5 Educational Uses for Periscope

 

periscope-ios-640x379

Yesterday I wrote about Periscope–what it is and what you can do with it. It seems that the educational community is already embracing it and extolling its virtues, based upon the positive blog posts I’ve read. Teachers love its ease of use and ability to be able to instantly communicate with students and parents. Remember, Periscope is a tool that is meant for live broadcasts. If you just want to record something and share it later, there are better tools to use, such as your mobile phone’s camera.🙂

I’ve come up with a short list of ideas for using Periscope in your classroom:

  1. Enable Virtual Field Trips: There are numerous ways to host or attend virtual field trips, but Periscope allows an anyplace/anytime type of agenda. A teacher, for instance, can use her mobile device to interact with students unable to attend a field trip or to share the field trip with another classroom. Or, even better, she could connect with another teacher to share culture, language, current events, etc.
  2. Communicate with Experts: Periscope would be valuable when communicating with an expert who is in the field–such as an outdoor event, conference, or any place outside of the classroom. Students can ask questions through the chat feature and receive instant responses.
  3. Broadcast Scavenger Hunts: My colleague, Chris Haskell, came up with an idea several years ago about a learning strategy called a “CellQuest.” This was a type of scavenger hunt that used GPS and texting along with instructions to locate various items and/or places. Instead of just using texting, students could participate in a CellQuest type of scavenger hunt using Periscope.
  4. Involve Parents: Get parents involved in school activities they can watch and comment on. This would provide opportunities to connect with and better understand what is going on in their children’s school. Create your own classroom Twitter feed (which you will then connect to your own Periscope account) and invite parents to follow you. Broadcast weekly updates on your classroom. Share live student presentations with parents.
  5. Share Live Events: If you find yourself in a situation where you feel students and/or parents would benefit from viewing your experience, then Scope it, It can be just about anything. How about broadcasting a live presentation at a conference you are attending and sharing it with your colleagues? The ideas and options are almost endless.

Downsides of Periscope

  • Streaming quality can be inferior.
  • Your school’s Internet filter may not allow it (since it is connected to one’s Twitter account).
  • Comments disappear.
  • Videos are only visible for 24 hours (although you can save them to your Camera Roll for archiving).
  • Students need to be informed of privacy issues and how to share Periscopes.
  • Requires the use of a mobile device with cellular service if not within range of WiFi.
  • May not always be the best method for broadcasting–for instance, in the classroom, Google Hangouts might provide better ways to communicate and collaborate in an online, live environment.

More About Periscope

 

 

Technology Tuesday: Trying out Periscope

periscope app

I usually hear about new technology tools from my co-host, Chris Haskell, during our Cool Teacher Show.

Periscope is one of those tools, and I decided I better check it out.

Periscope is a mobile app available for both iOS and Android and hasn’t even reached its first birthday–it was officially launched on March 26, 2015. It was developed by a couple of young men and sold to Twitter in January 2015 before it officially launched. You can read more about the history of Periscope and how it started on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periscope_(app)

It’s an interesting story–but the part that fascinated me was the developers’ metaphor of teleportation. In other words, Periscope allows us to experience the world through other people’s eyes, in real time, and with real-time comments and feedback. Periscope allows to user to record live video anywhere, anytime on a mobile device, share that video through their Twitter feed (or not), and read live feedback from viewers.

Like most apps, it’s pretty simple to use, but its applications and potential misuse are what became instantly apparent to me.

I began by installing the app on my Google Nexus 6P. Next, I started viewing some of the live videos. You can select any area of the world and then see who is sharing their videos in real-time. Titles like “Who Loves Women?” and “Five Car Accident” were live, but I decided to choose “Irvine dog walk” (It sounded safer.) I could see someone walking his dog, then the dog had to sniff and pee, then the dog was sniffing again. I could hear the owner talking to the dog (I think its name was Lucky) and also the cars driving by. No one was commenting on this video. I had enough of that, so next I decided to view the “IHOP” video, watching a Spanish speaking person sitting in a restaurant looking at the camera. His name was Jorge. People starting commenting on this exciting, fast-paced video, writing “ye ye” and “yea.” I wasn’t sure if Jorge ever got something to eat–but people were also sending him hearts. Maybe that was all he wanted.

How Periscope Works

Periscope users have the option to tweet out a link to their Live Stream. They can also choose whether or not to make their video public or viewable to only certain users. Periscope broadcasters are called “Scopers,” and their videos are called “Scopes.” Scopes can be LBB (Limited by Broadcaster) which disallows comments.

Periscope allows viewers to send “hearts” to the broadcaster by tapping on the mobile screen as a form of appreciation. Up to 500 hearts can be given per session and users can log out and log back in to give more hearts.The maximum number of users that can be followed is 8,000.

Both the Scoper and viewers of the Scope are able to block viewers. When blocked by the Scoper, users are added to a blocked list, and booted from the scope. If enough Scopers block a user, they are blocked from the Scope.

Although Scopes disappear from http://www.periscope.tv/username after 24 hours, users can capture their scopes, and other live streaming apps, using a program called Katch.me. Or, they can save videos to their camera roll.

Next Up–How Teachers and Students can Use Periscope

My next step is to research how teachers and students are using Periscope. Next post will be devoted to that topic, so stay tuned.

 

 

Take a Technology Adventure: Try a New Tool Today

MailChimp

I’m starting a new tradition–testing and working with a new technology tool every Tuesday. This will give me the opportunity to stay abreast of current trends in educational technology, helping me to be more selective with tools I decide to use in my online teaching. And, of course, this will inform my readers of the ways they might use these technologies.

This week, I’ve decided to explore MailChimp. My friend and co-host of the Cool Teacher Show, Dr. Chris Haskell, has been preaching the merits of MailChimp for years. He recommended this tool for teachers, so they could easily stay connected with parents through a sophisticated emailing tool that simplifies the creation and sending of newsletters.

However, I remained unconvinced–after all, don’t we already have powerful email tools? What would MailChimp offer that traditional email clients don’t? But, after seeing how MailChimp can create an email campaign (think class or school newsletters) along with detailed reports, my opinions quickly changed.

What is MailChimp?

First of all, MailChimp is an email service provider (ESP) that offers a free plan (called “Forever Free”) that would meet the needs of most teachers. This plan allows the sending of 12,000 total emails per month up to 2,000 subscribers. (MailChimp calls your email recipients “subscribers,” and your mailings “campaigns.”) According to their website, this means you could send six times to 2,000 subscribers or 10 times to 1,200 subscribers at a time. I hope you are not teaching any more students than this during the academic year.

MailChimp offers quick and easy ways to prepare professional “campaigns,” which could be a teacher’s weekly newsletter, for instance, providing links to students’ work, updates on important dates, student-contributed stories, and anything else you want to share with parents. You can quickly import parents’ email addresses into a list by copying and pasting from a spreadsheet. MailChimp also includes an online form you can create to embed on your website, allowing viewers to subscribe to any number of lists you create.

Reports: Find Out What Your Readers Want

appscreenshot_lists

But the real benefits of MailChimp appear after your email campaign. You can view various reports on how your readers interacted with your content. You can view how many subscribers engaged with your campaigns on your MailChimp dashboard. By clicking to the Reports section, you can access even more information and download, share, or print specific reports. You can see how many parents looked at your message, which links they clicked, and their geolocation. This will allow you to prepare more meaningful newsletters, with content that parents want. Also, you can direct specific content to specific people.

Too Much Work?

Ok, I think by now you have figured out that MailChimp can simplify the creation and sending of parent updates, along with seeing just how important these updates were to these parents, but you still might be like I was–unconvinced this was worth the effort. However, if you want to be able to really communicate with your parents on a level that is more personal and directed to their needs, MailChimp might be your answer. Through building and fostering relationships via email “campaigns,” you might actually save time by reducing the number of individual email responses to parents, returning phone calls, and informing parents of the current status of student work and schedules. A little bit of planning every week or every month through an email newsletter might prove to be a worthwhile, efficient endeavor.

Have Students Help

Better yet, have students help write the newsletter. You might be a Language Arts teacher who wants to incorporate different genres of writing in your course. Have students learn how to write newsletter articles and how to construct a newsletter. Have them share their writing in this newsletter and other school/community updates. Think of this as a collaborative effort across the classroom (or school), with students reviewing reports and adapting content and design to meet the needs of the readers. Maybe a marketing class would also want to participate in a study of MailChimp results. Once you start adapting technology to meet your needs, you directly experience its potential and power.

 

 

“What are you going to do about it?” An essential question for learning.

books

I’m glad I let my Sirius subscription expire. Besides being an additional expense (that has varying and inconsistent price structures, by the way), it tended to replace the more meaningful time I would spend each day in my car listening to NPR.

One recent NPR story (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/02/26/467969663/wheres-the-color-in-kids-lit-ask-the-girl-with-1-000-books-and-counting) was about a fifth-grader, Marly Dias, who noticed that the books offered in her classroom library mostly featured characters who were white. Marly personifies what we all would like to see in our students–curiosity, empathy, eloquence, perseverance, and a host of other admirable traits. Just listening to her talk makes me wish I could handle an interview that well.

But what really stuck in my mind was what her mother said when Marly came home and told her about the lack of diverse literature in her classroom. Her mother said to her, “What are you going to do about it?” This simple question turned the challenge over to Marly, tacitly offering her the confident assurance that she had the capability to solve problems and effect change. Teachers try to duplicate this in our classrooms through project-based learning, but is this learning always structured to implicitly emphasize and encourage autonomy and self-directed problem solving? Do we, as teachers and parents, say to our children “What are you doing to do about it?” or do we instead offer our own opinions and solutions, ultimately disempowering them to come up with creative problem solving?

As a parent, I have failed to offer the “What are you going to do about it?” question. When problems seemed too difficult, I would feel the need to intervene, “helping” my children solve issues without realizing the bigger, more important picture–the need to help them experience challenge and to believe in themselves. No one is perfect–teachers and parents strive to do their best–but if there is anything we can learn from this NPR story, it is the reminder that helping our children help themselves is one of our biggest responsibilities. And by directing questions back to our children, we can and should expect fabulous solutions.

 

Ten Simple Strategies for Success in College

mindset

Congratulations on making the decision to get a college degree! After the initial excitement wears off, you will next need to figure out how you are going to accomplish this successfully within four years (give or take a semester). Naturally, you will want to prepare yourself for success. Orientation sessions can help you get started, such as logging in to your email, signing up for your classes, and navigating the various university resources, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Following are simple yet essential strategies for making your college degree a reality (and fun!):

  1. Map Your Plan: Make sure you know how to use your university registration system to view your records and progress. You really don’t want to take 160 credits for an undergraduate degree when you only need 120. Each university has its own system, and you should spend time learning how you can use it. You will also be assigned an advisor, who can help, but you will want to take ownership of this part of your college education. Use their degree tracker programs and create “What if” scenarios if possible. These automated programs can save you time and be much more accurate in mapping out your degree program than using the information provided in your college catalog. This will help provide you with the big picture of what you need to do to graduate.
  2. Take Psychology 101 Early: Take this course early in your college career, as it will help you better understand how to improve your study skills, learning, and other fascinating facts about human behavior.
  3. Learn Your Learning Management System: Know how to locate and logon to your university’s learning management system. (Of course, this is especially important if you are taking an online course.) Navigate to your current courses, where you should be able to at least view and print your course syllabi before classes begin. And READ each course syllabus. Finally, make sure you purchase all books and other supplies before classes begin.
  4. Apply Effective Time Management Skills: This is probably the most overlooked, yet most important contribution to your success in college. Take time to look over your course syllabi and map out when major assignments are due. And remember, for every credit hour you are taking, you will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying. Therefore, to help determine the course load most appropriate for you, use the formula:
    3 credit hours (1 course) = 3 hours in class per week = 6-9 hours study time per week.
    12 credit hours (4 courses) = 12 hours in class per week = 24-36 hours study time per week. For more ideas and information, visit Boise State’s Study Skills resource: http://aae.boisestate.edu/study/
  5. Ask for Help and Be Proactive: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Universities offer all sorts of support, such as tutors, writing centers, math labs, and other resources. And be proactive–don’t wait until the last minute until the last minute.
  6. Get Involved and Stay Connected: Identify what interests you and locate a club or other activity that will help you become more connected and enrich your college experience. OrgSync is one resource some colleges offer, but again, look at your college online resources and investigate all of the opportunities available to you. Also, stay connected to your college through various social networks–like your university’s Facebook page and follow Twitter feeds. Remember, your college experience won’t last forever, so make it meaningful to you. Here’s a Boise State resource with helpful tips: https://getinvolved.boisestate.edu/get-involved/
  7. Appreciate Adversity: This is an absolute necessity. Throughout your college career, you will naturally develop skills and talents to become a creative learner. In order to gain these skills, you will need practice in making difficult decisions. Progress as a learner results from the product of successful habits, such as perseverance, patience, the ability to accept failure, and doubt. There is probably no better teacher than adversity. Appreciate frustration or anxiety. These can be the most powerful motivators to drive you toward your own solutions. One might argue that this is how we learn best.
  8. Embrace a Growth Mindset: If you think of yourself as having a growth mindset instead of a fixed one, then your chances for success can be increased. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, has conducted many studies about people’s beliefs in learning. She says, “In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” For more information, read her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
  9. Create and Maintain an ePortfolio: Sign up right away for a free website building tool. My favorite is WordPress, but you can use Blogger or any other tool. Save all of your work and organize it according to theme, course, whatever. You can always go back and then select some of your best work to create a professional looking eportfolio–something you can share with your family, use in a job search, or simply sit back and gloat about what you’ve accomplished.
  10. Enjoy the Ride: While you won’t absolutely love all of your courses, try to appreciate at least one aspect of the course and the enthusiasm your professor brings to it. Who knows, you might find you actually become more interested in the topic and want to explore it in further courses.
Blogging and Why We Need An Expanded View

Blogging and Why We Need An Expanded View

How we write online has drastically changed (and improved) since blogging software first began being offered in the late 1990s. Up until then, people had to write in HTML and figure out how to set up a website to publish their words of wisdom. After Blogger, things changed. Just about anyone could set up a blog, especially since you didn’t have to know anything about HTML. It was easy and quick; write and save to an online form and within seconds your words would wrap around the globe.

And then, things starting changing with the advent of social networks. Tools like Twitter and Facebook transformed how we communicated–instantaneously using a limited number of characters. The word “microblogging” came into vogue, and people started posting and sharing those posts more quickly and with more power than through traditional blogging. Has this changed how we view blogging?

There are still major differences between posting to Twitter and blogging on WordPress. Blogging software provides you with a polished and professional website, along with navigation tools and customization. You can post as many words as you want. And you don’t need to be a member of a social network to read and write posts.

However, there are instances where using a social network either in conjunction with or as a substitute for your blog makes sense. When posting to a blog, you might want to enable instant updates about your new posts to your Twitter, Facebook, G+ and other social networks. Or, you can decide to post to your G+ Home page and then Tweet that post.

I guess the main conclusion to this confusion is that whatever you use, you can create an audience for your writing and add to your social networks. In fact, you may decide to have several types of blogs or online writing spaces.

Perhaps you are collecting recipes for a tailgate party and feel that Pinterest would work best. Or, you are writing your memoirs and want them to be highly visible and accessible, deciding to go with Blogger or WordPress. You might want to communicate with your students about upcoming homework assignment reminders and use your class Twitter feed. For your videos, you might want to share and comment through your YouTube channel. For a photo album, you might want to share using G+, especially since uploading of images is a no-brainer when using your mobile device.

Blogging is so much more than posting your thoughts online. It can include sharing images, videos, audio files, podcasts, embedding content from other sites, polling, advertising, commerce, publishing books, creating online newspapers, and stuff I don’t even know about yet. And blogging software isn’t just a series of online forms anymore. It’s sophisticated and powerful—something you can use to build a website that includes powerful dynamic features.

So my argument is that we need an expanded view of blogging today. Blogging is an activity that can showcase many media, serve many purposes, and allow us to express ourselves in multiple formats. It is an activity and a tool—something we can use to empower people, transform lives, and make the world a better place. Of course, not all blogs follow these high standards. But then again, we have the choice to not read them.

What are your current thoughts on blogging and blogging platforms? Has your blogging changed over time?

Teaching: It’s All About Change

Of Mice and Men (1939 film)

Of Mice and Men (1939 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it’s because I work with technology or maybe it’s just because I always like change, but I’m the kind of person who constantly re-arranges things, clears out clutter, and never hesitates to throw things away. Compared to my husband, who might be classified as a borderline hoarder, I don’t see the use of keeping anything that does not have a useful life in the present or near future.

This must translate to my teaching style, as I always (and I mean always) change some items of my courses every semester. I always want to try something new using rapidly evolving technologies, helping my students (who are learning to become leaders in the field of educational technology) understand and apply these principles of change to their own profession.

Of course, embracing change and constantly pushing the envelope of experimentation can get you into some hot water. For instance, you will more than likely make mistakes and provide mis-information at times. You will possibly increase frustration and cognitive dissonance in your students. Students may not like it and blame you for their difficulties. But, in the end, taking risks, embracing change, and using technology in creative and new ways is just what teachers should be doing.

I believe it is only through trial and error, testing our hypotheses, and constantly making corrections and adjustments that we truly learn. Aren’t teachers supposed to be learners too, modeling just what it takes to become a 21st century learner?

Instead of teaching to the status quo, re-using “safe” curriculum and lessons, I argue that teachers should push the boundaries, suggesting ways to improve learning and engage learners. Why do we still insist students read Siddhartha and Of Mice and Men, when there are so many other excellent books that can fuel a student’s imagination and inquiry? Teaching should be about transformation, about meaning, and yes, also about enjoyment. I am reminded of a very powerful statement written by one of my current students: “An important, often forgotten element of all lesson plans should be the question ‘Am I excited about this?'” (You can read Dave’s tweets @daveguymon).

No one is perfect. As teachers, we strive for perfection, accepting that we might never truly reach it, but trying all the same. Might change and the desire to take risks in teaching help us reach this goal of perfection–that moment when our teaching captures the epiphany of learning and inspires our students to assume more autonomy and leadership? That’s probably the goal behind my desire to always try new things, to always keep changing my courses and how I teach. At least I’ll keep telling myself that when the end of course student evaluations come rolling in.