Emerging Technologies: Design Thinking with a MakerSpace

For this artifact, we were instructed to research an emergent technology in education.  I began by reading over the Horizon Report (2015).  The emerging technology I became most interested in bringing to my classroom was a MakerSpace.  The Horizon Report states, “Schools are turning to makerspaces to facilitate activities that inspire confidence in young learners, and help them acquire entrepreneurial skills that are immediately applicable in the real world.”(39). The book Worlds of Making by Laura Fleming had me thinking about adding a MakerSpace to my classroom when I read it earlier this summer. I want to integrate the Makerspace into our curriculum through a process called Design Thinking.  

This year my science classes will use the process of design thinking throughout their studies of physical science and biology. Design Thinking is a process of creating new and innovative ideas to help solve real-world problems. One of the many benefits of design thinking is that it puts the learner at the center of the learning. I will use the model of the Launch Cycle created by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer along with a MakerSpace to guide my students through the process.

I also want to guide my students to understand that literacy, collaboration, and innovation are inextricably intertwined.  We will kick of the year by reading two children’s books, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires and What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada.

Through this artifact, we were also instructed to show how the SAMR model of technology integration would be used.  The SAMR model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, measures the level of student engagement as emerging technologies are used in the classroom. A student’s involvement with a makerspace can range from the modification to the redefinition levels of SAMR as the students have hands-on experiences and become creators rather than consumers of ideas.

Attached to this post is my artifact in the form of a Powerpoint presentation.  I had originally wanted to use Google Slides as I love the ease and convenience of sharing Google Slide presentations online.  Unfortunately, Google Slides does not allow for slide narration, a downside I hope they will fix in the near future.  As you watch the presentation, you will need to click through the slides, however the narrations (not all slides have narration) will play automatically.  There are also links to further information related to my project on some of the slides. I really enjoyed creating this artifact as it allowed me to plan how to incorporate the Launch Cycle and an Makerspace into my curriculum.



Design Thinking for Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/

Fleming, L. (2015). Worlds of making: Best practices for establishing a makerspace for your school. Corwin: A Sage Company.

Riddle, T. (2016, February 3). Improving schools through design thinking. Retrieved July 27, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/improving-schools-through-design-thinking-thomas-riddle

Spencer, J., & Juliani, A. J. (2016). LAUNCH: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

Spires, A. (2014). Most Magnificent Thing, The. Kids Can Press Ltd.

Yamada, K. (2014). What Do You Do with an Idea? Compendium Incorporated.



Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

Digital Divide and Digital Inequality Prezi

The term “Digital Divide” refers to the gap between people who have computers with Internet access and those who do not. Digital inequality refers to how digital resources are used among individuals, households, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories. For this artifact, our professor placed our class into groups, known as “task forces”, and instructed us to choose a state and investigate how the digital divide affects that state. Our task force chose to investigate the digital divide in California.  Barbara O’Connor, a professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, and secretary of the California Emerging Technology Fund states “Closing the digital divide in California is essential for fairness, equity and economic prosperity. Today, 21 percent of all American households remain offline at home. Rural and poor children can’t use the Internet for homework assignments and fall behind in school. Low-income adults can’t search for better jobs, and public safety in times of emergencies is compromised.” O’Connor also points out that today, much of our community and government information is online, so if people are not able to access the information, they are being excluded from “democracy itself.”

In order to combat this problem, our team came up with nine proposals, four of which we felt were most workable and useful to the people of California.  The four proposals we felt would be most effective were 1. to install more computers in public libraries and expand service hours, 2. to provide digital literacy courses to library patrons, 3. To create a program of renting or loaning laptops and tablets through the public libraries, and 4. to provide additional staffing in public libraries. We felt these four proposals would best serve the needs of the citizens of California.  We believe that California should consider these proposals a priority when allocating funds in their effort to bridge the digital divide.

Working in a group, at times, was a challenge as our five group members live in four different time zones!  This made me think of my own students and how I should be mindful when I assign group projects that they have to work on at home.  Many times such a project may require parents having to drive their children back and forth to one another’s homes to work on an assignment.  Google’s suite of apps can be a tremendous aide when doing group projects. Through the use of Google Hangouts (GH), which is fabulous tool, we were able to meet online and discuss our plan of action. As we began our research into the digital divide, we created a Google Doc to “take notes”  Once we felt we had adequate information, we created a poll to decide which proposals we felt would be most effective.  We were mindful of multimedia principles as we began to think about our presentation.  After viewing some examples, we decided that less is more and that the visual attributes should not interfere with the audio narration.  In other words, too much text on a slide makes it difficult for the audience to absorb all of the information while listening to a narration.  We also wanted to keep our pathways simple and make the slides visually appealing. At that point, a Prezi layout was decided upon and a basic structure was created.  From there is was simple to plug in our findings and add relevant images.  Once we had settled on the Prezi (we met again on GH), we began our narrations.  Again, Prezi makes the process easy by allowing each member to record their content and then connect the narrations to a path on the Prezi. Unfortunately we did have one big hiccup late one evening when one of our group members discovered that most of our Prezi content had mysteriously disappeared!  Rebuilding it took a few extra hours.  To complete this project, we held a final Google Hangout and reviewed the entire presentation. In reflection, given more time we may have changed a few of the images, but overall I am very pleased with our presentation.

Through this experience,  I have a better understanding of how the digital divide and the lack of access to technology and the Internet has a tremendous impact on those not privileged to have these resources.  It is also important to note that just having access is not enough.  Without knowledge of functional digital literacy the technology has little value. One takeaway I have from this project is a greater understanding of working collaboratively. We each brought our unique talents and world views to this assignment and contributed to what I believe is a quality final product. As I assign group projects in my own classroom, I will be mindful that the skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are vital to 21st century learning.


RSS: Transforming Education

Getting info from internet quoteAs anyone in education, or any profession for that matter,  knows, if you spend more than 10 minutes browsing the Internet you soon discover that there is more information out there than can possibly be absorbed.  In the words of Mitchell Kapor, “Getting information from the internet is like getting a drink from a fire hydrant.” Even if you try to narrow your query to say ‘educational technology’, the search results are overwhelming. This is where RSS feeds come in.RSS

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, a format for delivering regularly changing web content. The purpose of RSS feeds are “to have web sites of your choice deliver their latest news directly to your monitor. So instead of having to visit 14 different places to get your weather, sports, favorite photos, latest gossip, or latest political debates, you just go to one screen and see it combined (“aggregated”) into a single window.”  For educators interested in the latest technology, this means being able to browse many sites quickly to locate the most relevant news.

RSS feeds can have many uses in the classroom.  Examples may be helping your students to keep up with current events, helping students evaluate sites to look for the most reliable information, or listen to literature and improve comprehension skills through podcasts.  Three ways to use RSS feeds could be most useful in the classroom would be to help promote global understanding, promote authentic learning, or introduce a daily bit of inspiration.

Cultural literacy aligns with current core state standards. Promoting global understanding is paramount in our ever-changing, always connected world.  Students are exposed to so much through social media and news sites, and yet they don’t always know how to filter this mass of information.  A teacher may choose to create a news feed that focuses on other cultures and lifestyles that differ from their students’.  This can help young people to develop understanding, promote empathy, and help them to realize that there is a world outside of their own.  Students can compare and contrast religion, types of government, and make historical connections. RSS feeds can provide a window into the world. Some examples of sites that could be added to a geography/world cultures feed would be National Geographic, TIME for Kids, or Exploring World Cultures for Kids.

Authentic learning is a constructivist approach that encourages students to explore real-world problems that are relevant to them.  When students see a connection to their world, they are motivated to investigate and reflect more deeply.  The teacher can direct students to live feeds such as zoo cams, weather centers, or news blogs and help them connect to sites that are meaningful and important to them.  Data collection becomes much more meaningful when students can apply it to real life. Some popular RSS feeds that teachers could add to the students readers are the Smithsonian’s National Zoo website. This site provides great zoo cams that will be sure to capture the children’s attention. Students can also get the latest news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

A third usefulness of RSS feeds could be to provide daily inspiration to the classroom.  Beautiful photographs from a photo blog or a poem of the day can motivate students to begin their day with positive thinking.  Teachers can spark students’ interests, allowing them to journal, or even create their own blog, as a morning activity. A simple photograph with a thought provoking quote can promote discussion and collaboration among students. If a daily poetry prompt is what you are after, then A Poem a Day for Kids blog is the answer.  For inspirational daily photographs, National Geographic Photo of the Day is the place to go.
The uses in the classroom for RSS feeds are as numerous as the feeds themselves.  By tailoring their newsfeeds to their students’ interests and needs, teachers can create valuable tools for learning.  

Information avalanche rescue: RSS feeds in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://eduscapes.com/sessions/rss/

What does “RSS” stand for? (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2016, from http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/rssandlivewebfeeds/f/rss.htm

Project or Problem-Based Learning

Annotated Bibliography – Project Based Learning

Project-based learning (PBL), sometimes called problem-based learning, has been a topic I have been interested in for the past few years.  Last year in my science classroom, I redesigned our school’s traditional science fair to fit the components of PBL.  Students, working collaboratively with a partner, were asked to:

  1. Write a driving question focused on making a change in their world
  2. Conduct research
  3. Write a research paper
  4. Create an informational action poster (Infographic)
  5. Create a presentation either in Powerpoint or Google Slides
  6.  Present their work to an audience

For the most part, things went very well.  The students (and the teacher:) concluded the project by writing their reflections of the entire process.

I chose project-based learning as the topic for my annotated bibliography because I hope to incorporate more PBL activities into my curriculum this year.  As I read the articles, it was interesting to note the various views of what PBL is. The core elements were basically the same, however, not all projects included all the components of PBL. I enjoyed reading the different studies ranging from a kindergarten class in the US to an undergraduate online class in Taiwan.

Two tools that I used to complete my annotated bibliography were Diigo and Zotero.  Zotero is a tool to help users collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. APA citations were a requirement of this assignment.  Zotero made that requirement fairly simple. Diigo is a social bookmarking, research, and knowledge sharing tool that I found very helpful.  Users of Diigo can upload articles, highlight, add notes, and share their annotations with other Diigo users.  I found this tool extremely helpful as I read each of the articles. Both Zotero and Diigo are web-based devices that I will continue to implement in the future.