Converting F2F to Online in a Hurry

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Today, I am posting a few resources for those in PK-12 and higher education who must convert their instruction from face-to-face to an online format in a hurry.

CDC-coronavirus-image-23311-for-web
Image: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

UNESCO offers a list of distance learning solutions with links here.

Our colleague, Greg Mcverry, has created a series of videos, “Moving Online In Time of Crisis,” on converting to online quickly.

And Peggy Semingson, featured here on Literacy Beat, shared this curated list of remote learning tools during Covid-19 from Laura Pasquini and these tips for remote teaching from the University of Texas.  Peggy regularly shares her own resources and those of others on her LinkedIn profile

TechSmith Corporation, one of my favorite digital solution providers, shared this website full of tips and resources. 

SocialDistance onlineteaching

How to Use Wikipedia at School

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Encyclopedias Do Serve Scholarly Purposes

Teachers and parents are often concerned when students use Wikipedia as a source of information.

When students consult an encyclopedia, they typically hold a reasonable expectation that information contained in the article will be reliable and verifiable.  Educators who do not allow students to use Wikipedia as a source, often cite reliability as a topic of concern.  Some incidents of vandalism on the pages of Wikipedia raise the level of concern. In addition, those who post and revise articles in Wikipedia may not be experts.  In May 2009, Genevieve Carbery reported that a student researching journalism and globalization placed a false quote in an obituary which was subsequently picked up and reported as factual by newspapers around the world. However, Wikipedia’s reliability compares favorably to traditional encyclopedias in most regards.

Glossary of Language Education Terms

Wikipedia

When Should an Encyclopedia be Used?

Encyclopedias, whether online or printed in bound volumes on paper, are useful sources of information. Editors and contributors to encyclopedias generally set out to collect information about a wide variety of information, but may also limit the scope of articles to a specific domain (such as a medical encyclopedia). Because encyclopedias are collections of articles on a vast array of topics, they are generally excellent sources of information when students need background information about a topic.

For example, a student writing about an interest in the human genome project may decide to do a little reading on the development of the double-helix. Since the main topic of the student’s inquiry is the genome project, reading a Wikipedia article about the double-helix polymer would seem appropriate.

Many encyclopedia entries are well-sourced; that is, they include references to other documents, media files, and experts that support the assertions found in the article.  As a result, a student completing research on the genome project may find some additional sources to consult by reading the article’s reference list.  Savvy users of an article’s reference list locate those articles, read them, and evaluate them.  They also independently search for additional sources that may support, contradict, or expand on those sources. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, encourages students in college not to use an encyclopedia as a source in writing academic  papers (Young, 2006).

Using a Collaboratively-authored Encyclopedia

The nature of the encyclopedia is that of a secondary source.  Wikipedia, for example, does not claim to be a publisher of original thought, and it should not be treated as such by those consulting it as a resource. Virtually all encyclopedia articles report knowledge based on other sources; that is, original or primary sources are consulted. However, the authors, whether experts in their fields or interested parties that wish to contribute, must select from many sources and interpret those sources in writing an encyclopedia article.  Thus, rather than ban the use of Wikipedia and similar collaborative projects, students and teachers can ask the following questions. Teachers can help students learn to question any secondary source.  Three questions students might remember when they consult any encyclopedia:

  1. Am I reading this encyclopedia article for background knowledge?
  2. Will reading this encyclopedia article help me find sources that support or refute the main points in my own writing and presentations?
  3. What other sources can I consult?

and two questions specifically for online, collaborative encyclopedias

  1. Have I checked the history tab to see who has contributed (some posts are anonymous, but the list of edits and revisions can be revealing)?
  2. Is there anything that appears to be missing or not addressed in this article that is found in other sources?

Finally, teachers may best be able to help students learn to evaluate the sources they use and when to use them rather than banning them outright.

References

Carbery, G. Student’s Wikipedia hoax quote used worldwide in newspaper obituaries. Irishtimes.com., May 6, 2009.

Young, J. R. Wikipedia Founder Discourages Academic Use of His Creation. The Wired Campus, June 12, 2006.

This repost originally appeared in 2009.

Wolsey, T.D. (2009, Oct, 15). How to use Wikipedia at school. [blog post]. Retrieved from https://suite.io/tom-wolsey/2e16247

Course Load Calculator

Have you ever wondered just how much work your class or course actually entails for students, or if you are a student just how much time you need to invest in your coursework outside of class.  This guest post by my colleague at the Center for Learning and Teaching at The American University in Cairo looks the advantages and limitations of just such a tool. Check it out!

A Guest Post by Maha Bali

Would You Use a Course Workload Calculator?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is the second time I come across something like this. A course workload calculator. This one from Rice University (I have a soft spot for them because I taught there in 2008).

https://cte.rice.edu/workload

Rice University

On the one hand, I feel like it can be useful for people who teach courses at the same level to compare their workloads to each other or what is expected.

I do like that they ask if readings have new concepts or are difficult, for example, so I think some people might find that useful, e.g. should they assign the reading and expect students to understand it before they discuss it in class? Perhaps certain readings can be done before, but others after. Also, the calculator doesn’t account for reading ability esp for non-native speakers. But it does allow you to adjust the reading speed for example, which I guess to be honest you may need to do for different segments of students. I once had two freshmen in my mostly senior and junior class, and they truly struggled with some of the readings. The other students had no problems at all, either they were better readers or better bluffers (which, honestly, is a good strategic learner move).
Read More (redirects to Maha’s blog, Reflecting Allowed).

 

Writing for Science Learning: Book Creator

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Science teacher Kathy Blakemore has inspired generations of seventh-graders to take better care of our planet, to be curious about all its inhabitants, and to learn more about what makes its ecosystems work as they do.

Recently, Kathy and her students at Elsinore Middle School in Lake Elsinore, California decided to take their learning public. Using Book Creator, the students published a book titled, Incredible Invertebrates. Students worked in teams to identify sources about various phyla and then synthesize graphics and their reading. They learned about what it takes to write a book that is appealing to their audience as well.

Amazing Invertebrates

Incredible Invertebrates Click to read this book, made with Book Creator https://read.bookcreator.com

Each chapter is organized describing where the invertebrates live, what threats exist to their survival, and what fun facts the student scientists and authors uncovered. I was very impressed that the students cited their sources and identified key vocabulary that their readers will want to understand.

Congratulations to Mrs. B and her 7th-grade GEMS students on a job well done.

Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

In this post, I share an infographic representing the ideas in the article,
“Accuracy in Digital Writing Environments: Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check”. Access the article by clicking here and scrolling down to the article.

You are welcome to share this infographic in your classroom or for nonprofit educational purposes.

Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check

Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check

Infographic design by Getty Creations

Creative Commons License
Read Up, Ask Around, Double-Check by @TDWolsey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at literacybeat.com/2019/03/26/read-up-ask-around-double-check/.

The Portable Web in a Box: Why You Need It and How to Get It

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

In backpacks, pockets, and purses, students bring their connected devices to school. But “connected” may be the wrong term; perhaps “connectable” devices is more accurate. Bandwidth means that a network can deliver data in a specified amount of time. For many schools, bandwidth may be a limitation. For some teachers, there is nothing more frustrating than planning a lesson that requires students to access the internet only to find that the bandwidth delivers data at speeds at which snails would sneer.

Students at Maya Jaguar using RACHEL









Some educational settings require restrictions on access to the internet, such as those that serve incarcerated youth or adults. Others are so distant from internet connections that it is prohibitively expensive to ensure all students have access.

Click to read the rest of the article on Literacy Daily, Teaching with Tech.

The Photo Essay Project

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This semester, I assigned my undergraduates to create a photo essay defining the places that have had the most impact on who they are and who they might become.  Their photo essays are due next week, so this week I am sharing some of the photo essay websites and software tools they are using.  Today, they explored the affordances of each. I provided a list of questions (you will find them below) to guide their choices.

Dear Literacy Beat readers, if you have a site or tool to share, please add it in the comments.

Photos

iPhone Photos

Platforms

  1. Tumblr
  2. Instagram
  3. WordPress
  4. Spark from Adobe
  5. Exposure
  6. Ghost
  7. PowerPoint Online and Slideshare, Youtube or Vimeo (convert slide decks to video), Authorstream
  8. Prezi

Pro-Tip: What’s your statement about the photos you choose? Can you write one (or maybe two) sentences that capture the main idea of your photo essay? Is it unique enough that others will want to view your essay?

 

Photo Editing Tools

  1. Canva
  2. Ribbet
  3. GIMP
  4. Photo Resizer
  5. net
  6. Photoshop Express
  7. PIXLR

A note about intellectual property: Any work you use that you did not write or create must be attributed.  This includes music (and be aware that using copyrighted music could result in your project being taken down by the platform or host).

Pro Tip: Create a rough draft of your essay in order to check out the features of the platform and tools you use.  Try different ways of arranging your photos, text (including captions), and titles.  Later, you can hide or delete the rough draft.

Questions / Affordances

Check out the sites and tools (software) on the first page and review a couple of examples. What affordances does each offer your project?

  • What does it cost?
  • Do you need an account?
  • Can you make the site available to anyone?
  • Does the site privilege images, text, or both?
  • What features does the site or tool have that others may not have?
  • Is the site or tool mobile friendly? Laptop friendly?
  • Does it have sharing tools (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)?
  • Are there advertisements? How intrusive are they?
  • Is the platform easy to navigate and provide tools that make it easy for you to create a photo essay?

Two notes about color:

  1. Don’t overdo it!
  2. Make sure the colors you choose for frames, text, and so on are easy to read against the backgrounds you choose
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