[ETEC 527] Final Reflections

Wow, I really can’t believe I’m at the end of my first semester of grad school. Starting school again was actually pretty unexpected considering I made the decision in about 24 hours and rushed to apply immediately after I graduated. Now that I’m here I find myself extremely excited about the future and really tuned into learning all that I can about Educational Technology. These last few weeks have opened up a new world of learning and discovery for me with technology and in education that I already feel is making a difference in my personal and professional life.

In this course I learned quite a bit that I am using on a regular basis now. Social Bookmarking has become a go-to for me to stay organized and reference web pages, but Diigo has taken it to a new level with its groups, sticky notes, and website annotation features. YouTube is back on my radar for saving videos I like and also many that will help me learn and review EdTech lessons and practices throughout this program. Now that I have my account set up and have created playlists, I am able to work with it faster and I am considering even doing some instructional videos of my own since I’ve learned how to screen record using Camtasia.

Slack is a Web 2.0 tool that I will be integrating into my work to collaborate with my team and possibly other departments. Its workspaces give you the ability to organize communications by channels for group discussions and allow for private messages to share information, files, and more all in one place, which is perfect for all of us now that we are all working from home under quarantine.

My favorite new tool has been Adobe Spark. I am an Adobe Creative Cloud user personally and professionally, and even though I had heard about Spark, I didn’t know its capabilities or about its web platform until this course. Once I began playing with it, I fell in love. Initially it reminded me a lot of Canva, but it’s so much better to me with the ease of use and seamless collaborations between graphics, presentations, and video production. I already know I’ll be using this tool the most in the very near future.

Overall, the Web 2.0 tools I have learned about are all tools that I think will have a long productivity life. I try to avoid web tools that are limited and do not “play nice” or collaborate well with other tools and platforms. I do not like to be limited or have to use more than one or two tools at one time for the same project, so I look for a lot of features that can be upgraded, redesigned, and have multiple features in one place.

I used to be afraid of learning about too many things at once because I would become overwhelmed. While I still feel that way about some things, this semester made me realize how much I’d been missing out on. I’ll be taking what I’ve learned and carrying the mindset of not being afraid to look for new tools with me as I move forward.

[ETEC 527] Vanity Search 2

Since starting my Web 2.0 course I have learned a lot about creating a digital footprint and about so many web tools that I had no clue about. In doing an update vanity search for my name, I noticed just a few more entries in Google (my new twitter and posts), a few third party data driven search engines, and some background check site. I don’t feel any negative way about it though because I’ve come to understand that the more I create and use the web and its tools, the more my digital footprint will grow, and when it does, I want it to be in the right ways and the right places. I have a very unique spelling of my name, which includes an accent mark that I just recently began using full time. I also have started incorporating my middle initial in order to further solidify my identity online and in other ways. I look forwards to see how these slight changes will cultivate a better digital footprint as I continue in my career. The best thing I’ve learned about vanity searches are what’s important to focus on to stand out!

[ETEC 524] Tech Play 3: Creativity Tools

In this week’s playtesting, I explored some really great creativity tools that support student learning, research, and media creativity inside and outside of the classroom. I am a huge fan of creativity, as I am a creative learner and I have grown to be the adult who uses creative presentations and teaching more than I use anything else. Throughout my education, the quickest way for me to get excited about learning was to give me a lesson that gave me the freedom to create what was in my mind and today, Prezi, iMovie, and Diigo all help with getting the ideas and doing research, to visually creating them using graphics, video, and sound.

Prezi, iMovie, and Diigo are all creative tools that assist in creating dynamic presentations and content connection. Prezi, is an online Flash based program which can help organize concepts in a unique way using a sort of digital mind map. One of the key features is the 3D zoom feature which lets you zoom in on each piece of information you create and explore it in detail. iMovie is a free nonlinear editing tool for Apple product users, that is used to cut and edit videos, music, and graphics without changing any of the original files. It is great for creating videos and presentations without having little to no experience in editing. Diigo (Digest of Internet information, Groups and Other stuff) is an online platform with the goal of helping you create your own personal online knowledge library online. In other words, it is an expansive social bookmarking tool. Diigo gives you the ability to annotate webpages and let you tag the site with keywords that can help you search faster and easier with a virtual sticky note. It also has a pretty great networking/ collaborative research tool in it’s groups which can be created to organize a collaborative collection of sites and information within its platform.

While I enjoyed all of these creative tools personally and professionally, I found myself gravitating more to iMovie for this playtest. As a videographer and as an educator, I rely heavily on linear editing programs to edit and compress my video creations. I use Adobe Premiere CC primarily, but at times I also have the need to use other editors like Final Cut X and iMovie to get the job done (sometimes faster than with Adobe CC). One of the very first editing tools I ever used was iMovie and had I not gotten the chance to play with it in one of my media classes in high school, I might not have ever had the knowledge and career I have had in technology or directing, and I may have never been led to a career in education!

iMovie is considered the ideal introductory video editing tool and it can support project-based learning and build student’s storyboarding, digital storytelling, and design skills. Teachers and students can also use iMovie for demonstration purposes, to develop digital portfolios, and to record and create collaborative conversations to presentations through video. Teachers can also use the software to record lessons for a flipped classroom or for students who need additional assistance and differentiation. The only gripe I have with iMovie is that eventually you can grow out of its platform the more you learn the technology and find yourself needing more editing and creativity capabilities (such as transitions, text cues, and coloring options). This happened to me, but I do not consider it a bad thing. If anything, using iMovie interested me even more and I learned as much as I could and used what I learned from the program to work with more advanced editing software over time. I still use iMovie to perform simpler tasks in editing and presentations because of its ease of use.

In the future I would love to use iMovie more extensively in a digital storytelling assignment. I have witnessed assignments like this before with our high school students in which the students were given the opportunity to write out a story based off of their experience and create a full storyboard before filming and editing the video to create a presentation about the subject. I would like to expound upon that assignment by asking students what is something new they learned while in quarantine by themselves and how did they learn it. It could also be a story of something they experienced while in quarantine. I would have students work together in groups to write a script and use video, audio, music, graphics, and images to fully put the presentation together, with each student rotating tasks as director, editor, sound editor, music editor, and graphic editor. Students would have the freedom to use their own creativity in many ways individually and together as a group through collaboration and content. This could also be broken up into an additional assignment in which a trailer is created to showcase awareness and interest in the initial story to come.

Overall, creativity tools are necessary for innovation and creativity is fundamental to all academic disciplines in some shape or form. If creativity is an active process necessarily involved in innovation, then it’s learning habits require skill as well as specific understanding of the contexts in which creativity is being applied. Creative tools are apart of that application. Just like with curriculum skills, students build understanding and competency with creative tools themselves, so that they can select the one that fits their current need. I have used many creative tools in my life and I can say that all have been beneficial to the way in which I learn and think. The tools that resonate the most with me are tools that are interchangeable and can stand the test of time, just like with iMovie.

[ETEC 527] My Adventure in Social Bookmarking with Diigo

This week as I’ve explored Diigo and I ended up hating it and then loving it. Diigo (Digest of Internet information, Groups and Other stuff) is an online platform with the goal of helping you create your own personal online knowledge library online. In other words, it is an expansive social bookmarking tool. I completely agree with so many of my course-mates in its comparison with Pinterest. Once I saw how the platform operated, I thought of Pinterest right away, only, I have to admit, I wasn’t as engaged with Diigo as much at first. The first feature that Diigo has that got my attention was the ability to annotate webpages and let you tag the site with keywords that can help you search faster and easier with a virtual sticky note. Since I am a bit sticky note user (both on my computer, using the program “Stickies”, and in real life), I enjoy being able to make notes and annotations in that manner.

I also like the ability to screenshot webpages directly using Diigo. I have a Mac so I usually screenshot things all the time, however organization is an issue sometimes. With Diigo the screenshots are in one place which helps someone like me who may forget what and why I even screenshotted in the first place. I made sure to get the Diigo extension for Chrome and install the mobile app.

My favorite part about Diigo is the groups. I browsed and searched many groups with interests that I have and joined a few. The ease of sharing links and insights is great and opened up a whole new world for me that I did not know about before this course. It seems to be a great networking/ collaborative research tool.

[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 2: Eportfolio’s

This week our lesson allowed me to take a deep dive into Eportfolio’s. Admittedly, I didn’t know a thing about them outside of hearing at some point in my grad school career, I would need to present one before I could graduate. In my mind (using my context clues and prior knowledge of portfolios – inside and outside of my education, I am a creative), an Eportfolio sounded like a collection of maybe some project work I would have. Little did I know it is much more than that, and can even be more beneficial not just to me, but to my professors, colleagues, and for potential networking as well.

An electronic portfolio, also known as an “Eportfolio” is considered a learning and assessment tool. Eportfolio’s help to facilitate learning and reflection through a student’s own collection of work and awareness of learning strategies and needs. It can provide actual evidence of achievement, creativity, purpose, and reflective thought.

An Eportfolio in its simplest state, is a collection or evidence of work in an electronic format that can showcase all of the things you have learned over a period of time. Eportfolio’s can also be as detailed and informative as to give the viewer an idea of who you are, the purpose of the lessons, as well as your reflections of the work and learning based off of the intended audience. Everything from student work, demonstrations, achievements, and artifacts that have been collected can showcase learning progression in various ways. With an electronic portfolio you can include blogs, pictures, graphics, essays, sound and other forms multimedia to showcase collections of work.

There are three types of Eportfolio’s today, Learning Eportfolio’s, Showcase Eportfolio’s, and Assessment Eportfolio’s. A Showcase Eportfolio is a way to showcase a student’s (and/or a professional’s) academic career highlights. Evidence of courses taken, programs of study, papers written, may be included in these types of portfolios. In Learning Eportfolio’s (more common in educational settings), collections can be shared with other students for feedback because it is built to support the idea of formative feedback as an essential part of the learning process. Students usually demonstrate learning and the learning process by gaining feedback and reflection from their peers going through the same course or involved in the same or similar projects. Assessment Eportfolio’s can be used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of a program or course to see what a student gained and observed. They can also enable faculty to not only observe students knowledge and actions within the learning, but also the student’s own reflection of the work, teaching, and their progression.

E-portfolios are a great way to address both assessment of learning and assessment for learning by documenting and generating learning achievement in a virtual space, completely owned and controlled by the author. In my understanding, the “assessment of learning” is more of a way to understand what a student can do and the assessment for learning is more of a way for the instructor should do or teach in response to that. E-portfolios can effectively and visibly show the extent of deeper learning from a student and/or teacher, as well as the connections between their reflections of the work and experiences in their courses. They can separate the needs of the author and the institutions they are apart of. This is something that cannot be fully addressed through just grades, transcripts, and exam scores. Eportfolio’s can be “lifewide” and promote “lifelong” learning because they can be accessed in multiple contexts throughout a lifetime. Education is not limited just by the time in a classroom which makes access to learning and reflection through an e-portfolio valuable because of its exchange and findability to a broader audience outside of education for as long as the creator of the portfolio wants to show and share.

The differences between a paper/hardcopy portfolio and an electronic portfolio are not hard to see: an Eportfolio can be widely accessed by anybody, anywhere, at any time. It can also be updated and maintained in a virtual setting, which can allow for many ways to be creative and informative using technology tools and design. Eportolio’s also allow for faster feedback and a more controlled and thorough evaluation of work that is designed for a specific outcome. It is for this reason, because of the type of person I am and the way in which I effectively learn, I believe it is more important to have the freedom and the power to articulate what I know and have learned, personally in my experience and learning through my courses about educational technology, than to let someone else (including my professors) judge the logic, accuracy, depth, breadth, and precision of my answer based off of teaching alone.

Future-thinking about how I can begin a lifelong and lifewide Eportfolio for my graduate school experience and then take it beyond that into my career, I focused on playtesting various creation and hosting sites to get started. Of the available sites, I focused on WordPress, Wix, Google Site, and Adobe Portfolio. I compared and contrasted by each platform’s ease of use, shareability, permanence, and features such as design templates, learning pathways, and multimedia tools. I noticed that each of these sites have plenty of similarities but the differences come from the specific design needs of the user. I’m looking to get a premium site to host my Eportfolio, so I want something that will give me as much control as possible to showcase my work in various formats and in creative ways using multimedia design, videos, photos, sound, and blogging.

These wants lead me to narrow down to my two favorite platforms currently: WordPress and Wix. I’ve used these sites this week, exploring their functionality and features. Both sites have a DIY platform with low maintenance and easy modifications. They both come with preset templates that are able to house photo and video galleries, blogs, subscriber and social media links and capabilities, as well as many other widgets, quickly, effectively, and without coding. Using one of these platforms for my lifelong Eportfolio (I’m leaning towards WordPress), would certainly be worthwhile if it kept my stress down to a minimum by providing me the relief of reliable design and sharing. Right now I’m finding it hard to choose between the two because I like them both equally. The ease of design modifications and multimedia features, as well as the mobile blogging and access features are perfect for what I want. Even though I know I don’t have too much, (if any) time to decide before I begin the first steps to creating my Eportfolio, I think I’m going to take a few more days to do more research and play with the free versions more to compare which would be more effective for me, who I am, and how I would like to convey the lessons I have learned and am learning.

[ETEC 527] YouTube and Twitter Continued…

This week I’ve been really diving into updating myself and learning more about YouTube. I used to use YouTube pretty heavy as a videographer until I learned about and started using another video hosting and sharing site called Vimeo more. Vimeo and YouTube have some similar features but varying contrasting differences in their platforms and settings. For my job I have had to rely on a lot from memory and knowledge that I have of video uploading and performance settings to keep our media up to date (I upload videos I have taken from events and promos for our program and link them from YouTube to our website mainly), and I have paid little attention to all of the upgrades and features the platform has made since it first started. I set up all of the playlists for class on my YT account and found myself immersed in a sea of videos about content creation which I primarily do in my position at work. I also found some pretty cool videos about how to set up classroom channels during quarantine, and several on creating engaging content for online learning. I can tell these videos will be very helpful in the near future for me. Creating engaging content is vital for the platform and also for teaching and learning. I watched the video, “YouTube pros share 5 steps for getting your educational channel started” and one of the first tips they gave was to “Define Your Audience”. This helps with creating a foundation on who you are creating the content and giving the information to, whether it is a student or a professional team that are already knowledgeable to a subject or brand new to it. This brought me to learning about new tools and tricks that have been added to the Youtube platform.

One of the newest features that YouTube has added just this year is data access to audience availability and engagement. This feature lets you know when your audience is online and pinpoints which hours a channel’s audience is most active. That is amazing! YouTube has the second greatest reach after Facebook in terms of general usage. It’s also the second biggest search engine behind Google (which is YouTube’s parent company). The potential to engage and drive viewers to content during peak times can open so many doors for access to content, such as determining the best times to broadcast live streams! The changes and features YouTube has are extremely beneficial in education, business, and for personal engagement and creativity and I’m actually excited to start using YouTube for more than just linking a video for work now.

Continuing my Twitter Adventure has also been a blast. I’ve probably done more research and Tweet watching that engaging during the week, but I think by the end of the week I should have done a lot more. I researched the hashtag list from class and loved all of the information and accounts I saw for #EdTech, #edupreneur, and #WeTeach so far. I’ve also started using more of my Twitter for iPhone than Tweetdeck, even when I am on my desktop for some reason. It just seems more accessible and convenient for me considering I’m usually doing 12 things at once on the computer and on the phone all at the same time and the app seems easier to navigate in the moment.

[ETEC 527] W2W3 Twitter Adventure!

So, last week I made a brand new Twitter account made specifically for all all of grad school tweets and intellectual musings. Considering it was a requirement to use Twitter in my ETEC 527 class, I also saw it as a long overdue opportunity to use this new account for my professional use in Education as well. I’ve been saying for at least a year how I needed to do this but I never did because I was always too tied up in my personal Twitter, and running the Twitter account for our grant program (@DeSotoGEARUP), that I didn’t put it at the top of my priority list. Well, I’m here now and I’m so glad that I am able to share and communicate within my professional and educational spaces without feeling like I might be judged for being non-professional like I might be on my personal Twitter. That’s one of the great things about Twitter in my opinion though, you have the opportunity to communicate in different spaces with different accounts while still being yourself.

This week’s ETEC 527 assignment is about highlighting the information, thoughts, and resources I’ve thus learned on my Twitter adventure. Not to be lazy, but I think I’ll take this time to repost a discussion post that I made about Twitter here. I wanted to be able to help my fellow classmates understand just how great a tool Twitter can be and give them some of the information I’ve learned throughout the years. Here is what I wrote:

The truth is, I’m kind of a Twitter expert (lol). I first got on Twitter in November of 2009 and I have been an active user ever since then. I’ve met close friends, networked, gotten jobs, troubleshot, and even gone viral a few times with my tweets over the years. While my account for this class is totally separate from the account I usually use, I don’t think it will be too long before I gain more followers and start engagements using a few things I’ve learned along the way. Here are a few tips and tricks I suggest:

1. Use a good Twitter platform. I use the Twitter app for my iPhone but I find that Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are great platforms to use for tweeting on a desktop, laptop, or iPad. You can navigate through multiple accounts and see everything at once, from your timeline to your replies, to your Direct Messages (DMs)

2. Learn the lingo. I think this comes with interaction, but some of the easiest to know and love are hashtags, DM’s, RT’s (re-tweets), bots, catfish, Avi (profile picture), spamming, etc.

3. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation. Unless you can tell it’s not a conversation for everyone, feel free to reply to someone or multiples your thoughts, opinions, compliments, etc. That’s how you gain followers and engage. Waiting around for someone to see your tweets and reply to you first doesn’t work as well as this in my experience. 

4. RETWEET. Another great way to share your thoughts and opinions, agree or disagree, and help people see you. You can either RT the specific tweet you saw someone else make by itself, or you can “retweet with comment” and write a comment above the RT. 

5. Content is key. Pictures, article links, videos, etc. are all great for getting your personality and points across. Don’t be shy, share (within reason and rule)

6. Hashtags are your friend. Want to find a group of likeminded Twitter users, or find out more about a subject? Search a hashtag. This can be done by clicking on one you see (it usually shows up in blue), or you can go to the little magnifying icon and type in a word or phrase and search from there. 

7. Use the search icon. Under it you will find “Trending Topic” articles and hashtags, “News”, “Sports”, “Fun”, and a “For You” section that is based on your engagement. 

8. This really should be like #2 or #3 but post a good profile picture. You don’t want to be considered a bot or a catfish because you don’t have an image that identifies you. Think about how you present yourself on other social media and networking apps like LinkedIN and Facebook. People respond according to your avi. 

9. Know your controls. Get to know your settings and capabilities. You can create Tweet drafts, make Twitter lists, Bookmark tweets, navigate and view tweets & replies, media, and likes on anyone’s twitter profile, as well as edit your own. You should also know how to block and report accounts if necessary.

10. Be consistent. Twitter works better when you engage consistently and you post tweets that vary. 

I hope I was able to help someone with these little tips! Twitter has been a wonderful tool in my life and I hope that everyone has as great an experience as I have had using it. 

I am fascinated by all of the things I have learned and continue to learn from using Twitter and I look forward to learning so much more through our class hashtag #ETEC527 and through just spreading what I’ve learned and my own thoughts as I go through this course and others on this grad school journey. I am having so much fun learning.

[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 1: Blogs

A blog (or otherwise known as a “weblog”) is an online journal where a writer or a group of writers can share their views, content, or ideas on various subjects and make available for virtual reading and sharing. Blogging connects you to a relevant audience and give a platform for thought and lists entries in reverse chronological order.

 I have blogged for many years personally to sort through ideas, experiences, feelings and emotions on things happening in my life, and more recently, I have dabbled in blogging professionally in the Educational field to keep students and their parents updated about college and career readiness, FAFSA, and events and information from our programs success with our cohorts. Additionally, we encourage blogging from our students to understand more of how they think and feel about the material and experiences presented to them. Blogs fit the purpose of opening communications for students to share their thoughts.

Most blogs focus on a specific topic, while some are more to link to other sites and services. Personal thoughts and journaling through blogging is important and can be used in the pedagogical stance to facilitate learning through reading, writing, reflecting, and sharing thoughts and ideas in a digital environment. Blogs can evaluate a student’s contributions through analyzing and evaluating what they think about what they learned or didn’t learn, as well as showcase their creativity in design through how they design and set up their blogs.

Some of the blogs I have play-tested and ultimately used have been WordPress (www.wordpress.org), Tumblr (www.tumblr.com), and Wix (www.wix.com) blogs.

Each of these blogs are open source software and fully multimedia functional and collaborative and so much fun to play around with and design. The real differences between these blog sites are their usability, pricing, and flexibility.

WordPress, my choice to blog on and also known as “the world’s most popular site builder”, powers more than 33% of all websites on the internet. It has its own hosting site (found at www.wordpress.com), and is a very powerful content management system which can build websites and blogs. WordPress supports blogs, business websites, online stores, online courses, membership sites, and even online marketplaces. I was able to create a new blog site in under 10 minutes that gave me the capability to immediately create content, design, and incorporate add-ons out the gate. WordPress uses a simple WYSIWYG editor that comes in two different forms, one for plain text where you can add formatting though HTML coding, and one visual editor.

What I like about WordPress and pretty much any blog, is the managing design and appearances. WordPress uses “theme” templates that are premade and customizable for blogs and websites. Unlike Wix, WordPress does not have a drag and drop content editor that is customizable as you write it, but it does similarly have a drag and drop page builder capability if desired. Colors. Layout combinations, logos, portfolios, and social media synchronization are all capable. I feel like I am able to show my creativity, personality, and the purpose of my blog the more designing, content and availability to engage I’m able to give to it. The more I blog to support learning and provide information, I have incorporated more media content in my posts (music, pictures, video, memes, graphics, flyers, etc.) to help keep the reader’s attention and give them easier ways to link and share to social media sites, email, and other blogs.

Whether its using WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, or any other blogging site or capability, blogging can be not only engaging and educational, but also therapeutic. Blogging can teach students and has taught me how to communicate information more effectively to diverse audiences and develop better writing and presentation skills. However, like most outlets for creativity and free thinking, blogging can contribute to some potentially negative and abusive behavior such as trolling, the deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments intended to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments online. I believe that part of the pedagogical learning of blogging involves helping to developing students ability to handle negative interactions and unexpected interruptions and supporting them through their words and thoughts.

Even with these potential issues, blogging is beneficial in that it increasingly promotes participation and the collaboration of knowledge and thought. Blogs create a space for interactive exchange and strategy. Blogs also greatly encourage reading and writing and responding around focuses and reflections. The more we encourage blogging and the use of blogs, we contribute to the growth of creators, writers, and challenging thinking.