Moving at the Speed of Creativity http://www.speedofcreativity.org Weblog of Wesley Fryer Mon, 03 Feb 2020 05:26:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Synchronizing Lecture Audio to Slides for YouTube http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/02/synchronizing-lecture-audio-to-slides-for-youtube/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/02/synchronizing-lecture-audio-to-slides-for-youtube/#respond Mon, 03 Feb 2020 05:17:47 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13883 50 minute lesson on BioEthics and recorded the audio from my presentation using my wife’s iPhone and the free app, “Voice Record Pro.” I wanted to slightly edit the audio to remove 3 minutes of “empty” turn / pair / share time in the lesson, improve the quality of [...]]]> Today I taught a 50 minute lesson on BioEthics and recorded the audio from my presentation using my wife’s iPhone and the free app, “Voice Record Pro.” I wanted to slightly edit the audio to remove 3 minutes of “empty” turn / pair / share time in the lesson, improve the quality of my audio recording (normalize it), and synchronize the edited audio to my Google Slideshow so I could share it as a video on YouTube. Here are the steps I followed to create and share the final, synchronized video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/02/02/synchronizing-lecture-audio-to-slides-for-youtube/feed/ 0
Facilitating Student eBook and Book Publishing with Book Creator and Lulu http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/31/facilitating-student-ebook-and-book-publishing-with-book-creator-and-lulu/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/31/facilitating-student-ebook-and-book-publishing-with-book-creator-and-lulu/#respond Fri, 31 Jan 2020 06:03:54 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13876 For the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with our high school English department chair, Whitney Finley, who teaches a unique and engaging creative writing class for 12th graders in which they write and publish their own children’s picture books. After creating their books, as a group students visit our Kindergarten students and share their books with them in person. Later in the year, Kindergarten students create their own books, and then have an opportunity to share them with the seniors. Since I started helping Whitney with this project, when I was the Director of Technology at our school, I’ve helped students electronically build their books using the Book Creator Online website and publish affordable, color paperback versions of their books using the print-on-demand website, Lulu.com. In this post, I’d like to share some of the lessons learned, resources, and multimedia eBook production workflows which we have found work well and we’re continuing to use with students in this ongoing project. I’ve created a Google site to not only share the student eBooks and paperback book ordering links from the past three years, but also links to other student book projects by other teachers at our school and eBook / book creation support resources. It’s available on studentauthors.casady.org. In about a month, we’re planning to organize an evening “Student Author’s Showcase and Celebration” event, which will hopefully further amplify and extend the benefits of this wonderful project which involves rich learning, collaboration, and skill development for older as well as younger students.

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

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

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

1. Book Creator Online

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

2. Planning and Writing Before Technology

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

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

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

4. Converting JPG Images to Transparent PNGs

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

5. Warn Students About Central Book Spine Whitespace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/31/facilitating-student-ebook-and-book-publishing-with-book-creator-and-lulu/feed/ 0
Modern Learning in School: The 14 Legs of the Table http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/23/modern-learning-in-school-the-14-legs-of-the-table/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/23/modern-learning-in-school-the-14-legs-of-the-table/#respond Fri, 24 Jan 2020 03:18:59 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13760 Good Shepherd Episcopal School (@gsesdallas) and Prestonwood Christian Academy (@PrestonwoodPCA) teachers, students and staff with a team [...]]]> Modern Learning in school today is a complex undertaking which requires a robust strategy of support to be successful.* Today I’m in the Dallas, Texas, area, and had the chance to visit with both Good Shepherd Episcopal School (@gsesdallas) and Prestonwood Christian Academy (@PrestonwoodPCA) teachers, students and staff with a team from our school in Oklahoma City. At the end of our day, I created the following graphic to represent my understanding of the 14 different elements of successful “modern learning in school” involving Internet-connected digital devices for learners. In this post, I’ll briefly highlight and define what I understand each of these elements / legs to mean. I’d love to hear from you (either via a Twitter reply to @wfryer, a Facebook post comment, or a blog post comment below) on what’s missing from this model / framework, or your responses / feedback to these ideas. A larger version of this graphic is available on Flickr and as a Google Drawing. It’s shared under CC-BY.

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

1. “The Why”

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

2. Student Computing Devices

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

3. LMS – SIS – Databases

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

4. Technical Support

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

5. Professional Development

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

6. Instructional Support

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

7. Infrastructure

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

8. Web Filtering and MDM

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

9. Curriculum

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

10. Parent Education

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

11. Learning Spaces

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

12. SSO and Security

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

13. Financing

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

14. Policies, Expectations and RUP

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/23/modern-learning-in-school-the-14-legs-of-the-table/feed/ 0
Podcast469: Reflections on Immersion Day January 2020 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/20/podcast469-reflections-on-immersion-day-january-2020/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/20/podcast469-reflections-on-immersion-day-january-2020/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 21:48:43 +0000 Welcome to Episode 469 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast from January 18, 2020, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features a conversation with 3rd grade teacher Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) about the second “Immersion Day” at Casady School in Oklahoma City. Immersion Days are half-days for students which focus on a special theme or topic. On January 17, 2020, the theme for the Casady Lower School students (in grades 1 – 4) focused on Inventions, coinciding with Kid Invention Day (KID). A wealth of fantastic resources about the design process and STEM / engineering for young students are available on nationalinventioncurriculum.org as well as other websites. Check out the podcast shownotes for links. Casady 3rd and 4th graders were able to videoconference LIVE to start the day with Payton Robertson in Florida. Peyton is now a senior in high school, and has been an inventor since elementary school with over six patents to his name. He met President Obama in the Oval Office to share one of his inventions after winning a national contest, was a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and will be continuing his career and learning journey as an inventor next year as he starts college at Stanford University. In the afternoon, 3rd graders talked with Dr. James W. Long, a local guest speaker physician and engineer who co-created a magnetic heart pump, featured in the new Amplify Science curriculum the students are using this year. One of the parents of Shelly’s students is a heart surgeon, and invited him to join in the third grade Kids Invention Day learning! In the podcast, Wes also shares some reflections on the “Animate Your Curiosity” lessons which he co-led for middle school students yesterday, using Scratch to create basic animations. Students watched and discussed several animation focused videos (including “Animator vs. Animation” from 2009 which has over 42 million views on YouTube) to find inspiration for their own animation and coding projects. If you haven’t checked out “The Science Behind Pixar” (sciencebehindpixar.org) in person or online yet definitely do! Also check out other resources on the “Animation Inspiration” website Wes created for this week’s Middle Division Immersion Day. Follow Shelly Fryer on Twitter @sfryer and Wesley Fryer on @wfryer. Wes’ Digital Literacy and Media Literacy Curriculum for Middle School Computer Classes is available free on mdtech.casady.org.

Shownotes:

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

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

Podcast RSS Feed

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/20/podcast469-reflections-on-immersion-day-january-2020/feed/ 0
Thoughts on Content Filtering, Parent Education, and School Laptop Initiatives http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/14/thoughts-on-content-filtering-parent-education-and-school-laptop-initiatives/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/14/thoughts-on-content-filtering-parent-education-and-school-laptop-initiatives/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 04:53:30 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13046 Norman Public Schools’ new MacBook Air and iPad “1 to 1 Learning” initiative. The article is titled, “‘They want them gone’: Norman parents complain of school devices.” In case The Oklahoman puts this article behind their paywall [...]]]> The Oklahoman, our largest Oklahoma City based newspaper by circulation, published a scathing article today about Norman Public Schools’ new MacBook Air and iPad “1 to 1 Learning” initiative. The article is titled, “‘They want them gone’: Norman parents complain of school devices.” In case The Oklahoman puts this article behind their paywall as they often do by the time you read this post, here is a link to an Internet Archive Wayback Machine copy. For those of you unfamiliar with our local geography, Norman is a city / community just south of OKC and part of our metro area of around 1.2 million folks, where the University of Oklahoma is located. The short summary of this article, which included quotations from 1.5 hours of parent complaints at this week’s Norman Public Schools board meeting, is that parents are mad because:

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


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

Internet Content Filtering at School and Home

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

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

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

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

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

Offensive Internet Content, Screentime and Parent Education

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

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

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

Balance and Partnerships Are Essential

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/14/thoughts-on-content-filtering-parent-education-and-school-laptop-initiatives/feed/ 0
Share Podcast Excerpts using Audacity, iMovie and Google Slides http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/05/share-podcast-excerpts-using-audacity-imovie-and-google-slides/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/05/share-podcast-excerpts-using-audacity-imovie-and-google-slides/#respond Mon, 06 Jan 2020 04:49:08 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13033 a lesson in which I shared a 4.5 minute excerpt of an amazing 55 minute NASA podcast, featuring an April 2019 interview with Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the Moon to date! In this post, I’ll [...]]]> Today I taught a lesson in which I shared a 4.5 minute excerpt of an amazing 55 minute NASA podcast, featuring an April 2019 interview with Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot and the only geologist to walk on the Moon to date! In this post, I’ll share my workflow and steps I followed to create this audio media collage, shared as a video on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2020/01/05/share-podcast-excerpts-using-audacity-imovie-and-google-slides/feed/ 0
The Tyranny of Current Events http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/29/the-tyranny-of-current-events/ http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/29/the-tyranny-of-current-events/#respond Sun, 29 Dec 2019 14:15:56 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13026 I shared and led a lesson at our church which included discussion about the famous Apollo 8 mission to the moon in December 1968. Apollo 8 was: the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit and the first to reach the Moon, orbit it, and return. Its three-astronaut [...]]]> A few weeks ago, I shared and led a lesson at our church which included discussion about the famous Apollo 8 mission to the moon in December 1968. Apollo 8 was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/29/the-tyranny-of-current-events/feed/ 0
Tips for Media Literacy and Avoiding Foreign Political Propaganda Influence http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/12/14/tips-for-media-literacy-and-avoiding-foreign-political-propaganda-influence/ Sat, 14 Dec 2019 16:45:48 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=13018 engaged in a new “Tech Cold War” against China and Russia, we are also under information influence attack from foreign as well as domestic adversaries who are aggressively working to build “followers” on Facebook and other social media platforms they can use to exert unconstitutional influence on our [...]]]> The United States is not only engaged in a new “Tech Cold War” against China and Russia, we are also under information influence attack from foreign as well as domestic adversaries who are aggressively working to build “followers” on Facebook and other social media platforms they can use to exert unconstitutional influence on our political processes, as well as malicious influence on our national culture. Among other things, these groups are working to make our political culture and daily conversations MORE POLARIZED and hyper-partisan. In this post, I’d like to briefly uncover and unpack a specific example of this type of unwanted, malicious information peddling as well as some specific strategies we can employ to combat it. I use the word “combat” deliberately, because like it or not, as citizens of the United States connected to social media platforms, we all are “combatants” in this fight. Many people remain unaware of this, however, so goals of this post are to raise both awareness and motivation to do something constructive about the reality of today’s information war.

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

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

Here are the strategies:

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

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

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

Strategy 2: Investigate the Source Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want you to notice several things.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
Podcast468: Reflections on Blended Learning Techniques with Google Sites, Slides and Social Media http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/11/27/podcast468-reflections-on-blended-learning-techniques-with-google-sites-slides-and-social-media/ Thu, 28 Nov 2019 01:25:25 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12969 Welcome to Episode 468 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode includes a reflection by Wes about some of the techniques he is using in fall 2019 teaching Digital and Media Literacy for 5th and 6th graders at Casady School in Oklahoma City, as well as the adult Sunday School class, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science” at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. These techniques include using Google Sites to share lesson slides, videos, resources and links publicly (mdtech.casady.org and followjesus.wesfryer.com) each week. Refer to the podcast shownotes for referenced links. Feedback on this podcast episode is welcome!

Shownotes

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 6:22 MSG

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

]]>
Your Seminary Needs Digital and Media Literacy Instruction http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/22/your-seminary-needs-digital-and-media-literacy-instruction/ Sun, 22 Sep 2019 20:48:16 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12920 again) at our church this year, and utilize Francis Collins‘ (@NIHDirector) book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” as our initial course text for our class titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” This week [...]]]> I am enjoying the opportunity to teach adult Sunday School (again) at our church this year, and utilize Francis Collins‘ (@NIHDirector) book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” as our initial course text for our class titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” This week in preparing for our lesson and today in class, I was struck by this idea: Every Seminary / Divinity School in the world needs to offer courses and instructional support for both digital and media literacy. In this post, I’ll explain what I mean and why I believe this is true.

We are living in the most exciting era of human history for learning and idea sharing. Just as the introduction of the metal moveable type printing process into Europe in 1450 by Johannes Gutenberg ushered in groundbreaking, disruptive changes in the way ideas were shared and disseminated throughout the Western world, the accelerating effects of the Internet, the World-Wide Web, mobile phones and Moore’s law of integrated circuits are transforming our communication landscape into an alien / foreign land for many people schooled in the 20th century following the models of the 18th. Most of our institutions of higher education, including Seminaries, are based on the learning assumptions and models of the past rather than our present.

In the past, we were very limited in the access we enjoyed to ideas and to other people. Who remembers using a library card catalog, finding an article on a topic of inquiry on microfiche / microforms, or having to wait days (or even weeks) for a book requested via “Interlibrary loan” to finally arrive?! That was “normal” in an era of information scarcity. Now we live an “attention economy,” and many old assumptions about information, communication, and learning are obsolete.

Clay Shirky’s (@cshirky) 2008 book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations,” remains 11 years later one of the best primers on today’s transformed digital learning and idea sharing landscape. Absent a global cataclysm, we’re not going back to an era of information scarcity. Teachers and learners, therefore, need a NEW set of literacy skills to access, filter, evaluate, utilize, and share/publish ideas. Educational thought leaders like David Warlick (@dwarlick) have been beating this drum for years. It’s time we not only paid attention: We also need to update our academic course catalogs. Digital and media literacy are essential skills for everyone, not just the educational technology crowd.

Access to information today is a relatively minor challenge: “Filtering the ExoFlood” of data and messages swirling all around us has become “our new normal” and a significant obstacle to learning. This does not just affect a small subset of society, everyone is awash in bits. Our lives are increasingly becoming digital, as Nicholas Negroponte observed in 1995. We live in both analog and digital spaces, and we need teachers and teacher educators who can both model and help mentor students as well as colleagues into our brave new world of near-ubiquitous Internet access (in many parts of the developed world) and “publish at will” digital sharing.

To highlight some of the skills our teachers and instructors today need to be effective, let’s look at some of the ways I shared ideas and media with our Sunday School class this week.

We’re using Google Classroom (free) to share slides, videos, photos, links, and other resources from our class. This is very normal in most U.S. universities today, and in a growing number of high schools as well as middle schools, especially as 1:1 learning initiatives and BYOD initiatives become more common. It is NOT common in my experience, however, for digital sharing platforms like this to be used in adult Christian education. This is a missed opportunity. Certainly many of our churches are filled with older adults who may be reluctant and even fearful to use new kinds of technologies. Just as many grandparents have embraced the opportunity to connect with their grandkids via FaceTime videoconferencing or Seesaw Learning Journals as students share their schoolwork digitally with family members, many church members (in my experience) are eager to use digital tools to extend their learning and connect outside of class with both content and other classmates.

It’s not enough to just setup a Google Classroom and share links to resources, however, to effectively teach and engage a class or group of learners. Lessons need to be designed to utilize media in pedagogically appropriate ways, encouraging students to actively think and process ideas both individually and collaboratively. As an example, we’ve used the “See – Think – Wonder” thinking routine several times in class this year, to both analyze and think deeper about video clips we’ve watched and passages of text we’ve read. A couple weeks ago when we studied CRISPR and the ethics of genetic editing, we brainstormed potential uses of these technologies which would fall into three different ethical categories. The creation of these slides using copyright friendly media sources like The Noun Project and Unsplash, the sharing of these slides via Google Slides and Google Classroom following a “Presentation Zen” pedagogy of multimedia slideshow development… All of these involve digital and media literacy skills which pastors, clergy, and anyone else involved in Christian education today need to master and utilize effectively.

A final example I’ll share to highlight the digital and media literacy skills I believe are vital for Seminaries as well as all institutions of higher learning focuses on video sharing. I’m fond of saying “Video is the pencil of the 21st century,” and in fact plan to put this saying in large, lasercut letters on the wall of my classroom later this year. In saying this, I mean learners of all stripes today need to seamlessly be able to utilize and express themselves with video as adeptly as we’ve expected them to be able to in the past using pencils and pens.

“Chunking content” into bite size, readily “digestible” pieces is an essential principle of instructional design as well as human psychology. Today to share a 1.5 minute video clip with my class which we discussed, I used a website to make a link to the video segment of interest. Since I’m now using my Apple Watch to advance / “drive” my slideshows in class, I also used a website to download a temporary, offline copy of the YouTube video we would watch, and then used QuickTime Player software to crop that video so it included just the 100 seconds I wanted. I then embedded that video clip into my Keynote software presentation. These kinds of digital literacy skills are invaluable when we want to effectively design lessons and share media with our students, not just “inside the 4 walls of our classroom” but also outside those walls when students want to continue their learning on their smartphone or computer at home, in a coffee shop, or anywhere else they have Internet access.

Media literacy and digital literacy skills are essential for everyone today, but particularly for teachers and educators. Does your Seminary or other college / university have required courses for students which explicitly teach these kinds of skills? We can’t assume tomorrow’s pastors and Christian educators will, by means of “instructional osmosis” via their past experiences in schools and classes, auto-magically acquire these skills. They won’t. These are pedagogic strategies wedded to instructional design and development skills which we need to explicitly teach and model. It may be time to not only expand your course catalog for students, but also change your “required course list” and hire new faculty with this skillset.

After reading this post, eventually, perhaps your Seminary (or other college/university) will want hire me full-time or part-time. If so, let’s get in touch! The need for the skills and dispositions I’ve highlighted here are only going to grow in the months and years ahead.

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


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

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

]]>
Presentation Tips and Podcast Conference Learning http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/15/presentation-tips-and-podcast-conference-learning/ Sun, 15 Sep 2019 20:54:30 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12913 Storychasers hosted a 1 day conference on podcasting attended by educators and other people interested in podcasting from Oklahoma City as well as north Texas. I shared the opening keynote titled, “Who Tells Your Story,” along with two breakout session workshops on “Quick Edit Podcasting” using Yesterday in Oklahoma City, Storychasers hosted a 1 day conference on podcasting attended by educators and other people interested in podcasting from Oklahoma City as well as north Texas. I shared the opening keynote titled, “Who Tells Your Story,” along with two breakout session workshops on “Quick Edit Podcasting” using the Anchor mobile app, and Podcast Post-Production Tools and Tips. All the slides and resources for the conference are available on sites.google.com/view/podcastingokc/. In this post, I’ll reflect on some of the special presentation tips I used to both mirror my iPhone during workshops to my laptop screen, to demo a Google Home smart speaker which wouldn’t connect to library WiFi, and also some lessons learned from the conference overall about podcasting.

Podcasting Steps by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Podcasting Steps” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Since this was a 1 day conference focused on podcasting, it seemed appropriate to cap off our learning with a whole-group podcast, recorded, edited and published with Anchor.

Anchor was definitely the technology tool and platform about which conference participants were most excited. Although I’ve had a podcast since 2005, the steps for publishing and sharing that podcast have not kept up with the times” are are quite long and tedious in comparison with the workflow Anchor provides for free. Our experiences with and conversations about Anchor at yesterday’s conference have encouraged me to keep playing and exploring with it. In addition to my Anchor “Eclectic Recordings” channel (which are mostly imported from AudioBoom.fm/wfryer) I’ve also setup the “Class with Dr. Fryer” podcast channel in the past few months on Anchor. When I was showing conference participants the Anchor dashboard yesterday, Anchor popped up a link with information on setting up monetization for the channel. This is something I’m going to explore further.

During the opening keynote, I demonstrated how to use a Google Home Mini smartspeaker to play a specific podcast, including a podcast (like “Class with Dr. Fryer”) published to Anchor, and how to fast forward or rewind the podcast using voice commands. I mentioned how this is a lot like a Star Trek episode, as the captain of the Enterprise speaks to the ship’s onboard computer:

Computer: Earl Grey, HOT!

Captain Jean-Luc Picard by avrene, on Flickr
Captain Jean-Luc Picard” (CC BY 2.0) by avrene

We not be able to get Google Home or Alexa to prepare a piping hot cup of tea for us on command, but we certainly are living in pretty “magical times” given all the things we can do with our voices and “wands” (for me, the Apple Pencil) today!

Since the downtown public library’s free WiFi has a splash page and is filtered to block certain ports and protocols, I had to use my iPhone with data tethering to get my Google Home smart speaker to work during my keynote. The steps to do this were:

  1. I turned on iPhone data tethering, so I could use it as an “instant WiFi hotspot”
  2. I setup a new “Home” in the Google Home iOS app, and connected / setup my Google Home Mini smart speaker to it as a new device

My WiFi was a little slower over my cell phone data than it would have been directly connected to the Library’s guest WiFi, but that was a minor issue. It was wonderful to be able to “live demo” the power of listening to podcasts on Google Home!

Who Tells Your Story? by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Who Tells Your Story?” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Since I needed to share a “live demo” of the Anchor app, as well as the app Voice Record Pro on my iPhone during the conference workshop on “Quick Edit Podcasting,” tethering my iPhone also came in handy so I could use the AppleTV emulator / AirPlay enabling software AirServer. AirServer makes your computer act like an AppleTV, but when you’re connected to a restricted network like our public library’s WiFi, it won’t work. Since I enabled iPhone cell data tethering, however, when I connected both my laptop to my iPhone’s “instant WiFi hotspot” I COULD mirror my iPhone using AirPlay. The AirPlay mirroring was quick and responsive, including both video and iPhone-shared audio.

Later in the conference, when I didn’t need to have cellphone data tethering turned on for the Google Home smartspeaker demo, I used another technique to mirror my iPhone to the laptop. This one involved using QuickTime player and a USB-A to lightning iPhone cable, and I learned it in May 2015 from Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher) at the Wyoming Technology-Engagement-Curriculum Connection (WyTECC) Conference in Rock Springs. The steps are:

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your MacOS computer with a standard USB charging cable (Lightning to USB-A). If you’re using a newer Mac laptop which only has USB-C ports (as I was yesterday) you’ll need to use a USB-C to USB-A converter too. I used the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, which includes a USB-A port.
  2. iTunes will likely auto-launch when you plug in the iPhone. Click to TRUST the iPhone / TRUST the computer, but do not choose to sync to iTunes and Quit iTunes.
  3. Open the QuickTime Player app on your Mac
  4. From the FILE menu choose NEW MOVIE RECORDING.
  5. As shown in the screenshot below, change the CAMERA source from “FaceTime HD Camera” to your iPhone. (The name of your iPhone / iPad.)
  6. You may need to turn up the volume within QuickTime Player for the iOS device’s audio to also mirror / stream over to your MacOS computer.
iOS Screen Quicktime Mirroring by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
iOS Screen Quicktime Mirroring” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I asked conference attendees to participate in two different interactive portions of the keynote, using Google Docs and Linoit.com. The second activity involved participants sharing some of their favorite podcasts to listen to on a Lino interactive board, which I’d set to permit anyone to post to. Later after lunch during our final workshop on “Podcast Networking” led by Michelle Waters, I edited the Lino posts and added links to each podcast title. There are several here that are new to me and I’ve subscribed to! This was a good example “crowdsourcing” a question at a conference!

In first interactive keynote segment, I asked participants to use the “See, Think and Wonder” thinking strategy after watching Bob Sprankle’s “Room 208 Vodcast Movie.” Even though it’s been 14 years since Bob created that video with his students, the basic steps and workflow of podcasting has remained the same! Apps like “Anchor” make the production and especially post-production of podcasting MUCH easier. The planning, the writing, and the interviewing skills are the same, however. This was a good activity to get our conference attendees thinking about all the elements of podcasting, and the Google Doc we edited and co-created together gave me as the presenter good insight into the “thinking” and questions of attendees. That’s exactly what a good thinking strategy like “See, Think and Wonder” is designed to do!

Podcast Planning by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Podcast Planning” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

A final thought from the conference I’ll share is that the new Google Sites ROCKS! In the past month I’ve helped our high school art teacher create a new Google Site for her curriculum and classroom assignments, our third grade team create an informational website for both parents and students, and I’ve created a curriculum site for my 5th and 6th grade Computer Classes, in which I’m teaching Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, Digital Citizenship and Keyboard skills. Like all of those Google Sites, I love how the website for this weekend’s podcasting conference (sites.google.com/view/podcastingokc) is mobile-friendly and displays a variety of media elements well including text boxes with links, images, embedded videos, and embedded Google Slideshows. If you haven’t created a website with the “new” Google Sites, I definitely recommend you check it out. There are MANY improvements over the past version.

If you’re interested in podcasting, please check out and use any of the resources from our conference as well as the “Radio Shows” page of ShowWithMedia.com, which I continue to maintain and update periodically. I’ll close by sharing with you the “BIG QUESTIONS” I challenged our attendees with yesterday:

  1. What’s your podcast origin story?
  2. How will you plant seeds for someone else’s podcast origin story?
  3. Whose story do you need to tell?
  4. How will you empower others to tell their story?
Who Tells Your Story? by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Who Tells Your Story?” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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


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

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

]]>
Introducing Students to Dangers of Deepfake Videos http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/10/introducing-students-to-dangers-of-deepfake-videos/ Wed, 11 Sep 2019 04:03:15 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12907 our start of class “Wonder Link” time, I’ve introduced my 5th and 6th grade students briefly to “Deepfake Videos” and discussed together the dangers they pose for voters, consumers, and others. I’m sharing this Instagram video about Mark Zuckerberg, which was created as part [...]]]> This week as a media literacy activity during our start of class “Wonder Link” time, I’ve introduced my 5th and 6th grade students briefly to “Deepfake Videos” and discussed together the dangers they pose for voters, consumers, and others. I’m sharing this Instagram video about Mark Zuckerberg, which was created as part of the Bill Posters “SPECTER” project. Take a few seconds and watch it, it’s not only a bit unnerving but also on point from the perspective of social media platform critics like Shoshana Zuboff (@shoshanazuboff). Several other examples from the SPECTER project are available on the same Instagram channel.

View this post on Instagram

[NEW RELEASE] ‘I wish I could…’ (2019) Mark Zuckerberg, founder of @facebook reveals the ‘truth’ about privacy on #facebook . This artwork is part of a series of AI generated video works created for ‘Spectre’ – an immersive exploration of the digital influence industry, technology and democracy. . Art by Bill Posters & @danyelhau for @sheffdocfest @sitegallery #artnotmisinformation #thefutureisntprivate #deepfakes #deepfake #spectreknows #surveillancecapitalism #privacy #democracy #dataism #contemporaryartwork #digitalart #generativeart #newmediaart #codeart #markzuckerberg #artivism #contemporaryart

A post shared by Bill Posters (@bill_posters_uk) on

I next showed my students this 76 second video from the Washington Post, which explains how the video was faked, and a little about the dangers these may (should read ‘WILL’) pose in upcoming U.S. elections. We briefly discussed who Mark Zuckerberg is, how Facebook works and makes money (many of my students didn’t know / don’t know it’s from advertising and selling access to user data). I pulled up a Facebook post from last Sunday which I shared from a local burger restaurant, and gave the example that if the owners of “The Impossible Burger” want to start selling to people in Oklahoma City, they might buy access from Facebook to people in our area who like burgers. Facebook knows I’m likely a burger fan from that location-based post. I did not mention the term “surveillance capitalism” to my students at this point… but we’re really laying the media literacy foundations for understanding advertising and how media-based brain hacking / manipulation works.

In one of my classes today students were asking WHY people are manipulating videos in these ways. To further stimulate student thinking I shared this Twitter video from this recent Guardian article highlighting the Chinese iPhone app Zao. That example shows how people want to use “Deepfake” video technology for fun, to put their face on clips from popular Hollywood movies. The question I posed to students after that was, “How do you think this could be dangerous or a problem for people or for our society overall?”

These were and are excellent media literacy conversations! Facilitating and encouraging those conversations is a key goal of the 5th and 6th grade computer classes I’m teaching this year focusing on Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, Digital Citizenship and keyboarding. Check out all my shared lessons and curriculum resources on mdtech.casady.org.

If you discuss “Deepfake videos” with students, be aware that some news articles and Google searches will discuss how this technology is intersecting with pornography. The January 2019 CNN article, “When seeing is no longer believing: Inside the Pentagon’s race against deepfake videos” is an example. It’s an excellent article and resource, but because of some of the references to pornography, teachers will want to carefully consider if it’s appropriate to share with younger students.

Of course all these issues need to be addressed eventually with students before they graduate from high school. Sexting is a huge issue and problem which falls under the curricular umbrellas of student health, wellness, and digital citizenship. Before addressing that, however, as a teacher you may want to consult with your school psychologist, counselor, and/or building principal for guidance. One thing I appreciated about the above links to the SPECTER project is the video content was appropriate for the classroom and my students: No profanity is included in the videos I watched and nothing is racey. Certainly challenging and powerful, however, which is what we need to share and “catalyze” media literacy mini-lessons on topics like this.

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


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

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

]]>
Your “Normal” is Not Mine http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/09/your-normal-is-not-mine/ Tue, 10 Sep 2019 03:01:46 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12899 the “Project Zero Conference” at Harvard with nine other teachers from our school. One of the biggest pedagogical themes of the conference was “visible thinking.” This involves thinking strategies that enable teachers as well as students to make their thinking literally visible in the [...]]]> This past summer, my wife had the opportunity to attend the “Project Zero Conference” at Harvard with nine other teachers from our school. One of the biggest pedagogical themes of the conference was “visible thinking.” This involves thinking strategies that enable teachers as well as students to make their thinking literally visible in the classroom and to each other. After numerous conversations about the conference and the instructional strategies she is using this year as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot more about things that are INVISIBLE in our minds.

Augmented reality and virtual reality technologies continue to develop rapidly, but we are probably a long way from being able to readily see the perceptions of others in a tangible way. As I continue to interact with others not only at school, but also at church, and elsewhere in our community, I am struck by how we all define “normal” in different ways and may often not realize just how different someone else’s “perceptual normal” might be. I’ll try to explain what I am talking about by sharing an example.

I’m enjoying the opportunity to again teach an adult Sunday school class at our church this year, but for the first time I have introduced and I’m using a learning management system to share slides, videos, links and optional assignments for our class members. I am using Google Classroom, since it’s free, incredibly powerful, and works really well on both iPhone and Android smartphones. People do need to have or create a Google account to login, but it is no longer tied to only GSuite Education domains. From my standpoint as a teacher, it’s working really well. We only have a handful of participants who have gotten logged into the site so far, but I have received some enthusiastic feedback up to this point.

For many people in our Sunday school class, a learning management system like Google Classroom is a welcome novelty. For me, however, it is really “old hat.” When I started working as the Director of Distance Learning at the College of Education at Texas Tech University in 2001, one of my primary roles with faculty was helping them share course materials into our learning management system of the day, WebCT. The university was just transitioning to systems which would eventually automate the creation of online spaces for each course section offered, and now this is completely the norm in higher education. That was 18 years ago! My “normal” of blending learning with online spaces and a physical classroom space is almost 2 decades old, yet this is NOT normal for many older adults in our class.

The diffusion of innovation curve by Everett Rogers, pictured below, is one of the most important frameworks to keep in mind as we work with not only other educators in our schools but also just about anybody in our spheres of work and influence.

We need to remember that many people have a very different “normal” than we do when it comes to technology and information sharing. We need to have empathy and understanding for others who are likely overwhelmed with email and information, and may feel ill-equipped to deal with not only technology but also the regular assault of data that we each seem to face at work and even at home each day. Who is not overwhelmed with email today? I’m doing better now that I have pivoted to academic technology at our school, but information overload seems to be a constant condition rather than something temporary and passing now.

My “normal” is very likely different from many of the people with whom I work and interact on a daily basis. This is likely true for you too. Just as we would be sensitive to the importance of not making assumptions and clearly communicating if we were living and working in a foreign culture, having to speak another language and learn different customs, we need to adopt a similar mindset today living as we do in an age of incredible, exponential change.

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


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

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

]]>
Presenting with Keynote and Apple Watch http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/08/presenting-with-keynote-and-apple-watch/ Sun, 08 Sep 2019 13:56:53 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12896 5th and 6th grade Computer Classes at Casady School in Oklahoma City, I’m also teaching a new adult Sunday School class at our church in Edmond titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” This summer both my wife and [...]]]> This school year I’ve not only returned to the regular K-12 classroom, teaching 5th and 6th grade Computer Classes at Casady School in Oklahoma City, I’m also teaching a new adult Sunday School class at our church in Edmond titled, “Curiosity and Questions: Jesus and Science.” This summer both my wife and I got used Apple Watches (1 from a relative, 1 from Swappa.com), and I’m enjoying the option to use my Apple Watch as a remote control / clicker for some of my presentations. Here are the steps I’m using to do this.

I love developing my presentation slides for classes, workshops, and keynote addresses using Google Slides. Google Slides have fewer comparable features than Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote software, but they are readily sharable and also play well on any device. (I have all my Digital Literacy / Media Literacy focused slideshows for school shared on the homepage of my lesson website, btw.) Google Slides also lets users download slideshows in PowerPoint format, which can be opened in either MS PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote software.

I often use my iPad at school to AirPlay mirror my screen to a projector or television during class, but sometimes we have latency / delay in our network playback for YouTube videos and when you’re watching “A roll” / headshot video of someone speaking, this can be distracting and irritating. A solution to this is to download YouTube videos you’re sharing with a free website like y2mate.com, and then embed those videos directly into Keynote software on a desktop or laptop computer.

I also like how I can make videos start immediately or after a mouse/device click in Keynote. For years when I was a fulltime educational technology presenter and consultant, I preferred using Keynote and embedded movies because at that time (pre-2015) fast Internet access including YouTube being unblocked on school content filters could be “sketchy” in many places. The most reliable option was to download the YouTube videos I wanted to share in advance, and embed them in a Keynote presentation. While Internet speeds have increased and the option to tether with 4G/LTE cellular data is much better in lots of places, it’s still the “most reliable” procedure to have all the videos for a presentation downloaded and directly included in your presentation slides. I like presenting with that kind of confidence, and eliminating the chances of video playback latency / delays.

To “drive” / advance a presentation with an Apple Watch, you have to use Keynote software on a MacOS laptop/desktop, have the iOS app for Keynote open on an iPhone AND ‘linked’ to the laptop, AND have your Apple Watch open to the Keynote app. This sounds complicated, but once you have everything setup it’s actually pretty straightforward. This support article from Apple describes how to get the Apple software portions of this workflow configured. Here are my steps, starting with a Google Slideshow presentation:

1. Download your Google Presentation in PowerPoint Format (File – Download – Microsoft PowerPoint .pptx)

2. Open the PowerPoint file on a MacOS computer in Keynote.

3. If you have not already, “link” your MacOS Keynote software to your iPhone’s Keynote iOS app.

4. Open Keynote on your iPhone, and tap the Remote icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

5. On your Apple Watch, open the Keynote app and you’re ready to advice your slides / “drive” your presentation!

Good luck with your own presentations using Keynote and Apple Watch! If you find this post helpful or have a question, please let me know with a comment below or with a Twitter reply to @wfryer. Go forth and amaze your audience members with your deft control of “magical” wireless Apple technology tools like Apple Watch and Keynote!

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


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

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

]]>
Don’t Let Toxic Voices Tell You Who You Are http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/09/07/dont-let-toxic-voices-tell-you-who-you-are/ Sat, 07 Sep 2019 13:22:51 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12892 This is a message of encouragement for anyone out there who is feeling discouraged, especially teachers, by the hurtful and toxic words of someone else who is bringing you down and causing you to question what you’re doing, and maybe even who you are as a professional educator. We all need to maintain our humility and be open to constructive criticism. We can all get better, no matter “how many years we’ve been in the game” or how much experience / how many degrees and certifications we have. There are times, however, when other people, for reasons we may never completely understand, say things and do things which bring us down and can even encourage us to question ourselves at a basic level. If you find yourself in that place today, or you have recently, then this message is for you.

Never let someone with a toxic voice and destructive message tell you who you are.

As professional educators, many of us recognize and embrace the understanding that our role in the lives of children and in our communities goes far beyond simply transmitting information and helping others develop academic skills. We understand teaching is a “calling” and a mission field, for which some people are more naturally suited but which everyone can learn to thrive in as a leader, as a counselor, as a coach, as a designer of powerful experiences, as a facilitator and a collaborator. Teaching is both an art and a science, it is a profession to which many are called and even more are needed. Teaching is far more than a job: It’s the opportunity to help shape the minds, character, hearts and futures of other human beings who may well be transformed forever by the experiences we have learning, sharing, growing and “doing life together” inside a classroom. As teachers, we know our students are not the only ones being transformed and continually “remade.” We, also, can be continually renewed and transformed by the experiences we have learning and growing alongside others.

Never underestimate the power of your words. Like Harry Potter and the other wizards and “wizard apprentices” at the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we each have opportunities to either bless or curse others with our words every day.

It can be extremely challenging to work closely with someone else, whether they are a colleague, a supervisor, a parent, or family member, who says things which continually attack us, challenge us, and encourage us to question not just what we are doing but also who we are as professional teachers. I am not talking here about positive encouragement to grow, to try new things, to stretch beyond our current, perceived boundaries. No, here I am talking about someone who, for reasons that may remain a mystery for all time, say things which have the direct effect of wounding, hurting, tearing down, and destroying. Words like these are toxic and can have real effects on our lives and the lives of others around us. The words we and others say MATTER, and that is why it’s vital we assertively take control of and direct the “internal dialog” we have with ourselves: The words, phrases, and images we repeat to ourselves which reinforce our identities and senses of self.

Always remember who you are, and what you were born to do and contribute to our world. Identity is not a journey which ends at age 18 or 21, it’s a lifelong adventure which continues to morph into different seasons. As we age, as members in our family move away or even pass away into the shadowlands, we grow and change as does our sense of identity and purpose in life.

As a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, I understand that we were each created and endowed by God with special gifts and important work which we have the opportunity to do here on earth. If you have been blessed with the spiritual gift of teaching, then it is literally your calling from God to teach: To care for, nurture, and develop the minds, hearts and spirits of others in your care.

No matter what negative or hurtful things other people may say to you, as you journey ever onward and upward in your career as a professional educator and teacher, never forget who you are and who you are called to be. To the degree you are able, surround yourself with positive messages and encouraging colleagues who can lift you up each day as you struggle to meet both challenges and opportunities. The development of a digital professional learning network (PLN) can be a powerful, positive ingredient in our personal recipes for wellness and strong mental health as educators and teachers. Choose to listen to and surround yourself with voices and messages which inspire and edify, rather than tear down or destroy.

I will leave you with a 74 second video of our youngest daughter, Rachel, recorded 9 years ago when she was just seven years old. In this interview she was talking about art and creativity, but she references with remarkable insight and confidence “the voice inside that tells you what to do.” As you continue on in this academic year, I challenge you to get in touch with and listen to your inner voice. If other people are trying to “hijack” your inner voice, cast them out of your mind and assertively take control of your inner, mental dialog. Be strong and confident in knowing who you are, what work you have been called to do, and your sufficiency to meet the challenges you face. You are enough, and you can overcome the obstacles which stand in your way. You were born for this. Go forth, and TEACH.

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


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

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

]]>
Who Tells Your Story? Podcasting Conference: Saturday, September 14, 2019 in Oklahoma City http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/08/31/who-tells-your-story-podcasting-conference-saturday-september-14-2019-in-oklahoma-city/ Sat, 31 Aug 2019 14:47:43 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12887 Storychasers will host a 1 day conference in Oklahoma City focused on podcasting. I’ll be sharing the opening keynote, inspired by the musical “Hamilton,” titled, “Who Tells Your Story?” Registration is just $25 via EventBrite, and includes both lunch and a tshirt. What [...]]]> Two weeks from today on Saturday, September 14, 2019, Storychasers will host a 1 day conference in Oklahoma City focused on podcasting. I’ll be sharing the opening keynote, inspired by the musical “Hamilton,” titled, “Who Tells Your Story?” Registration is just $25 via EventBrite, and includes both lunch and a tshirt. What deal! Right now we have about 30 people registered, and there is room for more. While many of our registered conference participants are educators, and several of the conference breakout sessions will specifically address educational contexts for classroom podcasting, ANYONE interested in podcasting is welcome to register and come!

Some of the websites, apps, software platforms and skills addressed in the planned conference breakout sessions include:

  1. Mobile / Quick Edit” podcasting with apps like Anchor, Voice Record Pro and Opinion
  2. Tips for starting a classroom podcast
  3. Tips for networking with other podcasting educators (led by Michelle Waters@watersenglish)
  4. Podcast Editing with Audacity
  5. Creating and Finding “Podsafe” Music
  6. Audio File Formats: Conversion and Normalization Tools
  7. Podcasting Platforms: WordPress, Amazon S3, and Web Hosts

I’m going to audio record my opening keynote and will share it as a podcast later. If you’re interested in receiving a copy by email after the conference, please fill out this Google Form. If you can, please join us in person in Oklahoma City on September 14th!

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


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

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

]]>
Tutorials: Record Audio Podcasts with Voice Record Pro or Anchor http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/08/28/tutorials-record-audio-podcasts-with-voice-record-pro-or-anchor/ Thu, 29 Aug 2019 04:50:14 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12885 Tomorrow I’m co-teaching with one of our high school history teachers, who is asking her students to create a colonial era podcast. Among other possibilities, students may choose to role play interviews about historical events, include sponsorships from historically appropriate businesses, and/or produce a more documentary-style audio recording. I’m excited to see the students’ creativity unleashed via audio podcasts!

I created a 1 page Google Doc tutorial which she’s sharing with students via Google Classroom, which includes links to the free apps Voice Record Pro (iOS only) and Anchor (iOS and Android). I also recorded short video tutorials, demonstrating the steps for using each app to record a podcast. Voice Record Pro is ideal for “no-edit podcasts” or “quick-edit podcasts.” Anchor has more features, including copyright-friendly background music, and supports multiple segments. Anchor also hosts podcast files online and takes care of technical details so your podcast is available on Apple Music / iTunes, Spotify, and other podcast platforms. I’ve added the links to these resources and video tutorials to the “Radio Show” page of ShowWithMedia.com. Please use these materials with your students and teachers if they are helpful! If you do, please let me know via Twitter or my online contact form. Happy podcasting!

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


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

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

]]>
Podcast467: Reflections on a Gap Year Before College http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/08/25/podcast467-reflections-on-a-gap-year-before-college/ Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:10:04 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12879 Welcome to Episode 467 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features interviews with both Shelly Fryer and Sarah Fryer, about Sarah’s “gap year” in 2018-19 following high school graduation. Sarah graduated in 2018 from Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City Public Schools, and majored in drama at ClassenSAS. Rather than head directly to college, Sarah took a gap year to work, take dance classes, get more involved in the music ministry of our church, and get a better idea of what she wants to study and do after high school. In the first part of this podcast, Wesley and Shelly reflect on the gap year experience for Sarah, how it came about, what happened, and what lessons were learned. In the second part, recorded earlier, Sarah reflects on her gap year. In both segments, Shelly and Sarah offer advice to other students as well as parents who might be considering a gap year, and encouragement to consider whether or not a gap year is the right choice and “the best fit” for you or your child. Check out the podcast shownotes to referenced resources, including some other blog posts relating to parenting, high school, and helping kids make decisions about college and life. Contact links for Shelly and Wesley Fryer are also included in the shownotes. Feedback on this podcast episode is welcome!

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog
  3. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  4. Podcast460: UCO and OCCC Concurrent Classes, GitHub in CompSci, and Elementary Coding Lessons (March 2018)
  5. Lessons Learned on our Family’s College Journey (April 2016)
  6. Advice for a College Graduate (May 2012)
  7. Batting 1-1 With Three More Pitches Coming (Feb 2016)
  8. Casady School Extended Programs
  9. Casady School Primary Division Program (Montessori-Based Private Independent Preschool in OKC)
  10. Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey (@DaveRamsey)
  11. Classen School of Advanced Studies (@ClassenSASOKC) in Oklahoma City Public Schools (@okcps)
  12. Poteet Theater (St. Lukes Methodist Church in Oklahoma City)
  13. Forensic Science Undergrad Major at the University of Central Oklahoma
  14. UCO Concurrent Enrollment Classes
  15. OSSM Summer Programs (Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics)
  16. FORGE Orientation at the University of Central Oklahoma
  17. Forensic Science Learning Living Community at UCO
  18. Podcast interviews recorded on an iPhone with Ferrite Recording Studio
  19. Podcast audio edited with Audacity and normalized with Auphonic

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

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


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

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

]]>
Options for Classroom Blogging (August 2019) http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/08/19/options-for-classroom-blogging-august-2019/ Tue, 20 Aug 2019 03:53:51 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12877 “Getting Started with Student Blogging.” I’ve been blogging as a teacher since 2003, and remain a strong advocate for the benefits of empowering students to share their ideas, perspectives and voices beyond the [...]]]> Last week during our school’s scheduled meetings in preparation for a new academic year, I shared a workshop with teachers titled, “Getting Started with Student Blogging.” I’ve been blogging as a teacher since 2003, and remain a strong advocate for the benefits of empowering students to share their ideas, perspectives and voices beyond the traditional walls of the classroom to connect with an authentic audience. The advent of social media has definitely “normalized” teen sharing and digital publishing, but in many schools today (including ours) it’s still uncommon to find classroom teachers who support students in publishing their work online, on the public web. In this presentation, I highlighted several important reasons why teachers should use a class blog for student publishing, and compared several available platforms including Blogger, Seesaw blogs, Google Sites and EduBlogs. The slides from that presentation are available, and you’re welcome to use and modify these as desired.

Last week after the workshop I recorded a 30 minute narrated slideshow version of the presentation, summarizing the key ideas. I’ve added a link to this video and these slides to the “Interactive Writing” page of the Show with Media Digital Literacy framework.

While self-hosted WordPress sites remain my primary personal blogging platform of choice, I have returned to Blogger recently to start compiling “Wonder Links” which I plan to share with my students, similar to the “Curiosity Links” I shared with my 4th and 5th grade STEM students in Yukon, Oklahoma, in 2013-15. I’m using a IFTTT recipe so whenever I use the hashtag #WonderLink on Twitter to share a cool article or website, that link and its details are auto-magically (or should we say, “algorithmically and conditionally”) added to my Blogger site, ourwonderlinks.blogspot.com. I still need to help my wife, Shelly (@sfryer) get an IFTTT account setup to do the same thing, so this Blogger site can become a cooperative endeavor.

If these ideas and resources are helpful to you in your work with teachers, or in your own classroom, please let me know with a reply on Twitter (@wfryer) or a comment below. I’m looking forward to using Seesaw blogs this year with my 5th and 6th grade students as they develop better digital literacy and media literacy skills.

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


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

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

]]>
Podcast466: Reflections on Summer 2019 TechyKids Robotics Camp in Oklahoma City http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/08/11/podcast466-reflections-on-summer-2019-techykids-robotics-camp-in-oklahoma-city/ Mon, 12 Aug 2019 04:54:29 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12873 Welcome to Episode 466 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features an interview with Michaela Freeland (@_mfreeland) and Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) about the two summer robotics camps they co-led using Thymio robots and outstanding curriculum provided by TechyKids. TechyKids (www.techykids.com) was founded by Sharon Marzouk (@sharonmarzouk) and focuses on inspiring students through a “blend of robotics, creativity, technology, and invention.” In this 35 minute interview, Michaela and Shelly share their experiences and learning from leading two robotics camps with 32 and 28 student participants, respectively, and discuss many of the camp highlights as well as lessons learned by students, older student mentors, teachers and parents. Students engaged in daily reflections during these summer camps, and both recorded and shared with their parents their learning using the platform Seesaw (@Seesaw). Casady School in Oklahoma City hosted both of these camps, which were part of the summer “Casady by the Lake” enrichment program open to all students in and around Oklahoma City. Check out the podcast shownotes for links to TechyKids as well as other resources mentioned by Michaela and Shelly in this interview. If you are inspired to offer a robotics and invention camp in your local area after listening to this podcast, or have questions, please reach out to Michaela or Shelly and let them know!

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Michaela Freeland (@_mfreeland)
  3. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog
  4. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  5. TechyKids.com (@techykids)
  6. Student Projects and Presentations shared on TechyKids.com
  7. TechyKids Camp Out of The Box
  8. Thymio Robot by TechyKids
  9. Getting Started with Thymio Robot (links to “Aseba Studio for Thymio” software)
  10. Green Screen by Do Ink (@DoInkTweets)
  11. Association of of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools Conference (@theatlis)
  12. Seesaw Learning Journals (@seesaw)
  13. The Future of Education TEDx Talk by Sharon Marzouk (TEDxWoodsidePriorySchool)
  14. Casady School in Oklahoma City (@casadyschoolokc)
  15. Casady School Summer Programs / Summer By The Lake Registration
  16. Shelly Fryer’s Scratch Club Resources

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

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


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

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

]]>
Loquendo nos ostendimus http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/07/28/loquendo-nos-ostendimus/ Mon, 29 Jul 2019 02:40:09 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12867 Briana Titus, translated this idea for me into Latin. In concise and elegant language, this means: by means [...]]]> I have updated my Twitter header image to include a statement in Latin which I’ve been thinking about now for several years:

Loquendo nos ostendimus

Latin phrase translated by Brianna Titus

Our wonderful 7th grade Latin teacher, Briana Titus, translated this idea for me into Latin. In concise and elegant language, this means:

by means of speaking we reveal / show / demonstrate ourselves / our qualities / who we are

Twitter header image byline of @wfryer

Of course I am familiar with and largely in agreement with the proverb, “Actions speak louder than words.” I have learned, however, that words can be both insightful and instructive in the quest to learn who someone is, what someone’s values are, and what lies in their heart. If we seek to understand others better, we must pay attention to both actions and words.

I’ve observed that particularly in stressful situations, when “the chips are down,” we can learn more clearly what is inside someone’s mind and in their heart by listening to their words. In those moments, when adrenaline is flowing and cortisol levels are elevated, the “masks” and “filters” through which some people routinely operate can be lowered. In those moments, we can gain much deeper insight into the character of another person.

As a digital literacy teacher, one of my primary goals for students is to help them become more fluent, effective and responsible media communicators. “Literacy is the sharing of meaning via symbols.” Using this definition, I understand the Latin phrase, “Loquendo nos ostendimus” to mean as we express our ideas through text, images, videos, and other forms of media, we share and reveal who we are to others and the world.

Here are some questions related to literacy, identity and media to ponder and perhaps pose to your students:

  1. What do the images, videos, text messages, and other media symbols you share with others convey about your beliefs, character and identity?
  2. How do you aspirationally project your identity to others?
  3. How have the symbols of your identity which you share with others changed over the past few years?
  4. Share about a time when someone has said or shared something in a stressful time which gave you new insight into their character and/or identity.

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


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

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

]]>
2003 K-12 Classroom Technology Integration: Pre-YouTube and Pre-Smartphone http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/07/27/2003-k-12-classroom-technology-integration-pre-youtube-and-pre-smartphone/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 14:58:46 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12859 Family Media Timeline project, using the amazing (and free) Timeline Tool from the Knight Foundation (@knightfdn) to create an interactive website our family and friends can use to browse through iMovies and Flickr photo albums dating back to 2000, right after iMovie was [...]]]> This week I’ve been working on a Family Media Timeline project, using the amazing (and free) Timeline Tool from the Knight Foundation (@knightfdn) to create an interactive website our family and friends can use to browse through iMovies and Flickr photo albums dating back to 2000, right after iMovie was first released by Apple. In the course of sorting through old video projects, I found a technology integration video from 2003 I’d completely forgotten about which is interesting to watch and analyze 16 years later.

This 8 minute video features interviews with students and teachers at (then) Bennett Intermediate School in Frenship ISD, in Wolfforth, just outside, Lubbock, Texas. It’s separated into 3 sections I’ve also hyperlinked via clickable YouTube timestamps in the video’s description on YouTube:

  1. 0:00 Clickers for Lesson Quizzes
  2. 2:20 Dana Alphasmart Keyboards for typing essays
  3. 4:23 History Research Using Internet Websites

Some of the things which stood out for me in this video were:

  1. These were the “pre-YouTube and pre-Smartphone” days. YouTube was created 2 years later and really started to take off in 2006. At that point teachers and students could not and were not either watching or creating web-based videos, for the most part. iMovie was just 3 years old.
  2. These were also the days before interactive whiteboards / SmartBoards and even data projectors in classrooms. Notice how small the console TV was in the corner of the classroom! That was pretty cutting edge for 2003.
  3. From a pedagogy / lesson design standpoint, I’m most impressed with the third teacher and segment, in which students are broken into teams for research on the American Revolution, and they’re preparing presentations they will share with classmates to teach each other.
  4. One of the more thought provoking student comments is the girl who says she doesn’t like using Google very much, because it gives too many results. (Oh my, where are we today with that sentiment…)

This video could be used with pre-service or in-service teachers to discuss technology integration, and analyze the lessons using a technology integration framework like SAMR, Triple E or TPACK. Even though it’s 16 years later, I think many teachers still struggle with the use of technology in the classroom moving from a substitution / replication level to a transformational level. Better questions to consider when evaluating these lessons than, “Is this a good example of technology integration?” are:

  1. What kind of thinking do students demonstrate and reflect? (lower level or higher order?)
  2. In what ways is technology used by students to make their thinking visible?
  3. How are students using technology to “show what they know with media?”

When analyzing, thinking about and discussing technology integration examples, it’s important to move beyond simple bad / good judgements. Like teaching and learning, the process of learning to effectively, powerfully and transformatively integrate technology tools into classroom lessons is both a journey and a process. It’s also a situation where TECHNOLOGY TOOLS MATTER. Without YouTube, fast Internet connections and mobile technology tools like smartphones and iPads, media creation options for students and teachers are much more limited. Yet whatever tools are or are not available, deep THINKING and ENGAGEMENT with both ideas and others are possible as the learning is guided by an outstanding educator. This is why PEDAGOGY MATTERS.

2003 Technology Integration Interviews i by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
2003 Technology Integration Interviews i” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

For more on these topics of technology integration, check out:

  1. My “Show with Media” digital literacy media creation framework
  2. Harvard’s Project Zero resources on Visible Thinking
  3. The Triple E Framework website for measuring the effectiveness of technology integration

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


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

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

]]>
Podcast465: Reflections on The 2019 Summer Institute on Digital Literacy http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/07/20/podcast465-reflections-on-the-2019-summer-institute-on-digital-literacy/ Sun, 21 Jul 2019 04:02:35 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12843 Welcome to Episode 465 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features a reflection by Wes following the 2019 Summer Institute on Digital Literacy. Wes reflects on ten different “ingredients” which made this a powerful and transformative professional development experience, as well as five different lessons and ideas he’s taking into his 5th and 6th grade Digital Literacy classes this upcoming school year. Check the podcast shownotes for a full list of referenced websites and resources mentioned in this episode. This podcast also includes an interview from the conference with Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) discussing the weaponization of social media and recommended resources for learning more about the ways Russia continues to work to subvert the electoral process in the United States. Remember to also subscribe to “The EdTech Situation Room” (@edtechSR), the weekly webshow and podcast Wes co-hosts with Jason Neiffer each week on Wednesday evenings. Also remember to subscribe to Wes’ (almost) weekly newsletter in which he shares a helpful technology tip, tool, text, and tutorial. Sign up on www.speedofcreativity.org/email-updates.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  3. Wes Fryer’s FlipGrid Video Reflections on the 2019 Summer Institute on Digital Literacy (YouTube Playlist)
  4. Homepage / website of the 2019 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (use the linked spreadsheet to connect to all the lessons / projects of participant groups / dyads!)
  5. Jim Croce “singin’ my song’ reference
  6. Books by David Warlick (@dwarlick) (also “Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century,” which is not included in the previous Amazon author link)
  7. “Design Studio” information from the Summer Institute on Digital Literacy
  8. Carla Arena (@carlaarena)
  9. Alice Barr (@alicebarr) and Cheryl Oakes (@cheryloakes50)
  10. Summarizing Summer Institute in Digital Literacy Learning via Twitter Moments
  11. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs)
  12. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Julie Coiro (@jcoiro)
  13. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Kristin Ziemke (@KristinZiemke)
  14. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Dave Quinn (@EduQuinn)
  15. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Troy Hicks (@hickstro)
  16. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Kristin Hokanson (@khokanson)
  17. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeaways from Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits)
  18. #digiURI 2019 Learning and takeways from Beth Holland (@brholland)
  19. #digiURI 2019 Miscellaneous Learning & Takeaways from #digiURI 2019
  20. Wes’ Twitter Moments (Includes all the above moments from #digiURI 2019)
  21. Brian Crosby (@bcrosby) and The High Hopes Project (High Altitude Balloons)
  22. The EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR)
  23. Unpacking and Understanding Media Controversy Lesson (3 minute Overview Video)
  24. BitesMedia Controversial Topics (appropriate for middle and high school)
  25. Controversial Topic Articles Curated by Allsides.com
  26. Voyant Tools WordCloud Generator and Analysis Engine
  27. Video Ant Video Annotation
  28. Vialogues Video Annotation
  29. Workshop resources: Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy (shortened link: wfryer.me/exoflood)
  30. Joe Rogan Interview with Renée DiResta on Social Media Weaponization / Russian Disinformation (@noupside)
  31. Mind Over Media Propaganda Database (by @MedEduLab)
  32. MSON CoursesMalone Schools Online Network
  33. DigCitCommit Coalition and Competencies
  34. Digital Citizenship Resources from Casady School
  35. Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?
  36. Sign Up for Wes’ Weekly Educational Technology Newsletter Updates
Enthusiastic Media Literacy Educators by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr

Enthusiastic Media Literacy Educators” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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

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


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

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

]]>
Summarizing Summer Institute in Digital Literacy Learning via Twitter Moments http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/07/17/summarizing-summer-institute-in-digital-literacy-learning-via-twitter-moments/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:01:06 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12824 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (#digiURI) in Providence, Rhode Island, and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind of learning so far. A few years ago, as my use of Twitter increased, I stopped documenting my learning from conferences and other professional development events on my blog via [...]]]> Whew! This week I’m attending the 2019 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (#digiURI) in Providence, Rhode Island, and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind of learning so far. A few years ago, as my use of Twitter increased, I stopped documenting my learning from conferences and other professional development events on my blog via separate posts. Instead, I started primarily using Twitter. (@wfryer) Twitter allows me to not only archive ideas, links, and inspiring moments from a conference, but also amplify them for a wider audience. One challenge of this approach, however, is that individual tweets as well as collections of tweets about a specific session or topic can be lost in the “sea of content” which is Twitter and a prolific Twitter channel like mine.

For a few years, I used the third-party website Storify to create discrete archives of my tweets from different presentations or events. I loved how Storify not only let me archive my own tweets, but also tweets from others and let users embed a complete archive of tweets on another website, like a WordPress blog. Unfortunately, however, Storify died and went to the “web 2.0 graveyard” in May 2018.

After the death of Storify as I searched for a replacement, I discovered Twitter Moments. Like Storify, Twitter Moments let users archive tweets from their channel or tweets shared by others. Unfortunately, however, Twitter Moments are not as robust as Storify, so there are limits (apparently undefined, but none-the-less real) as to how many past tweets you can directly browse to and archive. Tonight I was planning to create a single Twitter Moment for my first two days of learning at #digiURI, but I wasn’t able to. Instead, I created separate Twitter moments capturing the learning I’ve experienced and documented from different people here at the Institute. Use these links to view them:

  1. Learning and takeaways from Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs)
  2. Learning and takeaways from Julie Coiro (@jcoiro)
  3. Learning and takeaways from Kristin Ziemke (@KristinZiemke) *
  4. Learning and takeaways from Dave Quinn (@EduQuinn)
  5. Learning and takeaways from Troy Hicks (@hickstro)
  6. Learning and takeaways from Kristin Hokanson (@khokanson)
  7. Learning and takeaways from Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits)
  8. Miscellaneous Learning & Takeaways from #digiURI 2019
  9. Learning and takeways from Beth Holland (@brholland) *

These seven Twitter Moments capture most of my documented learning from the past 3 days (including my travel day to the conference) but don’t yet include tweets referencing Kristin Ziemke (@KristinZiemke). Kristin is our keynote speaker on Wednesday, so I’ll wait till later to collect all my learning from her in a separate “moment.” * (Update: I added links above to my Twitter Moment for Kristin following her morning sessions Wednesday, and my Twitter Moment for Beth following her Thursday sessions.)

The number of tweets I’m trying to archive and organize from the conference so far is a bit overwhelming, and the Institute is not quite half over. However, I feel like I need to work on this archiving and sharing process, because I may not be able to make enough time for it after our week is finished and because I suspect it will be easier to do this in stages.

For several years, I’ve used a personal installation of the PHP script Tweet Nest (twitter.wesfryer.com) to archive all my Tweets in a personal, searchable website. Tweet Nest shows my lack of tweets the first two weeks of the month (when I was mostly offline, camping with our family in Colorado) as well as the high volume of Tweets the past three days. Combined, I’ve shared 239 Tweets the past 3 days. That’s quite a few, and may be a personal record.

July 2019 Tweets by @wfryer by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr

July 2019 Tweets by @wfryer” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

There are SO MANY great ideas, web tools, pedagogical concepts, and resources that have been shared so far at the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, that I certainly can’t do an adequate job in this post tonight summarizing them. Yet, isn’t this situation in many ways a reflection of the broader information environment in which we live? We’re awash in information, so our challenge is how to effectively FILTER and process “the good stuff” among so many choices. (That was, incidentally, a key theme of my April 2019 ATLIS Conference workshop, “Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy.”) So, in addition to inviting and encouraging you to check out the Twitter Moments linked above from the Institute, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some key takeaways I’ve had from the week so far:

  1. The Knight Foundation’s web tools are powerful and amazing: Timeline, StoryMap, Juxtapose. (h/t @hickstro)
  2. This clever media literacy lesson on memes is one I’ll likely use next year with my 5th and 6th grade computer class students. (h/t Dolores Flamiano & David Pallant)
  3. I will be spending several hours exploring and enjoying the 2012 multimedia article from the New York Times, “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.” (h/t @hickstro)
  4. I will likely use the Media Education Lab’s Propaganda Database to help my 6th graders study and better understand propaganda from a variety of perspectives, as well as the provided curriculum for teachers. (h/t @reneehobbs)
  5. I may propose teaching a MSON course for 2020-21 for my school on “The Weaponization of Social Media” with a specific focus on Russian disinformation, propaganda and information warfare. (h/t @wegotwits)
  6. I’m definitely going to to use the Desmos Activity Builder (free!) to teach interactive lessons with my students next year. (h/t @EduQuinn)
  7. I can’t wait to order, read, and share Julie Coiro, Beth Dobler and Karen Pelekis’ forthcoming book, “From Curiosity to Deep Learning: Personal Digital Inquiry in Grades, K–5.” (h/t @jcoiro)

There are many more ideas I’m eager to share with teachers back at my school as I serve as an instructional / pedagogical coach next year, as well as use with my own students in my computer classes. Stay tuned and keep following the #digiURI hashtag to learn more this week!

Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs) and Wes Fryer by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr

Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs) and Wes Fryer” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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


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

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

]]>
Understanding Russian Disinformation in U.S. Politics http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/07/14/understanding-russian-disinformation-in-u-s-politics/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 03:10:39 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12818 “Summer Institute in Digital Literacy” (#digiURI) this week in Providence, Rhode Island. Although my flight landed too late for me to make the official opening session, thanks to Troy Hicks (@hickstro) I connected for supper with a great group of attendees and had wonderful conversations. Among many other [...]]]> I’m attending the “Summer Institute in Digital Literacy” (#digiURI) this week in Providence, Rhode Island. Although my flight landed too late for me to make the official opening session, thanks to Troy Hicks (@hickstro) I connected for supper with a great group of attendees and had wonderful conversations. Among many other things, we talked a little about our favorite podcasts and touched on some issues about disinformation, propaganda, and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The Raw Data Podcast (@rawdatapodcast) was mentioned, and their recent 3 part series on Russian disinformation, including the superb, June 20th episode “Dezinformatsiya.” It features an interview with former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul (@McFaul). Thanks to Brian Turnbaugh (@wegotwits) for sharing this!

I’ve added Ambassador McFaul’s recently published book, “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia,” to my running Twitter list of books I hope to read someday. As I’ve mentioned on “The EdTech Situation Room” podcast (@edtechSR) multiple times, I’m convinced our 2020 U.S. elections are going to be even WORSE in terms of the roles disinformation, propaganda and digital obsfucation will play.

Disinformation and “digital polarization” were two important themes in the April 2019 workshop I led at the ATLIS Conference titled, “Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy.” In particular, I invited participants to discuss online disinformation campaigns using Destin’s (@smartereveryday) fantastic YouTube episode, “Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm” from March 2019.

During this week at the Digital Literacy / Media Literacy Institute, I’ll be working on some kind of project which ties to student lessons or professional development. I’m thinking about doing something which relates to better understanding the ways social media platforms are being manipulated today to serve malicious political purposes which seek to harm the cause of free and fair elections in the United States. Arguably, these methods and activities pose an existential threat to liberal democracy. That was the argument of Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla), in her April 2019 TEDtalk, “Facebook’s role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy.” If you haven’t watched this 15 minute video yet, either watch it now or add it to your “Watch Later” YouTube playlist.

I’ve started a Google Doc (shortened link: wfryer.me/disinfo) with some of these resources. I’m thinking tonight it could be powerful to use the video annotation tool VideoAnt to identify and share key ideas from these videos, specifically relating to political disinformation. I’m looking forward to attending Renee Hobbs (@reneehobbs) session tomorrow on using VideoAnt.

It’s going to be a great week of learning about media literacy here in Rhode Island! If you want to follow along with participants, check out the #digiURI hashtag this week! I’m sure I’ll be posting more on my blog as well as on Twitter as the learning continues.

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


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

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

]]>
The Cognitive Cost of Carbon Copy Email http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/06/24/the-cognitive-cost-of-carbon-copy-email/ Tue, 25 Jun 2019 03:54:13 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12814 we have a major email overload problem in our lives and society. There are many reasons for email overload, and there is not a single solution, but one way we can address some of the underlying issues is to reflect on what I’ll term “the cognitive cost of carbon copy [...]]]> If you haven’t noticed, we have a major email overload problem in our lives and society. There are many reasons for email overload, and there is not a single solution, but one way we can address some of the underlying issues is to reflect on what I’ll term “the cognitive cost of carbon copy email.”

Carbon Copy, or CC email, are messages we send to recipients in addition to the primary folks included in the TO line of an email. One of the important and basic email protocol lessons all teachers should learn is how to BCC (blind carbon copy) both parents and students when sending email messages. By using the BCC field, others can receive your email but NOT view the email addresses of other recipients. Generally it’s a best practice to put your OWN email address in the TO line of a mass email, and then paste the recipient email addresses in the BCC line. Failing to BCC recipients can lead to an unwanted and potentially hazardous series of REPLY ALL messages. The BCC field is our friend, and we are wise to use it regularly, especially for mass emails sent to parents and other groups.

CC or carbon copy email messages, however, can also create problems. I’m not sure we take enough time to both reflect on and discuss the COGNITIVE COST of CC emails. By “cognitive cost,” I mean the time and brain processing energy which is used and required when someone receives a CC message. As a school technology director, it costs me nothing to send a member of my staff a CC message. That person, however, has “just one more” message in their InBox to process, and my CC send decision takes a chunk of time out of their day to view and process the message. That time could be a few seconds, a few minutes, or longer. The point is, I as the sender have not had to spend any more time or energy to send the CC message. My staff member, however, bears the “cognitive cost.”

Of course there are good reasons to send CC email messages. We want to keep others in the loop. Sometimes we’re documenting something and “covering” ourselves by looping in a superior or other individual who needs to be informed. Quite often in my case, however, I think I’ve been guilty of CCing more people than I need to… and the cost-free nature of CC email (from the perspective of the SENDER) has not deterred me from this habit.

As a side note, we have all likely experienced a co-worker who unnecessarily uses the CC field in an email in an effort to bully or virtually bludgeon someone. I’ve had these happen a few times as a technology director. Rather than just email, call or talk to me about an issue, I’ve had teachers email me as well as their principal and other school administrators. Unfortunately, these kinds of messages rarely produce a constructive effect. Another important email lesson for everyone is to address contentious issues offline, either with a face-to-face conversation or a phone call. CCing the chain of command, especially when the sender is upset or otherwise emotional, is rarely constructive in my experience.

I’m also reminded of current debates over climate change and debates about a carbon tax. I’m not going to focus on the opinions in this debate in this post, but I do want to highlight a key term for climate change discussions: Externalities. The English WikiPedia explains:

In economics, an externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.

Externality. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Externality&oldid=900768871

We should all recognize that carbon copy email includes externalities for recipients but not senders. We place a burden of expected time and attention on others when we CC them. Recognizing this, perhaps we should all ask ourselves a few questions before we blithely add one or more email addresses to the CC line of a message:

  1. Is it really important that all the people I’m CCing read or even receive this message?
  2. Why am I CCing this person?
  3. How do I determine that the “threshold of importance” has been crossed when CCing someone?

I’m convinced we should not only be talking more about email overload in our schools and other organizations, we should also be taking proactive steps to address it and reduce its harmful effects. Information overload is REAL for almost everyone who is a knowledge worker today, and that includes all teachers, administrators and school support staff. Email is out of control, and while CC messages only represent a part of those unread messages, they do represent a fraction we can potentially address and work to reduce together.

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


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

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

]]>
In Praise of Golden Retrievers http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/06/23/in-praise-of-golden-retrievers/ Sun, 23 Jun 2019 14:26:18 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12811 "Family with Scarlet and Willow" (CC BY 2.0) by  In the past year, I’ve become even more aware of how incredibly important and powerful the unconditional love of golden retrievers can be for health, wellness, and family happiness.

Family with Scarlet and Willow by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Family with Scarlet and Willow" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Thanks in large part to my uncle’s family, Ron and Kathy Henley, I’ve had contact and been familiar with golden retrievers since I was very young. I wanted to have my own golden retriever dog for a long time, so after Shelly and I were married we added “Bailey” to our family within a few months. Jake joined us in Lubbock, Texas, a few years later. We had many wonderful years of shared life and love with both of those fantastic dogs.

Wes with Bailey and Jake by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Wes with Bailey and Jake" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
Jake, Bailey and Sarah by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Jake, Bailey and Sarah" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
Last moments with Bailey by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Last moments with Bailey" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

As our girls, Sarah and Rachel, have grown older and become teenagers, I’ve been struck many times by the realization that our dogs’ unconditional love and constant availability as well as loving nature has been HUGE for their personal senses of joy, stability, safety, and happiness.

Wes and Rachel with Scarlet and Willow by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Wes and Rachel with Scarlet and Willow" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
Christmas with Scarlet and Willow by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Christmas with Scarlet and Willow" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I have always loved our dogs and known they are extremely important members of our family, but seeing our daughters especially interact with Willow and Scarlet in the past few years my appreciation and thankfulness for them has grown even deeper. There is something absolutely wonderful, pure, and powerful about the love of a golden retriever that it brings tears to my eyes to consider and remember. The gift of a dog’s unconditional love is from the Lord. Our dogs literally “minister” to members of our family in times of need, especially. They “know” and can “sense” when we are troubled and upset. They offer themselves and their full attention to us at those times… not entirely selflessly, I would add… but powerfully none-the-less. (Willow in particular can lose interest in me quickly if I’m not giving her attention… but she comes to her role of “family love therapist” quite willingly and naturally despite this.)

Scarlet Brings a Gift by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Scarlet Brings a Gift" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer
After the Shave: Willow and Scarlet by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"After the Shave: Willow and Scarlet" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

I praise God and give him thanks for the abundant and limitless love which our dogs share with us, and have shared with us over the years. Never underestimate the importance and power of unconditional love and full attention. These are gifts we have the ability to give each other every day. It just so happens that some dogs, like golden retrievers, are genetically endowed by our Creator with this amazing capacity and desire.

Scarlet the Good Girl by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Scarlet the Good Girl" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

Thank you, Lord, for golden retrievers.

Christmas with Scarlet and Willow by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"Christmas with Scarlet and Willow" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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


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

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

]]>
Safety Tip When Paying with Plastic http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/06/22/safety-tip-when-paying-with-plastic/ Sat, 22 Jun 2019 21:21:05 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12805 Whenever you eat out at a restaurant or are using a plastic debit or credit card to pay for something, NEVER let the physical card out of your sight. Never let a server or business employee take your debit or credit card to another location out of your view, whether it’s the front of the restaurant where a cash register is located or to an undisclosed location in the back where they say they need to process it. The reason for this is simple: credit card “skimmers” cost less than $20 to purchase online at Amazon or via other retailers, and unscrupulous folks can scan your card in a matter of seconds when you’re not looking. In some cases, your debit or credit card may not be used immediately by someone else to rob you of funds, but rather is sold to a broker on the dark web where it’s then sold and traded to others for future use.

I’m more aware of the threat posed by credit card skimmers because I attended the Oklahoma Council of Educational Technology Leaders (OCETL) CTO Forum on 26 April 2019 in Moore, Oklahoma. We had a number of excellent speakers during this 1 day event, but the most hair-raising and attention getting presentations of the day were shared by Jonathan Kimmitt. Jonathan serves as the Chief Information Security Officer at the University of Tulsa, and has over 18 years of experience working as an information technology professional.

Just like using a password manager or turning on multi-factor authentication requires a MAJOR change in behavior and isn’t easy for any of us to start doing, making a conscious effort to NEVER let anyone else take your credit card out of your eyesight can be challenging. Many of us are so used to handing a server our credit card without thinking twice about it, that pausing to say, “I need you to run this card here at our table or come with you when you run it” requires both changing our THINKING and changing our BEHAVIOR. Yet this is exactly what we need to do. See the September 2005 article, “Skimming 101: How to spot it, avoid it, deal with it,” for more details on why you should always maintain eye contact with a credit card you’re using at a physical business location. The need to maintain eye contact with our debit and credit cards isn’t new (relatively speaking) the but importance of making this a habit IS bigger today, thanks to the prevalence of credit card skimmers as well as cybercrime more generally.

I shared all my notes from the April 2019 Oklahoma CTO Forum via Twitter, and collected them in a single “Twitter Moment.” If you are responsible for information security / network security / digital security in your organization, I highly recommend reading through this entire series of tweets. As more commerce and daily life becomes digitized, the prevalence of cybercrime will only increase. It pays to be informed and take proactive steps to protect yourself, your family, and your organization from others want to take your money and property.

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


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

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

]]>
Email Overload at School and Work http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/06/01/email-overload-at-school-and-work/ Sat, 01 Jun 2019 23:04:17 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12798 enter [...]]]> What are we going to do about email overload? It’s been a problem, it continues to be a problem, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to systemically improve anytime soon. As much as adults today like to comment about younger students, “They don’t check their email,” graduates of our schools continue to enter a workforce highly dependent on email because it’s a “common denominator” for internal as well as external communication. As educational leaders, what are we going to do about email overload individually and for our organizations?

I vividly remember a pre-Thanksgiving professional development workshop I led around 1998 for staff at Wheelock Elementary in Lubbock, Texas, in which I introduced most of our teachers to email for the first time and helped most setup their first Yahoo email accounts. Teachers were VERY excited to have an email account! I remember one in particular that was able to contact her son via email for the first time during our workshop. She was over the moon! Ah, the days of digital innocence when email was still exciting and viewed as a net-positive in our lives…


Game and innocence … flickr photo by Claudio Gennari …”Cogli l’attimo ferma il tempo” shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

That workshop took place before many things we take for granted in our lives and schools today in 2019. In 1998 we did NOT have:

  1. School-issued email accounts / addresses
  2. Laptop or classroom desktop computers for all faculty *
  3. Direct, high speed connections to the Internet in our classrooms
  4. Smartphones with email and Internet access in our pockets and purses
  5. Cellular text messaging
  6. VOIP telephones in our classrooms *

Today, however, most teachers and school classrooms have all of these things.* Many of our students also receive a school-issued email account. (Our students get a Google account in 1st grade, but don’t have email activated until 5th grade.) With so many ways to stay in touch and send/receive email, and with most parents connected via an email account, and with every company wanting to send emails about sales, coupons, new products, new workshops, etc… Email has become one of the most congested but still important communication channels in our lives. This has been a “mission creep” dynamic over many years, it did not happen all at once. Email has now become a primary vector for cyberattacks via phishing attacks against organizational networks and data systems. Amidst all these factors, I think it’s time we take a big picture look at email and make some changes, both personally and professionally, with and for our organizations.

One of the biggest things we need to stop doing is simply issuing email accounts and assuming employees or students can figure out how to efficiently and effectively manage messages. This is especially true in our era of email overload. How many “unread” email messages do you have in your school account? Your personal email account? As a GSuite administrator for our school, I wonder how many unread emails we have across our entire faculty and staff, and how that number has grown over the past few years? My guess is the number is exceptionally high, and it would shock many administrators to see those data trends in a line graph.

We also need to help our students learn to manage email effectively. As I develop curriculum for our required 5th and 6th grade digital literacy courses next year, email is one of the GSuite tools I’m including. These are some of the basic but important email management techniques as well as concepts I plan to introduce to students. These also should be taught explicitly to our staff members, as they come onboard as well as for existing staff:

  1. Skills:
    1. Gmail Labels
    1. Gmail Filters
    2. Gmail Contact Management
    3. Mark as Phishing or Spam
    4. Email Signature
    5. Vacation Responder
    6. Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts
    7. Turning off Google Hangouts / chat notifications
    8. Schedule Send
    9. Gmail Mobile App advantages
  2. Concepts:
    1. InBox Zero
    2. Archiving versus Deleting Email in GMail
    3. Email Expectations (choosing an appropriate communication modality)
    4. Email Retention (Gmail Vault and eDiscovery)

When I have built that portion of next year’s middle school digital literacy curriculum I’ll link it here. I’m not sure I’ll take this on for next year, but it I do think we should build in these email skills into an onboarding process for new faculty/staff. I’m likely going to draw on Google’s existing Applied Digital Skills curriculum in both cases.

What are you doing for your students as well as colleagues to address email overload and needed email management skills? Please comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @wfryer, or use my electronic contact form to send a message.

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


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

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

]]>
Twitter Documentation of Classroom Folio Observations http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/05/21/twitter-documentation-of-classroom-folio-observations/ Wed, 22 May 2019 03:01:47 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12794 our school have utilized Folio Collaborative (@foliocollab), an outstanding framework encouraging teacher peer-coaching and mentorship relationships among educational professionals. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a “Folio coach” for three of our faculty, and today I worked on website documentation of the classroom visits and observations I [...]]]> This year faculty at our school have utilized Folio Collaborative (@foliocollab), an outstanding framework encouraging teacher peer-coaching and mentorship relationships among educational professionals. I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a “Folio coach” for three of our faculty, and today I worked on website documentation of the classroom visits and observations I completed last fall and this spring. Ideally I would have entered each one of these into the Folio website as I finished them. My plate has been full to the point of overflowing with professional responsibilities and tasks, however, so while I did successfully complete required classroom observations as a Folio coach, I’m playing catch-up now with my digital documentation of these visits.

Thank goodness for Twitter! On most of the occasions when I visited the classroom of our Middle School MakerSpace teacher, Aric Sappington, I usually took a couple minutes to take and share a photo or video of the awesome lesson he was facilitating with our students and faculty. Since I maintain a Tweet Nest archive of all my tweets (twitter.wesfryer.com), I was able to search the site today for all my posts referencing Aric. I shared about 15 tweets in all from Aric’s classroom over the course of this 2018-19 academic year.

It’s great that in addition to documenting the dates and times of my classroom visits, these tweets also archived some of the innovative lesson strategies Aric utilized with our students and faculty! Here are some of my favorites from this past year. Next year as I’m able to do even more instructional coaching with our faculty in all divisions of our school, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep using Twitter in this way to not only archive (for myself and my mentee teachers) but also amplify their innovation with others!

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


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

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

]]>
Teachers as Prophets: The Power to “PROF-a-sigh” Into Students’ Futures http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/05/20/teachers-as-prophets-the-power-to-prof-a-sigh-into-students-futures/ Tue, 21 May 2019 03:18:20 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12791 pronounced “PROF-a-sigh”) means “to predict something.” Have you ever recognized one of your [...]]]> As a teacher, you may have not considered yourself to be a “prophet.” When we recognize, call out, and encourage special and unique giftedness in our students, however, I believe we can act as prophets in their lives. The verb “prophesy” (pronounced “PROF-a-sigh”) means “to predict something.” Have you ever recognized one of your students has a particularly strong aptitude for something? It could be writing. Or empathetically listening to and understanding others. Or using computational thinking skills to creatively author algorithms. When you recognize giftedness in a student, help them recognize it, and celebrate it together, you’re “PROF-a-sigh-ing” into their life. You’re helping them “see” their own unique giftedness, and the important contributions they are and can make to our world by using their gifts in powerful ways.

Words matter. Our encouragement to our students matters. The ways we recognize and encourage the unique abilities, talents, and giftedness of our students can create ripples which will “echo through eternity.”

This week, I encourage YOU to embrace the unique and special opportunities you have to act as a prophet in the lives of your students. Our school year in the northern hemisphere is wrapping up, and we might have opportunities to write short notes to our students, celebrating their growth and wishing them well as they depart our classroom to continue their journey of learning beyond the walls we’ve shared the past 10 months. Consider sharing with some of your students the unique talents and gifts you “see” which they possess and demonstrate. Encourage them to recognize and “name” those gifts, and continue to use them in the months and years ahead to make our world a better place.

With our words, we have the power to bless, and the power to curse. Use your words this week to bless, and open the eyes of the students in your care to the bright future which awaits them as they discover and live into their special “calling” in our world. Share your insights of prophesy with others.

As teachers, we wield tremendous power to influence and durably impact the minds and lives of others. Embrace your role as a prophet in your classroom.

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


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

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

]]>
Essential Technology Support Staff Skills and Characteristics http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/05/14/essential-technology-support-staff-skills-and-characteristics/ Wed, 15 May 2019 04:05:38 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12783 What are the most important skills and characteristics of the technology support staff members at your school or other organization? As the 2018-19 school year winds down, I’m wrapping up my fourth year to serve as the Director of Technology for Casady School in Oklahoma City. As I’ve been making preparations for a job transition next year, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question. Here are my top three answers.

Relationship and Communication Skills

Technical knowledge and skills to work in a technology support department are definitely important, but they are less important than relationship and communication skills. It’s much easier to help someone develop more technical competencies than develop their abilities to communicate effectively and cultivate positive, respectful relationships with others. Both can be taught and learned, but the latter are more closely tied to an individual’s personality and overall disposition, and therefore are more challenging to change and develop.

When it comes to technology support, for a variety of reasons, many people are reluctant or reserved to ask for assistance. I heard a wise observation a few months ago about “support tickets” which are formally reported in an organization like a school. If you have X number of “open tickets” waiting for resolution right now, you almost certainly have twice that many technology support issues out there that need to be addressed. Over half of them just haven’t been reported (yet) in your formal ticketing system.

It’s far easier for a technology support staff member to make someone else who needs technical assistance feel inferior, inadequate, or otherwise “put off” than respected, listened to, and understood. The most important thing I do at our school, as our director of technology, is cultivate relationships with our faculty and staff. If I’m able to develop a positive relationship with someone, where they perceive me as a “safe” person to reach out to for assistance, I am much more likely (as is our technology department) to be able to succeed in my support roles with them as well as their colleagues.

Have you ever had a conversation with a technology support person who made you feel stupid, belittled, and/or ignorant? Sadly, those experiences are much more common than they should be in the arena of technology support. Whenever I have an opportunity to hire a new technology support staff member or provide input for a new hire, I always look for relationship building and communication skills first. Some questions I consider are:

  1. Does the person come across as kind, genuine, and a good listener?
  2. Does the person seem to have a humble disposition?
  3. How do other people who have worked with this individual, in a situation where they have received technical support, describe the way they were treated and felt as a result of their interactions with the prospective hire?

In recognizing the importance of relationship and communication skills, I’m certainly not saying I’ve completely mastered those skills myself. I’m definitely “always learning.” There are some people who are, for different reasons, exceptionally challenging to build relationships with. I have struggled and continue to struggle with relationship building in several cases. Overall, however, I feel positive about the priority I place on relationship building in our school both for me personally and for our department.

It’s important to recognize key relationships within your organization to which you must give special attention and time as a technology support staff member. Administrative assistants often are in this category, because they are the staff members who are in a position to be most attuned to the interpersonal dynamics as well as technical support needs in their area / department. Never underestimate the value and importance of “small talk,” and also the importance of “regularly being present,” even for short amounts of time, with different people in your organization.

Relationships can only be built through shared experiences and the mutual exchange of perceptions. Those things take time. “Small talk check-ins” with staff, especially administrative assistants, are analogous to micro-investments you’re making in your relationships with those folks and the department in which they work. We don’t have time every day for face-to-face check-ins, but as technology support leaders and staff members, we should periodically make time for drop-in visits and short conversations. These are the raw materials upon which relationships are built, and correspondingly a successful technology support culture. The perceptions and feelings which other people have about you as a colleague and staff member are shaped much more strongly by these face-to-face interactions than by emails you send or policies you develop for your department.

Quick and Adaptable Technical Learner

The technical skills and past technical support experiences of IT staff are important, but it’s even more important that these individuals be quick and adaptable technical learners. By “quick and adaptable,” I mean they are able to readily learn how new systems operate, interact with other elements of the network and computing environment, and can troubleshoot issues with many of these systems without formal training. Some complex systems definitely require and need formal training and even certification programs, but the majority of technical systems we support daily in our school technology department require “just in time learning.”

I sometimes joke that when I was little I dreamed of becoming a fireman, and now as a technology director I’ve realized that lifelong aspiration: I’m constantly “putting out fires.” I don’t have an exact percentage, but a large number of the situations into which I’m called are novel to me. The longer I’ve been a technology director, the more I’m able to draw on past experiences and learning… but the nature of our computing and information environment makes addressing new challenges a “norm” rather than an anomaly.

In this environment of constant change and new challenges, it’s important to know how to search the web effectively and iteratively for technical solutions. It’s also important to be able to “escalate” help to corporate / vendor support channels, if local staff are unable to figure out a solution. One way or another, trouble tickets need to be resolved. Technical support staff don’t have to know all the answers / have all the answers to every problem (that’s actually impossible, in my experience) but we DO need to be able to efficiently find answers and implement fixes / solutions.

This can be a challenging disposition to effectively identify when you are conducting job interviews. One helpful strategy is to ask a prospective hire to describe a recent technical support challenge they faced and overcame, and describe their “process” in finding a solution that worked. While it’s not absolutely essential, today I think it’s important that support staff have and use a “professional learning network” which extends well beyond the walls of the organization.

Attention To Detail

In addition to good relationship/communication skills and the ability to learn quickly, technical support staff absolutely MUST have outstanding “attention to detail” skills. This means when they are applying a technical solution to a problem, they can consistently (and without much supervision) metaphorically “cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.” While many technology systems today have (thankfully) become simpler and easier to support than their predecessors, there still can be LOTS of required steps when applying a technical fix / solution to a problem.

Two examples of fantastic and powerful systems which have made our technical support requirements much easier at school the past four years are Cisco Meraki switches and access points, and our Jive VOIP phone system “in the cloud.” I’m extremely thankful, and have been richly blessed in terms of the reduction in required support hours, for our school to have adopted these platforms for our computing needs. Even though these systems are MUCH easier to use and manage than many competing products and platforms, there is still a high level of complexity to the design as well as support utilization of these systems. Attention to detail is vital.

I’m not sure how to effectively test and filter for “attention to detail” skills in a job interview. It might be best to give a job candidate an actual work challenge, with a long series of steps which they have to apply and then repeat several times. I haven’t used this strategy in a job interview with a candidate myself, but it’s certainly worth considering. “Attention to detail” was something that was literally hammered into our brains repeatedly during basic training and our freshman year (4 degree year) at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Flying an aircraft, or maintaining an aircraft, or doing just about any other task related to “flying, fighting and winning” in the Air Force requires attention to detail. I find it’s an essential skill and cultivated ability in the arena of technology support as well.

There are certainly other important skills and qualities for technical support staff than the ones I’ve highlighted here, but these are definitely among the most important. What have I left out? Share your thoughts as a comment below, or by reaching out to me on Twitter @wfryer.

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


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

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

]]>
VIDEO: 10 Tips from a Technology Fear Specialist http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/04/30/video-10-tips-from-a-technology-fear-specialist/ Wed, 01 May 2019 02:30:04 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12779 Seesaw community titled, “10 Tips from a Technology Fear Specialist.” This presentation (and subsequent Q&A session with live attendees) was based on my March 21st blog post, “Adult Identity and the “I Can’t Use Technology Well” [...]]]> Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to share a 45 minute webinar with the wonderful Seesaw community titled, “10 Tips from a Technology Fear Specialist.” This presentation (and subsequent Q&A session with live attendees) was based on my March 21st blog post, “Adult Identity and the “I Can’t Use Technology Well” Introduction.” The archived video of the webinar is included in Seesaw’s YouTube playlist, “April PD in Your PJs.”

Please check out the video and let me know if you have any feedback, either via Twitter (@wfryer), a comment below, or my electronic contact form. The slides from the presentation are also available. I’ve added links to the YouTube video and slides to my Presentation Handouts wiki, and added the video to my YouTube playlist, “Presentations by Wesley Fryer.” That is the playlist I feature first on my personal YouTube channel. I also re-ordered the videos in that playlist tonight, so both my TEDx talks (“Becoming Your Family’s Digital Witness” from 2013 and “Digital Citizenship in the Surveillance State” from 2016) are more prominently visible.

Definitely check out the Seesaw webinar series “PD in Your PJs” and sign up to receive emails about upcoming free workshops! Also if you are not already, I recommend following @Seesaw on Twitter. Seesaw is one of the most powerful digital platforms I’ve ever used with students, teachers and parents for sharing and archiving digital media. I’ve used Seesaw the past several years in iPad Media Camp and Make Media Camp PD workshops with teachers. My wife, Shelly Fryer (@sfryer), has also shared several “PD in Your PJs” sessions for Seesaw in the past, and you can check those out in this YouTube playlist.

10 Tips from a Technology Fear Therapist by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
"10 Tips from a Technology Fear Therapist" (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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


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

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

]]>
Podcast464: Reflections on Media Literacy & ATLIS 2019 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/04/16/podcast464-reflections-on-media-literacy-atlis-2019/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 21:22:01 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12766 Welcome to Episode 464 of the Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast, a show by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy, digital citizenship, instructional technology integration and engaged learning both inside and outside the classroom. This episode features a reflection by Wes from the ATLIS 2019 Conference in Dallas, Texas, primarily on Media Literacy and his 3 hour workshop, “Filtering the Exoflood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy.” All resources from the workshop are available on wfryer.me/exoflood. Refer to the podcast shownotes for links to the other websites and links referenced in this podcast. Remember to also subscribe to “The EdTech Situation Room” (@edtechSR), the weekly webshow and podcast Wes co-hosts with Jason Neiffer each week on Wednesday evenings. Also remember to subscribe to Wes’ (almost) weekly newsletter in which he shares a helpful technology tip, tool, text, and tutorial. Sign up on www.speedofcreativity.org/email-updates.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Wes Fryer (@wfryer) – Blog
  3. Workshop resources: Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy (shortened link: wfryer.me/exoflood)
  4. [VIDEO] Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm – (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213
  5. YouTube Playlist of more Media Literacy Videos (curated by Wes)
  6. 10 Media Literacy Mini-Project Badges on Badgr.io
  7. Douglas Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed (@rushkoff)
  8. Media Literacy Kahoot Quiz
  9. Wes’ Twitter Moments (several from ATLIS 2019)
  10. The EdTech Situation Room Podcast (@edtechSR)
  11. Sign Up for Wes’ Weekly Educational Technology Newsletter Updates
Filtering the ExoFlood: Strategies for Media and Information Literacy

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

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


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

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

]]>
Google Mesh Home WiFi Makes our Internet Access MUCH faster http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/03/31/google-mesh-home-wifi-makes-our-internet-access-much-faster/ Sun, 31 Mar 2019 16:02:09 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12757 “Google WiFi system, 3-Pack – Router replacement for whole home coverage” (NLS-1304-25) product which I posted to Amazon today. Google Mesh WiFi” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer I have been [...]]]> This is a review of the “Google WiFi system, 3-Pack – Router replacement for whole home coverage” (NLS-1304-25) product which I posted to Amazon today.

I have been wanting to purchase a mesh Wi-Fi system at home for many months, and finally pulled the trigger last month. Wow what a difference this makes! With our previous “Apple AirPort Extreme” router and WiFi unit, I could get a maximum of about 30 Mbps down in our living room, even though our cable modem over ethernet is rated for 300 Mbps downloads. With this Google WiFi mesh system, on the same MacBook laptop I can get 200 Mbps down in my living room, and over 100 Mbps down in all locations throughout our two-story house! Wow! The cost of this upgrade is well worth it for speed improvements alone.

I was actually contemplating the Eero mesh WiFi system, but since Amazon bought Eero recently I am wary of it, even with their pronounced commitments to customer privacy. We are both an Apple and a Google household, and we certainly order a lot from Amazon, but since we already have Google Home Mini’s and a Chromecast, and are looking at other Google IoT products, I thought this would be a good move. Plus, I have had great experiences with Google’s products in the past, at school I manage over 300 Chromebooks and Google’s administrative tools are phenomenal. The same is true for their home Wi-Fi product. 

This last week was the first time I participated in the weekly YouTube live stream and podcast webshow I do with a friend in Montana, (edtechSR.com) and I was able to give my laptop priority during the videoconference on YouTube Live with a couple button taps on ef. I also loved, during initial set up of Google WiFi, how the app provided feedback to help me move the position of my home access point upstairs so it is optimized. This is an incredible improvement in our home Wi-Fi, and is making a daily difference in all of our lives. 

Of course it is also important and critical that we have home routers with updated firmware and that receive regular security updates online. IoT security is a huge problem and will likely just grow as a security issue in the months to come. Hackers as well as commercial companies will continue to try and access / compromise our home routers, since that gives them access to all the data passing through our networks to the Internet. Google is excellent in this regard. Of course Google wants to have our data, but in our modern surveillance state environment Google is a company I actually trust, along with Apple. Not so for Facebook or Amazon. If you are not currently using a mesh router system, you should make the move, and I think Google Wi-Fi is an excellent choice. 

I am a school technology director and do much more technical things with the enterprise Cisco Meraki WiFi we have. There are home mesh WiFi systems which allow for more technical set ups and configurations, but Google WiFi is all I need for home. This is an outstanding product and a great value, especially with the $100 discount I was able to use during a product sale.

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


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

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

]]>
Advice for Responding to and Protecting Against Phishing Email Attacks http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/03/27/advice-for-responding-to-and-protecting-against-phishing-email-attacks/ Thu, 28 Mar 2019 01:37:07 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12752 This month we have seen an uptick in phishing attacks against our faculty and staff at school. Here is a copy of some suggestions for responding to and protecting against email phishing attacks which I shared this evening via email with our team.

General guidelines for responding to email phishing attacks are:

  1. If you are concerned that someone who has emailed you via a suspicious message is in genuine trouble or needs assistance, contact them directly through a phone call or text message if you have their cell number.
  2. Do NOT reply or send any gift cards / money in response to a phishing email.
  3. Do NOT click any links in a phishing email. (If you think you need to visit a website referenced in a suspicious email, DIRECTLY type that web link into your browser instead.)
  4. Please “report the original message as phishing” in Gmail. (If you’re using Gmail.)

Proactive steps you can take to further protect yourself from identity theft and phishing attacks are:

  1. Turn on two step verification / multi-factor authentication on all banking and other websites if available. (The website twofactorauth.org has an updated list of sites supporting 2FA/MFA.)
  2. Use a password manager like LastPass so you can use LONG, complex, and UNIQUE passwords on every website and app you use.
  3. Help your family and friends setup 2FA/MFA and use a password manager.
  4. Consider putting a “credit freeze” or “credit lock” on your social security number, and SSNs of your spouse/children. Credit Karma has a good article about how to do this and the differences between freezes and locks.
  5. Regularly monitor your credit report, and your bank accounts to look for unknown expenses you have not authorized. Let your bank know immediately if you notice unauthorized charges so they can cancel that card and refund charges.

Stay safe out there!

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


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

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

]]>
Schools Blocking YouTube and Digital Citizenship http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/03/23/schools-blocking-youtube-and-digital-citizenship/ Sat, 23 Mar 2019 23:28:34 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12737 Content filtering in schools has always been contentious since students and teachers first gained access to the World Wide Web and the Internet in the 1990s. Today in 2019, however, many people might be surprised that “draconian content filtering policies” (at least in the opinion of this author) are still in place in some [...]]]> Content filtering in schools has always been contentious since students and teachers first gained access to the World Wide Web and the Internet in the 1990s. Today in 2019, however, many people might be surprised that “draconian content filtering policies” (at least in the opinion of this author) are still in place in some schools. By “draconian,” I mean content filtering policies which excessively limit open access of information by students (and in many cases, also teachers) and which fail to meet a basic litmus test of “digital citizenship:” Providing ‘graduated” or differentiated content filtering for teachers, and for students depending on their age and developmental level. Specifically in this post, I want to address the reality that as of March 2019, some very large public school districts in both Texas and Oklahoma block ALL access to YouTube for ALL students accessing the Internet at school: High school, middle school, and elementary school students. In this post, I’ll make the case for why these policies are flawed and need to be changed, to support the literacy and digital citizenship goals which should be part of the mission of every educational institution in the United States today.

Let’s begin with a strong assertion which indicts (on this topic) at least two very large public school districts with which I’m personally familiar in Oklahoma and Texas. I’m not going to name the school districts here, my goal in writing this post is not to throw those specific districts and district leaders “under the bus.” I DO, however, aspire to help change the content filtering policies in those school districts and others, however, which have not kept up with our times and are sorely in need of updates. I have (of course) incomplete information on why these web content filtering policies persist today, but suspect there are both political and technical / IT reasons for them. Both can and should be addressed. I wish I had comprehensive data on how many public and private U.S. schools block YouTube entirely for all students or for all students and teachers today, but I don’t. If you have data on that topic, please let me know. If you’re looking for a topic for your dissertation, perhaps this will give you a helpful suggestion. Take this idea and run with it.

Here’s my strong assertion on this topic which I will support below. I invite you to quote me and share this on social media:

Schools blocking ALL access to YouTube are Un-American.

There are a variety of adjectives and descriptive phrases I could choose for the predicate of this sentence. According to Merriam-Webster, “un-American” means:

not characteristic of or consistent with American customs, principles, or traditions

While K-12 schools in the United States have historically been authoritarian organizations with hierarchical leadership structures, the “American values” which our public schools support and promote have not been and are not strictly authoritarian. The freedom of speech / freedom of expression codified in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is an essential value of our republic, and defines the rights of not only adults working in our schools but also students attending classes in our schools. The landmark 1969 Tinker Case decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court famously held:

…students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Constitutional protections of freedom of expression in the United States go beyond protecting speech, however, and also provide for our rights to RECEIVE information.

The First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression encompasses intellectual freedom, which includes an individual’s right to receive information on a wide range of topics from a variety of viewpoints.

These two points are salient on the topic of filtering web content in schools, since they establish that school authorities in the United States do not have unlimited power to censor, ban, and prevent access to any books, content, websites, or ideas they deem inappropriate or immoral. Schools and school officials DO have important gatekeeping responsibilities when it comes to moderating print as well as digital materials accessed via the school library and the school’s Internet connection to the World-Wide Web, but those powers are NOT unlimited. My point here is that content filtering policies in U.S. schools should look VERY different from the national web filtering policies of authoritarian nations like China, Iran, North Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, etc. These countries (and others) block all access to YouTube, or have historically blocked YouTube access. When content access policies in a U.S. school mirror those of countries like these, it’s time to take a careful look at why those policies were created in the first place and why they are maintained today.

The “Unmasking the Digital Truth Project,” which I started ten years ago in 2009, sought to highlight the legal requirements of the federal eRate program for schools involving content filtering, as well as other legal mandates like COPPA and FERPA. These issues remain important and relevant today, especially as privacy concerns continue to grow more complex as greater amounts of personal information are shared online in our era of surveillance capitalism. (FERPAsherpa.org is one of my favorite resource sites on the topic of student privacy, btw.) While content filtering policies in some U.S. school districts have “progressed” in the past 10 years since ‘Unmasking the Digital Truth‘ launched, some have not.

YouTube continues to be the second most popular website on our planet as of January 2019, after Google. Many adults today, especially those without teenage children in their home, may not realize how incredibly important YouTube has become and remains as a contemporary information source for students. This reality is fraught with both challenges as well as opportunities. One of my favorite things to say about this is, “Video is the pencil of the 21st century.” Among other things, this means we (as teachers) and our students should be creating and sharing content in video form as skillfully and frequently as past generations shared ideas with text. It also accepts that the dominance of video and YouTube is a REALITY today, which we need to address and embrace rather than ignore or deny.

It is crazy that in the same Texas and Oklahoma high schools I’ve walked in where YouTube is completely blocked for students via WiFi, those same students can readily open their smartphones and access YouTube directly via their cell phone data plans. YouTube is one of the most important communication and information platforms for teenagers today in 2019, yet, some of our school leaders continue to support and defend policies which BLOCK all access to YouTube for those students on school networks. This is akin to a Egyptian official in the Library of Alexandria prohibiting any patrons from accessing any written texts, because “the only proper way to learn is to listen to an oral argument presented by a scholarly speaker.” That was the opinion of Socrates, according to Plato, but that idea was both wrong and ridiculous. New forms of media have shortcomings and present challenges, as Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan remind us, but there is also an inevitability to the way media forms change and evolve.

Modern firewalls in schools permit and can support differentiated content filtering. This means users on WiFi or wired Internet connections can be authenticated and identified by their respective roles in the organization, and granted corresponding access to not only local network resources but also cloud-based / web resources, including YouTube. This means:

  1. All teachers at your school should currently have open / unrestricted access to YouTube. As professionals, teachers can and should ‘serve as the filter’ for YouTube content they access and choose to share with students. This is both legal from an eRate and COPPA standpoint, and also the professionally appropriate policy for schools to adopt.
  2. At a minimum, all high school and middle school students at your school should have filtered access to YouTube. This can be a custom setting on your specific school firewall, or the Google/YouTube provided restricted mode. That setting does not have to be enabled on individual devices, YouTube restricted mode can be enabled network-wide for students.

Here are some specific questions I challenge you to ask your school board members / trustees, school administrators, and IT staff members:

  1. What are our current policies for blocking or allowing access to YouTube for teachers and students?
  2. If teacher access to YouTube is blocked, ask: When will our network hardware and/or school policies be updated to permit teacher access to YouTube?
  3. If high/middle school student access is entirely blocked, ask: When will our network hardware and/or school policies be updated to permit filtered high/middle school student access to YouTube?
  4. What is our district/school procedure for requesting that a YouTube channel or specific video is UNBLOCKED for student access on our network, and how can that process be further streamlined / made even faster?

Without question, content filtering and student access to both content on the World Wide Web and digital devices (in both school and at home) is complex and filled with challenges. That access at school is not only (conditionally) protected by U.S. law, however, it also provides INCREDIBLE opportunities for learning and literacy both inside and outside the classroom of the 21st century. If the ideas I’ve shared in this post resonate with you, I’d love to hear from you. I’d also like to hear from folks who disagree with the ideas I’ve shared here. You can contact me directly on Twitter with a reply to @wfryer, write a comment below (which I’ll have to approve), or use my personal contact form. Of those options, I’m most likely to see your feedback and reply promptly if you engage with me on Twitter.

Together, we need to provide both safe and empowering environments in our schools and homes for digital learning. There are MANY important conversations teachers, students, parents, grandparents, school administrators, and other stakeholders in the lives of our kids need to have when it comes to YouTube. With that in mind, we’ll be hosting a “Parent University” at our school on April 23rd titled, “Let’s Talk About YouTube.” We’ll also be hosting another “Parent University” session on April 11th titled, “Let’s Talk About Sexting.” Both of these events will be open to the public, but prior online registration (free) is required. Resources related to “digital citizenship” which we have and continue to share with our school community are available on DigCit.us. I don’t pretend to have all the answers on these issues, but I do know we need more opportunities for dialog and discussion which can empower us all with more knowledge and skills.

What are your thoughts? Is YouTube access a big deal in schools? Should we be concerned about YouTube being blocked entirely in some schools from secondary student or teacher access?

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


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

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

]]>
Adult Identity and the “I Can’t Use Technology Well” Introduction http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/03/21/adult-identity-and-the-i-cant-use-technology-well-introduction/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 15:22:14 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12728 a six part, threaded series of thoughts on Twitter based on frequent conversations I have with technology-fearful adults. Before reflecting a bit more on these ideas, as well as sharing some of the responses these tweets invited from others, I’ll share this series [...]]]> Last Friday evening before turning in for the night, I shared a six part, threaded series of thoughts on Twitter based on frequent conversations I have with technology-fearful adults. Before reflecting a bit more on these ideas, as well as sharing some of the responses these tweets invited from others, I’ll share this series of (almost) 240 character posts as a single paragraph:

I am amazed how many adults start conversations with me by saying, “You know I’m just not a technology person & I can’t use these tools in very powerful ways.” In our digital era this is tantamount to an admission of illiteracy, & even worse, a desire to remain illiterate. An alarming number of adults today define themselves as technology illiterate & often actively anti-technology. They verbalize their identity in ways young people never do nor likely ever will. This is a very real digital divide, & it’s powerful because it’s tied to identity. As a self-professed “technology fear therapist” these professions of anti-technology adult identity are puzzling as well as troubling. I think this reflects, in part, the fast pace of disruptive change in society today, & our need to process it together more slowly. On a practical level, I frequently strategize ways to constructively engage those who are adamantly anti-technology. Amplifying the voices of young people sharing their excitement for learning which is enabled / empowered by technology is a favorite method. But it’s vital to help others understand I’m not just “pro-technology.” I’m pro-learning, pro-engagement, pro-relationships, pro-conversations. All those things can be strengthened & even transformed by the thoughtful & deliberate use of technology. Sometimes these conversations with “anti-tech” or “tech-fearful” adults make me realize what a different world I live in & different reality I experience DAILY because I’m a connected educator. So helping others connect with a Professional Learning Network (PLN) via social media is also an important strategy.

Here is an embedded version of the first tweet in this series. You’ll need to click the link to see the entire thread with replies.

Let me first offer this set of threaded tweets and replies as “exhibit A” to people who decry Twitter as a platform devoid of conversations. As Jason Neiffer (@techsavvyteach) has mentioned several times on The EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR), Twitter can be a challenging place to disagree thoughtfully and at length with others. The text character limitations of the medium, as well as our general tendency to “dip to a rather shallow depth” with ideas rather than engage deeply with them and with other minds on social media, contribute to these challenges. Twitter CAN, however, offer space to share “threaded thoughts,” as I did in this situation, and invite others to both read as well as engage with more complicated thoughts. I continue to advocate strongly for the positive learning and connections which Twitter fosters specifically among connected educators. This threaded set of ideas shared on Twitter is another supportive example of that case I’ve attempted to make here on my blog.

In reflecting on some of the responses these tweets invited, I found it affirming that I’m not alone in these sentiments. Other educators frequently interact with other adults in other places who share similar sentiments and project similar ideas about their own identities as “non-tech” users.

Others observed these kinds of responses happen in different domains besides technology, including mathematics. I agree with Erik Kramer (@techerkramer) that past, traumatic experiences may explain these responses. This speaks to the idea I shared in the original Twitter thread, that we’re living in EXTREMELY disruptive and fast-changing times, which we all need more TIME together to process, digest, and come to terms with.

The ideas in this thread also point to our need for “technology fear therapy.” I’ve been using the title, “technology fear therapist” in my Twitter profile for a few months now, and it’s NOT a joke. As a school director of technology and technology integration coach with teachers, one of my most important roles is building relationships of trust with others and helping them “stretch” both their uses of technology and their self-perceptions when it comes to effective technology use. I see my role as helping other teachers thoughtfully embrace new and transformative uses of technology which improve teaching and learning.

The idea of calling out these issues and ‘naming them’ through “technology fear therapy” is something that has also resonated with Carl Hooker (@mrhooker):

I’ve proposed (in partial seriousness) that Carl and I should “found an online institute for technology fear therapy.” I’m not sure what final form this will take (it might become a co-led, online mini-course) but am sure the ideas which underlie this train of thought will continue to move forward. The technology fear therapy train has left the station, because so many adults today are afflicted by it and are in need of helpful counselors.

Do you interact with others who show signs of “technology fear disorder” (TFD)?! What are the most effective strategies you employ as a self-appointed “technology fear therapist” in your school and home? These are among the strategies I’m using now and want to refine more in the weeks and months ahead:

  1. Build relationships of trust.
  2. Learn what “technology use pain points” the other person is experiencing most frequently, or cause the most acute pain. (Password challenges are common.)
  3. Help others understand our need today to use unique passwords on every different website and app. (haveibeenpwned.com can be a personalized and effective eye opener)
  4. Recognize “technology fear therapy” invites an ongoing conversation and “journey of learning” together. The issues which you identify and the seeds of healthy therapy which you sow will not be resolved or take root immediately. They take time to understand, process, and address effectively.
  5. Share and model a “growth mindset” when it comes to technology use and specifically overcoming technology fears. Utilizing a password manager (like LastPass @lastpass) and enabling MFA (multi-factor authentication) on every important website you use are two specific ways to “walk the walk” of a technology growth mindset.
  6. Regularly amplify transformative uses of technology with other teachers and parents when you can. Do this in face-to-face conversations as well as via social media, and gatherings when appropriate. Currently at school, we’re doing this through our Seesaw learning journals, on Twitter via our #CasadyLearns hashtag, via our “Casady Learns Google+ Learning Community,” via our Technology Showcase blog, on personal blogs, and also via Facebook from time to time.
  7. Helping others educators become connected online with others who are passionate about shared topics of interest, are actively sharing their own learning, and seeking “the wisdom of the crowd” (which is a very real thing in the EduTwitterVerse) is powerful and can be transformative. I recently updated my own “Yodas” Twitter list both for my own benefit (I love following this list in Flipboard (@flipboard) and to encourage others to follow this great group of Twitter using educators.
  8. Pair conversations about thoughtful and constructive uses of technology with digital citizenship. Resources related to digital citizenship that we’ve been sharing with students, parents and teachers at our school are on the website digcit.us. Consider sharing resources and connecting with others on Twitter using the hashtag #DigCit.
  9. Consider sharing articles and thoughts related to technology fear therapy on Twitter using the hashtag #TechFearTherapy. This not only provides a good way to share and archive related article links, but also provides a way to connect with others interested in this topic.
  10. Remember the transformative power of STUDENTS sharing their joy of learning using technology, to win over the hearts and minds of adults with whom “technology fear is strong.” This can especially be true when students are creating original projects in an environment like Scratch, or tinkering with robots.

What are your thoughts about all of this? Do you have other ideas to add to my initial list of “technology fear therapist first principles and strategies?” Please share them as a comment below, or on Twitter by adding to the original tweet thread. You can also reach out to me via my personal contact form.

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


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

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

]]>
Seesaw Skills, Assessment and Parent Feedback http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/02/26/seesaw-skills-assessment-and-parent-feedback/ Wed, 27 Feb 2019 02:42:44 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12724 LLI Southwest Conference at The Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, and present with two of our second grade teachers about our “Seesaw Skills iPad Pilot Project,” which I’m leading this year with teachers in our Lower Division at Casady School in Oklahoma [...]]]> Last week I had an opportunity to attend the LLI Southwest Conference at The Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, and present with two of our second grade teachers about our “Seesaw Skills iPad Pilot Project,” which I’m leading this year with teachers in our Lower Division at Casady School in Oklahoma City. In this post, I’ll share a few reflections from those experiences, as well as links to the recorded audio of our presentation and our presentation slides. You can use the shortened link wfryer.me/skills to view the slides, and the audio recording (posted to YouTube with the free iPhone app Voice Record Pro) is embedded on slide two. The audio recording of our session is NOT synchronized to our slides (since I haven’t had time for the post-production effort that would require) but can provide you with the content of our session that isn’t reflected in our slides. I just recorded this on my iPhone during the session, so I’m sure the audio levels vary and aren’t perfect… but hopefully it’s good enough for those who are interested and were not able to attend the session in person!

The official title of our 1 hour conference breakout session was “From Traditional Comments and Skills to Digital Learning Journals.” The description on the conference app was:

How can elementary teachers best utilize student digital learning journals to build portfolios of work authentically reflecting the development of curricular skills? Can these digital artifacts transform the traditional narrative feedback provided to parents by classroom teachers? This active learning session will introduce participants to the ways teachers in the Lower Division at Casady School are using the “Skills View” in Seesaw Learning Journals. In addition to learning about the goals and professional development / coaching supporting our 2018-2019 iPad Seesaw Skills Pilot Project, participants will view, discuss and evaluate a variety of Casady student artifacts included in their Seesaw learning journals. Participants will also have an opportunity to participate in a Seesaw activity tied to the Skills View, to gain a deeper understanding of how these tools can be used to document student demonstrations of learning as well as skills assessment.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about our session was using a “sandbox” Seesaw class, and helping teachers attending the session add a photo of a random object with a creative, narrated description. The Seesaw support article, “How do I create a professional development class in Seesaw for Schools” provided a downloadable template I used to create this temporary class for up to 30 participants. We opted to use the QR code sign-in option, which made things go MUCH faster in the workshop than if we asked teachers to sign in with their Google accounts. As attendees came into the session room, we asked them to write their first names beside numbers we had on a whiteboard, and I added these names in Seesaw for Schools before our presentation started.

I also really liked the Seesaw activity prompt we gave teachers, since it invited everyone to be creative, whimsical, and perhaps silly. (I was in my example post!) The goal was to help teachers (many who were not familiar with the use of Seesaw as a learning journal at all) to experience how media sharing can work, and how skill ratings can be added to student submitted artifacts as they are reviewed / approved by a teacher. We left about 20 minutes in our 60 minute session for this activity, to show how skill ratings could be added, and listen to a few of the creative submissions by session participants.

Like the multi-day iPad Media Camp (@iPadMediaCamp) and Make Media Camp (@MakeMediaCamp) workshops that my wife and I lead in the summer, I love providing teachers with opportunities to “be students” (even if briefly) in technology integration workshops. Getting “hands-on” with technology tools, creating media, and sharing it with others is much more potentially impactful (and even transformative) for teachers than simply watching a demonstration session at a conference.

This was the first opportunity I’ve had to co-present at an education conference with other teachers from our school, since I started at Casady as the Director of Technology almost four years ago. (I should clarify that to say, teachers from our school other than my wife!) This was a great experience, not only putting together the session ideas and materials, but also just traveling down to the Dallas area together and attending the conference! Never underestimate the potential value and impact of “breaking bread” together with colleagues and having opportunities to extend learning about instructional strategies together! I am looking forward to not only sharing what we learned with other teachers back at school, but also continuing my collaboration with Lisa Jordan and Melissa Coate (@melissacoate), with whom I presented at LLI Southwest. Woo hoo for professional development together!

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


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

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

]]>
Lessons Learned as a School Director of Technology http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/02/15/lessons-learned-as-a-school-director-of-technology/ Sat, 16 Feb 2019 05:58:24 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12703 This is my fourth year to serve as the Director of Technology at The Casady School in Oklahoma City, and I’ve been reflecting lately on the multitude of skills I’ve developed as well as “lessons learned” during my time of service in this administrative and leadership role. In this post, I’ll attempt to summarize (but certainly not comprehensively capture) some of these skills and lessons. These are listed in a rather random order, they are NOT prioritized. While I could write separate blog posts about each one of these, for the sake of brevity (and the vain hope someone will read this entire post and find valuable ideas here) I’ll try to limit my comments about each one to two or three sentences, and include helpful links when appropriate. (This proved impossible, however…) If you’d like to hear more about one or more of these, please let me know with a post comment, by reaching out on Twitter @wfryer, or using my electronic contact form. I may record an upcoming podcast episode on this topic / these ideas.

1. VLANs, Switch and Port Management

Enterprise networks, which include school networks, are complex creations by necessity. Our school network, probably like everyone else’s, has and continues to experience evolutionary change as we respond to increased utilization, new operational expectations, and more sophisticated security threats. I’ve learned a great deal about the design of networks and the use of virtual LANs (VLANs), the management of smart, POE (power over ethernet) switches, the benefits of cloud dashboard management (we use Cisco Meraki,) and the management of ports to provide secure network segmentation for various users.

2. Multimode and Singlemode Fiber

One of the ways I brought my knowledge and skills of GeoMaps into my role as our school director of technology early on was creating a sharable, collaborative map of our school fiber optic network (including most of our dark fiber) using Google’s MyMaps. I have color coded our school fiber map, indicating 62.5 microns OM1 (orange), 50 microns OM3 (aqua) 12 strand, Singlemode Fiber OS1, Copper Ethernet runs, and Old Fiber and Copper (not in use). We use, update, and refer to this map frequently as we meet as a staff, meet with vendor partners, and continue to develop our long range plan for our technology infrastructure.

3. Understanding and Communicating Technology Support Needs versus Capacity

One of my biggest challenges as a school director of technology has been working to communicate the technology support needs of our faculty, staff, students, and campus, relative to the capacity which we have to meet those needs through our existing technology staff structure. By nature, much of what we do in information technology / IT is a “black box” which “outsiders” do not fully comprehend or understand. It’s vital, however, for key administrators to clearly understand the scope and scale of work done by the IT staff, to support and sustain that work. I’d like to say I have this puzzle completely figured out, but I do not. I have learned that periodic meetings with administrators, combined with other forms of communication like emails, written reports, and hallway conversations, all combine to shape perceptions. “Face time” with key school administrators is very important for the technology director, both to build relationships of trust and to better understand the perspectives, perceptions, and needs of different stakeholders. Data from technology support tickets plays an important but not comprehensive role. We use SchoolDude’s legacy “Incident” platform for IT ticketing, and will hopefully transition to their newer “Help Desk” product soon.

4. Importance of Roaming / Being Present

No matter what kind of IT ticketing solution you use, and no matter how good your relationships are with the faculty, staff and students you support, you will NEVER have a comprehensive window into ALL the technology support needs of your organization through your ticketing portal. I have learned as a school director of technology, and for the members of our technology support staff, it’s vital that we “roam” and periodically poke our heads into different classrooms and offices. We have 19 different buildings on 80 acres at our school, so it’s impractical as well as inefficient for me to try and ‘make the rounds’ on our campus daily. I try, however, to periodically roam and be present, even if it’s for a brief checkin, with our different division directors and administrative assistants, and when I can with individual teachers as well as staff members. Clearly the size and scale of the organization you support will dramatically affect your ability to do this… But the longer I’ve been a technology director, the more I’ve seen the importance of these periodic “walkabout” moments of connecting with the constituents I support, keeping my eyes and ears open for issues as well as opportunities to help. Sometimes this means putting in an IT support ticket on behalf of someone, for later follow-up by another staff member. Other times it means being able to immediately answer a question or help solve a problem.

5. Transformative Power of Instructional Coaching

I am completely convinced the best professional growth and development engine for teachers at any level or in any content area is instructional coaching. An athletic analogy is very appropriate in this case. How do you improve your golf swing, or more effectively learn to shoot a good jump shot? You seek the assistance of an experienced and effective coach. While my time to serve as an instructional coach has become more limited in my current job because of expanding operational technology responsibilities, I highly value these interactions with our faculty and find they bring me some of my deepest job satisfaction. I’ve been fortunate to work in both the academic and operational sides of technology in my role as a school technology director, and I think my role as a “bridge” between the instructional realities of the classroom and the often opaque world of information technology is really important. Often in school IT settings, “silos” and gaps exist between teachers in our classrooms and the technology support staff who serve them. This may not be possible in all situations, but I think the opportunities which I have to support instructional coaching at our school (working with our library media specialists / librarians, for example) as well as serving directly as an instructional coach to faculty on occasion, significantly enhances my potential effectiveness as a school leader, administrator, and technology decisionmaker.

6. Dell Command Update

This is a really specific lesson learned, but it’s significant so I’ll give it a separate bullet point. If you use Dell computers in your school and support them, you need to know about Dell Command Update. It’s a free program which downloads and installs all the firmware and device drivers for the specific Dell computer you’re running. We had tons of heartache this past fall over Windows10 updates “display bricking” the Dell All-In-One computers in two of our computer labs. Removing CMOS batteries and running Dell Command Update ended up being the solution to our WindowsOS woes.

7. Mobile Device Management (MDM) Comparisons

Our technology support staff manages several hundred Chromebooks and iPads at our school today, and several hundred more MacOS and WindowsOS laptops, desktops, and servers. Since I’ve been at our school, I’ve helped transition our support procedures to include mobile device management (MDM) solutions, and this transition is ongoing. For iPad management, we started by using the free Meraki MDM (until we exceeded 100 devices), and then transitioned to TechPilot (formerly TabPilot) thanks in part to a recommendation from Henry Finch, the director of technology at Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We briefly tried implementing Filewave’s MDM solution because of its promise to manage WinOS as well as MacOS devices, but ended up choosing JAMF as our solution for MacOS laptop management. We use the Google Gsuite Admin Console to manage all our Chromebooks, which requires the one-time purchase of Google admin licenses when we purchase new Chrome devices. All MDMs require an annual subscription cost or (in the case of Google) an up-front licensing cost, but those costs are WELL worth it. I look forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when we will be fully transitioned into MDM device management. We are going to explore using Microsoft’s Intune MDM for managing our Windows10 endpoints, but since those are relatively few in number on our campus, that’s a lower departmental priority than some other things right now.

8. Legacy Imaging to MDM Transition

With the release of MacOS High Sierra, Apple finally killed the wonderfully handy option for IT support staff to use “legacy imaging” solutions on Apple hardware. Our technology department put off our transition to MDM management from legacy imaging for as long as we could, but when it finally became an unavoidable requirement we did it. I loved being able to re-image a faculty or staff MacOS laptop in less than an hour using NetBoot or NetRestore. Alas, those days have gone the way of the dinosaur. And the learning curve continues…

9. Importance of Network Segmentation

As I wrote in the introductory paragraph of this novel-length post, enterprise IT networks are necessarily complex. ‘Twas not always so. Many older networks started life with relatively simple, “flat” designs which were simple and efficient. Unfortunately, however, flat networks today (even those in residential homes, with the increasing number of IoT devices and video streaming applications) are neither efficient or secure. Some of the most challenging network issues we’ve faced at our school involve intermittent connectivity issues with streaming video or other bandwidth-intensive applications. When a network like ours is flat or mostly flat, without building-level subnets “segmenting” it into different pieces, it can be extremely difficult to troubleshoot and therefore support. My personal learning curve as we’ve addressed network segmentation on our campus has been steep, but it’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to better understand network design as well as the ways we can increase both efficiency and security through design.

10. Discerning the Politics of Finance and Role Autonomy

Here’s an important but challenging lesson learned: It’s vital in an independent school like ours (and possibly in every organization) to discern the politics of finance, as well as the potential for autonomy which you have in your respective role within the food chain. As an Air Force veteran coming from a military background, I have worked in organizations with highly regimented and defined processes. Policies and written procedures are not always available in organizations, however, and in some cases this can be beneficial. It also poses challenges, however. “It’s been a journey” at our school for me to better understand how our specific budgeting, long range financial planning, and capital expenditure processes (as opposed to regular operational spending and budgeting) works in practice. These are really important things to clearly understand as a school administrator. It was also challenging for me to discern and understand the limits and scope of my autonomy as a director of technology. Initially in my first year, I remember being very hesitant to call a meeting in which I “required” people to attend. I’m still careful and (hopefully) sensitively strategic when I do this now… but I have a clearer understanding of the boundaries of my own autonomy now as a technology director. This is definitely something which comes with experience, but it also (at least in my case) also comes with the building of relationships with other staff members at our school, and the opportunity to seek counsel and mentorship from others with more experience and wisdom in “the ways of our school.”

11. Importance of Digital Citizenship

One of the ongoing initiatives at our school of which I’m most proud is the work I’ve done the past 3 years with our school psychologists around “digital citizenship.” Much of the work we’ve done together is shared on the website DigCit.us. I was recently surprised to hear some of our most tech-savvy middle division teachers express a lack of confidence in engaging their students in conversations around digital citizenship. I’m convinced we need to make conversations about digital citizenship a regular part of our dialog with students, at all grade levels, as developmentally and situationally appropriate. A video of the September 2018 presentation on our school’s “Responsible Use Policy” I shared with our school psychologist (Dr. Jeri Baucum-McKinney) is available on our school digital citizenship website. I haven’t linked it in a post yet, but my presentation on digital footprints and social media choices (“If Social Media is a GAME, What’s Your Score?”) is also available via YouTube. I value the opportunities I have to help lead “Parent University” sessions on Internet safety, screentime limits, and other topics, as our school technology director. These opportunities to directly interface with our parents and engage in dialog about digital citizenship topics has been and continues to be an important role for me at our school. Feedback from parents, students, and teachers continues to shape the topics addressed in these meetings as well as the support strategy we continue to develop for our faculty around digital citizenship.

12. Ticketing, Check Ins and Team Meetings

I’ve already mentioned our technology department’s use of SchoolDude’s legacy “Incident” platform for IT ticketing. In addition to a ticketing solution which is as streamlined and simple as possible for faculty/staff to submit tickets as well as the technology support staff to manage, I’ve learned regular “check ins with our technology support staff as well as (ideally) monthly meetings with our larger “technology team are very important. Everyone is SO busy, it’s hard to schedule meeting times that can work for everyone, and this continues to be an ongoing struggle. I’ve been amazed at times, however, how simply the sharing of information and the opportunity to have some question and answer time can help both build relationships and reduce anxiety on the part of some staff. Like many schools, we’re in the midst of a lot of changes and transitions, and these “seasons” bring a lot of stress for educators. One of the things I’m continuing to work on is bringing members of our technology team together on a periodic basis to ‘check in’ and also share feedback about how things are going, the status of ongoing projects, and issues which need special attention.

13. Documentation and Team Drives

Ever since I became our school’s director of technology, I’ve been working on better documenting our support procedures and workflows. This is super challenging, especially when some days you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut-off, plugging leaks in a massive dam. Fortunately, those days are fewer and more “far between” now, but they still happen. Google Team Drives have become an important repository for internal process documentation for our technology department, as well as “how to guides” which we share with our entire school community. Before the advent of Team Drives, I used a CNAME-mapped Google Site (support.casady.org/home/knowledgebase) to share technology documentation with our faculty and staff, as well as others outside our community who wanted to check out these resources. Internal-only documents were saved in a different Google Drive folder, and today those are saved in a Team Drive which is only accessible by our Tech Department staff. Because of confidentiality and “need to know” factors, I share technology support related files in 4 different Google Team Drives now: one for our operations department (which includes security, maintenance and grounds, as well as technology), one for our Tech Department, another for our larger Technology Team members, and finally our school-wide knowledgebase. I’ve also shared presentations and resource handouts from past technology integration workshops which I’ve led for faculty/staff, and have been led by other members of our technology team.

14. Transition to the Cloud and Local Server Management

Every IT department I know has been and is in the process of moving the bulk of local server functions into the cloud. This process was well underway when I started as our school director of technology in 2015. We “went Google” around 2011, finally (and thankfully) giving up a locally hosted Microsoft Exchange Server. When I started at Casady in 2015, we transitioned from the legacy Blackbaud student information system to their new/updated “OnSuite” platform, which was the result of their acquisition of WhippleHill in 2014. I’m very thankful we have a dedicated database manager who takes the lead in “all things Blackbaud” on campus, but it was valuable for me to “get into the weeds” with some of our transition process. Specifically, I helped transition all our comments and skills for primary and lower division teachers (PreK-K and grades 1-4) into OnSuite, and boy was that an experience I’m NOT eager to repeat. Sitting through numerous webinars and calls with with our Blackbaud project manager did give me extremely helpful insights as well as working competency in the environment to both understand and use it. It’s important to effectively delegate technology support roles and responsibilities as a school director of IT, but it’s also vital to have enough understanding of a system, its capabilities and limitations, that you can reasonably consider “the ask” of different constituents who want to make changes, get a staff member to work on a special project, etc. In addition to our transition to the Blackbaud hosted cloud service for our SIS needs, I’ve also learned a lot more about server management, server patching, and the residual roles which need to be played by local servers. For us, this includes DHCP/DNS for our domain controller, IP speaker bells and paging (via InformaCast), Google Cloud Print Service for legacy multi-function printer/copiers, management of endpoint security software, Deep Freeze client management for our labs, and several other roles which I’m leaving out in this post which is not supposed to be exhaustive! Our decision to go with Jive (now owned by LogMeIn) for our VOIP phone system, and includes a cloud-based PBX, was a very important decision in 2018. Overseeing that VOIP phone and IP speaker transition project was a 1.5 year endeavor for me at our school, and definitely an experience which also deepened my IT learning curve as well as our departmental responsibilities via our IP network.

15. Vendor Partnerships and Outsourcing

Vendor relationships are extremely important to manage and maintain as a school director of technology. It’s been interesting to me to watch how vendors succeed or fail in attempting to establish a relationship of trust with me and my staff. I’m thankful, as a private school director of technology, to not be subject to all of the regulations and requirements which the federal E-Rate program puts on public school administrators. Even though those legal mandates don’t apply in the independent school world, there are still a number of ethical as well as practical issues to keep in mind and navigate regarding vendors. Since our department does not have an administrative assistant, one of the weekly (and sometimes daily) challenges is facing the onslaught of vendor cold-calls over the phone. I’ve become more efficient (I think) in politely saying “no thanks” and hanging up on many of those cold calls, but it’s important to recognize that different constituents can initiate some “engagements,” and it’s vital to identify when a parent, alumni, or “friend of the school” has tried to initiate a vendor relationship. Certainly when it comes to current parents and alumni, this can be tricky. The counsel and mentorship of other experienced administrators can be helpful in these situations. One of my friends, who was the director of technology for a local college of education, suggested setting up a generic form and asking all inquiring vendors to submit it for review. This isn’t a procedure we’ve implemented, but from a data security perspective it would be a good one. How does the vendor handle confidential student information? Is that data encrypted end-to-end? Are other third parties granted access to the data? Where is the data stored and how is it protected from a breach or hack? As we utilize cloud-based services and outsource functions to vendors, there are a lot of important questions to ask.

16. 2 Factor Authentication (MFA), Password Managers and Phishing

Our school transitioned to Google/Gsuite 2 Factor Authentication almost two years ago. I think we were a little “ahead of the curve” on that decision, and it was right on target. The hostile security environment in which we live is not fully appreciated by most people today. Brian Krebs (@briankrebs) is one of the best security journalists to read and follow to stay abreast of these issues. You might also subscribe to the weekly podcast I create with Jason Neiffer, “The EdTech Situation Room” (@edtechSR). We frequently highlight and discuss security issues. We also have been encouraging all our faculty/staff to use a password manager like LastPass for several years. Whenever I have a chance to address our entire faculty and staff, I always talk about online safety/security and increasingly phishing. As IT professionals, it’s our duty to help raise the awareness and digital literacy skills of our constituents when it comes to online security.

17. Email Volume and Overload

Boy I wish I had a silver bullet solution to this one. Email remains the “common denominator” digital communication medium in schools today, but boy is it ever out of hand. This isn’t a school issue, of course, it’s a societal issue, but our schools can contribute to the condition of email overload. Just as our communication department carefully weighs the need to directly message our parents each time it’s requested, we need to use restraint and intention as we message faculty and staff from the technology department. I’d love to say I’m a practicing disciple of the “Inbox Zero” email management strategy, but I’m not and email is a daily struggle. At some point, I hope AI/artificial intelligence algorithms come to our rescue, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve read and recommend David Allen’s book and methodology, “Getting Things Done,” which InBox Zero can be a component strategy. My best advice on email is: When you start in a new job role, be unrelentingly focused on maintaining InBox Zero from day one. Never use your email inbox as a holding place for “to do’s.” Delete, reply, or move all your messages out of your inbox every day. Unsubscribe from unwanted email lists and create filters to manage lists you do want to keep. Start and maintain these habits from DAY ONE on the job.

18. Media Specialist / Librarian Partnerships

I love opportunities to work with media specialists / librarians, and I always have in the different educational roles I’ve had over the years. I firmly believe that our librarians are some of the most important leaders, teachers, and shepherds of our media literacy and information literacy skills inside and outside of schools. I’m a huge proponent for and supporter of librarians, who have opportunities to work directly with both students and teachers. My relationships with our librarians as the technology director is very important, to understand the challenges they face and the needs they have, which are ever evolving.

19. Indoor and Outdoor Digital Signage

This topic definitely needs and deserves its own post. Indoor digital signage for our upper division / high school was a project our former technology director (and only previous IT director, he served for 19 years) handed off to me when I joined our school. We started using Android media players from digitalsignage.com, but eventually discovered and now use ScreenCloud Signage. I love it. We’re exploring the possibility of migrating our indoor digital signs which only play Google Slideshows to Chrome Sign Builder, which does not require a monthly subscription. On the outdoor digital signage front, I can’t publicly share all that I’ve learned… but part of it is to carefully shop your vendors and pay attention to the end user software which their solution requires. Don’t assume it’s been updated, verify it and its ease of use. It’s amazing how our expectations of “ease of use” have been elevated over the past decade when it comes to digital interfaces. I think much of that has been driven by smartphones and the iPhone specifically. Generally, iOS “just works.” That’s not always the case with smartphones or other technology solutions, but it’s changed and elevated our expectations… and that’s generally a good thing. Carefully shop your vendors when it comes to outside digital signage. That’s all I’ll say on that topic here, for now.

21. Next Generation Emergency Paging

This topic also deserves its own post. Emergency paging is one of the most important technology functions we support today at our school. When we migrated to Jive phones and IP speakers, we implemented the InformaCast Fusion system for emergency paging. Our campus administrators can now initiate a tornado or lock-down emergency with about 3 taps on their smartphone, or initiate a drill. They can also issue an ‘all clear’ pre-recorded message, or use any phone (not just a campus phone) to initiate an all-school page that goes out on every IP speaker, outside horn, and desk phone at our school. This is so important and so powerful. I could write a lot more about what I’ve learned, turning on “multi-cast” on our VOIP VLAN, specifying a “rendezvous point” for multi-cast traffic, dealing with switches which “prune” multi-cast traffic in some of our buildings, etc. But I’ll stop there.

22. SSO and Managing Logins

Single Sign On (SSO) is important for organizations from a security standpoint, and for efficiency. The less maintaining of separate “silos” of userIDs and passwords you can deal with, generally the better. We’re a Google School, so we’ve implemented some Google SSO solutions, and are looking at more. We enforce 2FA for all faculty/staff, so whenever we authenticate with Google, we’re adding an additional layer of security protection. Using a Google account to login to other school supported platforms (Seesaw Learning Journals, for example) also helps our faculty and staff maintain their sanity when it comes to usernames and passwords. “Just login with your school Google account.” I love to say that, and would like to say it even more. Password managers are also key for this. Some of the most stress-filled interactions I’ve had with our faculty and staff over the past few years have focused on passwords not working. Often this has been a personal AppleID password issue. There is no panacea, but password managers can help. LastPass is free for individuals and works well. As technology directors and support staff, we have to “walk the walk” of good security practices, and not just “talk the talk.” This starts with using LONG, UNIQUE passwords on every website or application we touch. It’s not just painful without a password manager, I think it’s impossible to do fully.

Concluding Thoughts

This turned out to be a monster post. I’ve been thinking about these ideas for many months, however. I’d considered writing this as a series, but this evening I’ve had the time to finally put my ideas into my laptop. I’ve written a lot, but I’ve also left out a bunch. I didn’t address security cameras or access control. WiFi density. Other stuff. But I think for now this is enough…

If you’ve actually read this entire digital tome, in addition to offering you my sincere thanks, I’ll invite you to share any feedback you have. As I wrote previously, please share a comment below, reach out on Twitter @wfryer, or use my electronic contact form to send me a message.

As we often say when closing out an episode on the EdTech Situation Room:

Stay savvy and stay safe out there!

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


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

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

]]>
The Dream of Creative Writing http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/02/10/the-dream-of-creative-writing/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 04:11:28 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12699 I have been doing quite a bit of soul-searching in the past few weeks and months, and I have played with several ideas for my future that are worth noting. One of these is my desire to write fiction, to unleash my creative imagination in a channel detached almost entirely from education and educational technology. I am not saying I am going to seriously do this in the upcoming weeks and months, but it is something which I have thought about a bit, and I want to reflect upon briefly tonight.

I’ve started reading Joseph Campbell’s classic book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” from which we derive “The Hero’s Journey.” This is a pattern which we find in myth, great stories of literature, and great stories depicted now in movies. It is summarized quite well in this TedEd video, which I showed to our daughter last week and is one of my favorites whenever I discuss storytelling and digital storytelling with others.

In chapter 1 of Campell’s book this evening, I ran across this lovely summary, a turn a phrase I both respect and enjoy:

“… these are the everlastingly recurrent themes of the wonderful song of the soul’s high adventure.”

Joseph Campbell, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”

Thoughts of creative writing with joy also bring to mind Liz Gilbert’s wonderful book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” and “Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. With the image of the band Queen‘s retreat to a rural English farm in 1975 to compose “A Night at the Opera” and Bohemian Rhapsody, fresh on my mind from the movie by the same name, I find myself wondering what sorts of creative tales my mind could unleash given the opportunity to disconnect from the world as I know it now and tap into my own creative imagination?

As I ponder the professional opportunities and decisions which lie ahead of my family and I in the coming week, a desire to write and rediscover myself as a prolific author is one idea among many on my mind. I have loved so many things about the past four years, being a school director of technology, but the circumstances and context of my work has encouraged me to almost entirely stop writing. This is both a vocation and hobby about which I am passionate and dearly love, and plan to reclaim in the months ahead.

(This is my first mobile blogged post using the new WordPress block-based writing interface, and largely dictated using speech to text on my iPad.)

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


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

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

]]>
Tips for Self-Publishing Your Book (February 2019) http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2019/02/05/tips-for-self-publishing-your-book-february-2019/ Wed, 06 Feb 2019 03:33:39 +0000 http://www.speedofcreativity.org/?p=12690 share a 41 minute presentation with Mrs. Finley’s 12th grade Creative Writing class at our school, which I called, “Book Publishing 101.” Her students have spent the past several weeks writing and creating original children’s picture books, and publishing them as eBooks as well as printed books [...]]]> Today I had an opportunity to share a 41 minute presentation with Mrs. Finley’s 12th grade Creative Writing class at our school, which I called, “Book Publishing 101.” Her students have spent the past several weeks writing and creating original children’s picture books, and publishing them as eBooks as well as printed books using Book Creator online, Book Creator for iPad, and the website Lulu.com. Here are the slides I used during my presentation:

Mrs. Finley requested I record my presentation as a video, in case students wanted to review some of the steps we discussed, so I recorded myself using an iPad and a tripod (with a $10 iPow iPad mount), and uploaded it to YouTube afterward. The audio quality isn’t fantastic since I wasn’t standing right beside the iPad, but hopefully it’s adequate.

This is the 8th year of this wonderful book writing project for Mrs. Finley and her students, and my second year to help facilitate with some technology tools and strategies. All the student book projects from last year are available on bit.ly/spr18ebooks, and this year’s student book projects are available on bit.ly/spr19ebooks. Those shortened links will redirect your web browser to Google Docs which include the covers, titles, and downloadable ePUB versions of student eBooks, as well as Lulu.com print version order pages. On an iPad, the easiest way to download the books directly is to click the Google Drive folder link, and then choose to open the desired ePUB file in the Apple Books app.

This year as I worked with our students, I tried to break down the steps required to create, build and publish a book more clearly. Taken together this IS a lot of steps, but it’s definitely a process students can handle. I called the three phrases of this workflow:

  1. Create
  2. Build
  3. Publish

These are the five steps for writing or “creating” the book, primarily “offline” but possibly using Google Docs.

After writing the book and creating original artwork, these are the ten steps to BUILD the book online using Book Creator:

This year, I took the PDF versions of completed student books from the Book Creator website, and altered the margins of the book so it would be accepted for print publishing on Lulu.com. That was a mistake, however, because the formatting of the directly downloaded PDF from app.bookcreator.com is smaller and of a poorer quality than an exported PDF from the iPad version of Book Creator. I shared this during my presentation today, and demonstrated the 11 steps of taking a finished ePUB file from Book Creator and publishing it successfully via Lulu.com. The initial steps of this workflow require the use of both an iPad and an Apple laptop, which is not ideal, but it’s the best quality workflow for simplified publishing that I’ve been able to figure out.

More resources about creating and sharing eBooks are available on the eBook page of ShowWithMedia.com. If you have feedback or questions about this workflow and these steps, please reach out to me on Twitter @wfryer, by using my electronic contact form, or with a comment below. I LOVE helping students and teachers create books and eBooks with Book Creator! I’m hopefully going to share a repeated workshop for teachers at our school in March on “Creating Multimedia eBooks,” and will use that opportunity to further reflect on and share lessons learned from these student projects.

If you’re interested in inviting me to your school or organization to share a workshop about ebook creation and publishing, please submit my speaking inquiry form. More information about my speaking topics and services are also available.

I hope these resources empower you and your students to create books and eBooks to share your creativity and ideas with the world!

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


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

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

]]>