ePortolfios, iPads and Openness

After a whirlwind tour with George Couros and CEGSA, South Australia has been a-buzz on the social media scene (check out #cegsa and @CEGSAustralia).  Twitter eggs have hatched and the anonymous are becoming faces to follow.  Its not just about Twitter though, the blogs are happening and ideas are formulating and evolving through an interactive community.

So what?

A few new questions are emerging for me.

If Google is the new business card, what is the new ePortfolio? 


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by San Sharma

As a professional, I’m now blogging, evidencing the National Professional Standards for teachers, tweeting, created an about.me page, discovered storify and more.

But what about students? 

The power of blogging is two fold:

  1. Writing for and interacting with authentic audiences (continual learning)
  2. As a showcase of learning

In a web format, for older students I can see this can work well as students can take action, and with authentic audiences for meaningful purposes. Like Allysa (one of George’s favourites and shared over many of his sessions).

There are many opportunities to control the level of publicness and moderation through tools like EduBlogs, Weebly and Edmodo as our communities begin to value openness and input from experts while balancing moderation of outsiders access to contact young people. Being web-based content in any publishable format can be shared easily (PDF, JPG, MP3, MOV…)

Where do iPads Fit?

iPads allow us to create bite-sized snapshots of learning and put them together within apps, and within larger publications like eBooks. I see tremendous potential of ePubs (books published in an ePub format and read by an eBook/iBook reader like iBooks) to capture student learning in a variety of mulitmodal formats.  But what about sharing? There are options: ePubs can be shared in iBooks on the device they are created on, published to iTunes and shared through a school iTunesU channel, or published through a gallery connected to an app (eg. Scribble Press or ShowMe).   Each of these options still raise more questions for me:

  • will the eBook be available in the future?
  • will parents, grandparents and those in the broader community have the necessary  evice, app or reader  to view these student created collections?

How Public?

I’m an advocate of openness, yet still have a keen sense of responsibility toward child safety.  Finding the right balance as we create new policies on how Social Media is used in schools, by individual teachers and with students will challenge some of our previous ideas.  How do children build an identity and maintain privacy? Are restrictions on last names enough? Just as in traditional publishing it seems to me there needs to be an approval cycle before works go public.

Striking the Balance

When I recently attended the National CyberSafety Summit in Melbourne I had the privilege of listening to leading child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg on preparing students for a world which is constantly connected and being offline is not an option.  His key strategy? Build digital resilience! Dr Carr-Gregg emphasized the importance of being flexible, optimistic and resilient.  Great advice for teachers too as we realise learning is no longer within school hours, within classroom walls or is within our complete control (if it ever was!).

Thanks George Couros @gcouros for giving me new strategies to be vulnerable, make connections and learn with and from each other,  Luke Schoff @schoffl for breaking new ground with me and the @CEGSAustralia community for learning and growing with me.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these emerging challenge.

Top 5 Strategies for Enabling Learners with Technology

In my role as ICT Coordinator I “help” other educators with technology. Although sometimes the cry is quite literally “help me!” often the most effective ways of ‘helping” involve approaches that are proactive, planned and resourced. Here are my top 5 strategies s at this point in time.

1) Enable don’t rescue

“If you teach a man to fish…” Working side by side and sharing strategies for learning enables problem-solving and self help. Rescuing people gets the job done quickly but leaves them helpless and perpetuates the problem.  I’d rather spend an hour helping someone learn a new skill than 10 minutes doing it for them.

2) Open Up

It’s tempting to simplify and standardize learning environments to make things “easy” by dictating the look, feel and software available. However, the more ownership a learner has of their technology, the more stake they have in their own development.   Why not open up? What’s the worst that can happen? Backups are wonderful. Sometimes starting over is a lesson worth learning too. Teachers and students need administrative access to their computers so they can make the changes needed to personalise their learning environments.

3) Proactive Help

Rather than waiting to re-act when problems occur, why not work with teachers when they are planning and imagining possibilities? Novices may not always see ways to transform learning (SAMR Model) using technology. Helping one another when planning learning is where some of the biggest transformations can occur.  I love to do the background work to set teachers up for success and being supported reduces their perception of risk.

4) Build, buy and share tools to Enable Self Help

Whether its a database of FAQs, a collection of “Tech Help” tips, a library of resources, an ePub with tips, or a collection of socially book marked weblinks there are unlimited resources for helping learners help themselves. Sometimes people just need to be pointed in the right direction (see #1). Alan November talks about the idea of Learning Farms where students create and share tutorials to help themselves, their peers AND their teachers.

5) BIte-sized tips

At our staff meetings we share a 2-3 minute “SnipIT” or short segment of how to use technology. Sometimes, its a nuts and bolts item like “how to calibrate a projector” or “lodging a help desk ticket”. More often than not SnipITs involves a teacher sharing something innovative they have tried with their students (creating an eBook, filming students, creating QR codes or trying out a new online resource).  This fosters a culture of sharing and risk-taking and gives people ‘put it into practice tomorrow’ ideas.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by exfordy

Blog as Professional Portfolio

I am attending a workshop with George Couros discussing the National Professional Standards for Teachers and using a Blog as a showcase of evidence against the standards. In this blog I will be exploring the following seven standards:

  1. Know Your Students
  2. Know the Content
  3. Plan Teaching and Learning
  4. Safe and Supportive Learning
  5. Assess, Feedback and Report
  6. Professional Learning
  7. Engage Professionally

Watch this short video about the National Professional Standards for teachers.

http://youtu.be/S2NILPXmjws

 

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by followtheseinstructions

Student Blogging


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by hgjohn

Should student blogs be open to the public? Social Media in and out of the classroom can transform learning and bridge gaps between home and school. Blogging helps me to work through my ideas, to reflect on learning and gain perspectives from others. What makes this work is that there is an authentic audience. When we work in front of an audience we raise the bar and want to do our best.  If we close the community to just student’s classmates are we really giving purpose to what they are saying?

What does the new DECD policy on Social Media  say? There seem to be some contradictions.

What does your school policy say?  What does it need to address to promote safety and give guidelines? I’m thinking we need guidelines as a school, for teachers and for students  that include your roles and a focus on personal responsibility (including legal, ethical obligations).

In the PYP we aim to foster international-mindedness in people who are digitally responsible citizens.  It seems to me open student blogs have tremendous potential for learning.

Thank you to George Couros for challenging my thinking in this area and getting me started in reflecting in this way.  George’s blog is an excellent example of both a learning profile and showcase portfolio.

Actions for me 

Set aside time in the work day to blog. To reflect. Only need 20 minutes or so. This IS part of the learning process and part of an educator’s work.

Look at creating student blogs that can be private, public, or private to the community. Have a look at EduBlogs and multiuser accounts so that comments on blogs can be moderated.  Think about opening up!

Where does video fit in primary school?

I’ve been pondering where video fits today in primary schooling.

Published Works?

We seem to go around in circles on this question. Over the years, I’ve been teaching Year 4 students to work with green screens, voice overs, cut-aways… in iMovie.  They love creating video this way, but it does take time so is saved for our TV Advertising Unit where we can look at advertising techniques in depth – including those used in post-production work.  Students had to have access to computer labs and sit at the same computer. With more ready access to technology is this still the way to go?

One-Shot? 

With the advent of iPads and more readily available mobile technologies I often hear “the best camera is the one you have”.  Its now so easy for students of all ages to quickly capture their experiences, reflections and ideas and add titles and annotations using apps like iMovie, Explain Everything or ShowMe.  These one-shot videos are turning out to be very useful for formative and summative assessment tasks, essential agreements, creating tutorials  and using for school communication/podcasts.

Filming on an iPhone or iPad 

Can you mix footage? Thanks to Steve Griffiths, I recently learned that Australia uses 25 frames per second (fps) for filming based on the 50 hz speed of our electricity.  America and some countries like Japan use 29.97 fps based on 50hz (I initially found this out about 50hz electricity when I moved to Australia and found none of my clock-based appliances worked because of the slower clock speed!). Steve mentioned feature films are shot at 24 fps .   “An interesting note is that when you watch a feature film on Australian TV it is actually 4% shorter than when you saw it at the cinema. Films are ‘sped up’ from 24 fps to 25 fps to match the TV frame rate and therefore run slightly faster.”

It turns out the iPhone and iPad are so smart they decide the frame rate for you based on light conditions. This can be problematic if you want to incorporate with other footage. Steve’s general rule, “Don’t mix the frame rate”.  So iPhones and iPads are good if its all you have, but may not mix with film from other cameras.

Portrait Footage and ePubs?

It used to be a strict “no no” to film in portrait orientation rather than landscape. Well it turns out you’re better off holding the camera/phone etc.. vertical when capturing footage to include in ePubs!

Promotional Video

Now that the cost of producing high quality video productions is so much accessible, there is a place for high end productions in a school setting. This weekend I learned professional techniques for creating high-end videos on a budget. Here are a few of the tips shared at an ADE Retreat hosted by Apple with guest expert Steve Griffiths.

Working both sides of the camera as we practiced filming, sound, interviewing and being interviewed.

Tips for Great Shots

  1. follow the rule of thirds
  2. don’t fireHOSE by panning, tilting or zooming. Choose the frame, then shoot the scene for at least 7 seconds.
  3. keep the camera level to the horizon
  4. avoid zoom: use zoom to frame, but don’t use transitional zoom
  5. shoot landscape unless its for an ePub/iBook
  6. handhelds can appear less staged and captures the moment. Use a tripod where possible.
  7. give shots depth with a clear foreground, mid ground and background (put as much distance behind the subject as possible).
  8. make sure the focus is spot on
  9. watch colour balance and white balance
  10. everything that is said in an interview needs to have a picture to go with it. Use LOTS of overlay. You can never get enough overlay. These don’t need audio and can be in the class room, close shots of technology,…
  11. Look for different ways to shoot things (low, high)
  12. Avoid reflections
  13. Keep the camera steady
  14. keep things looking nice (tidy up, clean screens..)
  15. lighting makes people look better. Need three light sources: keylight to light the subject, fill on the opposite side to fill shadows and backlight around the hairline. Outside use the sun and a piece of white card as fill light.
  16. If subject is squinting, tell them to close their eyes and look at the sun, then turn to you and open them.
  17. Sound needs to be good quality. Test, use external mics and CHECK.  Lapel mics are best.

Tips for Interviewing

  1. Keep the eyeline slight to left or right of camera, looking at interviewer
  2. Make sure you can clearly see both eyes
  3. Dark clothing ususally looks better
  4. Avoid fine stripes (moire effect)
  5. Avoid swivel chairs
  6. Sit on coat tails
  7. Move scenery to a create a good shot
  8. Eyes on interviewer only (looks shifty otherwise) Keep other people out of eyeline.
  9. Look for reflections, headroom, brightness and background.

Post-Production

  1. We learned to use Final Cut X. Easy to use and more powerful than iMovie.
  2. Allow plenty of time. Approx 4 hours per minute of final footage.
  3. Music adds emotion – create your own if you can.
  4. Add plenty of overlay.
  5. When publishing compress (Compressor does a great job).

Decisions about iPad Implementation

I’ve been looking for ideas on how to best implement iPads in my school.  Here are some resources I’ve found particularly useful:

To help with the process of implementing Mobile Technoligies we adapted the Victorian iPads for Education Model

Adapted from the Victoria Education trials, this approach has guided our Mobile Learning Trials at Immanuel Primary School.

The top decisions we faced for our Mobile Learning trials included these challenging questions:

  1. Who’s on the team? We realised we needed to ensure decsion-makers and key stakeholders are involved early. Our team included Principal, Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning, Business Manager ICT Coordinator and Technical Support Officer.
  2. Why technology in education?  We mapped out our beliefs about the impact of technology on learning including mapping to the PYP Elements and found technology impacts learning positively in almost all  areas. We also explored what Learning with Rich Technology might look like. 
  3. Which technologies? Already an Apple school, we narrowed the scope or our research to Apple Mobile Learning Technology.  This included MacBooks, iMacs, MacBook Airs and iPads.
  4. Which Ownership Models? BYOT, School-owned, Staff-owned, Parent-owned, hybrid?
  5. Which Management Models? Securing, charging, access restrictions, purchasing etc… Who manages  and controls these to meet the needs of the learners and keep risks to the organisation in check?
  6. Which use models? How many do we need? 1:1, shared, who shares? What hurdles do we need to jump through if we share devices that are meant to be personal?
  7. Which Support Models? What will the impact be on Tech Support requirements? What support is really required? Technical? Pedagogical?
  8. Who is responsible? for learning? risk? App purchasing and selection? Workflow and backup?
  9. Which professional learning models?  Teachers as learners, each one teach one, hub groups, lead learners?

I’m sure there are many more decisions to make when choosing to implement iPads. I look forward to comments and ideas.