Edutopia Offers Free Video Content on iTunes U

Edutopia has announced the availability of many of its videos through the iTunes U Beyond Campus portal. Edutopia videos are excellent, and focus on how to create student-centered schools and authentic learning experiences.

They are organized into six “Core Concept” Albums:

  • Integrated Studies
  • Technology Integration
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Project learning
  • Teacher development
  • Assessment

We are happy to say that our own video, made several years ago at Washington Middle School in Olympia, Washington, was chosen to be among the first to make it into the new iTunesU!

Although the name has changed over the years from Generation www.Y to GenYES, much is the same. GenYES students are still helping teachers with technology integration, and teachers still need the help!

Edutopia’s iTunes U content can be accessed directly here. You can find our video in the Teacher Development album, or it’s online here with the accompanying article.


Helping students tell different kinds of stories via video

A while back I did a post about having students create “how to” videos for your school using the Common Craft model of simple illustrations with an informative voiceover. This is a very common GenYES student project, with students creating videos about how to use the technology found in their own school.

Now Common Craft has posted a blog showing their behind the scenes process of planning, shooting, and editing their latest video — Electing a US President.

This is a terrific post for a number of reasons:

  • It proves that no matter how experienced you are, creating a video is a process of trying things, seeing what works, and the intertwined nature of risk-taking, mistakes and creativity. We often don’t let kids have enough time for the crucial “oops….aha!” part of the process.
  • It emphasizes the value of editing. Editing is where an author turns a bunch of sounds, words, and pictures into a story that has an intentional impact on the viewer.
  • It shows the value of powerful non-fiction storytelling. Digital storytelling should not be confined to personal stories and feel-good vignettes. Putting together a coherent video about how to save a file to the network server, how to recycle, or how to set up a classroom laptop cart might seem simple, but it’s harder than you think, and a great learning experience.

Here’s the video – show your students and tell them it’s their turn to explain something that other people will find useful.

Electing a US President in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.


WoW 2.0 podcast online

Wow2! The Women of the Web discussion last night definitely deserved a double-WOW. Lots of great questions and conversation about GenYES and student empowerment, Seymour Papert, technology integration, project-based learning with technology, and more. The hour flew by, and reading the chat log today it looks like the backchannel was just as informative! Lots of great links and questions.

Here’s the podcast link on the WOW 2.0 website.

Many thanks to Sharon Peters, Dr. Cheri Toledo and Cheryl Oakes for being gracious hosts and expert interviewers. And good thoughts out to Jen Wagner who had to instead attend a funeral for a colleague.


Five on Five: A Dialogue on Professional Development

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a podcast about technology professional development. The interviewer was Matt Vilano, editor at THE Journal. Matt said afterwards that it went so well that it might become an article, and sure enough, it has!

Five on Five: A Dialogue on Profession Development

A quintet of educators gathers to sound off on what works and what doesn’t in the ongoing mission to train teachers to use technology in classroom instruction.

Sylvia the cartoon versionThanks Matt for turning an audio interview with 5 people on the phone into a great article! Plus, they did caricatures of us — kinda cool.

If you are an auditory learner try this:

Five on Five: Professional Development Podcast

Thanks also to the other podsters – Kristin Hokanson, Jim Gates, Bob Keegan and Cathy Groller. It was so much fun we kept talking after the time was up!


Blogs vs. wikis vs. podcasts – why schools like wikis & podcasts

At TCEA 2008, I heard a number of teachers say that they are able to use wikis or make podcasts at their schools, whereas blogs were discouraged or blocked. My initial reaction was that it was simply a knee jerk reaction based on popular uses of each. Blogs = MySpace = pedophiles, while podcasts seem safe and wikis are associated with Wikipedia, which at least sounds educational.

But as I thought more about it, I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it reflects a larger issue of assessment and comfort with the status quo. In most schools, curriculum focuses on student product rather than process.

A wiki is a means to collaboratively get to an end product, something a teacher can look at, assess, and grade. It’s easier to adapt existing curriculum to use a wiki, since most curriculum is also product focused. While wikis may offer some terrific efficiencies for group work, and does provide some support for the collaborative process (like a history of changes,) the strength of a wiki is that at the end of the day, it stands as a completed product.

Podcasts are also a product. Student podcasts can be substituted for the traditional report as the culminating product of a unit. Podcasts created by teachers or other experts are simply a lecture. While there is certainly a lot to learn as a student creates a podcast, the end result is a comfortable, known quantity.

But blogs reflect the process of learning, of going through a learning experience that may not result in a final product. Where’s the report, the culminating evidence of mastery, the final draft? How do you grade a student who might be changing over time? How do you not be involved in the conversation? It almost seems like cheating, after all, you don’t sit down with a student while they are taking a test and discuss their answers halfway through so they can try again.

In this light, wikis and podcasts represent an updated and more efficient way to do traditional classroom assessment, while blogs challenge the status quo. Traditional = more comfortable, challenge = change = discomfort.


Meet a real Bee Movie Maker

Bee Movie StillTired of being deluged by advertising about cartoon bees? Have your students meet a real bee movie maker and neurobiologist Brian Smith. Something for everyone here – from bee vomit to bee dancing, just the thing for middle school! (Article | Podcast)

Arizona State University sponsors a terrific website called “Ask a Biologist.” Since 1997, the site has answered questions from K-12 students and teachers about biology. Now it is podcasting! These range from interviews with an expert on tiger beetles, nanotechnology, and of course, bee movies.

Arizona schools! You have a special opportunity for a student to be choosen as a co-host for the Ask-A-Biologist podcast show. More details here.

Treasure trove for constructivist classroom projects

Dr. Alice Christie from Arizona State University has a wonderful site packed with great resources and reading for constructivist educators looking for project-based learning resources. We know Dr. Christie well from her research on student collaboration and GenY, student voice, and many other student-centered papers, presentations, and resources.

The educational technology resource page lists subjects like geocaching, webquests, podcasting, multimedia, and more. Not only are there great examples and ideas, but links to many school websites showing these ideas in action.

For example, one subject that many of our TechYES teachers ask about is spreadsheets, and how to find interesting data for students to use. Dr. Christie’s site has data sources, example spreadsheets, lessons, ideas, articles, and more.

Finally, teachers and grant-writers looking for research to support student-centered, project-based programs like GenYES should definitely look at Dr. Christie’s research and publication page.

E6 Learning Model - Maximizing Constructivist Learning

RSS in plain English – Ideas for student-made help videos

Here’s a great video about RSS (Real Simple Syndication). RSS is the heart of how blogs work, and how you can easily get great content to come to you instead of searching the Internet for it.

If YouTube is blocked at your school – you can find the video here at the CommonCraft website.

Sure, you can show this video to students (or teachers) to explain how RSS works. But this is a terrific example of a video students can make themselves. Student-made help videos can be a vital resource to teach both students and teachers about how to use the technology your school already has.

You could set up a podcast (vodcast) library, put them on school or district portals, or burn them to DVDs and hand them out to teachers.

Things to point out about this video:

1. It’s short. There is a reason movie trailers are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes long. If someone can tell the story of Star Wars in 2.5 minutes, your students can explain a concept in the same amount of time. Challenge students to edit, then edit again.

2. It’s low tech. This looks like sheets of paper taped to a whiteboard.

3. Audio is separate from video. Sometimes the audio part of making a video is the hardest part. This type of video can shot, edited, and completed with a voice-over.

4. It’s about your technology. A student-made help video will show exactly how YOUR technology works at YOUR school, not a generic example.

Finally, teaching is learning. Want students to learn more about blogging, podcasting, using the active whiteboard or other technologies? Making a video help guide will help them learn more as they figure out how to explain it to someone else.

GenYES teachers can find additional resources about student-made help guides (both video and printed) in the GenYES Curriculum Guide (Unit 10.)