Category Archives: educational technology

Can an educator become YouTube famous? Creating, comparing and critiquing an educational Vlog.

Part 1: Trying to Create a Vlog

petlak-tube-logo

YouTube Logo via Wikimedia Commons

Vlogging

I think I would be an engaging vlogger. I mean… I’m an engaging teacher (I think), so it should be an easy transition, right? I watch YouTube vlogs frequently, I bet I can create something similar. Maybe I can take advantage of the billion monthly users of YouTube for networking? But what avenue do I select to produce and createPinnacle studio is amazing and is what I used growing up, but a new version would cost money… so let’s try something free, while becoming comfortable with the medium in which I would be delivering the content anyway. Therefore, the means (for me) to create a vlog of sorts is through creating a video using YouTube and YouTube Editor! Clearly I will need to use a program like movie maker prior to upload and editing, but what can I do with YouTube Editor? What are the strengths and limitations of it? Let’s try it out and keep it short (under one minute is my goal).

 

Video: (To come later)

Here are some highlights had I finished my video!

Strengths

  1. Includes links to resources and content.
  2. Personalizes information consumption (it’s like you’re talking with someone).
  3. Condenses into a short chunk.

Weaknesses

  1. Reading is important! And it doesn’t (really) occur in this medium!
  2. Does obligation to create lead to staleness of content-delivery; bound to a particular character and the inevitable monotony? What if people don’t like me? What if I don’t like me?
  3. Expensive/time-consuming at start-up to establish professional content.

Potential for Teachers as a Content Tool

All I needed to create this is basically a script and a means to record video/audio (the latter of which may be mildly expensive/time-consuming, I just used my piano). Then I can add YouTube essentials to the video, like an ending part of my video with links to other videos? Ultimately, the YouTube Editor basically better utilizes the YouTube method of content delivery.

Part 2 – Comparing my Vlog to others

Rather than my video, let’s look/compare it to an example of a professional video, from one of my favourites, the vlogbrothers. Watch the video below!

Vlog Brothers: Understanding Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration
https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=qBvSSsi2vwg
An educator replicating Crash Course w/ Petlak

Can I replicate this? What does one need? And, as Kyle and Natalie pointed out to me, do I even need to recreate it? We (educators) can throw in content and media (all created by others) organically throughout instruction.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I do decide to create my own. Creating a resource for other teachers in SK for health and environmental science could be very valuable and not only save them time, but also allow me to teach concepts if I’m missing due to extracurricular involvement. If I have created enough resources and taught the content several times prior to creation of the module as well, it should be easy to pick up and go (I’ve been writing the script every time I teach it), assuming I’ve accumulated the above and established comfort with the module medium.

But what about the impact on student learning?

In theory, it should be very positive.

Once the nuances of the format are grasped and the user establishes comfort, not only should the format add value to facilitating the content, but may even allow for greater engagement in the content, finding a balance with the right media.

Professional Quality

“Once the nuances of the format are grasped”, I say above, like that’s supposed to be easy! If professional quality is to be established, for starters, professional devices are required. Next, if you look at any of the Crash Courses, you’ll see no shortage of additional people involved in the production of the video; script-writers, fact-checkers, camera-person, producer, animators and someone to compose or create original music. As a vlogger on a budget, I have to do all of these. Unless I talk to Andres and he can take care of animation while I take care of sound.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?!

It’s not like educators ever wear multiple hats, right? (Wrong.)

Devil’s advocate: as educators, we are morally obligated to continue learning, so dive in.

Conclusion

The start-up may be difficult, much like Justine addresses in her post! I’ve been making movies for fun since I was young so my experience with the medium is likely greater than most educators, so some of you may find the learning curve is steep and this is very time-consuming (even I found my limits, and it can be frustrating when it’s just not as good as professional vloggers). So, find your boundaries, and push your technological literacy limits (within reason).

Could you see yourself as a vlogger? Is it hard to establish confidence in the creation of this media? Do we even need to learn it?
Questions, comments, feedback – let me know!

– Logan Petlak

 

 


Assistive technology knows no bounds!

Assistive Technology.

Helping the blind, see.

The immobile, move.

The voiceless, speak.

The awkward and anxious, share.

Poor-writers, compose.

The disconnected, connect.

Always developing, never complete.

Assistive technology is an enormous umbrella term. We think of devices developed to help the “disabled” typically as assistive tech (devices), but then we are inclined to extend the definition to include even adaptations in the classroom (services). But where is the line? If we include differentiation as assistive, do we include adaptation? There are extensions of the technology definition to include ideas and classroom practices so I should… but, wow, including that wide definition of technology with a wide definition of assistive tech will that be a infinitely inclusive term. When we consider the definition of assistive technology including means to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability… it feels like everything in a classroom will be included. As such, what responsibilities does the school and education system bear to make this happen? What counts as a disability warranting support? If we include supplying devices in a BYOD classroom to those who have them, who is obligated to supply this? Today, many schools must include WiFi, is this now a mandatory “assistive technology”?

 

This ridiculously inclusive approach now also breaks down the illusion of limitations provided by assistive tech. Why is it simply an illusion? Circling back to the concept of a growth mindset, assistive technologies are constantly being developed and improved for all types and abilities of students/individuals. The strides made in hearing aids allowing individuals to hear again are incredible.

The increasing ease of movement for those bound to wheelchairs is ever-evolving or making music available to those who have lost their hearing. The field encapsulates potential, and while there will be difficulties, is there also the potential for the enhancement of the human form as a result creating a gap between “typical” individuals and those with assistive technologies. What comes to mind is sprinters with prosthetic devices, are they meant to compete against those with regular legs? If performance is drastically increased, is this fair or equitable? If they can afford it, should they be allowed it? Wealth gap aside, consider even grandiose ideas about the direction of human evolution. Is this wrong?

Sarah Reinertsen via Pinterest

I would argue it isn’t wrong, but we simply compare those with similar technology to others with the same tech? Or is this further segregating us? As always, where is the line?

What is a measurable amount of support to be provided to individuals requiring assistive technology? How do we train our educators to be familiar with an ever-changing field?

Where do we head next? What about assistive technology for managing teacher stress and workloads?

What assistive technologies are available to mitigating stress and workloads for teachers? Online assessment tools help reduce marking – but does the net work put into establishing these translate to better learning outcomes for students? Is there a world in which we tell devices to assess learning of each student, highlighting common difficulties students may experience, or individual anomalies and allow teachers to simply focus on learning support and facilitation? Totally possible. Will that negatively impact what a teacher provides their students or result in “worse” teaching?

Comments? Answers? Thoughts?

Logan Petlak


Educational software is changing for us, and us for it.

Snapchat-Based Reflection

Educational Software & Media
Snapchat – Not a conventional educational app – but in terms of responsible use of media and digital citizenship.

Perception vs reality and impacts on education:
Perception – it is a distraction in school OR it is an amazing way to connect with friends and others. Life is more disconnected than ever: Prince Ea: Can we auto-correct humanity
Reality – it IS a distraction BUT it is an incredible opportunity to enhance connectedness between students. I would argue students are better connected now than ever – we can share and observe others lives together. (Connect to Distance Ed) later.

Proponents, opponents, and adopters of these technologies:
If you’re against it, you do not enjoy the distraction of it in classes.
If you adopt it, you’re using it to connect with students.

Effects positive and negative on teaching and learning:
Positive – warm and energetic atmosphere.
Negative – can decrease engagement if not patrolled.

Pedagogical advantages and disadvantages:
Advantage – it keeps us fresh on what is a large part of many of our children’s development.

Disadvantage – it can be a vehicle for abuse, harassment, and as previously mentioned a distraction.

Conclusion
Education is always key – rather than fear and taking things away because we aren’t familiar or can’t control them… educate yourself and others on its use so that you can help them use it responsibly. I’ve observed the use of Kahoot and it seems positive, while the energy that is created as a result may have some short-term management implications a distraction, like Snapchat… and it may not meet the needs of ALL learners – it engages many of them.

Tell me you aren’t feeling more connected to me because of the adorable kittens.


Reflecting on educational software and media in general

Educational software is constantly evolving so as assessment and teaching practices change and become more inclusive of all learners, so too will the educational media to accommodate the demands of educators.

However.

Snapchat is NOT a conventional educational media/software. But it is a form of media that requires education. And the learning inherent within the roots of Snapchat (connecting with others over distances) has positive implications. When we look at the opportunities presented by distance education, the term “disruptive change” rears its head, almost as terrifying as “transformational change”. While sounding negative, disruptive change can be an encouraging as it may disrupt the normal constraints of the four-walled classroom. Personally, I get an opportunity to offer a course through distance education in our division next school year and this presents a lot of challenges and potential. This extends to many educational technologies, but most importantly, in my eyes, is that it poses opportunities for learning that are not limited to classroom walls.

That being said, there are inherent values imposed by new apps that are created, like Snapchat: “why do you need to take pictures of everything you do”? Once again: opportunity. Chance at critical thinking when engaging in online media. A favourite sarcastic quote in my classroom is: “the internet said so, so it must be true”. Which is an encouraging comment… but we see the two-headed dragon of this being that fact (peer-reviewed articles) can be misinterpreted as potentially inaccurate and that only your interpretation and beliefs of the content are much more plausible. It’s okay to synthesize an opinion from various forms of content, but what happens when what is most likely right is taken with too much doubt or discounted as not credible because other sources aren’t?

Educational software and will continue to evolve to meet our needs. As professionals it is paramount we stay up to speed on new means to meet the needs of new learners: changing ourselves to better utilize programs which continue to evolve alongside our evolving educational selves.

Agree or disagree?

Comment.

Logan Petlak



The digital life of a teacher-entertainer.

In this ever-evolving  understanding of teaching and learning, educators are constantly on the run from “traditional schooling”, constantly bombarded with news mean to fight the factory education model they are still enclosed within. Teachers, forever exposed to new means of instruction, the new rights, the new wrongs, the new device, and in the case of Sesame Street: the new songs.

Sesame Street Songs (Then and now)

Songs?

In a classroom?

Not allowed.

Unless your students are part of a generation with higher cases of ADD needing various forms of engagement to aid in learning (In this writer’s opinion, higher cases of ADD are strictly due to larger and more accurate amounts of testing).

Oh!

Wait!

Our students are a part of this generation. They need interesting and engaging delivery of content to enhance learning. Not to say it hasn’t been present before, I just think the world is far more engaging than it ever was. Which is why we, as educa-entertain-tors have to compete with the shows we were raised on and then some. New types of entertainment change comes with our handheld devices and while individual perception of change varies, some welcome it, some resist it, the fact is media, television, and devices are always changing. Therefore, to stay competitive, we have to stay on top of our game. Sift through the resistance to BYOD, get your hands on some additional devices for those who don’t have them, and get on the same level as every other source of entertainment your student is exposed to. I don’t mean to discount evidence that indicates BYOD can be bad for learning , but much like shows of the past, learning can still be had from devices and programming, because we watched these shows.

pinky__the_brain_wallpaper

A personal favourite of mine from youth. “Pinky and the Brain” via Looney Tunes Wikia

Even if standard achievement scores went down, there is learning that occurs beyond the ways we measure it. Natalie’s take  on the work of Neil Postman reminded us that: “He indicates that Sesame Street is a series of short commercials meant to entertain that uses puppets, celebrities and catchy tunes.  This is true.”

But why isn’t entertainment considered learning?

Kids don’t always learn the way we want them to, but there still are provided with ways to learn through the apps, social media, and games they play. Apps allow our students to connect with each other, face to face. Apps are reinventing the depth of relationships we may have had before with increased exposure to socialization and different experiences and cultures. Many games are problem-based, objective-completing activities that provide descriptors and feedback on their work. Consistent with that of the classroom but not with the content we would prefer. But can it go wrong? We can observe the history of the learning channel and see the defamation of the “educational program” over the years, and Krista Gates mentions that the shows are not as educational as they once were. But they are just as entertaining, and when I enjoyed the learning that I was exposed to on television, I enjoyed learning.

Sounds like a connection.

 

Television, apps, and devices are fun.

Television, apps, and devices are entertaining.

Television, apps, and devices are engaging.

Engagement leads to learning.

Learning should be engaging.

Learning should be entertaining.

Learning is fun.

 

Thoughts? Disagree? Am I simply brainwashed by the collection of television I’ve been exposed to over the years? Is my naive optimism the product of every show I’ve ever seen where a cartoon character made a joke or managed to smile in a bad situation? I’d like to this so.

Logan Petlak


Can’t fight the #EdTech juggernaut.

What is #EdTech?

I’ve asked this before. I went into a spiel about how technology isn’t easy to define asking, “do we sometimes mistakenly assume it has to be an object”? After pursuing learning related to EdTech in this past year, I think it is fair to view it simply that way. A modern definition of educational technology to me strictly addresses: the objects, apps, and tools created in order to aid in learning. EdTech is just learning, past and present.

BUT!

When one thinks of EdTech, one thinks of <insert device here>. SMART Boards, iPads, BYOD classrooms, take your pick. Mainstream EdTech is devoid of the history or philosophy, it is simply a “thing”.

And shout out to Holly, she nailed it with this definition:
“it is a set of tools that aim to enrich and enhance the teaching and learning experience.

To continue with completely overgeneralizing, education technologists (EdTech users) know the historical influence and implications of what goes into education technology anyway (the ideas and processes), so while an official designation of what EdTech is may contain the thoughts of its foundation, the majority view it simply. The critics and opposition to EdTech as a may point to the tech trade-off as a Faustian bargain, but that argument can be said of any step for progress/change and to me has all the symptoms of pessimism (the “p” word). “This new energy source will create new jobs”, “yes but it will ruin or make old jobs obsolete”, cut it out.
//giphy.com/embed/Np917mP5ixJJK

via GIPHY

It’s awful to displace people who may have worked at something for a long time, yes, but it illustrates our need to be able to adapt. Potentially, some companies are imposing values and beliefs on our youth with what tech they create, but it some cases, believe it or not, these things are created with the genuine intent to make life better (some capitalize on this, unfortunately). Haters might come at me with: “these technologies aren’t distributed evenly though, this increases the wealth gap as the haves get the best gear”. True, it does, but it also helps teach digital literacy to those with minimal exposure to it at home, assuming your educational institution can facilitate it.

Resistance is futile.

But worth it.

From oral to written to computer to social media, learning and EdTech has taken on different shapes throughout history. Fact. However, doubt is an integral part to each innovations’ growth and consequently seeks to further learning. The game is constantly changing for humanity. It doesn’t make us all-powerful when we are the architects of these paradigm shifts, but agents of change. These agents may hold and manipulate power and the very flow of human socialization, but it is negligent to not acknowledge what works (and what doesn’t).

Why do I think about it this way? It stems back to worldviews and a growth mindset. Approaching problems, be it with self or with others with a solution in mind; positivity in making the most of what’s available is not only better for me, but better for my students. So I continue to embrace change in education as a whole, not simply limited to the scope of EdTech, whether or not all of its depth is actually taken into consideration by the masses.

By the way, how great are gifs? And how fitting is this to the theme of my ramblings today?
//giphy.com/embed/l0mAEe524JfsA

via GIPHY

 

Agree? Is this all there is to EdTech and life?

Disagree? I’m too optimistic and need to be more realistic of the perils?

Comment.

– Logan Petlak

 


Educational Technology in My Life

Last night we had our first online class for EC&I 833. The class had us looking back through the years at how education and technology have evolved. I couldn’t help but think back to my experiences with technology and education right from the first computer I had at home (an IBM) right through to my teaching experiences with technology. I decided to create a mini presentation/vlog to share some of my experiences. If you want to hear about my past experiences you can watch from the start until 6:40, after that I discuss how my past experiences have shaped my current philosophy on technology and education.

I took some time to look up some of the educational games I used in the past and it brought back some great memories. Number Munchers, Reader Rabbit and All The Right Type are the programs that stand out the most in my mind. I think we all remember the typing programs… fff jjj faff jjj ff jj fjf jfj …am I right?? As a side note, anyone who was also a big fan of Number Munchers should be happy to hear that they have an app! I was surprised to come across it but I’m not going to lie…I will be downloading it. Anyways…back to the matter at hand.

After thinking about my experiences I started to think about how they impacted my education and how technology continues to influence my teaching practice. Technology has evolved over a long period of time and we’ve seen many advancements from the printing press to the computer. I would like to argue that the computer has had the biggest impact on the way we do things, but I could also argue that newspapers, radio and tv have drastically changed the way we have progressed globally and within our society. It doesn’t matter what type of technology is being introduced there are going to be changes that come along with it. Neil Postman describes five ways things that we need to know about technological change and I believe they are all valid points. I think my favourite point he makes is that every change comes with a trade-off. Some might argue that texting is making our students bad writers while others will argue that it is helping our language evolve.  Either way you look at it, we are trading something off.

Neil also states that “technology is not additive: it’s ecological”. This implies that it changes the way we do things. It impacts everything we do and we need to adapt and change to work with technology. This idea really speaks to me when I think about technology and education. As I explain in my video, technology has the ability to drastically change the way we do education. It gives learners and opportunity to go beyond the classroom walls and make connections that may have never been possible before. I know we have a long way to go as not everyone is onboard with integrating technology and we don’t have the funds to get us to where we maybe should/could be. But we are working on it. It is something that will always evolve and seems to be evolving at a very fast pace. It is our job to do our best to keep up with the times so that students are prepared for the 21st century work force that is seeking critical thinkers, problem solvers and collaborators.

I’m not sure I’ve done the definition of educational technology but I hope you can make some connections to what I have said and that I’ve made you think about your own practices and views on educational technology.