Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Creating a new kind of presentation

So after seeing some really interesting PowerPoint slides pop up over the blogosphere, I decided to try a new kind of presentation method. Instead of having a theme and slides with bullet points each slide conveys one thing and is associated with an appropriate picture.

It was a lot of fun to create, but it did take more time than I had planned. I used Flickr Storm ( to find pictures. You kind of have to think of one word tag descriptions for what you want, otherwise you will spend even more time trying to find pictures! I then verifyed that they were all liscensed through Creative Commons for use. This way I could use them not only in my presentation, but repost them as well. I always gave photo credit on the image itself, as well as created a delicious tag ( for all the pictures I used. This way not only was it easier for me to remember where I got the pictures from, but also so that others could find them as well.

Then I posted the presentation on SlideShare for others to use and see. Slideshare takes your presentation and creates images of the slides that can be "flipped" within a webpage (much easier than the way we used to publish PP files to the internet). The only drawback is that since they are images, there are no transitions between objects - you would need to have them on separate pages rather than all on one. This was important when actually giving the presentation for certain slides. In the end I think it worked very well. I plan on tweeking this presentation for an upcoming MEGA meeting, but overall I'm pretty proud of it and will continue to use this method - until the next one comes along!

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

I have been very fortunate in my life, not just because I have never known what it is like to feel impoverished, but also because I wasn't raised in ignorance of it. One of the greatest skills I was ever taught from my school, church, and family was having empathy, not pity, for others. Charity, and not just in the form of "things", was important and still is an important part of my life.

However, as empathetic and understanding as I may think I am, nothing would prepare me for what I would learn from being a student teacher in an impoverished area of the state. Now my student teaching experience wasn't exactly "optimum," but I was teaching Principles of Technology to 7th & 8th graders. This is technically a Vocational Ed class, and a redesign of "Woodshop." It was a hard group, but slowly I began to reach them. The best thing I ever did was agree to help coach the girl's softball team. As an avid player, this was an easy decision, but what I didn't realize was how it would make me connect with my students more than anything. Few parents could make it to the games, since they were right after school, and we had a special activity bus to take all the kids home after games.

My parents has always been so supportive of my after school activities. I can hardly remember a home game that was not attended by some member of my family. I felt so bad for my players, that their families couldn't come see them. I had one player in particular that took it hard, and one day missed the bus to take her home. So I broke the rules and drove her home in my car. Little was I prepared for her neighborhood or her home. She had to hurry in to make dinner for her 9 brothers and sisters, and didn't invite me in.

But I learned something that day. Not to pity her because of her surroundings, but to celebrate her for persevering. That she could be happy and find joy. That was eye opening for me. There are a few students and experiences I will never forget, and I will forever be grateful about what she taught me about enjoying life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Technology Questionairre

I was asked by a student in a Communications class to answer the following questions. My responses are as follows:

1. Has the use of technology changed in the classroom changed since you started teaching? If so, how?

I received my education degree in 1999, although the Internet was used in my college classrooms, it was not widely available nor was it used in schools. The advent of wikipedia, and other Internet resources have greatly changed the way content is taught. Another major change for technology is affordability. When I began teaching desktop computers were in labs and classrooms, but projectors, document cameras and smart boards were not widely used or available. Now laptops, and their flexibility have transformed classrooms, by having the computer labs come to them.

2. Have you seen technology use in the classroom as an advantage or a disadvantage?

I personally see technology in the classroom as an advantage in the classroom. In order to prepare our students for the 21st Century, we need to be providing them with the skills they will need after they graduate.

3. Are you required to take classes when a new form of technology has to be applied in your teaching? If so, are they helpful?

When I was in the K-12 classroom I was required to take Continuing Education Units, these were not always technology workshops, but reading, differentiated instructions, etc. The quality of these classes varied, but I always enjoyed finding out about a new technology and how teachers were using it in their classroom.

4. How do you think technology in the classroom will be used in the next ten years?

I believe (actually hope) that technology will change the classroom dynamic that we currently see. With the advent of ubiquitous computing, I foresee every student having their own laptop. That technology will be as common and as required as pen and paper are. Lessons and classrooms will need to be student and project focused rather than lecture and teacher focused.

5. When students are given the opportunity to use online courses it means that they are to be trusted to do their own work. When you observe students taking online course, do you think that they're benefiting from having full responsibility or do you think they take the easy way out?

I think you need to change the dynamics of your assignment. If everyone is given the same assignment or quiz, the temptation to share information is too great. Students need to be given projects or activities that either require collaboration and group work is encouraged, or individual projects.

6. How do you think technology use can be improved so that students can do honest work and gain from online courses?

I don't believe that the technology needs to be improved, I think the classes need to be changed to a different medium. (See answer above)

7. The Internet is a helpful tool when researching. Some sites are so helpful that the students don't even have to do much work. How do you feel about this?

If your class is the simple regurgitation of facts, rather than a synthesis of what appears on the Internet, than the class is flawed.

8. Do you think that technology will replace teachers altogether?

If as a student I could learn something by reading it in a book, then reading it on the Internet would be no difference. Even dynamic interaction of online games, etc. is not as conducive to learning as a teacher is. Computers will never replace teachers, because we need them to challenge, adapt, encourage, and assist us in ways a computer could never do.

I feel that the questions are a bit skewed towards "Internet Bad" and that my answers were probably a bit too "Internet Good." But that's what they get for asking a Tech Facilitator :)

Team Presenting

I did a 1:1 Workshop the other week with the wonderful Joselyn Todd. It reminded me of how much I enjoy presenting with other people, not only the presentation part, but the planning part. It has always helped me to be able to talk items over with others to help me synthesize what I am trying to get across. (I used to joke that reason I asked so many questions in class was because I wanted to have a 1-on-1 conversation with them rather than a lecture).

I recently came across this when working on troubleshooting an issue with a colleague of mine at CALS (College of Agriculture & Life Sciences). We were able to work out the problem by thinking it out together, and it was much more fun than frustrating.

I feel sometimes this burden to be the one that comes up with everything, that has to be the inspiration and the fixer of technology. It can be a bit lonely, and as much as my Twitter friends help, it was nice to do some in-person collaboration.

I guess it goes goes to show that authentic, project-based learning environments are good for everybody!