Saturday, 15 March 2014

Conversation transforms learning in Google Docs and NON Google Docs, in Google Drive

Many educators have now discovered the phenomenal potential of Google Doc commenting to transform learning and teaching. If you don't know about Google Doc commenting, see some of the other posts on this, here, or here.

Used effectively Google Doc comments are another very effective illustration of what I believe are the 5 transformative elements of ICTs - SAMMS, they are:

Google Drive & Situated Learning

Situated - Comment anywhere, any space, any place that is suitable to you.

Access - link to references and resources anywhere on the wild wonderful web to support feedback, or to push/extend content further.

Multimodal - with Add-ons like Kaizena you can even add audio to your feedback, of course you can link to all sorts of rich web content, like online simulations to resolve a particular misconception, and students can easily create a screen recording to narrate their 'learning journey' through a beautifully busy comment thread. Revision history is great for this as well.

Mutable - Comments aren't locked they slip, slide and glide, anywhere they need to, but always tethered to the context that makes them meaningful, and of course comments can easily be edited/modified to clarify feedback, to better articulate reasoning, or maybe just to choose a more appropriate term.

Social - Commenting that is isolated is not much more than replacement tech, albeit without the need to squeeze your extended feedback into a scrawl that is so tightly packed into the margins of the page that it looks like a herd of spiders... No, to amplify or transform reflection and feedback, invite collaborators into the document, then stand back and watch in awe, as turning this document into a mini 'social network' radically redefines reflection, from 'me, me, me' to 'we, we, we'.

So what are you waiting for? You can view this album of screenshots for ways of how you can do this, or see an example below:

Image comments can refer to specific elements of the image, or be more holistic.

Friday, 14 March 2014

iPads, Video & Frustration

Not all video codecs are equal, and many of the most common formats that play fine on a desktop operating system like that on a Mac or a PC, often will not play on an iPad which is, shall we say, very fussy about what it will, or will not play.

So this means that just because that video you've inserted from Google Drive into a Google Site, may play beautifully on your Mac/PC, but that does not mean your iPad will play it.

Simple solution? Anything on YouTube is iPad friendly, so uploading your videos to YouTube (or Vimeo) and then inserting them into your Google Site will work, on any device; and as we're an educational domain, no dodgy mosaic or ads, unless you are using Blogger, in which case, you will see a 'video mosaic' at the end.

Like this one:

So you could have two videos, one inserted into a Google Site, and one from YouTube, and the first one will not play, even though it is the exact same video, before it was uploaded (and converted) it to YouTube.

To see this phenomenon demonstrated on a Google Site, click here.

The good news is that sharing a video straight to your YouTube account straight from QuickTime is very easy, and will do all the converting for you:

Monday, 3 March 2014

ICT Enhanced Backdrops & Tech Enthusiasts

We have a fantastic system in place for encouraging the authentic, effective integration of digital technologies in classrooms across the college with our Tech Mentors, but maybe what is less well known, is that increasingly (and this is a great problem to have), we have more and more teachers who are not 'Tech Mentors', who would be if they could be, but they can't, because there are no available spaces. Teachers in this category are teachers who are what I like to call 'Tech Enthusiasts', and this post is a case in point; som of our 'tech enthusiasts' in Grade 1, who put their enthusiasm for all things tech to great effect as multimedia backdrops for their class Arts Festival performance.

Keynote - Sonia Magnus & Susanne Khalek 

"Using ICT for the backdrop meant a great deal of pre-planning, but relieved the need for building, storing and cumbersome shifting of large pieces of scenery for a one-off performance, as there were several scenes where the story took place. It was also more environmentally responsible, avoiding the need to create and dispose of large props, like boats and trees.

The soundtracks for the presentation were worked on in music lessons with Susanne Khalek, and she ably interpreted Sonia's ideas so that the children selected appropriate instruments, composed short pieces and developed chants and rhythms for the movement on stage. The children were involved in listening to their recordings, evaluating the performances, suggesting improvements and re-recording. All recordings were made in Garageband so that the soundtrack could be edited, and additional sound effects could be easily included."

iMovie - Alice Whitehead 

Alice chose to use iMovie because she wanted a powerful way to visually represent the concept of the children's 'dreams' moving from thought to action. iMovie allowed her to do this by merging each child's drawing of a picture with an image they had chosen, then Alice filmed the children performing in front of a make shift green screen in the corner of her classroom, to create the 'special effect' of the children see themselves in their dreams for the future. The novelty of using a green screen definitely increased the students engagement and also helped them to understand the big idea behind their Arts Festival piece.