Category Archives: Course 3

Over the hump

As course 3 comes to an end it’s time to celebrate getting pass the halfway mark and start focusing on the the end of our COETAIL journey. Course 4 will start setting us up for that.

I have to apologize that I haven’t been as active in the community as I would like. The conference season is upon me and I find myself either in airplanes or giving presentations. The fun part has been meeting so many COETAILers face to face along the way. We held a COETAIL Meet-up at Learning2 in Singapore and had over 30 people in the room. It honestly blew Kim and I away as just a couple years ago there were 4 people at the meet up….and that included us. So even thought I haven’t been a virtual part of the community as much as I would like…I have been part of the face to face community and looking forward to meeting  more COETAILers at ECIS in the comings weeks.

Creation Takes Time

This is really the big idea I hope you take away from course 3. That to make something worth sharing takes time…..a lot of time. So often we ask students to create the things you had to created during this course but we don’t give them the proper time it takes to make something really really good.

Also your course 5 final project is a 10 minute video that you have to create and we wanted to give you time now to see just how much time a 10 minute video will take you so you can plan that into your course 5 work time.

Talks Worth Watching

At the Learning2 conference the Learning2Leaders were asked to give 5 minutes talks on something they were passionate about. First of all, I’m proud to say that COETAILers Robert Appino and Rebekah Madrid were asked to give talks this year. Secondly, Kim (co-founder of COETAIL) worked with the presenters to make sure their presentations where of the quality we expected. In other words…..there is COETAIL juice all over this conference. 🙂

I have embedded the playlist below (as videos are still being uploaded) for you to watch. Great talks, great presentation, great messages. Let this start motivating you for course 4!

Time Creating vs Time Learning

As we head into the home stretch of Course 3 this coming week, I am slowly making my way through all your blog posts and a theme keeps emerging…’s the same theme that comes up every course 3 and each time it makes me smile. There is a reason we force (many of) you to create a presentation and video and think about infographics in this course. I do find it interesting how many of you chose to create an infographic rather than just find one on the web you could use with students. In the creative mood are ya?


Photo Credit: Ross Elliott via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Ross Elliott via Compfight cc

Back to the topic at hand…the theme that continues to emerge is the theme of time. Time is precious to us all in both our personal lives and our professional ones. Here’s the thing….creating something worth sharing takes time. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to create a really good presentation, it’s not easy to create a really good video and it’s not easy to create a good infographic…basically….it’s not easy to create something worth sharing.

Skill vs Content

Here’s the thing…why do we see less creating and more content in the classroom? Because content takes less time. In the primary grades we focus a huge amount of time on the skill of reading, writing and math basics. Because skills take time. The skill of reading, the skill of writing, the skill of basic math. Those skills are the foundation in the early years….I would add a couple others of my own (search, typing, Internet basics) that I think should be skills we focus on.

Some rights reserved by rolvr_comp

Some rights reserved by rolvr_comp

When we try to learn a (tech) skill and create content at the same time that equals frustration. Example: learn iMovie while trying to create a video worth sharing or create a presentation while learning to search for CC licensed images. When we try to do both at the same time, the time it takes doubles…..triples what we originally thought (reminds me of our house remodel……time and money were twice what we thought it would be). When you try to do both at the same time……time is huge, the task becomes frustrating and in the end you wonder if it was worth it.

I think about the times we do this to students. This idea that “students know technology” so they can learn stuff on their own. That they can learn on their own is true…that it doesn’t take time is false. Time to learn a skill……is time. What I love about this course is (I hope) that you have a better understanding of the time it take to create something worth sharing.

Time = Knowledge

Here’s the thing….many of you talk about the time it took to make the movie or the presentation…or both. Yet in creating these products you gained knowledge of the program. Therefore the next time you use the program things will go faster…..I promise….they will. You do it again and it gets faster yet. Many times I hear teachers say “I’ll never do that again it took too much time.” without realizing that the knowledge they gained will reduce the time it took to do the lesson or teach the skill for the next time.

If you are a teacher who teaches the same lesson more than once a day you know what I mean. The first lesson takes me 50 minutes. The next time I teach it takes me 40 to cover the same material and then 30 the last class. I get better at giving the lesson, the knowledge I have gained allows me to be more precise, better and faster.

The same is true for technology. Your first couple of blog posts took you longer. The first time you embedded an image took you longer. Now those things are easier. Creating the content isn’t easier, the reflection is still time consuming, however the skill of actually writing it is easier. We call this practice. 🙂

What’s wrong with education 

Photo Credit: Lyn Lomasi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lyn Lomasi via Compfight cc

Now I’m a couple of glasses into a wonderful cabernet sauvignon tonight, feeling the need to vent. What frustrates me with education at this moment in time is that teachers do not feel they have the time to allow students to truly create. I cannot count the number of times that teachers have told me “I would love to do X….but I just don’t have the time.” So instead we march on delivering content rather than allowing inquiry, creating, and questioning to be the center of our learning. Why…because all of that takes time and we have so much content that we have to cover that we don’t have time to allow the creation to happen. “I don’t have time for students to make a movie/infographic/presentation.” Is something I have heard and still hear consistently.

So here’s my question to you….how do we make the time? Where do we find this time to allow true creation? When do we give the time for student to learn these skills? Skills and knowledge that in this day and age is knowledge worth having. What needs to change? What needs to be removed so that the space and time can be given for creation?

Visual Literacy in Physical Spaces

Ben Feigert wrote a post that I think helps expand our thinking around visual literacy to not just be online but in the physical world that we live and teach in.

The more important design issues for students, I believe, are awareness of the ways designers use apparently-benign tools to shape user experience. I want my students to know about and critique face-tracking software at retail stores that businesses use to squeeze another point of profit. And I want kids to understand that their real-life shopping experience is exquisitely, intentionally shaped by design choices backed by EEG and eye-tracking data, even as their online world is, too.

It’s a great point….visual are used more than just to make things look good…they effect us every day in the real world as well.

Which has me thinking…..

How much do we pay attention to the visual space of our classroom?

Classrooms are great places to see how visuals might effect learning. Just because the walls are covered does that mean it’s a good classroom? Where is the white space? Does the set up of the classroom allow for different learning styles and types? You can find a lot of information on the internet about how classroom are not built for learning….we know this…and yet we continue to build classrooms the same and furnish them with the same equipment.

When you move to a technology rich classroom, the make up of the room needs to change as well. You can’t introduce a powerful new way of learning without it effecting everything else.

I want my classroom to look like Starbucks

 Some rights reserved by ontourwithben

Some rights reserved by ontourwithben

Why is it students will go to Starbucks rather than the library or their own bedroom to do their homework. Why do many professional hangout there doing work? Why will I….a guy that works from home….pack all my stuff up every so often and work at a Starbucks?

What makes Starbucks so peaceful? So perfect to either work alone if you choose or work in a group if you need to? What if our classrooms could look like Starbucks?

There is a great article that I use in some of my presentations titled Six Spaces of Social Media. It could just as easily be titled Six Spaces of the Classroom. Here is what the author suggests for the six spaces. I have changed the examples to be classroom based rather than social media based. See what you think.

Secret Spaces
Behaviours: Private, intimate communication, normally with only one or two others, often using private references, slang or code
Expectations: Absolute privacy and control over the communication between users, and no unauthorised communication from third parties (eg spam)
Examples: reading area, self-work area


Group Spaces
Behaviours: Reinforcing the identity of a self-defined group, and your position within the group, eg ‘stroking‘ behaviour to let the group share a sense of belonging, or mild competitiveness to signal hierarchies within the group (eg who has the most friends, posts, tags, etc)
Expectations: A shared reference point for the group – eg a band, football club, school, workplace, region, etc. Rules about approving membership of the group, and icons for the group to signal their membership (badges, profiles, etc)
Examples: group work, collaborative projects


Publishing Spaces
Behaviours: Creating your own content or showcasing your talents to an audience outside of your usual social group
Expectations: The ability to control the context and presentation of your creative content. Ways to receive feedback, comments and advice from other users.
Examples: eportfolios, blogs, bulletin boards in the hallway


Performing Spaces
Behaviours: Playing a defined role within a game structure. Experimenting through simulation, rehearsal and teamwork to achieve a goal. Iterative exploration or repetition of activities in order to perfect their performance
Expectations: A clear set of rules that is understood by all players. Clear rewards for success or failure. The ability to test the boundaries of the game structure, or to perform extravagantly to show off your talents
Examples: work area, performance area


Participation Spaces
Behaviours: Co-ordination of lots of small individual acts to achieve a common goal. Shared belief in the goal, and advocacy to encourage participation by others.
Expectations: Rules or structures that help co-ordinate activity towards the goal. The ability to create micro-communities within larger participation groups – eg a group of friends going on a political march together, or a workplace group created to train for a marathon
Examples: Shared Spaces, Shared Desks, Group Desks


Watching Spaces
Behaviours: Passive viewing of a linear event as part of a large group. Organising a group to attend an event, and sharing experiences afterwards
Expectations: Spectacle, entertainment, a feeling of thrill or joy. A shared sense of occasion, or of being taking out of your everyday existence for the duration of the event. Mementos or relics of the event (eg programmes, tickets, recordings, photos, etc)
Examples: Smartboard, computer listening area, audio/visual area

The next time you walk into Starbucks think about these spaces and how a Starbucks is set up.

Need an idea for a blog post? How about take a picture of your classroom and show us how your classroom is designed to be visual and productive. My good friend Clarence Fisher did this a few years ago.

Welcome to Course 3

WOW….how time flies. Feels like just yesterday we were wrapping up course 2, creating AUPs and looking at ways to keep kids safe online.

I have had a pretty good summer of wine tasting, travel and of course baseball.

I hope you all had a restful summer and a great start to the new school year!

Now on to the details:

Course 3: Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators
(SUNY: EDC 604 Authoring for Educators)
The curriculum of design and attention to aesthetic has always been the property of the visual arts, however so much of our media is now consumed and created electronically a new set of visual literacies have emerged. Awareness of how an audience interacts with that medium and how to take advantage of this to strengthen their message or purpose for communication will be addressed.

In this class we focus on the visuals and once you get done with this course you’ll find it really hard to sit through really bad presentations even harder……you have been warned.

You will have two big assignments in this course.

1) Create a Google Presentation and embed it in a blog post using the visual design elements we’ll be discussing.

2) Create a video presentation using visual design techniques discussed in this course.

These two assignments play a HUGE role in your course 5 final project where you will be creating a 10 minute video about your integration of technology in your classroom.

I think you also have a real purpose built in with having this course at the start of the school year. With parent night coming up within the first month of school there is no better way to put your new skills to work than to maybe rework that old back-to-school-night powerpoint you have been wanting to update. It’s almost like we planned to have this course be at the start of the school year. 😉

Watch the video for more explanation about this course from Jeff