My summary of learning for 509 addresses the two critical questions for the course:
1. How can you select emerging technologies which fit your developing philosophy of education?
2. How can you inspire, initiate and implement sustainable integration of emerging technologies in your own practice, and in the practice of others?
I chose to sketch out my own “mind-map” for the first critical question. After struggling with technology tools for mind-mapping, I could not come up with the vision I had in my head. If this was something I was going to refer to and pin on my office wall, I wanted it to visually represent my thinking. In this case, the use of a technology tool did not fit my goal (a good reminder not to use a tool just for the sake of including technology).
To answer the second critical question I created a poster using Glogster. This tool was a graphic way of presenting my ideas and it also enabled me to embed a video to further illustrate my points. Glogster is one of the presentation tools I will introduce to my students as tool to showcase their learning.
This course allowed me to explore emerging technologies that I might not have considered using in my teaching. I have a new appreciation for eBooks and have already used them as a teaching tool this term. Before OLTD 509, I honestly did not acknowledge the creative use of tablets for education. By exploring the limitations of the tablet during our seminar facilitation week, I found by the end of the week I had completely embraced all of the tablets’ strengths. I will be a proud owner of an iPad Air by next week!
By far, the greatest learning for me in this course was being able to re-evaluate my own teaching philosophy and create a mindset on how to include emerging technologies into my teaching practise.
My first reaction to being in an eBook seminar was to say the least, lukewarm. To begin with, I was old school and cherished books, real books that had pages to turn. My brother gave me his old Kindle last year and it still sits in the box. My romantic notion of books seemed to override what eBooks had to offer. I thought of switching seminars, if it was possible, into another seminar that was more intriguing like wearable technology or virtual worlds. But, after more thought, (and how could I put a wrench in my professors ‘artfully engineered seminar schedule?). I decided to leave things as they were and trust I would be enlightened and, not only learn how eBooks are impacting education, but also how eBooks might be an emerging technology that could become part of my teaching practise.
My pleasant surprise came half way through the eBook seminar week when I stopped defending books and began to experience a new version of reading. Interactive eBooks range from learning all about wildlife in WWF Together to a voice- activated cookbook called Mind Watering-Cook & Look. Imagine being able to get your hands messy mixing dough and never have to touch the recipe book with gooey fingers! Or how about Bridging Book , an “engage” book that has both digital and printed versions that synchronize together for a new reading experience? It is no wonder why Greenfield, author of If Kids Are Our Future, Our Future is eBooks, predicts that the eBook revolution’s next wave will be led by kids. According to Digital Book World, “When it comes to e-reading, children truly are the future.” Knowing kids are engaging with eBooks more and more each year as technology continues to enhance their reading experience, should signal to educators that eBooks are an emerging technology that needs to be explored.
My week of exploring eBooks ended with the task of publishing my own eBook. I still had access to an iPad so I naturally chose iPad apps for story creating. I tried out two iPad apps for creating eBooks, My Little Star Story Creator and Little Story Creator. Both of these apps were very easy to use and had a clean look to them. I added voice overs and could choose colourful backgrounds to match my images on each page. My choice for content for making an eBook was a natural one. I was introducing my Creativity Square project to my art 9-12 class. In keeping with my class theme of “We Are All Creative Thinkers”, my art students last semester were asked “What is Creativity?” The whole class brainstormed ideas and each student was then required to create a composition depicting what creativity meant to them. The project had such amazing results, I wanted to reintroduce it to my new art students. When I knew I had to create an eBook, I immediately thought, what better way to introduce the project than with an eBook ? I took photos of the creativity squares with the iPad and easily uploaded them into the eBook. Everything about creating the eBook was simple; the only tough part was choosing which images to add ! The major glitch arrived when I realized I had no way of exporting the eBooks off my iPad to be viewed online as they were created. The only way I could share them was play the book on my iPad(which I did individually for my art class) or email them to myself in a PDF form, which I have included in this post.
I decided to research other ways to create eBooks on my laptop. I found a great website by Richard Byrne which reviewed the two tools I chose next to experiment with: Youblisher and simplebooklet . Youblisher turns any PDF file into an online magazine that even adds page turning affects. This was perfect for my eBook that I had just emailed to myself in PDF form. I created a simple book, but I saw great potential for using Youblisher for English and History courses with the creation of online magazines. This would be an excellent tool for demonstrating student learning at the end of a unit. Simplebooklet allows you to make a variety of web booklets. I created a simple flipbook that was straightforward and easy to use. The only visible drawback was the free version only allowed ten booklets and advertising was embedded throughout the book. Certainly, I would choose to purchase the tool if I were to use it regularly in my class( only ten dollars a year for a teacher account) . Simplebooklet also allows the user to upload a PDF file and have it customized into a web booklet that could be used for flyers, brochures and newsletters. In no time at all, my eBook on “What is Creativity?” was easily created using the basic uploading of images and adding text. The finished eBook can be shared by email, social media sites, websites and blogs.
My “lukewarm” beginning to the EBook seminar ended with a very enthusiastic response to using this emerging technology in my classroom. EBooks promote engagement to student learning which fits perfectly with my teaching philosophy that education is interest. Students who are engaged are interested and motivated to learn. My work with Inquiry-based learning and self-directed learning is successful due to student choice and freedom to demonstrate their learning in various ways. EBooks present one more tool to add to my emerging technology use that will increase engagement and provide a creative way for students to demonstrate their learning.
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. If Kids are Our Future, Our Future is Ebooks. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2013/01/31/if-kids-are-our-future-our-future-is-ebooks/
Greenfield, J. Jan 2013. More than Half of US Kids Reading Ebooks, New Report shows. Retrieved from http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/more-than-half-u-s-kids-reading-ebooks-new-report-shows/
Byrne, R. Create Your Own Ebooks. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite/ebooks-and-audiobooks/create-your-own-ebooks
My eBooks in simplebooklet and Youblisher
Game On! Gamification Gaining Interest in Education
My reasons for choosing gamification as an interest for one of my seminar weeks in OLTD 509 was due to the fact I really did not know much about it. I knew gaming was a huge industry and many of my students and my own children are engaged in online gaming. I knew of educational games as far back as the arrival of computer games such as SimCity and my children’s favourites, Math Blaster, and The Way Things Work by David Macaulay. But what exactly is “gamification”? Justin Marquis in his article, “The Trouble with Gamification, states “ At the most basic level, gamification is the integration of games into the curriculum.” Gamification sounds intriguing. Will gamification be the answer to engaging learners and increasing their 21st Century skills? As educators, are we doing all we can, as phrased by Marquis(2013), “to usher in a new era of interactive, engaging, and innovative education?”
My task for the Gamification seminar week was to immerse myself in learning through game play. I was fresh out of a tablet seminar and eager to explore another avenue of engagement using an iPad. My first gaming app I downloaded was called Quandary. In this game, players are starting a new colony on a distant planet and must deal with ethical issues and life challenges. Players develop the skills of decision making by being presented with a problem in the colony, like possible water contamination, and having to decipher what the facts, opinions and solutions are. Points are rewarded for identifying and understanding the difference among all three. The Colonial Council from Earth makes the final decision based on the players’ information given. Quandary has a science fiction theme with three episodes that take about 30 minutes each to play and has eight possible outcomes for every episode. It is geared for ages 8-14. The positives for the game are: works for individual, group or paired players, players make decisions that impact other’s lives, no right or wrong answers, opens up avenues for deeper discussion, encourages collaboration and critical thinking skills, creative aspect in that avatars can be designed by players . As I played the game, I realized the potential right away for group discussion and the power of working through ideas with others. I had to think through and listen to all viewpoints to make a decision on what solution might be best for the colony. This game could easily work as a model to obtain skills that will transfer over to real life issues.
Other games I explored that may be useful in my teaching of Planning and Health and Career are Spent and Mike and Vicky. Spent gives each player $1000.00 to live on for 30 days. Each day life problems arise and decisions have to be made on what to spend your limited budget on. This is an excellent example of using gamification to engage students by allowing them to experience life’s expenses coming at them and at the same time having to make some tough decisions while they watch the account dwindle away in front of their eyes. I managed to get through the month with $30.00 left over, but I have a great deal of life experience behind me to support my ability to make tough choices. I am eager to try this game out not only to see their end accounts, but to have discussions on their tough decisions they had to make. Mike and Vicky is an interactive storyline involving choices about alcohol, drugs and the consequences of those choices. Players choose an action and the game takes them through a scenario with more choices to be made as the evening continues on. Each choice has a separate series of events that occur, just as in real life, except in this game it allows you to go back and remake choices and in real life it does not work that way. While I was not attracted to the graphics of the game, I did like the interactive aspects and the range of choices available to players. The game also stops and makes a point to ask “what just happened here?” and “ How does it feel to be responsible?” Messages called Fast Facts outline for players exactly what being responsible looks and feels like. Both of these interactive games have the power to engage learners in new ways and can be a great start for educators to begin gamifying their courses.
David Hunter, a geography teacher in middle school, began gamifyng his course by introducing to his curriculum “Zombie-Based Learning: Geography Lessons Set in a Zombie Apocalypse”. Aidan Mullaney (2013) describes how David decided to integrate the entire concept of zombies into his own teaching. Hunter’s class is primarily project based functioning similar to the way a game works, including explicit tasks, consistent feedback, and a single theme: zombies. Not only is this an example of how to gamify a course, it also begins a trend to create innovative ways to engage students and change the way curriculum is being designed.
Justin Marquis in his blog, 5 Easy Steps to #Gamifying #HigherEd, expresses that adding gamificiation elements to your teaching can be fun. According to Sean Slade (Strauss,2010), “Fun implies that you are teaching the students to enjoy the subject you are teaching so that they will want to learn. Fun in this sense is not entertainment or silliness. It is enjoyment of the learning process.” I see gamificaion as a way to bring fun into teaching in new and innovative ways. We are just beginning to see the impact gamification is having on educational practises. Marquis(2013) encourages educators to take simple steps first. Get your “Game On” and just maybe as Marquis(2013) states, “You will find that your teaching gets a refreshing update that makes it more enjoyable for you and more effective for your students.”
Marquis, J. July, 2013. Five Easy Steps to #Gamifying#HigherEd . Retrieved from http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/2013/07/5-easy-steps-to-gamifying-highereed/
Mullaney, A. June 2013. How to Teach and Engage Students with …Zombies. Retrieved from http://www.gamification.co/2013/06/28/how-to-teach-and-engage-students-with-zombies/
Strauss, V. June 2010 Why Fun is important in learning-Part 2. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/why-fun-is-important-in-learni.html