Blogging Seven Ways

Digicon16 Presentation - Blogging Seven Ways

Here is the blurb for my session at #Digicon16:

In this presentation, participants will be provided with the why, how and what associated with blogging. Whether it be the difference between platforms and what they allow. Ideas for what blogs can be used for. As well as the challenges associated with blogging, including restricting content and transferring content.

You can find further resources here.


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Creating and Making with Adobe Voice

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

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/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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An Introduction to the GIF

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

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


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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Flip Your Thinking with Verso

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

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/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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Teaching the Web with Mozilla Thimble

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

Digital Creating and Making at #DigiCon15 http://bit.ly/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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An Introduction to Thinglink EDU

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

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

Thinglink EDU is a platform for making interactive images. Whether it be video, audio or text, it allows you to provide links to additional information. Creating an interactive image involves three simple steps: find an image to use as the background, add links using a range of icons and then share the finished product, whether it be as a link or by embedding it in a blog or a website.

Like many programs with educational support, there are two subscription options. Firstly, a free account, which provides you the basics, including 100 student accounts, simple tagging and a small range of icons. While the premium educational version allows for almost unlimited student accounts, Google Drive integration and over a hundred different icons, including the option to use custom icons.

One of the other great features of Thinglink EDU is the ability to remix. No matter which interactive image it is that you find, you can make it your own, adding your own elements and republishing a new version.

Some of the possible uses for Thinglink EDU include:

  • Making an image with a series of questions for students to then remix and answer.
  • Developing a map with links to mark a journey.
  • Annotating a piece of work, using icons to highlight different features.
  • Creating an interactive portfolio with links to different references.
  • Finding an image that allows you to tell a story.

In regards to data and policy, Thinglink EDU requires only an email address, first and last name from teacher users. For the Premium account, payment details are also collected. Data is stored and processed on computers located in USA or EU.

Thinglink collect information for the purposes of providing and developing the service. Some of the features offered might rely on the use of information we have collected from you in order to ensure that the feature in question is customised and targeted for your specific use. The personal data provided can also be used for direct marketing unless you let Thinglink know that you do not wish to receive such content. The personal data can also be used for contacting you if required for the provision of the service.

For full privacy information in regards to data and policy, see: https://www.thinglink.com/terms


More resources:

Thinglink Blog – A collection of thoughts and resources associated with using Thinglink

Thinglink Teacher Challenge – A series of challenges and ideas about how to use Thinglink EDU.

Susan Oxnevad’s ISTE Resources – A great collection of images showing some of the many potentials.

Extending the Classroom Walls – A post reflecting on some of the different possibilities.

Thinglink and Storytelling – My own example of how Thinglink can be used to tell a deeper story.

Verified Accounts for Schools and Districts – A post explaining some of the different account options.

Examples of Thinglink


For any more information, I recommend contacting Susan Oxnevad (susan@thinglink.com). While there is also currently a 20% discount off EDU Premium if you use the code: SUSANTLEDU


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Presentations Don’t Make a Conference, People Do

Lego poetry at DLTV2014
 
As I sat through one of the most horrendous presentations on Office 365, it got me wondering about the question, what makes a good presentation? I sat there thinking what would make this better? What was missing?

At first I thought that it was the absence of any conversation about pedagogy. A point that +Edna Sackson made about last years GAFE Summit in her post, ‘‘I Want to Talk About Learning…’ There was reference to pricing schemes and packages, what this includes and what that does. However, I had signed up with the hope that I could take back to school a few more tips relating to how to get the most out of Windows 8 – whether it be new applications or different functionalities – I was wrong.
The one thing that held me together throughout was the conversations I was having on Twitter with +Rich Lambert. He too was lost in the presentation. Although our banter was critical of Microsoft and their lack of innovation, much of it was in jest. We were adding a layer of humour that was seemingly absent. However, what occurred to me later was that it wasn’t learning or even humour that makes a great conference, it is people.
+Steve Brophy and I presented on the notion of listening to voices in and out of the classroom. Even though we created a range of spaces to continue the conversation, whether it be in our Google+ Community, through our Diigo Group or even simply using the hashtag #eduvoice. The place where most people wanted to connect and share was not necessarily online, which may come later I guess, but rather in person. People wanted to talk, they wanted to tell their story, share their ongoing journey.

Creating new connections is what ALL conferences should be about. Building relationships and expanding your PLN. This sense of people connecting with people, both digitally and online, is what makes them such a fantastic place to learn. To riff on +David Weinberger‘s point, “The smartest person in the conference is the conference.”
One of the things that I loved the most about #DLTV2014 was actually neither a session nor something that can necessarily be deduced to ‘one single thing’. Instead it was an initiative to generate conversations about change and reform called Institute of the Modern Learner. The idea was that anyone could add to the conversation. What made this so interesting wasn’t necessarily the idea itself, which was important, but the way in which it was carried and communicated. Some were handed random cards as they moved throughout the conference, an online space was created which was linked to a Twitter handle, while short injections were made during many different presentations. At its heart though, this movement to me was connected with the attempt to create a space for learning as embodied by ‘Gaming in Education’ stream. There were no presentations as such, instead there was a space with different hands-on posts set up, such as old console games, programmable devices and Lego poetry. Here you were at the centre of your own learning with people like +Dan Donahoo, +Kynan Robinson and +Jess McCulloch there to support and continue the conversation.
+DLT Victoria 2014 then to me has been a success. For it is easy to say that the spaces were sometimes confusing or there were too many sessions and streams, however if you walked away from the conference without creating one new connection or strengthening some ties that already existed, I would argue that you weren’t really there. Coming back then to Weinberger, “Even if the smartest person in the room is the room itself, the room does not magically make all who enter it smarter.”
Were you at DLTV2014? If not, did you follow online? What is your story? Tell me, because that is what learning is all about.

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In the Association We Trust

‘Your Association Needs You’ by Aaron Davis (Flickr)
While attending the recent Teachmeet at Lt Markov, +Roland Gesthuizen posed the question, what do you expect from +Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria? It is a part of a bigger question that I don’t believe we ask very often, what we actually expect from an educational association? It got me thinking about how these expectations have changed in the last few years. I remember when I started teaching over ten years ago, the association was the first place you went to for information and resources. However, in the last few years this pride of place has gradually been dissolved with the development of various sites and spaces. So here then are my thoughts about the place of associations today.
 
I remember as a graduate being inundated by my subject association with an array of sessions for this and that, I thought that every event was worth going to, probably because that was all that was on offer. The problem with this though was that schools never allow you to go to ever event due to the disruption to class and the cost to the school, this was exacerbated when I moved to the country, which also added the issue of travel to the equation.
 
Since then, I rarely look at those sheets and links, while the ones that I do wish to go to are often cancelled due to lack of interest. For me, much of this professional learning has been replaced by what could be deemed as ‘personal learning’, that is, learning that is driven by the learner, rather than the presenter. This can come in many shapes and not always in the physical form. This can include sharing ideas through social media or engaging with different resources through various social bookmarking. I think then that the place of associations in this environment is to not only to add to, but help manage and curate the dearth of information out there.
 
One of the interesting innovations of late in regards to professional development has been the rise of webinars and other such platforms as an alternative to tradition professional learning. Although I have not actually been a part of one of these sessions, I have watched many at a later date. What is great about this is that you can dip in when you want, taking away as much as you want. The problem is that traditionally the success of professional development is measured by numbers through the door. I think though that it can be a misnomer to simply measure such mediums by their take-up. For in the digital age, this take up can be spread over weeks, month and years. In some respect it is important to provide such ideas and information and let it have its own existence.
 
The biggest challenge to associations is that many of those tried and trusted methods and mediums are continuing to come under scrutiny in the world of open learning. I’ve read two interesting posts in the last few months in regards to the continuing currency. One from +Chris Betcher and the other from +Tom Whitby. What was interesting about both pieces was that they both highlighted sharing and networking as one of the essential elements to conferences. For Betcher, conferences need to be offer an experience, not just the same old stand and deliver, rather “moments that could not have happened any other way.” While for Whitby, his concern is about the currency of ideas and information presented at conferences. When sessions often need to be submitted 8 to 12 months in advance, how can what is presented be the ‘latest and greatest’? He gives reference to the move to the more informal style of conference perpetuated by the Edcamp movement and questions what value formal conferences have over such mediums. What is interesting is the move of some conferences now to offer elements of the more informal, running there Teachmeet events at the end of the day when the space which is often hired for the whole day is left dormant. The question then remains, what is the future of conferences? Will they continue to be the staple of the association? How will they change in order to offer experiences rather than content? To these questions, I am not really sure.
 
Associated with conferences is another stalwart, the journal. I remember cleaning out resource cupboard at my old school and finding hundreds to journals stashed away in the corner.  Often a collection of academic papers, detailed case studies and literature, I am sure they will always be a place for journals, because, for some, they provide the legitimacy to move ahead with an initiative or to try something new. However, with the rise of blogging, podcasts and new aggregation applications, the primacy of the old-fashioned journal as the place to find out about ideas and initiatives has seemingly been displaced for some. I think that the challenge that associations now have is how to manage both formal and informal mediums. Just as it is the job of associations to facilitate a wide range of professional learning, so to is it the job of the association to publish across a variety of forms. Coupled with the traditional, there is a place for associations to also promote what is out there. Whether this be a group blog or aggregated zine like Flipboard. However, the issue that exists is what should exist behind a paywall and what should be made public for the greater good of all? Again, like the conference, I am stumped on this one.

This then links to the biggest question that many have in regards to associations, what do you pay for? In some respect I think that this question would be better put as what should you pay for? Clearly associations do not run by themselves and aspects such as books and resources only bring in so much. However, not many people are going to pay as a part of some sort of moral obligation, well not enough to keep the association running. What is worse is that with the tightening of budgets, often it is the school association subscription that is often the first thing to be questioned, especially when there are so many. What then should be included? Traditionally, subscriptions have included discounts to events, various subscriptions, newsletters and access to support. With much of this becoming available elsewhere, is it enough now? On top of that, +Jenny Ashby raised an interesting point during the Teachmeet about whether country educators should get a subsidised rate as the tyranny of distance often prevents them from being able to get the same benefit. Clearly, associations have to charge a subscription. However, at the end of the day, what this cost should include is unknown. At the very least, it means you are supporting a professional group and for some that is all that matters.
 
The reality is, associations are there for their members. Just as social media would be nothing without people sharing and interacting, so to with an association. For without members to support and represent, an association is nothing. Really, the association is there to be whatever you want it to be. Whether it be solving a problem or answering a difficult question, there are often people working there with a wealth of knowledge and experience who can help out with. In addition to this, associations offer a united voice to curriculum submissions and other such educational initiatives. 


In the end, I am not sure what the future of the association is. I asked a few colleagues about what they thought. Some spoke about the opportunity to network, while others questioned whether there was a need at all. What I found interesting was that many of the perceived ‘benefits’ of an association are now things that we can find elsewhere. After reflecting on everything, I think that the future of the association is somewhat linked with the future of the teacher. Although there will always be a need and a place for the role of the ‘teacher’ in the future to support the human side of learning. This role is becoming more and more that of a supporter and facilitator, rather than the old-fashioned instigator of learning.

So then, what do you think? Do you see a place for associations in the future? What is that place? Is it the same as now or are there things that you think will change? Have I simply missed a large chuck of what an association is? Leave your thoughts below. Would love to know.


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