Monthly Archives: December 2014

Philosophy of Teaching

This is not the first time I have written a philosophy of teaching, but with each new version something always changes because I have changed and grown as an educator. I have been told that beginning teachers, like myself, tend to be idealistic in their philosophies and that is probably true with me. I tend to have a philosophy that is idealistic, but not always put into practice because I reach so high. I would hope after years of fieldwork and two student teaching internships I would be a little more practically honest in this philosophy of teaching, but since it is my first time addressing the online learning environment no promises.

First, I would have to align myself most closely with the constructivist theory of learning and teaching. I want to be more of a guide, but I know from my own experience I do not always practice this in every lesson I teach and design. In constructivism students are active learners creating knowledge and reflecting on their learning process (Ally 2008; Siemens 2005). Learning should be a journey of exploration and discovery. Collaboration and cooperation is also important to me as en educator, but in the online learning environment I found it difficult to meet this aspect of my philosophy. In the physical classroom I use Kagan cooperative learning to help manage the classroom, but in the online learning environment this is more of a challenge. Swan, Garrison, and Richardson (2009) support the idea that collaborative and cooperative learning is essential to the online learning environment and is worthy to pursue in order to foster successful and effective learning experiences of students. By using discussions and peer feedback on assignments seems to be the way in which I choose to practice this aspect of my philosophy in the online learning environment. I need some more practice and guidance, but in my future in online teaching I look forward to improving my practice of this aspect of my philosophy and exploring the community of Inquiry framework described by Swan, Garrison, and Richardson (2009) to better improve the collaborative features of my online teaching.

With all that said it is also important to me that I prepare my students for the real world by allowing students to experience learning in authentic and place-based ways. In the online learning environment I found the best way for me to practice this was through personal connections and creating a community of learners that share their culture, beliefs, values, and ideas through introductions, discussions, and their projects that are connected to where they live. Even though distance may separate the student and the teacher in the online learning environment that is no excuse not to utilize the students’ unique sense of place, which has only been enriched through the online learning environment. This is where I draw on facets of the connectivism theory, where a student’s sense of place in the online world is continually changing because new information is being added constantly. The online landscape is being changed by others, but most importantly the students are making their own contributions to it; they are learning “to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information [which] is vital,” and their “…ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical” (Siemens 2005). This is what I like about the online learning environment students can easily add to it and shape it. Students are active learners and doing things, as Fink (2013) would describe it.

One aspect of my philosophy that has become stronger is my belief in the power of metacognition and reflective learning, which both Fink (2013) and Ally (2008) emphasize in their writing on the learning process. I have learned the importance of my learning activities need to all work together to help guide students through a learning process that is reflective. If students are to become critical thinkers and active participants in this world they need experiences that allow them to think about their thinking and the thinking of others. This is why I like to have class discussions both in the physical classroom and online learning environment. Discussion encourage students to communicate their thoughts and then reflect on those thoughts after being exposed to others thinking on the same topic. Learning is cyclical and discussions are a nice visible manifestation of this characteristic of learning. Learners need other learners in order to deepen their metacognitive and reflective learning experiences. This connects to my strong belief about having a cooperative learning classroom management style, learners working together to learn.

Finally, no philosophy would be complete without mention of assessment. For me assessment starts with McTighe and Wiggins (2004) Understanding by Design framework. Beginning with the end in mind first always helps to refine my assessments because my outcomes are clear. I do not always faithfully start at the end, but I always find myself going back to it to get my lesson planning on track. Whether it is formative or summative assessment reflection is an important component of the assessment process. Students should be continually reflecting and assessing their own learning. This is done through reflective writing, discussion, and self-assessment. Assessment is not just for the teacher. Assessment is just as important to the students because it informs the next step in students’ individual learning experience. Formative assessment is best at accomplishing informing both the teacher and the student about where the learning path is going and how students are progressing toward meeting learning outcomes and the K-12 Alaska State Standards. Timely feedback is a big part of successful formative assessment. Feedback needs to be encouraging and constructive. Most importantly formative assessment informs and shapes instruction. It is also meant to lead students to be successful with the summative assessments. I prefer to have project based summative assessments where students are creating. I see summative assessment as a means for students to try out different roles and create something based on the role they are playing whether it is an author, poet, historian, researcher, etc. Summative assessment should show what the student has learned and what they can do with it now. Successful teaching cannot be done without solid assessment because it is not only a reflective learning experience for the students, but also for the teacher. Teachers cannot improve and grow without utilizing assessment and reflecting on it themselves. Assessment is a vital cog in the wheel of the learning cycle.

In conclusion, it is my ultimate goal as a teacher to spread the joy of learning and to help guide students to their passions and encourage those passions to grow. It is also a goal to help students become critical thinkers that are active in doing, so they do not become passive citizens. Everything in my philosophy of teaching is meant to lend itself to these goals, maybe not completely, but I am learning too. My teaching philosophy will never be totally completely. I will always be reflecting on it and continuing to learn new things that will shape me and hence my teaching philosophy.

References

Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., pp. 15-44). Athabasca University.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding by design: Professional development workbook. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2(1).

Swan, K., Garrison, D.R., & J.C. Richardson. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning: the Community of Inquiry framework.  In Payne, C.R. (Ed.) Information Technology and Constructivism in Higher Education: Progressive Learning Frameworks.  Hersey, PA: IGI Global, 43-57.

 

Preliminary views of Tools: Khan Academy, GradeCam and PhotoMag

For this assignment, I chose Khan Academy, Photomag and GradeCam. I had used Khan Academy 4 years ago, when I had gotten it into my head that I needed to go back and re-learn math (since I had virtually given up on it in highschool). However, it has been a long time since then and no doubt it has changed since then. I have never used Photomag, but as I am in the field of journalism, it seemed like a tool that might help me in my lesson plan as a group activity. GradeCam seemed like a good way for the instructor to create quizzes and have the answers graded in real-time. GradeCam is also a tool I have never used before.

Early on, I realized the problem I faced with PhotoMag. It was an app specifically designed for the apple store and for apple products. Since I use android devices, this tool is not something I will be able to use or review. Initially, I didn’t realize what the problem was and I downloaded an app with a similar name (Photo Mag). I realized very soon that it was not the app I was supposed to be testing when everything was written in French and it was basically an app that downloaded magazines on your phone.

Khan academy is most definitely a form of balance between active and passive learning. During the videos of Sal Khan, the student has to listen, as is in a traditional classroom setting. However, the student then gets to apply and test what they have learnt in the form of quizzes. The student engagement is high because both the videos and the quizzes are short segments, the videos not exceeding 7 or 8 minutes and the quizzes comprising of 5 questions at a time. Khan Academy also seems well designed to engage students with good web design, the use of colors in the videos, and doing the quizzes to “win points” and “badges”. While using Khan Academy in the past, I did not ever really see a sense of community or interactivity between users that might have changed with the option for teachers to set up their classes on the site.

GradeCam is a tool specifically for teachers. It does not play a role in the learning process of the students and it does not necessarily promote active or passive learning. GradeCam allows for teachers to take the bubble answer sheets that her students have filled out during a test, and scans it with a camera so that the results are then instantly tabulated and ready for the teacher to use. Their sales pitch is that by using their product, the teacher can spend less time grading individual papers and more time actually teaching. I don’t see this tool really helping the building of a community of learners either.

 

Referenced:

Fahy, P.J., Characteristics of Interactive Online Learning Media

Public displays of assessment: The pros and cons posting work online

When it comes to posting class work publicly, there are a lot of aspects to public displays of assessment that affect the interaction among students. As a student, there is often, a lot of hesitation and nervousness about posting or discussing their work publicly. Students may feel self-conscious about speaking up in a face-to-face classroom setting. Often, I, as a student, will worry that what I say will sound stupid and meaningless and that my peers would judge what I have to say. I am more comfortable talking to the professor after class and explaining my ideas to them directly, than I am saying them in public to a room full of people.

However, the virtual world is a totally different situation. In the online classroom, there is a level of disconnect from the peers and professor since there is no face-to-face interaction. As a result, students may be bolder in stating their opinions. Stating one’s opinion anonymously is always more comforting than making it publicly known. While filling out an end of course survey, a student may not want to provide their name if they are giving their professor a bad rank. Online haters often do not realize that their comments reach real people. The level of disconnect makes them able to put their opinion out there, with the comfort of knowing that they are anonymous.

However, while stating opinions seems like it is easier to do on the internet, publishing work on the internet that includes answers to questions and research is a bit more difficult. When there is an open display of the other student’s work, there is always apprehension about the other students. What if they wrote a better, more in-depth analysis than I did? What if we ended up doing the exact same work? Theirs looks way longer than I had intended to write. Do I need to write more?

While I think that publicly posting work does push students to work a little harder on their work, due to the added pressure of more eyes seeing the work, but it does also cause a little more stress each week about whether or not they are meeting the standards of the rest of the class.

Positive classroom interaction and peer assessment based off of the publicly submitted work does help assuaging the fears of some students when they realize other students are also just learning. Often, peer assessment can be good even when there are dissenting opinions, if students approach the issues with the mature outlook of creating better understanding of a subject rather than fighting over the issue.

I think the pros out weight the cons in the question of publicly submitting and displaying work done for a class, as collaboration and interaction is a way that students are able to access opinions and assessments other than their own, thus broadening their learning experience.

 

Work Referenced:

Gumport P., Chun M., Technology and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges in the New Era, National Center for Postsecondary Improvement, 2000

Unit 5, Week 2: Unit Plan

Unit 5, Week 2

Unit Plan:

The name of the course I am creating a lesson plan for is “Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism”.

 

The learning objectives that I have come up with for this course are:

  1. Understand the different basic principles of Journalism and analyze real-world situation according to these principles
  2. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios
  3. Construct effective narratives following the basic principles of journalism

 

For the purpose of this unit plan, I have selected two topics out of the entire course:

 

Topic 1: 5W’s and 1H: The “5W’s and 1H” is the very basic principle of journalism. According to this principle, a news report is only complete when every question that can possibly be asked about the story, i.e. who, what, where, when, why, and how, are all answered. A good news report covers all these 5 questions in its lead paragraph.

Activities:

  • The lesson will begin with an initial lecture about the concept.
  • This will be followed by case studies of different news stories and class discussion on whether they are effective news stories with adequate information.
  • Activity: Create a mock situation/ take a real event. Require that all students must  report on this mock situation or event. In order to make it interesting, stage a situation like an accident/ shooting scare/ press conference. Have some students be actors playing the parts in the mock situation and have the rest of the students report on it or discuss what different details need to be added to make a complete story.
  • Homework assignment: Find a newsworthy story and report on it. All questions must be answered. minimum of 3 sources.

 

Topic 2: New Media: New Media consists of all news disseminated digitally using the internet. This includes news on websites, through YouTube videos and Twitter and Facebook. Journalism has changed rapidly with the development of technology and this has in turn changed many of the principles of journalism that were once held in high regard. New media has caused journalism to become extremely fast-paced with more emphasis put on “getting the news out first” rather than “getting the news out right”. Discuss the importance of hashtags.

 

Activities:

  • The lesson will begin with an initial lecture about new media and its changing structure
  • This will be followed by case studies of different news stories and how they are covered differently in print and in new media. Also case studies about famous news stories that broke online (ex: Live tweeting of Osama Bin Laden Assassination and the Fox news fiasco)
  • Activity: Have a mock event/ press conference/ situation and have the students live tweet the event while also working against a deadline to package a story for web
  • Activity: Have students create a 1 minute video of an event and package it for web.
  • Homework: Find a newsworthy story and create a complete multi-media package for it with a written report and photos for print and for the website, 3 live tweets for it with hashtags, and a 1 minute video. This whole multi-media package must tell the whole story without becoming redundant.

 

Proposed assessment:

  • Class participation during in-class activities
  • Peer-assessment of each other’s work
  • Homework assessment based off of understanding and application of journalism concept
  • Final Assessment: Create a complete news package (for print, TV and internet). Assessment based off of understanding and application of journalism concepts.

 

Unit 5, Week 1: Personal Reflections

As I develop this unit plan, I find myself going back to all the journalism classes I have taken, as well as the actual work I have done in Journalism. It is a tough, constantly changing field. There is nothing constant in the field and just the same, there are very few rules but the ones that do exist, are also changing with the advent of technology.

I was developing this lesson plan so that we could develop an effective training program for the staff at our news organization. This training program needs to be created with the assumption that the staff do not know anything about journalism and are starting from scratch because, so often, they are indeed starting from scratch.

Coming up topics that the staff need to learn about was not too difficult because having worked with them as they enter the organization, I was able to already gauge what topics need to get covered with each and every new staffer, whether they have some knowledge of journalism or not.

However, in conjunction to those topics, coming up with engaging activities was really a problem. I wasn’t sure what kind of activities would effectively help them learn the topics at hand, while keeping the staff engaged and interested.

My partners Alda and Kelly, in the group assignment helped me realize how my learning objectives in the concept map didn’t exactly match my learning activities. This was a big help and I was able to fine tune my activities to align more with the objectives of the course.

Article Review 1: Collaboration in a virtual classroom

The 21st Century skills[i] framework that had been developed by the ‘Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ include collaboration as an important part aspect of the skills required for the 21st century that all students must develop to flourish. According to this framework, to be able to collaborate effectively, one must:

  • Demonstrates the ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

Collaboration allows for students to have access to different viewpoints on various topics that they wouldn’t normally have access to in a traditional classroom setting where the teacher stands at the front of the class and teaches out of a textbook. Collaboration, thus contributes to a higher order of learning with a more in-depth view of the subject.

The very nature of knowledge itself is impacted by technology. It shapes what counts as knowledge, how knowledge is produced, how people are involved in the production of knowledge, and how knowledge is valued [ii](Gumport and Chun, 2000). Students, who generally wouldn’t participate in a face-to-face class, now come forward with their opinions through the anonymity that is provided as a result of technology.

As a result, technology has the potential to bring out even better collaboration and thus, a better in-depth understanding of a subject in and of itself. However, effective collaboration through technology is difficult to create due to the disconnect felt between participants that never actually see each other face to face. While designing an online course, or creating a virtual classroom, it becomes especially important to develop a sense of community among the participants by introducing constant collaboration.

The instructor needs constantly try and bring in the ‘human’ element to the virtual classroom through constant collaboration with peers, to make the class an effective learning environment. Collaboration intrinsically requires a mediating tool to foster practices of meaning-making through joint activity and technology is a medium that supports collaborative work.

For the purpose of this assignment, I reviewed the article “Collaborative Learning Using Integrated Groupware: A Case Study in Higher Education[iii]”. This study was undertaken by four researchers whose intent of research was to conduct collaborative learning using information, communication and technology, for its college students, and evaluate its usage in learning. They designed a platform to cater to individual profiling, classroom interaction and group activities. The groupware they used were Microsoft Sharepoint platform, cloud computing abilities and editing of work real-time, online.

The students participated in various group activities, with simultaneous work and editing of projects. They were able to see other students’ work and comments and the instructor was able to monitor this in real time as well. This seemed to promote students’ interactivity in the class as they were able to make changes and edits even after interactions were made.

Through the study, the researchers concluded that with the use of a carefully planned and designed groupware, a common college seminar can be transformed into a highly interactive and collaborative environment.

My personal take-away:

It is difficult to create engagement of participants in a virtual classroom, due to the presence of so much distance between each other, both physical and virtual. The instructor has to work hard to create that sense of community among the students.

Technology often creates an arms-distance between people. This can be seen in nasty online commenting made by people. These people are not necessarily bad people, but they get a certain kind of anonymity on the internet. Also, a kind of arms-distance is created and people don’t realize their nasty comments are actually reaching other real live people. While this does promote interactions from students who wouldn’t normally speak in class, this does not necessarily promote healthy and productive interactions.

This can be tough to combat, but it is the instructor’s job to create that sense of community through collaboration, so that effective learning takes place in the class. With more positive interaction between classmates, there is more of a feeling of ‘knowing’ each other and as a result, students will be more inclined to learning in the class.

One thing that I feel is very important is virtual meetings. In a class with little or no definitive meetings (even virtually), it is extremely difficult to engage the student and create any kind of collaboration.

[i] Framework for 21st Century Learning, Partnership for 21Century Skills, Washington DC, 2011

 

[ii] Gumport P., Chun M., Technology and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges in the New Era, National Center for Postsecondary Improvement, 2000

[iii] Iinuma M., Matsuhashi T., Nakamura T., Chiyokura H., Collaborative Learning Using Integrated Groupware: A Case Study in a Higher Education Setting, International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2014

Memories Matter Online Unit & Rationale

Here is the link to my Memories Matter Online Unit, but you will need to sign up for Canvas in order to access it, sorry, but you can delete your account after viewing it.

Unit Overview and Background

Memories Matter is an 8th grade English online asynchronous unit, with the exception of one synchronous session. Approximately 20 students are enrolled. These students are either enrolled in a virtual school or are home school students. So all students enrolled are familiar and comfortable with technology and have basic technology skills and the appropriate equipment and software to complete the unit. Developmentally the students are adolescents, which means they are egocentric, ready for abstract thinking, and need structure for long-term planning. In my unit I attempt to use these developmental characteristics to my advantage by making assignments have a connection to the students’ lives and guiding the students to think about abstract concepts that are not black or white, but deal with the grey area such as sameness, ideals, and morals. The unit is designed to guide students to the final project and to practice necessary reading and writing skills according the Alaska English language Arts Standards. Students will engage in a lot of personal writing by keeping a reading journal and writing two memoirs. Students will also conduct research and investigate two past memories by interviewing family and friends, looking at photos, and examining their own memory. Through discussion students will explore grey area ideas and concepts about the importance of memories and recorded history. This will lead them to think carefully, critically, and reflectively about the importance of memory and recorded history in their own lives, which culminates in the final metacognitive reflection.

It is the hope that by using a main piece of literature in this unit, The Giver by Lois Lowry, that it will help engage students in the roles of readers and writers, which will then lead to the role of author. With the asynchronous nature of the unit it is also designed to help students develop independence, which is important at this age as readers and writers. I as the instructor will act more as a guide as students explore the unit. As students explore the theme of telling the story through the lens of memory and recorded history in The Giver it will give the students a focus while reading and most importantly a purpose. As Wilhelm (2008) states storytelling is “a primary way of knowing and organizing our personal knowledge of ourselves and the world. Storying defines humanity, makes us human, empowers us in being who we are, and makes it possible for us to conceive of being more than we are” (p. 52-53). By having the students become storytellers they will practice their reading and writing skills while developing a better understanding of the world they live in and their place in it.

Unit Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to think critically about the importance of memories in the book The Giver, recorded history in their own lives, and in larger historical contexts through reflective writing.
  • Students will be able to think and reflect about their own values and beliefs concerning sameness, diversity, uniqueness, culture, history, power, and societal issues.
  • Students will be able to infer the meaning of vocabulary words in context.
  • Students will be able to practice their reading fluency by reading passage aloud.
  • Student will be able to create a memoir using a variety of sources (memories, interviews, photos).
  • Students will be able to conduct personal research by interviewing friends and relatives.

 Assessments and Learning Activities

The above objectives are met through a variety of assessments and learning activities. Most of the assessment in the unit is formative. Rubrics, checklists, and participation are all used to assess the students’ progress in meeting the unit’s main objectives. The summative assessment is the final project, which is a set of assignments that culminate in a final metacognitive reflection. To help guide students to this final project McTighe and Wiggins (2004) Understanding by Design framework was used and the GRASPS (Goal, Role, Audience, Situation, Product/Purpose, and Standards for Success) template was consulted. The path through the unit may not be perfect, but my inexperience as an online educator must be taken into account. Fink (2013) encourages that reflection be a part of the learning process and that the learning activities guide the students to this reflective end to flex their metacognition muscles.

This leads to the learning activities, which are directly linked to the objectives as well as the Alaska English language Arts Standards for 8th grade. Each assignment clearly states the objectives in a student friendly way and align with the above-mentioned objectives. For example, the reading journal assignments encourage students to meet the first two objectives. The goal of the reading journal is to help students read purposefully, think critically, and write reflectively. Where as the vocabulary quizzes and passage readings focus on the concrete skills the students need to continue to develop throughout their education. The unit has a balance between the concrete and the abstract. The goal is to help students become better readers, writers, and authors while thinking critically and reflectively, but it is also practicing necessary basic skill like vocabulary and reading aloud fluency. This is also in line with the developmental characteristics of 8th grade students. The discussions, peer reviews, and the single synchronous session are learning activities to help the students explore their egocentric thinking while exposing them to others perspectives to help widen their view of the world and to grow as readers, writers, and authors. After completing these various learning activities that prep the students for the final project there is a whole section designated for the final project to guide students more clearly to the end of the unit where students get to create as authors and reflect on their learning through out the entire unit. Literature is a powerful tool, but what is more empowering is applying what was learned from it and then creating your own personal literature. Hopefully this unit accomplishes this goal.

References

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding by design: Professional development workbook. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wilhelm, J. D. (2008). You Gotta BE the Book: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

Tool Evaluation – GoAnimate, PowToon, Viola

GoAnimate Tool Evaluation

Here is my GoAnimate creation.

The learning curve for GoAnimate was easy after deciding on a template to use. GoAnimate walks you through how to create a video step by step. There was no guessing how to add elements or where to find them. Browsing through things to some time, but once I was familiar with the options and played around a bit it was no problem. There are several backgrounds, characters, animations, props, text, and sounds to choose from. You can also add your own narration and even make a composition shot to zoom in on your created scene. All in all the features of GoAnimate are basic and easy to understand and navigate.

There was one main drawback. As with any new tool it always takes more time than you want the first time. I had everything the way I wanted it and then I discovered the free version only allows you to create a video that is 30 seconds long. I originally thought I could make a longer video in my first skim. This added extra time to creating a video because I had to trim it down to 30 seconds. It is also hard to do multiple scenes in a 30 second time frame. Another drawback of the free version is that you cannot embed your videos you can only link to them. When you want to showcase your video for presentation purposes this could be a deal breaker.

In the end I still found it useful and I can see why people would invest in this tool. The free version on the other hand has its limits and hence has fewer educational uses. In my online unit I used GoAnimate to create a 30 second introduction to myself and instructed my students to do the same thing. Other possible educational uses could include students creating commercials to advertize a book, mock election, or propaganda for a historical event. A teacher could use it to create writing prompts to engage students or a teaser for an upcoming unit. There are many possibilities, but they are limited by time. I am not sure the time put in to creating a 30 second video is worth it, especially if students are not familiar with it.

PowToon Tool Evaluation

Here is my PowToon creation.

The learning curve for PowToon was small because it has many parallels with PowerPoint and other slide presentation tools. There was an easy walk through tutorial. You can select a ready-made template or start from scratch. I started from scratch because creatively that is easier for me, but many of the templates could be useful if you need a jump start or do not want to reinvent the wheel, which saves a lot of time. Due to the similarity and familiarity of PowToon’s features with slide presentation tools the time to create a product was less than GoAnimate. In PowToon you add and delete slides, add music, text, and narration, add your own images or choose from the variety of characters props and backgrounds offered, and of course there are slide transitions and a few animations to choose from. Editing is easy too and very visual. There is a editing bar at the bottom that makes it easy to keep track of your editing. Very organized editing layout.

The only drawback I encountered with PowToon is that it can move slowly if there is not enough bandwidth. Loading it took more time than I would like, but I do not have the fastest Internet at home. Getting it to load took probably five minutes and refreshing a couple of times. So if you have a whole class of students on at one time I could foresee the site either crashing or there being delays, but with an online class this would be less of a problem. Also like GoAnimate you cannot embed your presentation video with the free version. All you can do is copy a link. In the online learning environment this makes it less visually appealing, but in the physical classroom this probably would be less of an inconvenience. Either way this publishing limitation of the free version is less of an issue because it has enough options for creation of a good product.

There are more educational uses with PowToon than GoAnimate, in my opinion at least. The templates in of themselves lend more options. There are templates that can be used for book reports, compare and contrast, class syllabus, announcements, school/class rules, teacher/student introductions, storytelling, and unit teasers. I personally used PowToon to create a mini lesson presentation on the difference between autobiography, biography, and memoir. I found this more engaging than me doing a mini lecture or a PowerPoint. I could see myself using PowToon a lot in the future and more importantly my students. It is a nice way to mix things up to get away from PowerPoint, Prezi, and NearPod both for teachers and students.

Viola Tool Evaluation

Here is my Viola creation.

The learning curve with Viola screencasting and capture tool is very minimal if you have worked with other screencasting and capture tools. The video tutorials were helpful in highlighting the various features of Viola. For example, this tutorial shows you how you can capture images and edited them in a unique way to create a whole new image. Probably after 10 minutes of exploring and watching tutorials I was good to go to create my screencast. Viola’s key features include folders to organize your videos and images, you can trim your videos, easy navigation bars with options to record using the webcam, on a website, full screen, or a screen selection that can be a rectangle, circle, polygon, or freehand. Publishing is also easy with option to YouTube and Vimeo, while you can export to iPhoto, Dropbox, Google Drive, or your blog.

Viola is an easy tool to use, but like any screencasting tool you have to do it mostly all at once. While recording you can pause the video, which makes it easier to get a cleaner recording. You can also trim your recorded video, but only at the beginning and end. Duplication of video is also possible, so you could take the best parts of your attempts and export them to a video editing tool like iMove, but this requires more time and it is just better to try to get it all in one shot. I was unfamiliar with the short cuts for stopping and pausing the screencast recording, which made it a little clumsy, but with some practice this won’t be an issue in the future. As far as the image capturing aspect of Viola it is sophisticated, but you cannot make a video from your stills. In order to make a video you would need to export the images to a tool like iMovie or set it up in a way that you can do a screencast with the images on your computer screen. This is a little more work, but the editing features for still images captured might be worth it depending on what you are trying to communicate.

As you can see by my Viola creation example it does have educational applications. Its obvious educational application is making video tutorials for students on how to complete an assignment, navigate a website or tool, or even give a webcam lecture. The image capture aspect of Viola allows you to capture menus and images from anywhere on your computer screen, which makes it easy to violate copyright laws, so you have to be careful. The images could be used to enhance presentations, lessons, or used to engage students in a discussion, writing, or reflection activity. Although Viola is more of a teacher tool I could see students using it to do the same things a teacher uses it for, but the school would need a license in order to have access to all Viola’s features. I could see the screen capturing and editing tools be useful for students to create posters, advertisements, or images for a presentation or story. Overall I will be using Viola in the future to help enhance my lessons and walk my students through multi-step tasks.

Initial Review on Emerging Technologies

There are many tools that both teachers and students can use to create. In my own teaching experience I have probably utilized more technology tools for my own teaching purposes than for students to create and participate in active learning according as according to Fink (2013). I have been working on seeking more technology tools that benefit both the students and me. That is why I chose tools that I can use as a teacher and tools that students can use to create. GoAnimate and Powtoon can be used by me as a teacher and by students to create. Viola on the other hand is something I choice to invest in so that I can make nice screencast videos for my students to watch. I also plan on using all of these tools in my online unit.

GoAnimate – here is a short video overview of GoAnimate

Although the free version is limited by how much time, 60 seconds, you can record it still can be a useful tool. There are many options for customizations as far as the objects that can be placed in the presentation. Animations are limited, but it is just enough to keep things from looking too comical.

Students can definitely use it to create short presentations, like a book review, brief introduction, or short directions. What I like most about this tool is that it offers a variety of voices that can read the script you type. You do not have to use your own voice, which is a plus in my book as an introvert. It will be more difficult to think of a way to integrate this tool into my unit, but I think I can use it to help develop a sense of community by having students introduce themselves in 60 seconds.

PowToon – here is a short video overview of PowToon

First, this tool is great because it is free and the free version has plenty of options. It is an awesome presentation tool and is easily navigated because it has similarities to PowerPoint, but it is so much more than that. I see myself using this tool in the future with my students both to make my teaching more engaging and have students create animated presentations. It definitely lends itself to active learning, but my first thought is always selfish in that I think this is a cool tool I can use to create animated presentations for lessons. I look forward to using this tool in my online unit for short mini lessons, instead of the traditional lecture I probably would have recorded. I could see students really letting their personalities shine through with this tool and it would be a good option for their final project in my online unit.

Viola – here is a short video overview of Viola.

I chose to invest in Viola because it allows you to edit your screencasts where as many free versions of screencasting tools you have to get it all in one shot, which is difficult to do. It also has many options, like capturing your screen in various shapes and at the same time. Images captured can also be edited and organized like photos. You can also record video from your built in camera. It is also easy to publish your screencast creations, which is a plus. I plan on using Viola to create tutorial videos and give directions for assignments.

Although this is a teacher centered tool it will be very beneficial in enriching the online learning experience of my hypothetical students. I also hope that it will help engage students in the learning process. I find that it can get boring reading directions and instructions, so I hope the screencasts I make will help engage students and be a clarifying tool in my online unit’s assignment instructions. It may also help develop a sense of connection with my students because it will be my voice guiding them. This might help close the distance between my students and I.

After this initial review of my chosen technology tools I have realized that I need to work on looking at technology tools with students in mind first. As Fahy stated it is more important to have tools that the learner can create with versus tools that only the teacher only uses. It is my goal with my online unit to offer my students more options to create with technology tools. I am attempting to find my balance with my chosen technology tools, so that I am less teacher centered with my technology tools use.