I have been doing a bit of work lately with YouTube. One of the challenges is adding content. Although there is the option to live stream or create videos from still images, both of these approaches have their limits. Here then is a list of other options:

Touchcast

An iOS application, Touchcast allows you to not only easily record, but through the use of a green screen, add your own settings and backgrounds. In addition to this, it has a great teleprompter which helps alleviate the problem of not quite looking at the camera, as well as helping with pace and fluency. For more information, read my post here.

Adobe Spark Video

Originally Adobe Voice, Adobe Spark Video is a multi-platform application which allows users to easily present ideas and information in an engaging manner. It provides connections to range of content to create slick and stylish presentations in minutes. Once finished, users can  download videos to publish elsewhere. For more information, read my introduction or watch my video.

Powtoon

An animation program, Powtoon allows users to build on the idea of a PowerPoint presentation in the creation of a engaging video. With a range of templates to work with, there are many options for what is available. However, projects do have the potential of becoming complicated quickly.

Lumen5

A new application, Lumen5 has been designed to quickly and easily visualise the web by identifying the key elements of a post or a page. Similar to Adobe Spark Video, it provides access to a range of Creative Commons images and music to create posts. The goal is to automate the creation of content through the use of artificial intelligence. For more information, see Kevin Hodgsen’s post.


So what about you? What applications do you use to create visual content? As always, comments welcome.


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The #edublogsclub challenge this week relates to books. I am always reading. However, instead of writing another review, I thought that it might be more pertinent to review a review of my reviews I made with Awesome Tables.

Awesome Table allows you to take data recorded in a Sheet and use App Scripts to create dynamic visualisations. As the website explains:

Awesome Table lets you display the content of a Google Sheet into various types of views: From a simple table to people directories, Gantt chart views, Google Maps, card views… There are many possibilities to suit your personal and professional needs. With it, data in Sheets are shown in a more functional way and can be shared with viewers.

I had started exploring options for dynamic displays with the help and guidance of Tom Woodward, who shared a template for my blog roll with me. However, he also directed me to Awesome Tables as another possibility.

Even with tags and categories, one of the challenges of having a blog with hundreds of posts is how to make it easier to find what you might be looking for. One example is finding my reviews of books and podcasts. I am often asked for suggestions and short of giving people a long list, wondered if there was a way of refining this process. This led me to Awesome Tables.

 


For those interested in making your own Awesome Table, I have created a basic guide:

1. Go to Awesome-tables.com and sign in with your Google account. This will then link with Google Sheets.

2. Choose a template from those provided. Preview it and once happy, click Use Template to create a copy.

3. Open the Spreadsheet attached to the template. There are two tabs: data and template. To use the basic template as is, delete the dummy data and add your own.

4. If there are fields that you do not want built into the template, then you can change the headings in the Data sheet. However, make sure that you do the same within the Template sheet.

It is possible really customise an Awesome Table or even start from scratch. However, it can get rather fiddly and involve a lot of abstraction. For those wanting to go down this path, there is a support site with a range of documentation.


So what about you? What strategies do you use to track the books you read? Have you used Awesome Tables in any other ways? As always, comments welcome.


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The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies
“The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Often when supporting teachers with the integration of technology, it is easy to start with a notion that people are beginners. This leads to a process of unpacking applications bit by bit. I wonder if rather than knowledge, the challenge associated with so called ‘beginners’ is confidence. This challenge though takes many guises. For some it is the confidence with the mechanics, while for others it comes back to purpose and intent. A useful framework for working through some of these idiosyncrasies is Doug Belshaw’s essential elements of digital literacies.

Rather than one singularly unifying notion of digital literacy, Belshaw argues that there are eight interlinked elements, each informing our understanding and application of digital literacies.

The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacies #digilit
“The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacies #digilit” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Thinking about an application like Hapara is interesting. It provides an added layer on top of GSuite, which allows teachers to organise and manage learning in the classroom. Using digital literacies as a lens provides an insight into a number of aspects to which a teacher may lack ‘confidence’.

  • From a cultural perspective, Hapara posits that teachers are largely in responsible for creating the conditions for learning. Some teachers may have different pedagogical beliefs.
  • Cognitively, it involves new ways of working. Although it may be more efficient, these are still habits to unlearn and relearn.
  • Constructively, there is a blur between empowering students with the power to participate in actions and the dangers in excessively moderating learning using Highlights. Finding a balance can be challenging.
  • From a communicative point of view, GSuite allows a number of ways to engage, Hapara provides the means to manage and moderate this within different cultural norms.
  • Connecting with GSuite through the use of APIs, Hapara has the ability to both hinder and help the creative process, for on the one hand applications like Workspaces can be used to scaffold learning to support originality or to structure it in such a way that it could  a construed as no more than a digital worksheet.
  • From a critical and civic point of view, it is important to consider the why there is a need to manage learning and the consequences associated with such actions.

There is no one element that captures confidence and confidence in itself does not capture the full picture. Doug Belshaw’s elements provide a means of representing the assemblage of connections associated with technology. Something that Ben Williamson attempts in his own way in his work on Class Dojo. That being said, the answer is not to cover all elements each and every time in a checklist fashion. Instead, they provide useful provocation to go further in defining how we engage with technology.

So what about you? What strategies have you used to take the conversation around tech beyond the tool? As always, comments welcome.


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Mark Colvin's Journalistic Credo
“Mark Colvin’s Journalistic Credo” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Light and Shadow by the late Mark Colvin is a memoir about many things. Growing up, adventure, adversity and the art of journalism. More than anything else though, it is a book about life, in particular, a life well lived.

A deeply reflective thinker, Mark Colvin traces his path through life. Whether it is describing life growing up as a spy’s son, the challenges of attending boarding school during a time of sadomasochistic brutality from teachers, managing mixed families, balancing between life being half Australian and half British, and continually adjusting to the new world of media through mediums, such as video, internet and social media.

Neither a revolutionary from the left nor a conservative from the right, Colvin memoir lives out the credo of presenting the facts. In many ways, Light and Shadow reminds me of Christopher Hitchens and Clive James. Although each have their own voice and experiences, they present captivating stories. Adding to this, listening to Colvin read the book provided a further connection.

I will be honest, I always knew of him from his time presenting PM on ABC Radio, but never really knew the man behind the voice.  For a different introduction to the life of Mark Colvin, watch the tribute on Foreign Correspondent or listen to him on the Conversation Hour.


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Third Space
“Third Space” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

One of my focuses at the moment is around online learning. This has involved investigating different spaces, the idea of Communities of Practice, dynamic content to include and the potential of Open Badges as a means of credentialing. It occurred to me that I had not stopped to properly consider what was already out there.

Having spent considerable time online, I naively felt that I already knew what was available and subsequently what may be needed. While some of the ideas suggested include creating a blog connected to a static homepage, I had not stopped to look at the hubs that I already engage with and how each of them is organised.

Here then is a reflection on some of the tribes and communities I engage with online:

EdTechTeam

A global organisation originally associated with GAFE Summits, EdTechTeam have since diversified to include other products and platforms, including Apple, Adobe and SeeSaw, as well as a burgeoning book publishing arm. The mainstay of communication is through their invite only Google Plus community. They also share news and resources on various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, graphics and pictures of conferences on Instagram, stories and reflections through Blogger, and webinars and keynotes through YouTube. Many of these spaces are brought together through the use of the #EdTechTeam hashtag.

Digital Learning Department

The Victorian State Government’s Digital Learning Department supports the integration of technology across the state. The most popular form of information is through the Global2 newsletter, which provides updates, links and information about various resources and providers, as well as links to professional learning opportunities across the state. This is supported by a Twitter handle, which again shares out various links and resources with a loose connection to the #vicpln hashtag. Neither of these platforms seem to provide very much interaction or dialogue.

Modern Learners

Made up of Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon and Missy Emler, Modern Learners’ mission is to:

To help every school leader become better informed to make better, more relevant decisions for the children they serve in this new, modern world of learning

Originally a paid subscription site, the central space has been a WordPress blog. This has been supported by a regular newsletter sharing links and reflections, a Twitter handle and a Facebook Page used to cross-post, a #modernlearners hashtag, as well as a book series designed to reignite or perhaps even start some important conversations. More recently, they have also started sharing interviews and investigations via a podcast and facilitated a Facebook group with weekly discussions and provocations. Associated with these additions, they published a whitepaper a few months ago, 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning, which could only be downloaded by sharing your name and email. This has allows the team to follow up directly, especially in regards to promoting their new change.school course for transformational leaders.

#EduCoachOC

A monthly chat spun off from the #EduCoach chat, #EduCoachOC is designed to support coaches in Oceania through a monthly chat. Along with the hashtag, there is a central WordPress.com blog with a post published prior to each chat providing context and the questions for people to consider. Afterwards, the chats are archived, using Storify.

TeachTechPlay

A professional learning community, TeachTechPlay aim is to inspire learning through empowerment and engagement with technology. The main space used is a WordPress site (moving away from an initial Google Site). This contains links to community, conference and monthly webshow. The webshow is run through YouTube. There are a number of identities linked to the community, including a Twitter handle, Google+ account and Facebook page. Each is used to cross-post and disseminate links and news. There is also a hashtag, #ttplay, which although initially used for the monthly webshow has grown to become a constant feed of information. More recently, a blog has been added to the site, however the purpose and intent is unclear.

Connected Courses

Run in 2014, Connected Courses focus was developing and teaching online courses that value the open web. Supported by the work of DML Research Hub, it was designed and taught by faculty from diverse higher education institutions. The hub was a WordPress site, with links to the syllabus and syndicated blogs. Associated with this, there were regular webinars, both informative and reflective, housed on YouTube. There was also a hashtag #ccourses to collect conversations across various platforms.

Reclaim Hosting

Founded in 2013, Reclaim Hosting provides hosting support for individuals and institutions that want to build out spaces online for personal portfolios, digital projects and more. It builds on the Domain of One’s Own project. The main source of information is via a WordPress.org site, which includes a range of links, blog, resources and sub-domains. The blog is aggregated from the blogs of Groom, Owens and Brumfield, while links and updates are shared out via a Twitter handle. Discourse is used as both a forum for discussion, as well as a knowledge bank for frequently asked questions. Beyond these associations, there are a number of other connections to such things as the Domains Conference. Interestingly, continuing with the POSSE mindset, interviews and content are not always stored centrally through branded accounts, but instead spread across the various identities connected with the company.

TIDE Podcast

A regular podcast from Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw, Today in Digital Education is about education, technology and everything in between. There is a central site, built using Podcast Generator, which houses the notes and audio associated with each podcast. Each episode is also shared out to a number of spaces, including Soudcloud, iTunes and Internet Archive. Links are shared out via the Twitter handle which just posts out new episodes, but there is no interaction with this account. In regards to dialogue, there a Slack Community.

Digital Learning – CEWA

A group in charge of supporting teachers with across the Western Australia Catholic archdiocese with everything digital. This includes leadership, curriculum, tools, spaces and coding. The main space is a Wix site, which includes a number of links presented visually, as well as a team blog. There are also courses run through the online learning and teaching site, Udemy. Socially, there are number of connections, including Twitter, Instagram, Yammar and Facebook Chat, as well as a hashtag, #CathDigLearn.

Digital Technologies Hub

Developed by Education Services Australia, Digital Technologies Hub (DTHub) supports educators with unpacking the Digital Technologies Curriculum. The main site is built with Sitefinity and involves a mixture of links and resources, organised around four key stakeholders: teachers, school leaders, students and families. Although there is no space for interacting, there are a number of social media identities associated with the site, including Twitter, Google+ and Facebook Pages. Associated with all of these, there is a hashtag, #DTHub. There is also a monthly newsletters, providing a regular flow of news and updates.

Learning Hubs
“Learning Hubs” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

So what about you? What spaces do you exist in? Maybe there is one that you have designed yourself? What choices did you make? Why? As always, comments welcome.


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Productivity
“Productivity” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I was in a session recently unpacking GSuite. The discussion was around the Explore Tool, something Google added last year. Basically, it provides a range of suggestions based on the information on the page. During the conversation, someone remarked that they wished that the Research Tool was still there. For those who may have forgotten, the Research Tool was a small window added to the side of the screen which provided a number of ways to find content and information. It offered several types of results to sort by, including, images, quotes, scholar, quotes and dictionary. All of these aspects are available in a new tab via the Google Search Page or via Google Scholar.

The real problem as I see it is that Explore is not the Research Tool. Where the Research Tool was the same no matter what applications you go to, the Explore is dymanic. It provides different responses for each application it is attached too (only Sheets, Docs and Slides at this stage), each time and all automated. As Google explain,

Explore uses Google smarts to help you create amazing presentations, spreadsheets and documents in a fraction of the time they used to take… so you can get on with what’s most important in your life. It’s like having a researcher, analyst and designer by your side.

It is Google using machine learning to help people be more productive.

Google have a long history of killing off particular services. Some because of their niche use, while others because they no longer fit with the company’s goals and vision. I would argue that the reason that the Research Tool was removed was that it did not fit with Google’s focus on automated productivity. For some this is a reminder that Google’s prime focus is not learning, but I think that it is a reminder of who is in control of our platforms. That for me is one of the biggest differences between a platform like Blogger as opposed to an open sourced solution like WordPress. We are often dependent on others for infrastructure, applications and subsequently our ways of working.

With little sway over the design of applications such as Docs and Slides (other than sending in suggestions via the help menu), what I do have control over is appreciating how the various parts, such as Add-ons and the Explore tool, work. This is a particular challenge with the Explore Tool.  Whereas it was obvious Research Tool did, the Explore Tool is not so clear, that is until you open the hood. As I was looking through Kin Lane’s extensive investigation into Google’s application programming interface. I noticed a correlation between the options offered by the APIs and what was showing up in the Explore Tool. The Explore Tool could therefore be described as Google exploring what machine learning can provide when combined with APIs. This offers a useful insight into the possibilities of little bits of the web working together. 

To me this is what is at the heart of the current digital technologies push. Fine, students may use apps to learn how to code or schools might set up their own makerspaces to foster creativity and play, but more than this what is needed is a deeper understanding of the world that they are a part of, the algorithms with live by and computational thinking involved. Productivity is not always productive when it takes away the understanding and leaves us with a tool instead. This is the risk we face when coding becomes too complex. What we can appreciate are the parts and and how they might work together.

So what about you? What have your experiences been? As always, comments welcome.


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Portfolio
“Portfolio” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I was recently talking to a colleague about potential portfolio platforms. I have written about reporting packages in the past, but this is different. I therefore got thinking about the different possibilities. There are many things to consider, including accessibility for parents, students and teachers, ease of use, ability to incorporate different content, compatibility with different devices, the potential to transfer ownership and the level of security and protection. So here then is a start to a list of possibilities and some aspects to consider:

  • Global2/Edublogs: Built on WordPress, Global2 is a Edublogs Campus provided by the Victorian State Government. Student blogs are managed via a central teacher blog. Although Edublogs allows users to add a range of media and personalise the blog in a number of ways, including the addition of a password on posts. Although Edublogs have done a lot to streamline the experience, WordPress can still be challenging, especially for early years students. Read more here, while for an example of portfolios, check out the Geelong College examples.
  • Old Google Sites: Sites offers versatility and potential to integrate with GSuite. It is possible to make a template and produce a copy for every student, while then allowing students to make further comments. Similar to Global2, the complexity associated with editing can be a challenge for students, especially in the early years. Another concern are the limitations associated with connecting and communicating through the platform. Associated with this, is the problem where. unless you create GSuite accounts for adults, sharing directly with a wider audience can be challenging. For more information, read Anthony Speranza’s reflection.
  • New Google Sites: A rebuild from the ground on up, it is easy to drop and drag content around the page. One of the concerns with the new Sites is that much of the functionality associated with the old sites is missing, such as the ability to adjust permissions for different pages or embedding HTML code. There is also no means of providing feedback, unless you add a Google Form. Like Google Classroom, it will be developed further. However, there is no guarantee what and when. For more information, check out Eric Curts’ walkthrough.
  • Blogger: One of the benefits to Blogger is the ease of use and integration with GSuite. With simple themes and the ability to add video and images, for some it is a more convenient alternative to WordPress/Edublogs. Similar to Global2, there are means of moderating comments, while protection is provided by adding different users to the blog. Another benefit is that blogger can also be managed through Hapara. When students leave, ownership can be transferred as students move on. From recent conversations it would seem that Google maybe looking to give it a facelift. For more information on Blogger, go here, while Bill Ferriter has shared some of his experiences with Blogger too.
  • SeeSaw: A relatively new addition, SeeSaw allows users to document a wide range of learning artefacts. Associated with this, it provides the means to comment, annotate and attach text. Teachers are able to develop classes and add students, while users can sign in with their GSuite accounts. It is easy to share between parents, students and students and is available as an app or in browser. It is free to sign up, however the paid version allows for more control, especially around archiving content. One of the real pluses is that it does not necessarily require a 1:1 environment, as I have heard of cases where a teacher uses a tablet to capture work and link it to the specific student. Go here for more information.
  • Slides (and GSuite): Although not the most sophisticated method, another options is using Slides. It provides the ability to create a template and push it out via Google Classroom (or Hapara), while files can easily be shared between teachers, parents and students. There is the ability to engage through comments, even allowing for spoken feedback through extensions, such as Talk & Comment. Another added benefit is the ability to add video from Drive, therefore avoiding the need to publish to YouTube. For more on Slides, go here.

This is a start. Other options that I have not really explored in regards to portfolios include, Weebly, Book Creator, Kidsblog, Schoolbox and Onenote. The reality is, each context will have its own set of concerns and considerations. I hope that it offers a starting point for a deeper conversation.

So what about you? As always, comments welcome.


Update: in an original version of this post, I incorrectly suggested that there was a connection between Google Sites and Wix, which there is not. Thank you to the anonymous comment which highlighted this error.

 


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EdTechRations
“EdTechRations” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

 

I came upon David Hopkins’ curation Emergency Rations via a image on Instagram from Amy Burvall. I think that this is important. Although it was on social media where I discovered it – a regular ration throughout the book – it was my connection with and trust in Burvall’s judgment that lead me to read it.

The basic premise of the book is a collection of posts, thousand words each, on what it is you would not leave home without. There are a range of responses. Some familiar faces, others new to me, each adding their own twist on the question. For some their response bordered on a listical, while others were more circumspect, using it as a reflective opportunity to stop and assess.

What is important is that it is a technology book about people. Whether it be Maha Bali’s use of her smartphone to study while raising a child, Amy Burvall’s advice that if you are to apply one piece of makeup that it should be lipstick, Joyce Seitzinger’s warning that she does not like to receive random voice calls or Steve Collis’ revelation that he only has one pair of shoes, each decision provides a glimpse into another world.

So to continue the conversation, here is my contribution:


There are a number of devices which make up my setup. Whether it be my Chromebook, iPad Mini, Dell (work) laptop and an inherited old MacBook. However, the one device that I would not leave home without is my smartphone. A part of me wished this wasn’t the case, but while I live with my iPhone 4s while my Nexus 6P is being fixed, I am realising how much I have come to depend on my phone for so much of what I do.

I am not necessarily interested in the latest and greatest, nor wedded to a particular digital ecosystem. I am more content to bide my time in order to spend my money on other things, such as books and holidays. Instead, what interests me is the potential and possibility of the technology I have, that is, finding the edge of the page. Rather than being constricted and cajoled into a particular way of working, I would like to thing that I find a balance betweening programming and being programmed.

When I think about what I use my smartphone for, I think that it comes down to three aspects: reading, writing and responding.

READ

There are so many different forms of media which I regularly engage with on my phone, spread across a number of applications. The most important one though would have to be following posts via Feedly. Subscribed to over two hundred blogs, this is usually my first port of call. From there I share out to various social media and bookmarking sites, such as Twitter and Diigo. Sometimes with longer reads I will save them to Pocket, particularly as there is the option on Android for the app to read these out loud to you. (Note: you need to use a third party app on iOS). In regards to other texts, I use Kindle for digital books and ezPDF Reader for PDFs. With the Kindle, I often use my old iPhone or iPad to read them aloud to me via the accessibility settings (the Android experience is frustrating). I like digital texts as I can often quickly and easily come back to my highlights and annotations. In regards to podcasts, I use Podcast Addict. It is adequate, but does have nuances that can be frustrating. To be honest, I do not really watch a lot of video as it is hard to drive while watching, while if I do listen to music it is usually via Google Music as I am never organised enough to connect with my computer to update my playlists.

WRITE

Gone are the days when using a phone meant depending on text messaging and making calls. Instead, communication is spread across a range of applications. David White and Alison Le Cornu talk about the difference between personal and institution when mapping out digital presence, however just as our identities are complex, so to are the ways we digitally connect. My dominant form of communication with work is still email. Personally, email brings in a range of updates and newsletters. Whether it be sharing a post or engaging in discussion, my most frequented application is Twitter. I do not pretend to keep up with the noise and instead focus on serendipitous side of things. Some other spaces where I connect include Voxer. Google+, Google Hangouts. Slack and Instagram. I must admit that my participation in these spaces can be a bit more ad hoc.

RESPOND

One of the biggest changes that the smartphone has made in my life is the ease to which I can create and respond. Although I could keep a physical journal or record ideas on scrap paper, using the phone not only allows me to jot down ideas at any moment, but also easily edit pre-existing ones. This allows me to work on the train or while cradling my child. Although I have used both Evernote and Google Keep in the past, the improvement in Google Docs to work offline means that, whether it is developing a presentation or writing a post, I do most of my work there. I am interested in moving to a markdown editor, especially in light of my experience with Wikity, but for now my Docs workflow works. In regards to video and photography, I do enjoy using Instagram. Although it is private account as I am mindful of making the open decision for others. I have dabbled with recording the audio associated with presentations using my phone. However, I have yet to get this workflow down pat.


As I reflect on my experiences with mobile, I am reminded again and again that mobile devices have their limits. For example, I still finish my blog posts on a computer, relying on Flickr for images and Alan Levine’s Attribution Helper to embed them. I am also left considering the temporal nature of these conversations. Five years ago my rations would have been completely different based on how I work and what was available. I am therefore left with the knowledge that this description has a used by date. Maybe it will involve a move away from mobile? Considering the environment and sticking with devices and relying less on the cloud? The technology we wear? Or more control over our mobile experience? Whether it be the content we consume? Whatever it is, it will be interesting to note how it all unfolds.

Inspired by Kevin Hodgson, I created a summary with Lumins5


So what about you? What are your edtech survival rations? As always, comments welcome.


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Future
“Future” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I have been saying to quite a few people that there seems to be change afoot in regards to Google Drawings. I base this hunch on a few signs. The majority of the information in the support site has been stripped back, there is no mention in the GSuite Learning Centre and there is a move to remove Web Clipboard. Google also have history of buying other products and integrating them within their core suite. Google have purchased a number of image applications, such as Nik (rebranded as Snapseed). This got me thinking about what I would actually want in a revised Google Drawings:

SCREEN CAPTURE

In my job, I often use Google Drawings to annotate images on the web. Whether it be taking a screenshot or using an application to overlay, capturing the web often involves third party applications. In the past, I used SnagIt until it was removed it from the play store. What you realise when you work with Google Chrome is that extensions are built on APIs provided by Google. Therefore I wonder whether Drawings could incorporate some of the features that SnagIt used and in the Insert Image option provide the means to capture the browser.

EXTENDED EDITING FEATURES

One frustration with Drawings is the lack of options in regards to editing. Fine you can adjust the transperancy or apply some basic filters, there is little options for editing elements or applying personalised effects. In addition to this, it would be good to have some way of visualising the order of objects. Although this might be pushing it. It would be good to have.

MOBILE DRAWING

It has been interesting to watch the use of Google Keep grow and develop. One of the functionalities offered is the ability to capture and create on mobile. This includes drawing sketches and rough drawings. Drawings is not available on mobile and does not necessarily allow any means for freehand drawings. It would great to be able to make and create via mobile, especially iOS. Although Slides offers many of the same functionalities, the iOS does not really make creating images and diagrams easy. The closest thing available is AutoDraw, however that seems to be designed to gather data, rather than fill a gap.

IMPROVED QUALITY

Google Drawings offers the means of integrating images within other applications such as Docs and Slides. However, one of the limitations is that as soon as an image is added, the quality is stripped. This means that if you are serious about incorporating images then they need to be complete before being inserted into the document.


Maybe the change will be different? Maybe instead of recreating Drawings, the answer will be incorporating Android applications into the web? Maybe I should just stick to using the alternatives. It will be interesting to see.

So what about you? What would you add to Google Drawings? What would make it better for you? As always, comments welcome.


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Technology
“Technology” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I was asked today about Facebook Pages for schools. Although everyone seems to have one, I have seemingly avoided investigating Pages for a while now. I therefore decided to unpack the platform using Doug Belshaw’s digital literacies as a guide.

The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacies #digilit

“The 8 Essential Elements of Digital Literacies #digilit” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

From a cognitive and constructive point of view, there are a few things to consider, including:

  • Cover Pages. This could be as simple as adding your own photograph or something found in Creative Commons. Another option is to create something with Canva or Google Drawings.
  • Username. This name is used for searching. For example, it acts as the second part of the URL for the page (http://fb.me/nameofschool) and provides an address for people to message by (http://m.me/nameofschool). There is the option of posting as yourself or as ‘the page’. This is adjusted in Post Attribution in the Settings tab. A useful site for identifying a username is Namech_k as it shows what is available across a number of platforms.
  • Profile Picture: Each page creates a unique user, associated with this is a profile picture. This maybe the school logo, an image of the principal or if the page is for a classroom, an image of the teacher.
  • Description: Limited to 1-2 sentences, this description is similar to what you find in social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter.
  • Links: There is the option to provide a link and/or a button to an outside website. This could be a class blog, a school website or another social media platform.
  • Content: There are a number of ways to add content to the page. This includes images, events and posts and notes. Within notes there is the ability to add basic formatting and embed objects from Facebook, Giphy, Instagram, SoundCloud, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.
  • Settings: As with all of Facebook, there are a number of settings that can be changed. For example, you are able to adjust settings around comments via Settings > General > Visitor Posts.

Much of this is covered by Facebook in a series of tips provided when you start a new page. However, this blog also provides some additional guidance.

From a critical and cultural perspective, there are many considerations. One thing is permissions. For example, as a school have you gained informed consent to use images? Or communicate what is happening in the classroom? Does the school have a policy which accounts for how Pages will be used?

Another important aspect is privacy and identity. The first thing that I noticed with my trial space was the focus on marketing and boosting hits. Although I chose to categorise the space as education, it is not designed for education. Here I am reminded of Mark Zuckerbergs’s desire to destroy journalism. Facebook’s failure to protect teens. The way in such spaces and platforms foster a templated self and support inadvertent exclusion. Encouraging transparency through searching by continually changing settings and agreements. Targeting vulnerable teens. Manipulating user emotions. Inviting inappropriate connections. Makes you the product. If you are to use Facebook, it is important to be informed.

For many the appeal to use Facebook relates to communication and cultural norms, rather than considerations around data. The challenge is to find balance between ideals and common practice. I have written about alternatives before. However, if they take twice as long they will never be taken up. Convenience often wins out. So what about you? Have you used Facebook in education? Are there other aspects to consider? As always, comments welcome.


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