I am on the third assignment of the Creative Commons class (and still loving it!). This week's assignment is to create a lesson describing the aspects of the CC license. I knew exactly how I wanted to do this. I wanted a set of slides where students click on pictures and popups with information show up. After looking for the best tool, I settled on "Oppia". I was surprised that I could not find anything that did this relatively simple task. If anyone knows of such a tool, please leave a comment. I would love to find one!
Oppia is a lesson building tool and has a very specific format. Students read something (or watch a video) and then answer a question. Then they move on to the next slide and repeat the process. The great thing about Oppia is that it has question options that one doesn't generally find. It includes maps, math input, coding input, musical notes, as well as the standards like multiple choice and hot spots. The downside of Oppia is that this is all it does. That's it. No more.
I was able to get it to do what I wanted but the process was fairly clunky. The resource itself has some oddities. For example, you see an error message until the first lesson is complete. I understand that this is to help ensure the lessons are completed but it's distracting. Also, adding slides is a bit clunky. They have a great lesson map, and it would be fabulous if I could add slides and change the flow of the lesson there. Also, it doesn't have a spellchecker. How is this even an otion!!?!
On the plus-side, the lesson is clean and friendly. And, they get added points for not allowing users to post images without alt text. It is always good to see accessibility taken seriously. In the end, this tool did what I wanted to do, so I will call it a win.
See the lesson I created on the Anatomy of a CC license.
This is week two of the Creative Commons Certificate. This week we are learning about copyright. Yikes - what a muddled mess the copyright system has created! But that is a story for another day. The assignment for this week was to create an infographic; so I decided to try out Piktochart.
It's very easy to use, with fairly standard options for adding new panels, image, text, etc. The only drawback is that it is a bit clunky and limited in functionality. But, for basic infographics - it's quick and easy. This would be a good option for student assignments because it has a low learning curve.
You can see the presentation option by going to the Piktochart link for my project and then selecting present.
This week I began the Creative Commons Certificate for Educators. This is an AMAZING opportunity and I am super excited to be learning from fabulous folks such as Cable Green! The course content can be found on the Creative Commons site and they are hoping to be able to offer more cohorts for the certificate. Something to look forward to :)
The first assignment was to build a timeline of the beginning of Creative Commons. So, I decided to try out one of the timeline tools. I chose the Knight Lab Timeline Tool because it seemed like the one that would create the "slickest" final product. And, it did create a fabulous final product!
The main drawback to this resource is that it has a steep learning curve. You have to put the information into a google doc. This isn't exactly difficult, but the columns are carefully set and student have to be careful not to move things around. Also, any formatting requires adding html code. This can be challenging for many students (and faculty!).
For this reason, it is better suited to a longer project where time can be spent learning the tool. For those that have the time - the final product is worth it!
Below is the embed link directly in Weebly, it's not as nice as embedding in a page with more width. So, you can see a better version in my Canvas OER class.
It's week 5 for #CCCWrite and the Reflective Writing Club. This week is about unplugging. A perfect topic for this time of the semester...Well, any time of the semester. Michelle suggested we try a sketchnote, which seemed like a brilliant idea because creating things is one of the main ways I unplug. It was also a great opportunity to try Sketchpad - a free online drawing tool.
So, instead of answering all those emails, I tapped my inner child and played with digital crayons. So much fun! There were all sorts of neat drawing effects and random pictures to add. And, while my inner child had escaped, she created an emoticon for unplugged. Good times.
"Learning is about not making the same mistake twice; it's about making new and better mistakes"
I've spent the past 15 years teaching a new class each semester (I've taught dozens of different biology classes) and taking on a variety of new projects. So I'm used to making lots of mistakes. I have learned to be patient with myself and focus on the lifelong learning that comes with new challenges.
As a result of my experiences, I have learned to build classes that focus on information literacy (how to find accurate answers to questions) rather than memorization of facts. This is an especially important skill in science classes because our understanding of health and environmental factors is always expanding. This is especially challenging in science classes because students expect science to have "The Answer".
One of the main misunderstandings people have about science is that science is about finding facts. While that's important; asking good questions is more important. So, when we discover that chocolate helps with certain health aspects but then learn it also causes problems with other health aspects; that is the process of learning new things. The problem is that these nuanced findings are often summarized as "chocolate will save your life" and then "chocolate is killing you". People are rightfully confused by these black-and-white oversimplifications. This can lead to the misconception that we don't actually know anything at all. A better way to present scientific information is as a nucleus of "knowns" surrounded by an electron cloud of "questions". The knowns are not newsworthy - but the hints at answers to our questions are.
Let me explain with a Gif from Giphy. com. This was really fun to build and took way more time than it should have :)
Similarly, one of the main challenges with training scientists is to teach them to become comfortable with mistakes. If we don't teach this to our undergrads, they will have a very quick and painful lesson in their first true research experience. We can do this by designing labs and activities that are open-ended with no single "right" answer. [Although, there are incorrect answers!]
"If you understand what you are doing, you aren't learning anything."
I put this quote in my class materials as a way to remind students that it's OK to be confused and to make mistakes. In fact, I encourage it!
Also, I'd like to recommend two GREAT books about how science works. These are both by Stuart Firestein.These are both short books that are quick reads.
"Failure: Why Science is so Successful" explains why mistakes are essential for good science. If I were to teach Biology Majors classes again, I would include this in the curriculum. This book is a great way to prepare students for labs that require critical thinking and problem solving.
"Ignorance: How it Drives Science" explains that science is all about the questions at the edges of our knowledge rather than the knowledge we already have (that's old hat). I use this book with my General Education classes as a way to set the tone for the semester. This is a great way to start a GE biology class because it eases some of the fears about the class and shakes students out of their expectations of a class that is going to be all about memorizing facts.
With scientific knowledge expanding at light-speed, the most important skill we can teach our students is how to ask good questions and find reliable answers from quality sources. And, in a changing world, the most important value we can instill in the future generation is fearlessness in learning new things.
Week 3 of the Reflective Writing Club #CCCWrite brings me to one of my favorite topics - Digital technologies!
I have always loved learning, I was just never very good at it. I spent hours more on homework than most other people in my classes. I figured I just learned more slowly than most, but I got there with a bit extra work. When I started taking online classes I realized that I learn much better online. It was an amazing experience to find a learning modality that fit my learning style so perfectly.
That experience changed the entire trajectory of my career. Before, I was focused on teaching biology. The, I began looking much more closely at how we can use the free resources available online to help students learn complex topics. I am currently focused on how we can most effectively use these resources to build engaging online courses. This is actually why I started this website. I was looking for resources to share with students and was finding that there are many more than I can evaluate. I've been keeping track of the resources here with the hope that, as a community, we can develop a list of the best resources for our classes.
Below is a video summarizing how digital technologies have changed how I think about learning. I built this using two tools. ClipChamp was used to edit the recording from my camera. I didn't include this tool in video page of the website because it was just too limited to be helpful. The other tool is Screen-cast-O-matic. I used this to build the final video. It was easy and did everything I needed.
Week 2 of @ONE's Reflective Writing Club #CCCWrite. The prompt: Conferencing
When I first started teaching, I attended a lot of conferences (any I could find). I wanted to learn everything! One of the best conferences I attended was for High School teachers. I wasn't a HS teacher, so I have no idea how I found the conference. But, it was amazing. As a newly graduated researcher in plant genomics, I was not terribly well trained in teaching strategies. This was eye opening and informed my teaching for many years.
About 7 years ago, life got too busy for me to attend any conferences. So, for many years I only attended web based conferences. I have to admit I was quite content with that. I'm a strong introvert so being around people is tiring. I'm also a slow processor; so I prefer to learn information in a quite place where I can think without distraction. Webinars are perfect for that and I LOVE them. In fact, I attend about a webinar a week (sometimes more) from a variety of different places. They are a great way to spend my lunch break!
As my job has shifted, I've begun going to more conferences. The pendulum has swung fully the other direction and I'm attending about a conference a month right now. The one that was my favorite recently was Open Ed last summer. I got to meet some really great, amazing people. I am still inspired by many of those that I met there. It was also a great place to hang around "my people". There are many of us working on Open Educational Resources (OER) but very few in my area. So, it was great to meet others with similar interests and was an amazing experience.
What I take back with me from these conferences is some inspiration and a feeling of connection to a global community. But, I also take that away from web-based conferences. One of my very favorite experiences was at a webinar put on by Cable Green from Creative Commons. There were people on this conference call from all 6 continents! We were all brainstorming ideas on how to develop events promoting Openess. It was productive, energizing and just plain magical. I have never felt more connected to the global community than during that one hour webinar.
Below is a summary of my feelings on conferences using the animation tool: Animatron.
This site began as a way to keep track of the online tools I've been finding to help students learn. As I was searching for tools, I realized that I couldn't evaluate all of them. I am guessing many instructors are in a similar position - knowing there are great online tools but not necessarily knowing where to find them all. So, I built this site with the hope of giving us all a place to share and discuss various online learning tools.
I wished I had more time to evaluate these resources; and the universe delivered. Well, it didn't deliver more time exactly...I am beginning a 6 week Reflective Writing Club through @ONE - the Online Network of Educators.
Our first writing prompt is to reflect on what we know now that we wish we knew 10 years ago. For me, the answer is to take better care of myself both mentally and physically. I work a lot and other things tend to get put off until "later". When I get on the computer, hours pass without me realizing it. What I needed is a tool to remind me to stretch at regular intervals.
Although, since I'm still working on this skill, it's not so much "something I know now that I wish I had known then" and more "something I will have known then that I wish I knew now".