EdTech Tip: Inserting & Editing Audio files into Mac Powerpoint 2016

May 2016

In these two video I show you how you can add an audio file into a powerpoint presentation and how you can change the audio icon to display something a little more interesting than a sound icon.

EdTech Tip: How to use firefox to download embedded swf files

May 2016

Do you use animations regularly in your teaching? Have you ever been in a situation where a much loved and used animation on the web is no longer available. In this video I show you how to download .swf or flash animation files for permanent storage on your machine. That way you can consistently rely on them in your teaching. Please make sure that you reference your sources appropriately when you do use these animations.

EdTech Tip: Creating a clip of a podcast

April 2016

Using podcasts can be a great way to engage students with new material. Podcasts can be used in a wide range of ways but assuming that you only want to use a few minutes of an episode it is best to clip or trim the section of the podcast that you to efficiently bring it into a teaching sequence. In this video I show you how.

 

What I have learned about: EdTech part III (Screencasting)

Screencasting

Screencasting is a useful and versatile tool for all learners, both teachers and students. Teachers can use it to create task walkthroughs for students like the one I posted here. They can also use it to assess students thinking about concepts and then provide feedback by commenting on the screencast if students share it with them through youtube or some other channel.

Students benefit by creating a visual and auditory performance of a concept (as opposed to a written performance) which they can then critique either on their own when they come to review a topic or study it in more detail. Work can also be saved for future classes to view, critique and improve.

The drawbacks are that it takes a certain level of investment to get comfortable using. I have had students resist doing an activity because they didn’t like the sound of their own voice understandably. This means that gentle encouragement and coaching can draw out the process. In addition students need to be shown how to to this, what software to use and what websites to visit on top of the content that you are trying to help them engage with ultimately.

On this page I introduce readers to an online sketchpad that when combined with screencasting as shown on this page provides an excellent tool for student performances that get away from the pen and pencil and engage other senses in the learning process.

In the performances below, my grade 11 HL Biology students were asked to use sketchpad to describe the process of DNA replication while recording a screencast. I think that the results speak for themselves, and I think any teacher will see the benefit of having students submit work in this format:

Example No 1

Example No 2:

Example No 3:

What I learned about: EdTech part II (Mobile Tech)

Mobile Tech

Mobiles in the classroom? This can be a testy one and probably not appropriate for all classrooms. I currently work in a Bring Your Own Device School or BYOD campus, where students are allowed to bring any smartphone or tablet to class with them, although in Grade 9 upwards (Year 10 UK style) we insist on a laptop.

BYOD campuses bring their own challenges for the learning community but they certainly can bring benefits to classrooms, so long as the focus remains on the learning and not on the “ooohhh” factor of playing with new toys. The SAMR model (below) is a great starting point for launching your thinking about how to use EdTech in the classroom, although to reach the higher levels of the model does require a significant of investment of time for the teacher to be proficient enough with the technology to design appropriate learning engagements. Schools that aim to get in involved with tech in the classroom should pay head to this training need for teachers.

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As a science teacher some of the areas that I have experimented with in using Mobile tech is to ask students to create “how to videos”. Mostly these would be created on iPhones or iPads using iMovie but there are other devices and software available. For example, carrying out foodtests and learning about the diagnostic tests for starch and simple sugars etc is a normal part of a middle school science program. The learning here underpins learning of deeper concepts further up the school, for example using colourimetery to test for the concentration of sugars. In a traditional classroom, science teachers would teach the theory before a class would carry out the tests in a practical lab to get experience of actually carrying out the tests. By adding in the task of making a “how to video” students would be asked to carry out the task as usual but to use their phones to record the tests and at the end put together a short video that demonstrates each of the tests in action. What I like about this is that it causes students to reinforce the learning by applying the theory in a new context; not only in the practical but in the further explanation of the method via the video. Students are effectively being asked to visually write a method, which they can share with friends, or save for revision time. When these videos are uploaded to Youtube it becomes very easy as a teacher to assess and provide feedback on the learning via the comments section.

I include some videos of this below that show the student work. The results do vary.

Mobiles can also be used for higher order learning and not simply the description of methodology but also the explanation of concepts. I have only tried this once with a grade 11 (Year 12 or L6th).

In these tasks students were asked to demonstrate their understanding of a concept by creating a short video about it. Students record a sequence of steps using molymods or playdoh to illustrate an idea. Their lecture is therefore recorded and their thinking is made audible and visible. Peers and teachers are able to review this thinking to give feedback to the student. Tasks can be individual or in small groups, as were done in the creation of this video explaining hydrolysis and condensation reactions.

The task can be scaled up into whole groups as in this explanation of transcription by my current grade 11 HL students. Here I asked students to study the material prior to class. When they came to class I asked each of them to write a model answer to a question about transcription. I then snowballed the students into a group who were now asked to write a script for an animation of transcription. Finally the students were asked to animate their script using play-doh and to record this with one of the students phone. The result can be viewed here:

One of the things that I like about this approach is that it is multi-sensory. Students are not confined to simply writing and reading, activity that is divorced from relying on all our senses to learn. Students can craft a model with their hands, while using their voices and sense of hearing to articulate their thinking and critique the work of each other.

This type of activity can be taken even further and can across classrooms. It can ultimately provided students with their own revision tool, if the explanation is correct or it can be used for further rounds of critique until it is perfected. Students in the same class or in future classes can critique the work to spot and correct any mistakes in the explanation, all the while students are getting familiar with and practice at using the scientific terminology.