Moving at the Speed of Creativity http://www.speedofcreativity.org Weblog of Wesley Fryer Thu, 23 Jul 2020 12:30:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Media Literacy Conversations About Conspiracies and Culture Wars http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/23/media-literacy-conversations-about-conspiracies-and-culture-wars/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/23/media-literacy-conversations-about-conspiracies-and-culture-wars/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2020 12:27:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14081 @wegotwits) which we have titled, “Conspiracies and Culture Wars.” Tuesday Brian and I shared a 60 minute virtual workshop together about this project and its topics at the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy, [...]]]> The past two months I’ve been working on a media literacy project with fellow educator and colleague Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) which we have titled, “Conspiracies and Culture Wars.” Tuesday Brian and I shared a 60 minute virtual workshop together about this project and its topics at the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy, and last week I shared the opening keynote at the Mountain Moot virtual conference focusing on these issues as well. In this post I want to share the recorded videos from both presentations, as well as some resources and observations from our approximately five hours of combined YouTube planning and brainstorming sessions. Our project resources (including all these videos on YouTube) are linked on medialiteracy.wesfryer.com/concw.

The opportunity to share a conference presentation or workshop can be a good catalyst for organizing and clarifying ideas around a topic. For the Mountain Moot keynote, the audience was a diverse group of K12 teachers, university faculty, online content and course developers, school administrators, virtual learning and instructional technology specialists, and vendor representatives. I wanted to share ideas about our need for more robust media literacy skills in an increasingly hostile information environment, “polluted” with disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation. Those are the terms scholars Whitney Phillips (@wphillips49) and Ryan M. Milner (@rmmilner) use in their excellent April 2020 book, “You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape.” I explicitly encouraged educators in the presentation to NOT use the phrase “fake news,” which has become a political term today seeking to discredit the perspectives and value of the mainstream press, and even “give up” entirely on the ideals of objectivity and truth. As Brian and I discussed at the end of one of our brainstorming sessions for this project in June and July, we want students (as well as adults) to develop healthy “skepticism without nihilism.”

Here is the link to my Mountain Moot keynote video and presentation slides. The talk was 56 minutes and 12 seconds long. Thanks to my friend and colleague Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach), who introduced me.

For this week’s workshop on “Conspiracy and Culture Wars” for the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy (SIDL), Brian and I focused on more tools and classroom lesson ideas for teachers to use with students. These included the “Fact of Fiction: Apollo Moon Landings?” lesson which we initially thought might be the entire focus of our SIDL workshop as well as other tools like the “Misinformation Tools” offered free by the Indiana University Observatory on Social Media. We started a Google Slideshow (and here’s a FORCE COPY link we used with workshop participants) we titled, “Media Exhibits for Digital Forensic Analysis,” which includes a variety of media artifacts (tweets, Facebook posts, videos, articles, etc.) including disinformation, misinformation, or malinformation.

The steps for our workshop breakout activity were for participants to use this slideshow and:

  1. Use your web literacy / media literacy skills and strategies to “interrogate” these “media exhibits.” Use your best “digital forensics” skills.
  2. Document & SHARE your thinking. Add to a class media collection using Padlet, Lino, Google Slides, etc. Share on Twitter using #MediaLit #ConCW

Here’s the link to our recorded SIDL workshop video, as well as our presentation slides. This video runs 53 minutes, 7 seconds.

I have gathered the four brainstorming and planning videos Brian and I recorded in advance of our SIDL workshop in June and July, as well as both these conference presentation recordings, in a YouTube playlist. I added both presentation videos to a larger YouTube playlist I’ve been curating for awhile, more broadly focused on “Digital and Media Literacy.”

All of these resources are aggregated on our “Conspiracies and Culture Wars” media literacy project website: medialiteracy.wesfryer.com/concw. We are continuing conversations today and tomorrow with other colleagues at SIDL, including a fantastic cohort of educators and community leaders from Brazil, about how this project will continue to grow and develop in the weeks and months ahead. We are discussing the possibility of offering a free, online course with monthly virtual meetups in 2020-21, and co-authoring a collaborative book. I hope to offer this as a high course (via MSON / the Malone Network) at our school in 2021-22. If you have any feedback or questions about these resources or this project, please reach out and let Brian or I know!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

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Podcast474: Brainstorming “Fact or Fiction? Apollo Moon Landings” Workshop and Lesson http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/podcast474-brainstorming-fact-or-fiction-apollo-moon-landings-workshop-and-lesson/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/podcast474-brainstorming-fact-or-fiction-apollo-moon-landings-workshop-and-lesson/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2020 01:16:40 +0000

Our conversations about media literacy, conspiracies, culture wars, and the Apollo Moon landings continue! The current generation of youth has been exposed to more conspiracy theories about the Apollo Moon landings and many other topics than any previous generation. What are we going to do about this as educators and parents? This is a serious media literacy challenge, and the project connected to this audio recording provides some answers to this question. This podcast is a recording of a livestreamed conversation between Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) and Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) on July 6, 2020, discussing a proposed workshop at the virtual version of the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy (digiuri.com) coming to a screen near you July 19-24, 2020. This is the part two of these shared conversations. Please refer to the shownotes of our podcast on speedofcreativity.org for links to part 1 of this conversation, our Google Doc with our developing resources, and more. The proposed title of this workshop and lesson is now something like, “Fact or Fiction? Apollo Moon Landings,” although this final title is still up for grabs. Wes has been invited to share a keynote based on these ideas at the upcoming virtual “Mountain Moot” July 16, 2020. (Register FREE to attend on mountainmoot.com) This project continues to be a “work in progress” and is being refined / expanded. We welcome your feedback. All project resources are available on medialiteracy.wesfryer.com/concw. Please use the hashtag #ConCW to share related resources! Thanks to our livestream viewers who shared great ideas and asked good questions in our StreamYard.com powered chat room during this broadcast.

Shownotes:

  1. Video version on YouTube (1 hour, 24 minutes)
  2. Part 1 of this conversation: Podcast473: Brainstorming About “Conspiracies and Culture Wars” with Brian Turnbaugh and Wesley Fryer
  3. Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits)
  4. Wes Fryer (@wfryer)
  5. Our Google Doc of project, workshop and lesson ideas
  6. Summer Institute on Digital Literacy (July 19-24, 2020)
  7. Mountain Moot July 15-17, 2020 (@mtmoot)
  8. SIFT Web Literacy Strategy (@holden)
  9. Noam Chomsky: The five filters of the mass media
  10. Project Website: “Conspiracies and Culture Wars”
  11. Project Twitter hashtag: #ConCW
  12. Lesson website: “Fact or Fiction? Apollo Moon Landings” (NOTE: This is a lesson under development and is not finalized!!!)

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Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

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Better Remote Learning: Focus on TIME boundaries, Expectations, and Simple Procedures http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/better-remote-learning-focus-on-time-boundaries-expectations-and-simple-procedures/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/better-remote-learning-focus-on-time-boundaries-expectations-and-simple-procedures/#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2020 14:23:35 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14074 Time” (Time by John-Morgan, on Flickr
Time” (CC BY 2.0) by John-Morgan

How much time do you expect students to spend on a particular assignment or project? How much time is reasonable for YOU to spend preparing an assignment? Both of these things should be bounded with specific time limits. Students need to know if they spend more than “X” of time (30 minutes, an hour etc.) they need to STOP and come back for help before continuing to “slog on.” The same goes for teachers. This past spring, we had some teachers spend unreasonably long blocks of time (multiple hours) creating SINGLE videos. This can not only be frustrating, it can also be a waste of precious time. Of course we can get better / faster with practice, but that is why instructional coaching and support is so essential. A few basic tips can save you hours of time.

In addition, it is vital as a teacher and instructional media creator to ABANDON expectations of media perfection. As a teacher, there is a minuscule chance you are going to become a YouTube star. Your students do not expect perfection and you should not either. In fact, as we learned last week in the MSON conference session on screencasting, small mistakes or little interruptions actually “humanize” your videos and can make them both more endearing and effective for your students. Please, please keep this in mind and try to embrace this approach!

Media creation tips and techniques, like the simple but effective strategies by Lodge McCammon (@pocketlodge), can be incredibly helpful. Check out this 44 second video by Lodge using a smartphone, ruler, cardboard box, hardcover book (as a counterweight) and rubber band. This is something everyone can do as a teacher.

More resources about Lodge’s “1 Take Video” methods are available and his resources for “The McCammon Method of teaching.”

I learned about Lodge and his excellent media creation methods years ago when I led 3 day “iPad Media Camp” workshops in the summers of 2012 – 2017. I actually found this link by going back to this July 2015 workshop curriculum for day two of iPad Media Camp, which focused on “quick edit videography.”

More resources about “quick edit videography” are on this website I maintain: showwithmedia.com/quick-edit-video/.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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An Important Conversation About Internet Trolls, Sharing Personal Information, Sexual Assault, and More http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/an-important-conversation-about-internet-trolls-sharing-personal-information-sexual-assault-and-more/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/08/an-important-conversation-about-internet-trolls-sharing-personal-information-sexual-assault-and-more/#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2020 14:06:57 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14072 This is from the podcast channel “Reply All,” and the episode is called titled “The Prophet.” So much here is so [...]]]> Yesterday I was able to have a lunch date with one of our kids, and on the drive to and from the restaurant we listened to this extremely important but also distressing podcast. This is from the podcast channel “Reply All,” and the episode is called titled “The Prophet.” So much here is so important for us all to understand, but especially young people as they share information online, meet strangers through dating apps, and live in our digitally connected times which can both be wonderful but also extremely perilous.

As a parent and a teacher, I recommend you listen to this 38 minute podcast first by yourself. Then consider if the age and developmental situation of your child is OK to listen to this together and discuss it. I recommend this only for high school and above. Topics addressed include sexual assault, Internet stalking, the damage wrought by Internet trolls, the potential consequences / perils of speaking out to stop injustice, and more…

Thanks to my friend and colleague Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) for sharing this with me in July 2019.

If you do this, please let me know and how it goes. These kinds of conversations are vital.

Cross-posted from Facebook.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Faster Home WiFi Via Ethernet Backhaul http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/06/faster-home-wifi-via-ethernet-backhaul/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/06/faster-home-wifi-via-ethernet-backhaul/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:56:15 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14060 now “Nest WiFi”) for over a year. See my March 2019 post, “Google Mesh Home WiFi Makes [...]]]> This past holiday weekend our son helped me with a home WiFi networking project I’ve been wanting to do for several months, and the speed benefits are wonderful! We’ve been using three Google WiFi access points (now “Nest WiFi”) for over a year. See my March 2019 post, “Google Mesh Home WiFi Makes our Internet Access MUCH faster” for background. However, only our primary Google WiFi access point (AP) has had a wired connection (it connects our cable modem compatible with our Internet Service Provider – Cox Cable, the rest of the APs connect with “mesh WiFi.”) The primary Google WiFi AP serves as our home router, sharing the Internet connection with all our end-user devices. Our weekend project was running ethernet wires across our house through the attic, so the Google WiFi AP in Alex’s bedroom and beside my COVID-19 “home office” has a faster, wired connection back to our home network hub. Previously, because of the walls in the way, we were never able to get a WiFi download speed over 100 Mbps in those rooms, even though we’re paying Cox for a theoretical max download speed of 1000 Mbps. After installing the “Internet backhaul ethernet connection,” we’re now seeing speeds around 250 Mbps over WiFi in those rooms! In this post, I’ll share some of the ways we completed this project together keeping costs to a minimum, and some lessons learned.

Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

First of all, let’s talk about the kind of Internet router you have at home and your WiFi access point(s). If you haven’t upgraded in the last 2-3 years, it’s time to upgrade. If you want to save money in the long run and have some technical setup expertise, I recommend buying your own router as well as modem instead of leasing one monthly from your ISP. As I explained in my March 2019 post about this, Google WiFi / Nest WiFi is fantastic. It uses “mesh technology” to make multiple radio channel connections between devices to speed things up, and it’s super user-friendly to configure and manage via the iOS or Android mobile app. It took a bit of Googling and YouTube video watching to figure this out, but it turns out you can plug in an ethernet backhaul cable to EITHER of the ports on the back of Google WiFi.

Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

After you plug in the cable, Google WiFi automatically makes configuration changes. The screenshot below of my Google WiFi app shows the “Bedroom (Guest)” AP has a “GREAT” connection after being wired… It wasn’t this good when we were just using WiFi / mesh because of structural attentuation in our house caused by the composition of the walls between that AP and our basestation AP.

Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you’re wanting to improve the speed and strength of your home WiFi network to handle MULTIPLE simultaneous connections (and with the likely prospect of at least some “remote learning time” for school next year, everyone with school-age students should be) your first step is to either upgrade to Nest WiFi or Eero WiFi. Then it may be time to run some ethernet backhaul wires, as we did, to make your connections even faster.

For the actual ethernet cable, I went with “Monoprice Cat5e Ethernet Bulk Cable – Stranded, 350MHz, UTP, CM, Pure Bare Copper Wire, 24AWG, 250ft, Green.” Why green? It was the cheapest. $25.69 for the 250 foot spool, $41.03 with shipping and taxes. You can go with CAT-5, CAT-5E, or CAT-6. All can theoretically handle 1000 Mbps ethernet connections. I went with CAT-5E because the cabling and the connections were slightly cheaper, and I thought CAT-6 might be overkill for our needs.

Monoprice CAT-5E Ethernet Cable by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Monoprice CAT-5E Ethernet Cable” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

In terms of pulling the actual cable through our ceiling and attic, I had to purchase an 18″ long, 3/4″ size “spade” drill bit to drill the holes we needed in the ceiling at both ends of our run. It’s been awhile since I ran ethernet cable… as the Director of Technology at our school for 4 years, I did help our network administrator (at the time) run cabling in a few of our buildings… and back in the early 2000s in Lubbock, Texas, in addition to running ethernet wiring in our home I also installed all the cabling in a dental office owned by some church friends. Cabling like this is not technically super-challenging, but the fact that outside air temperatures were in the high 90s Friday meant that our attic was probably around 110 degrees or hotter! So lesson learned, it’s always good to run your attic cabling BEFORE the heat of July hits in North America!

Monoprice CAT-5E Ethernet Cable by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Monoprice CAT-5E Ethernet Cable” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I’ve learned if you’re going to run 1 ethernet cable, it’s generally advisable to run at least one more cable alongside. That provides a backup, and you can often find uses for an additional hardwire connection. We ended up using some old rope to pull through with the first cable, and then after cutting the first run, pulled through a second line with the rope.

After you run your ethernet wire (and leave sufficient slack for termination) it’s time to punch down your wall jacks. Somewhere in our garage I have an ethernet cable crimper, but I could not find it last time I looked. So, at our nearby Lowe’s I purchased a “Legrand On-Q QuickConnect Phone/Data Punch Down” for $25, the “Legrand 5-Pack Plastic CAT5E Ethernet Wall Jack” bag for about $16, and two matching surface-mount covers. These connectors and crimping tool worked GREAT. I also purchased some surface-mount raceway to cover the cabling. I do know a few folks I might have been able to ask to borrow their networking crimping tool / gear, but it worked out great to just purchase these “Legrand” brand items at Lowes.

Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Now that the ethernet backhaul cable is installed, punched down and working, my last step will be to clean up our “corner cabling nest” where our cable modem and base station Google WiFi AP and router sit. The AP could function even better if it was higher in the room. I’ll get my wife to help out with this final, decorative step.

Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Google WiFi Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Home Internet and WiFi connections have become as important during our COVID-19 / neo-coronavirus global pandemic as electricity and running water. If you’re working from home and/or have students learning from home (“remote learning”) it is vital your WiFi is fast, secure, and robust enough to handle multiple, simultaneous connections. I am and have been thrilled with the performance of our Google WiFi / Nest WiFi the past 15 months, and the setup is even better now that we have ethernet backhaul to our most distant WiFi AP. I hope some of the information I’ve shared here is helpful to you, and may inspire you to upgrade your own home networking setup. If so, please let me know via Twitter (@wfryer), comment below or via my electronic contact form. Running network data cabling can be time consuming and require the cultivation of new DIY skills, but the rewards can be substantial as we all continue to live and work more hours each day online.

Faster Home WiFi Via Ethernet Backhaul by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Faster Home WiFi Via Ethernet Backhaul” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Takeaways and Learning from the MSON Summer 2020 Annual Conference http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/04/takeaways-and-learning-from-the-mson-summer-2020-annual-conference/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/07/04/takeaways-and-learning-from-the-mson-summer-2020-annual-conference/#respond Sun, 05 Jul 2020 03:30:46 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14054 MSON Summer 2020 Annual Conference, held virtually via Zoom. MSON is the “Malone Schools Online Network” (@MaloneSchools), and for the first time this year (I’m guessing because of COVID-19) their annual conference was open to educators everywhere. Our school [...]]]> Last week I had the opportunity to attend the second edition of the MSON Summer 2020 Annual Conference, held virtually via Zoom. MSON is the “Malone Schools Online Network” (@MaloneSchools), and for the first time this year (I’m guessing because of COVID-19) their annual conference was open to educators everywhere. Our school (where my wife and I both teach, and our youngest daughter attends), Casady School, is the only school in Oklahoma currently part of the MSON network. Through MSON, some of our high school students each year have opportunities to take a variety of advanced courses offered via a mixed modality of live videoconferencing and asynchronous / online activities. MSON teachers and the MSON community are very knowledgeable about a wide variety of best practices for distance learning / remote learning, so I was confident this would be an exceptional professional learning event. It definitely was, and in this post I’ll share a few key highlights and takeaways. I shared most of these as tweets during the conference which I’ve collected / aggregated in this Twitter moment.

As a virtual conference, the format of MSON’s professional development event was great. Each of our three days, we started with a virtual keynote (at 11 am for me in Central time) and in the afternoon had two breakout workshop options, at 2pm and 3pm. Each of the sessions I attended all three days were superb, in large part because of “the people in the room” who were all experienced independent school classroom teachers sharing a variety of experiences and lessons learned from the March through May 2020 time of “emergency remote learning.” This virtual conference reminded me of exceptional face-to-face conferences I’ve attended in the past, like “The Mobile Learning Experience” offered by Tony Vincent and the Arizona K12 Center for several years, and the “Miami Device” conference. Of course things were different because of the virtual format, but the quality of sessions and the professional learning was SUPERB… and this was 99% because of “the people in the room!”

Of all the takeaways, links and ideas I shared via Twitter from the MSON 2020 conference, this tweet sharing a “Google Meet Tips and Tricks” Google Doc from Carrie Lopez received the most likes and retweets. The “Google Meet Breakout” extension was the biggest and most exciting surprise for me from the session, and is one I’m eager to use with my students this fall if/when we move into a remote learning format again. I’ve used Zoom quite a bit for Sunday School classes I teach as well as Friday morning men’s group meetings I have helped facilitate since we started ‘sheltering in place’ this past March, but for school I only used Google Meet and GoToMeeting for videoconferencing with students and other teachers. One of my favorite features of Zoom is “breakout rooms,” which allows virtual meeting participants to gather and talk in smaller groups as part of a larger videoconference. The potential to create this same breakout room situation with Google Meet is instructionally important and powerful, so I’m eager to give this a try.

One of the other key takeaways for me, which may seem like a small thing but is going to be rather important for me next year teaching four sections of Media and Digital Literacy each trimester and two sections of 5th grade introductory Spanish, involves rubrics and required steps for multi-part projects using Google Classroom. In addition to FINALLY using the rubrics feature of Google Classroom (which I’ve known about for awhile but never actually tried with students) I’m going to create “micro-assignments” in Google Classroom for assigned projects to help my students keep track of and complete the different parts of larger, more complex assignments. Again this isn’t something earth shattering and certainly is something I could have been doing all along, but I haven’t, and the MSON session on Google Classroom was very helpful to me in thinking about these ways I can improve both my face-to-face and remote teaching interactions with students next year.

Another takeaway for me involved gamification. Five years ago (in 2015) at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, I had an amazing opportunity to sit beside Michael Matera (@mrmatera) at the “Hacked-Ed” pre-event. I was totally AMAZED by the work Michael was doing with gamification in his classroom, and was very interested to read the book he was just finishing up at the time about his process and pedagogy. I shared my takeaways from that conversation in the June 2015 post, “Gameification is SO Much More Than Badges.” The assessment conversations and sessions in the 2020 MSON conference got me thinking about Michael and gamification again, so I finally ordered and starting reading his book, “Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners with Gamification and Game-inspired Course Design.” I’m hoping to integrate some of his fantastic pedagogy of gameification into my classes and courses for my 5th and 6th grade students next year at Casady.

Another key takeaway for me from MSON 2020 involved iPad annotation on Google Docs in Google Classroom. I’m not sure how I had missed this key feature! With an iPad using the Google Classroom app for iOS, teachers can open a Google Doc a student has created and annotate directly on it… then have the Google Classroom app auto-magically convert that document into a PDF which is returned to the student. Fantastic! See the Google Support articles, “Draw or write on student work” and “Write notes on your work” for more details. Since more of our students are going to be using iPads at school next year as their learning devices, along with teachers, this is an important capability to add to my toolbox as both a teacher and instructional coach for our faculty.

The final MSON conference session I attended was shared by Josh Link (@drlink94) about ways to use the FREE and powerful Desmos Activity platform. (@Desmos)

Again, Desmos is something I have known about and even saw a powerful demonstration of last July at a “Summer Institute in Digital Literacy” workshop led by Dave Quinn (@eduquinn). I have not (to date) used Desmos with students, however… and I think both Josh and Dave’s workshops shared a year apart are going to push me ahead with using it! I definitely want to share Desmos with our math faculty at school next year… but it’s not just useful for math classes and lessons!

I learned more at MSON’s 2020 annual conference… but those were some of my main takeaways. As you consider your professional learning options for summer 2020, I recommend you consider MSON’s annual conference, whether or not you teach at a school that is currently part of the MSON Network. It was a GREAT three days of professional growth and learning! Thanks to all the MSON staff, leaders, and workshop facilitators for making it great!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Quickly Convert Minecraft EE Portfolio PDFs into JPG Images http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/26/quickly-convert-minecraft-ee-portfolio-pdfs-into-jpg-images/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/26/quickly-convert-minecraft-ee-portfolio-pdfs-into-jpg-images/#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2020 21:35:08 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14049 I have led and taught “virtual Minecraft summer camps” for elementary and middle school students, with the help of a fantastic team of high school volunteers who have earned service hours as virtual camp counselors / moderators. I’m in the process of writing down many of my lessons learned [...]]]> The past two weeks I have led and taught “virtual Minecraft summer camps” for elementary and middle school students, with the help of a fantastic team of high school volunteers who have earned service hours as virtual camp counselors / moderators. I’m in the process of writing down many of my lessons learned from this successful two weeks of camp, but I wanted to record a screencast of the workflow I’ve used following each day of Minecraft Camp to share photos / screenshots of student builds and activities.

Minecraft Education Edition includes some special features not present in the Java Edition or Bedrock Edition of Minecraft, and two of my favorites are the camera and portfolio.

After capturing screenshots in Minecraft of different scenes and builds, students can open their portfolio and right-click to download a PDF file locally which includes all the photos / screenshots they have captured. The free website PDFCandy.com has a free “PDF to JPG converter” option which I’ve used each day after camp to post share these images online, and my workflow with it is the focus of this 10 minute screencast.

If the ideas and techniques I shared in this screencast are of interest to you or you have more questions, please reach out via Twitter (to @wfryer), using my online contact form or via a comment below.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast473: Brainstorming About “Conspiracies and Culture Wars” with Brian Turnbaugh and Wesley Fryer http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/21/podcast473-brainstorming-about-conspiracies-and-culture-wars-with-brian-turnbaugh-and-wesley-fryer/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/21/podcast473-brainstorming-about-conspiracies-and-culture-wars-with-brian-turnbaugh-and-wesley-fryer/#respond Sun, 21 Jun 2020 17:34:58 +0000

This podcast is a recording of a conversation between Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) and Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) discussing a proposed workshop at the virtual version of the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy, coming to a screen near you July 19-24, 2020. The proposed title is, “Conspiracies and Culture Wars,” and the Google Doc of resources we have been building together is linked in the shownotes for this podcast and from medialiteracy.wesfryer.com. This conversation took place on June 5, 2020, and was livestreamed to both YouTube Live and Facebook Live. Wes has also submitted this session as a proposal for the upcoming virtual “Mountain Moot” July 15-18, 2020. Check out the podcast shownotes for links to referenced resources. This project is very much a “work in progress” and will be refined and expanded in the days and weeks to come! We welcome your feedback.

Shownotes

  1. Google Doc in use brainstorming this project
  2. Video version on YouTube
  3. Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits)
  4. Wes Fryer @wfryer
  5. Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (virtual: July 19-24, 2020)
  6. Mountain Moot (virtual and free: July 15-17, 2020)
  7. Wes’ collected Media Literacy resources: medialiteracy.wesfryer.com
  8. Documentary: Merchants of Cool by Douglas Rushkoff (@rushkoff)
  9. Book: Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff (@rushkoff)
  10. Podcast Episode: #112 The Prophet by Reply All (@replyall)
  11. Podcast Series: Rabbit Hole by @kevinroose
  12. Welcome to the ‘Rabbit Hole’ (New York Times, Kevin Roose, 16 April 2020)
  13. Twitter moment from #digiURL 2019 – Learning from Troy Hicks (@hickstro)
  14. Amazing Texts Workshop – Examining Multimedia Non-Fiction as a Mentor Text” with Troy Hicks (@hickstro)
  15. Twitter Thread: How Do You Spot a Conspiracy Theory by John Cook (@johnfocook)
  16. The Conspiracy Theory Handbook by Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook
  17. YouTube Playlist: Wes Fryer’s Reflections on the 2019 Institute on Digital Literacy
  18. YouTube Playlist: “Media Literacy” by Wes Fryer
  19. Video: Moon Landings Faked? Filmmaker Says Not! (VideoFromSpace, 29 Jan 2013)
  20. Video: Plandemic and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking by @johnfocook
  21. “Why We Are Polarized” by Ezra Klein (@ezraklein)
  22. Podcast Channel: Short Wave by NPR
  23. Podcast Episode: How to Correct Misinformation, According to Science (Short Wave by NPR, 22 May 2020)
  24. Book: “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media” by PW Singer @peterwsinger and Emerson T. Brooking (@etbrooking)
  25. Book: “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads” by Tim Woo (@superwuster)
  26. “The Attention Economy and. the Net” by Michael Goldhaber (1997, First Monday)
  27. SIFT: The Four Moves by Mike Caufield (@holden)
  28. The Digital Polarization Initiative
  29. News Literacy Project (@NewsLitProject) and on YouTube) by Peter Adams (@peterd_adams) and John Silva (@MrSilva)
  30. Mark Twain quote (but actually probably not Twain): “A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes”
  31. E.O. Wilson Quote: “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.”
  32. Wes’ story idea: Cognitive Dissonance with Jane Yolen’s “Encounter”
  33. Podcast: Wind of Change by @praddenkeefe
  34. Wes’ story idea: Encounters with Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate
  35. John Rawls: Veil of Ignorance (Justice)
  36. Podcast: Your Undivided Attention (@humanetech_@tristanharris@aza)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Thinking about Educational Technology Support for Fall 2020 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/17/thinking-about-educational-technology-support-for-fall-2020/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/17/thinking-about-educational-technology-support-for-fall-2020/#respond Wed, 17 Jun 2020 21:36:11 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14040 Mike Gwaltney (@MikeGwaltney) for ISM (Independent School Management@isminc) titled, “How to Create an Academic Technology Plan for the 2020–21 School Year.” Here are a few of my takeaways and reflections on the information and advice Mike shared. First of all, Mike’s [...]]]> Today I attended a virtual webinar presented by Mike Gwaltney (@MikeGwaltney) for ISM (Independent School Management@isminc) titled, “How to Create an Academic Technology Plan for the 2020–21 School Year.” Here are a few of my takeaways and reflections on the information and advice Mike shared.

First of all, Mike’s recommendation that schools plan to provide “Parent Orientation and Training” for the learning management system (LMS) which the school will be using with students, and how communication will work about assignments, grades, etc. was spot on. We are planning and hoping to start school in August next year F2F (face-to-face) but we also realize we may have to go back into a ‘remote learning’ mode, or certain groups of students and teachers may have to go into remote learning because of the pandemic. It’s important to provide ALL constituents (including parents) with opportunities to learn about how different digital learning platforms work and can be used. We’re continuing to use Seesaw for our PreK – 3rd grade classes, and mainly Google Classroom for our grade 4 – 12 students. These platforms are “user-friendly,” but it’s a mistake to assume everyone “will just figure things out.” So that bit of advice from Mike was great.

Secondly, I appreciated and agree with Mike’s recommendation that school leaders include discussion about the PEDAGOGY of blended / digital learning in parent education sessions and communications. Mike reminded webinar attendees that even though many parents want to see their kids watching and listening to their teacher on a live videoconference call, we know from research the best learning does not come from simply WATCHING. We want students, in Mike’s words, “to take action.” We want students to construct their own knowledge, not through passive participation in a 100% “delivery mode” instructional experience, but rather in a blended approach which combines delivery with rich options for interaction, sharing, and presentation.

In many cases, parents ‘need help’ understanding that asynchronous instructional strategies, which do NOT involve the teacher ‘live’ on a screen in front of students and a class, are both powerful and desirable in a blended learning and remote learning situation. All parents are experienced in ‘sit and get’ school, so that is still an expectation many have, especially perhaps (in the case of independent / private schools) when parents are paying substantial sums of money for their students to have a high quality learning experience. Those high quality experiences hinge on RELATIONSHIPS more than content delivery, however, and it’s not good for anyone to spend MANY HOURS each day sitting passively in front of a screen. Mike is 100% correct encouraging school leaders to help educate parents not only about technical tools and strategies, but also pedagogy which is best for students.

Mike shared a good checklist to use when considering different tools for teachers to use with students, and those which the school can and will support. His categories were tools which support communication, collaboration, creation, recording / capturing of audio and video, presenting, meeting, and asking / quizzing / assessing. This is a good list. It’s a bit more complicated than the simpler “Delivery – Interaction – Assessment” framework I used for both Google Classroom and Seesaw in the instructional support Google Site I built out for our faculty last spring during remote learning (support.casady.org). Many of the learning modules on that website are, incidentally, applicable to a wide variety of learning management systems, not just Google Classroom or Seesaw.

I also resonated with a slide Mike shared about the “thinking, action verbs” which need to be connected to “digital action verbs.” (It’s actually in the threaded reply to the above tweet, shown below at the bottom.) The thinking / action verbs Mike included were create/write, evaluate, analyze, apply, understand / show, remember / record. Sounds a lot like “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs” from TeachThought.

Of course these ideas reminded me of my website and digital learning project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to Create Today?” that I launched in 2013 when I published, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Vol 1.” In many ways that was a terrible book title, who could have forecast how poorly “The Common Core” would be received around our nation? I did rebrand it “Mapping Media to the Curriculum” at some point, but I need to update and re-release it as “Show with Media!” In any event, those ideas align well with some of the recommendations Mike made today in the webinar. We need to challenge our students and ourselves to use media in effective ways to demonstrate and communicate both what we know and what we can do.

One final comment I’ll share from Mike’s webinar today involves live streaming or “lecturecasting” from classrooms this fall. I almost focused my dissertation research on lecturecasting, so I have done a bit of academic research around this as well as practical experimenting. (Search my blog for “lecturecasting” for a bunch of archived posts on that topic.) Mike mentioned that teachers can use their smartphones in their classrooms next school year to livestream classes for students to watch who can’t attend class in person. He did recommend that only be done in short segments, but I want to add some reflections and responses to this idea.

First of all, the upstream bandwidth of many K-12 school networks today is not configured to handle simultaneous live streaming of content from a majority of or all classrooms. As school leaders, we need to be careful about how we set expectations around livestreaming. I know of several schools who are working with vendors this summer to install microphones and cameras to support lecturecasting next year. Some universities have a lot of experience with this. (Remember Duke’s Podcasting Initiative of 2007?!) My first advice on this is, be sure your network upload / upstream capacity as well as hardware and human technical support pieces are in place if you want to make campuswide lecturecasting a reality.

My second point, however, is pedagogical rather than technical in nature, and it is that lecturecasting has limited utility. Expectations around it should be set LOW. It’s impossible for a teacher to attend fully to face-to-face students in front of them AND remote students watching at a distance and using an interactive tool (like live chat) to interact back to the classroom. It can be done, and support staff, other teachers or students can be enlisted to help, but it’s hard. Note I wrote above, FULLY ATTEND. I have attempted to teach both remote and F2F students at the same time several times in the past, so I have “personal testimony” I can share about this.

It’s much better to either focus ONLY on teaching students face-to-face- or ONLY teaching students at a distance / remote. If teachers have to do both, set expectations for remote students LOW. Also ask if it’s mandatory for them to receive/listen LIVE, or if they can get a recording. If students don’t have meaningful and frequent opportunities TO INTERACT and participate in the lecture, they don’t need to ‘get it live.’ Also be willing to ask if students need both video and audio. Local bandwidth limitations may require that teachers only live stream audio of their classes, and students get presentation slides / other resources via the class LMS.

I do not know of any schools doing this now, but it’s worth considering whether some teachers could be designated as “remote teachers” and others focus on just ‘”face to face” students and teaching. The reality is likely to be that all teachers won’t be able to teach face-to-face all year long next year at school. Why not prepare now for some teachers to work and teach remotely, and better support remote students this way?

In many ways, I think the challenges before us for teaching and learning in the 2020-21 academic year will be even harder than what we faced in March – May 2020 with “emergency remote learning.” At that point, everyone was in the SAME situation: At home. The fall and spring are likely going to look like an even more fractured and ‘messy’ learning landscape, which will be hard for everyone, but especially teachers. I know many of our teachers spent TONS of time preparing as well as delivering / sharing remote learning lessons. I hope (and recommend) that we attend more to the TIME spent by both teachers and students in remote, blended / hybrid, and face-to-face lessons. This TIME focus should be for both preparation and actual lesson delivery. Ideally, I think teachers should keep a log of time spent, to help administrators get a better picture of JUST HOW MUCH TIME teachers spent and are spending on lesson preparation.

Digital, blended learning can be powerful and in many ways more effective than traditional, face-to-face learning (especially when differentiated learning strategies were NOT used in that ‘traditional’ setting) but they are also HARD and TIME CONSUMING. Remember, some university faculty (those would be the tenured and tenure-track variety, in my experience) have the luxury of taking AN ENTIRE YEAR or MORE to prepare a new course for an online or hybrid delivery format. That was true for the five years I served as the Director of Distance Learning for the College of Education at Texas Tech University. A HUGE amount of preparation work, by multiple support staff members as well as faculty members, went into getting ‘distance learning instructional experiences’ prepared and ready. It’s super important to attend to these very real time issues for K-12 teachers today faced not only with remote learning requirements, but also a messy and uncertain hybrid / face-to-face / remote mix. If we don’t, we risk pushing teachers past their limits in 2020-21.

Thanks to Mike Gwaltney (@MikeGwaltney) for sharing this excellent webinar today. You can check out more upcoming webinars and recommended resources by ISM by visiting isminc.com/covid19. You can also checkout the online keynote I shared for our faculty on March 22, 2020, “Tips and Strategies for Remote Learning,” along with other evening webinars I shared last fall (www.designcreateshare.com/webinars) and online workshops I shared with others for our school faculty.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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How I Use Noun Project Icons in my Class Lesson Slideshows http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/06/08/how-i-use-noun-project-icons-in-my-class-lesson-slideshows/ Mon, 08 Jun 2020 12:51:36 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14033 teaching fifth and sixth grade digital literacy and media literacy at Casady school, and also teaching an adult Sunday school class at our church (First Presbyterian of Edmond) titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” In both cases, [...]]]> This past school year I have absolutely loved the opportunity to return to the classroom teaching fifth and sixth grade digital literacy and media literacy at Casady school, and also teaching an adult Sunday school class at our church (First Presbyterian of Edmond) titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” In both cases, I use daily slideshows I create in Google Slides, and I share these via a shared Google Drive folder which is embedded on the Google sites I use for both classes. One of the things I enjoy including in my slideshows, in addition to images as appropriate, are colored icons. My favorite website to use for obtaining icons is The Noun Project, which I learned about from Tony Vincent probably five or six years ago at a conference he organized in Arizona.

Yesterday morning as I was finalizing my slideshow for our last Sunday school class of the year, I recorded a seven minute video demonstrating my workflow on an iPad as I use The Noun Project to find and insert appropriate icons. I do have an educational pro account, which is well worth the small amount of money because it lets me use everything legally without attribution, and can customize the colors exactly as desired.

If this is video helpful to you, please let me know by reaching out on Twitter or by sharing a comment here. You can also use my electronic contact form.

How I Use Noun Project Icons in my Class Lesson Slideshows

(I am blogging this from my iPad, which is a bit more cumbersome for inserting links, so I will insert more links to this blog post later.)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Virtual Minecraft Camps for Elementary and Middle School Students: June 2020 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/05/28/virtual-minecraft-camps-for-elementary-and-middle-school-students-june-2020/ Fri, 29 May 2020 01:18:01 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14024 mdtech.casady.org/minecraft has updated information about both these upcoming virtual Minecraft camps for students. Five years ago, our youngest daughter (then age 11) participated in a virtual, summer Minecraft camp through “Connected Camps,” an outstanding organization based in California. She had a great experience, and we recorded a 20 [...]]]> Update June 2, 2020: mdtech.casady.org/minecraft has updated information about both these upcoming virtual Minecraft camps for students.

Five years ago, our youngest daughter (then age 11) participated in a virtual, summer Minecraft camp through “Connected Camps,” an outstanding organization based in California. She had a great experience, and we recorded a 20 minute podcast reflection together afterwards to share some of the things she observed and learned as a “virtual Minecraft camper.” I’ve been using MinecraftEDU / Minecraft Education Edition with students since 2013, but since Rachel’s positive experiences in a virtual Minecraft summer camp in 2015 I’ve been wanting to lead one myself.

This summer, in part due to our COVID-19 requirements to “shelter in place” and “learn at home,” I’m leading two virtual Minecraft camps for both elementary and middle school students in June. Each camp lasts four days, and we’ll be online together for two hours per day, from 10am to noon (Central Time). Older students at our school have volunteered to serve as “camp moderators,” helping me both design daily challenges and activities, and insure everyone follows the rules and has a good experience. Camps are:

  • Elementary Edition: June 15 – 18, 2020 (open to all rising 3rd, 4th and 5th graders)
  • Middle School Edition: June 22-25, 2020 (open to all rising 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders)

We’re using Minecraft Education Edition (@playcraftlearn) for the elementary camp, and Minecraft Java Edition for the middle school camp. More details are available on this page of my school computer class website, as well as in the following 3 minute video screencast I recorded today.

Please share this virtual Minecraft Camp opportunity with students and families you know who might be interested! Participation and registration is open to current Casady students as well as non-Casady students who are in the appropriate rising grades. Because of the global nature of the Internet, participating students do not even need to live in Oklahoma! More details about technical / computer requirements for students are included on the registration site, but the basics are each student must have:

  1. A MacOS or Windows10 computer capable of running Minecraft Education Edition (elementary level) or Minecraft Java Edition (middle school level).
  2. A home high speed Internet connection
  3. Middle School Camp participants must purchase their own copy of Minecraft Java Edition. Elementary campers will be provided with a login account for Minecraft Education Edition as part of their registration fee.

I’m looking forward to LOTS of learning as we prepare for and facilitate these virtual Minecraft summer camp experiences. I can’t help but think of the book and movie “Ready Player One.” Minecraft is not nearly as sophisticated and high-resolution as the virtual world portrayed in that novel and film, but it DOES offer mind-bending opportunities for virtual collaboration, co-creation, and discovery. This also reminds me of my favorite William Gibson quotation:

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

William Gibson – Wikiquote. en.wikiquote.org, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Gibson. Accessed 28 May 2020.
Virtual Minecraft Camps: June 2020 by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Virtual Minecraft Camps: June 2020” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Learn From Mike Wesch How to Create Better Videos for Students http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/05/17/learn-from-mike-wesch-how-to-create-better-videos-for-students/ Mon, 18 May 2020 03:11:14 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14016 The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed school leaders, teachers, students and parents in the United States to respond in different ways to “shelter in place / shelter at home” mandates. It has pushed many K-12 teachers into the role of “emergency remote learning” instructors, even if the courses they teach were never intended to be “online” or “distance learning” courses, and irrespective of whether or not those instructors had past experiences as either students or teachers in distance learning courses. Some larger public K-12 school districts responded to this pandemic by creating “packet-based” (non-digital) lessons for students, and either asked teachers to reach out to students via analog technologies (telephone calls) or even prohibited teachers from offering interactive, digital learning opportunities, since not all students had requisite digital devices or home connectivity to participate in those lessons. Some private schools, like the one for which my wife and I now teach, have offered a wide and rich array of “remote learning” interactive opportunities for students, including both “synchronous” as well as “asynchronous” lessons. As we look forward to the uncertainties of the 2020-21 academic year and our slowly “reopening economy,” it seems likely teachers and students will need to continue engaging in different forms of hybrid, remote learning interactions, which will include the sharing of pre-recorded (asynchronously shared) videos.

To support our faculty during this time of “emergency remote learning” which started in March 2020, I created and shared a variety of instructional support modules about a variety of topics, applicable for students of different ages in a variety of subjects. These included options for creating:

  1. No Edit Videos
  2. Screencast Videos
  3. Narrated Slideshows
  4. Edited Videos including multiple clips or modified / amplified audio tracks

No matter how much experience you’ve had creating videos in the past, each of us can always learn new techniques and strategies to make better videos. In this way, videography is like writing. Every writer can further develop their craft, and benefit from the opportunity to learn from mentors with more experience and expertise.

Dr. Michael Wesch, (@mwesch) a professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, is one of the best videography using teachers I know and have personally met. Mike has been publishing a series of fantastic videos on his YouTube channel in a series he’s titled, “Teaching Without Walls,” which I highly commend. Two of the videos I watched this past week included “The Mixtape: Deep Teaching Online beyond Zoom” (8 min, 45 sec) and “Make Super Simple Videos for Teaching Online: 5 Tips & 5 Reasons to Get On Camera” (11 min, 45 sec). Mike is a phenomenally gifted teacher as well as videographer, and ANYONE regardless of prior experiences with video creation can learn multiple, practical tips from him in both these tutorials.

One of the most important things Mike emphasizes in his videos is to BE YOURSELF, to PERSONALIZE the interactive learning you provide to your students via video, and to also INVITE YOUR STUDENTS to create and share videos to build both relationships and classroom community. Whether you are teaching “littles” in primary or elementary school, university students, or students of any age in between, these video techniques are valuable and relevant.

I’ve been blessed to be able to learn “in person” from Mike at several conferences in the past, but I’ve learned just as much or even more from the videos he’s shared online over the years. I’ve blogged about many of these learning takeaways, and videos or podcasts of the presentations Mike has shared that I’ve learned from are still online:

  1. Michael Wesch on Seymour Papert and Constructionism (Aug 2014)
  2. Moving Students From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-ABLE: Michael Wesch at TEDxKC (Aug 2014)
  3. Michael Wesch on Creating Learners which Question and Live in a World of Constant Wonder (Feb 2013)
  4. Podcast384: Michael Wesch at Heartland eLearning 2011 (Oct 2011)
  5. Michael Wesch Keynote at 2011 Heartland eLearning Conference (March 2011)

Mike is a superb educational mentor because of the pedagogy (instructional strategies) he models, lives and ‘exudes’ in his teaching, as well as the powerful, relational connections he creates with his students and encourages others to create. As we continue to move forward in our various educational contexts during the neo-coronavirus pandemic, we each need to take initiative to keep improving and sharpening our digital and instructional skills. If you’re not already, follow Mike Wesch both on YouTube and on Twitter (@mwesch). If you learn something from him, let him know.

We live in an incredibly powerful and potentially transformative era for learning. Being able to learn for free, from “masters of teaching and learning” like Mike Wesch, irrespective of where and when you read this post in space and time, is a specific example of that power and potential. Go forth and learn videography tips from Mike Wesch! I’ve authorized your extended use of YouTube for this instructional purpose!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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My Videoconference Is Not Working. What Can I Do? http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/05/13/my-videoconference-is-not-working-what-can-i-do/ Thu, 14 May 2020 01:41:20 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14011 I received an email message from a member of our church this week, who has someone in their Sunday School class having trouble with audio and video quality in a Zoom videoconference. I did not receive any more specific details than that via email, so I had to compose a pretty generic and wide ranging response. This is what I emailed to them.

It is difficult to know what these connectivity problems / issues were without more context, but often issues with video or audio buffering / not playing smoothly in a videoconference are related to local Internet access at someone’s house, when we’re talking about remote learning / connecting from home. This can be caused by:

  1. The Internet connection from the service provider being too slow with download or upload speeds to support the connection
  2. The connection used within the house (WiFi or wired ethernet) needing to be reset or upgraded
  3. A temporary issue in neighborhood connectivity with that service provider (For instance we’ve had a few mornings of Internet outages with Cox in our neighborhood since mid-March)
  4. Multiple devices / people at the same house / sharing the same Internet connection and downloading large files (for instance, someone streaming Netflix at the same time someone else is trying to participate in a Zoom conference)
  5. The computer, tablet or phone being used not having sufficient RAM memory available or disk space available.

The user can use a speed test website like the following to test what download and upload speeds they are getting, and if those match the speeds which the service provider (likely Cox or AT&T for us in Central Oklahoma) is supposed to be providing:
www.speedtest.net

Generally whenever network issues are encountered it can be helpful to:

  1. Restart the Internet modem and (if separate) router/WiFi hotspot used in the home (generally unplugging both and then plugging them both in again resets them)
  2. Restarting the computer or tablet/phone being used.

The user can also verify they are running both the latest version of Zoom software (download link) and also the latest version of the computer operating system being used.

If those steps do not help, it’s probably best to contact the help desk of the person’s residential Internet service, for instance contacting Cox Cable support or AT&T home Internet support. Generally those staff will have the person restart their modem and router/wifi as an initial troubleshooting step.

If these problems persist / are not temporary, a faster Internet connection may be needed. Sometimes the service provider needs to run a new cable, for instance Cox had to run a new cable from their ‘main line’ to our house several years ago when we purchased a faster tier of home high speed Internet service.

If the user has even a relatively old (more than 2-3 years) modem or router/WiFi hotspot, then upgrading can make a HUGE, positive difference. If they lease those items from their provider (like Cox or AT&T) then they should be able to upgrade their equipment without additional cost. That is the ‘least techy’ way to upgrade. To save money in the long run and have good home WiFi, we use a modem I purchased from Amazon with our Cox account, and Google Nest WiFi.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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“PlanDemic” Disinformation Teachable Moment During COVID-19 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/05/09/plandemic-disinformation-teachable-moment-during-covid-19/ Sun, 10 May 2020 03:41:17 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14004 our present age of “information pollution” and the neo-coronavirus pandemic. This past week, large numbers of people on social media shared video links to a purported “documentary” titled “Plandemic” which allegedly reveals [...]]]> All of us using the Internet today, regardless of age or past education credentials, need additional media literacy skills in our present age of “information pollution” and the neo-coronavirus pandemic. This past week, large numbers of people on social media shared video links to a purported “documentary” titled “Plandemic” which allegedly reveals “the hidden agenda behind COVID-19.” In this post, I’d like explain why the sharing of this video provides a “teachable moment” and case study for us all. It highlights not only the prevalence of disinformation and conspiracy theories in our media landscape, but also the important responsibility we each bear to vet information sources before we share links. It also spotlights ways we should consider how our actions affect and influence others, both online and offline. Among other strategies and suggestions, I want to amplify Mike Caufield’s (@holden) SIFT framework (the 4 moves) as a practical media literacy strategy we can each practice and also share with those with whom we have digital contact. Mike’s latest project, the infodemic.blog, includes practical tips we can immediately put into practice whether or not we’re currently classroom teachers.

Before sharing the story of how I first learned about this “PlanDemic” video last Wednesday evening, which has now been “thoroughly debunked” by multiple credible, trustworthy sources, I want to emphasize the importance of figuring out individually how we deal with situations like this. Joe Pinsker (@jpinsk), writing for The Atlantic, suggests a variety of strategies to employ when someone you know and are connected to on social media shares this specific video link or another one like it. I want to add to Joe’s list of suggestions that we DO engage with, and do not ignore, friends and colleagues who share disinformation, misinformation, or malinformation. Of course situations and contexts necessitate different responses… and a valid response could be to unfollow and/or block someone on social media who is a dedicated conspiracy theory and disinformation link sharer. However, other more potentially constructive interaction options exist. The common themes I want to recommend involve encouragement to employ critical thinking, media literacy strategies, and source / information vetting. Above all, whenever we read something online which immediately starts to trigger an emotional response, we need to invoke the “S” step (STOP) of the SIFT framework. By “stopping,” we can take time to invoke the other tools in the SIFT framework, think more critically, and increase the chances we can constructively add to the maelstrom of shared information online today rather than harmfully contribute.

Shortly before our weekly webshow started last Wednesday, I saw the following Facebook post from a friend and fellow member of our church. I’m obscuring his name and avatar, because my intent here is decidedly NOT to call out or embarrass this person by name… but rather, to constructively engage with a situation we are all facing to varying degrees today, depending on who we follow online. As you can see, this person was sharing a YouTube link to the “PlanDemic” video.

As referenced in that original post, the same person had posted ANOTHER link to the PlanDemic video in the morning, ten hours earlier, but was frustrated that YouTube had taken down first video. As an apparent “public information service” to those who follow him online, he was posting another copy. In both cases, the main emphasis of his posts were, “This is scary.”

I’d like to observe as a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of the same church as the individual who shared this post, we should specifically aspire NOT to scare people and increase their fear as Christians. Fear is not a spiritual gift. In fact, fear is one thing “the enemy” encourages us experience in our hearts and minds. As followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to explicitly NOT be anxious and fearful, but rather bring our worries and concerns to the feet of God’s Son so He can deal with everything for us. It is explicitly contrary to the Biblical teachings of Jesus Christ to tell others, “Be scared, be very, very scared.”

The second thing I want to observe about this situation is how shocked I was that this person I know shared these video links. I actually searched Google News before our EdTechSR show on Wednesday night for the word “PlanDemic,” to see if I could share a link to a journalist’s review and analysis of the video, but no articles were listed yet. The speed of social media, when it comes to situations like this, is viral. Today (3 days later) PlanDemic is a topic on Google News and now there are a wide variety of articles addressing and debunking the messages as well as the “expert voices” it features.

For me, this situation highlights how important and critical our societal need for greater media literacy is. Unfortunately, we live in extremely polarized times, but the tools employed by some to polarize and emotionally incite others can also be used to fact check, compare, “shine light on,” and expose the truth. That’s exactly what the SIFT framework and “The Four Moves” encourage us to do as literate web users.

Searching for a web source on WikiPedia is an excellent step to take after STOPPING to investigate a web link further before sharing it with others. Earlier last week, another friend (this one a classmate from the U.S. Air Force Academy who I follow on Facebook) shared an article about YouTube’s disinformation censorship policies and the World Health Organization.

It turns out, the statement she shared in that post IS accurate. Episode 4 of the “Rabbit Hole” podcast from the New York Times includes interviews with Susan Wojcicki, and she confirms that non-WHO conforming video messages about COVID-19 are now censored from the platform.

I commented to my friend on this post, however, before even looking at the content of the article, it’s important to look at the source, and shared the link to the English WikiPedia page about the hosting website. It’s an extreme website which regularly shares far-right and alt-right conspiracy theories. I encouraged my friend to check if other mainstream media sources are sharing the same information too, which is the “news search cross check” step of SIFT. Shortly after I posted my first comment on that Facebook post, I tried to comment again, but I couldn’t because my friend had deleted the original post.

It’s also ironic (but in the entire context of this post, understandable) that the first commenter on my friend’s original (and now deleted post) was sharing a link to the “PlanDemic” video, even as s/he also decried YouTube as a terrible information source to be avoided at all costs.

We shouldn’t be naive or overly optimistic about our potential abilities to shift the thinking of others with our replies and posts to social media. Directly engaging with someone who is sharing disinformation / misinformation / malinformation is fraught with challenges. Will we make that person angry? Will we invite others to be angry at us? Can we engage in a constructive conversation? Can we promote critical thinking and better media literacy through kind and respectful dialog, when so many people around us are shouting and condemning? It’s a messy, tricky situation… but it’s one from which we should not retreat as citizens concerned about our democracy and our society writ large.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Recent Virtual Workshops by Wes (March – April 2020) http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/05/02/recent-virtual-workshops-by-wes-march-april-2020/ Sat, 02 May 2020 19:39:56 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=14001 move to “remote learning” at our school in late-March 2020 has corresponded with an uptick in the number of online workshops and webinars I’ve offered for teachers, mainly for faculty at our school as part of my “day job,” but also a few evening and weekend virtual presentations. All of the workshops [...]]]> The move to “remote learning” at our school in late-March 2020 has corresponded with an uptick in the number of online workshops and webinars I’ve offered for teachers, mainly for faculty at our school as part of my “day job,” but also a few evening and weekend virtual presentations. All of the workshops I’ve led or facilitated for our teachers are linked from the “Genius Bar” page of our school’s instructional support website, in reverse chronological order. I’ve also added these today to my main presentations / handouts wiki page. Since March 19th this year, I’ve shared 12 new virtual workshops! If you have questions about any of these or the ideas I shared, please let me know via Twitter, my online contact form, or a comment here! The slides from each workshop are linked in the YouTube video descriptions, as well as on my presentation handouts page. I’ve also shared a few of these on my “Class with Dr. Fryer” Anchor podcast channel, which conveniently can be accessed via any Google or Amazon smart speaker!

Multimedia eBooks with Book Creator (1 May 2020)

Explain Everything for iPad (30 April 2020)

Seesaw Choice Boards (23 April 2020)

iPad Tips and Tricks (22 April 2020)

Zoom 101 for Small Group Leaders (16 April 2020)

GoToMeeting Orientation (9 April 2020)

Tips for Becoming a More Connected Educator – Transform Your Life With 5 Mobile Apps (4 April 2020)

Parent & Student Expectations – Hangouts Meet LIVE Videoconferences (3 April 2020)

Comparing and Understanding Google Classroom and Seesaw (31 March 2020)

Protecting Yourself and Your Family Online (26 March 2020)

Tips and Strategies for Remote Learning (23 March 2020)

Family Oral History Projects (19 March 2020)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Using Jamboard in a Remote Learning Lesson http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/04/27/using-jamboard-in-a-remote-learning-lesson/ Mon, 27 Apr 2020 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13998 Jamboard, Google’s live, interactive whiteboard, with students for the first time. I prepared three Jamboard slides to use in a “See – Think – Wonder” thinking routine, after watching a video together, so we could use it to make our thinking together visible. In this post I’ll review [...]]]> Yesterday I used Jamboard, Google’s live, interactive whiteboard, with students for the first time. I prepared three Jamboard slides to use in a “See – Think – Wonder” thinking routine, after watching a video together, so we could use it to make our thinking together visible. In this post I’ll review and reflect on how that went, and what I’ll do differently next time I use it during instruction.

See - Think - Wonder

Google explains Jamboard is a platform which can help you “Visualize your ideas in a new and collaborative way.” It’s been around awhile in Internet time, since 2016, and continues to be a $5000 touch-sensitive hardware platform (touch television) which can be used as an interactive whiteboard during live meetings. It’s also a cloud-based platform which is multi-platform, which means users in different locations can use it live / synchronously for idea collaboration and sharing. Perhaps because I tried it early, I’m able to use it with my consumer GMail account, but the Jamboard Help Center explains it’s available only for GSuite Google accounts. While Jamboard hardware is rather expensive and certainly isn’t free, the cloud-based Jamboard platform (accessible via jamboard.google.com) IS free and like other Google Drive documents, can be shared with others for public editing so no login is required.

When I created my Jamboard before our lesson, I created three slides, added a title graphic at the top of each one (importing images from my iPad,) and set the sharing settings to allow ANYONE WITH THE LINK to edit the board. After the lesson, I changed this setting to view-only access, to hopefully prevent any intentional or accidental changes by others to these interactive slides.

In advance of the lesson as well, I created both a shortened link and a QR code which my students could use on their device(s) to access the Jamboard. I included this as an introductory slide in our lesson slideshow, and explained we’d be experimenting with Jamboard as a new way to collaborate and make our thinking together visible. I suggested if anyone had an iPad, they could go ahead and download the Jamboard iOS app during the first part of the lesson to be ready, but that I would also add the link to our Jamboard to our videoconference chat, so anyone could access it via their web browser.

As is the case with most classes, students our adult Sunday School class have a variety of digital literacy skills, so using a new website and app like this wasn’t something I was expecting lots of people to want to do or be able to do on short notice with success. We did, however, have a couple people add some content to our Jamboard slides, and it was enough to give me a little ‘taste’ for how I can use Jamboard again in the future for collaboration.

When it comes to sharing just text, a shared Google Document is definitely better to use with students than a Jamboard. I think it would be interesting to use Jamboard with students to create collaborative sketchnotes or visual notes, perhaps during a lecture or while watching a video. I don’t know that the “visual thinking” our Jamboard revealed during our lesson was better in any way because we used an interactive drawing rather than an interactive word processing platform. So my first big takeaway is to encourage students to DRAW SKETCHES of ideas when you’re using Jamboard, and not just focus on writing text. A combination of text and pictures is fine, but if you’re primarily wanting to reflect linguistically then stick with a shared Google Doc.

Secondly if possible, it’s good to give students more time to prepare in advance to use a new tool, with more advance notice to download a required app, get their stylus / Apple Pencil charged and ready, etc. I was able to use a 2nd Generation Apple Pencil to write on our Jamboard, and it worked well, but others who had to use their trackpads or a less capable iOS stylus on an older iPad were more challenged in writing clearly on the Jamboard.

The best scenario for using a Jamboard over a videoconference connection, as we were yesterday using GoToMeeting, would be for everyone to have a latest generation iPad and Apple Pencil (or Logitech Crayon) with the Jamboard iOS app pre-installed. It would also be good for students to connect to / open the Jamboard in advance of class, so they are (from a technical standpoint) ready to start collaboration.

I will note that the ACCOUNTABILITY features of Jamboard are very different from a Google Doc or other “older” file types in the Google Drive universe. There does NOT appear to be a ‘revision history,’ so we an all quickly imagine how some students might choose to use a ‘digital opportunity like this, sans documentation of contribution attribution,’ to draw or write inappropriate things. It’s frequently important when using live, interactive tools with younger students (like text chat) to remind them they are accountable for what they write and share. This is one reason we require that teachers record all “remote learning” videoconferences now with students, to provide a clear expectation and understanding of accountability for what we say and do in “virtual class” just as we have with face-to-face classes. Since Jamboard doesn’t appear to have a revision history, and even if it did the way I used it yesterday (not requiring logins from anyone) wouldn’t provide any individual-specific contribution / edit accountability anyway, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to use Jamboard with my 5th and 6th graders.

I am, however, thinking more about the specific affordances of a live, interactive writing space like Jamboard, however. A few years ago I helped one of our middle school foreign language teachers use the live, synchronous collaboration features available in the latest subscription-version of Explain Everything (Edu-Groups), and we had mixed results. Those were due in part to our local WiFi bandwidth issues, but the goal was still partially achieved to let students collaborate live in a shared slideshow in which they could DRAW as well as WRITE.

If you’re considering live collaboration options with students, I definitely recommend using Google Docs and Google Slides for live collaboration FIRST before moving on to Jamboard. Jamboard has some unique capabilities and potential uses, especially for “non-linguistic representation,” which make it both exciting and useful.

Have you used Jamboard yet with a class of students? What have your experiences been, and lessons learned? Please let me know with a comment below or by reaching out on Twitter to @wfryer. Good luck safely Jamboarding to better make collaborative thinking visible!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast472: Remote Learning in Oklahoma #OklaEd http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/04/26/podcast472-remote-learning-in-oklahoma-oklaed/ Sun, 26 Apr 2020 18:49:43 +0000

This podcast is a recording of a webinar panel discussion by Oklahoma educators Telannia Norfar, Delilah Rodriguez, Rhonda Schroeder and Wesley Fryer on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Our topic of conversation was “Remote Learning in Oklahoma,” as we are now about a month into “learning at home” because of the neo-coronavirus / COVID-19 global pandemic. The questions we discussed included, What is your current role and situation with ‘remote learning’ in Oklahoma? What is your technology situation like in terms of student devices, teacher devices, and utilized platforms? What are discovering that should be changed about school as a result of this situation? What are some success stories about remote learning at your school / for you? How do you think we can help teachers and schools prepare for ongoing remote learning in the event we don’t return face-to-face to school in August, or we do but have to go back to remote learning in the fall? Check out the shownotes for links to Twitter IDs for each of our panelists, as well as other referenced resources and links from the conversation.

Shownotes

  1. Video version on YouTube
  2. Questions (Google Slides) used in this webinar
  3. Delilah Rodriguez @AwesomeTeach12
  4. Telannia Norfar @thnorfar
  5. Rhonda Schroeder @rhondaschroeder
  6. Wes Fryer @wfryer
  7. Official Twitter account for the #OklaEd Sunday evening Twitter chat: @oklaed
  8. EdCampOKC (@edcampOKC)
  9. ConnectEd iPad Program at Arthur Elementary (OKCPS info page)
  10. Project-Based Learning in the Math Classroom (Grades 6-10) by Talannia Norfar and Chris Fancher (Amazon)
  11. STEMseeds.org
  12. Remote Learning Instructional Support website of Casady School
  13. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Behold: The Power of the Spotify Playlist During COVID-19 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/04/21/behold-the-power-of-the-spotify-playlist-during-covid-19/ Wed, 22 Apr 2020 03:32:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13988 “remote learning” mode for about four weeks now at our school, as we “shelter in place” because of the neo-coronavirus / COVID-19 global pandemic. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had some trouble falling asleep some nights, as I’ve adjusted to a ‘new normal’ of working entirely [...]]]> We’ve been in “remote learning” mode for about four weeks now at our school, as we “shelter in place” because of the neo-coronavirus / COVID-19 global pandemic. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had some trouble falling asleep some nights, as I’ve adjusted to a ‘new normal’ of working entirely from home and rarely venturing out into the wider world other than to take daily walks with our dogs and human family members.

Truth be told, I’m actually LOVING many aspects of our new life at home, but change of any kind can be stressful and that’s certainly been true in the past month for all of us in our family. (Except, perhaps, for our dogs, for whom this season of “sheltering in place” has been a canine dream… The Christmas break which never ends, when the humans stick around and rarely lock animals by themselves in the kitchen / in a kennel.)

In this post (in addition to showing you multiple pictures of our awesome dogs) I’d like to reflect a little about the amazing life-enhancing power of a Spotify playist, “Quail Chill,” which I named in part for our OKC neighborhood and now includes 101 songs I mostly added in the wee hours of the morning a week or so ago when I had trouble sleeping. As a child of the 1980s who LOVED to create mixtapes (younger crowd: Think Peter Quill / Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy – 2014) music subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music are a dream come true. In 1993 after I’d graduated from college I remember buying a 10 disc CD changer for my car, and thinking how AMAZING it was I could randomly listen to songs from ten DIFFERENT albums at the same time, with only a slight delay as the mechanical disc changer in my trunk physically ejected and inserted different spinning, plastic discs with laser etching into an analog music player. Really, I’m not kidding you… it was AMAZING. Now, however, other than Garth Brooks’ songs which I love… just about any song I want to hear is available ON DEMAND for me to listen to whenever I want… and I can build “the mixtapes of the 21st century” (they’re called SHARED PLAYLISTS) with just a few taps on this miniature computer / smartphone I seem to have permanently mounted now to the palm of my left hand.

My “Quail Chill” playlist on Spotify is amazing and wonderful for LOTS of reasons.

First, I’m able to access it like I’m a Star Trek crew member aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Only instead of starting my verbal commands (wait… or are these Hogwarts-style magical spells?!) I say, “Hey Google…” instead of “Computer…” I’m constantly listening to this playlist, which has over 5 hours of music, in random / shuffled mode in different rooms of our house where we have Google Home Mini smart speakers or at my home office desk, where I’m using a Google Nest Hub now. I’m also able to listen in the car, on those rare occasions now when we venture out to a store sporting matching masks which might protect others from our own possible COVID-19 germs, but are unlikely to offer meaningful protection for us. Car Play is fantastic on our after-market car stereo, and Spotify is accessible (even though it’s not Apple-created) via Siri commands on-the-go using Car Play.

Secondly, my Spotify “Quail Chill” playlist is awesome because its a reflection of my eclectic, diverse musical tastes as an almost fifty year old guy. From my year living in Mexico City it includes tracks by Juan Luis Guerra and Luis Miguel. My current favorite song is “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Jim Croce, Elton John, Gordon Lightfoot, Enya, Howard Shore, Cat Stevens, Loreena McKennitt, Dan Fogelberg, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Alphaville, Roxette, Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, and yes (to my wife’s dismay) Barry Manilow. Songs I grew up listening to because MY parents liked them… but mostly songs I learned to love in college and in the ensuing years.

The third reason my Spotify “Quail Chill” playlist is awesome is because it includes tracks I wouldn’t have thought to add myself, but Spotify’s machine learning powered algorithm suggested. I LOVE these songs too, like “Adiemus” by Karl Jenkins, “Hello Seattle” by Owl City, and “Nocturne” by Secret Garden. If you’re not using Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play Music currently and paying attention to the “recommended” songs, you’re missing out on some AMAZING musical tracks that could significantly and positively impact your daily life experiences.

The fourth reason my Spotify “Quail Chill” playlist is fantastic is because it’s easily sharable, for FREE, with anyone in the world! To listen to all the songs, you have to be a Spotify subscriber, but the fact I can readily share a link to a specific song or the entire playlist (as I have several times in this post) is really mindblowing.

To highlight this fact through some old media contrasting images, I searched briefly tonight for my mixtapes. I’m confident some of them are close by, but hidden deep within a plastic tub or box stashed in our garage. Alas, mixtape I could not find you this night. I did, however, find my tub of old slides, some dating back to 1987 when I was an exchange student in New Zealand. Because all of these media artifacts are analog and not digital, their “sharability potential” right now is close to zero. (That’s a phrase I just invented, but I’m channeling ideas from Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 book, “Being Digital” here.) Once something has been digitized, a process of converting it into ones and zeros, it can become “friction free sharable” thanks to the economics and underlying architecture our global World Wide Web.

While I didn’t find any of my mixtapes from the late 1980s and early 1990s, many compiled with songs from borrowed CDs owned by other cadets in my squadron at the Air Force Academy, I did find some cassette tapes from the late 1970s which I recorded at home. This includes a 1978 classic titled “Puppy Revolution,” which (as I recall 42 years later) was a creative story I made up as a 7 or 8 year old. Perhaps I need to “digitally resurrect” that analog tale for the benefit of posterity and a good laugh. A project for another time…

My point here is that the digital sharing revolution in which we’re now fully immersed is TOTALLY AMAZING! “Those kids today” likely take it for granted, but kids of the 80’s like yours truly don’t.

Behold: “The Power of the Spotify Playlist!” “Hey Google: Increase volume to 100 percent!”

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Zoom 101 for Small Group Leaders http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/04/16/zoom-101-for-small-group-leaders/ Fri, 17 Apr 2020 01:00:40 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13986 Zoom to host virtual meetings. I’ve posted the recorded audio from the workshop to my “Class with Dr. Fryer” Anchor podcast channel, and you can watch the [...]]]> Today I shared a 61 minute online workshop for Sunday school and small group leaders at our church on how to use the videoconferencing platform Zoom to host virtual meetings. I’ve posted the recorded audio from the workshop to my “Class with Dr. Fryer” Anchor podcast channel, and you can watch the recorded video version on YouTube.

The presentation slides we used via Google Slides are available.

In addition to these links, be sure to check out these resource pages from Zoom:

  1. Zoom “how to” video tutorials 
  2. Meeting and Webinar Best Practices from Zoom 
  3. Managing Breakout Rooms
  4. Zoom Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

These links have been added to my handouts website, which includes resources from my workshops, keynotes and other presentations since 2010.

Zoom 101 for Small Group Leaders by Wes by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Zoom 101 for Small Group Leaders by Wes" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Sharing Audio From Videos During a Videoconference http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/31/sharing-audio-from-videos-during-a-videoconference/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 03:44:43 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13971 COVID-19 pandemic closing schools worldwide and moving many schools online, like ours, that’s most of us in education) it can be very helpful to be able to play live video WITH NATIVE / line feed audio from YouTube or [...]]]> If you’re finding yourself teaching and learning in videoconferences these days (and with the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools worldwide and moving many schools online, like ours, that’s most of us in education) it can be very helpful to be able to play live video WITH NATIVE / line feed audio from YouTube or other sites in a videoconference. Whether you’re videoconferencing with Google Hangouts Meet (as we are mostly), Zoom, GoToMeeting, or another solution, sharing your microphone audio AND computer audio from a web browser like Google Chrome requires a bit of geeky tinkering. These audio channels have to be MIXED together / combined on your computer before being ‘sent out’ as a single source into a videoconference.

Fortunately, if you’re a MacOS computer user, there is an excellent solution and workflow for this. It will set you back about $60, but it works great. In this post, I’ll explain my home office / remote teaching audio mixing solution which uses Audio Hijack software ($59 – though you can pay less with an academic discount), Soundflower (free), and some tweaks to your MacOS security settings. If you’re not up for building a software installer via GitHub, you can pay $99 for Loopback. I’ve been using this setup daily for multiple videoconferences the past two weeks, and it works great.

Before jumping into these details, I’ll give a shout-out to the instructional technology / remote learning support website members of our school’s technology team have been building for teachers at our school the past month, and are continuing to develop: support.casady.org. Choose your interactive learning platform after indicating you’re an educator (Google Classroom or Seesaw) or skip directly to our instructional modules, which are useful with all learning management systems. Those include videoconferencing with Google Hangouts Meet, for “live” classes and office hours with students. Here’s how to setup your MacOS computer to share MICROPHONE audio + Browser audio (or another source) in a videoconference.

Step 1: Buy and Install Audio Hijack

The software which does most of the heavy lifting in this configuration is Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba. “Back in the old days of the web,” when “web 2.0” was a trending topic on MySpace and the webheads still walked the earth (knighted with their titles via the Webcast Academy), I first heard about the software along with Soundflower from Cheryl Oakes (@cheryloakes50) and her mighty podcasting / webcasting partners, “The Seedlings” of Maine. Back then, broadcasting a conference LIVE on the web required MAJOR digital tinkering and geekery. By comparison, what Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach) and I do on the EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR) each Wednesday night via StreamYard looks like a process your average 5 year old could master after 30 seconds of direct instruction. This is all to say “We’ve come a long way, baby!” Webcasting and videoconferencing is more robust and reliable than it ever has been in history, but it sometimes still requires “a geek’s touch” to get everything to work as it should.

Step 2: Install Either Soundflower or Loopback

Thanks to my friend and work/school colleague Eric Ebert (@biggestmeow), I was able to compile and install Soundflower from its new home on GitHub a couple weeks ago. It was one of the few times I’ve ever built an installer from sourcecode, and it’s honestly not something I could readily do without a lot of trial and error again or assistance. So if installing open source software from GitHub isn’t something you’ve done previously, you have two options for this second step:

  1. Get a friend to help you install Soundflower on your computer.
  2. Pony up the bucks and buy / install Loopback.

If you know another option, please share it in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter (@wfryer) or via my electronic contact form. Once you successfully install Soundflower on your MacOS computer, you’ll see two new sound input and output options. These are “virtual audio channels” which you can use for mixing and routing audio in creative ways on your computer, to “send out” into your videoconference.

Fortunately (from a security standpoint) or unfortunately (from an ease-of-installation perspective) it’s now more difficult to install third party software like Soundflower on MacOS computers. You can read more about it on WikiPedia, but basically MacOS now has a feature called the “Gatekeeper” which protects most users / non-power users from different kinds of malware. Without taking additional steps to permit the installation and TRUSTING of third party software programs, they will fail to install on your system. This can be very frustrating.

This is where Loopback software comes in. If your geek quotient (like mine) is lower than what’s required to wade through installing from GitHub and bypassing the MacOS gatekeeper (which requires a few Terminal / command line inputs) and you don’t have a geekier friend who can do all this or advise you how to do it, just buy Loopback and install it.

Either way, now you’re ready for audio mixing.

Step 3: Configure Audio Hijack for Audio Mixing

The last step is the fun part, and it reminds me of creating a recipe for IFTTT. (“If This Then That“) You will drag and drop different audio inputs, filters, and virtual device icons to create your desired audio workflow. This was my almost final Audio Hijack “session,” which I changed slightly by swapping the first “Application – Google Chrome” widget for “System Audio.” That way if I use a web browser other than Chrome in a videoconference, or play a media file from a program like QuickTime Player, it will also send its audio OUT to “Soundflower (2ch).” That Soundflower virtual audio channel is now my INPUT setting for my computer’s default audio and also for application audio, like Google Hangouts Meet conferences.

The main product page for Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba shows the basics of setting up “sessions” in the program. The biggest key is combining both your microphone audio with either application or system audio, and outputting that to Soundflower so you can use the mixed audio as a single input source in other programs / applications.

That’s it! I wish it was a little simpler, but I’m mainly glad that it works! If you’re a WindowsOS user, this 2017 article may help you figure out how to mix your audio channels, but I’m not sure if that’s still applicable for the latest builds of Windows10.

I’m now sharing audio from many of the evening webinars, weekend Sunday School classes, and (sometimes) weekday “genius bar” virtual workshops for our teachers on a relatively new Anchor podcast channel I titled, “Class with Doctor Fryer.” You should be able to ask / tell your home smartspeaker to “Play the latest episode of Class with Doctor Fryer” to hear it. It’s an eclectic mix of themes, so be ready for diverse topics!

Please let me know if this post and information is helpful to you! Good luck with your remote teaching, learning, and videoconferencing!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Protecting Yourself and Your Family Online (March 2020) http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/29/protecting-yourself-and-your-family-online-march-2020/ Sun, 29 Mar 2020 19:57:16 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13967 “Protecting Yourself and Your Family Online.” A recorded video of this 63 minute presentation is available on YouTube, and linked from the VIDEOS page of DesignCreateShare.com. The webinar description was: As we live more of our lives [...]]]> This past Thursday evening, on March 26, 2020, I shared a free online webinar titled, “Protecting Yourself and Your Family Online.” A recorded video of this 63 minute presentation is available on YouTube, and linked from the VIDEOS page of DesignCreateShare.com. The webinar description was:

As we live more of our lives online via Internet-powered websites and apps, unfortunately cybercrime and malicious software programs continue to proliferate. In this 60 minute, interactive webinar, Dr. Wes Fryer will share a variety of tools and strategies to protect yourself and your family online. These will include the use of a password manager, multi-factor authentication, password auditing programs to identify compromised and weak passwords, and more. If you’re doing anything online today, and have any usernames and passwords, you need to follow the ‘best practices’ we’ll highlight in this webinar.

My slides for this presentation are also available.

This presentation included most of the content from a face-to-face presentation I shared for parents and families at Central Middle School in Edmond, Oklahoma, as part of our community service / partnership initiatives by First Presbyterian Church of Edmond. That presentation was titled, “Online Safety 101 for Families.”

I’m also now uploading the audio recordings for many of my workshops and classes to an Anchor podcast channel called, “Class with Doctor Fryer.” You can directly link and listen to this webinar recording on Anchor, or simply ask your smart speaker (Amazon Alexa or Google Home) to “Play the latest episode of Class with Doctor Fryer.” Depending on when you are trying that command, however, you may need to tell your smart speaker to rewind and play an earlier version. As smart speaker capabilities to play podcasts improves, you may be able to ask for this episode by name.

Please take some time to watch / listen to this this recorded webinar and podcast, and share it with others you know. With the Coronavirus / COVID-19 global pandemic forcing millions of people to “shelter at home” and practice “social distancing,” more of us will be living our lives online. In this environment, “security best practices” like those I highlighted in this webinar are more important than ever.

This week’s Thursday evening webinar is titled, “Tips for Becoming a More Connected Educator,” and FREE registration is available via EventBrite. Archived webinars are linked / embedded on the Videos page of DesignCreateShare.com, and upcoming webinars are located on www.designcreateshare.com.

For more ways to learn and connect with me, see my page, “Next Steps After a Presentation by Wes Fryer.” If you find the ideas in this presentation helpful, please let me know via Twitter (@wfryer) or by using my electronic contact form on WesFryer.com.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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OLTI – The Oklahoma Learning Technology Initiative http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/25/olti-the-oklahoma-learning-technology-initiative/ Thu, 26 Mar 2020 05:25:32 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13963 Today’s decision by the Oklahoma State School Board to keep public K-12 schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year will have both short term and long term repercussions for students and families in our state. Virtually overnight (pun intended) all 500+ public school districts in our state are now required to [...]]]> Today’s decision by the Oklahoma State School Board to keep public K-12 schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year will have both short term and long term repercussions for students and families in our state. Virtually overnight (pun intended) all 500+ public school districts in our state are now required to move to distance learning. Immediately.

Oklahoma’s 700,000 public school students will navigate education at home, as school districts follow a state order to implement distance learning for the rest of the academic year.

Along with Kansas and Virginia, Oklahoma public schools will close their buildings to prevent spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will begin distance learning April 6.

“Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Public Schools Move to Distance Learning.” Oklahoman.Com, 25 Mar. 2020, https://oklahoman.com/article/5658593/coronavirus-in-oklahoma-public-schools-move-to-distance-learning/.

Our school (Casady School) has been spending the past four weeks developing and starting to implement “remote learning” plans for each of our four school divisions, which include a little over 900 students. Today was “orientation day” for all our students, parents and teachers, and tomorrow (Thursday, March 26th) “remote learning” begins for all students in all classes.

We are fortunate that the vast majority of our school constituents have both high speed Internet connectivity at home, as well as the ability to support BYOD (bring your own device) learning at home. For those families without a digital learning device (laptop or iPad) for each student enrolled in our school, we’ve been able to check out a device via our shared carts of Chromebooks and iPads.

This is NOT the case in many Oklahoma public school districts. I spoke yesterday with a friend in a district in a much smaller community in Oklahoma (relative to Oklahoma City) which exemplifies the “digital divide” that is the NORM in our state. Their district has a high school population where at least one-fourth of all students do NOT have home high speed Internet access. One grade level has Chromebook laptops, but three others do not today. Not only does the COVID-19 pandemic present dramatic health challenges to the families and communities of our state, but now it is upending the predominant educational and learning paradigm of our schools. While some state educational leaders question the practicality of schools not previously prepared with equipment and professional development training moving to a distance learning model, it appears this WILL be our path forward for public schools, students, teachers and families in the weeks and months ahead.

Here are some of the thoughts I have about this situation and the action steps which will be required in the days ahead.

OLTI: The Oklahoma Learning Technology Initiative

Like the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, our state now requires an Oklahoma Learning Technology Initiative (OLTI). This should be a comprehensive, well-funded initiative to provide not only hardware and software solutions to teachers and students, but also the home Internet connectivity required for “modern digital learning” as well as sustained, continuous professional development to support teachers, administrators, and families in this historic, moonshot-level, transformative educational endeavor.

Digital Learning Devices for All Students and Teachers

The educational equity challenges we face as a state are staggering. Due in part to an educational funding process and formula I am convinced was designed to intentionally confuse citizens and obstruct reform to support “adequate funding,” we have chronically underfunded our schools in Oklahoma for decades. All states and governments everywhere are by necessity led by “elites,” but in Oklahoma we have a particularly toxic political culture which has held taxation for public benefit to be anathema. The result is we have some suburban school districts like Norman Public Schools and Edmond Public Schools which provide a mobile, digital learning device TODAY for every student in certain grades. We have many urban and rural public school districts, however, which do NOT provide any kind of digital learning device to students. This is not just the result of inadequate state and local funding for schools, however. It’s also a function of leadership and vision. Crescent Public Schools was a leader in 1 to 1 learning in Oklahoma ten years ago. Putnam City Schools has literally thousands of iPads deployed in the hands of students and teachers, and has made local funding decisions to sustain their modern learning program despite the shortcomings of our overall educational funding paradigm.

What is required today is a substantial shift in the ways Oklahoma schools are funded and sustained. Each student now requires:

  1. a digital learning device (most likely either a Chromebook or iPad)
  2. high speed home Internet connectivity
  3. an interactive learning platform for information and assignment exchange with teachers (We primarily use Google Classroom and Seesaw. Edmond PS uses Canvas. Each classroom teacher needs an interactive platform to support modern digital learning, but these platforms may continue to vary by school and district.)
  4. a teacher who is a connected educator, capable of learning through both independent, self-directed learning modules as well as synchronous, in-person or virtual professional development training.

Community WiFi Networks

We are going to need regional and national Internet service providers to marshall resources to create community WiFi networks to serve students, teachers and families. Large telecoms like AT&T do not want to do this, because the ROI (return on investment) is minimal or negative when this is done in small communities like those served by most of our rural schools. I know this because I worked for AT&T for two years, and I’ve researched and worked with state connectivity issues (like E-Rate) for years as a professional educator. The global pandemic we face is unlike anything we’ve confronted in our lifetimes. ROI cannot continue to be an obstacle to the creation of community WiFi networks as it has been in the past.

5G cellular technologies are “just around the corner” but they are not going to be able to meet the challenges of Oklahoma remote learning in the next 1 to 18 months. Not only is 5G cellular network infrastructure not widely available yet, the end-user / client side devices are not even on the market yet in mass… and with the upcoming challenges to our global supply chains brought on by COVID-19, the short term prospects for manufacturing and deploying large numbers of Chromebooks or iPads for student and teacher use are formidable. Partnerships with vendors and manufacturers in this situation will be essential. As with all 1 to 1 learning initiatives, the issues to keep in mind are far more than just “how cheaply can I get a vendor to deliver these laptops to my loading dock?” MLTI in Maine was initially a multi-level partnership between the state and Apple Computer, where the provision of high speed Internet connectivity to every Maine School and library was an essential component of the program.

Oklahoma will need to partner with educational technology vendors who can offer similar, multi-tiered solutions to hardware, software, connectivity, security, and professional development needs.

Addressing All “The Legs” of the Modern Digital Learning Table

In January 2020, a team of 9 educators from our school visited four different schools in Dallas, Texas, to learn more about their 1 to 1 Learning programs and initiatives. As a result of that trip and the thinking it inspired, I wrote the post, “Modern Learning in School: The 14 Legs of the Table,” and created the following graphic.

This visual is intended to represent the multitude of issues involved in implementing, supporting, and sustaining a one-to-one learning initiative, by which I mean a learning project (I prefer the term “modern learning”) in which each student and teacher is equipped with a mobile learning device as well as software, training, support, connectivity, and more.

As formidable as the challenges facing Oklahoma public school leaders, legislators and citizens are today with COVID-19 and specifically these educational needs, it’s important to remember that the TOOLS we have for collaboration, idea sharing, and distributed learning are better than ever in earth history. That’s not hyperbole, it’s a fact.

Honestly, I’ve wanted OLTI to become a reality ever since I moved to Oklahoma with our family in 2006. My February 2006 post, “Laptops are 21st Century Pencils,” is a documented example of this thinking that’s now 14 years old. I certainly don’t look forward to the medical crisis and health emergency which we’re poised to experience in Oklahoma because of COVID-19 in the next two to four weeks. But I AM glad this pandemic is going to force us to not only face but also constructively address horrific educational and learning equity issues in our state which should morally outrage each one of us as taxpayers, parents, grandparents, and members of our communities.

Will the visionary educational leaders in our state please step forward? I’m so thankful Joy Hoffmeister (@joy4ok) is our State Superintendent for Public Instruction, and will be shepherding / leading us as a state through the challenging days which lie ahead. It’s time to get and remain connected, and advocate for our students and families as together we engage in “remote learning” for the foreseeable future.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Tips and Strategies for Remote Learning (March 2020) http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/24/tips-and-strategies-for-remote-learning-march-2020/ Wed, 25 Mar 2020 03:58:54 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13956 our school have been preparing for “remote school” for students as a result of the coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis. On March 19, 2020, our Head of School sent out a letter to our parents [...]]]> For the past four weeks, starting two weeks before our Spring Break last week, teachers, administrators and staff at our school have been preparing for “remote school” for students as a result of the coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis. On March 19, 2020, our Head of School sent out a letter to our parents including information about our remote learning plans and FAQs for parents. If your school is currently preparing for remote learning (as all Oklahoma public school districts now appear to be, pending tomorrow’s state school board meeting vote) I encourage you to review these publicly shared documents and information. As our school’s “Technology Integration and Innovation Specialist” this year, I’ve been building an instructional site for our teachers to support remote learning, on support.casady.org, which is openly licensed CC-BY. This collaborative effort with many other teachers and members of our school staff has provided a good opportunity to curate as well as present instructional materials for our teachers who (like most schools) vary widely in their past experiences, skills, and comfort levels with digital learning technology tools.

Yesterday, on Monday, we started “Day 0” of our remote learning plan, with the first of two days of professional development and collaborative planning for remote learning. We utilized a blended approach in designing this day of preparation, inviting teachers to engage in both asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. My experiences helping organize the K-12 Online Conference for eleven years, as well as serving as the Director of Distance Learning for the Texas Tech College of Education for five years, were helpful in this rapid design process. As an educator who has been advocating for the transformative use of digital learning tools and strategies since the mid-1990s, it’s been a bit surreal to find myself in the midst of the past few weeks of preparations when everyone’s “new classroom normal” is immediately expected to be virtual, online and interactive digital learning.

As part of our morning learning activities yesterday as a school, I shared a 30 minute keynote with all faculty and staff using GoToMeeting. We had over 100 people in the virtual meeting room, and it was fun to interact, talk and chat in the 30 minutes prior to the official start of the keynote, as well as watch the chatroom backchannel during the keynote. This is the first time we’ve ever had professional development at our school where all participants were homebound, with the exception of a few teachers who opted to come up to school to get online. A recorded video of that 31 minute presentation is available along with the slides I utilized.

I will be creating a podcast in upcoming days reflecting on some of the key decisions and recommendations we’ve followed in developing the technical as well as instructional support aspects of our learning plan. A few of the big ones include:

  1. Transitioning from a much more antiquated and cumbersome IT ticketing solution to Freshdesk. Check out our growing list of technology related FAQs on casady.freshdesk.com.
  2. Conducting a survey of both our families to determine readiness for remote learning / home virtual learning, as well as a faculty survey to get a more precise sense of how our past experiences and current skills with digital learning vary.
  3. Identifying a core number of “learning modules” for our instructional support website, which have been used as the basis for asynchronous as well as synchronous professional development.
  4. Encouraging our faculty to select a primary interactive learning platform for their classroom: Either Google Classroom, Seesaw, or MyCasady (which is powered by our SIS, Blackbaud.)
  5. Selecting a primary live videoconferencing / synchronous learning platform for teachers and students to use: Google Hangouts Meet. The Google for Education development team has made a number of positive and important improvements to Hangouts Meet in the past two weeks, and I’ve been VERY pleased with how easy it is to use. The slideshow we’ve used to train our faculty on the use of Hangouts Meet is included in the instructional support module for GHM.
  6. We’ve started a private Facebook group for our faculty for instructional support. While not all faculty/staff are on Facebook and this is an OPTIONAL platform we’re definitely NOT requiring anyone to use, Facebook does provide excellent tools to facilitate sharing and threaded conversations. We’ve just activated that group this week, and I’m excited to see how it facilitates our collaboration and idea sharing in the weeks ahead.
  7. While I love many features and functions of Google Classroom, I’m even more excited about the ways our teachers in grades PreK through 3rd are stretching into their creative uses of Seesaw. The past two years I’ve led a “Seesaw Skills Pilot Project” at our school with teachers in 1st through 4th grades, and the capacity we’ve built among our faculty through that professional development program specifically will bear even more “fruit” (I predict) in the weeks ahead. Our decision to become a “Seesaw for Schools” campus was an important one several years ago, and I am so thankful we’re part of the Seesaw community. Definitely check out the Seesaw Remote Learning Resources for Teachers, Administrators and Families. Also check out the “Remote Learning for Seesaw Training” module we’ve built and shared, and the Seesaw FAQs for Parents on our Freshdesk portal.

I’ve been sharing resources related to remote learning / home learning for the past couple weeks now on Twitter using the hashtag #covid19EDU, and these are accessible via my Tweet Nest archive. We are living into challenging times on multiple fronts. While there will be “silver linings” to this stressful time filled with changes, there will also be some extremely difficult, unpleasant aspects to face in upcoming weeks. I am thankful we have more powerful collaboration tools at our fingertips than people have had in any previous era of human history. If the resources I’ve referenced in this post are of help to you as a teacher and educational leader in the journey ahead, please let me know via a tweet to @wfryer, a comment below, or a comment via my electronic contact form.

It’s time to buckle up with our collaboration belts. The days ahead will be dark, but there IS light beyond this crisis and as we work together through it, I’m confident we can emerge stronger and better together “on the other side.”

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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3 Ways to Become a More Connected Educator During the COVID-19 Crisis http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/16/3-ways-to-become-a-more-connected-educator-during-the-covid-19-crisis/ Tue, 17 Mar 2020 05:07:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13947 neo-Coronavius / COVID-19 crisis is upon us in the United States. As we grapple as teachers with how to maintain wellness and self-care for ourselves, our families, and our students, it’s important to consider how we can each become more connected to our educator colleagues around the world for support and idea [...]]]> The neo-Coronavius / COVID-19 crisis is upon us in the United States. As we grapple as teachers with how to maintain wellness and self-care for ourselves, our families, and our students, it’s important to consider how we can each become more connected to our educator colleagues around the world for support and idea sharing. In this post, I’ll highlight three powerful ways we can each become more digitally connected during this crisis, while still maintaining healthy boundaries and screentime limits.

Suggestion 1: Connect to Other Educators on Twitter

We have been living in a digitally connected world for awhile, but many teachers are still not using Twitter for educational networking. Everyone has heard negative news headlines about Twitter, but that’s far from “the rest of the story” when it comes to Twitter and teacher collaboration! Please consider my own testimony: “Twitter is the most powerful networking technology I have ever used and experienced as a professional educator for 25 years, which makes me a better teacher and learner every single week of the year.” If you are an educator and not on Twitter, THIS IS THE TIME to start using it for professional networking with others! If you are already on Twitter, now is the time to connect with new people and learn to extend your use of the platform even further.

Twitter can be intimidating and even overwhelming at times, but thankfully there are great online resources and people to help you get started. Here are a few, after you setup your account with a unique, complex password. Remember to try and choose a relatively SHORT Twitter ID / handle, and include a few details in your PROFILE so other educators will be able to identify you as a potential colleague.

  1. Use Twitter lists to follow other educators on Twitter. Here are links to my Twitter lists for Education Yodas (that’s the list I’d start with), Media Literacy, and Digital Citizenship. Click MEMBERS on each one and choose some people to follow, looking at their profiles and recent tweets to decide if you want to learn more from what they share. I maintain more Twitter lists but those will get you started.
  2. Check out Karly Moura (@KarlyMoura) and Sean Fahey (@SEANJFAHEY)’s outstanding free resource, “A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter for Educators.” It’s linked from Ditch That Textbook, which is an excellent resource by Matt Miller (@jmattmiller).
  3. Follow some hashtags of professional interest. Currently I’m following #covid19EDU as an unofficial but helpful educational hashtag for educators, organizations, and other folks sharing resources related to the coronavirus crisis and resources for schools / teachers / parents / students. Find out if your state has an educational hashtag. (We do in Oklahoma, it’s #OklaEd). I also like to follow #MediaLit and #MediaLiteracy. There are many more educational hashtags. Explore a few of them to find other PEOPLE you want to connect with and learn from.

Suggestion 2: Join Educator Support Live Events Online

Remote learning / home learning and teaching online / at a distance is challenging! To maintain our own wellness as teachers, spouses, parents, children to older parents, or whatever other hats we wear, we need support from colleagues! This can be more challenging when we don’t see other teachers in the hallway at school each weekday! The good news is, there are THOUSANDS of other educators “out there” online collaborating via Twitter, Facebook Groups (like Seesaw Teachers), and on other platforms. Live, online events can be a powerful way to connect with other teachers for support and ideas in this challenging time.

The Media Education Lab (@MedEduLab) of Dr. Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs) is one organization offering regular, daily evening online gatherings (“Virtually Viral Hangouts”) starting this week each day from 1-2 pm Eastern / 12-1 pm Central / 11 am – noon Mountain / 10 – 11 am Pacific. I’m sure more online “hangouts” like this will be offered… Using Twitter and finding some other connected educators is a great way to learn about more. Consider offering your own weekly “live meetup” for other teachers at your school, if someone is not already. If you come up with a clever name for yours, please let me know with a reply on Twitter to @wfryer. Maybe something like, “Teacher Lounge Hangout Time?” I’m sure someone else can think of a catchier title… but this idea and opportunity is both solid and needed!

Suggestion 3: Use Flipboard to Filter Your Information Feeds

The World Heath Organization (WHO) reported on February 2, 2020, we are experiencing “a coronavirus infodemic.” This is a HUGE media literacy challenge for everyone, including educators.

“The 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ — an over-abundance of information — some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”

WHO Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report 13 for 2 Feb 2020

Amidst so much information and disinformation, it’s critical we learn and practice more sophisticated media literacy skills. We need to both model and teach these to our students as well as colleagues and parents. Flipboard (@flipboard) is a powerful, free app and online platform for “curating your own feeds of information.” It’s a customizable digital magazine, which unlike Facebook, you can directly tweak and manage to provide content YOU trust and want to read / see / watch. See my workshop curriculum, “Discovering Useful Ideas,” for more suggestions about how you can use Flipboard as well as other online resources in a more deliberately curated “information feed.” Also check out the resources from my workshop, “Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy.” We all need to “step up our game” when it comes to finding and sharing trustworthy sources of information online!

I hope these resources are helpful to you! I want to encourage you to give some of these suggestions a try, and share them with your colleagues! We do face a challenging global pandemic in the neo-Coronavius / COVID-19 crisis, but we have more powerful tools at our fingertips than ever before to use to collaborate, connect, support, and learn together.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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The Coronavirus Pandemic and Media Literacy http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/08/the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-media-literacy/ Mon, 09 Mar 2020 04:27:24 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13939 We are living into a very interesting chapter of earth history this week. As I type this post on Sunday night, March 8, 2020, the confluence of several political decisions as well as the predictable mathematical results of exponential growth are combining to setup a week which will be filled with alarmist voices in both mainstream news media as well as social media focusing on the coronavirus global outbreak. Alongside credible, expert voices, the youth in our classrooms and homes will continue to be inundated by a flood of memes and videos in their social media feeds which will likely obfuscate reality for them and make it very difficult to ascertain if anything “serious” is happening with respect to the coronavirus outbreak, at least for awhile. This will also be true for many adults, whose cognitive perceptions are not directly complicated at this point by TikTok and Snapchat, but are none-the-less very challenged by the conflicting voices and opinions circulating about coronavirus.

In this post, I want to share some suggestions for how this is an ideal “teachable moment” with students to discuss various aspects of media literacy. In addition, I will share with you the expert voices whose views I accessed yesterday thanks to my Pocketcasts podcast subscriptions, who convinced me we are indeed facing a real global pandemic, and we need to prepare our families as well as organizations for a “marathon experience” that will last at least 12 to 18 months and in many ways redefine what we consider “normal, everyday life.” Large swathes of our earth’s population are about to “wake up” to this reality, and if you can understand these issues early, it can directly benefit you through the reasonable preparatory steps you can take in the days and weeks ahead.

First, let’s talk about the media literacy opportunities this situation presents with students for those of us fortunate to teach. Last Thursday and Friday with my 5th and 6th grade Computer Class students, I asked them to share with me:

  1. What they have heard about the coronavirus?
  2. How we can tell what websites and news reports to believe?
  3. What they can do to verify something is likely accurate before sharing it with others?

We had this discussion ahead of our “Good Role Model Reflection” lesson, which involves a discussion about the merits as well as limitations of WikiPedia. We discuss how WikiPedia articles are extensively cited, how images shared there are cleared for educational re-use, and how “talk pages” often reveal how different contributors / editors are debating about content added, deleted, or edited on pages.

I also shared two different websites which aspire to offer objective presentations of news events today, Newsy and Google News, including the “View Full Coverage” option for many topics.

As a visual backdrop to our discussion about coronavirus, I showed students the Johns Hopkins updated coronavirus tracking map, which I also added to our classroom “Wonder Links” webpage. I explained to students this is NOT a time to panic. It’s not a time to “joke” about these issues, either. We need to discuss what we know, what is being done now to keep us safe, and how we can decide whether or not to believe something we hear, read or see online in upcoming weeks from a friend or someone else.

On the subject of checking to determine the accuracy and trustworthiness of a website, we talked about the benefit of learning what websites and news sources adults in their life trust, like parents and teachers. We also discussed the importance of LATERAL READING instead of just viewing the “About page” on a website to evaluate credibility, and how important it is to beware of media content which makes us upset or emotional. That is one reason why the “S” in Mike Caufield’s SIFT web literacy framework stands for STOP. (@holden)

There are more media literacy discussion topics and skills which can and should be discussed with students, but those are good places to start in the context of cornonavirus.

Secondly in this post, I’ll share the three primary podcasts I listened to on Saturday which included “expert voices” speaking to the “new coronavirus” outbreak and whether or not this has already become a global pandemic which will affect nearly every human being on our planet. Spoiler alert: It IS, and it WILL. A “pandemic” by the way, is:

an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or worldwide.

“Pandemic.” Wikipedia, 9 Mar. 2020. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pandemic&oldid=944640743.

My first coronavirus-related podcast on Saturday was the March 5, 2020, episode of the New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast, titled, “The Coronavirus in Washington State.” Not only does this podcast do an excellent job of humanizing this crisis, including interview audio with a woman whose mother is quarantined in a retirement community in Seattle where multiple residents have already died, it also explains how DNA analysis has revealed the virus has likely infected hundreds or possibly thousands of others already in the area. This will be a theme I’ll mention again in other podcasts, and it’s important to understand: Because of the way the U.S. Government set requirements for coronavirus testing initially, everyone was prevented from knowing the full extent of the outbreak here. Limited access to tests meant people who had symptoms could not be tested, which led to underreporting of the virus’ spread. That appears likely to to change this week. This podcast runs just over 30 minutes long.

The second podcast is almost an hour long, and offers multiple perspectives from experts on pandemics and the coronavirus specifically. This is the March 6, 2020, episode of the World Affairs Council podcast, titled, “Coronavirus: Bracing for a Global Pandemic.” The description explains:

On this week’s episode, Ray Suarez talks with Larry Brilliant, a renowned epidemiologist, credited with playing a major role in eradicating smallpox, and Pulitzer Prize-winning global health journalist Laurie Garrett. We also get dispatches from Rafael Suarez in China, Christopher Livesay in Italy and Peter Kenyon, who recently returned from Iran.

WorldAffairs?: Coronavirus: Bracing for a Global Pandemic. http://worldaffairs.libsyn.com/coronavirus-bracing-for-a-global-pandemic. Accessed 8 Mar. 2020.

This is an impressive lineup of expert voices, and I strongly encourage you to listen to the entire podcast. Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) is the author of the 1995 book, “The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance” and the 2011 book, “Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health.” Laurie has been a proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for pandemics for years, and most global leaders have not heeded her warnings and recommendations. Now we are about to pay the price. Her criticism of the way the U.S. administration has mishandled this crisis (as of that recording March 5, 2020) is scathing and persuasive. Unfortunately those decisions are likely to not just just have negative electoral consequences for President Trump (that’s my analysis, btw) it also may lead to the preventable deaths of many people. As I said at the outset of this post, we’re living into extremely interesting times right now. “Interesting” is actually not a sufficient word here. “Very challenging” is more appropriate.

Larry Brilliant (@larrybrilliant) is another pandemic scientific expert included in this podcast. The World Affairs Council podcast (@world_affairs), by the way, is one of my favorite free subscriptions now out of more than 100 on PocketCasts on my iPhone. Experts like the scientific and scholarly folks included in this podcast are EXACTLY the kind of voices we need to be listening to right now.

The third and last podcast I listened to on Saturday about coronavirus was the latest Science Friday podcast. Again they referenced the role genetic testing and DNA is playing in understanding the spread and scope of the coronavirus in Washington State and elsewhere. The numbers are high, and when we FINALLY deploy coronavirus testing kits in the large numbers which are required now, we’ll get a more statistically accurate picture of the true scope of this outbreak. Yes, it’s a pandemic.

I’ve shared a few posts on Facebook the past two days (here and here) about some of the family preparations I’ve made and consider reasonable. I’ve heard plenty of smart people at school and our church dismiss this entire situation in the past 4 days as “just media hype,” “more political disinformation,” and other things. My analysis could certainly be wrong here, but as I’ve explained in this post, my thinking is directly shaped by the repeated, mutually-affirming perspectives and opinions of scientific experts and scholars.

Whatever opinions you hold now about coronavirus, hopefully we can agree it’s a great opportunity to talk about media literacy with students. Who are you choosing to believe, and why? How are you fact-checking before sharing? These are great conversations for people of all ages who are online. These discussions also have real implications.

It’s going to be an exciting week.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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The Orbital Perspective: Inspired by Chris Hadfield, Ed Robertson, the Wexford Gleeks and Rod Murray http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/07/the-orbital-perspective-inspired-by-chris-hadfield-ed-robertson-the-wexford-gleeks-and-rod-murray/ Sat, 07 Mar 2020 13:38:28 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13937 Rod Murray (@mrmuzzdog), this morning I started my day with an inspiring, co-created song by Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield), Ed Robertson (@edrobertson,) and the Wexford Gleeks (@wpa_to) recorded together when Commander Hadfield was orbiting our planet as [...]]]> Thanks to a recommendation from my Canadian friend and fellow educator Rod Murray (@mrmuzzdog), this morning I started my day with an inspiring, co-created song by Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield), Ed Robertson (@edrobertson,) and the Wexford Gleeks (@wpa_to) recorded together when Commander Hadfield was orbiting our planet as an astronaut aboard the International Space Station in 2013. The song is called “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)” and is a “must share” song with your students as together we aspire to adopt what astronaut Ron Garan (@astro_ron) terms, “The Orbital Perspective”. I’ve added it to my classroom “Wonder Links.”

The fact I was able to watch this video this morning, now you’re reading about it, will hopefully watch it soon, and may share it with others (including your own students) is the direct result of the fact Rod and I are “connected educators” on Twitter. Here are some of the “connected educator dominoes” which fell together this week and date back to at least 2012 when Rod and I attended “Unplug’d 2012” at Northern Edge Algonquin (@northernedge) and shared the wilderness cabin “Loon Echo” for several amazing nights. Speaking of “singing songs together,” I immediately think of and remember singing “Tango! The Moose!” in the bus to UnPlug’d, led by Rod. Thankfully I documented that 79 second audio experience to my personal sounds blog.

Yesterday morning, I taught the lesson “Good Role Model Reflection” to my 5th and 6th graders. The lesson provides opportunities for multiple media literacy and digital literacy discussions and skill development exercises. The project requires students to select someone they consider a good role model, find them on WikiPedia, download a copyright / sharing friendly image from WikiPedia, fill in a “mad libs” style Google Doc template script about their selected person, and use a Seesaw Activity to record themselves reading their short script. The example person I use when introducing this project is Chris Hadfield. I shared about this lesson on Twitter yesterday morning before our class started, and Rod Murray happened to see that tweet since we’re following each other / connected on Twitter.

It turns out Rod’s wife went to high school in Canada with Commander Hadfield. This is the part of the story when together, we start singing, “It’s a Small World,” which apparently is the most publicly performed song of all time. If you want to continue following rabbit hole detour links in this post, I’d also suggest, “Ace of Base – Beautiful Life,” which comes to mind. Connections like this to Rod, Chris Hadfield, Ed Roberson of “The Barenaked Ladies” (@barenakedladies) and the Wexford Gleeks choir are so amazing!

I started a YouTube playlist called, “The Orbital Perspective.” If you haven’t already, you definitely should watch the original National Geographic (@natgeo) series, “One Strange Rock,” hosted by Will Smith. It’s available on Disney+. Chris Hadfield is one of 8 astronauts in the series who reflect on what “life up there” (in orbit) taught them “about life down here” on planet earth. I also recommend watching and sharing with your students the 2018 ArsTechnica video, “Astronaut Chris Hadfield Breaks Down His ‘Space Oddity’ Video.” It’s six minutes long and is a lovely backstory of Commander Hadfield’s most famous music video recorded from orbit, “Space Oddity,” remixed with permission from the original by David Bowie.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Video is the pencil of the 21st century!” Many thanks to everyone who made this compelling musical video duet in 2013, and Rod Murray for sharing it with me 7 years later!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Video Tutorial: Virtual Office Hours with Google Hangouts Meet http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/02/video-tutorial-virtual-office-hours-with-google-hangouts-meet/ Tue, 03 Mar 2020 05:38:43 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13933 coronavirus quarantines looming large around the world, I’m creating a series of videos to help other teachers needing to effectively teach students from home / from a distance. If you find this helpful, please let me know by sharing a comment on the original [...]]]> With the prospect of school closures because of mandated coronavirus quarantines looming large around the world, I’m creating a series of videos to help other teachers needing to effectively teach students from home / from a distance. If you find this helpful, please let me know by sharing a comment on the original YouTube video, by reaching out on Twitter to @wfryer, by using my electronic contact form, or leaving a comment below on this post. For the description on YouTube I wrote:

Why if you’re teaching at a distance, “virtual office hours” can be valuable and how to setup a Google Hangouts Meet videoconference for your students from within Google Calendar. Free if your school uses GSuite for Education (GSFE).

The video is 14 minutes, 19 seconds long. I recorded this with Screenflow. Learn more about using Google Hangouts Meet on “Hangouts Meet training and help.”

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast471: Let’s Talk About Social Identity and FOMO http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/03/02/podcast471-lets-talk-about-social-identity-and-fomo/ Tue, 03 Mar 2020 02:39:33 +0000

This podcast is a recording of a digital citizenship presentation for high school students shared by Dr. Wesley Fryer at Casady School in Oklahoma City on February 27, 2020. The goal of this talk was to encourage students to think more deeply and critically about their own identities, how those identities are shaped, and specifically how much power and influence we give other people and social media specifically when it comes to our perceptions of who we are and who we want to be. The Common Sense Media video, “Teen Voices: Who Are You on Social Media?” was shared during this presentation, and the audio from that video is included in this podcast. Please check the podcast shownotes for the link to the original video, as well as other wonderful resources from Common Sense on Digital Citizenship including a robust (and free) curriculum on digital citizenship for teachers and students differentiated by grade level. Also check out more resources we’ve shared on our school’s digital citizenship website, DigCit.us.

Shownotes

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Wesley Fryer on Twitter: @wfryer
  3. Slides from this Upper School Chapel Talk, “Let’s Talk About Social Identity and FOMO”
  4. Common Sense Media Video: “Teen Voices – Who Are You on Social Media?” (YouTube version)
  5. Miss Americana – The Taylor Swift Documentary
  6. Social Comparison Theory from Psychology Today
  7. Developing Adolescent Identity from The Center for Parent and Teen Communication
  8. Teen ‘like’ and ‘FOMO’ anxiety (CNN, 6 Dec 2016)
  9. Pope Francis wants you to give up being a jerk online for Lent (Engadget, 26 Feb 2020)
  10. Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense Media
  11. Podcast384: Michael Wesch at Heartland eLearning 2011 (@mwesch)
  12. Our School’s Digital Citizenship Resources: For Students, For Teachers, For Parents
  13. #BibleVerse tagged photos on Instagram
  14. #dw4jc tagged photos on Instagram (“Digital Witness for Jesus Christ”)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Hashtag Power of #HongKongProtests, Twitter Bots, PsyOps and Media Literacy http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/23/hashtag-power-of-hongkongprotests-twitter-bots-psyops-and-media-literacy/ Mon, 24 Feb 2020 02:48:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13914 I listened to a fantastic World Affairs (@world_affairs) podcast interview with UC Irvine professor, historian, and author Jeff Wasserstrom (@jwassers) by MaryKay Magistad (@MaryKayMagistad). Dr. Wasserstrom is the author of “Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink” from February 2020, which was also the title of [...]]]> Yesterday morning I listened to a fantastic World Affairs (@world_affairs) podcast interview with UC Irvine professor, historian, and author Jeff Wasserstrom (@jwassers) by MaryKay Magistad (@MaryKayMagistad). Dr. Wasserstrom is the author of “Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink” from February 2020, which was also the title of the interview from February 5, 2020. Dr. Wasserstrom also published “China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs To Know” in 2013. When I shared a link via Twitter to this recent World Affairs podcast episode, I used several hashtags including #HongKongProtests. 24 hours after sharing that tweet it now has over 1000 likes and 1000 retweets, last night (18 hours after sharing) it already had 700. This is NOT the “norm “for my tweets, in fact, this is probably the most liked and retweeted message I’ve ever shared on Twitter. In this post I’d like to reflect on the power of Twitter hashtags, the role of bots (automated algorithms) in our information ecosystem, how we are each involved in PsyOps (psychological operations) online today, and how these ideas relate to media literacy.

As soon as I saw hundreds of likes and retweets on that post yesterday, I automatically thought that “twitter bots” were likely the cause. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly commend Destin Sandlin’s (@smartereveryday) April 2019 video, “The Manipulation of Twitter.” The speed and number of likes and retweets was increasing so fast, it seemed like an algorithm was likely involved.

Yesterday and today I received a few Twitter @reply messages sharing appreciation for my tweet from apparent Hong Kongers, as well as some replies with additional information about the situation they continue to face. I don’t think those were algorithmic, they “felt” and looked authentic. But I honestly have no way of knowing for sure what percentage of likes and retweets on that tweet were shared by actual human beings, and how many were algorithmically generated.

This brings me to the “media literacy” point of this post: How many people using the Internet and social media websites today realize how “automated bots” and “click farms” are shaping the information and media landscape in which we live every day? Why does this matter? It matters because our news and information ecosphere is a true “wild west” of diverse actors today, where data, memes, videos and tweets are literally WEAPONIZED to advance specific political goals. As the summer 2019 documentary “The Great Hack” (streaming on Netflix) points out, everyone on Facebook and other social media sites online is likely the target of ongoing PsyOps (Psychological Operations) which are:

operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.

“Psychological Operations (United States).” Wikipedia, 31 Jan. 2020. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Psychological_operations_(United_States)&oldid=938414917.

My personal political views are definitely with the students of Hong Kong and other Hong Kong residents, struggling to assert and legally codify their basic human rights for self-determination and freedom of expression. These are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I will be both joyful and thankful if any of my tweets, blog articles, or other social media posts help amplify the struggle, cause and plight of the Hong Kong pro-democracy and pro-human rights protesters.

This situation provides some important (and perhaps enlightening) insights into our information and social media landscape, however, which could make a good discussion topic with your students if you are a classroom teacher. I will be sharing and discussing this with my own 5th and 6th grade Digital and Media Literacy students this week, but in a limited way which does not delve TOO deeply into the rabbit holes. In our middle school computer classes, we are mainly focusing our media literacy discussions on advertising and the intentional sharing of a message with a particular purpose, for a specific audience. Our lessons about creating ‘InfoPics” and trying to “avoid being tricked online” are examples.

Not all cases of “social media virality” are positive or constructive, however. The November 2011 situation involving a Kansas High School student on a trip to the state capital in Topeka critically tweeting about the governor on the bus ride back comes to mind, as does the infamous “Justine Sacco incident” documented in the English WikiPedia article for “Online Shaming.” We need to be careful what we tweet, because the nature of Twitter and our wider social media ecosystem means any of us can readily be amplified on the global stage, and not always to positive effect. The November 2019 New York Times article, “What Happens When Ordinary People End Up in Trump’s Tweets” includes more examples worth considering.

It is important to understand the HUGE difference between social media sharing on a platform like Facebook versus Twitter. For paying advertisers micro-targeting specific demographic groups, Facebook is like a precision smart weapon. The power to wield Facebook in world changing ways lies with paying advertisers and the Facebook employees responsible for the algorithm of the news feed. Twitter, in contrast, is a much more user-empowering platform. It’s being weaponized by a variety of actors, without a doubt, but its power… and specifically “the power of the hashtag,” makes Twitter a qualitatively different communications platform and information medium than Facebook. My tweet about Hong Kong from yesterday has over 1000 likes and retweets. My Facebook post shared at the same time, with the same content, has ZERO likes and ZERO re-shares. Hashtags have power and potency on Twitter which they do NOT have on Facebook.

One more important issue related to this tweet comes to mind, which I’ll share as I close. We need more K-12 teachers and professors in higher education actively using Twitter. Why, you ask? The reason is that Twitter has a HUGE influence on mainstream media and the information millions of people access on a daily basis. The dynamics I’ve referenced in this post of social media weaponization, Twitter bots amplifying specific hashtags and messages, and ongoing PsyOps to promote political propaganda are ongoing and GROWING. As I’ve mentioned multiple times on the weekly podcast and webshow I co-host, “The EdTech Situation Room” (@edtechSR), our 2020 Presidential election cycle in the United States is likely to make the 2016 contest seem like a kickball game relative to a brutal World Cup Rugby match. See my December 2019 post, “Tips for Media Literacy and Avoiding Foreign Political Propaganda Influence,” for more on these themes. To really understand a media platform, you need to personally use it. Twitter is “too big to ignore” in our society today, for anyone interested in literacy and communication. That group should include all K12 teachers as well as university faculty members.

To learn more about media literacy as well as digital literacy, I commend “The Summer Institute on Digital Literacy,” which I attended in July 2019 in Rhode Island and will be held in Chicago in July 2020. You can learn more about my experiences in the podcast reflection I shared after this wonderful week of professional development. Media literacy is critical for all of us. The information landscape of 2020 continues to evolve and morph around us, and hashtag power is one “sign of our times” highlighting how different our news cycle and media diet has become.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast470: Sharing and Learning About the 2020 U.S. Census – Statistics in Schools http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/18/podcast470-sharing-and-learning-about-the-2020-u-s-census-statistics-in-schools/ Wed, 19 Feb 2020 01:57:52 +0000

Welcome to Episode 470 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast from February 18, 2020, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features a special interview with the U.S. Census “Statistics in Schools” Manager Victoria Glazer and Teacher Ambassador Emily McMillen, discussing the 2020 Census in the United States and the variety of FREE resources provided for PK-12 teachers to use with students. Disbursement of millions of dollars for our communities from the U.S. Federal Government depends on the Census! All of us as teachers and members of our communities can help both educate students and families about the importance of participating in the census, but also provide real-world, multi-disciplinary learning opportunities using existing census data via the resources shared on the “Statistics in Schools” website. Visit census.gov/schools for more information, and also refer to the podcast shownotes for more direct links.

Shownotes

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. US Census Bureau’s “Statistics in Schools” website
  3. 2020 Census Resources for Teachers and Schools
  4. U.S. Census Bureau’s YouTube Channel
  5. U.S. Census Bureau on Twitter: @uscensusbureau
  6. U.S. Census Bureau on Instagram: @uscensusbureau
  7. Teachers’ Guide to Data Access Tools for Students (U.S. Census Bureau)
  8. State Facts for Students: Help students learn about their state as they collect, organize, analyze, map, and graph a variety of information (Recommended for elementary & middle school students – by the U.S. Census Bureau)
  9. Census Business Builder: A suite of services that provides selected demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau tailored to specific types of users in a simple to access and use format. (Recommended for high school students – by the U.S. Census Bureau)
  10. Statistics in Schools (SIS) Week: March 2-6, 2020
  11. Census Bureau 101 for Students
  12. 2020 Census Maps
  13. Why Census 2020 Matters for Schools
  14. National Center for Educational Statistics: Create a Graph! (free)
  15. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – BlogMiddle School Computer Curriculum (Media Literacy and Digital Literacy)

Subscribe to “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” weekly podcasts!

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All past “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” podcast episodes are archived, dating back to August 2005.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Deep Work and the Race to Minecraft http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/17/deep-work-and-the-race-to-minecraft/ Mon, 17 Feb 2020 23:15:16 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13899 Digital and Media Literacy to 5th and 6th Graders. As classroom teachers, one of the things we quickly learn is how different the dynamics of separate classes can be based [...]]]> Last Thursday was the last day of our second trimester at school, and therefore the end of my second opportunity in 2019-20 to teach Digital and Media Literacy to 5th and 6th Graders. As classroom teachers, one of the things we quickly learn is how different the dynamics of separate classes can be based on the composition of students, their personalities, and the ways in which students interact and sometimes “play off of” each other. In this post, I’d like to juxtapose Cal Newport’s concept of “Deep Work” as it applies to student learning and lessons, with Minecraft and the frequent passion with which young students regard opportunities to build, destroy, design, and interact in virtual worlds.

Our school requires 5th and 6th graders in our Middle Division / Middle School to take one trimester of “Computer Class.” This amounts to about 25 meetings every other school day of each trimester for 50 minutes. I’ve built the ten (or so) projects of our computer class curriculum this year on four different themes:

  1. Digital Literacy (working with Google Apps, learning to create and share different forms of multimedia)
  2. Media Literacy (understanding advertising as the basis for “brain hacking” and propaganda, focusing on critical thinking and validating web content)
  3. Digital Citizenship (practicing the ways we can respectfully and responsibly share our ideas online and interact with others digitally)
  4. Keyboarding (primarily through lessons and timed tests on Typing.com)

I’ve enjoyed using a “Minecraft Screencasting” project with each of my classes this year to introduce students to a variety of digital literacy skills. These include:

  1. Screencasting (with Screencastify)
  2. Saving a local file in a specific location with a customized filename (an exported Minecraft Education world, named with the current date)
  3. Uploading a file to a created folder in the cloud / on Google Drive
  4. Practicing oral / verbal fluency in a recorded screencast
  5. Sharing a video (either as a shared link or downloaded file) to our classroom learning journal, Seesaw

After that initial Minecraft Education lesson, I haven’t utilized Minecraft again in my curriculum, however. I’ve thoughtfully crafted guidelines for students’ “Free Choice Time” in our computer lab, which gives them different options for activities when their assignments for my class are complete. Building, designing and collaborating in Minecraft is one of those options, with the caveats that they cannot engage in PVP (player versus player attacks) or use TNT. Those are limitations at least some students question and “chafe at” a bit, but they are reasonable and generally my students who are “Minecraft fans” (and we have a LOT of those in 5th and 6th grade) are quite happy to have opportunities for “free choice” building in Minecraft with those limits.

Here’s where my thoughts about “Deep Work” and “a race to Minecraft” apply. Primarily in one of my fifth grade classes this last trimester, I had a group of boys who absolutely loved Minecraft and craved every opportunity they had to play and build in it. This led to a situation at the end of term when several of the students were racing through their assignments as quickly as they could, doing the minimum amount of work required, so they could have “free choice time” and play Minecraft. This was “the race to Minecraft.”

I’ve been listening to Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World,” on Audible intermittently the past few months, but have not finished it yet.

On his website explaining “Deep Work,” Newport writes:

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport. https://www.calnewport.com/books/deep-work/. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

The fifth graders in my computer class this past trimester attempting to engage in an almost continual “race to Minecraft” did NOT engage in “deep work” as Newport is defining it, on the digital literacy and media literacy lessons I had assigned and was assessing for the term. I do not doubt that these students were learning as they energetically engaged in various collaborative tasks and activities in Minecraft together… and I also think that these abilities to work effectively in virtual spaces / virtual worlds are important skills for our interconnected, digital age. As a classroom teacher, however, I found this situation frustrating as well as challenging, and ultimately worthy of reflecting on via this blog post.

Of course I could have changed our class “free choice” guidelines to prohibit Minecraft altogether, if I really wanted to “shut down” the dynamics of this “race to Minecraft.” I also could create more detailed rubrics and checklists for quality projects, which MIGHT slow down my students a little and get them to attend a little more to the quality and content of their work. Our last project of the trimester was creating a 5 to 10 image narrated slideshow video / digital story using Adobe Spark Video. I could have required that my students do a far less motivational activity when they finished their project work, like more lessons on Typing.com, since they would have possibly been less incentivized to “speed through” their assignments. “Shutting down students” in their enthusiasm to do something like build, collaborate and play in Minecraft is not what I really wanted to do here, however… so that is why I’m struggling with this situation.

Sometimes it’s helpful to consider a purely analog parallel to a digital situation to better understand it and consider how to handle it. In this case, I basically am providing students with the chance to have a slightly limited form of “outside recess” when they finish their project work and assignments in my class, when I’m letting them “play Minecraft” as a free-choice activity.

Not all of my students choose Minecraft during free-choice time. Especially after introducing students to some basics of creating animations in Scratch, some of them choose to continue building and creating in Scratch. I think that’s fantastic, and something I want to encourage. Our free choice guidelines include both “Coding your own projects in Scratch” and “Playing games YOU HAVE MADE in Scratch.” One of the biggest challenges we have in school today in most settings is a LACK OF TIME FOR UNSTRUCTURED PLAY. I actually mentioned this last night in our Sunday night #OklaEd Twitter chat. I believe unstructured play is important for people of all ages, in both physical/analog spaces as well as digital spaces. This likely explains some of my reluctance to “shut down” my students when they are so enthusiastic to build, work and play together in Minecraft after finishing their assignments.

I think this last trimester of the year, I may actually talk directly with my students about the concepts of “deep work” and discuss both my desire and the importance of them putting forth their best efforts to create quality projects in our class. I may connect this to our existing lesson and project on “Distraction Free Web Reading” using Pocket. Helping students develop their own capacity for self-regulation in a world increasingly filled with digital distractions is a HUGELY important life skill. I’ve enjoyed using initial “class meetings” at the start of each of our classes to usually watch and discuss a “Wonder Link” (frequently a video) and connect with each other. We’ve also used the AppleTV app and website Newsy.com to discuss current events as well as visual / digital storytelling techniques. A conversation about “deep work” during one or more of our meetings could yield some good conversational fruit and ideas about how to address these dynamics.

What are your thoughts? Please reach out by sharing a reply to me @wfryer on Twitter, by commenting on this Facebook post, or leaving an ‘old school’ comment below.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Polar Extremes on NOVA – Behold the Reality of Higher Carbon Dioxide Levels http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/10/polar-extremes-on-nova-behold-the-reality-of-higher-carbon-dioxide-levels/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 04:56:14 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13895 “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science”), I learned about the new NOVA PBS Special, “Polar Extremes.” Here’s a 3 minute preview of the full episode I watched tonight, which runs just under 2 hours long. I [...]]]> Thanks to Mike Sharp, one of the members of our Sunday School class this year (“Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science”), I learned about the new NOVA PBS Special, “Polar Extremes.” Here’s a 3 minute preview of the full episode I watched tonight, which runs just under 2 hours long. I watched it on AppleTV using the PBS app. This is an incredible documentary for many reasons, and I highly recommend you check it out and share it with others.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the contentious debates which continue in the United States today over climate change and whether or not:

  1. Climate change is happening
  2. Climate change has been accelerated by human activity

Unfortunately, one of many issues our current President is confused about and continues to confuse others about (including elected leaders in our Congress, primarily in the Republican Party) is climate change. The VAST majority of scientists today agree that climate change is not only happening, but it has been directly caused by human activity, and the key to understanding this is looking at carbon dioxide levels in the atmosophere.

The NOVA PBS Special, “Polar Extremes,” does a masterful job not only unwrapping the incredible majesty of our planet’s geological and biological history, but also powerfully visualizing the alternating eras of hot and cold climate change which have characterized our planet for at least the past 500 million years. One of the statistics which stood out for me from the episode was that for less than 25% of our earth history in the past 500 million years, we’ve had our “status quo” of polar ice but large areas of continental zones free of glaciers. This is changing, and changing fast.

One of the most powerful statements of the entire documentary came at about 1 hour and 34 minutes:

Our ice sheets are out of equilibrium with the atmosphere right now, at over 400 parts per million carbon dioxide.

This documentary paints a clear picture to me that no matter what we do now as human beings, because of our release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, we will continue to move into an era of a hotter planet. This means higher sea levels and warmer temperatures globally. The documentary does not address the volatility of the weather and weather extremes, but from other research, reading, and both documentary viewing and podcast listening I understand that’s also a piece of our future together.

About 33 minutes into the documentary, I loved the exploration which highlighted the temperature variability of our planet over the past 500 years.

At about 1 hour and 4 minutes, I loved the sequence and story of an incredible earth core sample taken from the middle of a Russian lake in the middle of the winter, and all that it revealed and confirmed about our planet’s climate history.

At about 1 hour and 25 minutes, the sequence of showing how carbon dioxide levels are measured from air trapped in the ice from millions of years ago thanks to ice cores taken from the middle of the Greenland ice sheet is amazing.

The documentary states that the last time our earth had this much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, was 3 million years ago. That same level of carbon dioxide was also present 56 million years ago. We can visualize and predict the future “equilibrium” we are moving to with global sea levels as we look at the historic coastlines from those eras. However, we do not know at this point when we will (or if we will) reduce our levels of carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric release.

Another issue which is clearly dramatized in this documentary involves permafrost in our arctic and Antarctic regions. Large quantities of carbon in the form of frozen organic materials are trapped in permafrost, but much of that is melting now. As that trapped carbon is released, it will likely accelerate the global heating which is already underway.

Here’s another layer of this discussion about climate change which I find deeply troubling. In 2008, our son and I traveled to Washington D.C. and were able to tour both the White House and the Senate chamber of the U.S. Capitol thanks to arrangements made by the office of one of our Senators from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe. He was really friendly and visited with our group of Oklahomans for about 30 minutes in his office. It was the only direct contact I’ve ever had with Senator Inhofe before or since.

Here’s the troubling thing: Senator Inhofe is the author of the 2012 book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” and according to The Center for Responsive Politics, accepts LOTS of campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. When I was teaching STEM in Yukon Public Schools in 2013-15, I clearly remember a discussion / debate / argument I got into with one of our building custodians, who was absolutely convinced that global warming and climate change was a big conspiracy and lie fabricated by liberals in our country. I am positive her views were strongly influenced by our longtime United States Senator, Jim Inhofe.

We have a moral obligation as stewards of our planet to care for it and make decisions both individually and collectively which provide for a common future in which we can THRIVE and not merely survive. Our federal system of governance at the federal level is broken. Because of the Citizens United decision, a host of other factors involving campaign finance laws, and the incredibly polarized political climate in which we live, our elected officials are currently unable to muster the political will necessary to curtail our reckless global climate experiment powered by runaway carbon dioxide emissions.

Our nation unquestionably needs to move toward the goals of The Green New Deal, but doing so will require fundamental changes in the vision, worldview, and priorities of our elected leaders. As parents, educators, and citizens, we need to not only advocate for a more educated and informed electorate, but also a less polarized, vitriolic and dogmatic one.

We need to figure out how to move into the “Star Trek Plus” society. As Yuval Noah Harari exhorts readers in his 2018 book, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” we need to reimagine and reinvent governance for our modern age of weaponized social media, mass surveillance, surveillance capitalism, and corporate-purchased laws.

Idealists, dreamers, visionaries and pragmatists, we need you all. The scientific consensus on our global climate trajectory is clear for anyone to understand who has ears to hear and eyes to see. We have so much work to do together, and it begins with learning, education, and empowering ourselves and each other to share our voices and share our perspectives boldly into a world filled with shouting voices and clouds of darkness.

I haven’t been into earth orbit yet and likely will never be able to in this life, but I have “an orbital perspective” none-the-less. We all need that view, and the corresponding political will to act in our shared best interests to care for our planet as best we can. As far as we know today, it’s the only habitable world option we have for our posterity.

Watch the NOVA documentary, “Polar Extremes,” and chalk it up to your personal educational mission to become a better informed steward of planet earth.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Good Fair Use Copyright Example in School: “Communities” and The Lion Sleeps Tonight http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/09/good-fair-use-copyright-example-in-school-communities-and-the-lion-sleeps-tonight/ Mon, 10 Feb 2020 04:30:47 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13887 “Fair Use” provisions of U.S. copyright law as they pertain the creation and sharing of multimedia by students and teachers in schools present important topics which are sometimes still misunderstood by educators at different levels. In this post, I’m going to share an excellent “fair use” example of a student and teacher created [...]]]> “Fair Use” provisions of U.S. copyright law as they pertain the creation and sharing of multimedia by students and teachers in schools present important topics which are sometimes still misunderstood by educators at different levels. In this post, I’m going to share an excellent “fair use” example of a student and teacher created remix song and video, based on the Disney song “In the Jungle” from The Lion King, at an Oklahoma school. I’ll also share a recent news headline from a California school where parents and school administrators did NOT correctly understand and follow U.S. copyright law, and were sent a bill by Disney as a result.

In summer 2019, half the teachers in our Casady School Lower Division (elementary, grades 1-4) attended the Project Zero Conference at Harvard University. In addition to learning a variety of “visible thinking routines” and strategies to use with students across content areas and grade levels, teachers were also inspired to develop creative, multi-disciplinary projects with colleagues and students which challenge students to make “durable, sticky connections” to their learning likely to be remembered for a long time. One of our second grade teachers, Lisa Jordan, decided to partner up with our amazing elementary music teacher, Ashlynn Dickenson, to re-write the lyrics of the Disney song, “In the Jungle,” to align with the second grade social studies unit students study in the fall on “Communities.” The project grew to involve all the second grade teachers, some of the other “specials” teachers including computer teacher Heather Vick, and eventually other members of our staff even including our security officer, John Day, who is featured in a dance segment of the final video beside our lower and middle division library! The final video, which is 2.5 minutes long, features our second graders performing the song in their music room, interspersed with video clips of students dancing and acting out scenes for the song from different locations around our school lake and campus.

This video project is a good example of a “fair use” remix of a copyrighted work, protected by “fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law,” because it:

  1. Features original lyrics written by our teachers
  2. Includes an original performance of the song by our own second grade students
  3. Was created and shared for an educational purpose, as part of a school social studies unit on “Communities”
  4. Is shared non-commercially, where the school is not making any money from the performance or sharing of this creative work
  5. Is not denying Disney, the owners of the copyright to the original song arrangement “In the Jungle,” from any musical royalties or other performance rights income

Before creating and recording this video, and eventually sharing it to YouTube, teachers and staff at our school had some excellent conversations about “what constitutes fair use” when it comes to creating an original remixed song and video like this. Could we share the final video with parents and others on a public YouTube channel, or did we have to share it privately to limit redistribution? Would this invite a “YouTube copyright strike” for the teacher who posted the video to a school YouTube channel? Would Disney get upset and threaten to sue our school? If this video risked a YouTube copyright strike, should that affect whether teachers posted it to a newly created teacher YouTube channel, instead of an existing school communications department YouTube channel?

Helping answer these important questions about copyright and fair use is an essential role for school technology integration specialists, educational technology leaders, instructional coaches, and library media specialists. Fortunately, members of our school support staff were able to work with our teachers to answer their questions and ultimately recommend the creation and public sharing of this “Communities” video. It really is precious, and as been received with enthusiasm by our parent community. As you have similar discussions with teachers and staff at your own school or in professional development settings, I invite you to share this example and the rationale we applied to decide this clearly IS “protected fair use” of a copyrighted work. The copyright chapter of my 2011 book, “Playing With Media: Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing,” is another resource which can help inform educators about the law and situations regarding teacher or student created multimedia and whether the specific context of that use and sharing constitutes “fair use.”

This past week, on February 3, 2020, a headline in the San Francisco Gate newspaper highlighted an unfortunate and preventable misunderstanding of copyright law as it applies to schools in an elementary in Berkeley, California. The article, “Disney sends $250 bill to Berkeley elementary school for screening ‘The Lion King’,” explains how a Parent Teacher Organization held a fundraiser in which they asked parents and students for donations, as they screened the 2019 Disney remake of “The Lion King” without paying a licensing fee. Disney’s licensing page clearly explains:

All requests to screen our films in their entirety in a non-theatrical setting at churches, clubs, public schools (pre-schools and kindergarten through twelfth grade), camps, libraries, business and service organizations, parks, art museums, film societies, and similar organization are handled by our authorized agent, Swank Motion Pictures. Please be advised that Swank handles licensing for public schools (K-12), both title-by-title and for blanket licensing on a yearly basis:

How do I show a Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios Touchstone Pictures or Hollywood Pictures film to my group or organization? (Disney Studio Licensing, Retrieved 9 Feb 2020)

Liability concerns and fears can encourage school officials to take drastic measures to curtail and “shut down” teacher and student creativity when it comes to multimedia projects and shared videos specifically. By helping teachers and school administrators become better informed about copyright and fair use provisions of U.S. law, hopefully those kinds of “creativity chilling” decisions can be avoided. Dr. Renee Hobbs’ (@reneehobbs) book, “Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning,” is among many excellent resources shared on her Media Education Lab copyright resource page, “Help students understand how copyright and fair use supports digital learning.” Although they are 11 years old now from 2009, Larry Ferlazzo’s (@Larryferlazzo) page, “The Best Resources To Learn About Copyright Issues” is still great. My 2009 ITSC presentation, “Copyright for Educators,” is my most popular Slideshare.com slideshow to date.

Copyright for Educators from Wesley Fryer

For more discussion of the recent Berkeley, California copyright case involving screening a Disney movie at school without prior licensing, check out last week’s episode of “The EdTech Situation Room” (Episode 164) in which Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach) and I analyzed and explain some of the lessons learned for teachers and school administrators from that situation.

Good Fair Use Copyright Example in School by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Good Fair Use Copyright Example in School” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Synchronizing Lecture Audio to Slides for YouTube http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/02/synchronizing-lecture-audio-to-slides-for-youtube/ Mon, 03 Feb 2020 05:17:47 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13883 50 minute lesson on BioEthics and recorded the audio from my presentation using my wife’s iPhone and the free app, “Voice Record Pro.” I wanted to slightly edit the audio to remove 3 minutes of “empty” turn / pair / share time in the lesson, improve the quality of [...]]]> Today I taught a 50 minute lesson on BioEthics and recorded the audio from my presentation using my wife’s iPhone and the free app, “Voice Record Pro.” I wanted to slightly edit the audio to remove 3 minutes of “empty” turn / pair / share time in the lesson, improve the quality of my audio recording (normalize it), and synchronize the edited audio to my Google Slideshow so I could share it as a video on YouTube. Here are the steps I followed to create and share the final, synchronized video on YouTube.

First, I used “Voice Record Pro” on my wife’s iPhone to export a copy of the 50 minute audio recording as a video to her Camera Roll. I then used AirDrop to send that video from her phone to my MacOS laptop computer.

Once the audio file was on my computer in the Downloads folder, I moved it to the data folder for my lesson today on my Desktop. I opened that MP4 video file in QuickTime Player, and chose to EXPORT as AUDIO ONLY. This created a M4A audio file, but I still needed to “normalize” it since I walked around a bit during my lesson and didn’t stay right beside the iPhone which was recording me. This created uneven audio recording levels, where my voice was loud at some times and softer in others. I also needed to slightly edit the file before normalizing.

To edit the file, I opened it in Audacity software and clipped out the “talk time” during the “turn / pair / share” portion of our lesson. I opened GarageBand and found a short audio loop I could use as a “stinger” or “bumper” between the two clips of my audio recording, exported it as a MP3, and then imported it into Audacity, adding a slight fade at the end using the “envelope tool.”

Now I was ready to normalize the audio. I exported from Audacity as a FLAC file, and uploaded to Auphonic.com. I used a preconfigured template I setup earlier to normalize the audio, and compressed it as a 32 Kbps MP3 file. I downloaded that normalized audio version once the online compression finished. (Note Auphonic is not free but it’s priced very reasonably. I’ve used it for years to normalize audio recordings when needed for my podcasts.)

Next, I opened the normalized MP3 audio file in iTunes so it could show up in my “Media Browser” in Apple Keynote software. I learned about this workflow from this 2011 post in the Apple Discussion Community for Garageband. Now I was ready to “record my presentation” in Keynote using my “improved” audio recording of the lesson.

I present my lessons each Sunday in class using my Apple Watch as a remote control, so this requires that I download my Google Slides as a PowerPoint file and open it in Keynote. I therefore already had a saved Keynote version of my presentation slides to use for this synchronized recording. In Keynote, I chose VIEW – SHOW MEDIA BROWSER and (per these instructions) dropped my audio into the “audio well” of the Keynote project, leaving the selection as PLAY ONCE. Now I was ready to record.

In Keynote I chose PLAY – RECORD SLIDESHOW, and clicked the red record icon at the bottom of the screen to start the playback of my recorded audio and synced slide recording. As I got to the time for each successive slide in my presentation audio, I tapped the right arrow key on my keyboard to advance the slide to the next one. I did this for the entire 50 minute presentation. This is a fact to understand about syncing audio with this method: It’s a 1 to 1 process. You have to listen to the entire recording in realtime, as you “record” the slides and slide sync that is needed / appropriate.

When finished, I clicked the red record button at the bottom of the screen again to STOP the recording. I then exported my recording as a 720P video file by choosing FILE – EXPORT TO – MOVIE in Keynote.

I uploaded that final video file to YouTube. For some strange reason, however, there was an “echo” in my final video file’s audio. I didn’t realize it till I’d already uploaded to YouTube. I’m not sure what caused this, since I didn’t think I was recording local audio during my “Keynote recording.” Perhaps I was? In any event, I imported my Keynote exported video file into iMovie, chose to extract and then delete the audio, then dropped in the final normalized MP3 audio file from Auphonic again. Then I exported from iMovie at 720P, and uploaded again to YouTube. (After I deleted the first video.) This process, unfortunately, involved me compressing the audio and video more than once, but this seemed like the most expeditious fix.

That’s a lot of steps! If you know a simpler way to synchronize a recorded audio file from a lecture / presentation to slides, please let me know. “Back in the day” (circa 2009) I used the “slidecasts” feature of SlideShare to create this kind of synchronized, narrated slideshow video. Unfortunately I don’t think that capability is still available.

To learn more about this specific lesson and additional resources / videos / books / links shared on it, see my post, “BioEthics and Acting Like Jesus” on my Pocket Share Jesus blog. You can also check out all the resources related to the adult Sunday School class I teach, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science,” on followjesus.wesfryer.com.

And if you happen to be connected to a Seminary or college which needs someone to teach your students how to use digital software tools like this effectively to teach and instruct students, please contact me. We should talk!

More information about my speaking services is available on wesfryer.com/speaking.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Facilitating Student eBook and Book Publishing with Book Creator and Lulu http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/31/facilitating-student-ebook-and-book-publishing-with-book-creator-and-lulu/ Fri, 31 Jan 2020 06:03:54 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13876 For the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with our high school English department chair, Whitney Finley, who teaches a unique and engaging creative writing class for 12th graders in which they write and publish their own children’s picture books. After creating their books, as a group students visit our Kindergarten students and share their books with them in person. Later in the year, Kindergarten students create their own books, and then have an opportunity to share them with the seniors. Since I started helping Whitney with this project, when I was the Director of Technology at our school, I’ve helped students electronically build their books using the Book Creator Online website and publish affordable, color paperback versions of their books using the print-on-demand website, Lulu.com. In this post, I’d like to share some of the lessons learned, resources, and multimedia eBook production workflows which we have found work well and we’re continuing to use with students in this ongoing project. I’ve created a Google site to not only share the student eBooks and paperback book ordering links from the past three years, but also links to other student book projects by other teachers at our school and eBook / book creation support resources. It’s available on studentauthors.casady.org. In about a month, we’re planning to organize an evening “Student Author’s Showcase and Celebration” event, which will hopefully further amplify and extend the benefits of this wonderful project which involves rich learning, collaboration, and skill development for older as well as younger students.

I’ve been using the Book Creator for iPad app for about eight years, since I offered my first iPad Media Camp 3 day workshop for teachers in Yukon, Oklahoma. I’ve written and published several eBooks on Amazon and elsewhere using several different software programs. Book Creator is definitely my favorite platform for helping students create multimedia eBooks, and is featured prominently on the “eBooks” page of my ShowWithMedia.com website. The advent of the Book Creator Online platform, however, has taken student eBook and book creation in the classroom to another level, and I’ve found it to be incredibly useful and powerful the past three years working with Ms. Finley and her 12th grade students. The website represents and reflects the best in a mature “web 2.0 technology,” allowing users to both create and share with a web-based platform that enables transformative workflows which aren’t possible with app-based / device-based software versions. Students can work at school on Chromebooks, library computers, their own laptops, or any other computer with the Chrome web browser. This accessibility and visibility of student work is fantastic, and makes Book Creator Online one of my favorite educational technology tools of all time. (Full disclosure: I am NOT being compensated / have not been compensated in any way to share this endorsement!)

To see “the finished products” of this year’s student children’s picture book projects, check out the online library of published student eBooks. This is also linked in the “Library” section of our Student Authors website, and includes a Google Document with ordering links to Lulu.com printed versions of each book also. This year Ms. Finley required all her students to record audio narration in their books. In the past that was an optional component. We’ve received feedback from Kindergarten students, teachers and parents that they LOVE the addition of audio narration, so they can listen to each book in the voices of each student author! It is fantastic technology tools like Book Creator Online now make the sharing of these multimedia eBooks both straightforward and extremely affordable.

Here are some of the key guidelines and strategies we use with our high school seniors to help them successfully create both digital eBook versions and printed paperback versions of their children’s picture books. Slideshows, video tutorials and Google Docs detailing many of these strategies are available on studentauthors.casady.org/creating-ebooks.

1. Book Creator Online

We require all students to now create their eBooks using Book Creator Online. In past years we gave students the option to use the iPad version of the app or the web version. While either can work, the online version allows teachers as well as classmates to view each others’ books as they are being created, and also supports the publishing of the ENTIRE eBook library at the end of the project. These are fantastic and transformative features of the web platform.

2. Planning and Writing Before Technology

Ms. Finley works with her high school students extensively on their book planning and writing before we introduce the technology elements of this project. Students view a variety of past book examples as well as professionally published book examples. They also utilize a variety of techniques to create the pictures which accompany the text in their books. Some draw original paintings with watercolor, some make pencil or pen drawings, some create electronic art, and others take a more “old school” approach with felt characters and set objects. The diverse approaches students take to their children’s picture books are wonderful, and this diversity adds to the value and varied experiences of reading the different books together. Since students can readily use a smartphone to take high quality photos of artwork or other visuals, Book Creator Online can handle any of these selected book media choices.

3. 2:3 or 1:1 Aspect Ratio Book Formats

Book Creator Online provides six different options for book sizes, but since all our students order paperback versions of their books on Lulu.com, which has a limited number of print sizes, we now restrict students to selecting either the “Portrait 2:3” or “Square 1:1” sizes for their books.

4. Converting JPG Images to Transparent PNGs

Remove.bg is one of the best, free websites we have utilized the past two years to convert JPG images / photos into “transparent PNGs” which can be used to create “image collages” in Book Creator. Especially when students have several photos they want to overlay on top of each other, transparent PNGs are essential. Having used different programs over the years with students (including the free/open source program, The Gimp) to edit photos, the speed and quality of remove.bg is amazing. While you can pay for larger resolution versions of images, we have found the low / free resolution versions of converted PNGs is fine for our purposes and needs in this project.

5. Warn Students About Central Book Spine Whitespace

One big difference between the printed, paperback version of student books and the digital, online eBook versions is that the paperback versions include a white border area in the middle of the “Portrait 2:3” sized books. Some students like to use the left and right sides of this size book to share a larger image and scene in their book. In the electronic / digital version, that image is shown as a single, continuous photo. When printed, however, the central book spine is visible as a narrow band of vertical whitespace. It’s important to warn students about this in advance, so they know to expect it. We have briefly explored other “full bleed” book publishing options for our students, but since Lulu.com works so well and is so affordable (most student books are $5 to $7 to print, plus shipping) we just warn students about this and let them know to expect this limitation on the print versions. It’s particularly important that they do NOT include any text in the central part of a 2:3 book, so those portions aren’t cut out of the printed paperback.

6. Converting EPUB to Correctly Sized PDF Files for Lulu.com

The process of creating a Lulu.com printable paperback version of an ebook created with Book Creator Online can be a little tricky. In past years, I taught students this process and provided them with step-by-step instructions so they could do this on their own. Because we are working with a relatively small number of students in this class, and we found students sometimes ran into trouble with all these steps, I now do this conversion process from EPUB to correctly formatted / sized PDF for students. This involves taking the downloaded EPUB from the Book Creator website (which students “turn in” to us via Google Classroom) and then resizing it using the iPad version of Book Creator. The reason for this is that the iPad version gives the option of creating either “Single Page PDF” or “Facing Page PDF” versions of eBooks. For paperback printing on Lulu.com, “Single Page PDFs” are required. The margins of the book must also be tweaked just right, and I’ve learned how to do this readily using the free “Preview” application on MacOS.

In addition to a Google Doc tutorial of step-by-step instructions for this process, this year I also recorded an eleven minute screencast tutorial in which I demonstrated all of these “EPUB to Lulu.com ready PDF” steps. If you’re wanting to replicate this project with your own students (and we certainly hope you do and will) these how-to resources may be the most valuable links on this entire blog post. These are also linked / embedded on studentauthors.casady.org/creating-ebooks.

If you have any questions about this project or these resources, please contact me via Twitter (@wfryer) or my electronic contact form. You can also leave a comment below, although I’m sometimes a little slower to approve blog comments these days because they are so rare and I don’t check them every week.

If you’re interested in hosting an iPad Media Camp or Make Media Camp at your school, library, or other organization, please also reach out to me! I’m in the midst of working out summer schedules and professional development plans right now, and I should have some availability in July 2020 to travel and share some multimedia workshops for educators. I’m also hoping to offer some here in the Oklahoma City area at our school for interested educators.

I love empowering others to share their voices via books and eBooks! I hope these resources are helpful to you and your students in your own book and eBook writing projects!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Modern Learning in School: The 14 Legs of the Table http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/23/modern-learning-in-school-the-14-legs-of-the-table/ Fri, 24 Jan 2020 03:18:59 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13760 Good Shepherd Episcopal School (@gsesdallas) and Prestonwood Christian Academy (@PrestonwoodPCA) teachers, students and staff with a team [...]]]> Modern Learning in school today is a complex undertaking which requires a robust strategy of support to be successful.* Today I’m in the Dallas, Texas, area, and had the chance to visit with both Good Shepherd Episcopal School (@gsesdallas) and Prestonwood Christian Academy (@PrestonwoodPCA) teachers, students and staff with a team from our school in Oklahoma City. At the end of our day, I created the following graphic to represent my understanding of the 14 different elements of successful “modern learning in school” involving Internet-connected digital devices for learners. In this post, I’ll briefly highlight and define what I understand each of these elements / legs to mean. I’d love to hear from you (either via a Twitter reply to @wfryer, a Facebook post comment, or a blog post comment below) on what’s missing from this model / framework, or your responses / feedback to these ideas. A larger version of this graphic is available on Flickr and as a Google Drawing. It’s shared under CC-BY.

Here are the fourteen legs of the table of “Modern Learning in School.” For an earlier iteration of this, listen to my podcast, “Planning for 1:1 Project Success” from 13 years ago in October 2006.

1. “The Why”

What is the shared vision for learning at our school? What does, can, and should learning inside and outside the classroom look, sound, and feel like? Part of our answer to this question today is our “Portrait of a Graduate.” Other elements involve “making thinking visible,” “durable learning” (which persists long after formal assessments are over) and “peak learning moments.” Engagement and multi-disciplinary / cross-curricular learning are also elements of this vision.

2. Student Computing Devices

Learners in the twenty-first century require access to digital, Internet connected devices to become fully literate and thrive in our society. Whether that device is a Chromebook, a laptop, an iPad, or other kind of tablet, it’s essential students as well as teachers have access to Internet connected devices which not only allow them to access and consume media in various forms, but also create and share media. Learners should have the opportunity to regularly “show what they know with media.” This “new normal” for modern learning requires ubiquitous access to digital computing devices.

3. LMS – SIS – Databases

Modern learning requires sophisticated database support. Schools require learning management systems (LMS) and student information systems (SIS) to digitally manage student data including attendance, grades, assignments, and curriculum.

4. Technical Support

The roles and importance of technology hardware and software programs, which are increasingly Internet connected, have grown dramatically in the past decade and are on track to continue this growth pattern. Modern learners in schools need access to “help desk” staff and “genius bar” style support to fix problems and get technology devices working again quickly when problems are encountered. Information Technology (IT) support goes beyond “level 1 triage” of immediate problems, however, and includes support for a wide variety of Internet- connected devices and network-delivered services. (See my February 2019 post, “Lessons Learned as a School Director of Technology” for more details on this range of devices to support.)

5. Professional Development

Schools historically tend to under-invest in professional development for teachers. Modern learning requires that schools cultivate cultures of ongoing and continuous learning among teachers. This not only includes summer and school year workshops, conferences, and meetings for teachers, it also should include “just in time” support at department, grade level, individual and after-school meetings which allow for “showing and sharing,” collaboration, and learning about new tools and strategies which support student as well as professional learning.

6. Instructional Support

IT (Information Technology) support alone is insufficient for modern learning in schools. Instructional support, including educational technology focused support but also including lesson design / pedagogical support, is also vital. Schools support modern learning by providing certified, instructional coaches who are available to meet regularly with teachers to brainstorm, co-teach, design, deliver and facilitate lessons with students.

7. Infrastructure

Modern Learning, increasingly powered by cloud-connected digital devices and services, requires a robust technology infrastructure of fiber optic cabling, ethernet cabling, network switches, WiFi access points, firewalls, and other server computers with various functions. Many server functions which have historically been hosted locally can and should be “moved to the cloud,” but some applications require local server support. All these infrastructure elements must be regularly updated as well as maintained to create a digital learning environment where web resources are accessed by students, teachers, and staff as naturally as we breathe air.

8. Web Filtering and MDM

As the resources and positive learning potential of modern learning continues to increase, the potential for those resources and technologies to be abused and used for malicious / inappropriate purposes has also grown. We live in a “seek and find world,” and media inappropriate for classroom use (and arguably any constructive use) can be only a few mouse clicks or touchscreen taps away. In this environment (also regulated by the eRate requirements in the United States) it is imperative for all schools to provide web content filtering as well as monitoring of student digital devices. The effective and efficient management of digital devices with required software and applications today in schools requires the use of mobile device management (MDM) platforms.

9. Curriculum

Throughout human history, learning has always required ideas, content and curriculum. As oral traditions gave way to written texts, teaching and learning models changed. Similarly today, as curriculum becomes increasingly digital, the strategies employed by teachers and students to engage in learning are also evolving. Digital textbooks / ebooks are one form of curriculum today, but the landscape of curriculum is more diverse as well as fractured than ever. Modern learning requires curriculum, which can include required media (textbooks) but also a wide variety of web resources and interactive learning platforms.

10. Parent Education

Parents expect many things from schools, teachers and administrators. Since the arrival of the World Wide Web and Internet connected devices in schools and our homes, and the explosive growth of digital communication technologies including social media, parents have had and continue to have many concerns and fears about the ways these tools are used and their impact on their children. Screentime concerns today are prominent in the minds of many parents, just as fears about Internet predators were ten years ago. Both are real issues and important to address. Screentime is not monolithic, however, and helping parents as well as teachers “see” and understand this is critical. School leaders and teachers need to regularly and intentionally communicate with parents to explain the ways we are working to mitigate/reduce online risks, promote responsible technology use, monitor use to support accountability, and helping empower students to develop their executive capacities to make good choices in our digital world.

11. Learning Spaces

Modern learning requires far more than Internet-connected devices and curriculum. The layout of the classroom, the desks (and hopefully furniture) available to students, the availability of multiple projection devices: All of these elements of learning spaces create an environment which can be supportive or challenging for modern learning. For more on this, see the 2010 book, “The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning.”

12. SSO and Security

Single-Sign On (SSO) is the process of using a single identity credential to access multiple systems. These can include websites, computing devices, software programs / platforms and physical locks like doors and gates. Many schools today (including ours) use Google Suite for Education for students and teachers. Many online curriculum platforms and web services allow user logins via Google. Others integrate with third party SSO services like Clever or Class Link. These tools are essential to reduce the number of userIDs and passwords modern learners must use and maintain. They also can enhance digital security and accountability. An ongoing focus on digital security, avoiding phishing / identity theft, and protecting both personal and organizational resources is critical for modern learning as well as life. Everyone (at least starting in middle school) needs to be using long, complex and unique passwords on every website / application requiring a login, using a password manager, and using multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

13. Financing

Modern learning is not free. How are the varied requirements of modern learning highlighted in this framework funded? Funding is required to not only launch / start a modern learning initiative, but also sustain it. Adequate staffing for modern learning is essential and can be expensive. Schools utilize a variety of funding mechanisms to start and sustain modern learning.

14. Policies, Expectations and RUP

A variety of school policies and expectations for modern learning are important. These are not limited to students but also extend to parents. Helping students stay safe and make good choices both in classes and in life is and should be an ongoing partnership between parents, teachers, administrators and staff. Many schools have migrated from using an “Acceptable Use Policy” (AUP) to a “Responsible Use Policy” (RUP) for students. We made this transition at our school several years ago, and links to those policies as well as presentation resources shared with our community are available on the “student resources” page of our Digital Citizenship website.

So those are the “14 legs of the table of Modern Learning,” as I see them today. What do you think. What’s missing?

* Shout out to Jason Kern (@jasonmkern) who is the first school Director of Technology / Chief Information Officer I heard about and know who changed his official job title to “Director of Modern Learning.” Also thanks to our trip collaborators and colleagues from The Casady School as well as Good Shepherd Episcopal School and Prestonwood Christian Academy who discussed many of the ideas highlighted in this post with us today. Also thanks to The Noun Project, the source for all the icons used in this graphic.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast469: Reflections on Immersion Day January 2020 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/20/podcast469-reflections-on-immersion-day-january-2020/ Mon, 20 Jan 2020 21:48:43 +0000

Welcome to Episode 469 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast from January 18, 2020, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features a conversation with 3rd grade teacher Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) about the second “Immersion Day” at Casady School in Oklahoma City. Immersion Days are half-days for students which focus on a special theme or topic. On January 17, 2020, the theme for the Casady Lower School students (in grades 1 – 4) focused on Inventions, coinciding with Kid Invention Day (KID). A wealth of fantastic resources about the design process and STEM / engineering for young students are available on nationalinventioncurriculum.org as well as other websites. Check out the podcast shownotes for links. Casady 3rd and 4th graders were able to videoconference LIVE to start the day with Payton Robertson in Florida. Peyton is now a senior in high school, and has been an inventor since elementary school with over six patents to his name. He met President Obama in the Oval Office to share one of his inventions after winning a national contest, was a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and will be continuing his career and learning journey as an inventor next year as he starts college at Stanford University. In the afternoon, 3rd graders talked with Dr. James W. Long, a local guest speaker physician and engineer who co-created a magnetic heart pump, featured in the new Amplify Science curriculum the students are using this year. One of the parents of Shelly’s students is a heart surgeon, and invited him to join in the third grade Kids Invention Day learning! In the podcast, Wes also shares some reflections on the “Animate Your Curiosity” lessons which he co-led for middle school students yesterday, using Scratch to create basic animations. Students watched and discussed several animation focused videos (including “Animator vs. Animation” from 2009 which has over 42 million views on YouTube) to find inspiration for their own animation and coding projects. If you haven’t checked out “The Science Behind Pixar” (sciencebehindpixar.org) in person or online yet definitely do! Also check out other resources on the “Animation Inspiration” website Wes created for this week’s Middle Division Immersion Day. Follow Shelly Fryer on Twitter @sfryer and Wesley Fryer on @wfryer. Wes’ Digital Literacy and Media Literacy Curriculum for Middle School Computer Classes is available free on mdtech.casady.org.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog
  3. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – BlogMiddle School Computer Curriculum (Media Literacy and Digital Literacy)
  4. Invention Convention Curriculum for Grades 3-5
  5. Peyton Robertson – Inventor (Forbes.com)
  6. The Incredible Peyton Robertson on The Ellen Show (2014)
  7. TED Ideas: 3 brilliant inventions from a 12-year-old scientist
  8. Be Inspired to Animate Your Curiosity!
  9. Malone Schools Online Network (via Stanford University)
  10. LifeSize Icon 500 Videoconferencing Unit
  11. BlueJeans Videoconferencing in the Cloud
  12. Scratch Animation Lesson (for middle schoolers by Wes)
  13. Scratch (free Web-based, block-based coding platform by MIT)
  14. Constructionism Learning Theory (Seymour Papert)
  15. The Science Behind Pixar
  16. PBS Scratch Jr Coding Passion Project (by Shelly Fryer, June 2016)
  17. Build a Snowman in Scratch Jr (by Shelly Fryer, January 2019)
  18. More Scratch related blog posts by Shelly Fryer
  19. Code as Poetry in 4th Grade Scratch Club (by Wes Fryer, March 2018)
  20. Developing Computational Thinking with Scratch Coding – webinar video (by Wes Fryer, December 2017)
  21. Podcast446: Reflections on a PBS Scratch Jr Coding Camp for Kids (by Wes Fryer, September 2016)
  22. Create a Maze Game in PBS Scratch Jr (by Wes Fryer, September 2016)
  23. Scratch Day in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 14, 2016 (by Wes Fryer, May 2016)
  24. Fun Scratch Projects Today in STEM Class (by Wes Fryer, April 2014)
  25. More Scratch related blog posts by Wes Fryer
  26. James W. Long, M.D. – Cardiothoracic Surgery, Transplant Surgery (INTEGRIS)
  27. Pioneering Artificial Heart Program at Intermountain Medical Center Celebrates 25 Years of Saving Lives on Tuesday With Patient Reunion (Intermountain Health Care, 26 April 2018)
  28. INTEGRIS Implants 100th HeartMate 3 LVAD (INTEGRIS, May 2019)
  29. Amplify Science Curriculum for K-8

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All past “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” podcast episodes are archived, dating back to August 2005.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Thoughts on Content Filtering, Parent Education, and School Laptop Initiatives http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/14/thoughts-on-content-filtering-parent-education-and-school-laptop-initiatives/ Wed, 15 Jan 2020 04:53:30 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13046 Norman Public Schools’ new MacBook Air and iPad “1 to 1 Learning” initiative. The article is titled, “‘They want them gone’: Norman parents complain of school devices.” In case The Oklahoman puts this article behind their paywall [...]]]> The Oklahoman, our largest Oklahoma City based newspaper by circulation, published a scathing article today about Norman Public Schools’ new MacBook Air and iPad “1 to 1 Learning” initiative. The article is titled, “‘They want them gone’: Norman parents complain of school devices.” In case The Oklahoman puts this article behind their paywall as they often do by the time you read this post, here is a link to an Internet Archive Wayback Machine copy. For those of you unfamiliar with our local geography, Norman is a city / community just south of OKC and part of our metro area of around 1.2 million folks, where the University of Oklahoma is located. The short summary of this article, which included quotations from 1.5 hours of parent complaints at this week’s Norman Public Schools board meeting, is that parents are mad because:

  1. Their students are accessing pornography at school and home on school-provided devices
  2. Their students are on their screens more than ever / screentime is increasing
  3. Their taxes have gone up and less expensive devices (implied: Chromebooks) could have been purchased.


Here are a few thoughts about this article and the issues it raises.

Internet Content Filtering at School and Home

Internet content filtering both at school AND at home for school-owned devices is essential. My November 2007 blog post, “One to One Initiatives (roundtable at TechForum07)” included my notes on a discussion about a Texas Immersion Pilot Project (TxTIP) school which had a similar situation: A sixth grader with a MacBook laptop was addicted to pornography, and the parent blamed the school. A school board member / trustee used this situation to try and cancel / derail the entire 1:1 learning project. Yes, that was 12 years ago. This is a critical lesson about the importance of ON AND OFF campus Internet filtering for all K-12 school-owned devices.

These kinds of school as well as home Internet filtering solutions are now available from a variety of vendors. Securly, which owns the iPad Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform we use at our school, also offers a comprehensive web content filtering solution that works on school-owned devices (MacOS/Windows laptops, iPads, or Chromebooks) regardless of whether they are used at school, home, or elsewhere. I have heard good things about Securly’s filtering solution several places, including the GSFE Admin’s Podcast. (GSFE = GSuite for Education)

It’s important to recognize and repeatedly communicate, to parents, teachers, and community members, that NO FILTERING SOLUTION can guarantee students will not ever see or encounter offensive / inappropriate content online. An increasing number of K12 schools, especially high schools, are adopting BYOD (bring your own device) laptop programs instead of providing school-owned devices to students. For those programs, schools generally CANNOT (and from a liability standpoint, do not want to) provide built-in filtering software protection on parent / family / student owned devices which works off the school campus. Every school provides on campus Internet content filtering, but is limited in BYOD situations when students access the web from home / away from school.

In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that a significant majority of secondary students today possess and use a smartphone. Pew Research reported in August 2019 that 95% of US teens now report they have access to a smartphone. While some parents do enable smartphone parental controls for teens, like those available now for iPhones, and others purchase and configure content filtering solutions like Disney’s Circle Go which work everywhere (both at home and school / away from home) many parents do not. Therefore, a LARGE number of teens today have access to parent-provided Internet connected devices which are NOT filtered or otherwise restricted in what they can access.

Parents are, in many cases, frustrated by the lack of control they feel when it comes to screens and Internet content. However, schools should not be blamed for the proliferation of smartphones in our society. Even for families which choose to not provide a smartphone to their teens or delay smartphone ownership till high school, most of their teen’s peers at school today DO have smartphones and access to all the challenges that entails. We’re swimming in a digital world, and it’s almost impossible not to get wet. We all need to learn to swim safely and responsibly, and that takes partnerships as well as ongoing vigilance by parents as well as educators and students themselves.

Offensive Internet Content, Screentime and Parent Education

The complaints quoted in this article could likely have been shared by at least some parents in any school, public or private, which has adopted a “1 to 1” or digital learning initiative with laptops or tablets in which students use digital devices individually and (at some point / grade level) take them home. Sadly, online pornography is more common and easily accessible than ever. We live in a “seek and find world,” where the barriers to offensive media / content are lower than ever for anyone with an unfiltered / unrestricted Internet connection. But “adult pornography” as we may understand it is unfortunately far from the worst content that is just a few clicks for anyone who wants to find it. The September 2019 New York Times article, “The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?,” offers an important window into this reality which tragically is only getting worse as we move further into the twenty-first century.

Screentime has now eclipsed parental concerns about Internet predators in many schools and communities. It is a fact of life today that as we receive and share more of our information with digital devices, our aggregate time in front of screens increases. But “screentime” is not and should not be treated as a pariah and new bogeyman. Another recent New York Times article, this one from December 2019 titled, “Is Screen Time Really Bad for Kids?,” does a good job explaining why we need to STOP talking about screentime as if it is MONOLITHIC. It is not. Binge watching Netflix or YouTube, or playing a first-person shooter videogame, is cognitively very different than CREATING a video, making digital art, or even reading the Holy Bible. All of these things can be done with a screen, but their impact on our thinking, cognitive abilities, and relationships can be very different. If you’re looking for an excellent, balanced book to read and recommend to parents on Screentime, check out “The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life” by Anya Kamenetz (@anya1anya).

So what does “best practice” parent education for a digital learning initiative look like? From the “iTech” website of Norman Public Schools as well as conversations I’ve had with Norman schools technology staff, it looks like they’ve been offering a variety of different parent digital education opportunities available throughout the school year. As an example, here is a 28 minute video of an October 2019 presentation for high school parents in Norman, “iTech Parent Academy – iTech 101.” Many more videos are available on the Norman PS iTech Parent Academy webpage.

Balance and Partnerships Are Essential

I appreciate the fact that the author of this Oklahoman article, Nuria Martinez-Keel (@NuriaMKeel), live-tweeted the Norman Public Schools board meeting she summarized in today’s article. She did include a few quotations from the district superintendent, but she did not mention or identify any of the parent education programs or initiatives which I’ve highlighted in this post after a quick Google search.

Unfortunately The Oklahoman newspaper (also known as “The Daily Oklahoman” and previously newsOK.com) has historically been an antagonistic editorial voice for public education and public schools in our state. Compared to the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman has more often championed voucher proposals and charter schools rather than advocating for our public schools. Ideally journalists and news organizations are neutral and unbiased, but we know more clearly than ever today in our era of hyper-partisanship this is sometimes not the case.

Balanced discussions of issues like those raised in this article are important, as are partnerships with parents and schools: both public and private. As a comparison, I encourage you to read the October 2019 article from Washington State, “Pierce County schools spending millions on laptops for all. Is it helping kids learn?.” That article includes perspectives and quotations for advocates as well as critics of the local school district’s extensive and expensive laptop learning project, and also includes helpful information about district policies, programs, as well as related educational research. It’s a much more balanced article on the subject of laptop learning.

If there is one thing we do NOT need in our nation right now, it’s more polarizing journalism. There are definitely issues about which we need to advocate and work passionately, but there are also situations which need and deserve balanced media coverage. The role of our mainstream national and local media outlets (our “fourth estate”) in educating citizens and voters on issues is vital. Hopefully we’ll see more balanced reporting on the Norman Public Schools laptop learning initiative by The Oklahoman in the weeks to come.

At the end of the day, our schools and teachers not only need to keep students safe and help them develop knowledge and skills, they/we also need to prepare students to THRIVE and be successful in the future. While some people may opt to conscientiously object and entirely disconnect from our increasingly digital economy and society, most of us will not have that option outside weekend or summer camping trips. Learning to responsibly make choices on how to engage in focused work despite the maelstrom of digital distractions whirling all around us is a duty for 21st century schools and parents. We need to partner together in these efforts, because while they are not easy, they ARE challenges we need to rise TOGETHER to meet.

Check out resources related to screentime, Internet safety, and digital parenting on our school’s website for digital citizenship: DigCit.us.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Share Podcast Excerpts using Audacity, iMovie and Google Slides http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/05/share-podcast-excerpts-using-audacity-imovie-and-google-slides/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 04:49:08 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13033 a lesson in which I shared a 4.5 minute excerpt of an amazing 55 minute NASA podcast, featuring an April 2019 interview with Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the Moon to date! In this post, I’ll [...]]]> Today I taught a lesson in which I shared a 4.5 minute excerpt of an amazing 55 minute NASA podcast, featuring an April 2019 interview with Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the Moon to date! In this post, I’ll share my workflow and steps I followed to create this audio media collage, shared as a video on YouTube.

Before sharing my workflow, I’ll address copyright / intellectual property issues. NASA’s Media Usage Guidelines explain that their images and audio files are generally not copyrighted and may be used for educational, non-commercial projects like my lesson today. “Fair use guidelines” of US Copyright law can permit reuse / remixing of copyrighted content depending on the specific context and purpose of the re-use, but since these are NASA materials I didn’t need to worry about meeting fair use guidelines.

My first step in creating this audio compilation was to listen to the entire original podcast and identify the timestamps of the excerpts I wanted to share in our face-to-face class. We only meet each week for an hour, so an excerpt of this podcast was needed… Plus from a learning / engagement standpoint, it’s generally best to “chunk” multimedia shared in whole-class settings so students can engage in discussions about the included ideas more readily. The three podcast excerpts I chose to include from the original podcast were:

  1. Insights into the age of the earth (from 2 min 43 sec in the original)
  2. Seeing the earth from the moon (from 35 min in the original)
  3. On learning about solar and earth history (from 37 min 10 sec of the original)

I listened to this original podcast on my iPhone using the Pocket Casts app. I currently subscribe to 147 podcasts, although I definitely do NOT listen to most of these regularly! (Here’s an importable OPML file of my current podcast subscriptions, this shared Google Drive folder includes my OPML subscriptions dating back to 2014.)

My next step was to download the source MP3 audio file of the original podcast to my computer’s desktop, where I created a project folder.

I then opened that original / complete podcast MP3 audio file in Audacity software, which is free / open source and available for both MacOS and WindowsOS computers. To create a combined / composite audio file with these three excerpts in Audacity, I:

  1. Used the “selection tool” (I bar) to highlight each portion I wanted to use
  2. Copied each audio selection to the computer’s clipboard (Command-C on my MacOS laptop)
  3. In a new / blank Audacity project, selected TRACK – ADD TRACK – MONO TRACK
  4. Pasted the copied audio into each new track (Command-V on my MacOS laptop)
  5. Used the “time shift tool” (the move tool, it looks like a horizontal timeline) to move the second and third audio clips so they immediately followed the preceding clips. (So none of them overlap)

I also used the selection tool, and the zoom tools (they look like magnifying glasses with + and – icons on them) along with the DELETE key, to remove unwanted audio from the starting and ending points of my copied excerpts.

I next exported the final audio file as a WAV file, which is an uncompressed format. Ideally you don’t want to compress your audio or video files in a multimedia project more than once. You generally want to save compression for the final export to maximize the quality of your media creation.

Now I needed to create thumbnail images which would display for each segment of my “enhanced audio podcast,” which would become a shared video on YouTube. I used Google Slides to do this. I copied a photo of Dr. Schmitt from his English WikiPedia page as well as podcast episode show art from the original podcast. I added some text boxes, and changed these for each of the segments, adding short summaries. I also created a “video thumbnail” for the YouTube video, which is generally preferable to the default selected image which YouTube algorithms select after you upload a video file.

After creating these composite images in Google Slides, I saved each one as JPG images (so I could import them next into iMovie) by choosing FILE – DOWNLOAD – JPG image within Google Slides.

Now that I had my exported WAV audio file and segment images as JPGs, I was ready for iMovie. I opened iMovie for MacOS and imported my media with drag-and-drop. I saved the WAV file on my desktop in my project folder, and moved all of my JPG excerpt images from Google Slides into that folder as well. My iMovie steps were:

  1. Drag the audio WAV file into a new iMovie project.
  2. Drag all three excerpt JPG image files into the project.
  3. Click and drag the right edge of each JPG image file so it stops exactly where its respective audio segment ends. (This way the audio podcast’s accompanying images in the video change with each podcast excerpt, so a visual summary / title of the excerpt is shown to viewers.)
  4. Once the image timings were correct, I exported the final video in iMovie by choosing FILE – SHARE – FILE and selecting FORMAT: Audio and Video, Resolution: 720p, Quality: High, and Compress: Faster.

Even though the exported video is just 4.5 minutes long, it was 70 MB in size.

Now I was ready to upload to my YouTube channel. In addition to adding a descriptive title, I also added an explanatory description with links back to the original / full NASA podcast. I hope by sharing this excerpt, more people will listen to the full podcast episode, as well as subscribe to the show, “Houston We Have a Podcast!”

I love learning via audio podcasts, and it was fantastic to introduce my adult students today to some of the ideas shared by geologist and NASA astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmitt, 47 years after he walked on the moon! As I’ve been doing all year, rather than present directly from Google Slides in class today, I downloaded my presentation as a PowerPoint file and then opened it in Keynote on my MacOS laptop, so I could use my Apple Watch and the Keynote app as a remote control to advance my slides during class. This required the extra step of replacing the YouTube linked image in the downloaded PPT file with the actual MP4 video, but I find it wonderful to not have to click on my actual laptop during class and just run everything remotely from my Apple Watch. For workflow steps on doing that, see my September 2019 post, “Presenting with Keynote and Apple Watch.”

You can check out the full slideshow of today’s lesson, which focused on “Young Earth Creationism” and Chapter 8 of Francis Collins’ book, “The Language of God,” using this link, the embed below, or on our class curriculum site for “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” I’m now in the habit of posting my daily slideshows on Google Sites for both my adult Sunday School class (followjesus.wesfryer.com) and Middle School Digital and Media Literacy Classes (mdtech.casady.org). I love being able to share ideas and links so easily (and for free) using Google tools!

If the ideas and techniques I shared in this post are helpful to you, please let me know with a comment below, or by reaching out on Twitter (@wfryer) or using my electronic contact form. Good luck creating your own podcast excerpt videos to share with students in your classes!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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The Tyranny of Current Events http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/29/the-tyranny-of-current-events/ Sun, 29 Dec 2019 14:15:56 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13026 I shared and led a lesson at our church which included discussion about the famous Apollo 8 mission to the moon in December 1968. Apollo 8 was: the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. Its three-astronaut [...]]]> A few weeks ago, I shared and led a lesson at our church which included discussion about the famous Apollo 8 mission to the moon in December 1968. Apollo 8 was:

the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. Its three-astronaut crew—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to fly to the Moon, to witness and photograph an Earthrise, and to escape the gravity of a celestial body.

“Apollo 8.” Wikipedia, 24 Dec. 2019. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Apollo_8&oldid=932236667.

In the lesson, we discussed the famous and controversial Apollo 8 Genesis Reading on Christmas Eve, 1968, and the subsequent lawsuit filed by Madalyn Murray O’Hair for the organization, “American Atheists.” NASA told the Apollo 8 astronauts prior to the broadcast “…we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice.” Although no one can know the exact number, NASA reports on its website millions of people in the United States and around the world tuned in to listen to Borman, Lovell, and Anders share both thoughts and scripture from lunar orbit that evening.

As exciting and groundbreaking as the Apollo 8 mission was, including this historic broadcast, far more Americans did NOT tune into the live broadcast from lunar orbit than did. One of our Sunday School class members, who is in his late 70s, lived in El Reno, Oklahoma, at that time. He definitely remembers the Apollo 11 moon landing seven months later, but didn’t remember Apollo 8 because his family wasn’t watching on TV that Christmas Eve, and the event “just wasn’t news” at the time in rural America.

Current events are a relatively new phenomenon in the approximately 5000 year history of homo sapiens on planet earth. Electrical telegraphs came into mainstream use in the 1840s, and as Neil Postman reminded readers in his classic 1985 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,” this was the first time a current event could travel faster than a horse. (A horse’s gallop averages 25 to 30 miles per hour.) That reality stands in stark contrast to today’s interconnected globe, when a Presidential morning tweet can become breaking news on mainstream media outlets worldwide a few minutes later. The November 2019 New York Times article, “How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets,” includes an interactive graphic as well as insightful analysis of these speed of light / speed of thought and breaking news dynamics.

Today, thanks to both social media and mainstream media, we live in an age characterized by the tyranny of current events. The Oxford English dictionary defines “tyranny” as “cruel and oppressive government or rule.” My use of the word “tyranny” in this context an intentional exaggeration. By referring to “the tyranny of current events,” I mean that we are more challenged as connected citizens to escape the overpowering reach and influence of current events (like Presidential tweets) than ever before. Open up Facebook or Twitter, turn on a television news channel, open a news app on your smartphone, tablet or other computer, and you’re likely to confront current events. Current events may be “escapable” for those who choose to disconnect from outside information sources entirely, but that escape is more elusive today than ever before.

The tyranny of current events brings and maintains a cognitive cost to brain activity. Our human brains are incredibly powerful organs and information processing miracles, but they have physical limits. Miller’s Law postulates (on average) human beings can each hold only 7 (plus or minus 2) items at a time in our short-term memory. The day’s current events, therefore, compete with a fixed or “zero sum” brain capacity to actively think about and process different topics.

How are we helping students in our classrooms, and their teachers in schools, adapt to thrive in our modern information landscape characterized by this “tyranny of current events?” We live in the most distractible age of human history. It is far easier today, when connected online via any digital device, to become distracted rather than maintain the singular focus needed for “flow” and “deep work.” While some parents and educators understandably lament the distraction filled nature of digital devices in schools, we all need to move beyond hand wringing and complaining about the prevalence of both smartphones and social media platforms. Although some research points to the value of boredom, the natural inclination of many people today when faced with the prospect of a boring moment is to bring out their smartphone or other Internet connected device and scroll through a feed of constantly changing images and symbols. Faced with these challenges, what’s a parent or teacher to do besides ban or confiscate devices in teen / youth hands?

I’m convinced one of the most important skills we each need to cultivate in our digitally interconnected age is “how to filter our feeds.” This means the skill and ability to intentionally select information sources and voices who we trust and to whom we want to pay attention. This is not a formula for a complete escape from the tyranny of current events, but it is a recipe for the healthy management of information feeds in our lives. These skills were the topic of my April 2019 workshop in Dallas at the ATLIS conference titled, “Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy.”

As 2019 draws to a close and we peek expectantly into the next decade of the 2020s, how are you dealing with the tyranny of current events? Are your skills for “filtering your information feeds” improving alongside the rapid changes we see permeating almost all aspects of our lives and society in “The Age of AI?”

It’s time to saddle up and pick up the tools we’ll need for the adventure ahead. Yes, “Thar’s gold in them hills,” but there’s also an overwhelming exoflood of data, misinformation, and distraction. Are you ready for the journey?

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Tips for Media Literacy and Avoiding Foreign Political Propaganda Influence http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/14/tips-for-media-literacy-and-avoiding-foreign-political-propaganda-influence/ Sat, 14 Dec 2019 16:45:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13018 engaged in a new “Tech Cold War” against China and Russia, we are also under information influence attack from foreign as well as domestic adversaries who are aggressively working to build “followers” on Facebook and other social media platforms they can use to exert unconstitutional influence on our [...]]]> The United States is not only engaged in a new “Tech Cold War” against China and Russia, we are also under information influence attack from foreign as well as domestic adversaries who are aggressively working to build “followers” on Facebook and other social media platforms they can use to exert unconstitutional influence on our political processes, as well as malicious influence on our national culture. Among other things, these groups are working to make our political culture and daily conversations MORE POLARIZED and hyper-partisan. In this post, I’d like to briefly uncover and unpack a specific example of this type of unwanted, malicious information peddling as well as some specific strategies we can employ to combat it. I use the word “combat” deliberately, because like it or not, as citizens of the United States connected to social media platforms, we all are “combatants” in this fight. Many people remain unaware of this, however, so goals of this post are to raise both awareness and motivation to do something constructive about the reality of today’s information war.

This morning when I was on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-billion dollar newsfeed algorithm socially engineered for engagement and the amplification of “outlier content” (that’s another way of just saying, “the Facebook app on my iPad“) presented me with an article about a female U.S. Army soldier who was awarded the Silver Star. Being a military veteran and student of both military history and leadership examples, this is a topic of interest to me. As a media literacy and digital literacy teacher at our school, however, I’m also aware of how news articles are being “weaponized” today by different groups working in the shadows in coordinated efforts / attacks designed to influence our conversations and culture in the United States in malicious ways. Former U.S. state department official Richard Stengel’s September 2019 article in Time magazine provides a good overview of this.

Here are the media literacy strategies I employed to “fact check” this article this morning, learn more about the organization sharing the article, and reach out to my PLN (professional learning network) on Twitter to get their feedback and suggestions on how to best “read” and understand this shared article, and also decide whether or not I should CLICK LIKE or CLICK SHARE on Facebook. Based on the results of my brief research findings, I decided NOT to like, share or amplify this article and post on Facebook. This blog post is my elaborated response.

Here are the strategies:

Strategy 1: Read Laterally by Googling for Other Articles on the Same Topic

To start researching the veracity./accuracy as well as potential motivation/bias of this article and its author(s), I first Googled the name and title of the soldier mentioned in this 9 December 2019 Epoch Times article / post, “Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester.” Some authors (like @holden) identify this strategy as “reading laterally for other articles on the same topic.”

These results quickly revealed the person and alleged event from this article (a meritorious recognition of bravery in combat) WAS real, genuine and factual. The events described are not “current events” for 2019, however, they took place in 2011 and the Silver Star was awarded in 2015. The MilitaryTimes.com article referenced in the Epoch Times post is from June 2019. From a factual standpoint, therefore, this post is NOT “disinformation.” The events DO NOT appear to have been fabricated. But it is still worth investigating further, given our current climate of weaponized news content.

Strategy 2: Investigate the Source Website

In the past, media literacy teachers encouraged students to FIRST click on the “About Page” of a website to learn more about it. While that is not a terrible strategy, in today’s polarized media landscape where we have foreign entities / actors and even governments hosting websites which purport to be domestic U.S. special interest groups, “About” pages on websites have less value in many cases than other alternatives.

I first visited the root domain address of the original news article / post (theepochtimes.com) to get an overview of the site’s article topics. On first blush, it appears very conservative and pro-right in its slant. Its byline is, “Truth and Tradition.”

The website Media Bias / Fact Check confirms this perception about the right of center bias of TheEpochTimes, but does not classify at as “Extreme.” What makes sites like this challenging is they are not completely filled with disinformation, most of the news articles contain factual elements. Media Bias / Fact Check gives the site a “mixed” rating for factual accuracy, explaining:

Overall, we rate The Epoch Times “Right Biased” based on editorial positions that consistently favor the right. We also rate them factually Mixed due to the publication of pseudoscience as well as propaganda against China and the promotion of pro-Trump propaganda.

“The Epoch Times.” Media Bias/Fact Check, https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-epoch-times/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2019.

Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs) points out that WikiPedia pages for organizations and websites can be helpful to get an overview of a group’s focus and potential bias. For instance, the English WikiPedia article for “The Epoch Times” reveals it’s associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China, and in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election was “the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign.” That claim has 7 different footnote citations on the WikiPedia article. By even mentioning “Falun Gong” on my blog, I’m risking unwanted attention from Chinese national authorities, because that group is one of the most blocked and suppressed entities in the nation. In 2007 when I first traveled to and presented in mainland China, I had to make a ‘mirror’ site of all my workshop resources on PBWorks.com, because that entire domain was blocked by “the great firewall of China” since supporters of Falun Gong had used it to create a large informational website. Without the insight provided by WikiPedia contributors in this case, I would have no idea about these political connections for the owners of TheEpochTimes.com. I certainly would not know about these specific details if my research was limited to only “vertical reading” on the website’s About page.

The “talk pages” on WikiPedia also can be very instructive to learn about bias and perspective. Here’s the talk page for The Epoch Times on the English WikiPedia today. Notice the “warning signs” for potential bias? This is not a mainstream media source, although on their About page they purport to be nonpartisan and unbiased.

This media literacy “deep dive” also points to the importance of adults, teachers, and students recognizing and sharing the VALUE OF WIKIPEDIA as an information resource. This is something my 5th and 6th graders explored this week in our lesson, “Good Role Model Reflection.” We talked about how we determine authority and validity on websites, and how the images of WikiPedia all have attribution details about where an image came from and how its reuse is conditionally authorized or freely open / public domain. These are not only great conversations about copyright, attribution and fair use, they are also fantastic about the ways our information landscape works today (“No Sally, WikiPedia is not a trash resource filled with lies and garbage”) and how we both CAN and SHOULD use WikiPedia as media literate citizens and learners.

For more on these topics, I recommend you check out these resources and conferences:

  1. If Facebook Is Dealing with Deceptive ‘BL’ Network, It’s Not Working (13 Dec 2019 article by Snopes specifically addressing The Epoch Times and Facebook’s handling of links like those discussed in this post – via @wegotwits)
  2. My Twitter list for Media Literacy (67 members as of today – Great to follow in Flipboard)
  3. Mike Caufield’s (@holden) outstanding and FREE book, “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers”
  4. My conference workshop, “Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Information and Media Literacy”
  5. The Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (I attended in July 2019 – more in Episode 465 of my podcast)
  6. My conference breakout workshop resources: “Discovering Useful Ideas”
  7. Destin Sandlin’s (@smarteveryday) fantastic 3 part series on social media platform weaponization: Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm, The Manipulation of Twitter, and Who is Manipulating Facebook.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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What Paperless Debate Can Teach Us About the Classroom of the Future http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/08/what-paperless-debate-can-teach-us-about-the-classroom-of-the-future/ Sun, 08 Dec 2019 19:32:32 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13009 UT Austin Longhorn Classic Debate Tournament, as an adult chaperone for our high school debate team at Casady School. In this post, I’d like to reflect on what these experiences suggest, reveal and invite when it comes to [...]]]> This weekend I had the privilege and opportunity to fully experience “paperless debate” at the UT Austin Longhorn Classic Debate Tournament, as an adult chaperone for our high school debate team at Casady School. In this post, I’d like to reflect on what these experiences suggest, reveal and invite when it comes to student learning, teaching, and “the classroom of the future.”

I judged five novice cross-examination debate rounds on Friday afternoon / evening and Saturday at the tournament. This was my first time to judge at a tournament using TabRoom.com, a fantastic website and project by the National Speech and Debate Association (formerly “the other” NFL, or National Forensics League.) The website allows both competing students and judges to receive text message and/or email alerts about upcoming rounds and also provides live/archived postings for all tournament rounds and outround brackets.

This digital access on a smartphone, laptop or tablet computer is wonderful and helpful, but not necessarily transformative. In my analogy between paperless debate and classroom teaching and learning, this like having access to the information of the Internet’s World-Wide Web. It’s powerful, it makes things much more convenient, but by itself it doesn’t TRANSFORM an experience for anyone. Instead of waiting for paper pairings to be posted physically on a wall, and having to go look at that piece of paper, everyone at this debate tournament can view the details and location for their next assigned round on their own Internet-connected device. This saves time and energy, but it doesn’t transform interactions or conversations.

Here’s what CAN and SHOULD transform conversations at a (largely) paperless debate tournament like the Longhorn Classic this weekend.* Paperless debate means all prepared speeches (like the first 1AC or “first affirmative constructive” speech) are exchanged electronically between the teams and the judge. In all the rounds I judged in Austin this weekend, this meant we used an “email chain” to share evidence and speech files. The first speaker collected everyone’s email address in the round before 1AC, usually handing their laptop to each person to type their email address. They attached their speech file (a MS Word .docx file in all cases) and sent it before their speech. When I’ve seen recent debate rounds back in Oklahoma, teams exchanged USB flash drives with each other and the judge to provide this file exchange. However, the “email chain” method was much more efficient. This time to exchange files is NOT counted against any team’s prep time. It was MUCH faster to use an “email chain” for this file transfer, but it requires (of course) reliable and fast WiFi at the hosting school for the debate tournament. That is not always a given today at many public high schools. Fortunately it IS at most colleges and universities today in classrooms where debate rounds are held.

Here’s where things with paperless debate become TRANSFORMATIVE for me this weekend. The TabRoom.com website allows each judge to share their judging and debate “paradigm” and philosophy, so teams can access and read it prior to each debate. This is mine from UT Austin this weekend. This means each debator, if s/he chooses, can get some helpful and in-depth insight prior to the round about each judge’s experiences, predispositions with different kinds of arguments, and biases. This not only saves time prior to the round, when in the past competitors would ask a judge to share their paradigm out loud, it also allows competitors to ASK QUESTIONS for clarifications by each judge if desired. This is like a “flipped classroom lesson,” when students watch a video BEFORE class to get information / instruction, and then come to class to INTERACT with the teacher / instructor / professor and in many cases work problems, do lab work, and other kinds of INTERACTIVE and SOCIAL activities which cannot be done alone / in isolation / at home away from the classroom. This maximizes the potential value of face-to-face (F2F) instructional time among students and with their teacher / instructor, something Jose Bowen (@josebowen) championed in his 2012 book, “Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning.” (Bowen, like me, is not anti-technology, but he IS against “PowerPointing your students to death,” especially in a college environment where they are literally paying $$$ for what should be a high quality, interactive and transformative learning experience.)

The transformative nature of “paperless debate” does not stop there. By using an “email chain” or “flashing evidence” (sharing) prior to each speech, as a judge I had full access to each speaker’s taglines and evidence, for most constructive speech (initial) argumentation in the round.

This screenshot is an example of a 1AC speech, with the taglines and words from evidence / cards read by debators BOLDED and often in ALL CAPS.

Full digital access to all constructive speech evidence was VERY TRANSFORMATIVE for me as a debate judge. This means I could copy and paste taglines very quickly and accurately into my Google Sheets CX debate round template, leaving a space between arguments. Instead of focusing and STRUGGLING to capture the gist of each debator’s separate argument, along with the author’s last name and the year their study or article was published, I USED COPY / PASTE. This allowed me to LISTEN more carefully to each piece of evidence as it was read, and simultaneously ANALYZE that evidence to fit it into the line of argumentation being presented and the overall round. THIS was the most transformative element of my experiences this weekend with “paperless debate,” and is the most important thing which “speaks to me today” about how our teaching and student learning in the digitally connected classroom of the twenty-first century CAN and SHOULD change.

A few years ago, family friend Ken Brooks, who is a professor of Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University, shared his philosophy with me of providing students with his PowerPoint files BEFORE each class lecture. He said many professors today are opposed to this, because their conception of CLASSROOM LEARNING involves students CAPTURING LECTURE NOTES which are delivered orally. That is exactly “the old paradigm” of analog/paper-based cross examination debate: We would listen to a speaker read and talk (often as fast as they possibly could) and then furiously try to scribble down shorthand notes of their main ideas and sources. I’m with Ken Brooks on this: We need to give our students (as well as debate opponents in CX debate) FULL COPIES of our presentation files / resources or case files / debate evidence in advance of our oral delivery. Why? Because as Ken Brooks explained to me years ago, this allows student to focus on IDEAS and ANALYSIS more than TEXT CAPTURE. This is transformative, and can lead to better thinking, debate, and overall experiences for everyone in the room, whether we’re talking about a classroom lesson or a cross-examination debate.

Exchanging evidence before a debate speech flies in the face of some historic strategies of CX debate. In the past, and to a lesser degree today, some teams will try and run an uncommon affirmative case (we used to call these “squirrel cases,” and the word “squirrel” evidently now has a context in parliamentary debate.) Part of that strategy “back in the day” was that the negative / opposing debate team wouldn’t know what arguments they had to analyze and confront in a round until the 1AC speaker (first affirmative) opened their mouth.

While “squirrel affirmative cases” may still be around and that strategy favored by some debaters, in general it seems that many debate teams today choose to run a primary case for all the teams at their school, and freely share evidence and strategies among all debaters. In practice then, this can make debates much more about argumentation, organization, delivery, and analysis. I think this shift in skill focus is WONDERFUL, and as I’m arguing overall in this post, TRANSFORMATIVE in ways which are beneficial for learning.

Here’s a final thought and photograph to close this piece. Here’s a photo of some of our Casady debate team members on Friday morning before the tournament rounds started.

I want you to notice several things.

  1. Everyone has their own laptop computer, connected to WiFi and also running the latest version of MS Office. (Office is the de-facto standard / requirement for CX debate file exchange.)
  2. Many students are working independently, but some students (as well as our debate coach) are interacting with each other and coaching / teaching on different topics.
  3. The students are gathered around a bar area which has plenty of electrical outlets, and is ideal for collaboration / working together. It’s a great collaboration space.

This is a excellent picture of interactive learning, which is very different than traditional classroom learning which emphasized (almost exclusively) individual, solo effort. Instead of becoming “distanced and distracted” from each other, as futurist John Naisbitt feared in 1999, our networked, digital technology tools and information superhighway offer us opportunities to be MORE CONNECTED AND INTERACTIVE than ever before. This outcome is the result of deliberate, pedagogical choices, however.

These are important lessons to learn from “paperless debate” and choices to make, for life and learning. We each have opportunities to use technologies in our pockets in transformative ways. Access is an important ingredient and pre-requisite, but choices are essential as well.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Reflections on Postmodern Cultural Conflict http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/11/29/reflections-on-postmodern-cultural-conflict/ Fri, 29 Nov 2019 22:13:32 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12985 the emergence of “identity politics,” [...]]]> I’m genuinely confused and troubled by the political polarization we see and experience in different ways in our culture, and I’m trying to better understand these dynamics. There are multiple reasons for the fear, anger, and frustration which individuals and different groups feel today. Some of these factors include the emergence of “identity politics,” changing demographics, the power of social media to amplify outlier, vitriolic voices, the general decline of Christendom in the West, and the emergence of a 24/7 global news cycle which inevitably highlights conflict, divisions, and darkness over the better angels of our nature. In writing this post, I’m reminded of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyric for Alexander Hamilton, “I wrote my way out.” In a much less extreme circumstance, I’m writing this post as part of my ongoing effort to process and better understand the cultural change and conflict I see all around, and determine how I can best choose to respond, live, and perhaps lead in this climate of change and uncertainty.

It’s Thanksgiving break, and I’ve been reading a number of articles and listening to several podcasts about “our culture wars,” why evangelical Christians and most Republican party leaders are stubbornly standing by and defending Donald Trump. I have gained a few insights into these questions, and I brainstormed a bunch of ideas on my iPad this morning to try and organize my thoughts. To focus the large quantity of thoughts, articles, and questions bouncing around in my head on these topics, I’ll start by highlighting two recent, related events which both trouble me and challenge me as I seek to understand the emotions as well as beliefs that undergird each one.

Let’s start with the election of Donald Trump and the stubborn insistence of many Republican Party leaders as well as members of our larger community in Oklahoma and the midwestern USA to stand by and support him. Facebook is both a wonderful and challenging platform for idea sharing, and as I type these words I’m very cognizant that a diverse group of people who follow me there who are members of my immediate family, members of our church family and the Sunday School class I’m teaching, and also connected to me because of my work in education and educational technology may read these words. In our hyper-partisan and polarized cultural climate, it’s challenging and often difficult to talk about political issues. One of the reasons for this, I’ve realized, is because talking about political issues today is almost always conflated with cultural issues tied to beliefs, philosophies and worldviews. It’s complicated, but it’s also really important to better understand.

Here’s a restatement of the first of my questions in a personal context: How in the world did so many members of my immediate family choose to vote for Donald Trump for President, when on a “prima facia” basis (yes I admit it, I use that phrase because I was an intercollegiate debater for 4 years in college) Trump is an immoral human being unfit to hold elective office. Trump’s well documented support for torture, as well as his physical inability to listen to or read lengthy summaries of complex issues, are two of the primary reasons I decided unequivocally to not support or vote for him as President, even though I didn’t like many things about Hillary Clinton as a candidate for our nation’s highest elective office either. I think Trump has “unmasked himself” clearly in the past two years as someone suffering from narcissistic personality disorder who is racist, sexist, and generally a morally repugnant human being. The ongoing decision of so many of my fellow Americans to support and defend Donald Trump as our President in the face of so much “evidence” of his ugly and indefensible moral character incites genuine and severe cognitive dissonance in my mind. This is a utilitarian calculus (“the ends justify the means“) which is a moral “bridge too far” for me as a supporter of the U.S. Constitution and follower of Jesus Christ. I know politics in a representative democracy by necessity must involve compromise. Yet the promise offered by Donald Trump to American evangelicals / The Religious Right is unquestionably a Faustian bargain. My upbringing and education has taught me that in deals with the devil, the devil wins. Literally. So this ongoing situation with widespread cultural support for Donald Trump continues to both mystify and frustrate me.

On this topic, I want to commend a few articles and podcasts. First, if you’re not listening to the Ezra Klein Show (@ezraklein) as a podcast, I encourage you to immediately subscribe using PocketCasts (my favorite smartphone app for podcast listening) or whatever app you prefer. Not listening to podcasts or using Twitter to “filter your information feeds” yet? Check out resources for my workshops “Discovering New Ideas” and “Filtering the ExoFlood.” But I digress…

Ezra’s recent article, “The post-Christian culture wars,” is an example of his thinking and helpful synthesis of headlines and political behaviors which continue to confuse me. I’m not saying I agree 100% with everything he says or writes, but in general his perspectives on politics and cultural conflict strike me as both balanced and intellectually informed. Ezra provides multiple links to other articles and media artifacts in his articles, as I generally try to do in my online writing, which offer helpful pathways into the often confusing, always polarizing forest of modern political discourse. Examples from that article include:

  1. Yearning for Trumpocalypse: what’s behind a viral conservative essay (Vox, Dara Lind @DLind, 12 Sept 2016)
  2. Donald Trump, Despite Impieties, Wins Hearts of Evangelical Voters (New York Times, 27 Feb 2016)
  3. Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention (US Department of Justice, 15 Nov 2019)
  4. Can American nationalism be saved? (Vox, Sean Illing @seanilling, 22 Nov 2019)

(As a related aside, I’ve started a new Twitter List named “politics” which currently includes several of these Vox authors. One of my favorite ways to “filter my feeds” today is by following Twitter lists in Flipboard.)

Here’s my current synthesis of these dynamics and why many American conservatives / evangelical Christians / Republican voters supported and continue to support Donald Trump: A lot of people are upset and fearful in our current economic and political climate. Life in general seems less certain and more tumultuous. We live in a more diverse society which is both empowered and enabled to share their perspectives, which include highlighting examples of genuine oppression and mistreatment. (I’m thinking primarily of sexist treatment of women in the workplace / society, and racist mistreatment of African Americans by police officers.) In these times of change, many older Americans (predominantly white, often identifying as Christian) yearn for a past they perceive to have been more stable, less ethnically diverse, more supportive of a homogenous / common belief in Christianity, etc. As Ezra Klein pointed out in “The post-Christian culture wars,” many of these people form “the base” for Donald Trump. They want a political fighter who is not afraid “to take off the gloves,” who takes a stand for “white, Christian values” (their words, not mine) in this time of cultural conflict, and will stand up against “the destructive onslaught of liberalism and Democrats working to undermine the American way of life.” (Again those aren’t my words or my opinion, I’m trying to paraphrase here.) Add to this the powerful and pervasive emergence of “identity politics” as highlighted in Lilliana Mason’s 2018 book, “Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,” and you have the ingredients for our modern vitriolic cultural and political climate.

I need to wrap up this post, because our family is ready to “get on with Thanksgiving activities,” and I want to highlight another recent incident connected to this discussion. A few weeks ago, a family friend posted on Facebook about a local school board’s decision to cancel a Christmas program at the local elementary school all of our kids attended. His mom was our kids’ music teacher, and is a dearly beloved member of our church family as well as friend.

If you view the comments to this Facebook post as well as the original, which I’ve partially archived via screenshots in a Flickr album, you’ll read and hear the anger and frustration of many people (and Christians) in our Oklahoma community which relate to the topics and questions of this post. The linked article from the post, “Edmond school changes holiday concert after group says live Nativity scene is inappropriate,” summarizes the case which involves the inclusion of a live nativity scene in the school’s December Christmas program.

“Teaching students the biblical story of the birth of Jesus and having them regularly rehearse a performance of that story entangles the school with the Bible’s devotional message,” Christopher Line, staff attorney for the Freedom from Religions Foundation, wrote. “Such a performance would be appropriate in a church setting, but not in a public school. We write to ensure that district teachers do not incorporate religious promotion into their lessons and that future school events do not include live nativities or other religious performances.”

Edmond school changes holiday concert after group says live Nativity scene is inappropriate,” KOCO News Channel 5 Oklahoma City, 12 Nov 2019.

The full letter to the school district’s attorney, who also happens to be a personal friend and member of our church, is linked from the above news article. The issues raised and emotions triggered in this situation relate directly to the overall paradigm of “secular and atheistic / agnostic liberals working to destroy Christianity and the moral foundations of our nation,” which explain why a lot of folks in our community and nation overall are responsive and supportive of Donald Trump’s pledges and actions to stand up for the political agenda of the religious right.

Thanks to an educational law class I took as part of my PhD studies at Texas Tech, as well as experiences in my 20+ year career as a professional educator mostly spent serving in public schools and universities, I have an opinion and perspective on these issues different from many of the commenters on this post. Before I reflect on that, however, I want to highlight a related historical and legal parallel of which this situation reminds me.

I’m teaching an adult Sunday School class this year called “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” As part of our studies using Francis Collins’ 2010 book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief,” I’ve been reading and studying more about the Scopes Trial of 1925. I’ve read about half of Edward J. Larson’s 2008 Pultizer Prize winning book, “Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion.” There are a multitude of important ideas relating to religion, science and politics in this book and from this chapter of U.S. history. One of them surrounds the central contention of the lead prosecutor in the case, populist William Jennings Bryan, who argued (among other things) in favor of the majoritarian power of state legislatures and local school boards to dictate what teachers can and cannot teach in the classroom. While 1925 may seem like ancient history to some, the issues and debates of the Scopes trial are quite alive and relevant to our politics today in 2019.

I’ve learned a number of important things the past 4.5 years serving and working in a private school, which include technical topics but also extend into cultural and religious issues. One of these is that compulsory chapel services / school prayer does NOT produce pious or even reverent youth. I think a sizable portion of our older electorate in Oklahoma believes if we just “brought prayer and the Bible back into our public schools” and also brought back corporal punishment / paddling for deviant students, we could restore “the good society / the good culture” which is part of a romanticized past in which Christianity is perceptually the mono-culture. These sentiments are tied closely to perceptions of frustration, anger, and righteous indignation which (as I’ve noted here previously) undergird much of the political base / support of Donald Trump. These are real issues and powerful emotions, but they are (at least in part) built on inaccurate understandings of both history and reality.

Someday, I want to share a standup comedy routine based on these topics. (My wife doesn’t think this is a good idea, or the possibility of attending seminary… and she’s generally a discerning spirit. So for now, I’ll go with that advice… but not perhaps forever.)

Here’s my summary of these issues and both national and local events involving the anger and frustration of Christians with political and cultural change. As Christians, we need to recognize the reality of our postmodern era, which is diverse both demographically and philosophically / from religious perspectives. Our strategy of constructive engagement with “our dominant culture” should not be founded on either fear or anger. Jesus repeatedly exhorted his disciples (and through the ages, “us” as His followers) to not be afraid.

We should neither retreat to the hills, nor respond to political events by supporting someone who promises to defend our values while violating them repeatedly in both words and deeds.

We should NOT allow ourselves to be filled with either fear or anger in these times of seismic cultural change. In the past, majoritarian rule in more homogeneous communities DID mean Christian values and lessons were taught in public schools by public school teachers. The march of history has changed this, and on many fronts these are changes for the good. As a society and culture in the United States, we have been strongly shaped historically by our religious and Christian foundations. However, our path forward in an increasingly diverse and postmodern society should not be paved by actions motivated by fear or anger.

If these prognostications are leading you to suspect I have all these issues figured out or know exactly what our political path forward together should be, awake from thy naive slumber. I don’t. I’m just trying to “write my way out.”

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Podcast468: Reflections on Blended Learning Techniques with Google Sites, Slides and Social Media http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/11/27/podcast468-reflections-on-blended-learning-techniques-with-google-sites-slides-and-social-media/ Thu, 28 Nov 2019 01:25:25 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12969

Welcome to Episode 468 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode includes a reflection by Wes about some of the techniques he is using in fall 2019 teaching Digital and Media Literacy for 5th and 6th graders at Casady School in Oklahoma City, as well as the adult Sunday School class, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science” at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. These techniques include using Google Sites to share lesson slides, videos, resources and links publicly (mdtech.casady.org and followjesus.wesfryer.com) each week. Refer to the podcast shownotes for referenced links. Feedback on this podcast episode is welcome!

Shownotes

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  3. Lessons Learned as a School Director of Technology (February 2019)
  4. Wes’ 5th and 6th Grade Digital and Media Literacy website – mdtech.casady.org
  5. Class website for “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science” – followjesus.wesfryer.com
  6. Summarizing Summer Institute in Digital Literacy Learning via Twitter Moments (July 2019)
  7. SIFT (The Four Moves) by Mike Caufield (@holden)
  8. Astronomy Picture of the Day on the App Store
  9. Use a custom URL for your [Google] site (consumer Gmail/Google account)
  10. Map a new URL to your site (GSuite Google site / account)
  11. Wes’ Handouts (was a “classic” Google Site – now in conversion)
  12. Wonder Links (from Wes’ current class website)
  13. Curiosity Links (from Wes’ old STEM class website)
  14. Wes 2013-15 STEM class website (a “classic” Google Site)
  15. Amanda Pardue’s Upper Division / High School Art Google Site: pardueart.casady.org
  16. Wes’ Personal YouTube Channel: YouTube.com/wfryer
  17. Wes’ School YouTube Channel (GSuite account)
  18. About Google Classroom
  19. HeartPaths OKC | Spiritual Direction & Training
  20. One Strange Rock on NetFlix
  21. Preferred YouTube Downloader
  22. Edit / Trim Videos with QuickTime Player for MacOS
  23. Presenting with Keynote and Apple Watch (8 Sept 2019)
  24. The EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR)
  25. Show With Media: What Do You Want to Create Today?
  26. Sign Up for Wes’ Email Newsletter
  27. Pocket Share Jesus: Be a Digital Witness for Christ
  28. Class with Dr. Fryer on Anchor
  29. Podcast interviews recorded on an iPhone with Ferrite Recording Studio
  30. Podcast audio edited with Audacity and normalized with Auphonic

All past “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” podcast episodes are archived, dating back to August 2005.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Inspired by National Geographic Explorer Andres Ruzo http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/11/23/inspired-by-national-geographic-explorer-andres-ruzo/ Sun, 24 Nov 2019 05:06:52 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12962 National Geographic Explorer Andres Ruzo (@georuzo) share a fantastic and inspiring presentation at school for all our 6th graders. Andres is the brother of one of our French teachers, and is a geothermal scientist conducting research in the Peruvian Amazon Basin [...]]]> This past Wednesday, I had the remarkable good fortune to hear National Geographic Explorer Andres Ruzo (@georuzo) share a fantastic and inspiring presentation at school for all our 6th graders. Andres is the brother of one of our French teachers, and is a geothermal scientist conducting research in the Peruvian Amazon Basin in an area known as “the boiling river.” He is a fantastic storyteller, and I was both enthralled and mesmerized to hear his stories of adventure, exploration, and scientific discovery. I’ll share a few of the highlights from his talk in this post. You can also check out the 13 part Twitter thread I shared during his presentation.

Before reading any more of this post, I recommend you watch Andres’ 2016 TED Talk, “How I found a mythical boiling river in the Amazon.” It’s about 16 minutes long, and provides a much more dynamic intro to his work with National Geographic than I’ll be able to do in this post.

One of the mysteries which Andres is continuing to explore through his doctoral research is why there are not any active volcanoes on most of the coast of Peru, although it’s part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” There are some volcanoes on the southern coast of Peru, but not the central and northern coast. This unusual geographic fact is directly related to The Boiling River Project, which apparently involves some irregular subduction under the South American tectonic plate.

Where are the volcanoes on Peru’s coast? by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Where are the volcanoes on Peru’s coast?” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

One of my favorite parts of Andres’ presentation was his retelling of the tragic encounter and fate of the last Incan Emperor Atahualpa with the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro. If you haven’t heard that tale, this 27 minute video from “The Great Courses” series includes a passable summary.

Andres Ruzo (@georuzo) tells about Atahualpa by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Andres Ruzo (@georuzo) tells about Atahualpa ” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

This story on Wednesday by Andres brought back some personal memories for me, from my own trip to Peru in the summer of 1990 when I participated in an exchange program with the Peruvian Air Force Academy. During the two weeks we spent in Peru we visited Machu Picchu and learned a great deal about Peruvian and Incan history. The scale of the tragic encounters between European conquistadors and the Indigenous people of the Americas is impossible to overstate. Among the books I’ve read on this topic, I highly commend “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolomé de las Casas. Although not about Peru and the Incas specifically, de las Casas’ first person account is one I will forever remember documenting the violent and regrettable collision of European and American cultures.

1990 Christmas Card by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
1990 Christmas Card” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Andres spoke on Wednesday for about 90 minutes, so I can’t recount in a short post everything he shared. “The Rainforest Connection” smartphone app is one thing he mentioned that you might want to check out and share with your own students, however. This unique app and project enables anyone to “hear a rain forest in real time.” Download it and give it a try!

Andres started his talk on Wednesday by talking about one of my favorite photos of all time, Earthrise from 1968 on the Apollo 8 mission. He also talked about the incredible series “One Strange Rock,” narrated by Will Smith and available on Netflix. I’ve used some clips from the series in the Sunday School class I’m teaching this year on “Faith and Science,” and actually just finished watching episode 9 (of 10 in season 1) earlier in the week.

Andres also shared about the outstanding National Geographic Educator Certification program, which offers three free cohorts during each school year. I attended a breakout session on Thursday at the OU K-20 Center’s Interactive Learning Institute in Norman about this as well, and have signed up to be notified when the next cohort signups are available for winter. The program equips educators around the world to support student curiosity, encourage “an explorer’s mindset,” and challenge educators to develop and facilitate multidisciplinary lessons with students which inspire them to become positive change agents in our world. These are values and professional activities I want to support and be a part of!

National Geographic Educator Certification by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
National Geographic Educator Certification” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

The images and stories Andres shared about seeing the stars of the Milky Way from the Amazon, near the Boiling River area, were captivating. Reminiscent of the 2009 James Cameron movie Avatar, Andres described an environment where the connections which exist between the natural beauty of our planet and the heavens above are both closely felt as well as experienced by those fortunate enough to spend time there.

Stories by Andres Ruzo about the Milky Way Seen From the Amazon Rain Forest by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Stories by Andres Ruzo about the Milky Way Seen From the Amazon Rain Forest” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

At the end of 2017 Disney purchased National Geographic, and if you’re a new Disney+ subscriber you have hopefully noticed the available National Geographic content there. If you ever have an opportunity to hear a “National Geographic Explorer” share a presentation, don’t miss it. And consider the possibility of becoming a National Geographic Explorer yourself! Andres inspired me in so many ways! This was one of the best presentations I have seen in a LONG time!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Make Balance and Intentionality Your Screentime Education Goal http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/11/08/make-balance-and-intentionality-your-screentime-education-goal/ Fri, 08 Nov 2019 12:13:11 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12959 A lot of adults are very upset there are so many digital screens in so many places today, especially in the hands of teenagers and pre-teens. This frustration and anxiety can manifest itself in multiple ways. In this post, I want to advocate for the idea that our frustration with screens and “screentime challenges” should be articulated to young people not as the message “screens are evil and you are bad when you look at your screen,” but rather encouragement to make balance and intentionality with screens hallmarks of our lives.

As one of the leaders at our school of “Parent University” digital citizenship workshops, I’m very focused and aware of conversations which happen in our community around smartphones, screens, apps, and the overall topic of “digital wellness.” Wellness is vital, and it certainly means both monitoring our screentime and taking steps to insure we’re using our screens in ways which honor our relationships with others and match the values of respect and community which we profess to hold. In December of 2018, I co-presented a Parent University workshop on “ScreenTime and iOS 12 Monitoring” which addressed these topics and practical strategies to help. Next week I’ll again be co-presenting a similar workshop, this time titled, “Let’s Talk About Screentime,” and I’ll add the link to that slideshow to this post when it’s available.

Our words matter, and we should tend carefully to the messages we share with others, especially when emotion is involved and strong feelings. I work with and around a number of people who have STRONG feelings when it comes to screentime. Sometimes, some of these people project the message that:

  1. They wish all the screens and technology around us were not present
  2. They believe life was better “back in the day” because no one had a screen, and everyone just played outside all the time instead of looking at screens when they are bored or sought entertainment
  3. The answer to screentime challenges is to demonize screentime and those who look at screens

Screens, smartphones, and screentime are a fact of life for us today in 2019, just like (at least here in central Oklahoma) driving cars, buying food at the grocery store, and having to go to school at least till you’re 16 but most likely until you graduate from high school. These are realities, these are facts, these are things with which we have to deal. We can make different choices about these things, and we each do in our lives and families, but we still have to deal with them.

Please do not say things to children in private or in public like, “When you look at your screen, you are serving the machine.” An awareness of media literacy is vital, and it’s one of the major themes of the courses I’m teaching this year for our 5th and 6th graders at school. We need to recognize and articulate in our messages about screentime to young people, however, that simply looking at your screen is NOT a sin. Screens are “protean” devices. This means they can be used in diverse ways. With the same smartphone screen, I read verses of Holy Scripture from my YouVersion Bible app, or I could choose to look at something which brings me dishonor and defiles my mind. These are choices, and we all need to tend very closely to the choices we make with our eyes, our ears, and yes… our phones.

The words of Matthew 6:22, from “The Message,” are appropriate in this context:

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

Matthew 6:22 MSG

Please attend carefully to the words and messages you share with others around you when it comes to screentime. Screens present many challenges, but they also provide wonderful opportunities. Let’s avoid demonizing both screens and those who wield them (that means all of us, by the way) when we talk about screentime. It’s a huge challenge to balance all the demands in our lives today, digital as well as analog, and digital wellness is an important issue for adults as well as young people. Let’s grapple together with these issues and work to honor our relationships and our values. Living lives of balance and thoughtful intention should be our goal, not looking for an easy scapegoat. “The screen” is not our enemy, it’s a powerful tool with which and about which we need to each make careful digital choices.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Don’t Get Tricked Online – A Media Literacy Lesson http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/10/31/dont-get-tricked-online-a-media-literacy-lesson/ Fri, 01 Nov 2019 03:21:24 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12948 a variety of digital and media literacy skills, as well work with teachers across all our PK-12 grade levels as a pedagogic / learning coach. In [...]]]> Our fall trimester ends next week, and I have loved the opportunity this school year to return to the “regular classroom” and teach our 5th and 6th graders a variety of digital and media literacy skills, as well work with teachers across all our PK-12 grade levels as a pedagogic / learning coach. In this post I’d like to share some videos and discussion prompts from a recent lesson I shared titled, “Don’t Get Tricked Online.” The media literacy skills in this lesson are important for adults as well as younger students, since online scams continue to proliferate as we interact more than ever using the Internet.

The first activity of this lesson is a “See, Think, and Wonder” thinking routine using one of the best videos about identifying and avoiding online scams I’ve ever seen: “Scams That Should Be Illegal” by @theodd1sout. It runs 8 minutes and 44 seconds. Rather than play the video directly from YouTube, I’ve been removing all related videos, advertisements, and comments by playing videos for students in class using ViewPure.com. If you choose to play the video for students directly from YouTube, at least remove all advertising by installing the browser extension “UBlock Origin,” which is available for both Chrome and FireFox. The storytelling in this video is fast paced, the references are frequently humorous, and all the points are on target. The entire video is good, but I stopped it at 5:38 when playing for students because the third and fourth scams which are highlighted don’t have anything to do with online safety. In addition to including a link to this video in the full lesson plan online, I also included it in my running list of “Wonder Links” for students on our class website built with the “new” Google Sites.

Here’s the results of a “See, Think, Wonder” brainstorm with one of my classes last week. I like this visible thinking strategy MUCH better than KWL. Students start with concrete observations in the SEE phase, and gradually share deeper thinking as they reflect on “what they think is happening” in the video (what they ‘see / saw’) and finally what this video makes them WONDER about.

Recognizing and understanding advertising / marketing is one of the fundamental skills and lessons we need to be developing with our students in all grade levels, starting very early in elementary school. All trimester I’ve been talking to students about “the ways people try to hack their brains” by getting them to want a particular product or form a positive opinion based on images, music, animations, and other kinds of media-transmitted messages. Through projects in which students created narrated images, InfoPics, digital stories, and screencasts, students have developed their own skills for communicating powerfully with media as well as a better understanding for how media can be used to focus attention and influence others’ thinking.

With my sixth graders, I extended this lesson further in a subsequent class by watching both of the short videos, “Get An Engagement Ring” (YouTube) and “The Spinner – Animated Explainer Video” (YouTube). The website these videos reference and describe is an extreme example of “brain hacking” and attempting to subconsciously manipulate someone else for a hidden purpose. It’s so egregious a service in its flagrant manipulative purposes, I initially doubted its legitimacy. (So of course, I applied SIFT (s/o @holden and @EduQuinn) and “read laterally” to gauge it’s authenticity.) Forbes is one mainstream media source which has covered it, in their January 2019 article, “For $29, This Man Will Help Manipulate Your Loved Ones With Targeted Facebook And Browser Links.” Whether or not you’re going to teach this media literacy lesson to your own students, I encourage you to watch this short explainer video. It runs 1 minute, 38 seconds.

Here are the results from a “See, Think, Wonder” thinking routine about this video as well as the 75 second video, “Get An Engagement Ring” (YouTube). I loved how this discussion provided a meaningful and context-rich opportunity to discuss words like “manipulate, convince, and persuade” with my 6th graders through a video they understood as “cringey” and I termed “immoral.” Most did not know or could not explain what “immoral” or “moral” meant, incidentally, although of course they all understood the meaning as we discussed it.

What are your favorite videos and lessons to use with students now, to help them understand how to identify online scams? Please let me know with a Twitter reply to @wfryer or a comment below. Check out this full lesson on my digital and media literacy class website. It’s shared openly under a Creative Commons license, so you’re welcome to use and remix it! Please let me know if you do and what modifications you make for your students.

Let’s make media literacy a part of our regular conversations with students in our classrooms!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Professional Development and Identity http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/10/16/professional-development-and-identity/ Thu, 17 Oct 2019 04:33:37 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12941 The best professional development experiences are wonderful because they remind us of who we are: They affirm and support our evolving senses of identity in a complex world filled with mixed messages and lots of noise. In this post, I’d like to reflect briefly on professional development and identity.

The October 2019 #CUDenverLSI Design team (missing @mrchase) by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
The October 2019 #CUDenverLSI Design team (missing @mrchase)” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Earlier this week, I had a remarkable opportunity to spend two days with six amazing educators in a “design sprint” organized to help develop a new graduate certificate program in innovative school leadership for The University of Colorado Denver. Our gathering was the brainchild of Dr. Scott Mcleod (@mcleod), who is an educational leader I’ve known and followed for many years. For a rather extensive dive into our learning from these two days, check out the Twitter Moments I captured from both day 1 and day 2. Also give a listen to the 9 minute reflective podcast we co-created at the end of our time together with Anchor. There are LOTS of fantastic ideas and links there.

One of the design sprint participants who I did not know previously, and thoroughly enjoyed learning and conversing with, is Dr. Dana S. Watts (@teachwatts.) Dana has extensive experiences as an international educator and is currently the Director of Research & Development for International Schools Services (@ISSCommunity). Dana’s PhD research focused on professional development and educator perceptions of personal identity, operationalized as “professional capital.” I haven’t read her dissertation yet, but plan to in the weeks ahead. There are some VERY powerful ideas here that are applicable to all of us as teachers and educators.

Identity is VERY important to each one of us regardless of our age, not just to young people. Several weeks ago I wrote the post, “Don’t Let Toxic Voices Tell You Who You Are,” as an attempt to encourage some people who are close to me as well as anyone else “out there” who finds themselves in a challenging professional place. Some of my most important thinking about identity as an adult was jumpstarted in 2013 by Michael Wesch’s (@mwesch) keynote presentation at the Heartland eLearning Conference. I’ve heard Michael present several times, and his story about his doctoral research in Papua New Guinea is the main one which has stuck with me ever since. This 2009 UVA interview article provides more background. Basically Michael experienced the reality that our identities are mostly constructed by what is REFLECTED BACK to us from those in our environment, rather than things we consciously or subconsciously project OUTWARD to others. This is a flip on what I’d traditionally thought of as identity: If I wear particular clothes (or even a uniform) then I’m proactively “telling the world who I am.” No, that’s not entirely true. I may think I’m telling others who I perceive myself to be through my own actions, but the ideas, emotions, feelings, and opinions which are REFLECTED BACK to me by others around me are actually often more powerful for my own identity formation. This is one reason it can be very challenging to live in an extremely unfamiliar and foreign culture. Like Michael, we can risk “losing ourselves” if we don’t have any cultural markers / people who can reflect our identity back to us.

1991 Christmas Card by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
1991 Christmas Card” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

This takes me to Dana Watts’ doctoral research and dissertation. Dana found that international educators generally have VERY high professional capital, or senses of personal identity. Again I have not read her research yet… but based on our conversations earlier this week, I understand a big reason international educators have a strong sense of personal identity is because they HAVE TO living in foreign cultures which (on average) change fairly regularly, sometimes every 3 – 4 years.

This relates to me this week because I found my two days of professional development with the #CUDenverLSI design team to be extremely inspiring and energizing. Megan, Allison, Dana, Scott, Zac and Tim reminded me who I am and what I’m about during our two days together. I’m passionate about engaged learning, deep learning, media and digital literacy, and transformative leadership. I love engaging in discussions and dialog with others about pedagogy and ways we can help other teachers design and facilitate authentic, meaningful learning experiences for students. I love teaching and working with other teachers to figure out how to teach as well as learn better. And I love sharing ideas! (Exhibits A and B: This blog and my growing collection of Twitter Moments, including those from #CUDenverLSI.) This professional development experience reminded me of who I am as a professional educator, and who I aspire to be in the months and (hopefully) years ahead. That’s a priceless gift, and one for which I am extremely grateful.

The #CUDenverLSI Design Team by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
The #CUDenverLSI Design Team” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Has professional development helped shape your own identity as an educator and a human being? Dana mentioned to me this week how important it is that educators have AGENCY and CHOICE over their own professional development, because those decisions can and do shape our senses of identity as well as impact. That’s a reason I’m passionate about the EdCamp / unconference model of professional development, including EdCampOKC.

Do not underestimate the importance and power of professional development. Just as we all need to jealously advocate for and act to protect our own wellness as educators and professionals, we also need to advocate for self-directed professional development. PD we choose and we love can be powerful fuel for not only our growth as educators, but also our development as human beings more fully attuned to and aligned with our “calling” and purpose in life.

Long live transformative professional development experiences! Thank you, #CUDenverLSI teammates!

Zac Chase (@mrchase) Highlighting Course Design Models by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Zac Chase (@mrchase) Highlighting Course Design Models” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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GMail Basics Part 1: An EdPuzzle Flipped Lesson http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/10/08/gmail-basics-part-1-an-edpuzzle-flipped-lesson/ Wed, 09 Oct 2019 05:02:59 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12937 14 minute “Part 1” video of a two-part lesson I’m calling “GMail Basics” for my 5th and 6th grade Digital and Media Literacy students at Casady School in Oklahoma City. In this post, I’ll share [...]]]> This evening I finished recording and producing (with a 9 question embedded, multiple choice quiz) the 14 minute “Part 1” video of a two-part lesson I’m calling “GMail Basics” for my 5th and 6th grade Digital and Media Literacy students at Casady School in Oklahoma City. In this post, I’ll share a little about my production workflow using Google Slides, Screenflow software, YouTube, EdPuzzle, Google Classroom, Seesaw, and Google Sites. Like all my Digital Literacy and Media Literacy lessons, this is shared under a Creative Commons – BY license (CC-BY), so you’re invited / welcome to remix / copy / use this lesson and included resources with your own students and teachers!

This two-part lesson started with the realization a few weeks ago that although my 5th graders are just in their first trimester of life with a school email account, they are already overwhelmed with notification messages from Google Classroom and other websites. The challenges of modern digital literacy start early these days.

Gmail management skills are essential for students as well as adults. I’ve explained to my students that although this may not sound like the most exciting lesson of the trimester, it could be one of the most important. I want to help them become “Gmail Jedis” who can deftly manage email overload with keyboard shortcuts as well as a basic understanding of email etiquette, features and settings.

After receiving input from both teachers at our school and other generous educators via the Twitterverse, I settled on ten different topics for this flipped video lesson. In case you’re listening to this post via Pocket or another screenreader, I’ll list with text the topics included in this lesson in the image below. Topics 1-5 are addressed in part 1, I’m going to address topics 6-10 in part 2.

  1. Descriptive Subject Line
  2. Basic Etiquette
    1. Salutation / Greeting
    2. Complete sentences
    3. Closing / Signature
    4. Forwarding / Confidentiality
  3. Choosing Recipients
    1. CC
    2. BCC
    3. Forward / Reply All
  4. Attachments
    1. Google Drive files
    2. Animated GIFs
    3. Other files (send PDFs)
  5. Organizing with Labels
  6. Enable Keyboard Shortcuts
    1. Help (show shortcuts)
    2. Reply
    3. Navigating your inbox
    4. Deleting messages
    5. Archiving messages
  7. Settings
    1. Signature
    2. Vacation Responder
    3. Undo Send
  8. Reporting Phishing / Spam
  9. Filtering
  10. Retention and Lawsuits

After brainstorming the topics of this lesson, I created slides for each part of the video screencast using Google Slides.

I then used Screenflow software to record and post-produce (with zooms, added text boxes, enhanced mouse pointer moments, etc.) the part 1 video tutorial which I uploaded to YouTube. In the video description, I added the table of contents and the minute / second timestamp for each segment. These are “clickable” from the YouTube video description, which is a handy trick I learned 4 or 5 years ago when creating FAQ videos for iPad Media Camp.

Next, I activated a free account with EdPuzzle.com (that’s my referral link) so I could create embedded quiz questions in my video. This is something 8th grade teacher Rob Huber (@robhuberEDU) and high school AP Physics and Meteorology teacher Greg Zamarippa (@misterzinOKC) at our school have been using with their students with great success, and I’ve been keen for an opportunity to try EdPuzzle.com myself. This lesson series is my catalyst. Greg recommended keeping videos around 10 minutes long at most. The first time I tried recording this part 1 video it was 17 minutes long. Thanks to a microphone setting glitch of my own creation, I had an opportunity to record the full screencast again, and that final version is 14 minutes long.

I found the process of creating the EdPuzzle version super-easy and straightforward! I’m excited for my students to give it a try, and I’d love feedback from you if you use the video personally or with students and/or teachers.

All the resources from this lesson are available on the Google Site I’m using to share digital literacy and media literacy curriculum resources this year: mdtech.casady.org/lessons/gmail-basics. Please check it out and share with other teachers, students, and others who may be interested.

Part 2 will be published soon, most likely this weekend, and linked to the same site.

I’m going to require my students to create screencasts (less than 2 minutes long each) after watching each EdPuzzle video in this lesson series. The past two weeks we’ve used a Minecraft Screencasting lesson (using Screencastify) to introduce everyone to screencasting skills. I loved seeing the creativity of students in Minecraft through that lesson, and I’m also looking forward to seeing how they can apply their new screencasting skills to be “Gmail Skill Teachers” to each other (and if they choose to share their creations on our Seesaw class blogs) to others online beyond the 4 walls of our classroom! If you’re interested in learning more about that process, see my recent post, “Blogging with Seesaw.”

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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Blogging with Seesaw http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/10/01/blogging-with-seesaw/ Wed, 02 Oct 2019 01:22:53 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12928 trimester long courses for 5th and 6th graders in Media Literacy and Digital Literacy at Casady School in Oklahoma City, and also serving as a technology integration coach with all our PK-12 teachers. In this post, I’d like to share a couple “How To” tutorials I’ve created for [...]]]> This year I’m teaching trimester long courses for 5th and 6th graders in Media Literacy and Digital Literacy at Casady School in Oklahoma City, and also serving as a technology integration coach with all our PK-12 teachers. In this post, I’d like to share a couple “How To” tutorials I’ve created for my students to help them “share outside” the walls of our classroom, using Seesaw Blogs.

Over the years, since blogging started in the early 2000s, I’ve been a big advocate for and user of websites for interactive student writing. Empowering students to share their ideas and voices beyond the walls of the traditional classroom is important. It’s an essential element in the ongoing digital citizenship work we’re continuing to advance at our school. It also can be technically challenging, both for teachers and for students. This past August, during our “back to school” week of meetings and professional development, I shared a workshop for our teachers titled, “Getting Started with Student Blogging.” Seesaw was one of four different platforms for student publishing and interactive writing which I highlighted, compared, and demonstrated in the professional development session.

I am LOVING Google Classroom as our learning management system / LMS for assignments this year. We are also using Seesaw, however, because I want to help students learn to respectively and supportively respond to and celebrate each others’ work. I also want to empower them to be able to publish their ideas and media creations OUTSIDE our classroom’s physical and virtual walls, and that’s where Seesaw Blogs come in.

Here’s a 96 second (silent) video tutorial I created for my students demonstrating how they can publish a post from our class Seesaw learning journal onto our class blog. Once you’ve configured your class Seesaw blog, students simply need to click the “globe icon” below a post and click “PUBLISH TO BLOG.” That’s it! I’ve explained to my students this a way they can let me know, “I’m proud of this media project and it’s ok if you want to share it with other students and teachers.” In this way, Seesaw empowers us as learners to engage in both “inside and outside digital sharing.” Of course, as is the case with all posts and comments in Seesaw, as the teacher I have to moderate and approve the blog posts before they “go live” for others to see via our public Seesaw blog sites.

Today I recorded an additional (almost) 3 minute video tutorial, which I narrated, demonstrating how to copy a Seesaw blog link so students can “turn the link in” via Google Classroom. Both of these videos are available on the “How To” page of my “Casady Digital and Media Literacy” website.

Today during our initial class meeting, after watching and briefly discussing two engaging “Wonder Links,” I encouraged students to share the screencasts they’re finishing up using Minecraft Education on our Seesaw blogs. Students are using Screencastify, which is a free and powerful screencasting platform for the Chrome web browser. I’m using Screencastify as well to create most of my video tutorials this year too. (I’ve also made at least one with Screenflow software.) This full lesson is available on my class curriculum and resource website as well.

As a related aside, I’ll share some tweets from today in which I reflected on the many benefits of this lesson beyond just screencasting skills! Since our students login with the “Guest account” on our classroom iMacs, they have to export and upload their Minecraft Education Worlds each day (if they are hosting a world for others or themselves) to Google Drive. I’ve created video tutorials about both exporting and importing Minecraft Worlds to/from Google Drive as well for students. I’ve never seen anything motivate students as much to learn about file management and file backups than Minecraft!

Here’s one example of a student-shared Minecraft screencast, posted to our class Seesaw blog:

If you’re not using Seesaw as a “learning journal” in class with your students, you should definitely check it out. Also check out the blogging features of Seesaw. I’m loving both as a 5th and 6th grade classroom teacher this year. I’ve also shared a wealth of other resources related to student blogging on the “Interactive Writing” page of ShowWithMedia.com.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes' free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes' newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and "eBook singles?" 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes' subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes' free magazine "iReading" on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wes' Facebook page for "Speed of Creativity Learning". Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?"

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