Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tools for SD teachers: Smarter Balanced Digital Library

Matt Gill - a master's student in the Millicent Atkins School of Education at Northern State University and also a program specialist for Certification and Teacher Quality at the South Dakota Department of Education - shares about a useful digital library that can be used for formative assessment in preparation for smarter balanced testing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Three favorite apps for language arts: Portaportal, No Red Ink and Readworks

Erin Fosher, a graduate student at the Millicent Atkins School of Education at Northern State University and Language Arts Instructor at Simmons Middle School, shared a great screencast about some of her favorite tools for teaching and learning including portaportalNo red ink and Readworks. Enjoy (5:55)!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tools for Teachers: CNN Student News

Caitlin Friesz, a graduate student at the Millicent Atkins School of Education, shared a great screencast about how you can use CNN student News for teaching and learning. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Open Digital Media Resources for Project-Based Learning with Technology

Open licenses such as creative commons have led to the proliferation of sites that offer free and open digital media resources. These websites offer music, audio, video, clip art, and pictures under open licenses that allow you to edit remix and mash up media files for project-based learning experiences. See a quick and dirty guide to copyright on my blog here. Media files on these websites can be downloaded and incorporated into educational projects. Using open-licensed media in project-based learning can save students and teachers a lot of time and difficulty. This post is an excerpt from my book, Educational Technology for Teachers. In a master's project, we used open digital media resources of the Nixon Kennedy debates to create a video about blogs and wikis. This video shows that students can use these resources to show their learning in many different and creative ways. Here is a list of my favorite websites that offer open digital media resources for project-based learning:

Creative Commons Search - Search for open-licensed media
Wikimedia Commons - Open photographs, videos and sounds
The Internet Archive - Open photographs, videos and sounds
The Library of Congress - Public domain media

WP Clipart - Public domain clip art for education
Open Clipart - Public domain clip art
Morguefile - Free and open photographs
Pixabay - Public domain photographs and clip art

YouTube - A vast collection of videos, some of which are open licensed
The Open Video Project - A repository of digitized videos, some of which are open licensed
Bottled Video - A collection of free stock video clips

Freesound - Open-licensed sound effects
CC Mixter - Open-licensed music
Musopen - Classical public domain music

When students and teachers download a media file from one of these sites, they must pay close attention to the license under which the media file is released and be sure to meet license requirements. Usually this means attributing the original author by mentioning them in a credits or citations section. Another way to attribute the original author could be to link online to the location of the original media file or to the profile page for the author.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Younger Teachers Report Having More Time to Plan Lessons With Technology Than Older Teachers

In a recent survey to a sample of South Dakota teachers, I asked several questions about barriers that were present and that might keep teachers from implementing technology in the classroom. Here's a list of the barriers to technology use that are common in the literature on this issue:

  • Access to technology tools and resources
  • Technology training and support
  • Administrative support
  • Time
  • Beliefs about the importance and usefulness of technology tools and resources
Overall responses from all survey participants
To explain these items briefly, teachers need to first have access to technology tools and resources if they are going to implement them in their classroom teaching and learning. They also need adequate technology training and support or they won't know how to use technology tools and resources appropriately in the classroom. Administrative leaders in districts must also support the use of technology for teaching and learning. Teachers who wish to implement technology enhanced lessons must have the time they need to plan and prepare such lessons. Finally, teachers and administrators must have beliefs consistent with a technology enhanced approach, including that technology tools and resources are useful and important and that teachers can be successful when integrating technology into learning experiences. 

For the matter of time, some significant findings came out of my survey. It turns out that if you come from a bigger school district, you are statistically significantly more likely to report that you have more time to plan and prepare lessons that integrate technology, however the effect size for this calculation was very small (partial eta squared = .006). The more significant finding in this area was age. Respondents who were in their younger ages (20s) were less likely to report that they had little time to plan and prepare lessons that used technology. The effect size for these questions was still small (partial eta squared = .026), but certainly statistically significant (p < .001).  

Overall responses from all survey participants
Whatever the reasons for these findings, it seems to make sense to find ways to provide older teachers with more time so that they can develop lessons with technology integration. Take a look at some previous findings about technologies available in classrooms from this survey for more information. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Camera and Video Shots for Project-Based Learning

Lately my mind has been on video. Maybe it's because Digital Media Camp - a fantastic example of project-based learning in action - is coming up again next year. Or maybe it's because we just discussed the importance of project-based learning in a meeting with a local school superintendent. Whatever the reason, when students embark on a project that includes video, they should know about some basic shots and when to use them. As I mentioned in a previous post on video composition, almost anyone has access to some kind of video camera in our modern age. The following is an excerpt from my book, Educational Technology for Teachers.

In order to put forth a clear message in video, different types of camera shots should be used. There are three main types of camera shots that can be used in a video production; wide, medium and close up (Spannaus, 2012). The wide shot – sometimes called the long shot – is used to show an entire object or human body, along with some of the setting or background. This shot shows the relationship between the object or body and the scene in which they are placed. Wide shots are often shown at the beginning of a scene to give the audience a sense of the spatial relationship between important aspects of the scene. They establish a sense of place and orient the viewer to the setting of the video.

The next type of camera shot is the medium shot. This shot is closer in than a wide shot and shows part of a subject in more detail. A medium shot would show about half of a human body but may show more or less than this. Medium shots are used to show more detail than a wide shot but still include hand gestures, movement, and other important actions.

Another important camera shot is the close up. In a close-up shot, only a certain feature of the subject takes up most of the frame. Details of the included feature are clear in a close up shot. The most common element featured in a close up shot is a person's face. Such close ups can show feelings, so close ups are vital for dramatic sequences. Close ups are also used to highlight steps or methods in educational and training videos.

Using a variety of different types of shots can enhance the quality of a video production in project-based learning because the different shots help to put forth a clear message. Wide shots can establish a sense of location, close up shots can provide detail on procedures or concepts and medium shots can capture everything in between.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ed Tech Podcast for SD Teachers Episode 32: Opportunities to Get More Technology in Your Classroom

Have you ever wondered if there are any opportunities out there where you can apply and be awarded money for technology items in your classroom. Of course it isn't easy or guaranteed to get money or technology for your classroom, but it can be well worth it. Here are links to the opportunities that I discuss in the podcast episode:

Also, don't forget about opportunities that may be available through your local school district and through your state department of education.