Real Communication: Animated Infographics

If you want something to be remembered you have to frame it in a narrative.

Visual Literacy, which can be broken into further subsets like infographics and digital storytelling, encompasses a skill set of increasing importance in a world where information grows exponentially.


How much information is there?
In 2010, Eric Schmitt, former CEO of Google hit us over the head with this statistic:

“Every 2 days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003″.

How fast is information growing?
In the year 2011 information is doubling roughly every 11 hours. This is according to some statistics I’ve seen cited from IBM, Gartner and Accenture.

Here is an oversimplified illustration that shows you what’s happening:

Pace of Information Growth

My tech class recently finished a unit on  digital storytelling with Power Point. Many students produced videos for the Sakura Medal Book Trailer Contest here in Japan (sorry private until judging is complete). We learned many valuable lessons about how to create book trailers that touched on many of the skills and considerations needed to to produce effective communication through video.

When researching for resources for a new unit on infographics (A little obsessed with visual literacy? GUILTY!) I came cross this incredible video. The content is captivating but the fact that this is, to me, an animated, narrated infographic made it perfect for my class. It is a exemplar of the elements of design we continue to develop while offering yet another example of good digital storytelling (expository this time). I hope you will find value in it as well.

I have started putting together a resource site specifically for video chronicling of the PYP Exhibition at my school that is available to all here and will be putting together an iTunes U course on this very subject at the ADE Institute in Bali later this month.

I”d love to hear your comments.

Posted in Literacy, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Project Based Learning, Remix, Visual Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dangerous Ground

I had an aunt if mine pose a confusing question the other day.

What if someone sees my daughter’s picture online?

Hmmm… I post them so they can be seen. I asked her if she remembered how exciting it was when, in grade 1, I got my photo in the Wpg Free Press.

People saw it! That’s why it was exciting. Did my parents put me in danger allowing it?

When my magazine article was published my photo was there. People saw it.

What should we be afraid of?

We should keep private photos private. We should not post information about addresses or banks. I personally don’t like to give my birthday either (identity theft fodder) but sharing our lives is why we’re alive.

Caution yes, prohibition, no. I choose to participate in the world. The leading cause of death is life but I prefer it to the alternative.

Merry Christmas!

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Interested in Serious EdTech Professional Development?

This blog post will cover many topics. I wear many hats. In brief, I will discuss how I have recently employed technology:

  • as a homeroom teacher
  • an ICT specialist
  • a school promoter
  • a teacher trainer
  • an MYP Technology teacher

I will further make ongoing reference to the SAMR model of technology integration in education throughout.
As this infographic is self-explanatory and this blog post (which will likely reach epic proportions) is meant as part of a culminating assessment for my Master’s I will not be explaining it in detail.

But first… the video:

As this is a post written as part of my coursework, it will further act as an exposition on the merits of the Certificate of Educational Technology & Information Literacy (COETAIL) program (A more apt name for a course I have not come across.)

I have finally arrived at my final unit of study in the course.  As a primary school teacher who has worked with children as high as Grade 12, I was at an impasse. I still loved teaching but had reached a point where, for me, the demands of being a general teacher and taking care of the minutiae of managing most of the needs of a large group of children in the age group was proving to be more than I was able to do while maintaining my zest for the job.

I had always enjoyed using digital technologies and had a bit of a knack for it and thought that pursuing a specialty in the field would be both timely and rewarding. It is. If you have read this far, (thank you) I will now reward you with some examples of what I have managed to do so you can do likewise.

As a Homeroom Teacher
As the Grade 7 Homeroom teacher at my new job (the one with all the hats) I have created a website for my class. While there are a variety of pages (not all completed in this ongoing project) every student has a page of their own to design and add to, with some parameters, as they see fit. Students, furthermore, can make a record of the reflections they make on their term goals for all to see and share their progress.

Very simply put, some of the the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Education Technology Standards for Students’ (NETS-S) objectives met here are:

  1. Creativity and Innovation
  2. Communication and Collaboration
  3. Technology Operations and Concepts

I could go into much more detail here but with so much to say I am trying to keep things a little briefer than the opus this could so easily become (learned in COETAIL to keep blog posts short to attract readers, failing here!). SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

This is also a formative task of sorts, as we will be delving in much greater detail into the creation of websites in the unit that will ultimately become the focus for this presentation.

As an ICT Specialist
As a specialist charged with integrating ICT across the curriculum and promoting the school I have been expanding Doshisha International School, Kyoto’s presence on many fronts.

Online Presence
I have created The Learner Profile @DISK to raise awareness of this fundamental aspect of our school’s programme. The site is composed mainly of student generated content. Students share their work and reflections on what the attributes of the profile mean to them. We have actually had IB mucky-muck commentary on this already…

The ISTE NETS objective Strands met here are:

1. Creativity and Innovation
2. Communication and Collaboration
6. Technology Operations and Concepts

Students in the Middle School have the opportunity to mentor their Elementary School counterparts for service hours by assisting them with their uploads (scanning if need be) and reflections. This is line with our International Baccalaureate Programmes as cross-year collaboration and project-based work focusing on the development of Transdisciplinary skills is one of our highest aims. SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

Responsible Use @DISK is another website where families in our school community can spend time together learning about safety, copyright and issues of responsible digital citizenship. The online agreement form is then filled in and tabulated via Google docs.

SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

Student Life @DISK rounds it off by offering more social insight into life at the school, along with newsletters and updates. It further acts as a hub, linking our main home page, EdTech Training Sessions site, photo blogs and Facebook page.

Training Others to Integrate
I have started slowly here. Being new to the school and having more than enough work to keep me busy, I wanted to let people get to know me before making demands on their time and introducing any changes to classroom practice.

After having shared my work with the aforementioned increase in web presence, I began taking classes to introduce both the Learner Profile @DISK and the Responsible Use @DISK to the students. I explained the process for the latter with families through email and at an introductory session held during our Meet & Greet at the start of the year.

I worked (indeed continue) to help colleagues with technical trouble-shooting before our first edtech training session. The initial session was held for the Elementary School teachers and focused on a very general introduction to the use of new media tools in class through the creation of Weebly accounts. Teachers created individual home pages and added blogs before going on to experiment with posting pictures and commentary on both. We discussed copyright, creative commons citation and privacy issues. There is much more information available at the site, EdTech Training Sessions.

SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

As an MYP Technology Teacher
I have used a website for the course to flip the classroom. As you can see, all of the important documents for our classes are here. I have also incorporated a  number of instructional YouTube video/SlideShare mini-lessons for students to use and review at home, freeing up more class time for creation and face-to-face collaboration. As units finish I can “hide” their pages to avoid cluttering up the site with out-of-date information.

Having caught the ‘Flip Bug’ I have also created another tutorial in this manner for students struggling with question and answer work based around short passages. I was amazed to find that this SlideShare had over 250 views in a little more than its first hour! (The Design Cycle @DISK SlideShare has enjoyed nearly 2300 views but I have been promoting it actively.)

SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

(Finally) Back to the Unit in Question
From this point I will discuss and explain my unit as more specifically prescribed. It will cover aspects of planning and execution but will not be finished and not, therefore, ready for complete reflection.

Everything I discuss, however, is directly related to my study and implementation of what I have learned in COETAIL. The unit is about Web Design & Online Responsibility.

First off, I was able to execute this unit as my first flat classroom experience with a fellow COETAIL’er at New International School Thailand (NIST). Jesse Scott (@twowaystairs) has proven insightful, full of ideas (I will naturally claim as my own now) and patience in planning and executing this task. Flat classrooms, I have learned, are harder than they sound.

For starters, while the NIST focus had a solid content correlation to our focus, I was committed to website creation while Jesse was all about an introduction to programming through Scratch, we clearly were producing products in significantly different formats. Fair enough. We decided to forge ahead regardless in a more limited fashion. Sounded easier to me that way anyway.

We backed and forth about times, plans and directions through email and Skype. Jesse shared his guiding questions and pointed out that there were a number of excellent resources available from the good people at Yokohama International School in their Digital Dragons program while I produced tracking documents through Google Drive. Easy-peesy, right?

Even with no drastic time zone issues to overcome or complete shadowing necessary, with everything else in the busy lives of two IB teachers messages through email soon get muddled and we actually considered bailing at one point. I am so glad we didn’t. With the blog communications poised to begin over the weekend and everything else our classes have gained and still stand to gain it would have been a tragic waste of an opportunity.

Please take a look at my planning here in the Understanding by Design Unit Planner (template provided by COETAIL) for a better idea of what I mean.

The rubric I created for this course is based on the ISTE NETS for Students:

SAMR rating:
SAMR Redef

All of my planning is online here but be warned, it covers more than just this course. My students are producing password protected websites in order to share their research in an accessible, communicative online format in the hopes of helping others understand how to better protect themselves, protect others and manage their digital footprints.

I may choose at a later date to post my MYP Technology planning here as well. (As it is not required for this coursework I am reserving judgment on the matter for the time being.)

Google Ninja
This is some serious stuff. Open and available, teachers helping teachers. YOU MUST CHECK THIS OUT! It has taken me more time than I imagined to set it up (with automatic grading through Flubaroo, thank you very much) but is something I will be using for the rest of my tech teaching career. Impressive doesn’t begin to explain this. Click the image to get started.
SAMR Redef

So there you have it. One educator’s journey through COETAIL captured in one culminating unit of work and summarized in one BIG new job creating and sharing digitally and loving (almost) every minute of it.

If you ever have the chance to take this course DO IT!

Thanks Kim,


Posted in Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Digital Learning, Literacy, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Project Based Learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m Flipping OUT!

No doubt there are those out there who would argue there is only one “true way” to define a flipped classroom effort. To those of you (and you know who you are) who find offense at what I am about to say… perhaps you should consider a vacation?

I am “flipping out” as much as possible these days. I started writing (and will finish some day) a HOW TO post to help those with less experience (must be someone) than myself with this.

I am flipping my classroom by making important mini-lessons and other resources available online so as not to have to use up classroom time with what can clearly be done at home, unlike the current unit’s work, in which students are collaboratively planning and constructing play structures for the Elementary School children.

I am doing a sort of one-two punch of presentations to SlideShare and YouTube (or Vimeo).

Example 1
I made a Keynote presentation explaining the current use of the MYP Design Cycle at my school. This is now available on the class website for students to review at any time at any place. It is very important as the process is the main focus of these classes. I am available to help students at any time but, with this available without question, the onus falls back on the students to take the time to review at home first instead of taking class time away from their project groups.

youtube-updates-platform-for-social-good-8bb4ae8a43Now, I make it first. Then I add a soundtrack. Then I upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Like with any assignment, it is often easier for students to sit back and take it all in once before dissecting it, hence the video version.

Then comes the SlideShare version. This is the more functional of the two. When students get into their work, or later, when assessing themselves, the SlideShare is the best format to find and keep the information in front of them while they get to it.

I’ve done this for a number of different reasons now and I will share some examples below. I feel encouraged by the feedback from students but also from the thousands of views some of the SlideShares & videos enjoy, presumably from other teachers and students.

And there are still times when I make simple videos on their own to reinforce important messages:

The digital tools I am using here, however, could be used to improve anyone’s practice be they homeroom teachers, drama, math or any subject. I made this after an impromptu session helping a student in my homeroom with homework before classes begun:

Feels good to share.

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Modeling Presentation Tao

As attested throughout this blog (and just about anywhere else you are likely to find my work), I love to share and I never claim to know anything more than Plato has Socrates claim:

The only thing I know is that I know nothing.

But I do feel compelled to share. It’s only human.

I would like to share today how I believe we all model literacy, in all forms, for our students daily. In the way we carry ourselves, the manner in which we speak, make visuals to aid in our teaching, layout websites, write, create wikis, make slideshows (both the photo kind and the information disseminating kind) and, well… I think I’ve made this point.

I will share one such presentation I made and shared with my class recently. Having recognized a pattern in some students of not seeming to view the student-teacher relationship in the most positive and useful (from their standpoint) light, I took it upon myself to have a homeroom discussion explaining how it may be seen, encouraging productive dialogue and, well I am the tech teacher heading towards grammar of cinema and digital story-telling units down the road so, I saw this too, as a means of front-loading the use of visuals for effectively communicating. Take a look:

Naturally, I did not just leave the desire of teachers to help as merely self-interest and we discussed this as part of our dialogue. I used this in the slideshow to pre-empt my cynics. Wherever possible, know and anticipate your audience.

PLEA FOR HELP: How can I turn my Keynote presentations into movies I can upload without losing quality?

It was quite useful. We had the discussion I had hoped for while sitting on the floor with the presentation going behind us (setting the stage and timed by myself) as an extra, a visual to help those more visually inclined, and a reminder of where we were at in the conversation for any day-dreamers.

Why “Presentation Tao”?

Two reasons. One, I am hopelessly cheeky. Two, Taoism is reductionist. It is about cleansing and getting back to the source, reducing superficiality and being natural. Unlike Zen, which is concerned with an awakening or realization, Taoism is about returning to your true nature which is, “naturally” part of the totality to the Nature of all things that we are already a part of. Or this view is, at least, to go back to Plato:

                                         …a likely story.

Because, after all, we all have different stories and should have different ways of telling them as opposed to coming to the realization that there is only one right way. It’s like this “bento” I recently bought at Kyoto station. It was all right, but not really to my taste. I prefer to shop farther away from the station.

Posted in Digital Learning, Literacy, Visual Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Power of a Hashtag

Great info graphic from a great post:

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Connections are Incredible

I made this to flip my class a little more after an impromptu session with a student before class.

255 views by the time I got home (under two hours later!).

Feels good to share…

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Warning: Personal Learning Networks Can Lead to Flattening Classrooms

I had a colleague from a former school “Facebook” me the other day (I love our human proclivity to, as Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes fame puts it, verb words)

Anyway, so I was asked, “Are you doing a flip classroom, where you videotape your lesson so your kids can access it whenever?” which naturally lead to my response that:

That’s part of it. Flipping a classroom is best for me when students receive information at home (or wherever) so they can do their creative work in class, with the potential for greater collaboration and access to the “expert” teacher when they are most needed. During active engagement. More on this here.

But that one little question got me motivated. Working in an MYP interested school, and being new to MYP, I used my Introduction to Design unit to define areas of difficulty with the design cycle for students to plan for follow up and ensure our year goes smoothly. I produced this SlideShare / YouTube one-two punch to enable students to review the basics at home through our Tech website, freeing up class time for collaboration, application and creation with peers in an environment with access to the tools and a knowledgeable “expert” immediately as the need arises.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”The Design Cycle @DISK Introduction” target=”_blank”>The Design Cycle @DISK Introduction</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Sean Thompson</a></strong> </div>

Now, preparing for a final unit of study for the COETAIL course, I get in touch with others to see what is on their minds as they likewise contact me. This gets me to thinking of collaboration on a project. The idea of collaboration, coupled with my recent Facebook exchange re: flipped classroom gets me thinking “flat” classroom.

After dialogues with Mitch Norris, Brendan Lea & Jamie Richards it presently looks like everyone is involved in something already.

Through my Facebook friend, however, I am now in touch with some teachers at New International School Thailand. Be careful. Connections pop up without any provocation leading to more effective integration & sharing.

UPDATE: Hey, hey! About to start my first FLAT Classroom project with Jesse Scott at NIST!

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October 7th Profundity

When no one in your class thinks twice about saying, “I don’t get it,” everyone starts learning better.

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Alan Watts’ Profundity

All words are labels on intellectual pigeonholes

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