Thursday, 7 December 2017

Aurasma in the learning commons

I keep hearing how AR could be the next big thing in education.  I also hear people who say they have no clue what it is - other than for Pokémon Go!  Today I worked with a friend in my district who runs the Learning Commons in a High School on some AR and thought I would share.

Essentially she wanted to create videos students could view when they had question around the learning commons.  Videos would include instructions around how to load money onto their accounts, how to use the photocopier, how to access Overdrive, etc.  (Note: We both know that she could have certainly done this with a simple QR code, but she wanted to play with AR, so this was the path we chose.)

We decided, based on the work in another LC in the district, to use Aurasma.

Auramas is an Augmented Reality tool which uses a device's camera to recognize real world images and then overlay media on top of them in the form of animations, videos, 3D models and web pages. It is available on desktopsiOS and Android devices.

To achieve our goal, we first made little signs that we would hang up around the Learning Commons.  We took a screen shot of each slide and saved them locally to our computer.  These would become our triggers.

Scan me in Aurasma!!

Next, we made videos which became our overlays.  I used (the amazing tool) Camtasia but moving forward we will be using the Screencastify Chrome Extension to make the videos.  Again, we saved locally to our computer.

Then, we used the Aurasma Studio to create the Auras (that's what it is called when you link the picture and the video).  This video shows how:

In our final step we were stuck.  We could not see the auras I created in my account on her device.  Turns out, you need to follow someone to see the aura.  Sure soon as she followed me...there is was.  Want to check it out?  Download the app, follow "virtualgiff" and scan the picture above.

How do you use AR in eduction?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

V is for Version History

#NaBloWriMo Day 22...last day of November...although I think I will finish the alphabet.

As an English teacher, the paper struggle is real!  There have been a number of occasions that I have needed to collect process work and had a TON of papers to bring home.  Version History in G Suite apps has made that a little less of a struggle!

Versions history give you a snapshot of all the changes that have been made over time in a document.  When you go to File --> Version History, the window will change slightly and a text box appears on the right hand side of the screen.  In this text box is a list of dates and names under each date.  If you click on a date it will show what that version of the file looked like and show you who made which change via highlighting.  You can also revert to that version.

In terms of process work, I can see changes over time in a student's document.  You can even rename versions.  So, in terms of process work, I can have students name versions (e.g., draft 1, peer review, self reviews, etc.) and there would only be a single file I would need to access.

I also love that you can track who made which changes in a file.  This has been great for tracking participation in group work.  It has helped me facilitate those "Miss, I have done all the work, my group has done nothing" conversations.

Naming sessions helps if you continuously make changes in a document.  For example, I have slide decks I use when presenting at conferences and summits.  I like to name the version according to the version I presented at each event.  This helps me remember exactly what I said when people reach out after the fact! 

Versions History is a real life saver.  I once had a teacher reach out after 3 hours of her work was erased by a colleague accidentally.  What made the situation worse was that the colleague had then put 3 hours of her own work into the file.  We simply copied the work from the second teacher into a new Doc, restored the version that Teacher 1 had worked on, and pasted the work from Teacher 2 back in.  What would have meant hours of other work, turned into a 3 minute fix.

If you have any other great uses, please leave a comment below!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

U is for Unsplash

#NaBloWriMo Day 21

I am not going to lie...I struggled the with U.  I may have even cursed Eric. However, thanks to a Google Search of EdTech Tools, I stumbled on this gem. (And it turns out Eric had the same idea!  #GreatMinds)

Unsplash is simply a website with over 300K FREE high resolution this one:

Photo by Wes Powers on Unsplash
This is such a great find for me on a few levels.  Firstly, I love being able to find these sorts of sites to show students.  Secondly, my mind automatically goes to ignite talks when I see sites like this.

The site is curated and they have made collections based on themes.  You can also follow artists you like.  Nothing crazy, but a lot of beauty!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

T is for Twiddla

#NaBloWriMo Day 20

Twiddla is an Online Whiteboard...and it is super simple!  Users can mark up websites or graphics, or start drawing on a blank canvas. It is a really great tool for distance learning led by a teacher or peer to peer.  It even has a built in Equation editor for the mathletes out there.

Twiddla requires no plug-ins or downloads and works on any browser.  Best of all - NO account required!  This is great to maintain student privacy.  (The free version allows for up to 10 participants to meet for 20 minutes.  There are other pricing structures.)

To get started, start a board, and share the link.

Monday, 27 November 2017

S is for Sketchnoting

NaBloWriMo Day 19

This letter should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me.  I began my Sketchnoting journey in August 2016.  I was reading a book and wanted to really capture and remember the ideas.  I had heard a lot about sketchnoting and thought it might just be my answer.  I tried it...and my first attempt was nothing to write home about.

But it did make me realise that I remembered more when I sketched.  The next opportunity presented itself at a staff meeting when we were doing learning around Truth and Reconciliation.  Normally at meetings, I do a lot of multitasking.  I knew, given the importance of the topic, I needed to have a singular focus.  So I sketched again.  That night I went home and left my sketchnote on the kitchen table.  When my husband came home, we engaged in a conversation about the staff meeting and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  This would have never had happened if I had taken traditional notes.  It was this moment that I really saw the power of sketchnoting.

Sketchnoting has since become my go to for taking notes.  You can check out my Flikr account to see them all.

Enough about me...let's talk about what sketchnoting is and why should you do it. Check out this video:

The benefits are countless. To name a few, sketchnoting:
  • Helps with retention (study have shown adding visuals increases retention up to 65%)
  • Increases comprehension data 
  • Helps one to concentrate (form of mneunomic)
  • Stimulates neurological pathways 
  • Activates all four learning modalities 
  • Is an anchoring task (keep us from losing focus on boring tasks)
  • Is relaxing!
So now I expect many readers are saying they love the look but they "are not artist".  I'll leave this here for you:

It is all about that growth mindset!  Try it.  Give Doodle a Day or Sketch 50 a try.  Carve out 10 minutes a day to exercise your creativity muscles - they need exercise like any other muscle.

Want some resources?

All in One Jackpot Resources!!  (Research articles, collections, How & Why, Tools, Videos)

Inspiration for layouts and drawings
Practice Activities

Blog Posts (including Slide Decks)
See Sketchnoting in action

Sunday, 26 November 2017

R is for Read & Write

NaBloWriMo day 18

Read & Write for Google chrome (put out by Texthelp) is one of the best, yet underused, Edutools out there.  (Side note: there are rumours that it might be soon funded by OSAPAC.)

Read & Write is a great tool that provides personalized support to make documents, web pages and common file types in Google Drive more accessible. It’s designed to help all learners, regardless of ability, engage with content in a deeper level.  

Once installed in Chrome a little purple puzzle piece will appear and once pressed, the R&W toolbar will appear. 

I won't go through all features (Texthelp has this great primer to walk through all the features - it's awesome!) but I do want to highlight some of my favourites.

  1. The Play button reads the text!  I have taught a lot of decoders - kids who can read the words but have trouble understanding what they are reading.  I use R&W all the time to get students to read the text as it is read to them.  I have seen HUGE improvements in reading comprehension.
  2. Talk and Type.  I use the Voice typing feature in Docs all the time.  The Talk and Type feature gives me this functionality on all websites.  Thinks about how much easier filling in paragraph questions on Google Forms will be!
  3. The Screen Mask darkens the entire page except one thin line that moves with the cursor.  This is a great way to help readers who are easily distracted by other text on the page focus on particular areas.
  4. The Highlighting tool allows you to highlight text but the bonus is the collect highlights.  When you collect highlights a new Doc opens and each different colour is grouped together to collect common ideas.  This is a great for those whose thoughts are all over the place.  Use Talk and Type to record the stream of consciousness then so back, highlight similar ideas in the same colour, collect highlights - et voilà!  All common ideas are together.
  5. The voice notes tools is great for teachers. I have found that sometimes tone is lost in written feedbacks.  Voice notes allows you to record up to 60 seconds of voice and insert it into the Doc.  Once inserted, a play button appears in the comment box and comments can be listened to.
The tool is rich for all learners and educators.  If you have not tried it already, you need to give it a try!

When I do PD with teachers around Read & Write I like to walk them through this Hyperdoc.

Q is for Quest

#NaBloWriMo Day 17 (a few days late)...

Each November, my district, the York Region District School Board, host a three day conference called The Quest.  Every year we are on a Quest for understanding in an area.  This year it was Student Well-Being.  I was working in the playground and got to sketchnote for three was awesome.  Rather than talk about each keynote, I will let my sketches do most of the talking.

Dr. Michael Ungar outlined what all kids need to build resilience.  He also reminded us that Systems need to be adjusted as much as our children need to be adjusted.

Dr. Jean Clinton was refreshing, open and honest in her keynote.  She explained tat anxiety is good...but not when the fear of the bear never goes away.

Five YRDSB Students reminded us that they need help to navigate the waters of Social Media, and that school can be hard when you have so many "Haters in the Hall".

Stephanie Fearon reminded us that teachers too need to protect their well being.

My favourite part of the week was the second round of  Student TED-style talks.  They moved me to tears.
The Thursday evening keynote speaker was Margaret Trudeau.  When I went t show he my sketch the table asked if I was going to give it to I did.  ☺