Group 3 Technologies – The activities

Following on from the last post this one reports a bit more on activities associated with the Group 3 technologies, tools that “present learning or information”. The point is mostly to document that I’ve done this stuff (for assessment purposes) and also to implement the necessary analysis of one of the tools.

Powerpoint

Beyond the presentations that are on Slideshare (including some that have audio narration), in completing my experimentation with Prezi yesterday I included a stop-motion animation video that was created using Powerpoint.

Prezi

As outlined in the last post I did transform some of the ideas/resources from a previous presentation into a Prezi. It’s by no means complete and needs some work to really be a good Prezi, but it’s made me familiar with the tool and its capabilities.

Perhaps the biggest annoyance I had was the apparent inability to select a collection of elements simply by “dragging a rectangle” over them. You can do it by “shift-clicking” on each element, but when the elements can be radically different sizes this can take some time and planning. If that’s my biggest annoyance, the tool works quite well.

That said, however, I’m not sure that the tool holds a really huge advantage over Powerpoint. In the future, I’d probably give Prezi a go with my own presentations. But I wonder if having students use Powerpoint and then engage them in discussions about what makes a good presentation would be more beneficial. Having them battle against the constraints of Powerpoint might help them learn more.

But then, perhaps the best approach is to let the students choose. Rather than require them to use a particular tool, let them use what ever they want and then engage them in discussions about the relevant strengths and weaknesses of the tools.

Glogster

So, I haven’t played with this tool and am feeling somewhat reluctant to, for some reason a “online scapbook” doesn’t excite me. To juvenile? To strong an association with the “scrapbooking” that my mother-in-law loves?


Of course it could be used for more than that. For example, I was involved in a project a few years ago called Voice Thread for Research Posters. The description of the project was

For 2008, Term 2 the course PSYCH13021, Special Topic in Psychology has used VoiceThread.com to host research posters generated by the students as part of their major assessment. Normally this would have been done using Word/Powerpoint files.

From the start the coordinator wanted to organise a social event to show off the posters. Local psychologist would be invited to attend through the professional association.

I’m somewhat interested to see if any of the research posters is still available. Yes, at least one is.

You could do something similar to this project using Glogster, but I think VoiceThread has one advantage which was important to this particular project. VoiceThread allows other people to comment – with text, audio and video – on someone’s poster. With the social event we organised for PSYCH13021, rather than put physical posters up on a wall. We set up a half-dozen computers around the room. The attendees at the poster session could walk between computers and look at any poster they wanted to. If they wanted to ask questions or make a comment on a poster, they used voicethread to make the comment.

The first example poster has some textual comments. This one has a couple of textual comments, including one from a person who has uploaded an image of themselves that is used for the comment. Even better, this poster has a narration from the author of the poster and an audio comment from the lecturer of the course and a “test message/comment” from one of the attendees.

Which raises the question, does Glogster support comments? It does allow text-based comments. Not quite as good as the audio and video comment support on VoiceThread, at least in terms of impact/connection.

This is the type of application of this technology that interests me. It involves the students in developing something real, that is then shown to an audience that provides feedback to the students. It’s resonates with the “constructionist” in me.

One of the drawbacks I think we experienced in the PSYCH13021 project was that the students (I believe mostly 25+ university students) had some difficulties in creating their posters. VoiceThread, unlike Glogster, doesn’t offer support for creating the poster. Instead students used Powerpoint, Word and other tools they had access to. This made it harder for them. Glogster seems to be focused more on scaffolding the act of creating the poster. From this perspective, it looks to have the advantage on VoiceThread.

Especially given its ability to include video etc such as in this example I came across via Ian. Ian also makes the point about having to upgrade from the free version to access some of the features. More on this below.

Analysis – research poster presentation

This is the application I’ll analyse for the assessment, will stick with VoiceThread and in particular the idea of using it to produce a class poster session similar to the PSYCH13021 project from above.

The question I have is just what topic such a poster session might take for my subject areas: information technology and mathematics. One possibility for mathematics arises from this video showing comedy in some incorrect mathematics from Ma and Pa Kettle. There are similar videos from Abbot and Costello. “Correct mathematical mistakes” might work as a poster topic. The process might include the following

  • (Optionally) Identify some example of incorrect mathematics from the public arena.
    They might be asked to identify their own or pick one from a selection. If they were to identify their own, I might warn them at the start of 1st term and only start working on the posters in 2nd/3rd term. Providing a selection would be easier for them, but there is benefit to them having to look at their world for a while for examples of bad mathematics. In fact, this might be the biggest advantage of this approach.
  • Create the posters.
    Have them connect the maths to their study and develop explanations about why it’s wrong and what the right answer would be. Perhaps even design the posters to use VoiceThreads multiple slides approach to introduce the problem (e.g. show the video of Ma and Pa kettle) and ask the viewers to see if they can identify the problem.
  • Engage a community.
    Identify a mix of people to interact with the posters such as students from other classes, other teachers, parents and siblings, classes from around the world, mathematics experts and organise session(s) in which that community interacts and comments on the posters.
  • Do it groups.
    The project could be group-based, perhaps it would work better that way.

As with the group 2 technologies, I’m going to do a SWOT analysis where I classify the technology itself (voicethread) as “internal” (strengths and weaknesses) while everything else, including pedagogy and school context, is external (opportunities and threats). As with the previous analysis, I am going to try and give the students and high school leadership a voice in this analysis.

Analysis Teacher Students Leadership
Strengths Multimedia in terms of creations and comments.
“Advanced” support for comments enables great sense of community/connection with audience. It’s aimed at enabling group conversations.
Allows moderation of comments.
Offers some support for teachers.
A class subscription only costs $USD60 a year.
We can save our voicethreads for ourselves.
We can use our Facebook stuff.
Threads can be limited to school groups, maintaining privacy and there’s also a safe K-12 space
Includes support for integration with LMS/Authentication
Weaknesses Creation relies on existing tools and capabilities (i.e. not as scaffolded as Glogster).
Creating and managing class accounts can consume a bit of time, even with support.
I can’t embed YouTube videos A class subscription costs $USD60 a year!!!
Opportunities All the typical advantages from constructionism (Papert et al, 1991) and engagement theory (Kearsley et al, 1989)
Developing multimedia literacies with a real purpose and developing engagement with an external community.
Some with a real job (i.e. not a teacher) actually liked and commented on what I did!
I began to see mathematics everywhere.
Demonstrates multimodal literacies and community engagement, tick those boxes.
Threats Do the students have the confidence/skills to create and share posters?
Does the school have the resources to support this?
Will the chosen external community engage?
Will the engage in supportive ways?
Helping the students, setting up Voicethread, identifying and engaging the right external community and managing the interactions all consume time.
Identifying a good purpose for the posters may take a bit of thinking and work.
Sharing our work is scary.
They made me work with “joe”.
There will be at least one student that embarrasses the school.
How will this increase NAPLAN results?

References

Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1998). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Educational Technology, 38(5), 20-23.

Papert, S., & Harel, I. (1991). Constructionism. New York City: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

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