Thursday, February 25, 2010

Teaching Genetics

Do you teach biology? Wouldn't this image be a great way to begin a discussion on genetics?


(Via How genetics works.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Finding Photos for Your Slides

In an earlier post, we found interesting slides for our lectures. Now let's take a look at how we might create our own eye-catching slides. For this exercise, we'd like to create slides for the 10 Questions to Ponder we posted last week. We'll focus this week on photo hosting/sharing site flickr. Flickr is a great site for finding high-quality photos, as well as posting and sharing your own photos. Once you create a Flickr account, you can upload your own photos and "favorite" the photos of others.

When someone posts photos in Flickr, they have the option to make them public or private and to license them. The licenses range from "All rights reserved" to a variety of "Creative Commons" licensing. Let's talk a little bit about some of the "Creative Commons" licensing options--in particular, some of the terms we encounter.
  • "Attribution" is present on all; this term means that we must cite the source of the photo - in this case the Flickr user.

  • "NonCommercial" means that we can't make any money from the use of the image - is anyone paying for your PowerPoints?

  • "ShareAlike" licensing requires that any modifications we make to the photo be shared back with the community (i.e. Flickr).

  • Finally, "NoDerivs" means that we are prohibited from creating derivatives works from the photo - for example recoloring or altering the photo to create an entirely new version.

Within Flickr, we can navigate to "Advanced Search" and limit our search to "Creative Commons" licensed content.
flickr license2.png

If you want learn more about Flickr and some of the advanced features available in Flickr, here's a great slideshow "Flickr 101" from the Nebraska Library Commission:
Now let's dive into our 10 Questions to Ponder!

#1 How do we support the changing role of teacher?
#2 What is the role of the teacher?

These questions both deal with the role of the teacher, so we've combined them. We found this diverse set of photos by searching for terms such as "teach," "teacher," "teaching." and "professional development"
teaching - chalk.jpg teaching math.jpg
Photo by yewenyi Photo by foundphotoslj

prof devel 3.jpg prof devel 4.jpg

Photo by Barrett Web Coord Photo by Dale Basler

Now a little more on Flickr. We really like the two the photos from "superkimbo in BKK" that we included above. We can click on her username to see her "photostream" - the images she's posted to Flickr and made publicly available.
flickr contact3.png

Wow - she's posted some really great photos. We can continue to "favorite" individual photos - as we've been doing, but if we come across a Flickr user whose work we really like, we can also add them as a "contact."
flickr contact 2.png

When you add someone as a contact, you will get an e-mail every time they upload a new photo. This is a great way to keep up with their work. You'll see some great photos from user paurian later in this blog post.

Now let's get back to our questions.

#3 How do we help students discover their passions?

The first photo we found by exploring paurian's photostream; the second by searching for "students" and "passion."

inquiry student.jpg student passion.jpg
Photo by paurian Photo by orangeacid

#4 What is the essential learning that schools impart to students?

There may be better photos to describe essential learning, but searching for "light bulb" we found this image, which makes us think of spark, imagination, or idea.
light bulb.jpg
Photo by zetson

#5 What is the purpose of school?

You can find lots of pictures searching for "school" "university" or "college." This is a great photo of the Front Quad of University College, Oxford. Apparently, it's very difficult to get permission to take photos here.
oxford univ.jpg
Photo by Lawrence OP

#6 How do we adapt our curriculum to the technologies that kids are already using?

We found this photo by searching for "adapt" and "technology." This isn't one of Mike's cats.
adapting to tech.jpg
Photo by Tom Lemos

These photos we found with search terms such as "kids," "technology," and "learning."
kids and tech.jpg kids and tech2.jpg
Photo by Barrett Web Coord Photo by Phil Scoville

kids and tech 3.jpg kids and tech 4.jpg
Photo by cogdogblog Photo by cogdogblog

Searching for photos even led us to discover an image that caused us to ask a new question:

BONUS QUESTION Do we risk kids becoming addicted to technology?
tech addicted.jpg
Photo by Joits

#7 What does an educated person look like today?

We love this photo - would you have guessed that we searched for "educated?"
Photo by paurian

#8 How do we change policy to support more flexible time and place learning?

Time: These images were discovered searching for "time" and "clock" - you can even try "tick tock."
time - ticktock.jpg

clocks2.jpg clocks1.jpg

Photo by Leo Reynolds Photo by Leo Reynolds

Place: These images were found with search terms "world" and "Earth."

world3.jpg world4.jpg
Photo by aussiegall Photo by strollerdos

#9 What are the essential practices of teachers in a system where students are learning outside of school?

We found lots of interesting stuff by searching for combinations of "informal," "learning," and "education."

informal learning1.jpg
Photo by misterbisson

informal learning2.jpg informal learning3.jpg
Photo by jaycross Photo by Cyprien

#10 How do we ensure those without privilege have equal access to quality education and opportunity?

To find this figure we searched for the terms "rich" and "poor."

That should get us started. Next week we combine these images with our questons to create slides - stay tuned!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Questions to Ponder

Will Richardson led a session at EduCon 2.2 focused on answering the question:
What are the ‘big’ conversations that schools should be having in relation to the ‘tectonic’ shifts that are occurring with social learning online?

From the session, Richardson was able to compile a fairly long list, from which he generated a Google Form and encouraged his blog readers to vote on the top ten. We've listed the top ten below, along with three questions that just missed the top ten. These are all great questions! Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend entire faculty days discussing some of these questions with your colleagues?

The Big Questions: Now What?
So as of today, 220 of you were kind enough to vote on what you thought were the 10 most important questions from the list that we generated at Educon. Here are the ‘winners’ at the moment:

  1. How do we support the changing role of teacher? 116
  2. What is the role of the teacher? 110
  3. How do we help students discover their passions? 110
  4. What is the essential learning that schools impart to students? 109
  5. What is the purpose of school? 102
  6. How do we adapt our curriculum to the technologies that kids are already using? 100
  7. What does and educated person look like today? 97
  8. How do we change policy to support more flexible time and place learning? 97
  9. What are the essential practices of teachers in a system where students are learning outside of school? 92
  10. How do we ensure those without privilege have equal access to quality education and opportunity? 92
And here were the next three that didn’t quite make the cut:
- What is preventing us from being adaptable to change? 79
- How do you validate or evaluate informal learning? 77
- How do we measure or assess the effectiveness of individualized self-directed learning outside of school? 68

Monday, February 8, 2010

Finding Interesting Slides for Your Courses

Is this what your lecture notes look like?
Why do we take the contents of a Word document and try to cram them into PowerPoint slides?

Here are some lecture notes--do these belong in Word or PowerPoint? It's important to pick the right tool for the right job.
lecture notes.png

Most would agree that Word is much better suited for sharing this type of content, but we all feel strangely compelled to turn our lecture notes into slides.

Today we're going to look at how one might transform their classroom lectures--their lecture notes--into compelling PowerPoint slides.

slideshare.pngWe'll start with a great site for sharing PowerPoint slides - We'll see if we can find some interesting presentations that we can use.

Let's pick a discipline and see how we might improve our classroom presentations. How about biology? Let's say you're teaching a unit on mitosis. We go to slideshare and search for "mitosis," resulting in--wow! - 835 results.
mitosis search1.png
Let's take a look at 3 of the top 4 results, which have:
  • 24 slides, viewed 2359 times and downloaded 123 times
  • 50 slides, viewed 17377 times and downloaded 780 times
  • 16 slides, viewed 1005 times and downloaded 23 times
mitosis search2.png
The second presentation we've highlighted seems pretty popular--let's take a look at those slides:
Just quickly reviewing the slides, there's some text, but a good number of images and figures as well. Now let's take a look at the first one in our list--not quite as popular, but still 123 downloads.
There is some good stuff in each, so how would we use these two presentations? Once you register at slideshare, you'll have the option to Favorite and Download interesting presentations. You can even "follow" users who consistently upload presentations that you like.
mitosis search3.png
Once you've downloaded the presentations, you can pick and choose the best slides from each and combine them with your own slides to come up with your own version. Make sure to credit any presentations you've used--this can be as simple as an ending slide that credits the two presentations and links to them on slideshare.

Not let's take a look at another tool - SlideFinder.
With SlideFinder, we enter a keyword and search for individual slides. Let's try "mitosis" again - 992 items--wow, who knew mitosis was so popular! SlideFinder gives us a preview of individual slides that we might be interested in:
If we "mouse-over" any of the slides, we get a bigger preview, along with the source, and a link to download. There's also a download link under each slide.
If we click on any of the previews, we can see the entire set of slides that a slide comes from--without having to download them.
Again, once we find some interesting slides we download these and combine them with slides from Slideshare and slides of our own to come up with our exciting new presentation! Remember to credit the sources!

Finally, here's our favorite "mitosis" slide of all time:
Hmmm .... donuts!

Monday, February 1, 2010

VoiceThread - Video Conversations

A number of colleagues have been very successful using Jing to connect with their students. Here's a link to our earlier post on using Jing in the classroom. Jing takes those static text-based discussions we have in our online classes and turns them into dynamic videos that share and convey so much more information than we've been able to using email, text messaging, or discussion forums. Bob McGovern -from the English Department - has even been successful at getting his students to peer-review each others work using Jing. One limitation of Jing is that this is an asynchronous conversation - I record a Jing and send to a student; the student records a Jing response; and the process continues back and forth.

Here's a new tool - VoiceThread - that supercharges that conversation. You can upload images or video and begin a conversation by commenting on the content. You send a link or message to students and/or colleagues and they comment. Commenting can take many forms, including a telephone call, video from a webcam, audio from a microphone, text-based comments, and uploaded audio.

Imagine the potential uses. Marie Maber in Art could post images of important works and have students comment. In the English Department, students could comment on a sample paragraph or peer-review each others work. How can you use it in your discipline?

Here's a brief little VoiceThread that I created. In a matter of a couple minutes, I was able to select and upload a half dozen images from my computer and record the accompanying narration with my built-in microphone. Feel free to create a VoiceThread account and add your own comments!

Here's a brief VoiceThread explaining VoiceThread (strangely self-referential):

and another explaining how to create your own VoiceThread in 1 minute: