Archive for October, 2006

Pre-Assessing a Videoconference for Student In-Depth Learning

Most educators plan a videoconference. They determine what they will do during the videoconference such as educator A reads a book and then educator B reads a book. However, they have nothing against which to measure their plan to determine the quality of the learning in a videoconference. Perhaps if they had a way to determine the quality of learning for their videoconference, they might want to make some modifications to improve the quality of learning.

When I do professional development on videoconferencing, we do a videoconference and then we evaluate it. The follow represents a part of the pre-assessment. Unfortunately due to publishing restrictions (I just written a chapter on assessment in videoconferencing which has been accepted in a videoconferencing book.) I cannot show the whole pre-assessment.

Videoconference mini assessment


I find that whenever teachers pre-assess a videoconference plan at least a few weeks before a videoconference, they make drastic changes in the videoconference. They raise the quality of learning dramatically once they are aware.

Do you pre-assess the videoconference plan and, therefore, improve student learning?








A Shakespeare Play in English Class: Then and Now with Technology

I grew up in a text based school environment. We read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream word by word, line by line, page by page, scene by scene. I struggled just to understand what was happening, I usually did not get around to thinking about the themes of the play.

Today’s students can do many technology-infused learning activities.

Many of these technology-infused activities allow the students to be fully engaged and to be doing higher level thinking. Are English teachers in your school text based or technology based? You can use the first column as a check list. Teachers can help their students to better understand any play through technology.

Shakespeare with technology

Fun or Learning: Your Choice in Videoconferencing

I recently watched a videoconference between two elementary schools. During the thirty minute videoconference, the educators only asked one question (a prediction one) to the students. The educator accepted about three answers and then moved on; probably the students responded for a total of about thirty seconds. So 30 seconds out of 30 minutes x 60 seconds = 30/1800 = 1/600 = 1% of student time.

Did they have fun? Sure, they did. The two educators commented on the fun factor.

A recent math study revealed that fun is not necessarily connected to learning; in fact, the more fun students rated math, the worse they did in math. The USA was in the middle range on this.

I do not think that it is an learning and fun is an either or situation but we have to insure that learning is the priority.


LEARNING ………………………………………….




Professional Development Using Technology: From Dream to Disaster

A school district recently had training on podcasting. The attendees were all excited. Someone asked if she could create podcasts on the computers in her school. The school technician responded that her school did not have the most recent version of the software so she could not. Another teacher asked how many ipods were available and he was told it was up to the buildings to buy them. Another teacher asked where they were going to post the podcasts and the school technician stated that they had not worked on that.

No matter how exciting a professional development is, the school district must have the supports in place to support that particular professional development before the actual professional development.

These teachers are excited about podcasting but disillusioned about actually using it. Will they give up on it before the technology supports are in place in the far future?

What happens in your district?

The Power of Visuals to Persuade: An Inconvenient Truth and Teachers’ Images

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I realized how powerful his visuals were. His images showed the impact of global warming through charts and through simulations. As he was talking, I did not doubt him but I felt unconvinced. However, as I saw a simulation of the impact of global warming on icecaps and the potential flooding in areas like Florida, I saw the horrible possible future. I was moved. His images were convincing.


I wonder how powerful are the images that teachers use in the classroom? Are they compelling images? Do those images move students to new view points? To greater understanding? To more higher level thinking skills? Or do they just decorate a presentation?


What is your truth about visuals in your classroom? Can they convince students as to what winter is the Northeast is like?

YouTube Shows Bad Teaching

In getting ready for a presentation, I spent several hours on YouTube. I found some amazing things for use in a classroom such as other students’ or classes’ production of Shakespeare.

However, the thing that shocked me the most was all the cellphone videos taken of teachers. Almost all of these depict teaching at its worst – boring, off of topic, wasting time, etc. From the descriptions I sense that the teachers were not aware of being recorded. It hurts to see such “bad” teaching. Maybe if we are thought that we were being recorded then we would teach better.

Flickr Hints, suggests that “You can’t take pictures of people and post them on the web without theirpermission – at least, that’s the position in the UK.”

Flickr Third Party Links for Classroom Use

Here are some Flickr links that you might find valuable for using Flickr in education



FlickrLeech—see all of today’s thumbnails


Flickstorm sorts by topic rather quickly

Woophy Geotagged flickr

Airtight Interactive –See other tagging connections


Add Bubbles to a Picture or Series of Pictures/ See Archives


Flickr Tools Listing


Flickr vs Google: Educational Application Analysis

The following chart shows a quick analysis of Flickr vs Google for using in an educational setting.
At this time Google has more images but the last few pages of Google images probably contain many icons or non-instructional images. Flickr’s images are more realistic and better resolution but they contain more “see Juan at the falls” type images than Google. Flickr has a growing number of third party apps that promise to make it much more powerful such as geo-tagging in woophy. Which is better for the classroom? I would select Flickr.

Woophy and Flickr: Finding a Good Visual in Time?


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how long should a teacher or student search for a meaningful image to communicate an idea?

Yes, Flickr has a search engine.

Yes, Woophy searches Flickr through a map or a search.

There are a host of other searching flickr sites.

Flickr is a wonderful site that contain many images. However, the question still remains how long will a teacher or student be searching for an image?


I’ve been preparing a presentation on Visual Literacy and I’ve been using Flickr. I can verify that I have spent much time in finding the image that communicates the idea I want. For example, I want to give a quick overview of the geography of Mexico. When I search Woophy for Mexico, geography there are 102 images. Many of them do not show geography; for example, I see racing cars, models, traffic jams, a wall, etc. It is the search engine that is showing me geography or Mexico? It is that the pictures were tagged with geography? There is no way to see all of the images at once so I have to scroll down and see ten and then scroll to the next ten. Eventually I found what I needed but it took a long time. Do teachers and students have that much time in the classroom?

Time on Task: Minimal Computer Time Maximum Thinking Time For More Student Learning


A collleague observed many school groups in a museum and she noticed how little time they were actually on task.

I realize that educators can use technology to keep students on task. Students can be very busy when they are on the computer. I am unsure if we have measured how much time studens are engaged in actual content rather than the beautification of the presentation during a technology-infused learning project I am unsure if we have measured for how long students search for “just the right” image when the image does not add any new information to the digital report. I am not sure if we have measured how much students are off task even when they appear to be on task such as reading a website.

I have found that when students are given minimal time on the computer and maximum off-computer thinking time that their learning increases. I have done a one period research project in which groups of students had to give a one minute report on a certain topic at the end of the period. I gave them 10 minuteson the computer to find critical information and 20 minutes off the computer to organize the report. It was amazing that each month we did this project the students increased the amount of different information that they found even though they had the same time. They found much richer information. They were more focused and more on task when they were online so they learned more.

How do you maximize student learning that involves technology-infused learning?

Increased Student Accountability Through Eportfolio

Students select what they put in their eportfolio. They do not put in teacher prescribed activities but they select from many possible activities the one that best shows their progresses in the standard.

Students can include more learning examples than they would on a state benchmark or exam. For example, on the NYS 11th English Language Arts Regents there are only four different tasks.

Students can include more comprehensive examples. The teachers can have students include two examples for a specific subset of the standard.

Students can frequently review their eportfolio on a quarterly basis. They can examine what they have put in and what they might put in. Do they have a new example that is better than one they previously have put in?

Students can include insightful reflections that show what they have learned and what they still need to learn about the standard.


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