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21
Jan

Helping Out the Kindle Classroom Project

Over the past 5-6 years I’ve met lots of interesting people at conferences across the country and online via Twitter. And through this I’ve curated a very nice professional learning network. I’m not sure where I met Mark Isero (Twitter and Google+) originally, but we’ve been following each other on the internet for a while. I’ve been impressed with his work in teaching young kids and now with helping faculty at his school in northern California. Mostly I love his idea to collect Kindles for students at his school through his Kindle Classroom Project. He describes:

The Kindle Classroom Project was created in late 2010 with the goal of offering a set of donated Kindles to lower-income, urban students to promote literacy through reading and technology.

IMAG0422This is such a cool idea, and I really wanted to participate by donating my Kindle. But I had a hard time parting with my beloved Kindle 3. I mean I have a laptop and an Android tablet, but I just love my Kindle 3 with red cover with a built in light for reading books. Even when I find myself touching the screen to try to turn the pages or reach the menu, it obviously doesn’t work that way, but I still love it. But I eventually convinced myself that helping Mark and his students out was more important, and it’s a good cause. Plus it’s time to upgrade my Kindle to the latest and greatest reader. 
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20
Jan

Catching Up on 30in30 – What is it?

If you’re a regular visitor to freshmancomp.com, you’ve probably noticed a LOT more posts recently. Well, don’t get too excited. I certainly can’t keep this up, but it has been fun trying to post everyday. I’m participating in a 30in30 self imposed competition. It’s nothing official that can be found on the internet, just a challenge for myself. The idea is to post 30 blog posts in 30 days. For the first 15 days, I did well enough to post one a day. But then school started and posting became a challenge. But I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. I just have some catching up to do.

I do a lot of reading of other blogs, and I really appreciate what others have to share with me and other teachers on the web. So I try to give back by posting about my experiences with teaching with technology. Often times I get stuck about what to write about. All my ideas seem so trivial to me. But I have to realize that what’s trivial for me, may not be so for others. So I’ll keep posting. I have to find a happy balance though. Going to bed every night and having that feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something is going to give me an ulcer, so I have set realistic goals for blogging in the future.

With 11 days left in January and 10 days left in my 30in30 challenge, I have 13 posts to meet my current goal. Piece of cake. However, when the challenge is over, I’m hoping to maintain a 2 times a week posting schedule. That should feel easy after completing this challenge. But if you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, be sure to post a comment to remind me of my goal. And if there’s anything you’d like to see here, let me know. I could use a few more blogging ideas.

 

18
Jan

Walk and Talk Wednesday at GCC

wtlogoIt’s so exciting to see some new learning opportunities coming out of our new CTLE on the GCC campus. On Wednesday we had the first Walk and Talk Wednesday. We had about 10 people meet up outside on a beautiful spring day in Phoenix to walk the 1 mile loop on campus and talk about teaching and learning. The first topic was tips on how we get students working and talking together at the beginning of the semester. At least I think that was the topic. (Oops!) I ended up talking about all kinds of things with four different people. I was certainly time well spent, especially since we made two loops and we got 2 miles in. I’ll have to remember to wear more suitable shoes next time, but other than that, I had a great time.

Here’s the description of the event in case you want to join us next Wednesday>

Where: between HT1 and Math (map)
Description: Too much to do and too little time? We wish we could have extra hours to exercise, spend time with friends, engage in professional development, or even just relax. Join us for a chance to do all of these things – Come to Walk and Talk Wednesday, an opportunity to take a break from grading and walk around campus with your colleagues discussing teaching issues. Meet @ the red umbrellas between HT1 & Math to start. If you miss the 2:00 pm start, we will be passing this point again at approximately 2:20. Join us then.
15
Jan

Is Anyone Else Confused by Google+ Gaucho Plus at GCC

gauchoplusConfused may not be the appropriate word, but I’m still trying to figure out . It’s strange. I’m following with my personal Gmail account on G+, but I get a digest of posts to my work Gmail account which doesn’t have G+ turned on. When I click the links in the digest, I get to Groups with no group because it’s my personal Gmail and not work. So it seems like it’s really just a Google Group and not G+ at all.

In addition, I hate digests in email. I have to deal with this with my Google Reader RSS feeds. The G+ digest only gives you a headline of the post and not the whole post, so I have to click through, which by the time I actually get to the news, I’m over it. I click the headline (1 click) and it scoots me down the page in the email where I get one sentence that says “So in So shared a post with you” and a More link. I click the More link (2nd click), and the post opens in a Google Groups window, but only after I go through the trouble of switching from personal Gmail Groups to work Gmail Groups. But that’s my problem for having a personal account. At the end of the post in Groups there is a pretty View Post button, so finally I’m going to get to G+, which is what I thought the point was. Read moreRead more

14
Jan

They’re Here! They’re Here! Finally

We’ve been talking about the so called Digital Natives and the Millennials being the tech generation for years. But I just haven’t seen them in my classes. My students have not only not shown an interest in technology, but often struggled with the technology I used in my classes. But not this semester. In the first class of the Spring 2013 semester, the Digital Natives showed up! Yippee!

First, while Cindy (Co-Teacher) was talking about critical thinking with the class, she asked what a word meant. I wasn’t paying attention (Ha!), so I missed the word, but the student sitting in front of me grabbed her phone and started “messing around” with it. I didn’t pay her any mind either until Cindy called on her. She took one last look at the phone and then apologetically said “I was looking it up,” and then recited her answer to the class. She thought she was doing something wrong, but I was secretly praising her. It wasn’t like it was a vocab word she was supposed to have learned before coming to class. It was a spur of the moment, what does that mean type of question, and she gave the answer. Nice work young lady.

ENGCRECircle

Our Learning Community Circle on Google+

During my part of the learning community class, I was teaching students how to get their Google+ accounts set up, and a student asked if she could get G+ on her phone, and if I knew how to get her school email to forward to her regular Gmail account on her phone. I think if I’d let her, she would have asked me how to do a bunch of other stuff too. We didn’t have time, but I was thrilled that she wanted to know, and thrilled that she is already thinking about managing her tech life. Read moreRead more

13
Jan

Bring Your PowerPoint Presentations to Life

I see a lot of online courses where the instructors have created lots of PowerPoint presentations that I’m sure they used successfully in their face to face classes, but those presentations in an online class are missing the most important element – the instructor. Stand alone PowerPoint presentations are just not as effective as a presentation done with slides, so instructors need to transform those slides into a nice presentation with voice included. We have to add the instruction back into the class.

There a many different ways to record your PowerPoint presentations. The most obvious is to use the built in tools in PowerPoint. But I’ve found that method to be overly complicated. The easy is to just record your presentation using a tool like Jing, but if your presentation is longer than 5 minutes or you need to edit the video, you’re out of luck. So unless you buy and use Camtasia Studio, Jing’s big sister, then you’re out of luck. But for this post, let’s go for a free web tool to help us.

knovio1Knovio is the tool of choice for this post. Of course it’s in beta. It’s a web 2.0 tool and it’s free.

Knovio™ is an innovative tool for turning PowerPoint® slides into rich video presentations with just a web browser and webcam. With Knovio, you can take static PowerPoint slides to a new level with video and audio presentations that can be accessed anytime on-demand and shared with others through email and social media.

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12
Jan

Presentation: Enhancing a Course with Audio Podcasts

On Thursday I did a face to face workshop in the CTLE at GCC on audio tools. This was a short 50 minute presentation with about 10 people in attendance. All the content is posted on my wiki, but I posted the main page below. Links should take you back to my wiki where you can learn all kinds of great stuff about teaching with technology.

Workshop Wiki: http://drcoop.pbworks.com/EnhanceAudio

Itinerary

  • Introduction – What is Podcasting? (5 min)
  • Examples of Courses Enhanced with Audio (20 min)
  • Demonstration of a few Tools (20 min)

 Google Voice

  • Use a Google Voice number with your students and you won’t have to worry about students having your phone number. They can call and text you during the times you want to permit that, and when you don’t, you have all the calls go straight to voicemail where you can read or listen to them later.
  • Google keeps a record of every call and text conversation you have with your students, and you can even record calls that you feel need to be recorded. Read moreRead more
11
Jan

Let Robots Read Your Blog Posts To You With Podcastomatic

As an online instructor, I’m always trying to find ways to reduce the amount of reading my online students do in my class. I’m not trying to eliminate reading, but I do feel as if some online classes are all about reading and writing, and there isn’t much media to break that up. It also doesn’t take into consideration the different learning styles. Some students are accustomed to learning from listening or watching an instructor. So I mix it up by providing a weekly podcast and lots of video lessons.

While reading my RSS feeds this afternoon, I came across a post on the Free Technology for Teachers blog titled Podcastomatic Turns Your Blog Posts Into Podcasts. That sounded interesting, so I thought I’d try it out with my blog, and it works fine if you don’t mind listening to a robot for a few minutes.

Screen shot 2013-01-11 at 8.56.05 PM

I clicked the link that the site provided for subscribing to the podcast, and my iTunes opened on my computer and downloaded my podcast. Now once I post any new blog post, I presume Podcastomatic will pick it up and deliver it to my iTunes. We’ll see about that. You can see below that it brought in my last 10 posts into my iTunes Podcast list. Read moreRead more

10
Jan

How Do You Check for Website Validity and Plagiarism?

I got a question yesterday from a colleague about checking website validity. I wasn’t sure I understood the question that was asked, so I’m not sure I answered it correctly. She asked: Is it possible that we could learn more ways to “clear” websites as to content validity. I took this to mean that they wanted to be able to run website content through a plagiarism detector to see if the site was using content without properly citing it. I had heard of a few tools, so I shared the following.

We used to be able to run text through the plagiarism detector in Bb, but not any longer now that we’ve moved to Canvas. We should have a new district wide plagiarism detection tool by the end of this semester or summer, so there could be a way to have students check text using this tool once we get it. There are also a few online plagiarism detectors. I haven’t used them yet, but I may this semester.

I think the last two get at what the questioner was asking, at least I hope. If you’ve used any of these plagiarism tools, leave me a comment to let me know how it worked out for you.

9
Jan

Making Online Lit Classes Work – The Secret Sauce

I’ve been teaching online literature courses for four years now. My lit of choice is ENH295: Banned Books and Censorship. I’m still scarred from traditional American and British lit from college, and those courses were already in the capable hands of my colleagues who also teach literature online at GCC. So I went for Banned Books. Makes me feel like a rebel or something, but I like it and the students seem to as well.

Many often wonder how we make online literature courses work when the core element in the face to face class is discussion. We read, analyze and discuss. Well, we also have to write, so moving a course like this online is quite simple actually. We use discussion forums and blogs. This was problematic in the past with our LMS, so I moved the course over to a WordPress blog years ago. I’ve since moved the core content back to our new LMS Canvas, but the blog still remains a central part of the online course. I only moved the core content back for a secure gradebook. I was always nervous about having my grades in the cloud of a non-approved web service in past.

So let’s talk about this blog and how it works for the online lit class.

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