ITMA Project Update

A spider loves its workI apologize if you’re getting tired of these project updates. This ITMA project IS my summer, apparently, so I’m not really working on anything else to reflect on. Since my last update on June 18, I’ve done a lot. The first objective in the professional development wiki I’m creating is for the learners to create their own websites. I learned a great deal about video last week that will prove useful as I forge ahead, particularly with the podcasting lessons.

I have completed four modules for this first objective, which means my lessons on choosing a site type and selecting models; RSS and feed readers; selecting a site service and creating a website; and copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons are all finished.

I learned a lot I did not know about fair use. I am hoping that module will be informative for learners, too. It’s strange how some parts of the project I thought would take a long time haven’t, while others I didn’t anticipate taking much time took a lot of time. Case in point is the section on copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons. Altogether, I spent about 9 hours and 30 minutes on that part. Most of that time was research. On the other hand, I have already completed 3/5 of the module on adding content to a website (adding text, adding images, and adding videos). I worked on that part of the project for four hours today, but probably about an hour of that time was going back and finding the original Flickr images I used in the project and making sure I gave proper attribution. I really would have thought it would take longer, but with so many site services offering easy content management, it didn’t turn out to be difficult to learn how to do anything. That’s a good thing. I think the easier it is to create websites, the more encouraged the teachers who do the program will be. I really hope they utilize our Google apps and create Google Sites.

I am still not 100% happy with the quiz service I used to create the two quizzes on the site, but I have not yet found a better one.

If you want to check out what I’ve done, you can find the wiki here. If you want to check out specifically the parts that are new since the last time I discussed the project, take a look at these pages:

I track my hours using a time log in Word that details each task I’ve done and also in Excel, which figures out the math for me. As of today, I’ve spent 79 hours on the project. I am required to spend a minimum of 150 hours.

Creative Commons License photo credit: kadavoor.

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Uploading Videos: Lessons Learned

As part of my ITMA project, which I’m just going to go ahead and create a tag for, I decided I would create several screencasts. Often when I want to learn something about a piece of software or how to do something on the web, nothing is as helpful to me as a screencast.

My tool of the trade for creating screencasts is Snapz Pro X, which I downloaded initially at the suggestion of my ITMA program as a good screencap tool. I know it’s not absolutely necessary to have an additional tool when you can capture your screen using tools native to your computer, whether you’re running Windows or Mac OS X, but I took their advice. I eventually sprung for the additional license to create videos. Creating screencasts with Snapz Pro X is very easy. However, I have often found the first time I try to do something new technologically speaking, I have to fall flat on my face and really mess it up, maybe even do it a few times, before I finally get it right. Screencasting has proven to be no exception.

I created three screencasts for my module on RSS for the project. Each demonstrates how to subscribe to an RSS feed using a different reader. I uploaded the screencasts to TeacherTube and waited. And waited. Finally, I tweeted a question about the moderation time and learned the terrible news. TeacherTube’s moderation period is glacial. Most people said anywhere from one to three days. So I waited to see what the videos looked like because I didn’t see any sense in reshooting or uploading anything to YouTube unless I had to. When the videos were finally approved, I learned that they looked horrible. I suspected it had to do with the size of the video, so I tried some experiments uploading the video to YouTube, changing the size, and finally decided I needed to reshoot it in a smaller size if it was going to look right on YouTube.

Eventually I tried uploading the video again, this time with the smaller size, and I discovered that there was no audio. I am not sure why it happened, unless it has something to do with the file format. I chose Quicktime Movie (.mov). I opened up iMovie and added a title to the beginning, then tried uploading to YouTube from iMovie, and voilà! I managed to get the video up with a picture I could actually see and sound.

After having gone through this process of trial and error, I learned how to upload a screencast properly. Even though I had created screencasts before, I had never posted them to YouTube. I have a horror of the folks who leave comments there. So, I just turned the comments off. I know that comments can be moderated, but I didn’t want to bother with it.

Oh, here is the one I managed to revise and get working today. The other two are tomorrow’s first task.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1nU3UEJn0M[/youtube]

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ITMA Project Progress Report

Caution Works in Progress & Reflection by u07ch on FlickrAre you getting tired of my progress reports on this project? I hope not! It’s all I’m doing aside from summer stuff—reading good books I don’t have the time to read during the school year, making pies for the family reunion, trying to figure out if the oven is broken (it’s not), and updating WordPress.

The project, if you haven’t peeked at it yet, is a professional development program that will allow beginners on up to learn how to create their own websites and podcasts and teach their students how to do the same. At this point, my storyboard plan has 48 pages, but I have discovered the need to add pages here and there, and the final project may be longer. I have (almost) finished the first two modules for the first objective: creating a website. I uploaded some screencast videos to TeacherTube not realizing their moderation process was so long. I don’t know why, given how much of my writing is available online, but I felt squeamish about posting the videos to YouTube. So I am still waiting for the videos to appear on TeacherTube, and therefore, the RSS module is not quite finished.

I don’t think I explained the modules before. The lesson on creating websites has five modules:

  • Module 1: Choosing a Site Type and Selecting Models
  • Module 2: RSS Feeds and Feed Readers
  • Module 3: Selecting a Site Service and Creating Your Site
  • Module 4: Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons
  • Module 5: Adding Content to Your Site

I am in the midst of building Module 3. I have completed the first segment, which concerns wikis. I’m not sure if I will work tomorrow because it will be a busy day, but when I do pick up the project again, I will be working on the blogs page. So far, I am having a lot of fun creating the project. I am finding all kinds of websites, particularly blogs and wikis, that I didn’t know about.

I haven’t started the podcasts lesson yet, but it will have three modules:

  • Module 1: Subscribing to Podcasts
  • Module 2: Selecting Podcasting Software
  • Module 3: Creating and Editing Podcasts

You can check out the work in progress here, but it’s far from being finished. Still, I feel good about the progress I’m making.

Creative Commons License photo credit: u07ch

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ITMA Project Update

NECC 2009 Wednesday Day 4  - 07I am making some good progress on my ITMA project. You can read my project proposal here. I finished my instructional analysis, which was a lot of work, but valuable for planning.

I have just begun creating the actual project. I have been having a lot of fun with the project. So far, I have completed six pages on the wiki that will house my project. For the first module, I have teachers exploring what kind of website they want to create. I had a lot of fun finding models of wikis. Some teachers are doing some great things with wikis. Here is my model wikis page.

I’m possibly looking for something else to use for the personality quiz on types of websites. I don’t have a lot of confidence that the one I used will do what I need (it seems to limit the number of quiz takers, forcing me to reset the numbers). If you know of a good personality quiz maker that I can embed in a wiki, please share.

A while back I promised more regular posting. I am going to commit to three days a week for the summer, starting this week. Here’s the schedule:

  • Mondays: Reflections on professional reading, professional development and grad school.
  • Wednesdays: Sharing lessons, tools, or ideas.
  • Fridays: Wild card. Whatever I feel like posting goes.

Creative Commons License photo credit: krossbow

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Project and Report Proposal

working on my MacBookProThis summer I am taking a course called Project and Report as part of my instructional technology program. The goal of the course is to select a topic of interest and spend approximately 150 hours developing a project. My proposal was approved, and my adviser seem enthusiastic about it. Here is my proposal.

Project Description

I would like to create professional development program for my colleagues at the Weber School in Atlanta that will help them learn how to create and implement Web sites (including wikis) and podcasts in their classrooms. This professional development program will consist of a series of modules that my colleagues will be able to work through at their own pace. After they complete the modules, my colleagues will have created a Web site and podcast as well as a unit or lesson plan implementing the Web site and creation of a podcast in the classroom. I would also like to submit a proposal to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission in order to pursue accreditation for the course as a means for educators in the state of Georgia to earn professional learning units.

Objectives

  • Given access to a variety of Web site creation tools, professional educators will be able to construct a Web site for managing materials, communicating with students and parents, and sharing resources.
  • Given Audacity or Garage Band, a computer, and a microphone, professional educators will be able to construct a podcast.
  • Given access to a variety of Web site creation tools, professional educators will be able to execute a unit or lesson teaching their students how to use and construct a Web site.
  • Given access to Audacity or Garage Band, computers, and microphones, professional educators will be able to execute a lesson or unit teaching students how to construct a podcast.

Materials and Methods

I will create a wiki that will house the modules. On the wiki, I will create lessons in the modules that will be delivered through the following means:

  • Written tutorials on wiki pages.
  • Screencast tutorials (video).
  • Podcast tutorials (audio).

Learners will need the following tools in order to complete their tasks:

  • Computers.
  • Microphones.
  • Audacity or Garage Band audio editors.

I will need the following tools in order to create deliverables:

  • Snapz Pro X Screencasting Program.
  • A wiki site.
  • Garage Band.
  • Microphone.
  • iMovie video editor.

I will begin by creating a wiki that can be accessed by students (professional educators) can access at their convenience so that they can complete the course asynchronously. The wiki will include pages with written, video, and audio tutorials on creating Web sites and podcasts. For the purposes of this course, I do not plan to teach students HTML but instead guide them toward creating Web sites with WYSIWYG editors. Once teachers feel comfortable using the selected Web editors and programs, they will create and submit a lesson or unit plan implementing what they have learned in their classrooms (for example, a history teacher might create a lesson plan in which they will teach students how to create a podcast discussing a historical event).

Justification for Project

I met with my Instructional Technology department and other faculty members in order to determine what instructional technology needs they had that could be addressed through my project. They unanimously expressed their desire to learn how to create Web sites and podcasts for their students. They also wanted to be able to use these tools in their own classrooms, constructing lesson or unit plans in which they would teach students to construct their own Web sites and podcasts in order to demonstrate their learning.

In our most recent SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) evaluation, one recommendation that the SACS accreditation committee had was that we implement technology more effectively across the board. While our school offers several computer labs and appropriate equipment that would enable teachers not only to create their own Web sites and podcasts but also for our students to do the same; however, because we have not had professional development in creating Web sites and podcasts, many teachers feel uncomfortable with or uneducated about the process of constructing Web sites and podcasts. They have admired some of my efforts in use of Web sites and podcasts both as resources for students and as tools for students to demonstrate their learning.

Criteria for Evaluation

The criteria for evaluation will be successful completion of modules designed to teach various steps involved in the construction of Web sites and podcasts. Teachers will also develop a lesson plan or unit plan implementing Web site or podcast creation as a means for their own students to demonstrate their learning. Upon completion of the course, teachers will evaluate the course using a rating scale evaluation that rates the course based on the following criteria: clarity of instructions/tutorials; organization and ease of use; and relevance of the content of the course.

Creative Commons License photo credit: icatus

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Instructional Technology

Day 35_ students for Humanity!!What do you think an instructional technologist’s role is?

I am asking the question in all seriousness because I expect to have a master’s degree in instructional technology in December.

To my thinking, the role of an instructional technologist usually includes the following:

  • Working with teachers to integrate technology.
  • Helping teachers and students learn how to use technology such as computers, cameras, digital audio equipment, software, interactive white boards, projectors, and the like.
  • Maintaining the school’s network (not sure I agree this is the role of an instructional technologist, but often falls to them by default).
  • Keeping the administration and faculty abreast of trends in technology.
  • Offering technology professional development to faculty.
  • Teaching technology-related courses.
  • Researching and purchasing technological equipment and software for the school.
  • Monitoring use of technology by students, and in some cases, faculty (policing acceptable use).

What would you add to this list? Take off?

Creative Commons License photo credit: frerieke

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Hey, Stranger

Collatz ConjectureOK, so my friends have reached the point of stopping calling and asking me if I want to hang out. I had a stack of essays—ungraded—shuttling back and forth from school to my house for a month. A month! I am teaching five classes, five different preps. And this is the time of year when it gets busy. When you look at the calendar and say, “Oh, hi, March! I’m still in the Renaissance.” Then I have to give myself permission to still be in the Renaissance because of all the instructional days lost for various reasons, and I have to tell myself it’s OK because it’s an introduction to British literature and not meant to be as comprehensive as a graduate school (or even an undergrad) seminar.

Speaking of grad school, I am also behind in that area. My Educational Research class is proving challenging, but I am learning a great deal, even if my quiz scores don’t show it (the quizzes are another issue altogether). My Multimedia Authoring course is beginning to rank up there with my favorites in the grad school program (Instructional Media, Graphic Design for Multimedia Presentations). I like classes that allow me to create; however, I am concerned that I have bitten off more than I can chew. I want to create a flash game that helps students learn phrases and clauses. I would like it to be similar to the Grammar Ninja game, but I know I’m not knowledgeable enough to make it quite that good, especially graphics-wise. The creator of that game is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in 2-D Art for Games, and I surely don’t have that background.

Still, I have not completely checked out, and I can be found bookmarking links on Diigo and tweeting most days of the week. I don’t always bookmark links I check out. This morning, someone (and I admit I can’t remember who) tweeted this link. I don’t know how to feel about this issue. Sad that the parents were so easily satisfied? Confused as to whether I missed some qualification left out of the article? Angry that my profession is reduced to entertainment and stripped of its seriousness of purposes for the sake of TV? I realize the article is now about six months old, and Danza does seem to have some empathy for the life of a teacher and seems to treat the profession with some reverence and respect. If I’m fair, I have to admit I think he “gets” it about teaching, or at least his blog posts reveal he does (and I’ve only begun taking a look, so your mileage may vary).

What do you think of it?

Update, 4/1: The LA Times has a new story about Danza’s first year teaching.

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A Mishmash of Assorted Thoughts

When you update as seldom as I have lately, it seems posts are destined to become a mishmash of assorted thoughts as I catch everyone up.

First, as you can see from the sidebar, I am supporting NCTE’s National Day on Writing. I am not sure exactly what I and my students will do, but I would like to make a big deal out of it at my school and perhaps support our literary magazine in the process. Speaking of literary magazines, my daughter is in the literary magazine class at school, and it sounds like the coolest class ever. Her teacher lets them work on whatever writing they want, and they are guaranteed to have a submission published in the magazine. My daughter loves to write, and she starts lots of projects, but I hope a class like this will encourage her to finish one. Her teacher told us on Curriculum Night that students can write poetry, short stories, or even spend the time working on their novel. I was so impressed to hear a teacher talking about students writing novels. I didn’t ask if he’s going to encourage the kids to participate in NaNoWriMo. I can’t think of a year when I’ve wanted to participate more myself, but alas, grad school will most likely make that unfeasible. There’s always next year, by which time (cross your fingers) I plan to have graduated.

Speaking of grad school, this semester finds me in Graphic Design for Electronic Presentations, Telecommunications and Distance Learning, Software Evaluation, and Digital Video. I am finding it hard to get motivated to work. The degree at the end of my studies has become my carrot. One thing I have learned from my classes, and I believe it’s possibly an unintended lesson, is that students need the clearest possible instructions before they begin an assignment and that rubrics must be clear. I have turned in quite a few assignments over the course of last spring and beginning this fall in which instructions and rubrics were not clear, and I feel I lost points because of problems with instructors rather than my own work. If I do not follow directions, I expect to lose points, but it’s a shame when it’s because an instructor is not clear. I do think it’s helped my own teaching. Who wants to play the game of what does she want? How many points do you think she’ll take off for this arbitrary thing I didn’t even know I did?

Looping back to the National Day on Writing, I have a complaint to lodge about NCTE’s website. I followed a tweet by Kylene Beers to add a badge to my blog in support of the National Day on Writing. She sent her followers on Twitter to the main NCTE page. I had to hunt around for the National Day on Writing information, and even then, I couldn’t find the badges until I used the search feature (here it is, by the way, so you don’t have to hunt). Folks, we are working with teachers of all sorts of levels of technological ability, and it’s not the first time I have had to hunt all over the NCTE website for something they’re actively promoting, which to me means it should be screaming from every page. Am I alone in this, or does anyone else find their website a bear to navigate? I also have never had a response from either Traci Gardner or NCTE about the fact that the companion site for Designing Writing Assignments is missing.

In other news, I upgraded my Mac to Snow Leopard, and I like most of the improvements, though I haven’t had a chance to play with many of them. My favorite Twitter client, Nambu, is broken in Snow Leopard and those folks move about as fast as Christmas when addressing issues like that. I understand that it’s free software, and it’s in beta, so I don’t complain, but I do miss the software. Tweetdeck just doesn’t do it for me, but I find I can’t keep up at all unless I use a Twitter client.

Aside from all these thoughts, I’ve barely had time to talk about school. I have some great classes this year. My Hero with a Thousand Faces class is full, and a lot of students who requested it were not able to get in. Considering we had about half capacity last year, that tells me the word on the street is pretty good, and that makes me happy because I designed this class from the ground up. It’s a study of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and Jungian archetypes. So far we have learned about Campbell’s ideas. To get rolling, I had students split up the section with the three parts of the hero’s journey and present their findings in groups. Then, I used a wonderful SMARTBoard notebook file (I think you need to be a member of TeqSmart to download, but it’s free) I found by James Longwell-Stevens to review our presentations. We are currently in the midst of a study of The Iliad. I found a great portfolio with lesson plans shared by a student teacher, and the calendar has been extremely helpful to me in planning. I also used some of the student teacher’s ideas. I will let students select our next text to study. My British lit. classes are also off to a great start. We are in the middle of Beowulf. I am tweaking my performance task slightly. In the past, I’ve had students create Beowulf’s résumé as a culminating activity, but I think this year, they will write from Hrothgar’s point of view to some made up king (or queen—perhaps Queen Huffgar the Wise?) recommending Beowulf for the job of monster-killer. The premise is the same. They need to do the same close reading. The format will be different, but the audience is essentially the same, too. I can still require the annotation piece, as well. Of course, I have also totally stolen Joe Scotese’s wonderful Beowulf ideas as well. No one can put together a close-reading exercise like Joe. He’s a master. My ninth grade class is wrapping up a study of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. All in all, it’s been a good start, folks are engaged (or else they are good actors, which I don’t discount), and I am enjoying school very much.

My family and I enjoyed the Decatur Book Festival yesterday. It was exciting to be among so many book lovers. We really enjoyed the Georgia Shakespeare Festival‘s Will Power troupe, who did a production of Alice in Wonderland. It was a great day, even if I wasn’t able to see Diana Gabaldon after all. You can read more about it on my book blog.

Before I go, I will put in a plug for Plasq’s Comic Life software, which enables you to create handouts that look like comics (or, indeed, to create comics). They have some great layouts and fonts, and they have a great educational discount. I only paid $19.95 for the educators’ version of the software, which enables me to install it on Mac and Windows, or at least that’s my understanding. I downloaded it on my Mac, but I haven’t tried to put it on my desktop at work, yet. At any rate, it’s a fairly low price and a substantial discount, and if you like making funky handouts, it’s worth it.

Right. I’d better start my Telecommunications and Distance Learning homework, and I have an assignment from another class I need to resubmit now that I understand what I was supposed to have done the first time (but never mind, I’ve already complained about that).

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Professional Organizations for Instructional Technologists

Early on, the IT blogosphere seemed to be populated with folks who were members of ISTE. When I started my ITMA program at VA Tech, I joined ISTE, but I didn’t join any of the other educational technology organizations. My last assignment for Instructional Media included some reading in our text about different organizations. Some of them seem appealing to me. I am curious about my readers’ experiences, however. Are any of you members of professional organizations for instructional technologists? Which ones? What do you like/not like about them? Which ones do you recommend?

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Three Down

Of the four classes I am taking this semester (three one-hour classes and one three-hour class), I have finished the work in three.  That means I have just one more class to finish, and I will be done with the semester.  Hopefully I can tidy that up this weekend and finish early.

I expect to earn A’s on my grade report.  I have been able to keep up with my grades online through Blackboard and a separate interface the ITMA program uses for grade reporting and assignment submission (having three different interfaces to work with is clunky and is something I think the program needs to address).  Three of the A’s I expect to earn really don’t mean much to me.  I did a modest amount of work to earn them.  In the case of one class, the assignments were a waste of time.  I can’t say I learned a lot.  In one class, I worked quite hard and feel proud of the A because it was not easy to earn.  I also feel I learned a lot in that class.

You know, I really, really hate grades.  I have been thinking about writing a book about assessment and grades.  Grades are a subject that interest me a great deal.  I hate the fact that grades are what motivates some students to learn — that unless there’s a grade attached, it isn’t worthwhile to some students.  I hate it that I spend a long time on feedback and some students turn to the grade and ask why did I get this? instead of reading the feedback, which would make the grade clear.

I really like working with my students, and it’s so exciting when I can tell they’re truly interested in something, and they want to learn it for the sake of learning it.  I find it frustrating that no matter how engaging my lessons might be (not every day, probably, but I hope they are most of the time) that some students will never be motivated by anything other than a grade.

A colleague of mine once described grades as both the carrot and the stick, and truer words were never spoken.  We use grades to punish kids who don’t do the work, and to reward those who do, even if they are only doing it for the grade.  I wonder what school would look like without grades.  I know it’s possible.  I know schools have done it.

I don’t know what made me go off on that rant.  I suppose I feel frustrated by my own school experience.  I have four A’s.  I worked to earn one of those A’s.  I didn’t learn much.  The grade doesn’t feel like much of a reward.  I’d rather have learned a lot.  For what it’s worth, I hear the program gets better.  Here’s hoping.  I am taking Principles of Instructional Design, Instructional Media, and Digital Audio next semester.

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