Category Archives: Course 3

Reflecting on Course 3

Wow! As I have been reading through all of your posts this weekend, I have been inspired by so many of your ideas! It’s great to see the visual elements you have been bringing to not only your posts, but your classroom practice throughout this course. Most COETAILers say that Course 3 is where they start to “get it” and feel like they can put the big ideas of the course into practice. I’m hoping you’re starting to feel that way too!

Just wanted to share a few highlights with you, especially since we have plenty of time to reflect and prepare for Course 4, which is well over a month away.

Making your posts practical

The posts that really resonate with me, and really demonstrate your understanding of the themes of the course are the ones that share how you’re implementing these ideas in your classroom. Here are a few examples:

  • Himani’s post about the use of color in images and how it prompted a very thoughtful conversation
  • Debi’s post about using real-world images to highlight key concepts
  • Dalton’s post about how he plans to use infographics in his classroom – with some great examples
  • Alice’s post about applying visual literacy skills within Reader’s Workshop

Reflecting rather than summarizing

Posts that share your thinking about a topic, rather than summarizing the content really put a personal perspective on the topic for the week. Since we’ve all read the readings, there’s no reason to summarize the content – the posts that tell us what you think about the content are the ones that give us a good insight into what you’re thinking. Here are a few examples:

  • Tabitha’s post about bringing more images into her classroom environment
  • Sophie’s reflection on the Presentation Zen concepts and how they relate to her teaching and learning experiences
  • Jessica’s post highlighting some natural connections between the classes she teaches and the big concepts from the week’s readings – with examples from her classroom too!

A peek into your classroom

The posts that highlight student learning and examples of student work really give us an insight into what it’s like to learn in your classroom. They’re also inspirational for others that teach your subject that might want to try some of your ideas in their own classroom. Here are a few examples:

  • Akio’s post about his experiences with digital storytelling
  • Dwayne’s post highlighting his students’s work with data collection and infographics
  • Sean’s post demonstrating the connections between the different classes he teaches and how he can apply learning from one into another – with a great student-created infographic example
  • Jessica’s post about remixing literature that not only includes the assignment and a break-down of how she created and implemented the project, but also some great student examples

Finding the relevance for you

As I have mentioned before, the weekly prompts are just prompts for those that need them. You don’t need to answer the question directly or include it in your post. The idea is to find the relevance from the content for the week within your classroom or learning environment. Here are a few examples:

Reflect & Relax

Hopefully all of these ideas will give you some inspiration for starting out Course 4, which is also very practical in nature. We have plenty of time to reflect, relax and catch up on any missed work if needed before Course 4 starts. It would be great if someone was interested in hosting a Google Hangout in this intermediate time so you could have a chance to chat in real time – please let me know if you’re interested!

Everyone should have received some form of feedback from me this weekend regarding Course 3. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know. Since we have so much time before Course 4 starts, please make sure any and all outstanding work is completed by April 14th.

Course 3: Wrapping Up

Woohoo! You are more than halfway through COETAIL already!

Last week was our last week of readings and blogging for Course 3. Please feel free to take this week to finish up your project and all other associated COETAIL work. Then we have a nice long break until the 14th April for Course 4 to begin.

Wrapping Up Course 3!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings through “Week 6” Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 6 blog posts and 5 comments
  • continued recording the URL of the post you and comments you would like assessed as part of Course 3
  • completed your final project and reflective blog post for Course 3 (remember to use the uploading and sharing media strategies from last week for multimedia files)

Thinking Ahead

As we look ahead to Course 4 and 5 – both of which are very practical and allow you to really implement all of your COETAIL learnings in your classroom, there a few items that are worth highlighting:

Your Blog = Your Learning & Thinking

Although there will continue to be a weekly prompt for Course 4 (but that will stop in Course 5), your blog posts are a space for you to reflect on your learning. If you like using a prompt to get you started in your writing, please do. However, you do not have to use the prompts – you can just write about what strikes your interest around that week’s theme. The idea is to build up your natural blogging rhythm and practice, rather than to force everyone to “answer the same question”. This is why we won’t have any prompts in Course 5. So, Course 4 is a great place to practice writing on a theme, rather than answering the prompt.

Commenting & Connecting 

It’s so great to see all the different places that you are commenting – from within our cohort, to other cohorts, to beyond! As you start thinking about moving into more independent blogging and commenting practice, you may want to consider diversifying your comment routine – maybe that means trying to read different COETAILers within our cohort, just to see what they’re up to, or maybe that means checking out new COETAILers who have just started Course 1. This will be a key element of Course 5, so getting a little practice in Course 4 couldn’t hurt!

Keeping Your Blog Organized

Quite a few of you have mentioned that you’re not using tags yet, and you’re not quite sure about the difference between tags and categories. If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t use a single tag until I had been blogging for at least a year 🙂 I started out using categories and found that worked just fine – until I had so many posts that it was actually hard to find what I was looking for. So, now I like to think of categories as the big theme or overarching idea, and tags are like keywords that describe individual topics from each post.

One reason you might really want to start using both is that they’re really useful for keeping things organized. Lots of my YIS cohort members use categories for each course, and then put the category as a menu item so they can easily find each post. Tags are great for other COETAILers finding your content because we have the “tags” page on the main blog which lots of COETAILers use to find people exploring similar ideas.

Hanging Out

We’ve had a few participant-led hangouts for all three courses. If you’d like to continue this, or join for the first time, please add your thoughts in the comments. Would anyone be interested in a wrapping up Course 3 hangout in the next few weeks before we start Course 4? It could be a good way for us to all touch base, reflect on where we are, and get some ideas for where we’re going to go next…. If you’re interested, please leave a comment!

Enjoy the break!

We have over a month before Course 4 starts, so I hope you enjoy the break! If you need to catch up on any work from earlier courses now is a great time. I’ll be following up with everyone over the next few weeks – let me know if you have any questions!

Week 6: Remix & Mashup

Welcome to Week 6!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 5″ in Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 5 blog posts and 5 comments
  • continued recording the URL of the post you and comments you would like assessed as part of Course 3
  • started your final project for Course 3

Course 3 Final Projects & Sharing Media on Your Blog

Because Course 3 is very heavy into visual media, a few great questions have come up about how to best share media on your blog. You may have already noticed that there is a limit to the file sizes you can upload to your blog. This is because there are great places to host your media on the web where lots of other users will be able to find it and connect with you (and of course, we don’t have unlimited server space to host all the files everyone could possibly want to upload).

So, as you create your final projects for Course 3, you may want to think about where you’re going to upload your finished products. Here are a few ideas:

Uploading & sharing images:

Personally, I love Flickr. The free accounts are really generous, the sharing is super easy, and the community is really active. Of course you can host all your images within Google+ if you have an account already (which used to be Picasa). Another popular resource is SmugMug.

Uploading & sharing videos:

Mostly I tend to use YouTube. The fact that it’s integrated with Google Apps makes it easy to manage. When I have longer videos, I tend to use Vimeo. You can upload videos to your Google Drive account and embed them in other places on the web too, if that feels more comfortable for you.

Uploading & sharing presentations:

If I have a lot of custom designing on a presentation and I don’t want to upload to Google Presentations, I usually create in Keynote or PowerPoint and then upload to Slideshare. Again, it’s easy to embed presentations from slideshare pretty much anywhere on the web, there’s a good community there, and lots of great resources to look at for inspiration too. If it’s something simple, I usually just use Google Presentations to keep it easy.

If you’re planning to create a presentation and narrate the slides, you have a number of options. You can import your slides as images into your video editing software (iMovie or MovieMaker for example) and then recording your audio and uploading the video files as suggested above. You might also want to try making a screencast (here is a great guide from Kathy Schrok with a list of some tools you might want to try). If you have a Mac, QuickTime is so easy to use for screencasting with audio. If you do make a screencast, you can also upload that video file to the same services listed above.

Uploading & sharing other file types:

Pretty much anything else that I need to upload and share, I use Google Drive. It’s easy to publish almost any kind of file to the web on Google Drive, and then embed that work into a blog (or anywhere else).

Where do you prefer to host your files? Please feel free to share suggestions in the comments!

Remix & Mashup

As I mentioned last week, this time around Week 6 includes some interesting readings and resources about one of my absolute favorite topics: Remix. You may remember that we started talking about this topic back in Course 2, Week 3, this time around we’re going to look a little deeper, and put remix into the context of creating media (within the theme of Course 3), rather than copyright (the theme of Course 2).

For a refresher (and a great overview of this topic), watch Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk:

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As I mentioned in Course 2, his series of mini-documentaries, Everything is a Remix is one of my favorite videos to share with students to get them thinking about creativity and originality.

Another series of videos that I love that references many of the key themes of remix and mashup is PBS OffBook, in particular this one: Visual Culture Online:

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Often when we work with students on creative projects, we insist that their work be original. I love this concept of remixing and mashups because it helps us recognize that the way we combine and reuse existing materials isn’t just copying, it is creating something new, bringing together existing elements using your own unique perspective and understanding. It’s also an opportunity to interact with the creators of existing visual media in a way that wasn’t possible before the internet, which is exciting in it’s own right. And when we think about the way that creators interact with each other, we begin to see remix as something more than just creating.

How do you feel about the concept of remix? Does it remind you of anything from our first in-depth reading, Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out?

Week 5: Data Visualization & Infographics

Welcome to Week 5!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 4″ in Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 4 blog posts and 4 comments
  • continued recording the URL of the post you and comments you would like assessed as part of Course 3
  • some ideas about your final project for Course 3, perhaps even gotten started since media-based projects can take longer than expected.

A Week 6 Preview

You may have noticed that we have readings and resources for Week 6 this time around. Course 3 has lots of big ideas and week 6 is one of my favorites (actually it’s one of my favorite themes for the whole program). Although we’ve had “catch-up time” during Week 6 for the last two courses, this time around it’s just a regular week. This means that you’ll need an extra blog post for Course 3 to address the key themes of Week 6. Please keep that in mind as you continue working through Weeks 1 – 5 and the final project. I hope you’ll enjoy the topics for Week 6 as much as I do!

Data Visualization

This course really highlights the importance of visual literacy and representing information through different forms of media. Perhaps one of the most interesting trends that has become more and more popular in recent years is the different ways to represent data visually to both enhance meeting and demonstrate creativity (and often bias).


An absolute favorite of many Humanities teachers, and I think one of the earliest forms of digital (and interactive) data visualization is Hans Rosling’s Gapminder:

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For a more in depth look at Gapminder and Hans Rosling’s work, you might also enjoy one of his first TED talks:

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Some other beautiful examples of data visualization come from Aaron Koblin, whose work is a fascinating mixture of art and data:

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Presenting data visually can be a very effective way to demonstrate understanding, as well as provide an opportunity to utilize real life data that’s available online. Tim Berners-Lee (one of my personal heroes) has been working to both encourage government and non-governmental organizations to share data openly, as well as provide models for combining that data to create powerful understandings about our world. Here are two TED talks (a year apart) that highlight some of the work that’s been done (and perhaps inspire some interesting project ideas for you and your students!):

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If creating interactive data visualizations seems daunting, you may want to consider exploring infographics – usually a more static version of data visualization. Here are some great resources to inspire you:

And some great tools to create your own:

Quite a few of our YIS COETAILers have also started creating infographics using “traditional” materials (ie: colored pencils and paper) as an introduction to the concept. Here’s a great example from current COETAIL instructor (and COETAIL graduate), Rebekah Madrid.

Week 4: Digital Storytelling (Updated)

Welcome to Week 4!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 3″ in Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 3 blog posts and 3 comments
  • continued recording the URL of the post you and comments you would like assessed as part of Course 3
  • some ideas about your final project for Course 3, perhaps even gotten started since media-based projects can take longer than expected

Getting Connected

It’s been so great to see so many of you interested in getting connected more regularly, via Hangouts or e-mail. Thank you to Dalton and Shary for hosting the most recent Hangout. Dalton also suggested it would be great to have everyone’s e-mail address, so I’ve created a simple spreadsheet in our Google Drive folder where you can add your info. This spreadsheet is private to us, so only people in this cohort can see the details. If you’d rather not add your details, that’s also fine.

Digital Storytelling

When we worry about the “end of books” or the constant influx of media in our daily lives, one of the constants we can see over time is the concept of story – even if the medium is changing. We started with stories around the campfire in early human civilization, we put them into tablets, then scrolls, then books, and now we have many forms of media to express our stories.

The media we use tell our stories now may be different, but the effectiveness of stories to share new ideas and learning continues. Dan Pink offers an overview of 6 new types of pitches using different storytelling forms in his new book, To Sell is Human:

One of the challenges of digital storytelling is that it seems like an easy and fun way for students to express their learning. So, teachers often assign digital storytelling projects to students (or just videos in general, story or not), and many times they aren’t aware of how much time, organization, and skill it takes to produce a good story. It seems fun, the students seem to have the skills, so we ask them to make videos about all sorts of things.

This week is a chance for us to explore just how much work it takes to produce an effective digital story. As inspiration, here is a fantastic example from Chipotle:

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And an in-depth look at what they did to create such an effective story. Another company well-known for their effective storytelling is Dove.

As you know, one of the project ideas for this course is to create your own digital story. If you haven’t decided what you plan to do for your project, I highly recommend this option. It’s a great way to start thinking about the types of skills and project management techniques you need to craft and communicate a message through multimedia.

Here are some interesting examples of digital stories (many from students), in lots different styles to get you inspired to give it a try:

If you have examples from your students, please share them in the comments!


Week 3: Understanding Presentation Design

Welcome to Week 3!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2″ in Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 2 blog posts and 2 comments
  • started using the “Course 3″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 3 – it’s a little different than Course 1 or 2 – with even more opportunities for exploring and experimenting with different types of media

Making a Lasting Impact

This week’s focus is on presentation design, particularly the Presentation Zen style. Here’s an introduction:

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You might also enjoy his overview of several other interpretations of the Presentation Zen principals:

I still remember first time I saw the Presentation Zen book (lots of his resources are available online, some of the key elements are shared in this week’s readings) and realized I would have to re-think my entire presentation process. Thankfully, I saw the book a few weeks before I made a series of presentations, I think at one of the Learning 2.0 conferences, and my presentations were a thousand times better for it!

Now that I’ve been through this process a few times, I feel like I have my own “style” of presentation design, based on Garr Reynolds’s principles (check this week’s readings for a overview of how both Jeff and I design our presentations). Personally, I really like the idea that when someone else views one of my presentations, they know it’s mine by the style and design, rather than the by-line. As you continue through this course, think about the ideas that really resonate with you, along with the styles and the design aesthetic, so you can begin to create your own personalized version of visual design.

Keep in mind that it may take a while to develop this personalized “look” to your work. This visualization based on a story by Ira Glass is a great reminder that we all need time and practice to develop the skills necessary to create the image we have in our minds:

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

As you’re developing your style, you may find this process helpful. Please feel free to share your thinking in the comments below, or of course, in your blog posts!

Week 2: Finding Images & Creative Commons

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2″ in Course 3 under “My Courses
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 3″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 3 – it’s a little different than Course 1 or 2 – with even more opportunities for exploring and experimenting with different types of media

The Power of Images

After exploring about visual literacy last week, you might be thinking about how to bring more images and media into your classroom. This fun TED talk gives an interesting insight into how we can influence the perception of a product through the presentation. As you’re watching, think about how we might be able to use some of these “lessons” to positively influence our students perceptions of our subjects or content area:

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If you find yourself inspired to start using more visuals in your setting, here are a few tools you can use to explore Creative Commons media (for a refresher about Creative Commons check out Course 2 Week 3):

You might have also noticed in the news recently that Creative Commons has just been updated to version 4.0. Here’s an overview of the changes from The Atlantic, and a more detailed description on the Creative Commons site.

Welcome to Course 3!

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a restful holiday and you were able to take a nice long break from COETAIL! Alex (my husband) and I went to Hawaii for the first time. If you’re interested, my pictures (all taken from iPhone 5S) are posted here. It was fun to be back in the US mid-school-year, which we don’t normally do, but so. very. expensive! If you’re willing, it would be great to hear about your adventures during the break too!

Welcome to Course 3!

We’re already almost halfway through COETAIL! Course 3 is all about visual literacy, understanding the impact of media and making use of the many different tools and strategies for communicating ideas using current and emerging media. There are lots of great opportunities for experimenting and trying the various tools to see how they can best support and enhance the learning in your classroom.

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments

All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet.

A few updates from last course:

For the GRASPS Task in a UbD Unit: This portion of the unit planner is intended to be given directly to students, and therefore written in student-friendly language, rather than the “students will…” format that you use during other unit planning formats. The idea is to give students context for the unit so they have a big-picture understanding, rather than just taking one lesson at a time.

For the final post for each course (reflection post): In addition to the final project, the reflection is a really important part of each course. You don’t have to have completed the unit before you write your reflection, you can highlight the process you went through, some thoughts about your own learning or the learning you think your students will experience, your ideas and goals for using this unit or piece of work, and/or your thoughts about what you might change if you did it all over again. For Course 2, Robyn had a particularly interesting reflection that connected both her learning throughout the course, as well as her personal life experiences.

A reminder about comments: Please list comments on your spreadsheet that are not on your own blog, or this blog. The idea is to help promote conversations both within our cohort and beyond. Of course, you’ll have lots of responses that you write on your own blog, which is awesome, but please include others in your spreadsheet.

More Hangouts: I’ve heard from those who were able to participate in the various Google Hangouts over the past two courses that they were very valuable. It would be great to see these conversations continue, and include more participants in this course. If anyone is interested in hosting, please let me know and we can organize a date and time. If you want to hear more about why they’re so valuable, have a look at Shary’s post!

To get started for Course 3:

  • if you haven’t completed Course 2 and you haven’t given me a timeline for finishing up, please e-mail me.
  • make sure you can access the Course 3 materials (only available after you’ve paid – if you have any questions, please e-mail Daneah at the account).
  • get the Course 3 tab ready for action!
  • make sure you’ve received your acceptance (usually via e-mail) from SUNY (if you’re taking COETAIL for SUNY credit). If not, please contact SUNY directly to follow up (sometimes it takes them a while to respond, but you need to make sure you’re enrolled before Course 3 gets started).

What is Visual Literacy?

The idea of this first week is to explore what visual literacy means, and why it’s so important, particularly in our very media rich environment. Here are few videos that make spark your interest (along with all the other materials in Week 1):

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You might also enjoy exploring these image-rich resources (we’ll be doing lots more with pictures as the course continues):

As you explore these videos and image resources, you may want to think about how you can apply them in your teaching. How they might change the classroom environment or help students think differently than a written or verbal prompt? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or in your week 1 blog post!