Educational Technology: Visually Defined

Educational Technology: Visually Defined

Definition of Educational Technology Infographic

Creating an infographic was a new experience for me - and a trip back to the days of non-linear desktop publishing.  But, operating on a Chromebook and designing media intentionally created for Internet consumption prevented me from using the Microsoft Publisher trusty steed.  So, I needed set out to find a web-based tool that would help me create a web-based piece of media.  Starting with a simple Google search of "Infographic", I discovered a tool named Venngage.  The registration process was simple and I my initial impression of the user interface was VERY positive.  However, concurrent to my Google search, I reached out to a fellow Google Certified Innovator to ask her about the tool(s) she used to create the infographic that was a key component of her Innovator Project.  In keeping with the spirit of the certification, she used a combination of Canva and Google Drawings, but mentioned there is a more efficient approach that one could take.  Like others in Boise State's EDTECH 501, she suggested Piktochart.

In the end, I opted to use Piktochart with two embedded Canva images to create my infographic.  This choice resonated with the "imporved performance"portion of the functional definition of educational technology.  I wasn't focused on learning (or teaching) a technology tool.  Rather, I was empowered by the tool to create something that I couldn't previously create on my own.  Piktochart - like many other educational technology tools - allow for creative expression of one's ideas.  Moreover, my deep engagement with the tool itself allowed me to connect with the REAL important part of this project - unpacking the definition of educational technology.

I hope you enjoy my visual represation!

School Technology Evaluation: An Exercise in Empathy

School Technology Evaluation: An Exercise in Empathy

For the past 10 days, I have been involved in deep research of the information technology and educational technology practices of my employer.  Coincidentally, this has corresponded with the culmination of a four-month technology strategic planning process, led by an independent consultant.  To that end, I had a wealth of data (surveys, interviews, etc.) that I used to make my own evaluations.

Between the School Technology Evaluation for Boise State University's EDTECH 501 course and the independent strategic planning process, I learned a HUGE lesson.  This lesson was not in technology, but it was one of empathy.  Different stakeholders have different needs and different perspectives.  In the past, I may have assumed that administrators of technology in my organization may have had preconceived intentions.  However, the research involved in this project unearthed a key truth - we are all operating for the best interests of students!  At the moment I realized this, I realized this project was more about learning empathy.

Review my survey and analysis for more information - it tells a profound story!

Survey -

Evaluation -

BreakoutEDU - An Emerging Tech Trend


This past week, I had the fortunate opportunity to facilitate the opening session to a leadership summit of K-12 and post-secondary leaders in the Sacramento Region.  This session was my opportunity to develop artifacts to a fascinating, emerging trend educational technology trend: BreakoutEDU.  Having previously used BreakoutEDU with students, it was amazing to witness the impact that this technology had on a group with whom I now work: adult educators.

Technology - at the core of the definition - is a capability given by the practical application of knowledge.  To that end, a box with an intricate set of locks can be a technology.  Developed by one of my fellow Google Innovators as his year-long project required of the certification, BreakoutEDU is the convergence of academic immersion, collaboration, and competition.  Gameification has been identified as a previous emerging tech trend and BreakoutEDU takes that to a whole new level.  Inspired by the "escape room" concept, BreakoutEDU has gone through iterations to the current challenge of breaking in to the "room".  The game itself is a conduit to incorporating many other emerging technology trends, like Bring Your Own Device.  Students creatively use any and all resources available - including standards-based curriculum provided by the teacher in a variety of structured methods.

For the event, a presentation set the theme and provided instructions to the participants.

BreakoutEDU provides sample lesson plan structure, but I prefer a more non-linear planning approach: a mindmap.  For this game, because it was used more as an icebreaker and not a content lesson, the mindmap was simple.  In a more involved game, the mindmap may appear to be more of a web, chock full of content, curriculum, and interactive tools.

The BreakoutEDU brand has created a budding community of thousands of educators.  To that end, the way in which I can be share/promote the technology is to involve adult educators in the experience as professional development.  From there, they can make their own evaluation of the tool and determine if it is appropriate for their classroom or school.  The SAMR Model for Technology Integration may be helpful in making this evaluation.

I believe BreakoutEDU is an example of a redefinition of the classroom experience.  A BreakoutEDU experience - infused with a variety of other technologies - is truly transformative.  Students are engaged in the four c's - creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.  Competition can even be a fifth C!  To that end, the experience allows for students to learn in a variety of modalities - all of which are discussed during the necessary "Debrief" questions (displayed in the presentation).

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

With student and teachers, I have used Prezi for a variety of face to face projects.  The motion effects of Prezi x 30 students causes a bit of motion sickness in me.  With that said, I have not required students to voice-over the presentation and found this to be a FASCINATING way to frame an assignment or project.  Using "Voice Recorder" for Android, I recorded my portion of the presentation in MP3 format and easily added it to the applicable slides.  In the future, I really want to use the voice-over format ... and will find a way to deal with the motion sickness!

Having done some previous work with digital inequality in computer science, I was anxious to take a deeper dive into California policy that is addressing (or seeks to address) some of the issues.  With that said, I spent a significant portion of my time researching federal and state student privacy laws.  I also really enjoyed learning from the diverse perspectives of my group mates.

This digital artifact will be a quality reference for future district and county-level conversations about equity.

With additional time, I would have liked to have expanded on the introduction and provided a more comprehensive conclusion.

RSS in Education Reflection

My RSS in Education blog post was enjoyable to write - itself was a reflection of how I used a technology in my own classroom from 2008 to 2014.  Now that I work in administration, I am now thinking about how RSS may allow me to better support the teachers with whom I work.  Would a curated feed of content shared with teachers be beneficial and appropriate?  Are there different ways in which RSS content may accelerate my own work?  It will be interesting to continue to reflect.

It is worth noting that I spent a TREMENDOUS amount of time researching different RSS workflows for this blog post.  For the most part, I was validated in the way in which I managed RSS in my own classroom; however, I really enjoyed reading about ways in which curated content can be disseminated to large, authentic audiences.  It was through these searches that I discovered Buffer, a tool that allows one to schedule his or her own Twitter posts.  This will allow me to post shared content MULTIPLE TIMES, so students and teachers can see the content on their own terms.

The "Sailing Ship" analogy to which I referred in my original post may apply to many different technologies and their place in the classroom.  Thinking about whether or not a tool still enables and enhances student learning is such an important reflective practice. 

Has the RSS Ship Sailed?

Has the RSS Ship Sailed?

Just because of size and influence, Google has the ability to change the direction of a technology trend in a single instant.  Such was the case in July 2013, when Google discontinued its aptly named best-of-class (RSS) reader.  Since then, content consumption by way of RSS reader has not been the same.  Which begs the question - in 2016, has the RSS ship sailed?

As an educational technology tool, the short answer is - not yet.  RSS, like other forms of content curation, is a way to bring (and share) engaging, real-world content into the classroom.  Dealing with the problem of "information overload", RSS provides a user with a comprehensive stream of content that may be accessed on the user's terms.  Information overload is a reality and using RSS in a classroom still makes sense.  To that end, teaching students how to access and manage digital information is a critical 21st century skill.  At an appropriate level, enabling students to curate their own content in an RSS reader is a valuable 21st century skill.  Most importantly, an RSS reader can serve as a one-stop-shop for students and teachers to aggregate and archive ALL content from multiple streams (blogs, Twitter, YouTube channels, and podcasts).

Identify Relevant AND Rigorous Content to Share with Students

Having previously taught Language Arts, Humanities and Technology courses at the high school level, I learned the value of bringing current events into the classroom.  Specifically, current events that are relevant to the students' lives.  In July 2016, conversations around Pokemon Go would instantly engage students.  Using an RSS reader like Feedly, I monitor a variety of RSS feeds, ranging from the New York Times to Lifehacker to Sports Illustrated.  Perusing content this weekend, I discovered a variety of articles that unearthed social issues around the viral game.  "Where Pokemon Should Not Go" is an example of content discovered from an RSS feed that can lead to stimulating, standards-based discussion in the computer science courses I previously taught.  NPR published a letter from a listener that addresses screen time addiction - which may result in instant engagement with students.

Identifying rigorous and relevant content from RSS feeds doesn't just benefit my students.  The act of identifying and vetting new subject area content to bring to the classroom is one tenant of professional development.  As an educator in the State of California public school system, my craft is guided by 13 Teacher Performance Expectations (TPE'S) that are adopted by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  The 13th TPE is focused on "Professional Growth"; on a daily basis, monitoring an RSS feed can be a form of professional growth - particularily, when education-centric RSS feeds like Two Geek Teachers are monitored in my reader.  With so many resources available, using an RSS reader to accumulate content is one artifact for CATPE #13.

Monitoring my RSS feed for relevant and appropriate content is the first step to engaging students.  CATPE #4 and #5 focus on engaging students and making content accessible for them.  To that end, it is important to identify content that is relevant to students' experience AND provide a means for them to "respond to and frame meaningful questions" about the content.  For accessibility, I encourage my students to read all content using a Chromebook with the Readability and Read&Write extensions installed.  This allows for focused, deep reading and real-time note-taking capabilities.  Additionally, I encourage students to "save" interesting content to a tool where they can read it at any time, on any platform.  Enter Pocket.  Directly from within the Feedly interface, students can save special content to read later.  The mere act of discerning important content to be read and understood later is a Depth of Knowledge Level 3 skill.  Using Feedly and/or Pocket, students and I can easily share relevant content to Twitter, using a #hastag for quick searchability.  Sharing from an RSS feed is CRITICAL - it is only when the content is in a social platform that conversations with the students may occur.

Enable Students To Critique and Analyze Individualized Content

As social media companies continue to hone machine learning to curate content that is "immediately visible" in content streams, the art of curation seems to be less relevant.  The last time I was on Facebook, the News Feed computer algorithm was trying to give me the most relevant content.  Content-generating algorithms fly directly in the face of creativity, an appreciable human trait.  For example, popular music streaming services really on human curation to build interesting and engaging playlist (it is worth noting this article was discovered in my RSS feed).  To have a student monitor and collect his or her own content AND share it to the aforementioned Twitter #hashtag is a truly creative activity that may be viewed by an authentic audience is unbelievably engaging.  However, because depth and speed of the Twitter stream, this may not be the most appropriate way for students to proudly display their curated content.  Re-enter Pocket and its friend,  Using this dynamic trio (with Feedly), students can select interesting articles (Feedly), read them at the most appropriate time (Pocket), and publish them to a public reading list (  The icing on the cake is ... wait for it ... the stream coming out of is an RSS feed itself, which I pull in to my own RSS reader.  This allow for me to evaluate a student's curation.  In the end, encouraging a student to critique and analyze content from his or her RSS feeds addresses all four areas of Webb's Depth of Knowledge model.


Aggregate and Archive Content for Future Reflection and SYNTHESIS

A third way in which RSS is utilized in my classroom (and why the RSS ship has not yet sailed), is to create a COMPREHENSIVE archive of content from reliable sources.  While dipping in and out of Twitter is a great way to access content and insightful conversation, SO MUCH content is missed.  Utilizing an RSS reader like Feedly, in conjunction with Pocket, IFTTT and Evernote, I save every single that I read.  The idea is that I may read an article that is not appropriate for tomorrow's lesson, but may be very applicable to a lesson next month.  Using Evernote's search functionality, I am able to locate applicable content AND annotate on how/why the content was used in my class.  In that way, my RSS feed indirectly benefits student learning.

Because RSS feeds are excellent ways to collect and share relevant content - for both teachers and students - the RSS ship has not sailed!

Be sure to check out my reflection of this comprehensive blog post.

Learning Spaces in STEM Education: An Annotated Bibliography

Learning Spaces in STEM Education: An Annotated Bibliography

For my first research-based assignment in the Boise State Masters of Educational Technology (MET) Program, I chose to develop an annotated bibliography on an emerging trend in educational technology: the maker movement.  To view the document, click "Source" at the bottom of this post.  After completing some research, I was able to more narrowly define my topic to the effect of learning spaces in STEM education.

First, the depth of resources and ease of use of the Boise State Library was a significant aid in completing the assignment.  I was able to peruse approximately 20 pertinent, peer-reviewed articles and selected the five that were most cohesive.  American Psychological Association (APA) is the style of choice for the MET Program.  Given the wealth of resources (like Purdue's OWL) and tools (like Zotero), correctly formatting a document that identifies the five selected resources is a simple process.

One final thought that I discovered through this process is that there is a HUGE opportunity to conduct research about how the maker education impacts student learning.  All five selected resources are written in a way that they support future research.  It will be very interesting to revisit this topic over time!


I am excited to expand the purpose of my educactional website, GFECT.IO, to include content from my experience in the Boise State University Educational Technology Program.  Over the course of the next two years, I plan to contribute content learned from the BSU courses, as it aligns with the AECT Standards.

As I embark in my first course, EDTECH 501, I feel it is most appropriate to post something very interesting - like a puppy!  Since so many people love puppies, here is a photo of my German Short-haired Pointer puppy, Bergen.


Let the learning begin!