Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creating a Digital Portfolio

With the rapid growth of the internet it is impossible to avoid a digital footprint. It is also impossible to control the entirety of that footprint. But we do have input in how we are viewed by others through the internet. Part of this control comes through what we create as our own digital portfolio. I have put effort into keeping my professional and personal lives separate, especially on the internet. The reality is that there is a great deal of crossover. Some of my colleagues have become dear friends and even a few of my friends are now colleagues. My family is part of the community where I teach. But, the effort will continue.

I have also had to put forth additional effort to separate some of my professional development presentations from the work I do for my school and district. One of the steps that will help is the creation of my own web page for professional use. After looking at some samples portfolios on different websites, I chose to build a site using

My digital portfolio site

I used the free account and did not find that upgrading was necessary to create an attractive and clearly constructed site. It was far more difficult to decide what the content should be than to actually build the site. Editing a site is similar to creating a presentation in PowerPoint or Prezi. Some of the controls are different, but they are not difficult to figure out. I only used help once and found the answer immediately. There are many options for setting up and organizing pages. Creating buttons to link is simple.  Adding videos and images is easy. Sadly, I did not find a way to embed content like Glogster pages, but creating button with a link was simple. Over all, the building experience lacked frustration and I am pleased with the result.

Choosing the content for the site was more challenging. I tried to categorize what I do to create individual subpages that make sense. With classroom technology tools and flipped classroom there is some overlap so I had to make some choices to define the classifications more tightly. The variety of items I wanted to include on the page made it impossible to just use a template without a lot of editing. I can envision this being a site worth maintaining as my work with educators increases. I am already finding that I want to add additional subpages.

It was an interesting experience to look through a digital lens and see what others see when they Google me, check my school website, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. All of them represent a different view of my life. I will add my own professional site to the mix with this site. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Start to Finish DIY Webinar

Having watched and analyzed a webinar it was time to do my own.

I have attended a few webinars and presented two of them. I have given presentations that were live streamed for virtual conference attendees. Also, I am familiar with the process of planning and giving presentations and workshops. The experience of presenting via webinar is unique. You have an unseen but interactive audience. Putting this together takes more work than I realized. This week I had the chance to do it all myself. 

This week I tried to do it all myself. I planned the presentation, wrote the script and was ready to tell the story of implementing the 20% project in a classroom. The steps that were new started with picking the service for the webinar, scheduling and promoting the event, running the technology and moderating the webinar. All of these take time and would have been easier with a team of experts.

The service I chose was This tool has has a minimum plan that is free and offers basic broadcasting, screen share, a chat window for interaction and recording capability. It was not completely intuitive, but using their help tab was useful most of the time. It does have an event scheduler to help design a flier, share the event through social networks and will allow posts to the event. Software had to be downloaded to my computer to broadcast through the service. I realized during the first test run that it would take one computer to broadcast and another to monitor the webinar and chat window.  I grabbed another lap top and set up a separate event brilliantly called Test Run, but I did not understand the each event had a unique stream name. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why Test Run was not showing a broadcast, while everything else was working just like it had the for the first test. It turned out that I spent the whole frustrating time broadcasting through my 20% project webinar stream instead of Test Run. Yikes! I hope no one saw that crazy broadcast. Fortunately the early broadcast could be deleted and I did figure out how the chat window and record worked. So the technology portion was ready to go.

I picked a time in the evening, not realizing it was opposite Scandal. I wanted enough time to plan and practice, but I also wanted to keep it during the work week and Friday night I would be at the Allen Eagle football game. (The games are Texas high school football at its best!) I created a poster and sent it out through Twitter and Facebook as well as emailing my classmates in my Master’s Degree program. I sent reminders through Twitter up until the event. I did not want to over promote myself, but perhaps I erred by under promoting.

The night of the even, I set up early, sent out another reminder of the event through Twitter and crossed my fingers. I had an audience and the broadcast went without a hitch. I asked questions that could be answered in the chat window and monitored the window for questions. I had two people attend and we had some minimal interactions towards the end. My presentation was much shorter than I expected since there were not many questions to pause to answer. The recording was much longer since I set up early and it runs the whole time. (The video below has been edited to eliminate the wait time due to early log in.)

Now that I have gone through the process alone, it could be done in the classroom. I would try a different tool such as Google Hangout so that we could actually interact with a few people as well as broadcast and record. There are enough jobs to involve an entire class with many abilities and interests in the preparation and broadcast. There would be technology hurdles and internet safety issues to address before broadcasting from a class. I do believe the experience and learning would be worth the efforts of everyone involved.

20 percent project webinar from Kathryn Lanier on Vimeo.

Learning from a Webinar

I have been using video to teach in my flipped classroom for four years. Oddly, I had never considered teaching with a webinar until this week in my Master’s Degree program where the focus has been on webinars as a teaching tool. I chose a webinar about using flipped classroom methods in adult training, Extend the Shelf Life of Your Training: Lessons You Can Implement from the Flipped Classroom. This topic is interesting to me as I am transitioning from the classroom to working with teachers using technology.  With a dual purpose, I participated in the webinar.

Matt Pierce and Ryan Eash created an engaging presentation with beautiful illustrations and very little text. They conveyed their information with voice and engaged us with a variety of interactive features found in the webinar service, Blackboard Collaborate. There were many options for interacting including an interactive white board feature where comments could be added by the attendees. They did a good job helping the attendees find and use the tools like “thumbs up/thumbs down” and the text and draw, but some of it was still difficult to use effectively. The chat box was lively. The time only allowed for only some questions to be chosen for response.  With a large audience real conversation was unrealistic, but there were opportunities for feedback and assessing knowledge. One of the surprising benefits of the webinar format was when the presenters were covering information I already know, the history and basics of flipped learning, I could do other things and really listen when they were talking about how to use it with adult learners. I was not distracting others during that portion of the webinar by being visibly off task. I was able to access knowledge of experts by attending the webinar.

This access to experts could be helpful in the classroom. Often there are times when it would be more meaningful for students to see how the topic they are studying is used in the real world. When choosing my webinar I saw there is a great variety of webinars available and many are appropriate for involvement in the classroom. Review sessions via webinars would serve students who could not physically attend the session due to scheduling. The ability to record the webinar insures students throughout the day will get to see the same presentation, even if they cannot interact. I can also envision a group of students using a webinar as a way to reach an authentic audience to share results of a project or experiment. Like many technology tools, once you find one use and give it a try, others start to appear. 

Eash, R., & Pierce, M. (2014, October 9). Extend the Shelf Life of Your Training: Lessons You Can Implement from the Flipped Classroom. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Social Networking for the Quad Copter Project
My Scientific Research and Design (SRD) students have been given an unusual opportunity. We have been challenged with choosing and building a quad copter that is capable of taking pictures. This is the largest project we have undertaken thus far. We will have to plan, divide the responsibilities, track progress and continuously communicate. We will also need to communicate with our industry experts who have volunteered to help us be successful. Social networking web tools will be a key to accomplishing our task.

We have started the planning stage of this project. The first step is learning about quad copters and the physics of flight. For efficiency, students need to share the resources and information they find as well as comment on their contributions. Each student is expected to contribute at least one link or relevant information to a Padlet page. This will give students an engaging platform for sharing information and allow me to evaluate the relevancy of the resource and give credit to students when they contribute. As more resources are found, additional pages can be set up to keep things organized. We are also doing some self-evaluation in the class to see who has some of the skills we anticipate needed and who is willing to learn others. To collect this information students are collaborating on a google document. Once again, everyone is expected to participate so that we can plan effectively.

We need to establish our essential questions for this project. Partners have been assigned to read an article and share what they have learned on large posters. After all students get an opportunity to review the posters we will use a google document to collect thoughts, create essential questions and a learning plan. Students will be asked to participate in an online discussion identifying what they believe to be an essential question and a possible way to find the answer. They must also respond to a classmate with a question or constructive comment. This could be accomplished with a collaborative google document or using Edmodo, we will be using Canvas learning management system for our discussion.

With questions established and plans made for learning we can choose our kit, divide into teams and start the learning while waiting for delivery. From this point forward, teams will be expected to continue contributing to the Padlet page. Additionally, each team will maintain a blog on Kidblog that all students and our experts can access. By recording updates, progress, learning and challenges each week everyone will apprised of the work each team is accomplishing. The hope is to compile a class blog to share with the public each week.

This is an exciting project and by using web tools to network we will be able to more effectively communicate with each other, the experts and the public. Students will know what is being done by everyone in the class and can help each other solve problems. Our experts can track our progress without leaving their workplace. There may even be an opportunity for a Skype, or similar video phone, session with our experts if school technology allows. Improving communication through social networking web tools will help this project progress smoothly.

Twitter Challenge - Build Your PLN with Imaginary Friends

This week my course work included a social networking challenge. Every day I had to follow 50 new people and tweet at least 6 times. I have been hesitant to increase the people I follow since I do not get around to reading the posts from the 300 people I was following already. But a challenge is a challenge, so now I am now following 671 people. Most of the people I follow are educators focusing on educational technology and flipped learning.

I am an active participant in the #flipclass chat. The chat is weekly on Mondays at 7 PM Central Time and is an energizer for the week. Each week in an honest, reflective and helpful way, ideas are exchanged, questions are asked and answered and best practices are analyzed. The topic of the chat changes each week and new people are welcomed into the discussion. This chat goes by fast and is one that I look forward to every week. To keep up with the chat I use Tweetdeck, and Twitter on my laptop and my phone to keep up with notifications. All of that technology is not necessary, but it helps me until I get better at using Tweetdeck. 

In the spirit of the challenge I added two additional chat to my list, #iteachphysics. This was the first time I had been part of the chat. Participants were active and honest. The focus this week was standard based grading. It appears that this chat will be similar to #flipclass with teachers who are trying to improve their practices for their students. #oklaed was talking about flipped learning, so I hopped into that chat. I was able to answer some questions and have a great discussion about flipped learning with low tech schools. I had hoped to find other chats so I checked @cybraryman's web site.  Jerry Blumengarten keeps a schedule of chats for educators. He also has other great information about building a professional learning network and some superstar educators to follow.

Following 50 new people each day seems excessive, but it turns out to be easier than I thought. I did not want to just randomly follow new people. I started by following people from the chats that I had interacted with. Then I looked at who some of my favorite tweeps follow and added them. Each time I followed someone more suggestions popped up. I am sure I missed a few by clicking too fast, but they will pop up again sometime. I already had some of the superstars from Jerry Blumengarten, but I used the opportunity to add a few more to my list. I added others by searching on topics that are of current interest such as #PBL and #edtech.

This challenge had some interesting results. I was checking my feed more often. I have a new source of collaboration and guidance for my class that is currently building a quad copter. Many people are sharing their blogs and other interesting articles they have found. Without seeing the tweets about articles pass by I might never have read the timely information that was right at my fingertips at a convenient time. Articles I want to read when I do not have time can be marked for reading later. I made some new connections and time will tell where they go. 

I fondly call the people I interact with through twitter imaginary friends, most people call them tweeps. Since starting to use twitter at the Flipped Learning Conference in 2012, I have had the honor to meet some of them and build real friendships. Even if we have not met yet, we still learn together and work to improve our methods for our students. I look forward to building my professional learning network
and making new imaginary friends.

Blumengarten, J. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2014, from Cybrary Man's Educational Web Sites: