Rethinking Google+

google+-logoI have to admit it. I was a little reluctant about Google+ at first. I did my due diligence with Twitter and had some good traffic going through my websites, blog, YouTube Channel and slideshare.

Felt I had the whole PLN/digital footprint thing going well enough. After all, I need some time offline, right?

But I see now that I need the Google+. It has things the others don’t. Circles, for one. I can divvy up who I share what with in the same platform/account. There are tonnes of great communities to join with events like the new Google Educators Group (GEG) for central Bangkok (and more being made as I type!).

And, you can see how much traffic you are producing which is not an obvious functionality in Twitter.

Final word.. If you are in the game you should add this to your connectivist corral.

Posted in Digital Learning | 3 Comments

Digital Citizenship: The Everything Intro for Elementary Students

The title sounds like a pretty tall tale but I promise you, is isn’t. As an introduction this project is nothing if not ambitious. It is the culmination of many thoughts, lessons, study and based on my work with international school elementary students in Japan and Thailand. Seeds of it can be traced back to a much smaller Digital Footprint Project.

Click the image to go to Example as Thinglink currently works only with self-hosted WordPress blogs as doesn’t support third-party plugins.
Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.57.27 PM

We explored the concepts:

  • online safety (tied to the similarities with “real life” safety)
  • digital citizenship
  • digital footprints

We learned the skills:

  • research skills and search engines for younger learners
  • recording and sharing research findings through cloud computing with Google Sheets
  • basic citation

Now for the BIG ProjectScreen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.25.34 PM
Ourselves Online: A Digital Footprint Guide for Children

We are making a book.

  • Definitely a real, hold-in-your-hand, flip-the-pages hardcover
  • Maybe an eBook
  • Maybe downloadable
    • More on self-publishing eBooks here

I will share all of the details with you now. I cannot, however, share the end result as we are still immersed in it. A handful of students have produced pages already. We started with Grade 6 and are working our way down. Naturally, we are differentiating for the younger grades.

As important as this content is there are a number of skills with other devices necessary for successful completion of the project. As students complete their pages they become experts and assume responsibility for mentoring others.

Now for the nitty-gritty. Forgive the change in verb tense to future but this is drawn from my original proposal:

The Idea
What I would like to do is support students from across my elementary school in the production of a book called, Ourselves Online: A Digital Footprint Guide for Children. It will be a hardcopy book made by children for children. At a minimum there will be one made for each class, underlining student ownership of the work. This will require differentiation by year level. Older children will act as peer experts for younger.

If I can convince everyone I can extend the learning further by producing an ebook with Smashbooks that can be formatted for sale on Google Play and Amazon.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.07.29 PMThe Tools

  • Macs
  • The Internet
  • Google Drive
  • Age Appropriate Search Engines
  • Scanners
  • Wacom drawing tablets
  • Paint X Lite
  • Keynote as an image editor
  • weebly as a platform for content management and sharing
  • (Smashwords, Google Play & Amazon?)

The Skills & Understandings
The project will be the platform for introducing online research skills differentiated for younger learners. We will discuss such strategies as :

  • word selection
  • search term refinement
  • use of multiple search engines (and what they are)
  • use of search engines that filter the web for age-appropriate material
  • creative commons images and use addressed

The children will develop these skills to help them learn about digital citizenship, online safety and digital footprints.

Cloud-based Collaboration
Children will share research in a Google sheet in an account created for them addressing cloud-based collaboration.

The Creativity
We will use Wacom drawing pads to digitally transform traced, scanned versions of their feet, stylized with Paint X to develop creative skills with original backgrounds (adding appeal for our audience).

Responsibility & Respect (An Introduction to Citation)
The ‘footprint page’ each student produces will also have a citation, imparting responsible habits and respect for the work of others.

This project is not for the faint-hearted. The level of follow up and organisation to manage not only the students (who are all at different stages of production almost from day one) but schedules with teachers, access to devices and making sure all work is saved and accessible is at least on par for difficulty with:

  • managing a whole school Moodle,
  • producing yearbooks, or
  • undertaking flat classroom projects

Google Drive made it possible. Folders for overall organization and access and Sheets for tracking who was where in the process.

I welcome feedback through comments to improve this further. Feel free to also take a look at these pages of the website created to deliver the classes and make content and explanation readily available to students from anywhere. (Simplest to just click the top link and peruse from there.)

Please share your thoughts with me. Love it, hate it, plan on trying any of it? I would like to know.

Posted in Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Digital Learning, Literacy, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Project Based Learning, Visual Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Google Apps: Find Everything Fast

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 7.13.03 AMShared this trick with my  #iTeach #GAFE’rs yesterday and thought I’d share it with you too!  Share it around.


More Google Apps slideshow tutorials here and a whole #GAFE Flipped program here.

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Learning 2.014 Asia Reflection

L2-world-logos-7xWell I finally made it.

Learning 2.0the educational technology for learning conference that everyone wants to attend. I was lucky enough to have moved to the city where it was being held and further convince my new employer of the value of sending me. As the new Director of Technology I did my best to arrange for others at the school to be sent along as well. All who attended raved about the experience and vowed to help raise the technology game in their classes.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.08.46 AMHaving completed Jeff and Kim‘s Certificate of Educational Technology & Information Literacy (COETAIL) program I am already a big proponent of the collaborative, active learning style also employed at #learning2 events. Instead of a room full of people taking notes while one person stands at the front lecturing, the style of this event is about hands-on, collaborative learning. Yes, one person stands up front directing action and sharing good practice, but there are constant prompts for participant feedback and opportunities to jump right in and use the tools addressed. I often learn as much from peers in these sessions as from the person up front. In fact, another impressive point worthy of mention here is that these session leaders are not afraid to say, “Hey, does anyone know how to..?” proving that co-construction is just the way it works. Sorry for the self promotion here but this sits very well with a guy who runs an educational technology website with the tagline, “With technology we are al learners!”

cropped-COETAIL-RGB-1000pxWhile the leaders of sessions (pre-conference whole day, extended, one-hour workshop, “unconference” or cohort follow up) are expected to be knowledgeable experts of the topics addressed, much of the learning is participant driven. Everyone has something to share and, naturally as the conference has a technology focus, much of it is done so through cloud-based services making material readily available after the fact.

Unlike many other conferences, participants are able to direct there time to tailor it to their individual needs. In my case I was able to go to sessions focusing on areas I am working towards introducing in my own school as well as attend some sessions as brush-ups hopeful to get some takeaways on areas I personally present on.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.11.34 AMThere was an array of topics on offer from 3D Printing to Visual Note Taking, Design Thinking to Presentation Tips touching on segmentation theory and the dopamine effect. As my habit is to no longer take notes but produce webpages on my educational technology site I am able to not only go back to all the gems I gathered over the course of the conference but to further develop my personal learning network (PLN) and raise my site’s stats through sharing right from the start. (Sorry, some of the sessions were far to labour intensive for webpage creation!)

No reflection on an L2 would be complete without mentioning the networking. You won’t find a better opportunity. And what a place to catch up with like-minded educator friends you’ve been collecting over the years. Cohorts from COETAIL in Japan, Apple Distinguished Educators met in Bali, International Baccalaureate Educator Network co-inductees and previous co-presenters from Beijing… Talk about when worlds collide! Refreshing these relationships further helps keep your connectivist world vibrant and alive.

If there were something I would like to see improved it would be the ability to realize that, hey, I have made a mistake and this is the wrong session for me and move to something more valuable and suited to my situation. I understand the logistics of something like this must be challenging. Some participants, however, have a difficult time making it these conferences. Some have to foot the bill themselves which can be quite expensive coming from another country and staying in a hotel. Maximizing learning is imperative. I sat in on one session that, despite the skill and knowledge of the presenter, was just not right for me. I participated whole-heartedly and feel my contribution was helpful. I learned of a few new tools I may be able to use as well. I just wish I could have quietly left to join the other session I had considered and, having spoken with a colleague who attended it, would have benefitted from more.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.31.50 AMI have been to workshops all over the world for well over a decade now. I have learned from scores of incredible educators.  I have worked hard to collect accolades and special qualifications. I love presenting, networking and constantly developing myself professionally. Since I took the COETAIL course I have a renewed energy and vitality for my career. I need to get involved in this conference somehow. I will attend again but hope to contribute in any capacity from working a desk to offering workshops to giving an L2 Talk someday. (Forgive liberties taken in photo)

All told, the experience lived up to the hype. I am better off than when I went. The pink shirts (L2 support staff) were helpful and friendly at every turn though they must have been tired and a special kudos must go out to Clint Hamada for his superior efforts at helping me out on day one.

If you haven’t been to one of these you need to go.

I have embedded my COETAIL final video here for those who are considering the course (DO IT!) The original blog post is here.

Posted in Collaboration, Digital Learning, Producing, Publishing, Sharing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Integrating Synergy

Our Grade Five class just wrapped up a unit on Advertising & Media. As the technology integration specialist my role was to support students in the creation of a collaborative website demonstrating their conceptual understanding of the Central Idea as it related to the Transdisciplinary Theme of How We Express Ourselves.


The idea was to have students take turns with each of the identified content areas. Week after week each student added content to their assigned page. Before final publishing the student page editor (who claimed a page at the start of the process) had final say on layout referring to previously developed visual literacy skills (derived from C.R.A.P. Design and other common elements of digital story telling).

The volume of skills touched upon in the unit was amazing. I have given a taste of it from a technology perspective to this point but honestly, I wish I had had more time to further harvest this opportunity. Actually, I took more.

As an extension my colleagues were flexible enough to give me time to use the publishing of the site to inquire into the power of networking, social media and online promotion. I introduced Twitter, Search engine Optimization (SEO) and other social media outlets.

In the first week we did no promotion. Today I sent out the first tweet, sent out both Google+ and Facebook posts and am now writing this blog post. In all of them I have asked people to share it along in their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) to help demonstrate how far it can go.


Posted in Collaboration, Digital Learning, IB, Literacy, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Project Based Learning, PYP, Visual Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To: Develop your PLN and Up Your Online Presence

I produced this slideshare for a number of reasons. First off, I was introducing a class to digital-age promotion using social media. I also wanted to support those who are interested in developing their own personal learning networks or take them to the next level. I also thought I could use it to share my free pdf Ebook, Deepen Your Digital Footprint: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide to Increasing Web Traffic & Online Presence.

Posted in Digital Citizenship, Digital Learning, Producing, Publishing, Sharing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meaningful Online Search Techniques

I made this to support students and teachers at my school. I hope it can help others too.


Posted in Digital Learning | 1 Comment

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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New YouTube One Channel

I just completed the YouTube Creator Academy course.

Very easy, then again free. Also very useful. I am quite pleased with my new channel. YouTube has, to this point, basically been a repository for me. I put videos up on it. It was a mess but I could use it as a platform from which to embed videos I found and made.

Now, however, it is part of my “promotion and sharing arsenal.” My channel art (read banner), icon (read thumbnail) are now part of my brand as they are the same as my Google account and website. I have links overlaid on the banner to my blog, Twitter page, SlideShare, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts.

I have added a short intro video based loosely on a PowToon template (pretty flashy) and have doubled my number of subscribers. I am now in the process of convincing the school to let me make a proper, branded page for student work and promotion as well. Take a look at my “sandbox site” to get the idea.

If you get the chance you should take this course. I am not certain I will get the “certificate” since I have received no notification. I could have missed some small part, I wasn’t that careful. Either way, I have more skillls and a pimped out new ride…

Ask me any questions and please, subscribe to my channel!

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The Role of­­­­ ICT in the PYP: Collaborate to Integrate

I just finished delivering this workshop at the regional IB event held at Canadian International School, Hong Kong, an expansive and well-connected campus full of enthusiastic and dedicated educators from September 13-15, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.27.50 PM

I was blessed with 23 teachers interested in learning more about effective implementation of technology within their Programmes of Inquiry (POI). Naturally, there were many who were also interested in developing their understanding of digital-age learning practice in general as well as looking to develop skills with the technology.

All were open-minded and generous in sharing and learning with and from everyone else. They particularly appreciated the Unconference opportunities to learn more directly from their peers. There was a particular group, however, (well two, really I suppose) that were grappling with how to best schedule and plan for collaboration in order to maximize the results for their students.

I promised them this blog post so here we go.



It doesn’t happen by accident. You need dedicated shared planning time. But it goes further than that too. Ideally, the collaboration starts in the planning session but continues in the classroom. Technology specialists are best utilized when they are working alongside teachers in the classroom. Students benefit from greater opportunity for one on one input as needed and the classroom teachers benefit from the professional development of learning on-the-job.

We then turned to the problems of how best to plan and how best to execute.  Is it ok to focus on skill development? Does everything need to be done in line with the POI?

A Word on Inquiry and ICT
One of the things that drew me to technology as a PYP practitioner in the first place was the natural connection between digital-age learning and inquiry.  While using Web 2.0 tools to further develop & uncover understandings and skills in your unit work you further have access to the simultaneous development of skills & knowledge in this realm.

Whether you decide to focus on your Summative Assessment Task or some other area of your curriculum, be it Math, Science, Language, anything, given the fact that these are already integrated into your units of inquiry the connections to higher order thinking and conceptual learning are already there, ready to be exploited and magnified through careful planning & execution.

When dealing with younger students, or those who have limited prior knowledge of basic skills, as with some other elements of your curriculum, these skills will need to be taught explicitly and that… is… ok.

So where to begin?
While it is natural to look for connections to summative assessments (and incorporate formative assessment strategies on the way there) any connection to the unit, concepts and/or lines of inquiry will support students in developing deeper understandings of the transdisciplinary theme.

Time is of the essence. Instead of one class/week with a class it may be more effective to choose units from all classes that you teach to see where a technology connection seems best suited. For example a teacher with 18 contact hours across three year levels with 6 classes each can only see each class once/week. Perhaps they will would be better served by a different approach.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.13.40 PM

Now all students can benefit from access to technology twice/week at an opportunity with an authentic fit with the curriculum. They learn better and no one has any less instructional time. Their skills with the tools improve alongside there Approaches to Learning skills and support them with their development of the deeper understandings planned for by their teachers.

What do you think? Please leave a comment for me and my class.

Posted in Digital Learning, IB, Project Based Learning, PYP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments