Friday, November 9, 2018

The State of EdTech in My Mind

I have been absent.  Sure, my Twitter feed has a daily post to the EdTech Early Edition and occasionally a post about some project or resource that I find might be useful.  I've been a little more active on Facebook, but that has become a political cesspool of late.  I miss my Eduwin crew that celebrated educational victories both in the classroom and around the world.  I've tried to restart a podcast, but haven't been able to find the motivation.  I also haven't been presenting at conferences nearly as much as I had in the past.  I was growing concerned I had lost my passion for Educational Technology.  And this, right after attaining my masters degree in the subject.  I had even gone so far as to compose a Jerry Maguire like manifesto, ready to commit professional suicide in the name of finding that missing piece of the puzzle.

So where am I supposed to rekindle that passion that I am known for?  If the social networks are no longer chock-full of the information I once found valuable, I may be looking in the wrong places.  Or maybe it's time that I start creating my own?  With that said I invite you to join the Evolutions in EdTech Facebook group that I have created for like minded individuals to share their discoveries.  I'm also considering hosting a "State of #EdTech" Twitter Chat on a monthly basis.  I've though about producing a VLOG  - but let's face it - no one wants to hear from me sitting at my desk or in my office.

I am also trying to reinvent my current role in a way that allows me to do more on the job research and get more involved with the technology integration process in my District.  This year we have launched the #207Learn Adult Learning Channel on YouTube and the corresponding website that examines how educators are currently using resources paid for within my District and providing follow up training for those interested in learning how they can use these tools to improve their own learning environment.

So, here I am.  Not quite floundering; but, still trying to find my way in a profession that continues to evolve.  Keeping my head barely above water, but still dreaming of ways to stay involved and motivated until the next big thing comes along and our world shift the way we garner professional development once again.  What I do know is that we cannot continue to retreat into our safe silos.

So, I'm curious - how are you staying motivated to engage and evolve as an educator using technology?  Drop me a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

You Tube Editor is Joining the Dead Pool

Recently, Google announced it will be deprecating one of its best kept secrets known as the YouTube Editor.  This was one of my favorite tools for editing video in the cloud, especially since it also worked well on a Chromebook. Sadly, any projects not completed by September 20, 2017, will disappear when the application is removed from service.  The full announcement regarding the changes can be found at:


For the time being, YouTube will continue to maintain a “light” version of the editor in the form of “Enhancements”.  This can be found within the “Creator Studio” under your profile avatar in  
the upper right hand corner.

While nowhere near as powerful as the YouTube Editor, the Enhancements
Tab (found on each video you have uploaded) will allow you to Auto-Fix, Stabilize, Trim, and apply Filters and Blurring effects.  

WeVideo may be the best solution for those who are looking for a traditional video editing software in the cloud.  The Individual Free Plan is limited to 1 GB of Cloud storage and 5 min of publish time per month.  Additionally, the final product is reduced to 480p resolution with a watermark.  There are reasonably priced plans that dramatically increase the usability of the program starting at as little as $5 per month.

To begin the process, you will need to click on the Log In link or the Google “Sign Up” Button at You will need to follow a series of prompts beginning by selecting that you will use WeVideo for School.  Alternatively, you can “Skip this Step”.

You will be given the option of watching some training videos.  Once you have viewed or skip through them you will be brought to your Dashboard where you can begin uploading, creating and editing content.  As you can see from the image below, the WeVideo editor looks similar to Windows Movie Maker and is a bit more robust than the YouTube Editor with a number of additional features.  In a future post, I will share some tips and tricks to get started using WeVideo.  Hopefully, this is enough to get you started transferring your video editing projects to WeVideo.

If you are looking for a quick less feature rich solution, Stupeflix is another online editor that can be used to work with video in the cloud.  While also not as full featured as the YouTube Editor, it offers a few more features than the YouTube Enhancements Tab.  You can log in with your gmail account at  

The editor will start off by asking you to pick a theme for your video.   While there is some rudimentary video editing available, for the most part Stupeflix designed to create an animated slideshows of existing images or videos.  Once you have uploaded or selected content from the Internet (which includes YouTube), you will be able to arrange photos and videos, trim segments, add titles, and select transitions.  A soundtrack option is also available.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Are Makerspaces Important to Learning

I have extremely mixed emotions about Makerspaces and the whole maker movement.  On one hand, I feel much like Matthew Arend, the Principal at Sigler Elementary in Plano, TX., who shared in his post How Our Space Became a Makerspace that makerspaces potentially insure that “collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking happened the moment you walked into the room.” (Arend 2015)  I think the ability of Makerspaces to elicit the 4Cs of 21st Century learning is their greatest asset.  On the other hand, if not addressed properly, I am weary that the Maker Movement has the potential to turn into 21st century arts and crafts.  As we see in the P21 Framework, the 4Cs are only a small subset of a much larger pedagogical approach.
(Partnership for 21st Century Learning P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning)

When backed by sound educational practice, makerspaces certainly have the ability to “promote multidisciplinary thinking and learning, enriching the projects that are built there and the value of the makerspace as an educational venue.“(7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces) But without proper backing and commitment, my fear is that the concept will become just another failed attempt at educational reform.  

I have attended a number of maker events at conferences, visited school based innovation spaces, listened to people I respect extol the value of re-designing learning spaces (i.e., and even attended a maker faire or two.  Unfortunately, what I often see is a strange dichotomy.  Adults and children alike tend to gravitate towards the entry level experiences.  They visit the areas that let them build an LED felt project, construct Squishy Circuits or play with Legos.  The more advanced and what I consider truly innovative technologies, end up being more experiential than constructive.  While putting on a pair of VR glasses, steering a Sphero or a robot around a maze, or watching a 3D printer mold a logo may be “cool”, these experiences only spark interest.  It is up to innovative educators to fan that spark into a blazing fire that unleashes the true potential of the maker movement.  

I contend there is a difference between imagination and innovation and that a broad spectrum separates those two traits.  Imagination is the thought process and the creative design of the Maker movement.  When granted space and time for exploration, an “informal, playful atmosphere allows learning to unfold,  rather than conform to a rigid agenda.” (What is the Maker Movement)  But, innovation comes from “deliberate actions to improve a learning environment by adapting a method of presenting material to students that involves human interaction, hands-on activities and student feedback. “ (What is curriculum innovation and change?)  There are often wide gaps between ideas and meaningful implementation.

Certainly, it is imperative that we foster the imaginative ideas of young learners; however, I feel that as educators we need to take this a step further and make sure they have the opportunity to convert those ideas into reality by supplying the proper tools, resources and motivation.  And this is where I think many of us are currently failing.

In younger grades, Makerspaces allow students to play with new concepts and ideas.  They can begin to conceptualize and codify thoughts that will lay the foundation for further exploration as they mature.  Playing with a Makey-Makey, building lego constructions, drawing with Circuit Scribes and 3Doodlers can all become creative conduits that lay a foundation for innovation.  Indeed, Vygotsky viewed “play as a transitional stage from a child’s thinking constrained by the properties of a current situation to thinking totally free from these constraints.” (Bodrova, Leong 2105)

However, if the Makerspace movement is going to become more than the latest in a long line of educational “buzz words” and political propaganda, it has to include real-world application.  Students must be allowed to prototype and develop products that have true impact and address real world problems.   

When given the right technology, encouragement and support, students are able to accomplish amazing things.  Gabriel Fillippini a high school Junior in Loudoun County, Virginia worked with his teacher and a community group to develop a prosthetic hand for his 6 year old brother using the 3D printer at his high school. (Carey, Hartleb 2016) Unfortunately, the Video News Story will not embed here. It can be viewed at:

Of course, not every Makerspace success story is going to have such a spectacular effect.  But that doesn’t mean it should not have purpose.  The Godium Project was inspired by Kevin Honeycutt and implemented by the Ness City Student Innovations group.  Kevin is a well known keynote speaker and educational innovator who had a problem.  Kevin was buying and replacing too many suitcases and had too much equipment to carry.  So, Kevin partnered with Brent Kerr, a woodshop teacher at USD 303 in Ness City, Kansas and his students to develop a traveling suitcase that could convert to a podium when Kevin presented at conferences around the world. The students were able to work with Kevin and innovate and iterate to create a product that challenged “students to bring something new and needed to the world.” (Honeycutt 2016)

After seeing Kevin’s pitch for the Godium, I may just need to contact Ness City Student Innovations and order one for myself:
Makerspaces do not need to be fancy or expensive to be successful.  One of my favorite stories comes from Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis where Andrew Goodin a member of the Disruption Department allowed students to create their own space inside an empty room.  The students chose to address bullying and rumor mongering and developed “a box that anyone could approach, push a button, and say something really mean that they would typically say to someone else. Then, the box would ceremoniously "erase" their words (by playing a song or producing a noise), and say something complimentary back instead.”  (Stories from a School Makerspace).  These students had no resources at their disposal and had to hypothesize and then borrow materials from other teachers and janitors in the building to develop their prototype.  
The above examples are the kind of real world experiences that allow a makerspace to become a sustainable environment.  It makes the students want to continue to explore, genuinely innovate and take ownership of their learning.  By providing adequate guidance and supports teachers can certainly help students accomplish amazing things in a makerspace environment.   While not every school needs to have a formal makerspace, all learners could certainly benefit from the imagination and ingenuity that forms the foundation of the Maker movement.  The important thing is to target real world problems and weave creativity into the curriculum and open pathways to innovation that align with national standards.

Arend, M. (2015, January 10). My Thoughts...My Reflections...A Principal's View. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

[P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning]. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2016, from

7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2016, from

What is the Maker Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

What is curriculum innovation and change? (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2105, Spring). Vygotskian and Post-Vygotskian Views on Children’s Play. American Journal of Play, 7(3). Retrieved August 2, 2016, from

Carey, J., & Hartleb, E. (2016, June 28). Va. High School Student Makes 3-D Printed Hand for Brother. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

Honeycutt, K. (2016). Making-Inventing & Growing Entrepreneurs. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

Stories from a School Makerspace, #1 (The Prototype Process). (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Down the 21st Century Rabbit Hole

One thing that frustrates me beyond belief is that we continue to talk about 21st century skills in the year 2016.  We talk about how to prepare our students for 2020.   Ladies and gentlemen, that is 4 years away!

Who remembers this video from 2010:

That was 6 years ago!  Will these innovations exist in the next 4 years?  Probably not.  But the vision will remain.  

We are consistently witnessing major breakthroughs in technology that are changing and shifting our environments.  Devices keep getting smarter.  The world is changing.  Unfortunately, a majority of classrooms still look like this:
Kansai University, Japan, School, Classroom, Inside

Meanwhile the most innovative offices in the world look like this:

Chartboost HQ in San Francisco complete with a dedicated game room with ball pit and giant lego wall

How much farther along would we be if schools became incubators of innovation?  Students don't need to memorize and regurgitate facts.  There's this thing out there called Google.  Need to fix something - go look on YouTube.  

I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water here.  We need to know the facts that make our world operate in order to dream - but how does worksheet after worksheet make that happen?!

We need to re-think education.  We need to re-think our way of thinking.  We need to remember what it was like to be a kid.  We need to find ways to encourage that kind of creativity in collaborative ways that does not stifle or inhibit forward thinking.  The potential is there.  How will we bring it to the forefront and continue to prepare students for a world that we can only dream of today? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Preparing for 21st Century Assessment

I read the post and after my stomach stopped churning I started wondering what are we really doing as educators?  We continue to beat the drum talking about change and 21st century learning and yet our methods of assessment continue down a tired and bureaucratic path designed to produce a workforce that is already outdated.  With no disrespect to Shyla Nott or the rest of the fine folks at the Global Educator Institute who really do some fine work, the following is a "tongue-in-cheek" parody (with hopefully a ring of truth) which offers an alternative approach to assessment.  Please do read the original article Classroom Preparations for Testing Season because there is some great advice there to deal with our reality.  But in an alternate universe...

Classroom Preparations for the Real World

It’s that time of the year again–gearing up for publishing student e-portfolios. For months your students have been preparing— creating ways to learn new vocabulary, creating digital posters, designing interactive videos.
You’ve supported them through guided facilitation, collaborative exercises, differentiated instruction, connections with global classrooms and honest encouragement.  Examples of their work are displayed throughout the room and some of it has already been posted to the web.
But now, in anticipation of the year end celebration of learning, it’s time to upload it for the world to see. What stays, and what goes? How will they complete their final edits?

Do a walk-through

Before publication is in full swing, ask your students to evaluate each others final products and discuss digital citizenship and personal branding. Determine as a group what should be shared and why. This will reinforce what made the work authentic and personal while providing an understanding that the work was done and the life lessons it served. This activity should help reinforce certain topics, helping students to remember them for the rest of their lives.
*After publishing, determine as a class what information should be replaced or whether new information is needed for the next class of students.

Promote and encourage sharing of ideas!

Share as much of the students work as possible that may assist future students and allow them to build upon the foundation that has been laid before them.  Here are a few examples that school personnel should consider when preparing for publication:
•    Digital Posters, maps, charts, and displays that define, explain, or illustrate terms or concepts
•    Screencasts of Mathematical formulas/theorems
•    Conceptual mindmaps and storyboards for digital productions
•    Word lists and word clouds of written work to analyze content
•    Recorded On-Air Hangouts
•    Blog posts that have demonstrate understanding of knowledge
•    Videos that displayed process and scientific method
•    Writing formulas

Other considerations

There is no manual for 21st century learning.  Every setting should be different and reflect the needs of that group of students.  Learning environments should be open, adaptable and comfortable.  Noise and interruptions should be frequent and expected. Students should have room to move and collaborate.  Materials should be provided as needed for effective completion of tasks. 

Global-Friendly Displays

There are various ways to display portfolios effectively.  Blogs, Sites, Edmodo groups, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr are all great places to start that will make the students work much easier to find later on.
With just a few changes we can see how alternative assessments like globally published e-portfolios can really demonstrate how we are changing the educational landscape one classroom at a time.

I'm curious.  How do you prepare your classroom for 2025? And how are you assessing your progress?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Makes Presentations Pop?

The interactive video above was created using Google On Air Hangout HaikuDeck and EdPuzzle. Sometimes achieving an end goal requires "mashing" a number of different technical resources together. This presentation is a continuation of a session which by year's end I will have conducted for my district, at IETC and at the ICE Conference entitled "Presentations That Pop". Feel free to follow the link and explore the full presentation. I thought the interactive video would be a good review for attendees of those sessions and would also provide me with authentic feedback regarding what participants had garnered from the session. While designed specifically for educators, the content in both the presentation and the video would be appropriate for middle and high school students
I mention a number of resources during the presentation including the mindmap tools and Additionally I reference
which is a wonderful tool that helps create color schemes for presentations, graphic design and website development. This was my first experience creating interactive video and I believe it has a great deal of potential not only as a way to deliver content; but, also as an extremely effective method of formative assessment.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Constructivism and Multiple Intelligence Reflection

Howard Gardner’s work has been an integral part of numerous educational theories since Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was published in 1983.  I remember my copy in college being full of annotations and highlights because the idea that human knowledge was more than rote memorization appealed to me.  The concept that we have varying levels of ability in each of Gardner’s intelligence classifications explains the need for differentiated instruction perfectly.  In a recent interview with the Huffington Post he stated that “two major educational implications” of Multiple Intelligences are Individuation and Pluralization.  The first suggests we need to address the needs of each specific learner and the second offers a method of accomplishing that goal by presenting the material in a variety of ways. (Lynch, 2012).

It is not surprising that a visionary like Sir Ken Robinson would address the importance of Multiple Intelligences and encourage educators to recognize the child as a whole instead of forcing  the student to conform to a system which typically values Verbal-Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical modalities that can be assessed through standardized testing.  As educators, it is imperative that we encourage, celebrate and accommodate a child’s strengths instead of labeling them as weaknesses when they do not fit the traditional model of learning.

While my current role as a district technology coordinator does not give me daily access to the classroom, the past decade has afforded me a number of opportunities to offer professional development to teachers throughout our district.  I always have music playing as participants arrive.  I have found this strategy can set the tone for a session, activate the senses and heighten linguistic acuity.  I have begun integrating essential questions and discussions into my presentations to provide opportunity for honing both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.  During a recent half day workshop I used a Google extension called Move It to interrupt the presentation at set intervals with a prompt to perform a certain exercise.   This hopefully triggered a response from the bodily-kinesthetic learner who needed to get up occasionally during a 4 hour workshop!  All of this is done in a subtle way to model different techniques they can use in their classrooms.

When I have the opportunity to work directly with students, I provide a number of resources and let them decide on how to express their knowledge.  One of my favorite projects was co-teaching a 10-week digital storytelling unit with at-risk learners.  As we discussed the various stages of creating a digital story, I shared a number of tools from which to choose, which gave them a great deal of autonomy.  Additionally, the students had to take on roles (e.g., production manager, script supervisor, director of photography, etc) which in retrospect allowed them to utilize, explore and expand on pre-existing intelligences.

While these techniques seem to be effective in a traditional environment, I am uncertain they would work in an online or distance learning scenario.   As the article The Influence of Multiple Intelligence Theory on Web-Based Learning states, “little has been done to study MI in the online classroom.” (Riha, 2009)  It would be feasible to tap a number of Gardner’s intelligences in this scenario; however, even with the advent of media, I imagine it would be challenging to incorporate Spatial-Visual, Bodily-Kinesthetic and Musical intelligences within these environments.  My personal experience with this cohort has made me more aware of my intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences.  I have become more adroit at self-reflection and collaboration thanks to the inspiring posts, discussions and projects.  

The concept of constructivism appears to be an extension of differentiated instruction.  I have always felt we need to return to the Socratic approach wherein the instructor asks questions aimed at inciting dialogue allowing “students to realize for themselves the weakness in their thinking” and construct new ideas based on this knowledge. ("Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning")  The 21st century educational design needs to focus more on sparking creative thought, rather than creating lock step curriculum designed for an Industrial Age.  As Socrates may have once said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” (“Quote Investigator”)

With this in mind, I have found the blog posts from Ewan McIntosh regarding constructivism to be completely engrossing.  The underlying theme seems roughly based on the concept of design thinking which is structured in a way that provides “enough flexibility with enough specificity to ground its ideas in the lives of their intended beneficiaries.” (McIntosh, 2012)  Throughout the posts we see that dialogue, autonomy and facilitation lead to quality innovative work.  I particularly enjoyed the video Designing the Unknown which focuses on C-K theory and demonstrates how an open and Socrative process can allow for pre-existing knowledge to add attributes within a conceptual space and generate many new and innovative ideas.  It seems that constructivism achieves the desired outcome of differentiated instruction without requiring the instructor to provide  a number of approaches to achieve a specific outcome. Instead, wide scale essential and existential questions are asked that help students “know what they didn’t know”. (McIntosh, 2015) allowing for new ideas to develop and evolve.

I believe the concept of constructivism could have major impact on the future of education, provided the institution can get out of it’s own way.  These open and innovative  environments allow the teacher to remove themselves as the “sage on the stage” and instead take on the role of “guide on the side”.  This insures that “collaborative learning is a process of peer interaction that is mediated and structured by the teacher” and generates thinkers as opposed to workers. (“Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin”)  Many of these environments are also often student driven by design.  The challenge then becomes how to evaluate and assess the success of these programs in a standards driven world?  I am hoping to find some of the answers to that question in a session I will be hosting at EdCamp: After Dark  that will explore the idea of a “reThink Thinking and Learning Symposium”.  This is a thought I envisioned while reading Ewan McIntosh’s posts and would be designed and promoted as a day that would bring educators, students, parents and community leaders together for a day of candid discussion about what works and what could be improved upon when it comes to learning.  I cannot wait to see what my colleagues think of this concept!

Lynch, Ed.D. Matthew. "Living Legends: An Interview With Howard Gardner, Part I." The Huffington Post., 09 Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <>.

Riha, Mark, and Rebecca A. Robles-PiƱa. "The Influence of Multiple Intelligence Theory on Web-Based Learning." Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 5.1 (2009). Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <>.

"Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning." Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <>.

"Quote Investigator." Quote Investigator. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. <>.

McIntosh, Ewan. "Design Thinking 2: Immersion - Don't Give Students a Problem to Solve.." Ewan McIntosh | Design Thinking, Education & Learning. 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. <>.

McIntosh, Ewan. "Unknown Unknowns. #ungoogleable Thinking for #28daysofwriting." Ewan McIntosh | Design Thinking, Education & Learning. 8 Feb. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. <>.

"Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom." Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin. Web. 06 Feb. 2016. <>.

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