Thing 13: Media Skills

J.E. Williamson going down

J.E. Williamson going down. Bain News Service, publisher [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection. No known restrictions on publication.

This year at Dryden, we have two new things available to us. First, we have access to Google Apps for Education which allows us to easily create and share digital files with each other. It is available to both staff and students. In addition, we have technology mentors. This is a team of teachers, myself included, that are technology enthusiasts and that use educational technologies in our classrooms. We have a wide range of skills, abilities, and interests and one of our goals is to promote the use of educational technologies in our classrooms.

Earlier this past week, I received an email from one of my teachers asking for help. He said (and I paraphrase):

I’m working on a Google presentation that I am planning to show when I meet with a group of parents. Each slide contains a photograph and I would like it to loop when it gets to the end. I know how to do this in PowerPoint but I cannot figure it out in Google presentation. Any thoughts?

While I am not an expert (yet) with Google apps, the more I use it, the more I like it. I have also used PowerPoint to create looping slide shows of images, however, I have yet to play around with Google presentations. He had shared his presentation with me so I took a look at it. Sure enough, I could not find a loop option in Google presentation.

Upon doing a Google search for the puzzle, I discovered that first one creates their presentation, then one goes to Google sites to create a web page upon which one then inserts a file from Google Drive. When a presentation is chosen, one gets display options that includes loop. I just found another reason to like Google Apps.

My teacher was very happy to hear about my findings and he was then able to get his images to loop. I’m looking forward to touching base with him after he meets with his group of parents to see how it went.


Thing 12: Social Learning & Learning Management Systems

Lecture on steps

“Lecture on steps.” N.d. Photographs of Frank R. Snyder. Miami University Libraries- Digital Collections. No known copyright restrictions. URL:,2799

One of my early experiences with a Learning Management System (LMS) was in graduate school over 15 years ago. The professor taught his course using a bulletin board system (BBS). He did a lecture early in the week, then days later he would post his notes on his BBS along with questions for his students. About the same time, I witnessed several other things that appeared to be related. There were Freenets and the development of distance learning in higher education. These online technologies had a common goal, to bring people together for the exchange of ideas and information.

This was in the very early days of the Internet when the best access one had was via a 2400 baud modem using plain old telephone lines. Unless one happened to work the weekend shifts at a quiet library in the area. These were the days before streaming audio and video, before one could easily share files with others, and often when color output (monitors and printers) was a luxury. Things have certainly changed for the better.

One of the things I brought with me when I was hired as the school’s library media specialist was the desire to explore how the ideas behind LMS could be implemented in the Middle and High School levels to promote student learning. We have access to a system at BOCES as well as an internal ‘communication and content management’ system. While both of which are used, they did not meet easily meet the needs of teachers and students. I have used blogs, however, it was difficult to get this technology into the classroom. As I prepared to teach media literacy to 6th grade students this year, we decided to use Edmodo as a vehicle to teach students about (and for them to have structured experiences with) online communication behaviors. In addition to myself, a couple other teachers are using it and there are several others that are interested.

Generally speaking, we have had success using Edmodo. Students like because in many ways it looks like Facebook and teachers find it easy to use. We discovered before we started using it that we needed to get parents’ permissions first, otherwise we would have to differentiate the lessons for those without permissions. While this was doable, I would like to talk with Edmodo to see if we could instead use the computer use agreement forms that are signed each September. I would also like to explore Edmodo’s school and district network options.

I do look forward to further exploring how to use Edmodo with my 6th students and to sharing these experiences with others. I also like the idea of professional communities in Edmodo. This is an excellent resource for educational professionals. As I prepare to teach a High School elective on mobile technologies, we will probably use it in this class, too.