Exploring Current Trends in Learning

Exploring Current Trends in Learning

I’ll be referencing a post that our very own Chrissy put together last year as it’s very much still relevant and interesting and pertains to what we’re discussing in Course 4. So credit goes to her for this post!

I’m sure that in many of your schools, at least someone you know is testing out a flipped classroom model, using Minecraft, or finding ways to embrace play and or gaming in the classroom. These three are perhaps the most common learning strategies that have become quite popular in recent years. COETAILers from every cohort have developed projects using these current trends, some so successfully that they have transformed their entire classroom.

Reverse Instruction or Flipped Classroom

For a short overview of the Flipped Classroom, check out this introduction (and this network of educators, full of great resources)

Quite a few of our COETAIL graduates have had lots of success with the flipped classroom model – particularly those who have modified it to really suit their needs.  Have a look at Philip Arneil (who created his own definition of flipped classroom and it’s amazing), Jana Tanagawa (who used the flipped classroom model to ensure that her students kept learning while she was on an extended sick leave), or one of the many other COETAILers sharing their interpretation of the model.

Chrissy, another Coetail instructor stated,

“There is lots of debate about this model, and I’m not 100% convinced about it yet. I’ve used mini tutorials with my students especially when I know they will want to refer back to the material over and over again. I’m not, however, a fan of lecture in any format (in person or via video), nor do I like the idea of taking a content heavy class and just delivering it at home instead of during the school day. I’ve been in a school that has taken advantage of the “flipped classroom model” when school was forced to close due to extreme weather.  As you can imagine, there were varying degrees of successfulness of the model, throughout the Elementary, Middle and High School areas – reasons why just as varied (and probably need to be a blog post of its own!).”

Flipping the classroom doesn’t work for everyone, nor does it work for all subjects all the time.  But with some careful planning and equally careful preparation, it does work and it can be powerful!  I’ve seen it work with high school students in a TOK class – that was fascinating – not the process of it, but watching the students adjust to a different way of learning and interacting with their teacher and peers.  Some thrived, some struggled, some looked bewildered but they certainly remembered the content and I’m sure that they were more active as learners than ever before.

Upside DownChrissy continued with,

“I’ve tried flipping my own classroom of 3rd graders.  Albeit on a much smaller scale and only for one topic in Social Studies. It was a struggle for some because it was a different way of doing things than we’d done in the past, but what isn’t when you do it for the first time?  I would definitely try it again.”

How about you? Have you flipped your classroom before? Is this something you might consider doing in the future?

 Image Attribution: cc Johnny Jet

This list is from the IBO and includes feedback that students have given in regards to flipped classroom instruction videos:

  • videos should be no longer than 10 minutes
  • videos should be natural and include the normal mistakes that teachers would make when speaking in front of a class (ie: no excessive editing, just record and upload)
  • videos should reflect the teacher’s personality – jokes and side comments are appreciated (ie: just asking students to watch Khan Academy videos is not the same as a flipped classroom model)

Game Based Learning

Another one of my favorite TED Talks (and a great book) is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal:

Although Jane is talking about gaming on a much grander scale in her TED talk, this is a great place to start thinking about the power of games in the classroom – and not just playing games, but transforming the way we teach and learn with game-based-learning strategies.  Adrian Camm has a fantastic compilation of resources for those interested in learning more. Even though it’s now 2 years later, here’s his Learning2 Talk from Singapore (2013) to get you started:

Rebekah Madrid (one of our awesome COETAIL instructors and COETAIL graduate Alex Guenther, have been using Minecraft with middle school students in lots of interesting ways.  Still relevant two years later, here’s Rebekah’s Learning 2 Talk from 2013:

Suzanne Holloway lists four ideas to gamify your classroom (check the link for some ideas about what that means):

  1. Gamify your grading practices
  2. Recognize achievements with badges
  3. Integrate educational games and simulations into your curriculum
  4. Add an element of competition

Meredith at LearnBoost plays devil’s advocate and comes up with 3 reasons NOT to gamify education:

  1. Extrinsic v. Intrinsic motivation
  2. Token Economies
  3. Psychological Undermining

You may not agree with all of her points, especially the “psychological undermining”, but it is interesting to think about some of the arguments against gamification and what we can do to address some of them.

Bringing education and game elements together could turn out like peanut butter meeting chocolate: two great tastes working together,leading to results that are especially important for developing 21st century skills… By making play mandatory, gamification might create rule-based experiences that feel just like school. Instead of chocolate and peanut butter, such projects are more like chocolate-covered broccoli. (link added) –Lee and Hammer

Where do you stand on the debate? How have seen game mechanics being used effectively in classrooms to gamify ed? What experiences do you have with games and simulations in your teaching and learning? What do you think about badges and micro-credentials and their place in schools?

Welcome to Course 4!

With courses 1 – 3 behind us, we’re really going to get practical with courses 4 and 5, bringing all of your CoETaIL learning together with a strong focus on pedagogy in course 4, and the practical implementation of all of these ideas in course 5.

Course 4 Overview

The focus for course 4 is exploring some of the different pedagogical approaches to using technology in the classroom. The course is structured so that we start by looking at the big ideas and concepts behind technology integration, including the SAMR and TPACK models (in week 1), then we move into the most widely known pedagogical approaches organized into “past” (week 2), “present” (week 3) and “future” (week 4) to give us an idea of where we came from and where we might be going, and then wrap up with a look at the technology-rich classroom (in week 5).

It’s great to discuss some of the concepts we’ve talked about in passing in more depth, things like flipped classroom, game-based learning, badges, and of course connectivism comes back around again! As usual, we’ll have our standard week 6 “catch up” time so you can wrap up course 4 and get moving on your course 5 project!

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A 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 – please use the Course 4 tab of your spreadsheet.

Length of Course 4

You may have noticed on our Cohort Calendar (to the right of this blog) that Course 4 is seven (7) weeks long! That’s because we’ve factored in that many of you will be off for a week’s break at some stage between now and Christmas.  Some of you may already have had that break!  All course work is due for completion on or before May 29, 2017.

Some thoughts from Course 3

What do you think? As you write your blog posts, remember that it’s your thoughts, your ideas, and your application of the weekly readings that will be interesting to other participants (and readers beyond our immediate community). Because all of the articles are available online, just linking to them is enough of a summary, then share your ideas so we can get your unique perspective. As we’re now moving into the final courses of the program, please remember, you don’t have to respond directly to the weekly prompts – they’re just there for those that prefer them. Please use your blog to write about whatever inspires you about this week’s topic and readings.

Get practical! One of the most common highlights for our participants is the chance to actually implement so many of these ideas directly into their classroom, particularly during course 4. So, as you write your posts, please share with us how you’re trying out these new ideas, how your students are reacting, and how it’s enhancing (or not) the learning in your classroom. Although you may currently be writing these posts as “homework”, you may be surprised at how many people are reading them, and will come back to them time after time. The practical posts that describe what’s happening in your classroom are usually the most relevant and useful for others (and for you, too). Include a variety of relevant multimedia artifacts that enhance and support your thoughts and ideas.

Building Your Community: As we start looking ahead to course 5, one of the key elements of this program (as you already know) is to help you build your own professional learning network. Finding the people that help push your thinking, contributing to the conversation, and reflecting on your learning can be the most effective, relevant and powerful professional learning that you have.

Preparing for Course 5

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

It seems kind of crazy to be thinking of course 5, when we’ve only just started this course, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind which of our course themes and ideas you really want to delve into for your final project. It’s also really important for you to have a strong understanding of SAMR model, which you will be exploring this week. Your final COETAIL project will have to demonstrate how you have used technology to redefine your classroom –  to create tasks that would be inconceivable without the computer/tablet/etc.  We will be helping you get ready for the final project throughout course 4 and sharing a lot more information as we go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Understanding Technology Integration

Many, if not all of us, are working in schools where technology is integrated into the core curriculum (meaning students don’t take technology as a separate class, or even if they do, it’s expected that key technology skills will be taught within the core content, “just in time” as a natural part of learning in today’s world). Often the system has been set up before we’ve arrived, or maybe we haven’t had much input into why students are learning this way. This week is all about why schools are integrating technology and how they’re doing it.

Check out this introduction to High Tech High in California:

Image credits

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!