communicate our fears to the students instead of our enthusiasm for the potential of humankind’s great invention, then we fail as teachers. Whether we like it or not, our students do not have a choice about engaging in the online world, so we must make sure that we use the battery of skills we have as educators to show them how to leave a footprint that enriches their lives.”



Privacy, Safety and Responsibility

Welcome to Course 2!

The main focus of Course 2 is around privacy, safety and responsibility online. We’ll explore the ideas of digital footprints, copyright, digital citizenship, and the power of connections over the next six weeks. Again, the course will be divided into 5 themes for the first five weeks, and your sixth week will be time to catch up and complete your finished product, with one week built in for a break when you need it!

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • Final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments
All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet.

Organizing content

Now that we’re on to the second course, I recommend starting to think about your blog as a digital portfolio, documenting your progress and creating an online presence. For yourself and for readers of your blog, it makes it much easier to navigate your content if you’ve organized things using tags and categories to separate ideas, and perhaps create a menu system to help quickly access this info.
It’s tough at first to understand the difference between tags and categories, but the general idea is that categories are broad and encompass the main cornerstones of your work, whereas tags would then help break down these posts into more detailed sections. For example, a category is, “Course 2” but a tag may be, “digital footprints”. That will also let readers find all content labeled, “digital footprints” regardless of what course they were referenced in. So if I were creating a travel blog, the categories could be, “Asia, Indonesia, Bali, Ubud”, but tags could be, “food, culture, dance”.
There’s a tag section on the main Coetail.com site. Have a look through that and try to find some tags that we can use as a group to create continuity in our work.
Have another suggestion? Please leave your ideas in the comments!

This TEDx talk was shared in the previous cohort but is definitely relevant to all of us. Alexandra Samuel10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life:

And one more that has been floating around which helps to demystify SnapChat.

Learning2 Asia 2016

As you may know, the Learning2 Asia 2016 conference is under way in Saigon South International School, Vietnam. As part of the L2 global team, I’m currently here supporting the Learning 2 Leaders (with Kim and the team). Therefore, I’ll be slightly delayed in providing you with feedback on your blogs this week.

Following along with the Twitter hashtag ( #learning2 ) is a great way to see collaborative learning at its finest and gain access to resources and links shared. And if you’re currently attending L2 please do say hi!


Week 4 (and almost 5)

airplane blur

Photo Credit: Tschäff via Compfight cc

Can you believe we’re past the halfway mark?

As we wrap up week 4, by now you should have:

  • read and completed all units up to and including Week 4 in the “My Courses” tab
  • started to think about your Course 1 Final Project
  • written 3 or 4 blog posts & 3 or 4 comments
  • recorded the URLs of each of the posts & comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet

Write Posts

As you complete the weekly readings, you’ll be asked to write a blog post that highlights your learning for the week. You’ll notice that there are writing prompts, however, you are not required to respond exactly to that prompt, it’s simply a prompt designed for those who need one. If you have an idea that really resonates with you based on the week’s readings and enduring understandings, then go for it! Basically, you’ll be writing at least one post a week for COETAIL. Of course, you can always write more as the mood strikes you!

Leave Comments

In addition to your weekly blog post, you’ll need to leave at least one comment a week somewhere on the web. I recommend that you start by leaving comments on other COETAILers blogs, particularly your cohort members. This helps us get to know each other and to start forming a community. As you start exploring more blogs, you’ll see connections with others and begin linking to their work, quoting and commenting regularly on the blogs that really resonate with you. Please remember to record & link these comments on your grade sheet as it can be time-consuming to go back and find them later. Comments make up 20% of your grade.

Feedback from Your Instructor

As you know, we have an instructor (Brandon) for this course and wonderful coaches, so you will see comments from all of us.

As your instructor, I will leave you feedback in one or two places:

  • On your blog, as a comment: Feedback that can be public and is appropriate to share with a wider audience may be left as a comment on your blog.
  • On your grading spreadsheet, in the Feedback from Instructor column: Feedback that is private, and focused on constructive improvements will be left in each row that you leave a URL of a blog post or a comment.

Please note:  In general, we may not be as quick with the feedback as you are with writing your posts. Sometimes we’ll leave a comment on your blog first and won’t get to your spreadsheet until later or vice versa. This doesn’t mean we’re not reading, it just means we may need time to gather our thoughts.

If this isn’t making sense, or you have questions or concerns, please let us know. This course is very independent, so you can really move at your own pace. We’ll keep an eye on where everyone is in the course units, but it’s really your job to keep up with the weekly readings as listed.

You will be able to keep track on where you are at by clicking “complete” at the end of each week’s lesson. It says something about taking a quiz but there are no quizzes in these courses, just reflections. I can also see how far you’ve progressed in the course so please make sure you click complete (it won’t let you move on to the next week unless you do).

Keep in mind that you can move forward at your own pace. There are other “lessons” within course 1 that are outside the Course 1 Weekly Units. Those are designed to help keep you thinking and to deal with any logistical or communication-related tasks that you should be ready for at that time.

I’ve already seen evidence of many of you bringing the readings back to your own practice, reflecting on the impact it’s starting to have, and connecting well with others in the cohort. It looks like we’re starting to come together!

Coetail Coaches for Online 7!

Experienced Coetail graduates have the opportunity to stay involved in the community and continue to offer their expertise as Coetail Coaches. We’re very fortunate to have two talented and experienced coaches join our cohort (and possibly three for Course 2!). So if you see them posting comments or presenting thought-provoking questions, please know they’re here to help! Here they are:

Jason Graham

Jason Graham is an international educator with over 17 years experience. He is currently the Learning Technologies Coordinator at an international school in Indonesia. Jason is an IBPYP Workshop Leader and an IB Online Lead Facilitator and has a keen interest in connecting and collaborating with educators from around the globe. Jason enjoys presenting at conferences and learning from others whenever he can. He is in his second year of a Doctor of Education programme at an Australian University.

Furthermore, Jason is the moderator for two twitter chats, #pypchat mainly for PYP educators and also #satchatoc, a twitter chat for educational leaders. He also enjoys using technology to enhance student learning and is now dabbling in Design Thinking. Jason’s work can be found in many online spaces. He blogs at The Learning Journey and tweets from @jasongraham99.


Liz Cho

Liz Cho is a bilingual Korean-American from DC, the youngest of four, and an educator since 2004 and is currently the Director of Curriculum at Gyeonggi Suwon International School. Before that, she was a high school English teacher for 12 years and a leader in various positions, passionate about inspiring students and teachers to care, empower, and engage meaningfully with the world around them. She is an avid believer in the importance of genuine reflection for growth and is fully dedicated to breaking the misconception that “reflection is boring”. Taking the COETAIL course has empowered her to become confident with technology integration in her lessons and presentations. With the constant support of her colleagues and students, Liz finds success in learning alongside them. She also loves to silk, hoop and kickbox whenever she finds the time.

Links to her full professional bio and blogs can be found on lizcho.organd she tweets as @cho_liz.