Thing 16: You Pick! Nearpod

The Fifties in 3D
“The Fifties in 3D.” 11th May 11, 1951.National Archives UK. No known copyright restrictions.

This has been an exciting year in my school district in regards to educational technology. During the summer we set up our technology mentor program. The tech mentors are a group of teachers from across the district that are technology enthusiasts, that use educational technologies with their students, and that are willing to support other teachers to use technologies in their classrooms. This year we also had iPads  available for student use in the classroom. One of the technologies we saw at our tech mentor training over the summer was something called Nearpod.

Nearpod is an online presentation tool and it does have an app for tablet devices and smartphones. Just imagine you are giving a lecture. You slides, instead of displaying on a large screen in front of the class, are on display on the students’ computers, tablet devices, or smartphones.  Preprogramed questions popup between the slides at critical points so that your students can submit responses to critical questions. You can instantly see the students responses to gage their understanding of the concepts of your lesson. Nearpod presentations are easy to create and easy to use, and you can also get reports of students’ responses. Nearpod allows you to turn your static slideshow into an interactive learning experience.

During this school year, I collaborated with another tech mentor (a High School science teacher) on a Nearpod presentation for our Board of Education to introduce some of these ‘new to our school district’ technologies for educational use. I have also demonstrated it at faculty meetings, and most recently at a BOCES SLS Council meeting, to discuss how this technology could be used for formative evaluation in the classroom. It is wildly popular in the Elementary and Middle Schools. Some of the interesting applications have included using Nearpod as a tool for reviewing materials and as an exit ticket tool. I find it to be a very versatile tool and I enjoy seeing how my teachers use it with their students.

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 4: Photo Sharing, Part 3

Girl Taking Photo of Dog

N.d.; National Media Museum; Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Whenever I explore a ‘new to  me’  Web 2.0 technology, or I revisit something neat that I have not used in a long while, I think about how I might use this at school. Could this be used in the classroom, or as way to promote a particular program. If I cannot answer these questions, I should move on to something else. While exploring Flickr, I walked away with some interesting ideas.

I like that people can post images with Creative Commons licensing and that you can search for images that have a Creative Commons license. This option is found on Flickr’s advanced search page. The challenges are that (1) the only link I have found to advanced search is at the top of a search results page, and (2) the options for Creative Commons are at the bottom of the advanced search page. I could see  myself using this with students to help them understand the difference between copyright and licensing. This discussion would be meaningful for high school students who would tend to be the creative types because they probably have things that they wish to share with others. This would also be valuable to students (and teachers) creating educational  resources.

I also like the idea of Flickr Commons, photographic archives from institutions around the world. Fortunately, you can get to this from the main page. These are historical photographs of people, places, and events. Metadata (e.g.: title, date, physical description, repository, etc.) is also readily available for these images. I now find myself regularly checking Flickr Commons (as well as the advanced search’s limit to Creative Commons) for images to be included as part of my blog postings or slide show presentations. I could see myself using Flickr Commons with social studies or other classes seeking historical photographs for their class projects. I could also see myself using it to talk with students about attribution and citing sources for their research projects.

I am glad that I revisited Flickr. This Web 2.0 tool has many neat characteristics that can easily be used with my Middle School and High School students to provide them with both a historical context for their lessons as well as a better understanding the need for attribution of other’s creative works.

Thing 4: Photo Sharing, Part 2

Another CameraAt a recent staff development workshop at school, the principal casually said something in front of a room full of teachers that stuck in the back of my mind. He said that one of the things he wanted to do was to share with the local community what was happening in the school. He also said that in his conversations with parents and others, that they wanted to see what the students were doing in the classroom.

As the day continued, I wondered about what kinds of things happened in the classroom that could easily be documented in a meaningful way and how best to make these artifacts available to others outside the school. While there are many teachers that do lots of neat things with their students, there was one particular department that came to mind in which the students create a lot of neat stuff that could easily be photographed and posted onto the Internet for others to appreciate. I emailed the department chair to see if she or her teachers might be interested in doing something. She responded enthusiastically, saying that they wanted to explore blogging and other technologies and asked me if I would attend their next department meeting in January to discuss these ideas. (Please note that since I have not yet met with these teachers, I will be referring to the  as “the department” through out the rest of this posting.)

My thinking is that the teachers in this department could take pictures of their students’ creative works and these pictures could be put onto a photo-sharing website. Ideally, the photo-sharing website would allow for images to be tagged and organized so that people could easily find either student-created items for a specific project or items created during the school year by that specific teacher’s class. In addition, the teachers might also want to include a description of the assignment or the techniques used by the students to provide background information about the students’ creative works presented.

I explored using Flickr as the photo-sharing service. It allows users to organize their images into sets (or albums), and to add descriptive information to each image (title, description, tags, etc.) The sets were also identifiable by title and a description about the set could also be added. Flickr also allows users to easily make images public or private, to apply Creative Commons licenses to these images. RSS feeds are also available for the sets, and individual images could also be shared through a variety of means (sharing through social media, as a link, or through html code for a web page).

I could easily see the teachers in this department express an interest in possibly using Flickr to showcase their students’ works. Each teacher desiring to use it would need to create their own accounts. I would recommend that they create a set for each of their class assignments and to tag their images with some meaningful information (perhaps by medium or subject). I did create a collection of sets to show these teachers to illustrate how Flickr could be used. I look forward to sharing these with them and I would be glad support them on this project if they wanted to do something.

I like the way that Flickr meets all of the criteria for this possible application at my school. It would allow both the department and the school to easily share stuff that the students are doing in the classroom with the community. It would be very easy for these teachers to upload images and organize these into albums. Other school departments or programs might also be interested in doing something similar. It would also foster a very meaningful dialog between teachers, students, administrators, and others about how this and other Web 2.0 technologies could be used safely within a K-12 school setting. I am glad that I was at that staff development workshop to hear this wish being expressed.

Thing 4: Photo Sharing, Part 1

I remember many years ago when I was working on my MLS and I was taking the required management course. One of the projects we did, in collaboration with a local library of our choosing, was to create an annual report for these libraries. We had a detailed rubric of items that needed to be included, which included photos of people using the library.

Herbert George Ponting and cinematograph, Antarctica, January 1912. By National Library NZ on The Commons

Herbert George Ponting and cinematograph, Antarctica, January 1912. By National Library NZ on The Commons

Photos (and now also movie and audio files) are excellent vehicle for illustrating and documenting library-related activities, including education and training. Back in the late 1990’s when we wanted to share photos, we were limited to printing our photos unless we stuck them onto a web page. Tools like flickr were not readily available like they are today.

Fast forward to years later when I started as a teacher librarian, I was confronted with policies and practices that, while well intended to protect our students, were confusing and less than clear about what I could or could not do with digital photos and related media. Due to this situation, I have not done too much with online photo sharing as part of my library program.

Students should be exposed to taking and sharing their own photos. In addition to learning about artistic and photographic techniques, they should also be learning about things like tagging and licensing of their media files. If I were teaching a course on media use, I would also be tempted to broaden the topic of photo sharing to include file sharing. We often ask students to work together on school projects but they are often left to their own devices on how to best share their files between themselves. While many times the students will come up with acceptable practices (e.g.: using email to send a file to someone), sometimes they will do something inappropriate like sharing account passwords. We need to include in our lessons ways to properly share media files (photos, movies, word documents, powerpoints, etc.) as well as our expectations that our student will use these tools properly.

As part of this lesson, I will further explore and describe my recent experience with using flickr in my library and how photo sharing could be used in a school environment to share information with the community.

(As for the photo of Herbert George Ponting in Antarctica with his camera, it kinda looked like I was there today with our winter weather advisory for the snow storm in Central NYS.)