Why My Presentation Sucked: Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted part one of this series. You might want to check that out if you’d like to read my conference proposal – or don’t and just jump in here. All you really need to know is that my presentation concerned competing personal philosophies and how we live with these as educators. Spoiler Alert: You also might want to know that this post is really about the importance of failure. 

Conference Fantasies and Realities

Now for the thrilling conclusion of Why My Presentation Sucked! So I arrived at my conference to pouring rain and, of course, a complete lack of umbrella. Luckily I had a bag of donation clothes in my backseat and found a trenchcoat. A mix of bad and good omens. As I walked the half mile (!) from the parking lot to the conference center I ran through my presentation, envisioning myself spurring deeeeeep, meaningful conversations among the session attendees with my wit, emotional rawness, and a bodacious visual presentation.

Of course, conference presentation fantasies don’t ever match reality. Here’s what really happened: I walked into a room of 5 audience members. One of them was the facilitator and the other was a fellow presenter. Was this a tiny conference? Did these folks have a burning interest in my topic – or were they just there for the other dude? I went first. Although my audience appeared rapt and nodded their heads at several points I could tell that they weren’t buying my message. I invited questions and comments during my talk but no one engaged me. I began to talk faster. I gave a million examples. I talked about my probably-too-esoteric slide image choices and how they illustrated my points. I walked around a lot, smiled, grimaced, gesticulated – a grand performance. When I was finished (20 minutes early) I opened the floor up to discussion: “How do competing personal philosophies affect your teaching and living in education”? Only one taker. She talked about moving from a traditional highly structured high school to one that allows students much greater personal freedom. Although I know nothing about K-12 I immediately went into faculty development mode, leaned over the desk, and let her tell her story. The presentation became a conversation between us about the joys and despairs of structural constraints. The rest of the room was blank faced. I ended my presentation and the next presenter shot me a squinty eyed look. He began his part, introducing himself as a philosophy professor. I felt like a baby.

Fail: Starbucks Coffee sign with

Basically, my presentation…

Why My Presentation Failed

After mulling over my conference experience I concluded that my presentation failed because: 

  • I didn’t know my audience: This was my first time at this particular conference and my audience (other than the facilitator and other presenter) were K-12 folks. Thus, my examples and struggles were aimed at an entirely different group of educators.
  • I didn’t create an “active” presentation: Every presentation I’ve done in the past has involved a lot of audience work – small readings, discussions, short writing exercises. In this way the audience gets a few minutes to make a personal connection to the material. I always get a hugely positive response when I run sessions this way. However, this time I took a chance and did a narrative, experience-based presentation. 

So, overall, I failed because I took a chance on a new presentation type at an unknown conference. But was my failure a bad thing? I argue no. Although I experienced some temporary personal embarrassment my experience as both a student and an educator suggest that failure is more educative than success. After all, would I have taken two weeks to consider and write about this experience if I had succeeded? Probably not. Instead my failure spurred me to reflect deeply on my experience. I’ve seen this same pattern in my own students again and again (with a lot of support, of course). So if you accept my premise that failure is good, how can you support failure in your own classroom?

Supporting Failure in the Classroom

Failure is an integral part of student growth in any college classroom. After all, aren’t questions and mistakes more instructive than correct answers? Doesn’t struggle create more resilient, questioning students? There are many strategies that you can use to support student failure including:

  • Setting a failure-friendly tone early in a course. Try including a short narrative in your syllabus that addresses the high likelihood of struggle in your course. Offer suggestions to live with this struggle. Have students write about past failures in class and share these. Share your own failures with your class. Setting a failure-friendly tone creates a vulnerable space for rigorous, personally-rewarding work.
  • Allowing students to struggle with low-stakes, formative assessments. Often big failures on exams, presentations, or other heavily-weighted assignments can overwhelm students. Instead, consider the thousand little cuts method by building ungraded opportunities for practice (and failure) into your course. Allow students to practice failing.
  • Providing students with targeted feedback and support after a failure. Failure-friendly classes won’t succeed without significant feedback and support. Talk with your entire class about general patterns of performance after minor and major assignments. Offer to meet with your students one-on-one after a big fail. Put your students in groups at the beginning of the semester to spread out the failure support net. 
  • Framing coursework as process-oriented rather than outcomes-oriented. Most undergraduates at GSU come from a high-stakes, assessment-oriented K-12 environment. Unsurprisingly, this educational philosophy rewards getting it “right” the first time. Obviously his educational approach isn’t failure friendly.  How could you help your students think about and struggle with a more process-oriented, iterative approach to thinking and performance in your course? 
  • Framing failure as data rather than a catastrophic defeat. Take a note from the natural sciences and help your students see failures as iterative self-experiments. Some instruction to your students on discipline-specific thought would be fantastic here. How do researchers in your area frame research “failures”?
  • Building failure into the curriculum. Allowing your entire class to fail at a particular task (or tasks) can be a powerful pedagogical strategy. How could you provide your students with planned opportunities to fail? For instance, are there particular content areas that all (or most) students struggle with without significant support or resources? After failure, how could you debrief students on the process? What type of follow-up assignment or activity do you need to create to follow up on the failure? How do you need to support this activity?
  • Modeling failure for your students. This one can be tough on many professors. We’re used to acting the part of the all-seeing, all-knowing experts in class – and our students usually buy this superhuman act to the detriment of the student-professor relationship. So, along with building failure into the curriculum think about how you could model failure to your students. And by model I don’t mean creating artificial one-act failure plays that you perform for the class. Instead, I’m referring to those frequent times in class when you don’t know something or you don’t know how to handle a situation. How could you struggle, fail, struggle, succeed, and then struggle again in front of your class? 
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Twitter in the Classroom

If you currently think of Twitter as that social media tool where presidential candidates are doing battle and that place on the web where political operatives for the various candidates are trading digs you would, in fact, definitely be fully aware of popular mainstream Twitter usage. On the other hand did you know that up in Ontario, Canada, in Mrs. Wideen’s first and second grade class, her students are regularly Tweeting out to the community about what they are learning and seeing? Or that  at the University of Colorado, a growing group of faculty members are all adding Twitter feeds to their online and hybrid courses and demanding that conferences make ‘live tweeting’ a standard part of the conferences they attend?

For some people it is hard to imagine how Twitter can be used as an educational tool or as a mode of communication for educators, but for many teachers  Twitter has become an indispensable tool for having students engage with each other in a public forum on a topic of interest. Some faculty choose to post Twitter discussion prompts in their course and then have students use a hashtag before a word or phrase the instructor selects (which makes the searching for student Tweets later much easier). And other faculty create min-projects around Twitter (for example, everyone chooses a character or ‘voice’ from something the class is reading and tries to express that ‘voice’ via Twitter). And below, public school students in New York City Tweet out their urban and street art finds as they travel around the city, sharing the uniqueness of their local environment with each other and other members of the community.

So, if you thought Twitter wasn’t for your class or appropriate of your needs, the new world of technology presents a chance to see your subject matter and passion through a new set of eyes, using a new tool.

streetart

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Contented: Rethinking PowerPoint for Online Learning

When you think about adapting your course for online delivery, one of the first things you probably think about doing (or dread, depending), is retooling your powerpoint presentations as narrated lectures. I say this because it’s the number one thing people talk about when they come in for an initial consultation with the design team at CETL.

We’ve become accustomed to the constraints of one technology (the 50 minute classroom session), and are thrown off-kilter with an accommodation of another technology (online delivery). In these situations, it’s probably a better idea to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and instead of rushing to an assumption based on what was the predominant teaching method in the in-class education setting, to think about how the change in technology affects the presentation of information. When you do that, you may realize that plenty of the work you think you have to complete, actually isn’t necessary. You may realize that this isn’t a dreaded conversion of material, but a fun return to fundamentals. A liberation, even.

…One can but hope.

So, keeping hope in mind, what would that even look like? What considerations do I need to take in mind when I change up the lectures I’ve been perfecting over my career? Well, here are a few considerations where we’re forced into a lecture format in class, but may not be online:

  • Background – if events in the past affect the present, it may be easier to include that on a timeline, which gives students a sense of perspective. Check out timeline.js for a free option.
  • Flash Card ready content – if a student will need to rehearse a fact to retain it to memory (called declarative memory, for your trivia night at BadaBing’s), it’s probably more effective to use a more static deliverable than the presentation itself. So, influential figures, key dates, terms, locations: all the things that are required for you to make your point, but don’t actually contribute to your point being convincing.
  • Time – when in your day can you fit in 50 minutes dedicated to one topic? No one has this anymore. Your classroom format forced you into thinking about a 50 minute lecture, but as formal learning becomes unbounded by space and time, students are more and more likely to want quick access to parts of your courses, so that they can quickly remind themselves of something that you passed along to them. Making your point quickly is respectful of the over-committed realities of your students.
  • Delivery – I saved this one for last, because it probably is the most daunting consideration. When I talk to someone in person, my tripping over words, long pauses where I’m trying to find the best word, and the bizarre blank stare I get when I can’t find one, all could be considered charming and part of the ambience of the moment. Online, the charm disappears, though the fumbling remains. That doesn’t mean we need to correct that with NPR voice, but that we need to learn how to read from a script. This gets rid of the pauses and “um”s that make a lecture come across not as spontaneous but rather as unrehearsed, unplanned, and in the end, unprofessional. It also allows you to more easily record audio separately from your presentation, and gives you a transcript for students that are unable to hear your recording.

The lecture has stood the tLecture.001est of time partly because we were bounded by time and space when delivering content, and also because we had no faith that those listening were taking the time to read the content they had been given before class. The social pressure of other students and an authoritative teacher in front of the class increased motivation to listen to the lecture, even though no one read the text. When we move online, the duplication of content no longer helps. The content, in abstract, provides no pressure, and therefore, doesn’t increase motivation to relate to the content. In fact, a course that doubles down on content, can very easily decrease motivation if it isn’t well organized, and doesn’t seem to relate to assignments. It’s just one more item in an overwhelming website.

In shifting your previous lecture setup, you can focus your talk on what is unique to your interpretation of all of the background that you have relegated to study aids and the textbook. You can finally focus purely on making your argument. And in so doing, perhaps you will find a new phase of your teaching practice where you feel free to be yourself. Want help doing that, and figuring out how this shift can help you shape your assignments and your course in other ways, stop by the CETL or feel free to shoot me an email, and we can start the conversation.

 

Posted in Contented

Why My Presentation Sucked: Part 1

So I presented at a conference recently and my session reaaaaallly didn’t go over well. Why? Well, I think that my stumbling can be ascribed to several factors. But before I get into why I failed – and what I learned from this failure – I want to tell you about my presentation plan. The easiest way to showcase what I thought was going to happen is to plop my conference proposal here. I’ll do that now in this post. In Part 2 two weeks from now (stay tuned!) I’ll tell you about why I think my presentation failed – and why talking about failure to your students and colleagues is critical in our current higher education environment. Ok, so here’s the proposal:

“Doing a Thing and Its Opposite”: Navigating Teaching and Instructional Design in the Postmodern

The purpose of this session is to give attendees a thoughtful space to discuss and ponder the often paradoxical work that we do in colleges and universities. During the first part of the session I’ll present my own lived experience as a professor, faculty development manager, and instructional designer, focusing specifically on the constant tension between accountability, innovation, ethics, and the very real effects of these tensions on the lives of those living and learning in higher ed. My overall guiding questions for this session are: How can we live (well) as higher educators in an environment that asks us to “do a thing and its opposite”? What are the effects of this dual existence?

Inspiration for this his session is based on my observations and notes over 5 years teaching a Freshman Studies course as well as my interactions with clients on instructional design projects in higher education. I’ll discuss my journey through modernism to critical theory to postmodernism and how each of these movements affected my teaching and design practice. In addition, I’ll discuss how these conflicting theoretical orientations affected (and still affect) my relationships with students and my colleagues.

I’ll then transition to a group discussion where audience members can deconstruct their own experiences living in the cracks and fissures between theory and practice. Possible guiding themes during this discussion will include issues surrounding surveillance and data mining in LMS environments and the dual possibility/impossibility of democratic teaching and design. It is my sincere hope that attendees find this conversation nourishing and continue to muse on the in-between educational spaces that we inhabit.

So as you can see I had Grand Visions for my conference presentation. Curious about what happened to complicate my fantasy? Stay tuned for Part 2! Alternately (or in addition) please feel free to post your own theories and stories below in the comments.

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Instructional Design in Competence-based Education and its Challenge

Competence-based education (CBE) was initially developed in order to bridge the gap between the labor market and vocational and technical education and nowadays is utilized in interdisciplinary fields. Competence is defined as the ability that one person can effectively use both their knowledge and skills to achieve their goals. However, there is a challenge for instructors to design a CBE curriculum aligning with real-world learning outcomes, rather than a list of contents that students have to comprehend or memorize. After identifying a specific competence in a CBE curriculum, instructors decide the relevant knowledge and skills required for this competence. Then related activities and ways to assess student performance can be developed. In addition, instructors also feel hard to manage and customize any one component (e.g., skill, knowledge level, activity, assessment) in such a structural environment if there is no technological support.

Different from general learning management systems (e.g., Brightspace, Blackboard, Moodle) organizing contents in a topic or weekly base, Acrobatiq provides a platform that allows instructors to effectively organize and embed competence, knowledge, and skills used into a course. A skill graph can help instructors structurally see how competence, knowledge, skills, activities, and assessments can be integrated and can interrelate to each other (see Figure 1). According to these, contents can be developed (see Figure 2 and 3).

Blog 8- Figure 1

Figure 1. Skill Graph in Acrbatiq Platform

Figure 2. Content Design in Acrobatiq

Figure 2. Content Design in Acrobatiq

Figure 3. Assessment Design in Acrobatiq

Figure 3. Assessment Design in Acrobatiq

After students complete each component in Acrobatiq, the learning dashboard provides a large amount of information and data to know individual and overall student learning progresses (see Figure 4.). Instructors can check how students achieve the desired learning outcomes involving competence, knowledge, and skills and determine if any extra support should be provided to individual students. Also, this learning dashboard can give some information with instructors to revise or redesign some components in a CBE curriculum.

Figure 4. Learning Dashboard in Acrobatiq

Figure 4. Learning Dashboard in Acrobatiq

Posted in Teaching

Critical Media Literacy Conference: Two Awesome Sessions

Zombies. Megachurches. Soap Operas. Not your typical academic conference topics – unless, that is, you’re considering the broad field of cultural studies and critical media literacy. In this post I’d like to present a quick intro to critical media studies and then summarize two outstanding sessions from the Critical Media Literacy Conference I attended in Savannah, GA on March 26, 2016.

What is Critical Media Studies?

Critical media studies began in the late 1970’s as an – ahem – critical response to the dominant technology-delivery focused field of media studies. Cultural theorist Stuart Hall is generally considered the founder (and his research the foundation) of this critical subset of media theory. In general, critical media studies is concerned with the power effects of media/cultural products and producers on audiences and the ways that audiences accept, resist, and react to media. Importantly, critical media studies holds that there is no value difference between “high” and “low” culture. In fact, low culture may have more pervasive effects (both positive and negative) due to its ostensibly throw away nature and, thus, lack of serious critical concern.  More recently the field has focused on the dual subversive and corporate potential of social media.

Session 1: Sentimental Education: Intimate Citizenships and Pedagogies of Melodrama in U.S. Daytime TV, Mark Helmsing, University of Wyoming

According to Helmsing, soap operas use intimacy as pedagogy and offer 4 civic lessons in how to be a feeling person by providing models of how:

  • to pursue a less fragile form of living 
  • to seek a liberating truth and participate in a sense of civic belonging through the intensity of private feelings and public vulnerabilities
  • pain and suffering are universal, thus offering civic minded ideals of compassion while valorizing the private in public 
  • the political may be flattened in favor of the civic, thereby showing how change comes from within a person

Session 2: Neoliberalism, The Mega-Church, and the Individual, Diane F. Bishop, Cobb County Schools

Bishop conducted ethnographic research inside of one Atlanta-area megachurch. Based on her experience she argues that these organizations have nothing to do with religion but are neoliberal spaces that focus on the consumerist pursuit of happiness, entertainment, and value instead of truth.  The megachurch enacts this consumerism by:

  • constructing massive structures
  • targeting rich, white, middle class locations for better return on investment
  • building near consumer environments like shopping malls
  • using consumerist cues in architecture, decor, and marketing
  • erasing Christian imagery
  • reinforcing individual importance through consumables
  • creating an intense physical experience via spatial manipulation
  • creating fantasy spaces for kids and teens
  • designing upscale and efficient internet/social media spaces
  • reinforcing attendance through snacks and Starbucks gift cards
  • partnering with sister-church franchisees
  • hosting short term mission trips that reinforce colonialism and do very little for the “missionized”

Inside of Lakewood Megachurch : Auditorium

If you’re interested in this type of research I suggest checking out Cultural/Media Studies: Critical Approaches. GSU also offers critical media studies courses in several disciplines including Education and Film. 

 

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The Accidental Graphic Designer

In the era of digital media, there are a growing number of people not trained in the graphic arts, but who are called on to design infographics, invitations, charts, Power Points, flyers and any number of digital or printed artifacts for use in their daily lives. And faculty, in a wide variety of subject matter, find themselves looking at student presentations or their own teaching tools and wondering whether or not they should know more about the form all this work takes, and not just the content they mean to communicate. Living in the digital age means doing the layout for your webpage, creating documents and flyers or creating a visually appealing presentation for a classroom, often with no real training in the graphic arts.

It doesn’t take a course in design for people without training to understand that the design, typography and layout of something can influence the perception of or even distract from well-written, meaningful content. Typography in particular, which is normally ubiquitous, suddenly can seem mysterious when you are staring at a list of font choices and have the task of picking a font. How do you decide? Do you call a friend or co-worker and ask? Or do just revert to a safe choice, like the font a college professor required you use for all your written materials?

The truth is, with a little more information about typography, you can choose wisely.

The first thing to know is that you are correct in assuming that typography does come with embedded meaning within its form. Go back to a book of fairy tales from your childhood.

decorative. ornate lettersLook at those ornate letter forms that sometimes introduced a story. When you see certain letter forms it signals something about what you are about to read. In many respects typography can be viewed through a semiotic lens and ties directly to making meaning and meaningful communication. Understanding fonts as supporting the meaning of your content can help you select the right font for your needs. Often people who want to exercise prudence go with safe choices like, for example, Helvetica, Calibri or Times Roman.

 

Helvetica, Calibri and Times Roman typfacesThe first two choices are good ones. Helvetica is a classic font for a reason and has stood the test of time for conveying information. And it has ease of reading to recommend it. And Calibri, which is narrower and fits in a few more letters per inch of type, is in a similar category. Minimally, they don’t distract from your content and support a wide range of subjects for conveying information. Times Roman, on the other hand, might be the mainstay of the New York Times, but is much harder to work with if you don’t know your way around type design.

 

SerifsIn general, fonts with what are know as ‘serifs’, (those little additions to the letter shown here), are more challenging to format and layout properly. Additionally, they tend to read as less contemporary, unless people are conditioned to the context (like reading the New York Times) or they have been professionally designed. Even skilled typographers work harder using a font with these ‘serifs’ to design and layout a document.

Of course you’ll hear this is something of a subjective call, and a serif font font gives a kind of integrity to content (especially in an academic setting) and is easier to read on a printed page. This was once more of a ‘truth’, but less and less true in the digital age. The digital age has brought a simple, cleaner aesthetic to graphic design, which means (rightly or wrongly) the sans serif face will more easily give your typography a slightly more modern sensibility.

Finally, the best advice for ‘accidental graphic designers’ is to steer clear of decorative and ‘fun’ fonts without some training in design. Often the results go slightly sideways from your intended message and alter the perception of your content.

4_Sans_SerifIf you want to be more adventurous, look for those fonts classified as ‘sans serif’ and look to Futura, Franklin Gothic and Gill Sans. They can add more personality without altering how you content comes across. And for the web there is Source Sans.

Stay tuned for more about the world of type and working with fonts.

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Creating online student/class portfolios

What happens to an assignment after it is submitted by a student? More often than not the student is given a grade or maybe some feedback for revision. Students then move on to the next thing that will be graded. The previous submission is abandoned and this cycle continues throughout the semester leaving a trail of dead and forgotten assignments. While this approach has been the status quo there is a different approach. This alternate model is one that promotes both students and faculty.

 

Creating online student/class portfolios

Online portfolios don’t take a ton of effort to set up or maintain. A common platform used (but not the only one) is WordPress. The great thing about WordPress is that it’s free and there is training available through the CII. Students post their submissions to the class portfolio instead of directly to faculty. Faculty have control to review content before it goes live and an added wrinkle is that peers can easily review content and provide feedback as well. An added benefit is that students seem to produce higher quality work when they know it will be open to review by their peers and the public.

The online portfolio also creates a space that allows for different types of content to be utilized. Here is an example of a class portfolio that used Soundcloud (think Youtube but for audio) to host a collection of student created podcasts. Students researched topics, wrote scripts, recorded, and produced their audio submissions.

Dr. Molly Basset’s RELS 4080/6080 Religious Studies Class Portfolio:

https://soundcloud.com/religious-dimensions 

 

An assignment that may have ended with submitting a paper to the professor can instead live on. With more classes following this models students leave with portfolio showcasing their skills and accomplishments that can be leveraged outside of school. The portfolio approach does more than helping just students.

Faculty should also take advantage of the benefits of portfolios. Looking to share what’s going on in your course with peers? Or maybe you want to help give a potential employer insight into what makes you awesome as a faculty member. This can be done by creating a portfolio showcasing the what’s going on in your courses.  Check the link below to see an example that shows off student work from a variety of different assignments.

Dr. Brennan Collins Student Example Page:

https://brennancollins.wordpress.com/category/student-examples/

 

If you’re interested in more information on how to set up a portfolio, use it in your class, or would like to be connected with other faculty who already use portfolios come by the CII and we’ll be glad to help.

 

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Use of Social Media in Your Course

Social media has been widely utilized in teaching and learning. Doctor (2013) stated that the advantages that social media brings to education include easy communication, immediate information update, and high flexibility with a variety of devices (e.g., smart phones and tablets) for easy access anytime and anywhere. Social media broadly covers functionalities in networking, socializing, chatting, blogging, communication, and sharing (Aseifert, 2013). Dabbagh & Kitsantas (2012) stated that learners can create, organize, and share contents through social media. The following list includes a list of social media, but not all, and its relevant tools.

Category of Social Media Tools
blogging/ micro-blogging Blogger, WordPress, Twitter
bookmarking Pinterest, Diigo
wiki Wikipedia
media sharing Youtube, Vimeo
social networking Facebook
cloud-based Google tools (e.g., Drive, Site)

Current Use of Social Media

Social media has been used in different ways for effective teaching and learning. The following two examples comes from my former online course “Teaching with Technology” offered to pre-service teachers in a 4-year institution. The first example came from one face-to-face session in fall, 2011. The second example came from an online session (http://edit2000online.wix.com/summer2015) in summer, 2015 (see Figure 1). I also include some lessons I’ve learned to use these tools in face-to-face and online courses.

Blog Post 7- figure 1

Figure 1. Online “Teaching with Technology” Course

Facebook

A multicultural project was implemented in this course to promote cultural exchange and communication between U.S. and Taiwan college students. The entire project lasted one fall semester. Each student in Taiwan was paired with one student in UGA. Since there is a time-zone difference, Facebook was selected and used as a networking tool for students in Taiwan and UGA. Each week, the instructors posted the weekly topic in Facebook (see Figure 2). In addition to posting answers in individual blogs, students in Taiwan can chat or share information with their UGA pals in Facebook (see Figure 3).

Figure 2. Weekly Topic Question

Figure 2. Weekly Topic Question

 

Figure 3. Project Group in Facebook

Figure 3. Project Group in Facebook

Lesson Learned

Since students had to write down their answers in blog posts, Facebook simply became a space to chat and connect to each other. Some students even only post photos that they received gifts from project pals in Facebook without any further interaction. Thus, some interactive activities (e.g., sharing college story) are suggested to increase student engagement.

WordPress

WordPress has been used as a tool that students can share their ideas about technology integration using Universal Design Principle in Genius Hour Project. Students are offerd an opportunity to explore a topic that is of personal interest. Basically, students worked on different tasks every week and posted in WordPress. So in the third week of class, for example, students posted their tool selection to present their projects and its rationale. Also, they attached their rubrics in WordPress to evaluate their projects (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Project Post in WordPress

Figure 4. Project Post in WordPress

Lesson Learned

WordPress provides a bunch of ways for students to embed or attach their artifacts (e.g., youtube video, audio, pdf, etc). However, it may take a while for students to get familiar with the authoring and navigation environment in WordPress. Particularly, one session was offered in summer (a.k.a. one month). So students may be initially overwhelmed by the authoring tools in WorkPress and need to look for help or tutorials.

Posted in Contented

Cool Tools: Clarisketch

Overview

Have you ever needed a quick and easy way to annotate and explain a visual concept, plan, or process? If so, Clarisketch is a painless solution to all of your annotation needs. Here’s a quick (and silly) Clarisketch I made in about 15 seconds. 

Process

So here’s what the Clarisketch process looks like on my junky LG Dynamic II Andorid phone. You probably have a better phone than me.

Step 1:  Open Clarisketch and choose your media type

Clarisketch gives you the option of creating a brand new sketch without media (essentially a drawing), creating a sketch from a pre-existing picture that already lives on your phone, or creating a sketch from a picture that you take from within Clarisketch. I used the second option for the pie annotation video.

  Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-20-52

Step 2: Create your video

Once you select a media type Clarisketh automatically switches to annotation mode. One nice thing about the annotation mode is that no actual recording takes place until you start talking. You can see this in the screenshot below.

Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-37-11 (1)

You can see some of the other features below including:

Clarisketch screenshot: Pie with wedge drawn on it.

Drawing colored lines

Clarisketch screenshot: Pie with wedge drawn on it. Menu open with arrow and shape options.

Adding arrows and shapes

Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-37-58

Zoom

Erasing annotations

Once you get done recording just hit the record button again to stop the process.

Step 3: Share your video

If you’re happy with your results you can go ahead and share. The sharing menu is the standard 3-node graphic shown below.

Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-21-18

Once you click it you’ll see this screen:

Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-25-43

So yeah Clarisketch does force you to share your sketch on their site. Fortunately you do have control over whether your sketch is public or unlisted. Once you get done sharing to the Clarisketch site you then get a “Share via” screen with a ton of options. Woohoo! I used the Gmail option to send the video to myself before I embedded it here.

Screenshot_2016-03-22-15-26-01

If you like you can also visit your sketches on the Clarisketch website after logging in.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 3.34.25 PM

Platforms

Clarisketch is available for free on all Google-enabled tablets, Android smartphones, and Chromebooks. Although you can’t create Clarisketch videos on desktops or laptops you can watch them on all devices without downloading the app. Clarisketch also works in all browsers.

Tutorial

Here’s a quick tutorial explaining how to use Clarisketch if you need more details:

Examples

Here are two more Clarisketch examples to inspire you: 

Educational Uses

You’ve probably already thought of a ton of ways to use Clarisketch in your own classes. A few suggestions include:

  • Providing student feedback
  • Annotating graphs or other visual diagrams
  • Diagramming math problems
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