Learning Theories at Work

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

My graduate students in the Human Development and Learning Theories course took on the challenge of showing how various learning theories look at home and at school. They created scenarios and explainers using a variety of video tools.

Theories are nice, but the real test of a theory for parents and teachers is how a theory can be useful. Parents are grappling with the challenges of working from home and helping their children through the current COVID-19 pandemic. These videos are designed to provide quick and useful ideas to ease the burden.

In this video by Rasha , Farah , and Farah, social learning theories are demonstrated for both children and adolescents. Learn more about social learning on their blog, Who Am I?

Do you face challenges with your kids staying at home? These two videos present a synopsis on how to work with kids during COVID-19 pandemic especially how to teach emotional discipline. Parenting tips that you will love! Nesma, Lamiaa, and Dina’s blog Emotional Development can be found here.

Hana, Sara, and Mona tackled experiential learning. Watch while Hana shows us how NOT to make brownies. View their blog on experiential learning: Do Think Conclude Adapt for more information.

Alternative Presentation Resources

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

School buildings closed for the rest of the year and universities shuttered their doors, but education must and does go on. In my formerly face-to-face classes, presentations we scheduled for live audiences are now going to be online. Alternatives to live presentations are many, and I will share some of them in this post.

First things first, though: How do you choose an online presentation tool?

  1. Determine what aspects of the presentation you will assess and how that will be done. What gets assessed depends on your tolerance for new technologies (or willingness to try them) and that of your students. Remember that many of them will be trying out tools they have never used before.
  2. Are you able to support your students as they try out new digital tools? If not, are they able to find the support they need? Check out this post on the lazy classroom for a few ideas about how much to challenge your students to try new tech tools.

Onward to some curated resources that you may find helpful. Add your own in the comments, and you might enjoy this post by our colleague, Renee Hobbs where she shares examples of some digital tools she uses.

People working

There are a variety of free digital, web-based resources available for instructors, educators, and learners to create useful and meaningful multimedia presentations. Keep reading.

MULTIMEDIA PRESENTATION TOOLS

Tool Options

Glogster: Tool for creating interactive, innovative multimedia posters, glogs, and more. Read more here.

Prezi: Tool for creating visual presentations that allows you or the viewer to zoom in “to the details” or out to show the “big picture.”

VoiceThread: VoiceThread is an interactive tool that permits creators to add video, still images, audio, and text using a variety of tools.  Creators can enable comment features that permit viewers to add their own thoughts to the presentation.

Flipgrid allows users to post short videos to which others can reply asynchronously.

Narrated PowerPoint® posted to SlideShare, AuthorStream, Vimeo, or YouTube. PowerPoint includes a narration/dictate option and can be uploaded or converted for online presentation using one of the tools linked above.

PowToon is a popular and powerful video tool that is user-friendly.

You can also read the following reviews of some of these tools and a discussion of other tools here:

8 Great Free Digital Presentation Tools for Teachers to Try This Summer http://www.emergingedtech.com/2011/07/8-great-free-digital-presentation-tools-for-teachers-to-try-this-summer/ *

Teacher’s Recommendation for Academic Uses of 5 Fun Free Presentation Tools http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/01/teachers-recommendations-for-academic-uses-of-5-fun-free-presentation-tools/

Links You Might Have Missed—Presentation Tools http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/03/links-you-might-have-missed.html

*  Note that Vuvox no longer exists.

Remember when designing your multimedia presentation:

  1. Simplicity adds value.
  2. Aim for a few words or phrases on a slide (the nugget of information).
  3. Aim for one powerful image on a slide. That image could be accompanied by minimal text, a symbol, or no text at all.
  4. Be creative in capturing and maintaining attention.
  5. Eliminate distraction: use animations, flash, or sound effects sparingly and only when necessary to get the point across.
  6. Avoid slide transitions.
  7. Design artfully:
    1. What does your audience already know?
    2. What do you want your viewers to learn?
    3. Check PresentationZen for more ideas on artful presentation design.

Learn more about Multimedia and Fair Use

Working with multimedia, almost invariably, means incorporating the works of others into a presentation (cf. Huffman, 2010). Teachers and students do have some latitude, called Fair Use. However, it is always an effective practice to make sure that the intellectual property of others are attributed or cited in any presentation. While there can be substantial penalties for infringing on the works created by others, the most important point, arguably, is that attributing the works of others is simply good citizenship. Creators want credit for their work, and any user is a potential creator, as well. In digital environments, creators, authors, and users, take care of one another by properly attributing the sources they use. Though teachers, professors, and students are very familiar with citation of text-based sources (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago), these style guides often do not provide sufficient guidance when a student, for example, wants to incorporate images, audio, or video created by others in a multimedia presentation.  

An excellent place to begin learning about digital citizenship and fair use is the MediaLab at the University of Rhode Island. Teacher and student resources can be found on the MediaLab website.

Though not exhaustive, these websites provide a place to begin looking for music and image sources that students and teachers might use in their own multimedia presentations while considering the rights of others who have contributed their works. 

#SocialDistance #onlineteaching #COVID-19 #RemoteTeaching

Reference

Huffman, S. (2010, May/June). The missing link: The lack of citations and copyright notices in multimedia presentations. TechTrends, 54(3), pp. 38-44.

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. 

Resources added April 6, 2020

Publishers I work with shared these open access resources:

Guilford: www.guilford.com/covid-resources

Corwin: us.corwin.com/en-us/sam/online-teaching-toolkit

Open Access curated list by The American University in Cairo Main Library (directories, publishers, university presses, databases): libguides.aucegypt.edu/c.php?g=1019058&p=7381638

Updated April 9, 2020

From the International Literacy Association open access resources. https://literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2020/03/16/engaging-learning-through-disruptions

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

RACHEL Goes to Northwestern Guatemala

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Try to picture yourself without access to the Internet. The web of sites and content have changed our lives dramatically. When we need to stay informed, we can just Google a topic and voila. Not everyone on Planet Earth has the luxury of Google, though.

Students at the Maya Jaguar Center for Education and Development are used to innovation. They maintain sustainable gardens and go to classes in rooms lit by solar power. The latest innovation at Maya Jaguar is the introduction of RACHEL, a Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning. Internet content difficult to access in the past is now a reality there.

RACHEL brings large but thoughtfully selected portions of the internet to regions and institutions that do not have affordable access to the internet via broadband.  I delivered a RACHEL server to Maya Jaguar early in August. Francisco Pablo is the senior technology instructor at Maya Jaguar. He and I worked together to show the other teachers how to navigate the RACHEL interface.

Maestro RACHEL screen

Francisco Demonstrates RACHEL

Teachers were encouraged to create their own sites on the server with content they upload that is specific to their classes. In the coming months, they will work on methods of helping students to be inquirers and critical users of the content they encounter on RACHEL.

Teachers Maestros Computers

Teachers Exploring RACHEL’s Possibilities

For me, it was gratifying to see the teachers’ excitement as they found materials on the server that could really enhance their teaching.  For some months, Alan Crawford, Frances Dixon, and I have been working on ways to bring simulations to the students.  Simulations provide a way to explore ideas and phenomena that can’t be visited and observed in the physical world (or at least not easily).

With content from the University of Colorado at Boulder’s PheT project installed on RACHEL, students can now explore atomic interactions,  create semi-conducting diodes, and learn the principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  All of this is available in Spanish, of course.

20180807_094052.jpg

Using RACHEL

The RACHEL server has proven so useful that Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala, the Foundation that sponsors the school and outreach programs, is now exploring the possibility of a second device. Two RACHEL servers would make it possible for each of the two main school buildings to have RACHEL availability all the time.  Want to help make that possible? Please visit https://www.adoptavillage.com/donate

Learn more about RACHEL here: https://worldpossible.org/

Adapted version cross-posted on Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala.

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