Sunday, May 7, 2017

Connecting with the World: Giving Our Students a Voice.

We were very lucky to have Shannon Miller as a guest speaker for the Ed Tech and Design course.
Shannon is UNI graduate!  She is a former teacher librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Community School District. She is now an international speaker that encourages young people and educators to have a voice while learning, creating, collaborating, and connecting with others globally. She speaks and consults around the country on education, librarianship, technology, social media, and making a difference in education and the lives of others. She is a Future Ready Librarians and Project Connect Spokesperson at Follett Corporation.; Buncee's Teacher Librarian Advisor and Cantata Learning's Teacher Librarian Advocate. She is also the author of the award-winning The Library Voice blog.

You may follow her on Twitter at

Before watching the lecture:

Open and analyze the International Society forTechnology in Education (ISTE) standards for teachers and students. ISTE standards provide a framework for learning, teaching and leading that is amplified by technology.

  • ISTE Standards for Students- emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. 
  • ISTE standards for Teachers - define the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work and learn in the digital age.

Bookmark these standards, we will be coming back to them throughout the course.

While watching the following lecture think:
  • Do you have skills and tools to give you and your future students a voice?
  • What can you do to make learning more meaningful and engaging?
  • Do you see an echo of ISTE standards in Shannon's teaching?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Being a Change Agent in Your School

As we are approaching the end of the semester, you are encouraged to look back/reflect on what you have learned from the course and look forward to thinking how to transfer the knowledge, skills and your understanding from this course into your current real life situations and future teaching practices. 

In this course, we have explored various topics and big ideas on educational technology and design. One of the topics and big ideas is related to the framework of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)  that identifies the knowledge base that teachers need to teach pedagogically and effectively with technology. 

Another topic is related to the Framework of 21st Century Learning, which "presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that discretely focusing on 21st century student outcomes". Please visit the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills to know more about this topic.

Here is the link of Iowa Core: 21st Century Skills. "21st century skills bridge the knowledge, skills and dispositions of students from the core academic areas to real life allocation."  

21st Century Learning requires teachers and students to transform their classroom teaching and learning. Please watch the following video: Technology, the New Pedagogy, and Flipped Teaching, presented by Dr. Michael Fullan, who is an advocate and well-known researcher on the topic of teachers as change agents: 

"What should a 21st century teacher be?" Please read the blog: 15 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher and see whether you are ready to be a 21st century teacher. 

In addition to being a 21st century teacher, you need to become a change agent in your school. Please answer the questions: Are You a Change Agent? 10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself - Please think deeply about these questions on initiating change.

You may wonder: "I only want to become a classroom teacher, why should I bother to become a change agent in my school?" 

In a classic article on Why Teachers Must Become Change AgentsMichael Fullan (1993) argued that there is an increasing recognition that teachers are on the front lines of educational reform, and therefore teachers must become change agents in their classrooms and schools. He outlined four core capacities of a change agent: Personal vision-building, Inquiry, Mastery, and Collaboration. These four capacities can serve as most comprehensive lenses to analyze and measure whether teachers become change agents. 

"How can I become a change agent?" maybe your next question.

Edwards (2007) proposes that teacher preparation programs should encourage and support preservice teachers to share their existing expertise—their strengths— in the interpretations of problem spaces to construct their individual agency. Therefore, preservice teachers’ capacity to work with others and to negotiate meanings should be seen as valuable strength and not a weakness. 

Liesveld, Miller and Robison (2005) defined “a strength as a combination of natural ability, education and training that produced consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task” (p. 57). In their book, Teaching with your Strengths: How Great Teachers Inspire their students, the authors show teachers how to avoid the pitfalls that lead to mediocrity, and work best with what they have--discover and capitalize on their strengths. 

Your last question may be: "Is it possible for me to become a change agent as a novice teacher?" The answer is "Yes!" The Positive Psychology provides a new insight into discovering and capitalizing on one's strengths. 

Watch Shawn Achor's TED speech: "Happy Secrets for Better Life." The message that you can get from this video is that we need to have the right mindset to look for positive things in our environment to alter the constant stream of negative self-talk and fear based appraisals in such a way that we can become successful in our life by building on our strengths.  

You can tap on your tech-savvy strength and become a change agent in your school. The research shows that beginning teachers can develop teacher leadership potential from their strength-based practice. (You only need to read the abstract of the paper): 
 This study suggests that beginning teachers can learn to teach with information technology and lead in technology integration at the beginning stage of teacher development."

You can get a systematic support from Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (Iowa Department of Education). One of its goals is to "attract able and promising new teachers by offering competitive starting salaries and offering short-term and long-term professional development and leadership opportunities." 

We are very sure that you will become a change agent for technology integration in your school placements first at UNI and then in your future school. We are looking forward to hearing from you about your successful stories. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Universal Design for Learning / Assistive Technologies

The world isn't equally accessible to all people. There are many challenges that we have to be able to function and succeed in our worldly activities.  In the past, people have tended to emphasize the deficits in others' ability to function in the world. This has led to people being labeled as handicapped and disabled. This can cause a great divide between groups and cast negative stereotypes on challenged individuals. 

Having Special Needs
Consider, if you will, that all humans have special needs. It is just a matter of degree. People may need glasses for reading. Some may need an auditory reader because they have serious vision problems. Individuals may require an alternate means for communicating because they have Lou Gehrig's disease or cerebral palsy.  As we get older, we might review articles on our computer screens at 150% so that they are easier to read.  It's all a matter of degree.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a combination of pedagogy and techniques that acknowledge the different levels of needs. UDL uses brain-based research to identify the need for addressing multiple methods of representation, expression, and engagement of learners with information and knowledge. It involves instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. 

The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) is a leading organization in the field of UDL. Here is a 5-minute introductory video on UDL.


NOTE: This video has been enhanced using EDpuzzle. It includes explanatory voice-overs, multiple-choice quiz questions, an open-ended question and a link to a website.  This EDpuzzle enhancement has been included to demonstrate how you might enhance a video as part of the Interactive Learning Tool that you are creating for your final project. 

This is NOT your final quiz for this module.  You will still have to complete the module quiz as you have been doing all semester.  

An essential part of UDL is to use Multiple Means of Representation. This means that if you learn things better by reading than watching information, you may not have learned much from the video you just watched.  You might do better if you visited this website and read about UDL.  The National Center on Universal Design for Learning has a wealth of information about UDL as well

Differentiated Learning
Recognizing that students have varying backgrounds, levels of readiness, preferences in learning, and interests is important if you are going to be able to address their needs. You have learned about Differentiated Learning in your other classes. Often you must  differentiate your teaching style to address your individual students' learning needs. You try to meet students where they are educationally. UDL is a strategy that is based upon differentiated learning and teaching.  Read this article, What is Differentiated Instruction?, to see how these strategies work together.  

Assistive Technology
While UDL involves strategies to benefit all learners, Assistive Technologies (AT) are devices (some electronic and some not) that increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. UDL is a teaching practice while AT is something that you can touch. UDL will often involve technology but it is not reliant on technology. Visit this website about UDL and Technology. The text is short, but use the links in the text to gain a deeper understanding of technology's role in UDL.

There are many Types of Assistive Technologies.  Not all AT are electronic, but this list includes a variety of ways that people can interact with technology to function in the world. They may involve input devices that control computers using a variety of methods. They may be output devices that allow computers to communicate with people through Braille, voice, visual representation or even physical activity. 

iPad Helps Special Education Student to Learn
This video shows how an iPad has helped a special needs students read, write and communicate.

Aimee Mullins: Running on High-Tech Legs (10-minute video)
In this TED archive video from 1998, paralympic sprinter Aimee Mullins talks about her record-setting career as a runner, and about the amazing carbon-fiber prosthetic legs (then a prototype) that helped her cross the finish line. (This a video of a presentation from TED Talks. We STRONGLY suggest that you visit to hear some of the greatest minds on the planet present their ideas and visions.)

DOWNLOAD FREE UDL SOFTWARE - One of the most sophisticated programs for helping learners read and write is called Read Write Gold.  The best part about this is that you can download it for FREE at UNI.
  • For Google Documents - Add Read Write Gold to Google Chrome. Go to the Apps Web Store and add it to your Chrome browser.
  • For Computer-Based Tools - Go to UNI ITS website and download it. Read Write Gold - Home (bottom of the page.)  Use it. UNI has purchased a license that allows students and faculty to download it for free to use for themselves or with students.
We are all different and we all learn through a variety of methods and approaches.  UDL and Assistive Technologies provide strategies and tools that are designed to differentiate learning in a way that will benefit the greatest number of learners.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Technology Trends and Education

Iowa Department of Education - Educational Technology Plan 2009-2013
word cloud created via

Are you ready to write your lesson plan for the next 10 years? I hope this blog post changes your mind if you said yes!

What are the technologies that are affecting K-12 education? This infographic by Corey Murray,  from Envisioning Tech shows that many grade school kids will have jobs that have not been created yet. It also shows 40 ways that education and technology are moving towards in the next 30 years.

How will you intertwine your Content knowledge, Pedagogical knowledge, and Technological knowledge, to best engage the students with what they are learning?


What is STEM:

Drones in Education 

Examples of Drone Usage in Education: The Washington Times (

7 things you should know about Makerspaces

Transformative Learning Approach

Additional Resources:

This blog introduces 50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know. Those tools includes social learning, learning tools, lesson planing, and some other useful tools. This blog post is 2 years old now and there are additional tools that you can add to each category. How many of those tools are you familiar with, and how many of them sound educational to you?
3D Printing:
3D Printing at the Rod Library!


Watch some of the following to know more about some technologies that you might find at your school.

Augmented Reality

Magic Books (Augmented Reality)

There are more videos available in the EmergingEdTech  about the new technologies and their application in education.

How do you think these technologies will impact your future classroom?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Making Learning Meaningful for New Gens
New Gens
This week we will be exploring who are the New Gens (Gen Y and Gen Z) and how they are changing the world. Most of you are members of the millennial generation (Gen Y) and you will be teaching Gen Z students. We will explore these students who you will find in your classroom. We can't teach today's students with 20th-century strategies.  We must first understand our 21st-century students so that we can provide learning challenges that address their needs.

Here are some resources that you should review before watching the lecture:

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
Let's explore how digital technologies have changed the world, the people and how we interact with one another. The work comparing the Millennial Generation (born 1984 - 2001) with the older generations (Gen X, Baby Boomers) was begun by Marc Prensky.  He defined your generation as Digital Natives because you have always grown up with digital tools and toys. He defined the older generations as Digital Immigrants because we have had to learn about using digital tools and it just doesn't come as natural to us. 

Begin by reading Dr. Prensky's article, Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.This is the classic article about generation differences. Reflect how this applies to your life and your associates.

To be an effective educator, you need to appreciate your students' characteristics. You will be teaching Gen Y and Alpha Gen  (born 2010 to present) students. That means that they are entering first grade now. Most of you are at the older end of the Millennials but that doesn't mean that you can necessarily identify the important characteristics so that you can address them in your class. Watch/Read the following resources carefully so that you will be more aware of these issues.

Here is a different perspective by watching this 20-minute TED Talk by Scott Hess telling us Millennials: Who They Are and Why We Hate Them.   No, this isn't a hate speech. It is a Generation X-er (Millennial) comparing and contrasting them with Millennials. This video builds a good basis for our discussion of Millennials.

How Millennial are you?  Complete this quick survey to see how millennial you are.  Keep track of your results, we will discuss them in the lecture.
How Millennial Are You Survey.

Generation Z and What Does It Mean In Your Classroom (article) 
You will be teaching Gen Z students. You are part of another generation (Gen Y or wiser) and you need to consider how you will need to frame your work in a way that will be more relevant and meaningful to your students.  

What do YOU see as unique characteristics of the NewGens?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Information Literacy

image source HlwikiCanada
Information literacy is more than possessing information. Information literacy is the ability "to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information." (ACRL, 2000)
What kid of practical steps can you and your students take to critically evaluate information found on the Internet?
Big 6 and Super3
The Big6 is a process model of how people should solve an information strategies. Super 3 is a simplified model for the youngest students.

Additional resources :
ISTE Standards for students connection:
Standard # 3:Knowledge constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

  • 3a Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
  • 3b. Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
ISTE  Standards for teachers connection:
#2 d. Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning -Reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation - Get the truth about rumors, inspirational stories, virus warnings, hoaxes, scams, humorous tales, pleas for help, urban legends, prayer requests, calls to action, and other forwarded emails. - dedicated to" debunking email hoaxes, thwarting Internet scammers, combating spam, and educating web users about email and Internet security issues" - collaborative resource for  documented information about the corporations, industries, and people trying to influence public policy and public opinion - collection of domain name ownership records in the world (also look ; ;


During the lab group work:

image by R.Galloway

Using steps from the Internet Detective website,  the Detective Work section and Stephen Downe's Principles for Evaluating Websites analyze the following websites:

Exhibit A: (elementary):

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C: 

Exhibit D:

Exhibit E:

Exhibit F: 

Scrutinize the websites above. Can you find an argument to support or discredit the legitimacy of your website? How can you prove it? Can you see the purpose behind the website? Could you use it in your classroom?

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game

Did you think that video games were just for passing time in your living room? Think again.

How many of you are actually gamers or have a gamer in your house? It's almost 70%.

Let's explore how we can use an already popular past time and turn it into an important activity in the classroom?

Learning is about building new sets of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Learning doesn't happen unless the learner is feeling a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment turns into fun. "Fun is just another word for Learning" Raph Koster

Volkswagen explored this theory in their Fun Theory experiments.  
  • Visit their website and watch some videos of the finalists in their contest to use fun to teach/motivate people to do things.
Most of you are part of a gaming generation and your students will see gaming as just a part of life. As millennials, you spend a great deal of time outside of class problem solving, exploring, and questioning. You bask in being challenged. They crave immediate feedback on how well you achieve. You have access to information and tools like no generation before. This is even more true with the students you will teach. We can't approach teaching and learning using the same paradigm that we have in the past. In the following article, Simpson explains what you need to consider when working with gaming generations.   
Saving the World
Jane McGonigal talks about how gaming can change the world. She estimates that we spend 3 billion hours per week gaming. She supports the idea that gaming induces problem solving and innovation. She suggests that we need to game 21 billion hours per week to solve the world's problems.
Gamifying education seems like too much fun for the classroom.  How can games support learning?  Interestingly, there are a number of aspects in gaming that we see in the learning process as well. Gamifying Student Engagement by social studies teacher, Matthew Farber, describes how Leveling Up, Modding, and working with the in-game economy are also important parts of an effective learning process.

Optional Reading about World of Warcraft:
Based upon a student's request, here are a couple of references about how Peggy Sheehy used World of Warcraft in her 6th-grade class.


Your Choice Assignment*  
AFTER  you have reviewed ALL of the resources above, I am going to ask you to complete a serious assignment . . . Play Kingdom Rush or Food Street for 60 minutes. 

This is NOT about playing a game.  It is about learning how gaming can relate to learning and then testing it out on your own.

Kingdom Rush is a tower defense game where you place defenses and use those to repel invaders.
Food Street is a restaurant simulation and management game that puts you in charge of your own business. 

Both of these games are available for iPhone, iPad, Android, PC and Mac.  Just Google their names and you will find where you can download them.

Based upon what you have Read and Watched, consider the process of gaming:
  • How does it relate to learning? 
  • How does this change your ideas about gaming?
  • Think of the thought processes you go through to problem solve throughout the game.
*It is your choice if you want to do this assignment. You won't earn any more points for it but think of how cool it would be to play a video game for homework. =-)

SUGGESTION:  You might want to write a couple of paragraphs about the insights you gained by playing a video game after Reading and Watching the resources that you just experienced.  How did this relate to learning?  How did some of the points mentioned in the resources emerge while playing the game?  

We will be introducing blogging in a few weeks and you could post these reflections as your first blog posting.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mobile and 1 to 1 Learning

Will you be prepared to teach at a 1:1 school? And what's the big deal about going 1:1? Read on!

Laptops Vs. Tablets Which one is best for learning? That's an endless debate when it comes to what technology we should be giving our students in the classroom. Here are two interesting articles about each form factor. The Day of the Tablet Vs For the Love of Laptops. Read both and be prepared to share which one you would want in your classroom and why you would want it.

If you end up teaching in Iowa, there's a pretty good chance that you'll be in a school district that already has a 1:1 initiative. During the lecture we're going to explore what the Cedar Falls school district is doing with their 1:1 program. To prepare for 1:1 CF schools had to update their network infrastructure. Please read here about what they did, even before they completely made the decision to go 1:1.

With going 1:1 you've got to measure how well you're integrating technology in the classroom. One of the methods that Cedar Falls schools use the SAMR model. To learn more about this model, visit this web page and watch a few videos at the bottom to make sure you understand how it works. Make sure you spend some time on this page! Here's a video to get you started.

Start exploring on your own the many resources available to you to make you a better teacher! Here at UNI we have a wonderful resource called that has a wealth of information and can teach you how to use different software packages. But did you know that it also has videos dedicated to K12 education? You can find videos on topics such as Classroom Management Fundamentals, Flipping the Classroom, Teacher Tips (using technology), Social Media in the Classroom, Foundations of Teaching with Technology and many more! Now I don't expect you will watch each one of these before our lecture Monday, but I do want you to watch the introductory video of each of them and look at the index of videos available in each course. Want more? Here's the whole list of K12 resources on Having the knowledge of where you can find help is key for teachers! This resource is FREE until you graduate, then you have to start paying so take advantage of this now. Click and log in using your UNI CatID to get started today.