I wrote a post a couple months ago about creating videos for your class using well-known programs such as Camtasia or Jing. An even easier idea though is using videos already created by others to enhance your lesson, content, or classroom. One of the most frequent video sites I use in my classroom is YouTube. Just in the last four to five years, YouTube has progressed from being a site where people upload funny videos of their kids or pets to a valuable resource where one can find videos with tutorials and lessons (as well as funny clips of course). Honestly, almost every topic I have ever covered in class, I have been able to search YouTube and find a video relevant to my lesson or discussion.
Since we are teaching in the Digital Age, it is relevant to incorporate multimedia presentations in our lessons, which is what most educational YouTube videos provide. In addition, today’s students relate to videos, and if students can relate and connect to the information, then they are more likely to remember it. Furthermore, in the last two to three years, I have discovered many textbook authors or publishers are uploading videos to YouTube to offer additional resources related to their textbook. If you want more ideas of how to incorporate YouTube into your classroom, check out this blog post by Edudemic.
I will leave you with this YouTube video offering ideas for using YouTube in the classroom:
Have you seen these funny square images before? If you didn’t know, these are called QR codes. Usually they are not seen on computer screens though as they serve a similar purpose to hyperlinks, which are easier to use when already on a computer. However, these images are becoming more popular on print sources, from posters to books to advertising to labels for clothing or food. (The QR code above is a link to my Google site with my Twitter research.) Watch this video below for a more detailed explanation of what they are, if you do not already know.
So how can QR codes help in the world of education? Think of how many times you have given students a website to check out after class. Many don’t end up checking it out because they lost the paper with the website, incorrectly typed in the web address, or thought it was too long to bother typing. If you had a QR code image, they could just scan it with their phone. Then they could easily take the link with them (or bookmark it on their phone). Or, in college, many of our students arrive to class early. If you have a sign-in sheet as I do, then you could have a QR code with a link to a website, Prezi, or video that could help them review the previous lesson or prepare for the upcoming one. I have noticed many of my students just play on their phones until class starts anyway. These are just two ideas, but the possibilities are endless, especially in a face-to-face learning environment.
Personally, I foresee these will become a feature in printed textbooks to provide students with video explanations to content or additional practice. I know our society is shifting towards e-textbooks, but I think it will be another 20-30 years before we find all classes and textbooks have made that transition. In the meantime, I think QR codes printed in textbooks could provide more of a e-text feel for publishers and books who have yet to make the transition.
So how do you get started? It is quite simple actually. Read this post for 4 easy steps. After reading it, it will take you only a minute to create one. Really.
Using Google Sites is a fairly easy way to create a website, without really needing to know HTML or other code. It is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) format, which makes its use accessible to the average person. I was introduced to Google Sites in a graduate class I took a few years ago. Our instructor had us create a Google site page to “house” the various projects we created during the course. In the end, it provided each of us ultimately with a portfolio that displayed all of our work, given us easy access to it, as well as visually pleasing way to present to others (should we choose to share it for professional purposes).
Now, for another graduate course I am enrolled in, I have utilized this platform again to showcase my research on Twitter in a more digital format that can be accessed by many. This research project is still a work in progress, but for those who are interested in viewing it, you can check it out here. I find it easier to make Google Sites look like a website as opposed to a Word Press blog. However, I have heard you can make the blog look like a website, so perhaps, I need to investigate that more to make a fair comparison.
For those who would like to know more about how to begin creating their own Google Site, I would recommend reading these directions to help you get started. In addition, there are several videos out there to help you create the site. I suggest starting with this video. You can find additional videos by that same person, or similar videos created by others, on YouTube.
I read an article for my Computers and Composition class this week entitled, “The Ethics of Digital Writing Research: A Rhetorical Approach” by Heidi McKee and James E. Porter. The article opens with three possible ethically debatable situations. I am including two below to give you an idea of what was discussed:
“A teacher-researcher conducts a case study of several students’ remediation of genres in
the multimedia compositions they created for class. When presenting his research at a
conference, he shows, with his students’ permission, the complete video files for
students’ digital autobiographies. In these digital autobiographies, students incorporated
photographs, videos, and sound clips of friends and family members — and, in some
cases, the family members are providing sensitive personal information about their lives.
While the researcher has the permission of the students who created the multimedia
compositions, does the researcher have any ethical responsibilities to the “third parties,”
the family members represented aurally and visually in these digital works?
A researcher studying young adults’ Web blogs notices that several blog writers have
expressed suicidal feelings. Because she does not know the names or emails for many of
the authors, she decides not to try to direct people toward resources for help as she would
had students written such disclosures in, say, a live, face-to-face forum such as her
classroom. When encountering distressing information like suicidal tendencies in texts on
the Internet, what ethical actions, if any, should a researcher pursue?” (McKee and Porter 1).
As soon as I read these situations on the opening page, I was hooked. As I read these, I thought, “I see both sides of these issues.” It awakened me to the idea that like most things in life–using technology for research and educational purposes–is not so black and white. Often, there are no easy answers as to what is acceptable. Throughout the article, they referenced these two situations again in more detail. In the latter one, the researcher did not attempt to gain the name of suicidal blogger until much later in her study, but it was too late. The researcher received an email back that informed her the blogger had committed suicide (McKee and Porter 8). When I read that, my heart sank. I am sure it devastated the researcher. This was not someone she knew personally, but still, she saw the signs and reacted too late. That is a complex situation that occurs regularly on the internet, perhaps even in every day life. What if we see troublesome posts, but we do not really know the people? Are we obligated to get involved and try to help?
The first situation mentioned above was addressed later in the article. They discussed how this researcher was working with multimedia projects that students created. These projects contained pictures and videos not only of the students themselves but also of their family and friends. The researcher had obtained the necessary signed consent of the students, but she did not have the signed consent of these third party people. Unfortunately, when she realized this in the almost-publishing stage, it was two years later (McKee and Porter 22). What should she do? That is situation I am sure that happens a lot, especially in multimedia. She decided to blur the images of the images of the third party people. Sounds like an easy decision, but how many people would have even thought about that or considered it?
These are only two situations; however, they make me aware that anytime technology is involved–whether with students in a class or “subjects” for research–much thought is needed about your personal responsibility with interactions between people and technology. It is not cut-and-dry or black-and-white. Failure to consider the many sides of potentially complex situations can leave one with regret. On the other hand, to just say, “Well, I just won’t use technology then.” is not really an option either in this digital age. That is just a stick-your-head-in-the-sand approach.
So before you begin your next research study or technology project with your class, pause for a little bit and ask yourself, “What are my ethical obligations to these people? What permission should I obtain? What should I inform them about ahead of time?” To some extent, as is true in most of life, I think the Golden Rule can help guide you–Treat others how you would wish to be treated yourself.
I wonder, “Why? Why don’t teachers, especially college teachers, use technology to enhance their teaching and instruct students in a way they process information?” It seems many teachers still instruct students the way they learned 30 or 40 years ago, which consists mostly of lecture and individual practice (aka worksheets or textbook practice). I have noticed this inability to recognize the need to change teaching styles is prevalent in college–well, at least at the college where I teach. However, I suspect that attitude is widespread among many higher education faculty. The part I struggle with is why. Do these professors not see a need for it? Or is it too much extra work (especially for those who have been teaching their courses for years)? Or is it a lack of knowledge? Do they really not know that so much of this technology exists? I have reflected on this topic from time to time throughout my teaching career. The last two years teaching at the college has led me to ponder these questions even more, as I notice the general apathy, and sometimes disdain, among faculty towards teaching with technology. Of course, they use projectors and PowerPoints, but that is almost a 20-30 year old practice itself. These last two years I have heard all three reasons speculated above as answers. Even this week, I was amazed when one of my colleagues asked while we working together if I had a flash drive to save our work. I responded with, “I save almost everything on Dropbox and my hard drive.” She countered with, “Dropbox. Never heard of that.” Having interacted with this woman many times, I sincerely believe she does not realize there is such a concept as saving things “in the cloud.” Part of me wants to believe she is the minority—the anomaly—but deep down, I know that is not the case. I will leave you with this video we viewed in my Computers and Composition class at the beginning of the semester. It’s thought-provoking.
A few weeks I was faced with a challenge: how to create something online that would grade students work for a placement test for a new modularized course plan we are trying. I knew there had to be programs out there would that allow students to input answers and grade it for me. And there were–plenty actually. Since I love Google docs already, one idea I really liked was using a Google Form and then using a Flubaroo script to have it auto-graded. Here is a written explanation of how to do this, as well as this video demonstration I stumbled upon on YouTube.
Unfortunately, that did not quite fulfill my needs, as I needed three separate scores dependent upon the answers to certain questions; however, I saw the immense value this Google Form self-graded tool could provide to a teacher. It allows you to type explanations in the comments, so it can provide a chance for students to learn and self-remediate while taking the assessment. It allows those who have access to computers (such as a portable or regular computer lab) an easy way to assess students and provide them feedback a quick manner, as well as make the job of the teacher easier because it is graded automatically.
For those curious, I did find a workable (not perfect but doable) solution for my situation. I used the Google Form I created to take the test with the correct answers. That then become the first line of my spreadsheet. After I created color-coded conditions upon each answer column related to the correct answers. So if students answered question 1 correctly that column turned blue, if they answered question 2 correctly it turned green, and so on. I did that for all 18 questions varying the color-coding based on the type of questions.