teacher technology thursdays

Later today, I will be conducting a professional development workshop for teachers in our area and particularly those in the Shelby County Schools district. While I’ve been using QR codes for a while, the augmented reality apps I have only dabbled in.  So, I have spent quite a bit of time working through these to see what’s possible.

Earlier this summer while I was working with some teachers as part of a grant, I found out about the ColAR App, which is just fun.  I’ve also heard of the Aurasma app, but I spent a lot of time researching this to see what was possible, as well as what I could do.  I’m really pleased to see what I was able to come up with.

Here’s a brief description of the workshop and the slides I will be using:

Drop in for this fast-paced and hands-on workshop to see some of the most current and exciting technologies available for teachers and students. We’ll take look at QR codes (those square thingies on signs and posters) and augmented reality, which let’s you merge the real world with the digital one. In addition to learning how to do use these technologies, we’ll discuss how they can be leveraged for teaching and learning, too. Feel free to bring your own iPad or iPhone or I’ll have one for you to borrow.

[slideshare id=27280401&doc=you-gotta-see-this-forss-131017010438-phpapp02]


Do you have a professor at the U of M who is an exceptional teacher? The Distinguished Teaching Award Committee is soliciting nominations for awards recognizing faculty who are outstanding educators. Honorees are recognized at the annual Faculty Convocation held at the end of the spring semester.

Students and alumni can nominate a professor for the 2014 Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching.  Added weight will be given to faculty members who receive nominations from two or more sources (students, faculty, and alumni). A nominee’s total number of nominations may also be given added weight.

Students should use this link: http://www.memphis.edu/dta_student

Alumni should use this link:  http://umwa.memphis.edu/dta/alumninomination.php

The nomination deadline is Friday, November 22, 2013. If you have questions please contact Dr. Melinda Jones, (901) 678-2690.

AECT Research and Theory Division logo

As president of the Research and Theory Division (RTD) of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), I wanted to let you know about an awesome opportunity to hear from an IDT god.  Dr. David Merrill is Professor Emeritus at Utah State University, and he is a renowned scholar, creating the First Principles for Instruction (here’s a link from Dr. Merrill’s site on the First Principles!).

Dr. Merrill will be presenting a brief webinar to launch our RTD Series of Professional Development.  It is sure to be provocative. Here’s the details and you do have to register beforehand.

Dr. David Merrill
Instructional Effectiveness Consultant & Professor Emeritus at Utah State University

October 17, 2013 at 1:30 P.M. (EDT)

Registration Link:

My Hopes for the Future of Instructional Technology

This short paper presents reasons for three hopes for the future.  First, it is time to move the training of instructional designers to the undergraduate level.  Second, I hope that graduate programs in instructional technology will emphasize both the science of instruction — including theory development and research, and the technology of instruction– including using principles, models and theories derived from research as a foundation for designing instructional design tools that can be used to design instruction that is more effective, efficient and engaging. Third, it is time to restructure our master’s programs to prepare our students to manage designers-by-assignment (DBA) and to prepare them in designing instructional design tools that would enable DBA to produce more effective, efficient and engaging instructional materials.

This came across my email announcements, and I wanted to make sure and share it.  Dr. Lloyd Rieber is offering his free MOOC again on statistics. It starts on October 7, 2013.

I’ve heard a couple of folks talk about the first iteration of the course, and it’s been really well received.  As I mentioned in my previous post about Lloyd, he is an exceptional teacher. He is able to make complex topics concrete and understandable.  This would be an excellent refresher or a great introduction for someone a little apprehensive.  It’s free with very low risks to you.  You’ll like Dr. Rieber and how he teaches. 😉

Here’s the details:

I am again offering my MOOC on introductory uses of statistics in education.
This section will run from October 7-November 11, 2013 on Canvas.net
https://www.canvas.net/ .

Here’s a link to the course site:

The course is free.

I designed the course for “mere mortals,” meaning that I designed it for
people who want to know about and use statistics as but one important tool
in their work, but who are not — and don’t want to be — mathematicians or
statisticians. A special note that I also designed it with doctoral students
in mind, especially those who are about to take their first statistics
course. It could also be good for those students who just finished a
statistics course, but are still fuzzy on the details.

However, this course would be useful to anyone who wants a good, short,
hands-on, friendly introduction to the most fundamental ideas of statistics
in education.

Here’s my approach … I provide a short presentation or two on each
statistics topic, followed by a video tutorial where you build an Excel
spreadsheet from scratch to compute the statistic. Then, I ask you to take a
short quiz — consisting of sometimes just one question — where I ask you to
plug in some new data into your spreadsheet and then copy and paste one of
your new calculations as your answer. (And yes, there is also a short final
exam on the conceptual stuff.)

Examples of specific skills to be learned include the scales of measurement,
measures of central tendency, measures of variability, and the computation
of the following: mean, mode, and median, standard deviation, z (standard)
scores, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r),
correlated-samples t test (i.e. dependent t test), independent-samples t
test, and a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).


* Lloyd P. Rieber
* Director, Innovation in Teaching & Technology for
*   the College of Education
* Professor, Department of Career & Information
*   Studies
* 203 River’s Crossing
* The University of Georgia
* Athens, Georgia  30602-7144  USA
* Phone: 706-542-3986
* FAX: 706-542-4054
* Email: lrieber@uga.edu
* http://lrieber.coe.uga.edu/
* http://www.NowhereRoad.com

 Streaking Rays
While reading through my Zite magazine this weekend, I came across a post that mentioned Wideo.  I hadn’t heard of this animation tool, but while I was looking at it and thinking about how I might could use this myself (or invite my students to use it), I came across a couple animations for design, which I really liked.  (Those are down below!)  These video animations inspired me to put together 10+ resources and lessons that I really like and use with my students for improving design, graphic design, slides, elearning materials, and type. I think there are 13 or 14 recommendations in total.  I hope you enjoy!

Graphic Design

eLearning & Online Courses

Slides & Presentations

Fonts & Typography


Two super quick look at elements of design in fast and fun animations.  These were produced with Wideo, and I’m thinking about trying this new tool myself.

Following up …

If you have some other resources, links, or lessons that you can recommend, please add them into the comments.  I’m sure others would really like to see them.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Stuart Williams via Compfight

weighting rubric

PBL Rubric
I use project-based and problem-based learning a lot in my own teaching, as well as research it, recommend it, and present workshops on it.  Consequently, I am often asked about assessments and grading that come along with using PBLs and inquiry.  In conversations that I have with teachers and faculty members about using rubrics for grading student products, or learning artifacts, I consistently find there are two challenges that make rubrics not as effective as they could be.


The first challenge that I often observe or hear about is a misalignment between what the teacher or faculty member actually cares about and what is listed as criteria on a rubric.  For teachers, I usually see this as a mismatch between what they have listed on their lesson plans for the objectives or goals of the lesson and then what criteria they have listed in the rubric.

I try to remind teachers and faculty members that the objectives and goals of your lesson should be directly reflected (read as “obvious”) in the rubric.  That is, using the language from Bloom’s Taxonomy, such as “compare and contrast” or “analyze” or “explain,” that is embedded in your objectives or goals should be embedded overtly in the criteria for your rubric.

Often, I find that teachers and faculty members list criteria that are part of the requirements for the artifact, such as number of slides, number of pages/words, or spelling, but they fail to adequately list the very criteria for which they designed the lesson.  So, don’t forget to include criteria that delineate to students the quality you expect in their comparisons, analyses, or explanations.


The second challenge I observe when teachers and faculty members use rubrics is inadequate weighting of criteria.  This is evident in a rubric when a student can do average or better (so maybe a “C” or better) with your rubric and still fail to understand the primary course content.

In my research, students told me it was easier to get a good grade with a project than it was on a test.  This calls into question the rigor of our rubrics.

Where I see this most prevalent is when teachers and faculty members use rubric maker tools.  I am a huge fan of tools such as iRubric, Rubric Maker and Rubistar.  I frequently recommend these tools to teachers as a beginning to building their own rubrics (see an overview at Edudemic).  I also always recommend that rubric designers (that’s teachers and faculty members) handle weighting in one of two ways inside of these tools.

Add a Column

The first way to handle weighting in a rubric is to add a column for weighting, such as a percentage or with points.  (I know this seems a little obvious.)  Many rubric tools, however, do not include this in their settings.  So, you have to go in and add this column.  I also encourage you to make sure that you weight most heavily what you care about most.  If the “scientific knowledge” or “analysis” or “articulation of symbolism” is what you care about most, make sure it is weighted appropriately.  Again, I believe that a student shouldn’t be able to do average or better on a performance-based assessment without demonstrating the knowledge and skills of the assignment. There is a great post by Pamela Flash that walks you through step-by-step of building a rubric and weighting is the second step.

Add Criteria

The second way to handle weighting is to add more criteria for the knowledge, skills, or requirements that you care most about.  For example, if you are emphasizing “compare and contrast,” then you may be able to break this down into more criteria, such as “identified…” and “supported…” and then “compared…”  If there is scientific knowledge that you are expecting students to “explain,” then you may be able to break this down into specific criteria.  Again, you’re adding criteria in order to increase the weight for the set of knowledge or skills that you care about.

Bonus Tip!

While I encourage teachers and faculty members to share their rubrics with students ahead of time (as well as consider having students collaborate in the creation of the rubric!), I also think it’s a great idea to turn the rubric into a self-check checklist for the students prior to submissions.

Following Up!

  1. Here’s a great article by Madeline Marcotte about rubrics and the pros and cons of using them.
  2. There’s another great post by John Larmer and the folks at BIE on how to use their rubrics for 21st Century Skills and PBL, so you may want to take a look at that one.
  3. Finally, Grant Wiggins offers up a thoughtful post on how rubrics can be created and how they should be used.  It’s thoughtful in that it offers some philosophical viewpoints about when and how rubrics should be used and what their purposes can be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on rubrics and how they work for you and what you struggle with when using them.  Please share your thoughts and any additional resources in the comments below. Good ideas are always welcome!

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Kathy Cassidy via Compfight

Image (cc) from Common Sense Media

In a course I’m teaching this fall for in-service teachers, I majorly upgraded the course content. One of the units is focused on digital citizenship and extends the content in a previous course that focuses on literacy, safety, and ethics. So, I thought I would share 10 of the best starting resources I found on the Web for teaching about and integrating elements of digital citizenship into curricula. These resources represent the most current thinking about digital citizenship and reflect the most recent revisions.

  1. Digital Citizenship: Nine Elements — Brief and quick explanation of all 9 elements of digital citizenship. At the bottom is one of my favorite organizations of these 9 grouped by respect, educate, and protect. Nice overview
  2. “Digital Citizenship Survival Kit” by Craig Badura — Make digital citizenship concrete to teachers and students with these everyday visuals.
  3. “How To Tackle Digital Citizenship During The First 5 Days Of School” by Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith — How to get started without being stressed out.
  4. Five-Minute Film Festival: Teaching Digital Citizenship by Edutopia
  5. Digital Citizenship: Scope and Sequence — See what digital citizenship might look like across different grade levels. Get a sense of what is age appropriate and how a grade band, such as Grades 6-8, might plan across their school.
  6. “Keeping Students Cybersafe” by Anne Mirtschin
  7. “Copyright 101 for Educators” by Wesley Fryer — Understandable and appropriate for teachers. I like the emphasis on being a professional and what that means.
  8. 5 Lesson Ideas from Hoover High School P.A.S.S. — These are 5 everyday situations that students can respond to.
  9. “Chapter 5: Literacy in the Information Age” in Technology to teach literacy: A resource for K-8 teachers. — Shameless, gratuitous plug here: I wrote a chapter in this textbook that looks at media literacy and information literacy, as well as safety and ethics. So, I think it’s a great place to start if you trying to get a grasp on all of the pieces. (Psst. If you would like to see a review copy of the chapter, let me know. I will see what I can do for you.)
  10. “Digital Citizenship” from 21 Things 4 the 21st Century Educator — This is one “thing” inside by Macomb ISD, Ingham ISD, Shiawassee RESD, REMCAM‘s teacher professional development series. This one has some great resources collected together, including ones for bullying and a digital citizenship curriculum.

Bonus! Here’s #11!

Dr. Bill Taylor, a Professor of Political Science at Oakton Community College, wrote a letter to his students regarding academic integrity. I really like this approach about integrity the student-teacher relationship. I think this also feels more personal than speaking to the students (I’m not sure why, though.). Read the letter, and feel free to share your thoughts on Viral Notebook. I would really like to see some examples of this at the K-12 level. Do you know of any that are public?

What Can You Add?

Are there other great resources or ideas for digital citizenship that you can add? I would definitely love to see and share them with my students. Add them in the comments or tweet them out (@michaelmgrant) or Google+1 them out for us.


for ELLE Russia | denied
One of the strengths of project-based learning is flexibility.  There are certainly lots of ways in which PBL can be flexible, but I would like to focus on the production of learning artifacts.  As I’ve explained in my writings, learning artifacts are produced by an individual to represent his new knowledge or skills. However, I would like to highlight here that learning artifacts are individualized (or personalized) and can reflect new knowledge and skills in myriad ways.

New knowledge is individualized.

In workshops one of the statements I commonly make about PBL is that “Projects are not recipes.”  Project-based learning should allow learners to individualize, or personalize, the learning in multiple ways.  Every learner should not produce an identical artifact. This does not reflect the foundations and purposes of PBL.  Here’s a similar quote by Chris Lehmann:

When possible, PBL should offer learners choice in the topic(s) under investigation, process of investigation, or both.  The in-depth investigation that is part of PBL should be different for each learner.  For example, in an 8th grade unit on geography and human rights, I observed learners identify injustices across different countries they were assigned, but then they went on to focus on causes and possible solutions based on their interests and understanding of the problems.  So, their learning artifacts, of course, looked differently and contained different assertions.  I liken this to differentiation, which is a very hot topic right now in K-12. In other words, the learning is individualized by the learner, which is certainly indicative of a personal learning environment.

New knowledge and skills are represented in myriad ways.

In my own teaching and when possible, I try to offer students multiple ways to represent their new knowledge or skills.  For example, I emphasize the learning goals, or objective, such as “Analyze current teaching practices for elements of digital citizenship” or “Relate cognitive load theory to cognitive information processing theory.”  Then I suggest a number of different ways in which this may be represented, for example a blog post, website, digital presentation, slidecast, concept map, comic strip, video, etc.  In K-12 classrooms, you can, of course, include craft materials.

What I try not to do ever is tell learners to “make a Powerpoint.”  I have found from my observations in classrooms that students then tell other students, you have to make a Powerpoint. Then the learning artifact and the essential purpose of the PBL is bound by “make a Powerpoint.”  “Make a Powerpoint” is rarely the point of any lesson.  Instead, I recommend that teachers and faculty members stay focused on what you’re really interested in learners doing, which is analysis, application, description, synthesis, justification, evaluation, etc. This is often easiest to do when related back to the driving question or central problem under study.  I have seen some K-12 teachers post a banner in their classrooms with the driving question, so that they can refer to it.  In an online course, it could be great to create a simple graphic that could be referred to or linked as needed in a discussion board posting. (Yes, you could create this as a Powerpoint slide. <wink> )

One of the bonuses to offering multiple outlets for the learning artifacts is that different tools have different “points of view.”  In education, we call these mental models, and different software offer different methods of how to accomplish a task.  For example, in this post at TeachThought.com, they present 25 different concept mapping applications.  However, some of these applications create concept bubbles (called nodes) that allow crossing linking lines, such as Mindjet.  Others, though, are quite hierarchical that force subordination of concepts, such as Mindomo.  Depending on the content and the individual, the learner may want to represent their knowledge differently.  The different tools may be a better match for one learner and content than another.

Multiple representations of knowledge

So, PBL affords learners the opportunities to represent new knowledge and skills in multiple ways.  Because learners are able to choose multiple paths through instruction, or learning processes, they may make decisions about how to tackle a topic, and subsequently, how to represent that topic.  PBL also gives learners choices about tools to construct their artifacts.  When possible, I recommend offering students a variety of tools and choices for constructing their artifacts.  We all have different abilities, so choice in tools allows us to use these abilities in ways that are often constricted with paper-and-pencil and computer-based testing.

What are your thoughts?  How have you seen PBL afford multiple representations of knowledge?  What challenges have you seen to implementing PBL this way, too.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Natasha Mileshina via Compfight