5 Educational Uses for Periscope



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



Google Hangouts: Live Interpreter App

Google Hangouts: Live Interpreter App

I am learning a lot about what it’s like to be born deaf. I have one of these students currently enrolled in my Introduction to Educational Technology course and have been researching ways to seamlessly include her in various learning environments. We tested Google Hangout Captions App last week, and it worked very well. I used Dragon Dictate to enter the text automatically in the captioning pane (well, sometimes the text was not perfect, but it always offers us a chance to laugh!)

Now, I have discovered Hangouts Interpreter App, which allows you to assign someone to interpret using ASL. The video appears in the upper-right of the screen. I haven’t seen this in action, but it appears that when the interpreter is signing, (s)he is in the active screen too.

This would allow a student who is deaf to actively participate in a Google Hangout (of course you need to schedule an ASL interpreter to join the meeting) and then communicate to the group using the chat feature. Or, the student who is deaf could sign to the interpreter, who could then provide the communication back to the group.

Of course, a person who is deaf could easily use Google Hangouts to communicate with another person who is deaf, both using their webcams and ASL. They no longer need to be in the same room.

The world is really changing and offering many more options for people with special needs, due to rapidly evolving technologies. I am hoping to test these tools and am excited about the prospects for the future.

For more information about accessibility in Google Hangouts, please read this G+ post:


Blowing Up the Gradebook

This presentation done by my friend and colleague, Chris Haskell, at Ignite Portland held on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, made me think more about student assessment:

I’ve always felt that our students deserve so much more than simply getting a final score on an assignment or a final grade for a course. As a parent, I want to know more about my child’s progress than what is found on a report card. How can I really understand how my child is doing when all I see are letter grades and short comments like “a pleasure to have in class.”

A huge problem of report cards is that they are summative–they only provide a static snapshot of student learning at the end of a grading period. But my questions focus on the process of learning: What is my child doing right now? What are her learning goals? How is she progressing? Does she like school and what she is studying?

Students holding report cards.

Students holding report cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we still assess students this way, through a summative report card? I think mainly because “that’s the way we do it” and it’s easy for the teacher and school. Just a slip of paper with grades that parents can brag about (or not!) and impersonal comments. So you are probably asking–what is my solution?

Well, it’s not an easy one, because it would involve a paradigm shift of how we do things in school. Instead of grade reports, we should be able to view and assess throughout the school year–through the PROGRESS our students are making. Instead of thinking of final grades and that students have “learned” something, why not look at a more important aspect of student learning–development or progress? How might we do this?

In order to explain what I’m talking about, I’ll provide an example using an example English creative writing class. Here’s how it would work:

In this classroom, each student has a laptop and can login to the school’s wireless network. Students have access to Google docs and other web-based tools for reading, writing, collaborating, and publishing.

Students create their own blog for the class, where they post just about all of their writing. Because blogs are great ways to share, receive feedback, and publish, with posts appearing in reverse chronological order, student progress in writing could be easily viewed throughout the academic year. Teachers, other students, AND YES–parents, could read and post comments to individual posts. Teachers could set goals for students to reach, such as number of posts written, creativity of post and writing, number of posts with positive comments, posts that include multimedia, etc.

Instead of letter scores, students could receive digital badges for achieving certain goals or levels. This enables students to achieve progress not only at their own level, but it also moves students, parents, and teachers beyond the concept of “grades”  to the concept of “achievement” or “progress.”

But what will the teacher post as a “grade” to the report card? Letter scores could be based on the number and types of badges students achieved during that period. If a student has difficulty achieving the required number of badges, then intervention could be initiated DURING the formative assessment period, instead of waiting for the end.

This is just a brief example, but could be translated to other content areas as well. By providing students with individualized learning goals and paths, including technology to monitor and share progress, and creating a digital repository and record of achievements, students could demonstrate proficiency and learning at their own levels, making learning fun, engaging, and meaningful.

What do you think? Is your school doing any sort of online portfolios to assess students? How would you tackle “blowing up the gradebook?” Do you agree or disagree? I’d like to hear from you.