I recently presented at the inaugural #DigiCon conference on the topic of ‘becoming connected’. It is a topic I have touched on before. However, I elaborated on this a bit more. Here are a few resources associated with the presentation:

Becoming a More Connected Educator (DIGICON15) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

While I Amy Burvell created some image that connect with the presentation based on her #3ofme series and available at her My-conography page:

Pln Burvell Become Burvell +1 Burvell



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It is so important to be innovative, to look at a problem from a different perspective in order to create a new solution. What Adrian Camm describes as the ability to, “step outside of the normal and suspend our biases.” However, one of the challenges with this is giving some sort of recognition to the past, the normal, in our solution. It would be nice to think that we can start again, but as Dan Haesler touched on recently, “Your idea of innovation cannot be dependent on the removal of the immovables.” Although we may dream of such worlds, as I have said before, ideals are not always ideal.

One of the prime examples of this battle between the ideal and the seemingly immovable is furniture and structure of classrooms. Not a day goes by when a post comes through my steam about modern learning spaces. I look upon some of the ventures carried out by others in ore and excitement, wondering about the possibility of such spaces. However, this is not always the case. Schools and education departments are becoming more and more cash strapped, therefore breaking down the walls and bringing in new furniture is not always possible. Instead, we are forced to simply hack the space we have. Something that Ewan Mcintosh touched on in a recent post.

Having said all of this, such debate is all brought home when you read about teaching a hundred students under a tree in Africa. Of course, innovation is different in every context, but it is still a good reminder.

What about you? How do you balance the past with the future in bringing change and evolving the conversation? I would love to know. Comments welcome.

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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

During a conversation at DigiCon15, I was asked to clarify, ‘What is Heutagogy?’

I first heard the word Heutagogy via Steve Wheeler’s blog. However, it was not until I stumbled upon the collection of essays in Experiences in Self-Determined Learning via Jon Andrews that my attention was truly piqued. What stuck out the most was that there was not necessarily one unifying definition. Instead, I was left with a range of quotes, each adding a particular perspective:

“Learning is intrinsic to the learner, and the educator is but an agent, as are many of the resources so freely available these days.”

Stewart Hase

“Let learners choose what they will learn and how they will learn it”

Lisa Marie Blaschke

“If heutagogy is about self-determined learning by self-authoring learners, then assessment in a heutagogical context becomes a metacognitive aspect of the learning process.”

Melanie Booth

With Education 3.0, the educator’s role truly becomes that of guide-as-the-side, coach, resource-suggester, and cheerleader as learners create their own learning journey. The educator has more life experience, knows (hopefully) about the process of learning, and has more procedural knowledge about how to find, identify, and use informational resources and social networking for learning purposes.”

Jackie Gerstein

“From a self-determined learning perspective learners need to be able to take control of their learning.”

Stewart Hase

To get a different perspective, I put the question out there on Twitter to see what I would get


As I scrolled through the different responses it struck me, to define heutogogy in some ways misses something. The reality is that heutagogy is many things to many people and maybe what matters most is how you define it yourself.

So don’t let me decide for you. Maybe you like one of the definitions presented or maybe a combination. Whatever it is, for it to be meaningful, make sure it is yours.

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Quickmakes Drawings
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

Often Google Drawings is overlooked as being a simple graphic program, offering not much more functionality than Microsoft Paint. You are able to add images, text, shapes, links and lines, while in regards to images, you can crop, re-colour and adjust the basic image settings. That means no touch-ups, no effects, no textures. However, what makes this more than Paint is the collaborative nature. The ability to easily share opens up many possibilities, whether it be working on a project, creating a brainstorm or just sharing a file to be remixed. In some respect the perceived limitations of Google Drawings are often its strengths.

For example, there are some out there who use Drawings to create eye catching visuals. Bypassing the many applications, instead using Google Drawings to create infographics. Tony Vincent has made a fantastic video documenting how he did this to create an infographic associated with Periscope.

To support this process, Alice Keeler uses templates so that all the different elements are already there off the page in the margins. In addition to templates, the simple ability to easily share and remix a make is sometimes enough. See Sylvia Duckworth’s wonderful presentation for different possibilities, including:

  • Creating flowcharts and mindmaps
  • Developing collaborative brainstorms
  • Making visual graphics

So what about you, how do you use Google Drawings? Would love to know.

Here are some resources to support:

Getting Creative with Google Drawings – Sylvia Duckworth

Google Drawings Graphic Organisers – Matt Miller

Creating a Drawingsing Template – By Alice Keeler

Making Mind Maps – By Alice Keeler

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

Although considered as a application which allows you to generate surveys, Google Forms is better thought of as a means for organising data, in whatever shape or form that maybe. A part of the suite of applications which make up Google Drive, it has many connections with Google Sheets. At its heart Forms contains nine different question types: text, paragraph, multiple choice, checkbox, choose from a list, scale, grid, date and time. See this Form for a better explanation.

In addition to these options, you can also use a range of add-ons that provide additional functionality, such as the ability to eliminate options after a user has chosen it (Choice Eliminator), write complex math problems (gMath), generate a Form questions from the data in a Sheet (FormRanger) and shut off a Form after a number responses or a certain day (formLimiter).

Some possible uses for Google Forms include:

  • Creating a quiz as formative assessment
  • Developing a survey for students to provide feedback
  • Organising a sporting carnival
  • Planning an essay or story

These ideas are only the beginning, for seeing Google Forms in isolation limits its wider potential. Once you understand that the data is fed into Google Sheets, you can then start exploring some of the possibilities within Sheets. For example, Kenneth Durham has used Autocrat, a Google Docs add-on, to provide his staff with feedback when he does observations. This includes creating a template in Docs and a Form which then feeds the information into Sheets. All of this means that by filling in the Form, staff are automatically sent an email with their feedback.

So what about you, what are some of the different ways that you have used Google Forms?

Here are some additional resources:

Google Forms: Quick Start Guide by Alice Keeler

Unleashing the Potential of Google Forms and Using Google Forms for Differentiated Instruction by Anthony Speranza

Script Central – By Jay Atwood

A Guide to Using Google Forms with Autocrat by Kenneth Durham

80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms to Support Learning by Tom Barrett

Using Google Forms for Formative Assessment by Bianca Hewes

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

The term blog derives from ‘web log’ and was initially coined to describe “discrete entries (posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order.” This though has changed over time. Now it incorporates a range of different methods for creating and communicating. Sometimes it is organised inside a bigger system, but more often than not it is standalone.  There are many different platforms out there, each having their benefits and negatives. What does not change is the focus presenting mixed media, including video, text, images and audio.

It seems that when it comes to blogging there are as many reasons not to blog. These include not enough time, fear of the public audience and feeling that you have nothing to write. What stands out the most to me though is actually knowing where to start. Sometimes this start is about finding a why, but more often than not it is about where and how.

Unsure which platform to use, how to setup a blog or whether you can maintain regular blogging, a good place to start is Medium. Founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, the intention was to encourage Twitter uses to create longer posts. In a reflection on why he loves Medium, Marcin Wichary highlights a range of benefits, such as the simplicity of use, looks great on any device and makes it easy to collaborate. While in a separate post Mathias Elmore suggests that when it comes to writing, Medium has some real benefits, including the ability to write, read, annotate and engage all in the one place.

I am not sure if I think doing everything in one place is the ideal solution, nor do I feel that Medium is the best platform. Here I am with Audrey Watters’ call for a domain of one’s own. However, Medium does provide a good starting place.

Some possible uses for blogging are:

  • Being a connected educator
  • Critically engaging with information and ideas
  • Showing your work and learning
  • Leading by example

Here are some additional resources associated with Medium (and blogging in general):

Ten Reasons Why I Love Medium – a post from Marcin Wichary unpacking the different features of Medium

Medium as an educational tool — the feedback era – a post from Mathias Elmose discussing the benefits in regards to writing and feedback

Getting Started in Medium: Writing and Reading – two posts from Ian O’Byrne explaining how to get going with Medium.

Syndicating to Medium – a post from Jeremy Keith outlining how to syndicate your posts to Medium in order to gain the benefits of posting in your own space, as well as the reach offered by a space like Medium.

Why I Blog (And How You Can Too) – A guide from Sue Waters to everything associated with blogging

Seven Reasons Teachers Should Blog – An exploration from Steve Wheeler into some of the reasons as to why to blog

Why I Blog – A reflection from Corrie Barclay on the range of reasons why to blog

An Introduction to Blogging with Global2 – A post I wrote exploring the potential of Global2 and Edublog for education

Successful Blog Posts – A post from Doug Pete looking at the mechanics of a blog post

Anywhere but Medium – Dave Winer makes the plea for readers to post anywhere but Medium, rather than let it become consensus platform. Instead, we need to make a stand for the open web and at least post elsewhere first.

Tips and tricks for Medium writers – The editor at Medium provide an extensive guide for using the editor when publishing in Medium.

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

Adobe Voice is an iOS application which allows you to easily present ideas and information in an engaging manner. A part of a suite of mobile only apps created by Adobe, including the website creation app Slate, it provides connections to range of content to create slick and stylish presentations in minutes. Once finished, you can upload videos to and share via Adobe Creative Cloud or download them to the camera roll and publish elsewhere.

One of the best features of Adobe Voice is the access to range of Creative Commons content. Whether it be images, icons and music, each of the different sections provides the option to search from within the application. This means that you do not have to leave the application in order to find appropriately attributed content. The issue though is that, like with much of Creative Commons content, it can be hard to filter out inappropriate images. It is often for this reason that many popular sites are blocked in schools. My own workaround has been to simply use original content gathered via the iPad camera. However, this then limits the potential of the app.

Some possible uses for Adobe Voice are:

  • Create a video timeline
  • Record a picture book
  • Develop an instructional guide
  • Gather together different reflections

In regards to data and privacy, although you can avoid uploading to Adobe Creative Cloud, you are required to create an Adobe ID Account to use the app. This includes providing a range of information that is used to identify users. In addition to this, Adobe may also collect data in regards to how people use their applications through the use of cookies. This information is used to identify improvements with the product.

Here are some additional resources:

Adobe Voice & Slate Blog – A blog with a range of tips and tricks about how to get the most out of Voice and Slate.

Adobe Voice An Introduction – A guide to making a presentation using Adobe Voice

Adobe Voice Ideas and Examples – A range of ideas for getting started with Adobe Voice in the classroom

Adobe Voice YouTube Channel – A collection of examples and guides associated with Adobe Voice

Adobe & Privacy – Answers to common privacy topics associated with Adobe Voice

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

GIF stands for graphic interchange format. It is a type of loop-able image that lasts for only a few seconds. Andy Rush explains that originally they were designed for practical visual indicators, such as under construction signs for a webpage or animated email buttons. However, as with most things with technology, as time has passed, GIFs have developed a life and purpose of their own.

A key to the success of a GIF is repetition. Sometimes this is because the image creates a closed loop continually repeating. However, GIFs also have a potential to tap into our curiosity of storytelling, where although the clip may not necessarily create a closed loop, the engagement with the moment keeps the viewer watching again and again. Mariana Funes provides a range of reasons for GIFs, including the creation of the impossible, a representation of how we think, an act of becoming. While Clive Thompson explains,

The animated GIF lets us stop and ponder a single moment in the stream, to resee something that otherwise would zip by unnoticed.

What differentiates a GIF from other short video forms, such as Vine, Twitter and Instagram, is that there is no sound.

In regards to creating a GIF, there are many programs that you can use to make them, including IMGUR, Photoshop, and Camtasia. Common Craft provide a range of options, both free and paid, in their thorough guide. However, a site that often overlooked, that allows you to make GIFs quickly and easily is gifyoutube.com.

Basically, you put ‘gif’ in front of any YouTube video in order to convert it. The site provides a few options, such as adding captions, deciding start time and setting the duration. Although you can search the site for published GIFs, I prefer to publish animations at Giphy, a site best understood as the YouTube for GIFs.

Some possible uses of GIFs in education include:

  • Providing comments and captions over the top of a short clip
  • Creating a visual story (see Nathan Bransford explanation of the writing process)
  • Make a provocation to discuss what might happen next
  • Developing an explanation for a skill or instruction
  • A summary in images (see this Reddit board representing entire films as GIFs)

While here are some additional resources exploring some different programs to create a GIF:

A Quick and Incomplete History of the Animated GIF – A thorough collection of reflections and resources from Andy Rush

Why Do You Want to Make a GIF at All – An extensive collection of links, perspectives and examples from Mariana Funes. For a shorter version, see her Medium post, The Animated GIF

The Animated GIF: Still Looping After All These Years – An analysis from Clive Thompson about the history and place of the GIF in society

Do You Speak GIF? – An introduction to Giphy from Mariana Funes

If You Have to Say It, Say It In GIF – A detailed account of GIFs and where they maybe heading

How to Create Explainer GIFs – How to explain your ideas quickly and easily using a GIF

Giffing – How to make a GIF using Photoshop, which includes a great collection of examples.

Making GIFs with IMGUR – How to make a GIF with IMGUR

Creating Animated GIFs with MPEG Streamclip and GIMP – How to make a GIF with MPEG Streamclip and GIMP

Soundbitification – A reflection on the rise of the short form from Amy Burvall and its impact on attention

Ooh Ooh Mr Kotter! I Know How To Optimize My GIFs! – Alan Levine provides an explanation as to how he took a GIF and optimised it using Photoshop.

Full Movie GIFs – A Reddit page dedicated to movies told as a GIF.

The Publishing Process in GIF Form – A post from Nathan Bransford unpacking the writing process using GIF images.

Lola Who – Brandon Tauszik talks about the idea of a GIF being a piece of art.

Eight-second videos are long enough to infringe on copyright, says UK judge – A case covered by Glyn Moody which touches on GIFs and copyright.

Looking at This Viral GIF Could Be the Perfect Way to Cope With an Anxiety Attack – A simple GIF designed to support breathing when stressed and anxious.

GIFDeck – A site that allows you to turn Slidedeck presentations into a GIF.

MSGif – A generator that converts your message into a GIF animation.

GIFs as Disinformation Remedy – Mike Caulfield discusses the idea of generating short instructional sequences to post in comment threads of fake material (i.e., how to fact check) rather than just Snopes-ing people.

Loose Learners Ep. 13 – GIF Again – Mariana Funes and John Johnston talk about Gifs, including how to make them and their various uses.

If you have any other resources or experiences with using GIF animations in education (or elsewhere), feel free to share. I would love to know.

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

Verso is an application designed to engage thinking through the use of questions and provocations. What is different though to other applications is that the students’ identity remains anonymous, meaning that the focus is solely on the ideas and information. While at the same time providing teachers with a range of data and statistics associated with the activities through the dashboard.

Unlike other applications, which only gather the initial response, Verso provides deeper engagement by providing the means to follow up from the initial prompt. Once students have provided a response, they are given view of all of the other responses. From there they are able to interact with different ideas through the use of likes and comments.

The basic Verso account is free. This allows teachers to create classes, activities and review the data and statistics. However, there is also an opportunity to engage with a ‘campus’ subscription. This offers the ability to tie together an entire school of teachers, with features such as sharing activities, the ability to upload via web browser and access for coordinators to see statistics across all teachers, subjects and year levels. Pricing for this is dependent on the size of the school.

Kevin Zahner has written a post which outlines some possible uses for Verso including:

  • Analysing an image and providing an account of what is seen.
  • Gathering questions associated with an inquiry topic.
  • Brainstorming anonymously in silence.
  • Reflecting and evaluating progress of to learning.

In regards to data and policy, Verso requires only an email address, first and last name, and the school name from teacher users. For student they require first and last name, and a username. Other than that, they do not require any further personal information.

All of the data within the Verso App is securely stored in the AWS Cloud infrastructure and all interactions are handled via secure HTTPS.

Student information is used solely within the Verso application. Teacher users will also receive occasional emails from Verso to let them know of changes within the application, from which they can unsubscribe at any time.

Here are some additional resources:

Verso Blog – A collection of resources and reflections associated with Verso

Terms and Conditions – An outline of the conditions of use associated with Verso.

VersoApp on Vimeo – A range of videos, including case studies and guides.

Provoking Thinking Using Verso – A post from Steve Brophy providing a good introduction to Verso.

If you have any other resources or experiences with Verso, feel free to share. I would love to know.

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Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/quickmakes
Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 Quickmakes

Mozilla Thimble is a part of a suite of tools, including Webmaker and X-Ray Googles, designed to help teach the web by (re)making the web. It allows you to easily create, remix and share webpages. Using HTML and CSS language, putting in the code on the left and then seeing it come to life on the right. What is great are the hints and errors that pop up as you work.

Some possible uses for Mozilla Thimble include:

  • a personalized cover splash page
  • an online poster for your favourite movie
  • a hilarious meme

Here are some additional resources:

Webmaker Thimble Page – A guide to how Thimble works and the different possibilities.

Web Literacy Map – A growing resource created exploring the skills and competencies associated with traversing the web.

Teaching the Web Activities – A collection of activities designed for teaching the web.

Collection of Makes – A gallery of creations from other people.

Mozilla Learning Network – A Google Plus Community dedicated to reading, writing and participating on the web.

I’ve just closed my Linkedin Page – A post by Doug Belshaw discussing taking ownership of online identity.

#2NextPrez Make Cycle: Remixing Campaign Posters with Thimble – Kevin Hodgson shares a remix activity involving the creation of a poster.

If you have any other resources or experiences with Mozilla Thimble I would love to know.

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