Classroom Tech: When Less is More

» 21 January 2015 » In Ed Tech, Publishing, Social Web, Students, Web 2.0 » No Comments

up-tech-talkI recently was a guest on the UP Tech Talk Podcast produced by University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services and hosted by Maria Erb (Instructional Designer) and Sam Williams (Dir of Academic Tech Services). Kudos for the great ATS podcast studio!

We had a lively 18 minute discussion about my UP social studies methods class and technology’s role in instructional design - it opened like this …

What's the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done.

Maria: Peter, so glad to have you on the podcast. We just had a great conversation ... you managed to rattle off probably half a dozen Web 2.0 tools that you're using just like you were a fish swimming in water; it just seems so easy and natural for you. I'm just wondering, how do you go about choosing which tools you're going to use for these great projects that you're working on? What piques your interest?

Peter: I think it really begins with seeing yourself as a designer of a learning experience. You work with the tools you have and with the setting you have. You've got X number of students; you're meeting once a week; you've got three hours with them. You think about the instructional goals that you want to achieve, and then from there, you say, okay, so what kind of tools are out there. For example, there was a situation where I wanted them to collaborate and design some lessons. I wanted them to be able to share their work with one another and be able to comment on it. I also think it's important that there always be a public product, because I think we find our students producing content for their instructor as opposed to … which is kind of a ritualized thing as opposed to real-world content.

And ended with this exchange ... 

Sam: Are there any words of wisdom around it's not about the technology that you could leave us at the end of this podcast?

Peter: I would say the big question is what's the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done. Taking something and making it prettier by putting it on a white board when you could have written it up on the chalk board really doesn't get you anywhere. I think that the transformative part of technology is getting it in the hands of the students so that they can research and create and produce in ways you couldn't do without it. For me, those are the essential elements that I'm looking at, not simply just something that's a bright shiny object.

Text transcript (word file) | Show notes and links | Podcast at iTunes: #12

The University of Portland uses the SmartEval system to gather student feedback on courses and faculty. Here’s a few comments from my UP students that are relevant to this podcast:

  • Peter challenged us to think and be designers of curriculum, instead of just lecturers. We learned how to get students working and thinking critically in the classroom.
  • I liked that the focus of the class was on making a product.
  • He also showed us how to move from the lecture mode to engaging students as architects in their own learning process.
  • Very well connected with other educators on Twitter. He has promoted every student in the class using his connections to help us build professional connections and build a professional online presence.

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Exploring History in 10 Interactive Lessons

» 04 December 2014 » In History / DBQ's, Publishing » No Comments

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Ten engaging questions and historic documents empower students to be the historian in the classroom. Free at iTunes and as downloadable PDF.

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iBooks Author Training Video and Free Guide

» 15 May 2014 » In Ed Tech, PD, Presentations, Publishing » No Comments

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Here’s a video of my one-hour intro to iBooks Author. Download my free Quick Start: iBooks Author and follow along. Plus links to iBA resource website and more

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Free: How To Get Started with iBooks Author

» 02 March 2014 » In How To, Publishing » No Comments

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Here’s my free multi-touch iBook that will get you started using iBooks Author. Includes an interactive tour of the app, widget sampler with settings, and tips and tricks for designing your iBook and managing your work flow.

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iPDX14 Session Preview: PBL Case Study

» 22 February 2014 » In Presentations, Students » No Comments

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Instead of simply telling my preservice teachers about the critical components of the new classroom – student-centered, project-driven, community-based, tech-integrated – we used them. This iPDX14 session will give participants a look at these instructional approaches, work-flow models, sample projects and a reflection on how it went. Spoiler alert – it’s not all positive.

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iPhone Walking Tour of Historic Japantown Portland

» 01 February 2014 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » No Comments

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I’m pleased to introduce you to Japantown PDX, a free iOS app that I designed with the assistance of the Nikkei Legacy Center, GammaPoint LLC, and my students at the University of Portland. Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century – better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood.

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See You At integratED Conference #iPDX14

» 12 January 2014 » In Ed Tech, Events, Presentations, Students » No Comments

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I’m looking forward to presenting at integratED Portland 2014 February 26–28, 2014. It’s a premier edtech conference features active hands-on sessions with an impressive team of presenters. I’m honored to be doing two workshops. Here’s my previews

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Student Consultants Design Museum Curriculum and Mobile App

» 17 October 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Projects, Strategies, Students, Teachers » No Comments

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While planning my history methods course, I approached the museum with a simple question – “What could you do with a dozen unpaid curriculum consultants?” And so our partnership began – my pre-service history teachers working with professionals at the museum to develop educational material to support their collection. I wanted my student so experience project-based learning from the perspective of the learner in the hopes that they would someday incorporate that approach into their teaching.

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PBL: I Come to Understanding by Making

» 11 September 2013 » In Commentary » No Comments

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Watch this short video as Matthew Shlian talks about himself, how he learns and the role that curiosity plays in his work. Then think about the kind of classroom that would foster Matt and learners like him. He states, A lot of my work is about curiosity. I come to understanding by making. If I can see what something’s going to look like when it’s finished, then I don’t want to make it. That would be like filling out a form.

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PBL in Action: Students Write, Market and Publish

» 12 July 2013 » In How To, Literacy, Publishing, Students » 4 Comments

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Unique Ink is a student-staffed publisher based out of Roosevelt High School’s Writing and Publishing Center that was established in 2012. Volunteers at the center teach publishing to high school students to improve their skills in business, editing, and marketing. Through the center’s unique hands-on approach, students learn about the publishing industry by publishing and selling their own books. Proceeds from the sales of “Where the Roses Smell the Best” will help the Writing and Publishing Center stay self-sustaining.

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