Presenting & Archiving

Presentation and Archiving

Presentation and archiving tools allow students to present projects to the instructor, to the class, or to the general public. Communication tools also factor heavily into this phase of project-based collaborative learning.  Oftentimes the co-creation tool will also be used as the presentation tool but there are some collaborative technology tools that are mainly used for sharing or downloading the presentation.


SlideShare – Teachers or students can upload documents and presentations to SlideShare to share ideas, conduct research, connect with others or make their presentation public. Anyone can view presentations & documents on topics that interest them, download them and reuse or remix for their own work.

Google Slides – Students can create beautiful slides with the presentation editor, which supports things like embedded videos, animations and dynamic slide transitions. Publish the presentations on the web so anyone can view them, or share them with a chosen group of users.  (Updated note:  If you have previously published Google Presentations using the “old” Google Docs – before the transition to Google Drive – you might want to go through and make sure that they are still marked as “published to the web” otherwise users may not be able to view your presentations.)  Users can also upload presentations made with PowerPoint or Keynote into Google Slides but some formatting or animations may be lost.

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). VoiceThread is a perfect platform to use when you want to share presentations using an asynchronous method. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites.  K-16 VoiceThread examples.

Prezi:  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.

Haiku Deck (iPad app) and the newly updated Haiku Deck Web enables anyone to create beautiful slide presentations.  Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides and it helps you find Creative Commons licensed images for your presentations. When you type a word or words on your slides you can have Haiku Deck search for images for you. The images that Haiku Deck serves up are large enough to completely fill your slide. You can also upload your own images from your iPad or import images from Instagram and Facebook.  Another excellent presentation app is Keynote.



Students can build project sites without writing a single line of code using Google Sites. It’s as easy as writing a document and to save time, teachers can provide students with pre-built templates. Students can present their content and embed in all sorts of gadgets from documents to videos to images to shared calendars and more.  Student or teacher-created websites are also great for archiving student projects from year to year.

Some other easy website creation tools are:  WixWeebly for EducationYola and Webs.


Screencasting:  A screencast is a digital recording (movie) that captures actions taking place on a computer desktop or tablet device.  Screencasting is another asynchronous platform for creating and sharing presentations or tutorials.  The movies can be embedded or shared by the link.  Screencasts are very popular with the “flipped classroom” or “reverse instruction” programs.

There a lot of free apps out on the web for screencasting, most of which also have paid versions that provide more capabilities.  Screencast-O-Matic was one of the first screencasting tools published and is still around (and kept up to date).  It works with both the Mac and the PC and requires no installation.  The same folks who make Camtasia (paid software) make Jing – a popular app that lets you easily capture screen activity, record voice-over, and publish clips up to 5 minutes long. Screenr is another popular, free, web-based screencasting tool that works with the Mac and PC.


Miscellaneous publishing or presentation tools:

  • Animoto (Education edition) is an easy way to create and share videos. The online video maker turns your photos, video clips and music into video in minutes.
  • Glogster EDU allows students to combine images, video, music, photos and audio to create multimedia pages. Glogs can be embedded into any webpage.
  • Issuu and Scribd are digital publishing platforms of user-created magazines, catalogs, and newspapers.
  • Museum Box provides the tools for students to build up an argument or description of an event, person or historical period by placing items in a virtual box. You can add text, images, video and sound to the side of the cubes.
  • iBooks Author is a Mac app that allows anyone to create multi-touch textbooks or books to be viewed on the iPad.
  • Snapguide is a free iOS app and web service for those that want to create and share step-by-step “how to guides.”

Consensus Building & Polling Tools

Consensus Building

Consensus-building tools help participants narrow and refine proposed solutions of a project.  They are also useful in facilitating the two key requirements for reaching agreements in a work group setting by identifying and understanding issues and resolving conflicts. Teachers and students can facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling.

Many of the ideation tools also can be used to build consensus.  Once the initial ideas are presented then through a process of discussion and elimination, ideas can be narrowed down and agreed upon.  Oftentimes students need time and opportunity to leave their comments so everyone can be  heard before a decision can be made.  Ideation and consensus often happen at the same time but separating them gives introverts time to process the ideas and comment.

Diagrams: Many of the collaborative technology tools have the ability to create graphic organizers to scaffold decision-making – like a Venn Diagram or flowchart.  Google Docs or Google Drawings has built in templates of some common diagrams or you can create your own. Students can edit drawings online or invite others to view edits in real time.  Students can chat with others who are editing a drawing right within the drawings editor to build consensus.  The drawings can then be published online or embedded in other Google programs so all can see the results.

PadletPadlet (formally known as Wallwisher) is another brainstorming tool that can be used for ideation but also for consensus making.  The ability to leave notes with messages and then move and organize them is very easy for younger students to understand and use and perfect for quick brainstorming & decision making in the classroom.  You do not need a Wallwisher account to create or post on a wall but if you create a wall without logging in or signing up, you may be unable to edit the wall after 24 hours but it will still be available to view.  Wallwisher does have some other interesting features like the ability to use RSS to follow the posts being made, add Multimedia within the notes, moderate the comments being made, or share by an unique QR code created just for your page.

Another interesting tool for older students is Debategraph.  DebateGraph is a cloud-based service that offers individuals and communities a powerful way to learn about and deliberate and decide on complex issues. These graphs allow users to visualize, question, and evaluate all of the considerations that any member thinks may be relevant to the topic at hand – and facilitate intelligent, constructive dialogue within the community around those issues.

Google Moderator allows you to create a series about anything that you are interested in discussing with your class or school and open it up for people to submit questions, ideas, or suggestions.



Polling:  Using technology tools to poll audiences is easy and efficient and polling can be used to facilitate consensus or gather information.  You don’t need specialized audience response hardware to get feedback.  Poll Everywhere conducts surveys using the web, texting, or Twitter and can be used with a cellphone (SMS), smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.  These polls can be made by teachers or students.  Poll Everywhere is free for audiences of 40 people or less and they offer paid plans for larger audiences and K-12 semester-long plans.  Survey Monkey is a popular online survey tool because it’s easy to send free surveys, polls or questionnaires.

Socrative is another student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.  Socrative is better for teacher-directed consensus building.  Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device or online, and interact real time with the content.

For schools using iPads, Nearpod allows teachers to create enriched multimedia presentations with interactive features using their cloud-based content tool and then share the content with the students and control the activity with the Nearpod app.  Students submit responses on their mobile devices while the teacher monitors classroom activity and measure student results on an individual and aggregate basis.

Celly is a mobile social network that works with any mobile phone or device. Members can join instantly with one text and exchange group messages, polls, reminders, and web alerts.  Celly can enhances school communication such as:  study groups, announcement for clubs, field trips, clickers & polling, reminders and alerts, notes, and interactive walls.  Learn more at and Celly for School Start Up Guide.

Another simple solution for polling is by using Google Forms and Sheets.  Students or teachers can create a customized form to gather feedback, vote on a result, or brainstorm solutions and then the responses are collected in a spreadsheet.  Form creators can choose whether to require users to login with their Google accounts or be anonymous.  Creators can use a variety of questions types like checkboxes, grid, drop-down lists with options, multiple choice, paragraph text (which allow for long answers) or scale.  You can add section headers to divide your form in sections to make it easier to read and complete and/or you can split the questions into multiple pages

Here are six examples of different ways to collect data using a Google Form:

  1. Have students conduct experiment in classroom and one member goes to teacher’s computer to enter data for that group
  2. Have students create surveys using Google forms and display on own computer; students travel from machine to machine to fill out the survey
  3. Email the form to participants to collect data (can embed the form in the email); must know all members email addresses
  4. Email the form by using a distribution list from your contacts  (very easy if using Google Apps since all domain names are the same)
  5. Share the URL of the published form; consider using a URL shortener for easy access like: or
  6. Embed the form in a Google Site, Google+, wiki, blog or Moodle.

Finally, a favorite tool of mine is Doodle for deciding on meeting times when there are multiple options and several attendees.  Doodle will also automatically sync appointments to your calendar.

Co-Creation & Ideation Tools

Co-creation and ideation tools facilitate the most direct interaction between team members on the goals or desired outcomes of the project. Using these tools, participants can often work in groups directly editing or building the project artifact.  Several of these tools are the same ones used for project management – which is great – because the students will already be familiar with the interface.

Google Apps for Education A group of students can work together on an in Google Docs and Spreadsheets, seeing changes in real time and even discuss the process or comment right within the tool.  Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that documents, presentations and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.

Group members can edit documents, presentations or websites with images, videos, tables, drawings, or links and teachers or other students can give feedback by adding comments. The discussion feature (now available in Spreadsheet and Presentations as well as Docs) allows team members to talk about the project, what to do, how its going, etc right within the project.  You can even use the Research tool right within Documents to search for content on the web. Google Sites can be used as a portfolio or as a place to embed and showcase student projects. As a teacher you can create a template of a Site that contains directions, examples, links to resources and helpful tips and then have your students make a copy of the site.   This productivity suite was made for collaboration!  Other collaboration suites are:  Zoho Docs  and Microsoft 365.

Google Apps Examples:

  • Spanish students worked collaboratively to create a newspaper with a variety of articles: “LA PRENSA DE LAS PANTERAS”
  • Students use a Google form to collect data about the relationship between your height and wingspan to prove or disprove Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”
  • Students researched Biomes and various projects were embedded into a Google Site

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  On a wiki students can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media.  A wiki can be made public so anyone can edit the space or limited to just a class or a few participants.  Many different types of projects can be embedded in a wiki so they work well for showcasing projects made with other tools like:  videos, documents, polls, calendars, maps and specific Web 2.0 tools where you can get the HTML embed code (example:  Google Presentations, VoiceThread). Wikispaces provides free wikis for teachers and they do not contain ads. Don’t forget the tips for collaborative projects using Wikispaces. Another wiki option is PBWorks.

Wiki Examples:

  • High School online collaborative writing wiki
  • Elementary students in Auckland, New Zealand are using part of their class wiki as a blog and the other half to showcase student-created projects.
  • wiki to showcase student-made math movies


Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use.  Notebooks can then be shared with group members and accessed from anywhere.

Evernote Examples:

  • Elementary grade students use Evernote for student portfolios
  • Here is a blog post how a Librarian uses Evernote as a research tool.


MeetingWords is a very simple text editor for the web. Your text is saved on the web, and more than one person can edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens.  You can work together on notes, brainstorming sessions, homework, etc.

Other content creation options:

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. (  Here is a wiki with VoiceThread examples:

  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  You can work together on the same prezi in real-time. With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.




Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.  There are several technology tools that support this brainstorming process.

Mindmeister:  You can work with multiple users simultaneously on the same mind map. All collaborators will be shown in the map footer if they are working on the same mind map. You can turn on the History View to see what changes have been done by which users. You can share your mind maps with a single collaborator, group, or public.  You can give presentations directly from MindMeister either online to other collaborators or with a projector.

Popplet:  Popplet is a place to collect ideas.  Its very simple to use easy great for younger kids.  You can collect inspiration, record thoughts, explore ideas, create galleries. Popplets share be shared and collaborated in real time.

Padlet:  (formerly called Wallwisher) is a super easy way to collect ideas, images, and multimedia onto a simple “wall”.  Works great on tablets too.

Other mind-mapping tools: Webspiration Classroom and Creately (paid)

Creative Commons / Copyfriendly Images/Audio/Music

Discuss with students how we can honor intellectual property by searching the web for “copyfriendly” images to use for collaborative projects.  Help students to understand that all of their work – whether digital or not – is copyrighted the minute they create it. You do not need a © symbol to copyright your work.  You created it – you own it!

I like to appeal to the creative musicians, photographers and artists in my classes.  I try to help students understand that they can CHOOSE to share their creations and still maintain ownership.  This leads to a discussion about Creative Commons licensing.  If a student is willing to share their work to be remixed, changed or altered they must decided whether to allow commercial use or not.  Going through the process of choosing a license for their own work reinforces the concept of “honoring” the intentions of the other content-creators.

Inevitably, a student brings up the concept of “fair use” and wonders why they can’t just so a Google image search for their school-related assignments.  Its at this point that we talk about the purpose of citations for school work – that citing an image for a PowerPoint or presentation means that you are not taking credit for having made the image used and are indicating on the Works Cited page who is the original owner.

This discussion helps students to understand that under fair use laws, teachers must still follow certain rules:

  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students’ ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session.

Sure, there are always going to be those who think that if its on the Internet then they should be able to use it. But presenting Copyright vs. Creative Commons in a way that explains WHY and focus on HONORING the work of others, gets kids thinking about themselves as content-creators and how they would feel if someone “stole” their work and made money off it.

My all-time favorite resource to share with students is Joyce Valenza’s CopyFriendly Resource Page.

Communication Tools for Collaboration

The backbone of any type of collaborative effort takes place in the context of communication. Many features of collaboration tools are geared toward the facilitation and management of effective communication among team members.  Depending on your grade level the following collaborative technology tools can facilitate various communication functions: Email, IM, blogs, discussion forums, virtual meetings, web conferencing and social media.  Two of the communication tools that I have used the most in the classroom are blogs and discussion forums.


WhyBlog?A blog is an easily created and updateable website that allows an author(s) to publish instantly to the Internet.  A blog is different than a website that relies on consistent information and content.  Blogs are comprised of reflections and conversations.  In his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson states, “Blogs engage readers with ideas and questions and links.  They ask readers to think and to respond.  They demand interaction.”  Because blogs can be posted daily (or multiple times a day) they are often short and posted in reverse chronological order.

Educators who blog
 do so for many reasons.  Some reflect on their daily work while others share resources and links to educational sites on the Web. Some post lesson plans or engage in responses to other educational bloggers.   Readers can leave comments to individual posts and other visitors to the site can view those comments and respond with their own comments or questions.  The blog posts can include images, videos, podcasts, and links to other posts and citations.

When educators give students the opportunity to blog about their learning  a new type of interactive experience deepens and enhances the learning process.  Students learn to read more critically, think about that reading more analytically, and write more clearly.  They are building relationships with peers, teachers, mentors and professionals who interact with them through their blog.  Classroom blogs can be created by individual students  or authored by the entire class.  They can showcase student work, be a collaborative space, ePortfolio, class portal or even an online filing cabinet of shared images, resources or knowledge content.  Blogs are the ultimate collaborative learning tool because the real benefit of blogging comes when there is an authentic audience that reads and responds to the blog posts and then the student bloggers respond back.  Comments4Kids is a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on.  Comments4Kids is a great way to teach your students appropriate digital citizenship skills in an authentic learning environment.  Think blogging is just for older kids?  Check out this list of primary age blogs organized by blogging platform.

Some student-friendly blogging platforms are:  EduBlogsKidBlogClass BlogmeisterePals, and Blogger (not part of Google Apps for Education core suite and must be activated by admin).  Teachers who want to blog might also consider these platforms:  WordPressPosterousTypePadLiveJournal orTumblr.


Discussion Boards

An online discussion board provides asynchronous written conversation about a topic or theme.  One of benefits of using a discussion board is that it levels the playing field and gives every student an opportunity to share and have their opinions read.  This is especially helpful for the introvert who needs time to compose their thoughts without being interrupted during a face-to-face classroom discussion.  It can also extend the conversation beyond the classroom, provide a platform to demonstrate understanding of the content being learned and build connectiveness among classmates.  The limitations of not seeing facial expressions, body language and vocal inflections can sometimes cause confusion with written text as opposed to web conferencing, but the convenience of composing offline, posting when ready, and ease of use makes written discussion forums a popular choice with older elementary through high school students.  Caitlin Tucker has some great advice:  Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication.  Edutopia has put together the Mastering Online Discussion Forum Resource Guide at:

Some popular platforms for discussion forums are:

  • Learning Management Systems: SchoologyHaiku (both have Google Apps integration), Blackboard, and Moodle (Open Source).  These are much more involved and will require IT department to set up the system for a school.
  • Online learning platforms:  Schoology (Individual teacher), Edmodo and Collaborize Classroom –  These are more of a social learning network but also include discussion forums.  They can easily be set up by an individual teacher.

Leveraging tech tools to support collaboration


The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has developed a vision for student success for our global economy called the Framework for 21st Century Learning.  This Framework describes the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life.

Every 21st century skills implementation requires the development of core academic subject knowledge and understanding among all students. Those who can think critically and communicate effectively must build on a base of core academic subject knowledge. Within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in today’s world, such as critical thinkingproblem solvingcommunication and collaboration.  The focus on collaboration involves:

  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

How can we leverage collaborative technology tools to support this type of communication and collaboration in the classroom? How can we plan lessons that effectively engage students and support learning goals?  The factors with the greatest influence on student achievement are instruction, professional learning, collaboration and learning time.

Technology tools that exist to support collaboration can:

  • Facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice and video communication.
  • Assist in basic project management activities
  • Support co-creation by enabling groups to showcase learning in real-time or asynchronously.
  • Facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling
  • Simplify and streamline resource management
  • Enable locate and remote presentation and archiving of completed projects (Deal, 2009).

Teachers should not only learn how to effectively integrate collaborative technology tools into the classroom but actively participate and apply these principles to their own learning and understanding.  We also want to make sure we are using sound pedagogy when using technology to support learning and aligning our instructional goals with the National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S).

Get ready to collaborate!


Collaborative Technology Tools in the Classroom

This term I am teaching a new online class for Portland State University for their Instructional Technology Certificate program.  The course topic is collaborative technology tools in the classroom.  Just as my students are reflecting on their work – I too will be documenting our progress and sharing my own thoughts and ideas.

How can we leverage collaborative technology tools to support communication and collaboration in the classroom? How can we plan lessons that effectively engage students and support learning goals?  The factors with the greatest influence on student achievement are instruction, professional learning, collaboration and learning time.

Technology tools that exist to support collaboration can:

  • Facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice and video communication.
  • Assist in basic project management activities
  • Support co-creation by enabling groups to showcase learning in real-time or asynchronously.
  • Facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling
  • Simplify and streamline resource management
  • Enable locate and remote presentation and archiving of completed projects (Deal, 2009).

In this course, students will not only learn how to effectively integrate collaborative technology tools into the classroom but actively participate and apply these principles to their own learning and understanding.  We also want to make sure we are using sound pedagogy when using technology to support learning and aligning our instructional goals with the National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S).

Portland State uses Desire 2 Learn (D2L) for their learning management system.  This program is fine but too many instructors have only used the text and discussion forum features.  I plan on integrating Portland State’s Google Apps program with D2L.  We will use Google+ hangouts for some webinars, shared documents, email, etc.  Also we will be USING all the collaborative tools each week like Edmodo, Diigo, Twitter, Collaborate and ones that individual students choose to explore (VoiceThread,Prezi, Evernote, etc).

One of the things that I will be playing with is including a weekly podcast lecture using iTunes U.  Last week I set up the iTunes Course Manager and added my written weekly lecture.  What I hope to do during the term and record a weekly podcast related to our week’s theme.  This will give me an opportunity to talk directly to my students, discuss current trends and share new resources.  Students can subscribe to the course and automatically receive the podcasts each week.

Next Week:  Talking about Digital Citizenship when using collaborative technology tools.


Deal, A. (2009). Collaboration tools. Teaching with technology white paper. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University website:

Celebrate Poetry on Monday 4/30/12

April is National Poetry Month and our school is having several events to celebrate.  Students are encouraged to submit their original poems to the “Poet Tree” in the Library all month.  We plan on sharing poems for “Poem in your pocket” day on Thursday, the 26th.  I am thinking of coordinating a semi-field trip to Verselandia – a poetry slam sponsored by Portland Public Schools on the 25th.

On Monday, April 30th we will host our all-day poetry celebration in the Library.  The morning session will be for community members as the creative writing and guitar students share their original poems and poems put to music.  Throughout the day various classes will visit the Library for an open mic poetry reading.  Anyone is welcome to attend and share either an original poem or read a previously published poem.  Selected classes from other schools will Skype into our reading and share their poems with us.  If your class would like to Skype with us – contact me at colette (dot) cassinelli (at) gmail (dot) com.

Poetry Day Celebration with Skype

Our high school is hosting an open mic poetry day in the Library on Friday, April 29th 8-2:30pm PDT. We would love to have various classrooms Skype in for 5-10 minutes and have students (ages 10+)  read a poem – original or published. Contact me to get on the schedule — still plenty of open slots! colette [dot] cassinelli [at] gmail [dot] com

This is our culiminating activity for National Poetry Month

Have you seen Skype in Education?

Seven Habits of Highly Connected People

7I ran across this post about Seven Habits of Highly Connected People on Stephen Downe’s site awhile ago and been saving it in my drafts until I had a chance to write and reflect.  I highlighted ideas from each habit to share but you should read the full article and his explanations at

1. Be Reactive

The first thing any connected person should be is receptive. Whether on a discussion forum, mailing list, or in a blogging community or gaming site, it is important to spend some time listening and getting the lay of the land.

Posting, after all, isn’t about airing your own views. It’s about connecting, and the best way to connect is to clearly draw the link between their content and yours.

2. Go With The Flow

When connecting online, it is more important to find the places to which you can add value rather than pursue a particular goal or objective. The Web is a fast-changing medium, and you need to adapt to fit the needs of the moment, rather than to be driving it forward along a specific agenda.

3. Connection Comes First

In almost all fields, connecting with others online is the work. The papers you write, the memos you read and toss-all have to do with connecting with people.

If you don’t have enough time for reading email, writing blog posts, or posting to discussion lists, ask yourself what other activities you are doing that are cutting in to your time. These are the things that are often less efficient uses of your time.

4. Share

The way to function in a connected world is to share without thinking about what you will get in return.

When you share, people are more willing to share with you. In a networked world, this gives you access to more than you could ever produce or buy by yourself. By sharing, you increase your own capacity, which increases your marketability.

RTFM stands for “Read The Fine Manual” (or some variant thereof) and is one of the primary rules of conduct on the Internet.

What it means, basically, is that people should make the effort to learn for themselves before seeking instruction from others… Taking the time and effort to look at this work is not merely respectful, it demonstrates a certain degree of competence and self-reliance.

6. Cooperate

Online, people cooperate. They network. Each has his or her own goals and objectives, but what joins the whole is a web of protocols and communications. People contribute their own parts, created (as they say in open source programming) to “satisfy their own itch.”

7. Be Yourself
What makes online communication work is the realization that, at the other end of that lifeless terminal, is a living and breathing human being. The only way to enable people to understand you is to allow them to sympathize with you, to get to know you, to feel empathy for you. Comprehension has as much to do with feeling as it does with cognition.

This past year I finally feel more comfortable in my “online persona”.  Before that I  considered myself a “lurker”.  I subscribed to quite a few blogs and followed folks on Twitter but it wasn’t until a year ago did I really engage in the conversation.

As Downes states above, we need to be reactive and share.  It’s not enough to just read an interesting post and say – oh, that’s interesting.  Blogging is about being part of a conversation.  I’m guilty of not responding to people who posted comments on my blog or at least said “thank you for taking the time” (sorry).

I respond @yourtwitter name more often this year too.  Last month I made a Wordle of my twitter posts and realized that edtechvision was one of my top tweets.  Maybe I was spending too much time promoting my blog posts instead of saying “hey, check out so-and-so’s blog – there’s an interesting conversation going on there”.

Many of the new face-to-face connections I have made this past year has been because of my online connections.  I hooked up with the out-of-towners before Google Teacher Academy which resulted in many friendships (you know who you are!).  When I showed up to ILC 2008 several people came up to me and said “hey, I follow you on Twitter” and then -bam:  instant connection – and we spent the rest of the conference  sharing and connecting.

On Twitter Alec Couros shared his networked web from  Now this man is highly connected!

With plenty of opportunities this year (NCCE, NCEA, NECC) to connect f2f with my PLN, I hope to not only be inspired by highly connected people but also give something back to the edtech community.  I thank you.  I am learning each and every day and love what you have brought to my life.

Google Earth & Postcard Geography

Years ago when I taught 4th grade I participated in a classroom exchange called “Postcard Geography”.  My students eagerly awaited postcards that we exchanged with schools all across the US.  We created a large bulletin board with a map of the US and  pinned the postcards next to the city is came from.  It was fun to read about the area around the school and we often referred to our postcards as we studied the regions of the US.

flag41.gifThis summer I was searching the Internet for collaborative projects and I came across the Postcard Geography project again.  I considered doing the project with my 7th & 8th grade computer classes.  I figured with all the online resources at our fingertips, the project would be a lot different than the past.  Little did I know ….

Welcome to the 21st Century!  We received our first postcard last week and the students immediately went to the  Internet and Google Maps to located the town.  As they were zooming in on the small town in Texas, it dawned on me that we could “pin” the location on the maps in Google Earth.  So we switched to Google Earth and found the exact location of the school.  As I read the postcard aloud to the class they zoomed out to locate neighboring cities that were mentioned, commented on the amount of trees by the school and the layout of the town.  We calculated distance to the Gulf of Mexico and followed a river near the city that emptied into the Gulf.

One student suggested that we write the exact longitude and latitude coordinates of our school on our postcards so other schools can find out exactly where we are located.  I opened up the discussion to the students of how they wanted to participate in the project.  Everyone agreed that they still wanted to send the postcards the old fashioned way but also create a digital postcard that could be emailed.  There were lots of ideas of making a movie, taking photos around town and embedding them onto a map, designing original postcards, and making a narrative slide show.

The enthusiasm was endless.  I felt like I just presented an idea to the class and they took hold and went with it.  None of the students realized how many geography skills they reviewed during the Google Earth activity (and in computer class – gasp!) or how many computer skills they suggested for upcoming projects.  I will allow the students to choose how the class will send “digital postcards” to the other school but I also have plans for using Google Earth to create a virtual field trip to “visit” some of the school and teach them how to read a GPS device.

I really enjoyed participating in the Postcard project the first time around but this time around the technology makes this project more authentic and real.

I overheard two students discussing the Texas school while they were viewing the map on Google Earth …

Student 1:  Look how many tennis courts they have at their school.

Student 2:  Well, the weather is nice in Texas (compared to the rain in Oregon) so they probably go outside more.

Student 1:  Yeah, but it gets real hot there.  Good thing they aren’t too far away from the Gulf.

You would swear they were talking about a place they had visited before.  They gathered all this information from looking at a satellite map.  I can’t wait until we receive news from some schools in Australia, Taiwan and Spain.

Collaborating with Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Collaboration – (kuh-lab-uh-rey-shuhn) n. the act of collaborating. Working together for a common end.

Every class can benefit from enhanced collaboration among students and between students and instructors. Learning is social. Course assignments that encourage collaboration are effective way of encouraging interaction and discussion among students. Unfortunately, collaborative projects can also have its problems. With multiple students working on one project there can be issues with limited access to the materials or resources. While some of the learners are engaged in the project, others wait their turn or just don’t participate.

What’s for lunch?This past school year I incorporated Google Docs and Spreadsheets in my beginning Computer Applications course to facilitate communication and collaboration among my high school students. Google Docs and Spreadsheets is a free and relatively easy web-based tool for creating and collaboratively editing online documents in real time. It is well-suited for student collaborative projects because previous versions of the document are always accessible and it is easy to see who made which changes.

Our collaborative project was called “What’s For Lunch?” The goal of this project was to collect data about student’s eating habits at lunch and analyze the information for nutritional value, cost and how much waste was created. For one week, every student photographed a variety of student lunches and interviewed students about their food choices. The class compiled their photos together and began the task of analyzing the data. We decided to assemble data about nutrition (calories, fats, carbohydrates), cost of the meal, and we also created a point system to tabulate the amount of waste each lunch produced.

I set up a Google shared spreadsheet to gather the data. Each student created a Google account (which can be separate from a Gmail account). Although anyone could view the spreadsheet the students needed to be invited to edit and collaborate on the spreadsheet. Once the students accessed the file, they could begin to add their data to the spreadsheet all at the same time! Each user is color coded during collaboration and the document is automatically saved after each edit.

What’s for lunch2?I have never witnesses such enthusiasm and excitement for entering data into a spreadsheet before. Every student was engaged and involved in the documentation. Students could immediately see the edits being made other students which encouraged them to share nutritional information with each other. The whole process was motivating, easy and fun. From a teacher’s point of view, I could easily see a history of the revisions to determine who participated and how many entries they added. I also could add comments directly to the spreadsheet if I needed clarification of the data or more information.

After all of the data was collected, the spreadsheet was exported to an Excel spreadsheet where students wrote formulas to analyze and compare the data. Unfortunately, the data showed some poor eating habit by our student body. Another concerning element was how much garbage our students threw away from their lunches. Students graphed the results and created posters to try to influence the eating and recycling habits of their classmates. The posters included the lunch photos and data and were hung around the school.

During this same unit students used Google Docs to write letters to local state representatives concerning their opinion about a bill that would ban junk food in all public high schools. After writing their first draft, students invited collaborators and used peer editing to review the drafts and make corrections on their Google doc. We also set up a Google spreadsheet to collect the names and addresses of Oregon Senators and Representatives. The spreadsheet was exported to Excel and the addresses were adding to the letters using mail merge.

I continue to find many uses for Google Docs and Spreadsheets throughout my curriculum. Having the ability to work together on a document at the same times ensures that every student will be engaged during collaborative projects. Keeping the documents stored online provides access from both home and school and the automatic saving feature prevents losing work. The revision history allows documents to be restored to an earlier point and also makes students accountable for doing their part. Google Docs and Spreadsheets are just one of many exciting products from Google that you can use in your curriculum.


Google For Educators: Using Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Some ideas on how to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets in the classroom
Elementary school students collaborate to

  • read the same book and write a collaborative book report.
  • share their reflections of a field trip.
  • create a story from a story prompt
  • collect favorite poems for a class anthology
  • publish a weekly newsletter about class happenings
  • track profits from magazine sale

Middle school students collaborate to

  • write a science hypothesis about an experiment.
  • recreate an historical event.
  • develop a word math problem.
  • keep track of homework assignments
  • collect weather statistics

High school students collaborate to

  • create articles for the school newspaper
  • write a script for play
  • debate a current event
  • analyze data from US Census bureau
  • manage sales and profits from school store


3 C’s

CCC“…we should be teaching skills laid on the foundations of creativity, collaboration, & critical thinking”

I ran across this line in Durff’s blog last week and I’ve been pondering about it all week and it made me think to myself, what if school was based on the 3 C’s (I’m not throwing out the 3 R’s). What would school 2.0 look like in my classroom if that were true?

Creativity: Students would be given opportunities to express themselves in ways that are creative and true to themselves. Even though I might demonstrate a technique I would NEVER expect a student to feel like they need to complete the task “my way”. I encourage individuality and applaud risk-takers and those who are willing the share their ideas and work. Students could work in a variety of medium (print, audio, visual, etc..) and also be encouraged to stretch themselves and try something new.

Collaboration: My students walk into my computer lab and are very territorial about where they sit. It’s like “this is my computer and this is my space – stay out!” First of all I want to get them out of their seats and walking over to teammates workspaces. Next, I want them to share and comment on each other’s work. This year my advanced graphic design and video students will each have individual blogs to share the process of how they created each project and show samples. Students will be broken into small groups and will be required to dialogue and comment on (at least) group member’s postings. We will also continue to use Moodle, wikis, google docs and shared bookmarks for collaboration.

Criticial thinking: This one is the most important! Computer classes are not just about “learning and doing”. AND it’s not just about the end product – it’s about the process and all the small and major decisions that were made during the project. I want to make sure that I give many opportunities for students to evaluate, research, synthesize, write, revise, create and produce meaningful work that is authentic and has value.

Teaching at a private high school I feel like I always have to battle the 3 G’s (grades, grades, grades!). Giving students opportunities to express themselves in ways that are creative and authentic and asking them to work together with classmates on challenging and interesting assignments will keep the focus on LEARNING and expressing their views in a way that is valuable and real.