Week 5: The Technology Rich Classroom

Welcome to Week 5!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 4″ in Course 4 under “My Courses
  • written 4 blog posts and 4 comments
  • recorded the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

The Technology Rich Classroom

Many of us are working in 1:1 schools (actually, last week, we began our trial of a 2:1 learning environment at YIS – iPad Mini + MacBook Air 11″ for all grade 7 students at YIS- if this goes well, we’ll continue next year). We are (or are becoming) comfortable with students having at least one device in the classroom, and we know we can use those devices to enhance the learning that happens both in the classroom and outside. However, working in these environments does require some different kinds of thinking about the way we manage time, distractions and use of devices.

At YIS, we have a shared set of expectations for all students in our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program), which work really well for us. The key being that we model some specific behaviors related to balance (no laptops at break or lunch, except in designated supervised workrooms), and that we continue to revisit and revise our strategies based on what students and teachers need.

In order to help our families develop those skills as well, we facilitate a monthly Parent Technology Coffee Morning for those parents. One of the most commonly requested sessions is one on managing distractions and maintaining balance. We often recommend that parents mirror our classroom at home – one of my favorites is the idea of a tech break. This session has become so popular that I’ve created a whole resource wiki for parents at YIS and other schools.

This list of strategies and practices that works for YIS, might not work at your school – every community is different. What kinds of strategies are working well in your classroom? Does your school have expectations as a whole? What’s working well?


Week 4: The Future of Learning

Welcome to Week 4!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 3″ in Course 4 under “My Courses
  • written 3 blog posts and 3 comments
  • recorded the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

The Future of Learning?

Such a fun topic! So much to explore and so many different perspectives. Of course we’ve all heard about the many ways that our current school system is failing our students, and back in Course 1 we looked at some big ideas for re-imagining what school could be, so this week we’ll explore some learning strategies that are becoming more and more popular and may have an impact on the way we think about schools.


The idea of badges is not new, but the development of digital badges, allowing verification, tracking and recognition across schools and universities has become quite a hot topic (and very polarizing). For an overview of (as they claim) everything you need to know about badges in the classroom, check this article from The Journal.

One of my favorite organizations (and a great source innovative thinking) HASTAC also has a great introduction:

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We’re developing badges for COETAIL right now, so it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on the concept – would you put a COETAIL badge on your website?


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Massively Open Online Courses – I know a number of our cohort participants have been involved in several MOOCS (Bart has blogged about his experiences quite a bit) so this should be a very interesting discussion. What happens when universities start “giving away” their content (taught by their professors)? What happens when students can design the perfect program of instruction from outstanding universities, without paying for anything, and receive a verified digital badge as evidence of completion? Or is this isolated learning environment doomed to failure?

Global Collaboration

Working in international schools we know the value of understanding different cultures, and how our experience living in different countries may change our own perspectives on the world, but what if you never left your home country? The concept of connecting students to their peers in different countries, to learn, collaborate and create together is one way that teachers are helping students develop those cross-cultural skills that are often quite common in international schools. If you’re interested in starting one of these projects, you might find this post helpful: A Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaboration. I have lots of other resources here on my Connecting Classrooms Across Continents workshop wiki too.

One of the most well-known examples of these kinds of projects is Flat Connections (formerly Flat Classroom Projects), managed by Julie Lindsay. YIS was lucky to host the Flat Classroom Conference last year and we had some amazing student-produced globally collaborative service projects proposed:


Now that you’ve experienced the majority of the COETAIL program, hopefully you’re getting a good feel for connectivism. If you’re ready to start implementing some elements of connectivism in your classroom, here’s a great introduction to what that could look like:

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And a great example from a TOK class in Hawaii (side note: I visited this school when I was in Hawaii for Christmas – looks like a lovely place to work if anyone is interested in moving back to the US!).

Looking Ahead to Course 5

Hopefully these different learning styles that we’ve been exploring the last few weeks have inspired you! This is a great time to really start thinking about your Course 5 project to see how you might implement one (or some) of them in your final project. If you’d like to see some examples of Course 5 projects, the YIS cohort has just finished up. You can watch their presentations – part 1 and part 2 – (which were livestreamed on Hangouts on Air), or read the (very thorough) recaps they wrote on their blogs. A few highlights were:

You can see lots of others on the COETAIL site, and join the Course 5 Google+ community to see what other COETAILers are talking and thinking about.

Week 3: Current Learning Strategies

Welcome to Week 3!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2″ in Course 4 under “My Courses
  • written 2 blog posts and 2 comments
  • recording the URL of the post and comments you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Exploring Current Trends in Learning

I’m sure that in many of your schools, at least someone you know is testing out a flipped classroom model, using Minecraft, or finding ways to embrace play in the classroom. These three are perhaps the most common learning strategies that have become quite popular in recent years. COETAILers from every cohort have developed projects using these current trends, some so successfully that they have transformed their entire classroom.

Reverse Instruction or Flipped Classroom

For a short overview of the Flipped Classroom, check out this introduction (and this network of educators, full of great resources)

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We just had our YIS Course 5 Final presentations this past weekend (watch them here, and here), and quite a few of the presentations featured a flipped classroom model that, for those teachers, really revolutionized their classroom. Have a look at Philip Arneil (who created his own definition of flipped classroom and it’s amazing), Jana Tanagawa (who used the flipped classroom model to ensure that her students kept learning while she was on an extended sick leave), or one of the many other COETAILers sharing their interpretation of the model.

There is lots of debate about this model, and for me, the jury is still out. I love using mini tutorials for my students especially when I know they will want to refer back to the material over and over again, but I’m not a fan of lecture in any format (in person or via video), or the idea of taking a content heavy class and just delivering it at home instead of during the school day. One of the things that makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of a flipped classroom is the feedback that students have given including (this list is from the IBO):

  • videos should be no longer than 10 minutes
  • videos should be natural and include the normal mistakes that teachers would make when speaking in front of a class (ie: no excessive editing, just record and upload)
  • videos should reflect the teacher’s personality – jokes and side comments are appreciated (ie: just asking students to watch Khan Academy videos is not the same as a flipped classroom model)

Game Based Learning

Another one of my favorite TED Talks (and a great book) is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal:

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Although Jane is talking about gaming on a much grander scale in her TED talk, this is a great place to start thinking about the power of games in the classroom – and not just playing games, but transforming the way we teach and learn with game-based-learning strategies. Adrian Camm (a Learning2Leader for the last two Learning 2.0 Conferences) has a fantastic compilation of resources for those interested in learning more. Here’s his Learning2 Talk from last year to get your started:

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Here at YIS, our Humanities teachers, Rebekah Madrid (one of our awesome COETAIL instructors) and (my husband, and COETAIL graduate) Alex Guenther, have been using Minecraft with middle school students in lots of interesting ways. Here’s Rebekah’s Learning 2 Talk from last year:

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And one final video about Minecraft in education from PBS Idea Channel (one of my favorite YouTube channels – tons of great stuff there!)

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And Alex’s final project for COETAIL:

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I know both Rebekah and Alex (and Adrian) love to talk about these projects – so feel free to connect with them on Twitter if you have questions!


It’s usually easy to see how play can be an integral part of the classroom in early elementary, but thinking about play in middle or high school can be challenging for some. There has been lots of discussion lately about the value of play all throughout school in order to build problem solving skills and develop innovation. Here’s Tony Wagner at TEDxNY talking about that very topic:

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For some research about play (from Henry Jenkis at USC) as well as a framework for thinking about play in learning, check out Project New Media Literacies. If you’d like to read more, this whitepaper out of the same group is really interesting. For a practical look, Rebekah has been experimenting a lot with play in her classroom as well.

More Great Learning Opportunities

The last few weeks have been extra busy at YIS. We just hosted our fourth annual #beyondlaptops conference (where it was great to see one of our Online1 colleagues, Robert), and it was once again an outstanding learning experience. Lots of conversations were started, particularly about creativity and design, that might be interesting to you. We’ll be hosting it again next year (and participants will once again be limited to 40 people attending in teams of 2 – 4) so if you’re interested in joining, please check out the website and add your info to the survey.

Prior to #beyondlaptops, we hosted the first #edcamp in Tokyo (although technically it was here in Yokohama), where it was great to meet up with Bart and Dwayne. Another day of interesting conversations in an informal learning environment. If you haven’t had a chance to attend an unconference event (like an #edcamp), it’s definitely worth checking out!

And for one that hasn’t happened yet (probably more helpful, right?), registration for Learning 2.0 will be opening this week. By far the most innovative and engaging learning conference in Asia, if you haven’t been to #learning2 before, I highly recommend you give it a try! This year it will be at NIST in Bangkok in October, and we’ll be hosting our first event in Africa in Ethiopia at the end of September. Both events will be outstanding!

Week 2: Going Old School with “Past” Learning Strategies

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 1″ in Course 4 under “My Courses
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 4″ 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 4 – again, different from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Blast From the Past: PBL & CBL

This week focuses on established learning strategies project-based learning and challenge-based learning. So they’re not really that far in the past, in fact these learning strategies are still relevant today and can be combined with many of the current and future ideas we’ll be looking at in the following weeks (which is why we’re starting here).

A solid understanding of these strategies and why they’re so powerful will be really helpful as you begin to explore with some of the newer approaches. Fostering student independence, working toward student-centered learning, and building up to longer term projects will all provide support for differentiation and creativity both with and without technology.

One of my all-time favorite books on this topic is Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe (there’s one chapter available for preview on the ASCD site, or you can purchase on Amazon). If you haven’t already explored this one, I highly recommend it!

Because these pedagogical approaches are quite well established, there are tons of great resources available (some of our favorites are in the readings for this week). One “non-traditional” example is Caine’s Arcade:

One of the things I enjoy about teaching in a project-based classroom, which my MYP Technology class always is, is the opportunity to fail, to learn from mistakes and to try again. When we have that overarching goal or purpose, particularly one that is individual to each student, there are so many chances to be independent in our learning and take risks and explore. This short mini-documentary from Honda explains the power of failure really well:

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And, this TEDxTalk from Diana Laufenberg, currently at SLA, highlights the value project-based learning, and failure, as well:

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And one more for the mathematically inclined, Dan Meyer’s TEDxTalk, Math Class Needs a Makeover:

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Hopefully these examples can help you start thinking about your own Course 5 project opportunities too!

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Welcome to Course 4!

We’re in the home stretch! With courses 1 – 3 behind us, we’re really going to get practical with courses 4 and 5, bringing all of your COETAIL learning together with a strong focus on pedagogy in course 4, and the practical implementation of all of these ideas in course 5.

Course 4 Overview

The focus for course 4 is exploring some of the different pedagogical approaches to using technology in the classroom. The course is structured so that we start by looking at the big ideas and concepts behind technology integration, including the SAMR and TPACK models (in week 1), then we move into the most widely known pedagogical approaches organized into “past” (week 2), “present” (week 3) and “future” (week 4) to give us an idea of where we came from and where we might be going, and then wrap up with a look at the technology rich classroom (in week 5).

It’s great to discuss some of the concepts we’ve talked about in passing in more depth, things like flipped classroom, game based learning, badges, and of course connectivism comes back around again! You’ll be happy to know that we’re back to our standard week 6 “catch up” time so you can wrap up course 4 and get moving on your course 5 project!

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 – please use the Course 4 tab of your spreadsheet.

Some thoughts from Course 3

What do you think? As you write your blog posts, remember that it’s your thoughts, your ideas, and your application of the weekly readings that will be interesting to other participants (and readers beyond our immediate community). Because all of the articles are available online, just linking to them is enough of a summary, then share your ideas so we can get your unique perspective.

Get practical! One of the most common highlights for our participants is the chance to actually implement so many of these ideas directly into their classroom, particularly during course 4. So, as you write your posts, please share with us how you’re trying out these new ideas, how your students are reacting, and how it’s enhancing (or not) the learning in your classroom. Although you may currently be writing these posts as “homework”, you may be surprised at how many people are reading them, and will come back to them time after time. The practical posts that describe what’s happening in your classroom are usually the most relevant and useful for others (and for you, too).

Building Your Community: As we start looking ahead to course 5, one of the key elements of this program (as you already know) is to help you build your own professional learning network. Finding the people that help push your thinking, contributing to the conversation, and reflecting on your learning can be the most effective, relevant and powerful professional learning that you have. In course 4, you’ll still have the standard weekly blog prompts (that you can use only if you need them), and as we move into course 5, you’ll be selecting the themes for your posts, as well as reflecting on your community involvement. If you can start thinking about these ideas in course 4, you’ll be well prepared for our next step!

Preparing for Course 5

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

It seems kind of crazy to be thinking of course 5, when we’ve only just started this course, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind which of our course themes and ideas you really want to delve into for your final project. It’s also really important for you to have a strong understanding of SAMR model, which you will be exploring this week. Your final COETAIL project will have to demonstrate how you have used technology to redefine your classroom –  to create tasks that would be inconceivable without the computer/tablet/etc.  I will be helping you get ready for the final project throughout course 4 and sharing a lot more information as we go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Understanding Technology Integration

Many, if not all of us, are working in schools where technology is integrated into the core curriculum (meaning students don’t take technology as a separate class, or even if they do, it’s expected that key technology skills will be taught within the core content, “just in time” as a natural part of learning in today’s world). Often the system has been set up before we’ve arrived, or maybe we haven’t had much input into why students are learning this way. This week is all about why schools are integrating technology and how they’re doing it. For one of my favorite examples, check out this introduction to High Tech High in California:

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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!