A spring filled with an extra serving of doc coursework (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and a busier than usual family spring sports calendar has resulted in a few unanticipated outcomes; more take out for dinner, an increased reliance on Amazon Prime for mundane shopping needs and a very sad looking blog.
Yet thanks to Scoop.it, I now can easily, and efficiently, share my “Fab Finds” via Twitter, WordPress, Facebook etc. all while being a curator for my own personal content collections. I come across many Fab Finds each week, but the publishing of these have suffered. I’ve been wanting an easier way to quickly share and item without compromising quality within the post. Scoop.it makes it easy for anyone to publish a link to multiple social media sites while organizing them nicely for continued reference and sharing.
I know Scoop.it isn’t the first site out there to claim such wonderful powers, however Scoop.it is the first site for me that adds some zip into my daily work of mining the interwebs on a variety of Ed Tech, eLearning, k12 and higher education related content.
When you create collections Scoop.it attempts to find additional sites based on the tags you have assigned to your topics. This is a well-intended feature but not its strength. The power is in the Scoop.it bookmarklet that you place on your browser bar so you can scoop as you go. If you are looking for a curating resource that has a powerful and accurate,social search, I recommend Storify.
Scoop.it is in beta, but I did receive my invite in less than 12 hours upon requesting one. Check it out today!
Here are five sites that each offer a specific purpose and tool set for your face-to-face or online presentation needs. From the most basic (showing an image), to the more sophisticated (multimedia mashups), all of these sites can be used by students and instructors to effectively convey content and foster engagement.
Keeping It Basic
Drop Mocks works with your Google account and is perhaps the simplest tool I’ve seen yet. All you do is just drag your image file on to the web browser screen and…. viola! Your presentation is born. If you don’t think anything is that easy, just watch this demo. Each Drop Mock generates a URL for easy sharing. I appreciate the simplicity and recommend Drop Mocks when you need to create an image-based slide show on the fly. Also, this is a fairly easy tool for young children to use too.
At this time, Drop Mocks only works in the latest versions of Google Chrome or Firefox 4. Also, you can only use common image file formats such as jpg, png, gif, and tiff. Each drop mock generates a URL for easy sharing, but no embed codes at this time. Despite this, it’s still pretty easy and slick.
Moving Beyond Slides
Prezi was the belle of the ball in 2010 and it seems everyone is still buzzing about this alternative presentation tool. This Prezi ,created by Adam Somlai-Fischer, is both a great prezi example that explains how Prezi’s are different than traditional slideshows. Overall, Prezi allows you to break a way from bulleted text and sequential viewing of your slides. You can still use images (and bulleted text) and you can even embed video. If you work best brainstorming and organizing with mind maps, then Prezi may feel very fluid and natural to you.
I did a review of VuVox last week (full review here). In summary, VuVox lets you do a lot, without needing a lot of high-tech know-how. Students and teachers can generate impressive multimedia collages and panoramas of their work. VuVox can easily import RSS feeds, and your photo collections from Flickr, Picasa, and Smug Mug. Add soundtracks and annotate your creations with comments and links to other websites. I find at its core, you can do a lot with VuVox , whether its making a static presentation, or creating interactive content. View an example from the NIHF STEM School in Akron, Ohio or one about Second Life.
Amplify Your Existing Slides
myBrainShark is the individual, free version, of the Brainshark product suite. Brainshark allows you to upload PowerPoints, MS Word documents, and pictures that you can then narrate and share with friend, co-workers, students, etc (you get the point). The site also provides a podcast and video recording option too. And….drum roll please, you can add your Prezi into Brainshark too. Brainshark is a great option if you are looking to personalize and add audio to your work, but do not require responses or audio feedback from your viewers. This is an excellent tool for students to generate presentations in as well. Presenters can even record audio by calling in on their phones. The downside: to use the free version you must leave your content viewable to the public.
Engage and Interact
I describe VoiceThread as an “audio/visual discussion board.” I often turn to Voicethreads when needing to facilitate discussion about a topic. This is a favorite site for educators desiring a way to create more engagement, interaction, and feedback on academic work. This is also an excellent tool for students to present their own content and solicit feedback.
Unlike the previous examples, Voicethread really is a service that you load your pre-designed content into (usually developed in PowerPoint, but PDFs, image files, documents, and movie files). So while you are not authoring content from scratch in Voicethread, you are using Voicethread to enhance the learning experience by engaging viewers in direct conversation and interaction throughout the piece. Because of its audio and video features, many people forget that Voicethread is a not live broadcasting tool. Comments are recorded and listened to at the viewers convenience. Voicethreads can be made public or private, making this a great choice in the education community. Some excellent examples include of Voicethread include:
There are many, many, more presentations tools to consider. While this posting was more focused on visual and interactive options, other educator favorites include Google Presentation (part of Google docs) and Slideshare for posting Powerpoints for viewing. In the next year expect to see some new releases that blend social media features into the presentation experience. I am particularly looking forward to testing Storify.
In essence, I think the mashup is a compelling example of why media literacy should be an essential part of education (k-12 and higher education.) As educators create and share digital resources for use in the classroom, we have the opportunity to model best uses and create some effective mashups of our own. Also our students are creating more and more of their own digital content and a mashup can be an excellent project.
A couple of years ago I remember getting asked a lot about mashups. What were they? How do you make one? Now, in 2011, mashups are commonplace on the web. Yet this does not mean we (the everyday web surfer) is more cognizant of what mashups are all about. So I decided to dust off one of my earlier attempts at explaining the basic mashup (see below) as I find it a relevant, evolving media form.
Most of the time you might not even realize a website you are browsing might really be a blend of different apps and content being brought together for a seamless experience. This is could be considered a classic mashup. When you get down to it, isn’t your iGoogle page a type of mashup?
There are some amazing creations that come from mashups, especially with music and video. This is where mashups can be controversial and the intellectual property and copyright is tricky to navigate. (For more on IP and copyright I recommend teachingcopyright.org) In essence, I think the mashup is a compelling example of why media literacy should be an essential part of education (k-12 and higher education.) As educators create and share digital resources for use in the classroom, we have the opportunity to model best uses and create some effective mashups of our own. Also our students are creating more and more of their own digital content and a mashup can be an excellent project.
Below is the first part of a posting I wrote back in 2008 for my department’s blog on introducing the basic concept of the mashup to newbies. Look for part II on creating mashups tomorrow.
Understanding the Mashup -Part I
We’ve received a few inquires this fall about what mashups are and how they might be used in a course. The origin of the mashup is rooted in the music industry where people bring together instrumentation and vocal tracks from different songs to create a new song. Listen to an example of the classic Petula Clark song Downtown merged with the current Russian band t.A.T.u’s Not Gonna Get Us to form the new song Not Gonna Get Us Downtown.
The technical definition of a mashup refers to a website that brings together features, functions, and content of different websites into one tool or page. So essentially, a mashup is something that has been created from many other existing things to form a uniquely new thing, usually a piece of media or website.
Still scratching your head? That’s okay, so was I when I started reading more about mashups. The terminology and definition can seem more cumbersome than actually experiencing a mashup. Once you see one, you begin to realize that mashups are all around us. Here are some examples:
Flicker Sudoku –http://flickrsudoku.com/ The perfect site for sudoku fans and Flicker users alike, this site allows you to play sudoku with other members of the Flicker site, while pulling in content and sudoku boards from other sites. You experience the site as a normal, single webpage. In actuality it’s a site made of many sites and features.
Weather Bonk-http://www.weatherbonk.com/ Weather bonk is an interactive map pulling data from the National Weather Service, Google Maps, and other media sources. The site provides an interactive map of your region which gives you real-time weather, traffic, and sometime visual/image data. At same time, the site is very graphically busy and can be an example of the downside of the mashup.
Video mashups are abundant. YouTube features many of them, and they are popular creations on comedy shows like the Daily Show. In an election year the variety and numbers of video mashups are vast. Below is a clip produced by an individual that was posted on YouTube. Notice the variety of images and clips ranging from Hillary Clinton speaking, a Nike ad runner, infused with George Orwell’s 1984:
Part II: How do I create a Mashup? Basic mashups do not require expensive computer equipment or software. The most important resource in mashup creation is creativity and to keep in mind to start simple and build from there. In the next posting we will talk more about how to build a mashup using basic tools like PowerPoint.
14th Annual Academic Technology Institute Request for Proposals
Each year I run an internal Technology & eLearning Institute for Lesley faculty and academic staff. This year we are want to open it up to regional presenters from other Boston schools and educational organizations. Below is our RFP and link to apply to present at the Institute. Presenters get free registration. We are unable to support transportation costs, etc.
The Institute provides three session formats -A traditional presentation, a BYOL (bring your own laptop) for skills training or how-to’s and a digital poster session. Digital poster sessions are like traditional posters, except we provide you a data projector for you to display your work. Traditional posters are also welcome.
If you have any questions please contact me at rpeterse [at] lesley [dot] edu.
RFP Guidelines and Submission Form
Faculty and Academic Administrators and educators from the broader community are invited to submit proposals to present at Lesley’s 14th Annual Academic Technology Institute to be held on Wednesday, January 19th from 9am-4pm in University Hall. The day will feature a variety of sessions ranging from traditional presentations, to hands-on demonstrations, to digital poster sessions. Please consider sharing your work, whether it is a specific assignment from a course, or perhaps research you are currently engaged in.
Some examples of presentation topics and formats include:
Innovative uses of media and technology in teaching and scholarship
Teaching and learning with mobile devices
Fostering engagement, collaboration, and communication with/through technology
Exploration of trends in social media
Assessment and reflection using digital media
Next Generation and Millennial Learning Needs and Styles
Poster presentations on research or teaching related to the use of digital media or instructional uses of media in face-to-face, hybrid, and online environments
Presentations may be as a group or individual. Presenters will select one of the following presentation formats to share:
Traditional Concurrent Session: These are presentations or discussions of a topic or concept (60 minutes).
Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL): These are presentations that encourage hands-on exploration of specific websites or tools. Participants will bring their own laptops to participate.
Digital Poster Session: Presentations held at the end of the day, in a poster-style format, utilizing projection and traditional mediums to present a concept, idea, or specific piece of work and research
We might be able to offer one or two Skyped-in or Elluminate presentations. If you are interested in this option, please contact me directly to discuss.
I am attending the Personalized Learning Symposium (#perLearn on Twitter) in Boston, MA this week. Today’s first group breakout session asked us to describe the qualities and characteristics that make a personalized learning environment. At the completion of the conversation, one thing remained clear -we have a lot of ideas but no clear consensus. The lexicon for personalized learning is still developing.
I asked Molly McCloskey, Manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD, and convener in the Bartlett Room breakout session, to email me the collected table notes to see if I could create visualizations from our words. My goal is straightforward: can we see immediate patterns and connections from our combined words? I usually use Wordle for some instant feedback. The result was okay, but didn’t make this diffuse topic any clearer. So I turned to IBM’s Many Eyes site which allows multiple visualization types (including Wordle). Here are the results:
The next three are a series of branching diagrams showing the connection of one word, to many thoughts & phrases. As you view these diagrams click on some of the words and see what happens.
Branching Diagrams: Students
Branching Diagrams: Learning
Branching Diagram: Teachers
The Classic Tag Cloud
Many Eyes is also capable of creating data driven visuals using specific word counts to create a variety of relationship diagrams. I pulled the master word count list out of Worlde to generate an example of one of these options. For this to truly work, I need to go in a clean up all the “is, a, the, of , ands”…well you get the point.
Bubble Plot Example:
For me the clear winner was the branching diagrams for this exercise. What is really great is that you can type different words into the textbox to see if they can be mapped. Many Eyes is a free service and works simply by cutting and pasting your text into a basic text box. From there you can create interesting visuals for your data analysis. Do I dare say its a tad bit personalized? Enjoy!
Social Media can be a fun topic to teach educators and colleagues about. It is often an overwhelming concept for new users of social media tools to grasp. I think I described this on #edchat the other day as “Social Media is like breathing water to new people.” I’d like to revise that comment to that it probably feels more like a being a fish trying to swim without fins!
I recently gave a lecture/workshop to 32 Ph.D candidates at Lesley University. They were taking a special topics course in new media in scholarship, and I was asked to help them think about using tools like Twitter, Mendeley, and social bookmarking sites to assist with their scholarly networking. While at least 3/4 of the class were active Facebookers, people were a bit miffed, and some a tad petrified, about using Twitter. To get us going, I used my DABEL model which stands for: Deepen Apply Brainstorm Engage and Learn. In the context of social media and research, I presented the following goals for the afternoon:
Deepen our knowledge and understanding of social media
Apply social media ideas and concepts to the practice of research and inquiry
Brainstorm opportunities for using social media and other digital media tools to strengthen research goals and projects
Engage in inquisitive “play” with featured tools (Twitter, Wallwisher, MindMeister, Wordle)
Learn new pathways for collaboration and analysis
I find a lot of adult learners are so worried about “screwing up” the computer or looking dumb they are unable to hear about the purpose and potential of technology. Intrinsically, many adults assume they must master a tool before they can use it, as this is how many of us were taught in school (back in ye old dark ages). Setting the tone with DABEL is a great way to give permission for inquiry, exploration, and play. This also provides a balance on applying known theory and practice, to new media and tools.
After giving the class a couple of videos that presented some thought-provoking stats and commentary, the conversation immediately started rocking. One of the faculty in the room said it felt like driving down the autobahn in a convertible. (I believe this was a compliment.)
I scaffolded our exploration with “easy” tools that I had set up for them in their Blackboard course site. One was a link to wallwiser, where they could post their research questions and topics. This was easy, fun and slightly addictive to a few students. By the time we arrived at Twitter the skepticism was there, but there was openness to consider and try it since they had successfully dabbled in a few previous tools and we engaged in dialogue and brainstorming on how to use them professionally and for school.
Below is the full presentation. I haven’t seen DABEL used before, so I am claiming it as my own little acronym. Contact me if you’ve seen it. And if you want to use it, great; let me know how it worked and it’s extra nice if you cite this post as your source!
This post talks about how wordle can be used to rethinking and visualize the main ideas of reading. Examples from “A Nation at Risk” and “A Blueprint for Ed Reform” are used.
The amount of blogging time I have is pretty much 0-2% these days. After work, I devote my idle hours to doctoral studies and family (and sadly in that order some days).
One thing about graduate work is the volume of print reading has not changed since I was in my Master’s program in 98-99. Darn. Synthesizing lots and lots of text quickly is a challenge for anyone. As a teacher educator, I am always demonstrating the use of certain tools to help organize and visualize text and data for k12 students. So wouldn’t it be a novel idea to actually use some myself? I imagine anyone reading this might be saying –well golly yes– you just realized that?
I’ve been using Wordle a bit more to validate (or invalidate) perceptions of readings, especially articles that I have read before and already have formed strong value statements about. In my summer Historical Perspectives on Education course, we were assigned the classic A Nation At Risk report from 1983. I was feeling a bit more sour than usual about ed reform. Chatter in the online discussion of my course turned to a bit of griping that not much has changed in our reform rhetoric since 1983. After completing a Worlde for #edchat this morning, I began to wonder if perhaps Wordle could help me see and perceive our impressions of a Nation at Risk differently, especially in comparison to a current policy document? If our class believed nothing had changed, we should see more similarities than differences between the two. In my mini-experiment I selected the recommendations section from A Nation At Risk, and compared it to the recommendations of the recent Blue Print for Reform for the reauthorization of the ESEA. Here is what happened:
Wordle Recommendations Section from a Nation At Risk (1983)
I haven’t had chance to do a comprehensive analysis of each Worlde. Here are just some quick reactions:
That students were the most commonly used word in both reports. While we may not agree with the rhetoric in one or both of the documents, students are clearly at the center.
Support is a huge theme in our current ed reform rhetoric and it was not even on the map in At Risk.
A Nation At Risk is focused on k-12, with emphasis on teachers and students and preparing teachers.
Blueprint expands our thinking and focus; administrators and districts are mentioned frequently. Mentions of parents and community also appear.
Teachers are integral to both reports. But, the focus on teacher preparation through universities in the At-Risk report is not the core focus of the Blue Print recommendations.
Hmmm where did learning go in the Blue Print?
In the Blue Print, schooling is focused on preparing us for college, not just successful graduation from high school.
At Risk focused on the “Basics” that students need to master. Standards appear to be our new basics.
Content based knowledge mentioned throughout the at risk. New reform rhetoric focused more on accountability and performance.
Heavy focus on nationalism in At-risk and national status.
I am glad I did this little exercise. We are inundated with so much information online, I know I am scanning my content more and forming assumptions and opinions quickly. While I didn’t walk away thinking “Wow, we’ve really changed! Reform now is soooo much better,” it helped me clarify my thinking and even rethink how I approach discussing this with my classmates. Even though I had read At Risk many times, there is something intangibly powerful about visualizing the main themes of the text in a new way. And, because I am not getting any more free time to read, I did as I tell my teachers to do with their students: I stepped back, utilized a tool designed to assist and enhance my understanding.
For any readers out there; do you ever Wordle, or use another tool, to help you with our own personal work and learning? This little exercise got me wondering about how often as educators we use the same tools we give our students for our own personal learning and reflection?