Podcast462: Inspired by Tricia Fuglestad and Make Media Camp Lessons Learned

Welcome to Episode 462 of Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcasts, a now-wildly irregular podcast by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy and instructional technology. This episode includes two segments. The first is an interview with Megan Thompson (@seeingnewshapes), our elementary art teacher at Casady School in Oklahoma City. This past spring, Megan had an opportunity to travel to the Chicago area and spend part of a day with Tricia Fuglestad (@fuglefun). Tricia is an amazing elementary art teacher and utilizes a wide variety of technologies in her classroom to encourage creativity and empower student expression. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) and Wes interviewed Megan about her experiences, observations and takeaways from her time with Tricia in early June, 2018. The second segment of this podcast is a conversation between Shelly and Wes about their two recent Make Media Camp workshops (@MakeMediaCamp) with teachers in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. They highlight a variety of lessons learned and changes they’ve made to this one day media experience which introduces teachers to six different media projects and classroom activities: narrated images, photo collages, class radio shows / podcasts, paper-slide videos, Goose Chase mobile media scavenger hunts, and multimedia eBooks. Learn more about Make Media Camps on www.MakeMediaCamp.com, and access all workshop curricula from these workshops on the Archives link under Resources. Check out the shownotes for this podcast for links to additionally referenced resources.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Tricia Fuglestad (@fuglefun) Dryden Art – Fugleblog and Fugleflicks
  3. Megan Thompson (@seeingnewshapes) – Classroom website
  4. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog and Classroom website
  5. Follow Wes Fryer on Twitter: @wfryer
  6. Udall Foundation – Parks in Focus
  7. Book: How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith
  8. Movie: The Music of Strangers (2015)
  9. Odyssey Leadership Academy – Oklahoma City
  10. Book: Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher
  11. GoodNotes4 app for iOS
  12. Make Media Camp (@MakeMediaCamp)
  13. Make Media Intro Video (created with Adobe Spark Video for iPad)
  14. Seesaw Learning Journals
  15. How Do I use Activities in Seesaw?
  16. Make Media Camp Pedagogy (paper slide video from Make Media Camp)
  17. Ideas for Building Classroom Community (paper slide video from Make Media Camp)
  18. EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR)
  19. Email Mail Merge Custom PDF Certificates with autoCrat for Google (March 2016 blog post about using autoCrat)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

8 Months of Android: Lessons Learned (Part 2)

In November 2017, I shocked my family and many friends by switching from an iPhone to an Android smartphone. Ten of the reasons why I switched are detailed in this post, but the main four were:

  1. Travel Security
  2. Lower Cost
  3. Extended Battery Life
  4. Google AI Technology in the Google Assistant

It’s been a good experiment, but I’ve been missing iOS and an iPhone for multiple reasons. Later today I’m throwing in the towel and purchasing a used iPhone 6+ for $120 from a relative. If it was possible to purchase a used, high end Android phone for less than $400 (like a Google Pixel 2) I’d definitely go that direction, but the finances of smartphones have brought me to the point where I view smartphones a lot like cars. Sure it’s wonderful to buy a new one, but who really needs a new one when a used one can offer you so much function and lifespan for a fraction of the cost? (That’s a big reason our family loves CarMax, btw.)

So, as I anticipate the return of iOS to my pocket, here are some of my key lessons learned from the past eight months of exclusively using and carrying an Android OS smartphone.

Basic Functions Harder: Phone Answering, Pocket Calls, Voicemail

A smartphone is a computer, but it’s also supposed to be a phone. Unfortunately, my Android phone has been comparatively more difficult when it comes to the basic phone functions of a smartphone. Yes, I have a low-end Android phone (Moto E4 Plus), but it’s not unreasonable to expect phone functions to work smoothly. Throughout my Android phone experience, I had a comparatively harder time answering calls, switching between calls, and even working with Voicemail which wouldn’t load as quickly or smoothly than it does on iOS. Early on, I also had a lot of trouble making pocket calls on my phone. These experiences were frustrating, and while tolerable, not something I expected for such a basic phone feature.

No OS Updates on Many Handsets

I was aware of the Android OS fragmentation issue, where most users don’t run the latest available operating system (OS), but until being an Android user I didn’t fully comprehend the “why” of this situation. With my Moto E4 Plus smartphone, I technically can’t upgrade my Android OS. There are two barriers standing in the way: My handset manufacturer (Motorola / Lenovo) as well as carrier (TMobile) would have to certify my device for an OS upgrade. They are NOT doing this. In fact, Motorola announced for next E5 line of smartphones, they’re not planning to let customers upgrade either. As an iOS user, this is almost incomprehensible and incredibly frustrating. I’ve learned with iOS to generally not upgrade RIGHT away, since there have been (especially lately) some bugs with new operating system updates, but generally after a few weeks these are worked out and if your iPhone model is certified for the update, it runs better and with more features after the update. Not so with Android.

I am thankful that my Android phone model didn’t come stuffed with tons of carrier bloatware, as many models do, but I have still been held hostage to the manufacturer as well as carrier for updates. The solution to this would be to purchase a smartphone directly from Google or another handset manufacturer which pledges support for updates, but as previously mentioned, those smartphones are not yet available with steep discounts as used devices.

The December 2017 HowToGeek article, “Why Your Android Phone Isn’t Getting Operating System Updates and What You Can Do About It,” has more background on this issue. I’ll go so far as to say if you’re going to buy an Android phone, in most cases you shouldn’t consider a model unless the manufacturer has publicly promised support for updates. The low cost of an Android phone like mine ($140 open box from Amazon) can make it a great travel or “burner phone” (if you really need one – which you might), so this advice is not for everyone. It’s critical to keep in mind that as smartphone manufacturers continue to want to promote “churn in the channel” (customers continually upgrading and purchasing new devices) this “feature limitation” is actually a sales strategy.

Not only is that strategy frustrating from a customer standpoint, wanting to take advantage of new OS features, it’s also dangerous from a security standpoint. Like all computing devices, smartphones need regular updates. Sadly, that’s not available for my Moto E4 Plus.

Missing Good Microphone and Speakers

I love to use my smartphone to CREATE media as well as consume it, so the comparatively poor quality microphone on my Android phone has been a big drawback. I like recording podcast interviews with my devices, but since the Moto E4 has such a poor quality microphone I’ve had to use my iPad for audio recording. I haven’t posted to my personal sounds blog in awhile, but if I’d had a better microphone I probably would have during our recent family holiday to Seattle and Mount Rainier. I migrated my 200+ short, eclectic audio recordings from AudioBoom to Anchor in the past year, and when I’m armed with an iPhone again I’m planning to resume my periodic posts there.

Apple Music for Android Works Well

One of the nice surprises during my Android smartphone experiment was learning that Apple Music is available for Android and works pretty well. The app isn’t as feature-filled as the iOS version, but it provides the core features I’m most interested in: All iTunes Match songs are available, playlists sync, you can like / not like songs, and family Apple Music subscriptions work. I considered giving Google Play Music a try, or YouTube Red, but since I’m so “digitally invested” in iTunes and Apple Music it wasn’t worth it. I’m glad Apple has decided to make Apple Music available for Android. If I was going to stick with Android long-term, I would consider migrating to Spotify or Google Play Music. We have 4 “Google Home Minis” at our house, and the fact that they don’t support Apple Music is a bummer. I enjoy and use Pandora for music, however, which IS supported on Google Home devices, and also listen to podcasts… so this isn’t a huge issue at this point for me as a music and podcast listener.

5000 mAh Battery is Awesome

The best thing about the Moto E4 Plus smartphone is its 5000 mAh battery. For comparison sake, my previous iPhone 6S had a 1,715 mAh battery. This meant I tripled my smartphone battery capacity when I went Android. Wow was this ever a big deal. Like many folks, I rely on my smartphone during the day at work to receive and send both messages and calls. Unless I charged during the day, with my iPhone 6S I would regularly run out of juice by 5 pm each day. My Android phone has so much battery, I can literally work for 2 straight days without a supplementary charge. On vacation, using Uber and Google Maps extensively, my battery life isn’t nearly that long, but it has been HUGELY better than my iPhone.

One advantage of moving to an iPhone 6 Plus (versus other iPhone models) is that it’s battery is 2,915 mAh. That’s about 5% larger than the 2,750 mAh in the iPhone 6S Plus. I’m expecting the processor of the iPhone 6 Plus to feel snappier than my inexpensive Moto E4 Plus. I learned to keep my location services off entirely on my Android phone if it wasn’t needed, more-so than I’d done with my iPhones, so if I keep up that battery management discipline I’m hopeful I’ll still find this battery experience to be better than what I had on my iPhone 6S.

What’s App Good for Secure Messaging

One of many helpful things I learned traveling to Egypt last year was that the free, encrypted messaging app “What’s App” is fantastic. I not only used it for text messaging with family back home, but also for videoconferencing since FaceTime isn’t available for Android users. (I was even able to videoconference with my wife and youngest daughter from the pyramids… Probably my coolest videoconference moment to date.)

Cross-platform software functionality matters. Yes I know Apple would like everyone in the world to use iOS and the iPhone, but that’s just not going to happen. The lower cost, adequate function, and open licensing model of Android OS mean lots of folks will continue to use “other platforms” besides iOS. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to need a cross-platform videoconferencing solution and to “discover” (personally) the benefits of using  “What’s App.”

On the security front, I think people generally are far too ignorant about the dangers of unencrypted messaging. This is something I’m going to take on with our family and our own messaging, in part to educate our kids (as well as ourselves) about alternatives and the benefits which come with encrypted messaging. This is something we’ll do no matter what smartphone platform any of us are using today or choose to use tomorrow.

Beneficial to Merge AppleID and Google Contacts

Saved digital contacts can be a mess. My own contacts, prior to my Android smartphone experiment, were a fragmented mess shared between my AppleID, my primary personal Gmail account, and my school Gmail account. In migrating to an Android phone, I learned to export my AppleID contacts as vCard files, and then import them into my Google contacts. When I move back to an iPhone today, I’m going to keep my AppleID contacts OFF and just enable Google contacts. Hopefully that will help down the road if I ever choose to move (temporarily or more permanently) to another non-iOS smartphone platform.

More Regular Restarts Required with Android

All computers need to be restarted periodically, but I found my Android smartphone needed to be restarted more often than my iPhone. With my iPhone I might only restart once every 2 or 3 weeks. With Android, I had to restart at least once per week. Things would get slow and sluggish on the Droid after 5-7 days, and a restart would get everything working snappier again. Not sure if this is true of all handsets, but it definitely was for my Moto E4 Plus.

Google Assistant: Good but not Spectacular

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to give Android a try was my perception that Google is leading and will win the race to an amazing smart assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI). I do like the Google Assistant and use it every day at home with our Google Home Mini devices, but I found the response time on my Android phone to be less than spectacular. As with other performance issues, this may be largely attributable to the low-end hardware specs of my phone. I was expecting to use and love using the Google Assistant more on my Android phone than I did… and I think this technology just needs to continue to mature further.

I love the “broadcast” feature of Google Home devices, which turns them into one-way paging devices, and am thankful that functionality can work from an iOS device / iPhone just as it does from an Android phone. The Google Assistant works differently on different devices, but thankfully that function appears to be universal / not device-dependent.

Miss AirDrop and AirPlay on Android

As the lone Android user in our family, I have missed being about to AirDrop photos to and from family members, especially on our recent vacation. I’ve also missed the ability to readily mirror my iPhone to my computer or to an AppleTV at school using AirPlay. I will need to do this in August when I lead back-to-school workshops for our faculty and staff, getting up to speed on the features of our new cloud-hosted Jive phone system.

AirDrop and AirPlay are two technologies with which Apple continues to have BIG superiority over other competing platforms. AirDroid is an Android application with similar functionality, but it doesn’t enable the ready-sharing of photos and files between different Android devices the way you can with AirDrop for iOS. At our recent family reunion, we showed some of our relatives how to AirDrop contacts between their iPhone and someone else’s, and you’d have thought we were Houdini’s apprentices showing off his latest magic trick!

I’m looking forward to having my AirDrop and AirPlay powers restored to my smartphone!

Conclusions

Overall, I’m happy and thankful I’ve been able to “live” an Android smartphone experiment for the past eight months. As I said at the outset, the two most likely outcomes were that I would either love it and want to stick with Android, or I’d become much more knowledgeable and aware of the relative limitations as well as benefits of iOS versus Android.  For part 1 of this blog post series, see my November 2017 post, “Why I’m Switching from iPhone to Android (Part 1).”

Throughout this process, I’ve tried to help members of my own family understand that “Android is not the dark side” and I’m not a traitor to some unwritten family code of conduct by using something other than an iPhone as my primary smartphone. I’m glad we’re an Apple family, but as an educator and an educational technologist I think I have an ethical obligation to remain open to new changes and innovations in computing hardware, both at school and in my personal life. I definitely have a deeper understanding and appreciation for Android OS, and look forward to continued iteration and improvements in it as Google (and other companies) keep pushing our digital communications revolution forward. For now, however, I’m glad to be returning to the ranks of iPhone users. 🙂

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Make Media Camps in July 2018: Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas

I’m excited to announce the availability of three upcoming “Make Media Camps” for PK-12 teachers and university faculty in July 2018 in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Dallas. The past five summers, I have led and co-led 3 day iPad Media Camp workshops with my wife, Shelly Fryer. This summer, we are continuing to iterate with this professional development model by offering one day workshops focused on making media with iPads as well as Chromebooks. The Kansas City workshop will be Friday, July 6th, the Oklahoma City workshop will be Friday, July 13th, and the Dallas workshop will be Friday, July 27th. More details, including the workshop agenda and registration links via EventBrite, are available on MakeMediaCamp.com. You can also follow @MakeMediaCamp on Twitter for updates.

The full workshop description is:

Make Media Camp (@MakeMediaCamp) is a one day, hands-on workshop designed to inspire and equip educators to facilitate student media projects using iPads and/or Chromebooks for enriched assessment. Make Media Camps are led by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) and Shelly Fryer (@sfryer). Participants should BYOD (bring your own device) to camp and install required apps / extensions / programs in advance. Participating teachers are students in a fully technology integrated classroom during the workshop, and collaborate with others to create different media projects. A Seesaw classroom of student digital learning journals is used by participants throughout Make Media Camp to share media products and support classmates in their learning.

The agenda for Make Media Camp includes learning to create and facilitate student creation of multiple media projects and media activities. These include:

  1. A photo collage
  2. A narrated photo
  3. An infopic
  4. A “Goose Chase” media scavenger hunt
  5. A paper-slide video
  6. A multimedia eBook

In addition to iPad Media Camp, Make Media Camp builds on the “Show with Media: What Do You Want to Create Today?” website and digital literacy framework started by Dr. Wes Fryer in 2013. If you’re interested in learning practical skills and strategies for effectively integrating technology in your classroom, this is the professional development workshop for you. Registration for this 1 day learning experience is $99 and available online via EventBrite.

If you have questions or are interested in hosting a Make Media Camp workshop at your own school, please contact Wes Fryer.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Reminded About the Power of Student Centered Pedagogy

Yesterday I was blessed by the opportunity to attend and participate in day 2 of the 2018 LearnFest (@theLearnFest) Conference in Austin, Texas. LearnFest, or “The Learning Festival,” is Carl Hooker‘s (@mrhooker) new iteration of iPadPalooza. LearnFest joins a very short, personal list of top quality, amazing educational technology professional development events. These include The Mobile Learning Experience in Arizona (@tonyvincent and @azk12), Miami Device in Florida (@felixjacomino), UnPlug’d in Ontario (@thecleversheep), and the Willowood Technology Summit (@nctplarry) in Texas. Unfortunately those four events have either been discontinued or morphed into other events with different leadership. In all of these cases, however, transformative learning is possible mainly because of the amazing and passionate educators who come together to share and learn collaboratively. That dynamic continued for me (and I am sure many others) at #LearnFestATX yesterday.

This summer’s LearnFest event was “the beta” of the new model, which included several new elements like teacher “Shark Tank pitches” for fundable proposals to improve school and learning for students. The winning team won up to $1000 to implement their proposal, which they had brainstormed and developed in a few hours the day before.

The learning highlight of yesterday for me took place in the closing, which featured four TED-style presentations by different brave (and perhaps crazy!) speakers. Carl titled this segment of the closing event, “What’s HOT in Ed Tech,” and each volunteer presenter had to spin a virtual wheel (on an iPad app, of course) to select a type of hot pepper they had to eat first, before giving their presentation. This was the brainchild of Chris Miller (@EdTechChris), who was one of the four speakers along with Carl.

Each of the presentations were excellent (hot peppers aside) and included a great mix of thought provoking trends as well as new tools and technologies to try out in the weeks ahead. Carl’s presentation about artificial intelligence echoed (coincidentally) much of my own thinking about AI: We need to be grappling together with peer teachers and students about what teaching, learning, life and work can and should look like as powerful AI bots are increasingly available to “do our bidding” and augment our capacities to do productive as well as creative work.

Mark Simmons (@t3chl0gic) presented second, and shared the phenomenal (and free) app “Novel Effect.” (@Novel_Effect) As you read a picture book which has been added to their large library, related and synchronized sound effects as well as music play to accompany your narration. The app listens to you read, to keep pace. Super cool!

Chris Miller (@EdTechChris) presented last, and shared about Cisco Spark Board. I’ve heard a little about the Sparkboard, but Chris’ presentation made me realize I really need to check out this tool and learn about it in depth.

Chris wrote a post about the Sparkboard on his blog which gives more information, including a link to this instructional video by amazing Oklahoma educator (and “Cisco Education Advocate” Lance Ford (@lancemford):

The third presentation in the “What’s HOT in Ed Tech” series, by Jennifer Flood (@Floodedu), was my favorite from the entire LearnFest 2018 event, and is the inspiration for the title of this post.

Jennifer reminded all of us in the audience yesterday at Westlake High School how important student-centered pedagogy and learning theories are in schools and classrooms. She quoted four of my favorite educational luminaries: John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Seymour Papert, and Jean Piaget.

Jennifer also shared a pedagogically-aligned book recommendation with us that I’m adding to my summer reading list, “A Schoolmaster of the Great City” by Angelo Patri. (Available free via the Internet Archive. It was published in 1917 and has passed out of copyright.)

Here’s why I found Jennifer’s words so inspiring and personally meaningful.

Our family has lived in Oklahoma since 2006, and as a state we have pitifully low expectations for our public schools and public school teachers. The majority of our elected officials in the Oklahoma State Legislature simply don’t care about the quality (or lack of quality) of education in our public schools. This was dramatically highlighted this past spring, in the prolonged Oklahoma teacher walkout, which resulted in minimal legislative changes. The threat of the walkout prompted the legislature to pass a teacher payraise before the walkout started, but that law lost some of its funding mechanisms and is now threatened by a November ballot initiative. That teacher pay raise was the first tax increase in Oklahoma in the past 26 years, since the state voted to require a 3/4ths “supermajority” to raise any new revenue. Because of that supermajority requirement for revenue bills, our Oklahoma legislature has effectively lost its ability to meaningfully govern our state.

Combined with the urban/rural divide which holds political compromise and progress hostage on many other issues, our state is “stuck in a pit” where we can’t find the political will or leadership to adequately fund pubic education as required by state law.

How do these Oklahoma political realities relate to Jennifer Flood’s presentation yesterday at the LearningFest in Austin?

Almost all the requirements to become a classroom teacher in Oklahoma have been effectively abandoned because of our teacher shortage and funding crisis. We’ve seen a dramatic spike in the number of issued emergency teaching certificates in our state, from 32 in 2011 to over 2000 in 2018.

The political, economic, and educational culture in Oklahoma today preaches the following fiction to all stakeholders:

You don’t need any special educational preparation, experience, or background to be a K-12 teacher in Oklahoma. Pedagogy, learning theories, classroom management experiences, student teaching, mentorship, or any other type of teacher preparation are unnecessary and not of value. If you’re breathing, not a convicted felon, and have a college degree, you’re ready to teach in an Oklahoma public school classroom today.

This educational culture is beyond distressing.

Seeing the photographs and words of John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Seymour Papert, and Jean Piaget yesterday reminded me about why I became a teacher in the first place, and why I studied Curriculum and Instruction to earn my Ph.D. Authentic learning is so much more than “the delivery of information” into the ears, eyes, and minds of others. It’s about experiences, reflection, collaboration, and making meaning which is attached to previously built schemas in our brains. Technology tools are most effective, empowering, transformative, and amazing when we view computers not simply as delivery platforms but rather as “imagination machines” and “bridges to creativity.”

Through all our discussions of technologies, apps, websites and AI-powered automation, however, it’s vital that we remember the importance and value of the teacher, and specifically the pedagogies embraced by teachers. Jennifer reminded all of us of this in her presentation yesterday. Despite the distraction (and visible pain) of having to eat an habenero first, these messages come through to me from Jennifer loud and clear, and I was moved.

Pedagogy and beliefs about learning can sometimes be glimpsed through Twitter profiles. In her current Twitter profile, Jennifer Flood shares with us an important element of her educational philosophy and pedagogy:

Building a better world by designing experiences that empower students to make choices.

So does my wife, Shelly Fryer:

Passionate about helping kids love learning

My own pedagogy and personal educational mission is reflected in my latest Twitter profile byline too:

I love unleashing creative potential, helping others #Create2Learn w digital media

It was inspiring and invigorating to make multiple connections with different friends and educators down at the Learning Festival yesterday, but it was also important for me personally to be reminded of the power of pedagogy.

As human beings, the words we say to others make a difference. As teachers, the philosophy of learning which shapes the experiences we design and facilitate for and with students makes a difference too. If you haven’t read directly (as Jennifer exhorted us yesterday) the words of Dewey, Montessori, Papert, and Piaget, add them to your reading list now and start reading them soon. Add John Holt to that list, along with Frank Smith. And Angelo Patri.

Pedagogy and learning theories matter, because they shape the teachers we are and the experiences we craft together for children. Thank you Jennifer Flood. You reminded me about what is most important in education and schools, and inspired me to consider again the roles I have to play in teacher education.

I’m here for the learning revolution. Bring on LearnFest 2019!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Understanding the Puerto Rican Blackout: Bank Regulation, Bureaucratic Inefficiency and Leadership

This afternoon I watched the outstanding PBS Frontline documentary, “Blackout in Puerto Rico.” The program unwraps the story of why it took 7 months to restore electrical power to most of the island of Puerto Rico, following the devastation wrought by hurricane Maria in September 2017, and the complicated reasons why the infrastructure of the island had fallen into severe disrepair in the previous decades. The full 55 minute program is available on PBS’ website when you login with your local affiliate account, or via Apple TV. The 30 second episode trailer provides a good overview:

I’ll share several observations and reflections after watching this excellent program.

Banking Regulation is Essential

This PBS Frontline program does an outstanding job highlighting the role played by Wall Street brokers and mega-banks in financing Puerto Rico’s staggering debt. This is not only a story of financial mismanagement by Puerto Rico’s elected leaders, but also yet another troubling example of why we need regulation in financial markets. Left to their own devices. banks and bankers will loan more money to organizations (including U.S. territories) as well as individuals than they should responsibly accept. I’m reminded of the outstanding book, “All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis,” by Bethany McLean (@bethanymac12) and Joe Nocera (@opinion_joe). I wrote a bit about that book in my 2011 post, “Connect the Dots: The Political Revolution We Need in the USA.” Last week, our elected officials in Washington passed legislation and signed into law new rules which roll back the historic Dodd-Frank legislation which was passed in 2010 as a response to the banker-induced financial crisis of 2007-08. We need enlightened elected officials in the United States who do not act as the pawns of corporate interests, and can maintain needed regulatory limits on financial institutions to keep greed in check.

Unfortunately, those needed elements of the political puzzle were not in place for Puerto Rico in the 1990s and 2000s, and combined with other factors to bring the island to third-world conditions in its power grid and infrastructure by the time Maria came knocking in 2017.

Colonial Heritage is Grim

Many citizens of the United States may not be comfortable with this reality, but Puerto Rico’s continuing status as a U.S. territory is a legacy of our own history as an empire and a colonizing nation. Like many of the American colonists of 1776, Puerto Ricans are citizens without representation in our national government. We should either bring Puerto Rico into the United States as a state with full rights, or cut it loose as an independent nation to go their way in the community of nations. The PBS Frontline special paints a grim picture of this future, where Puerto Rico is unlikely to receive the investment and financial assistance it would need to grow out of its financial and economic morass. As conditions around the island continue to be poor, even with restored power in most areas, there is an ongoing “brain drain” of talent from the island. Younger families are thinking about their own children and their prospects for the future. Those look MUCH brighter (literally and figuratively) on the mainland of the United States than on Puerto Rico. No one knows what this hurricane season will hold, but there will doubtless be more strong storms in the years ahead. By its mandate, FEMA was only able to restore capacity, officially not build capacity and infrastructure beyond that which existed pre-Hurricane Maria. The history here is grim, and so is the outlook for the future.

Bureaucratic Processes Can Be Stupid

We need regulations to keep greed in check, but we also need rules which don’t hamstring government officials into making stupid decisions. The Puerto Rican head of FEMA operations is interviewed in this Frontline special, and explains why two different companies were awarded $25 million and $30 million federal contracts to provide tarps to the island, but neither had any track record or experience in providing these types of products or services to others in the past. Incredibly, a third company finally got tarps from China to Puerto Rico, even though that evidently violates U.S. import laws, whose previous product specialization was hookah tobacco. The FEMA administrator’s defense of this ridiculous series of bureaucratic blunders was, “we followed all our federal acquisitions policies.” Obviously in this case, some exceptions of the rules were called for.

Good Leadership Essential

It seems pretty clear, viewing this Frontline special, that the lead FEMA administrator in Puerto Rico wasn’t and isn’t “the sharpest tool in the shed.” Out of desperation and apparently not having other options, the US government eventually tasked the US Army’s Corps of Engineers with the mission of restoring the power grid in Puerto Rico. They did this over the course of 7 months with the help of contractors which (yes, I know it’s amazing) did have some experience with electricity contracts, but not specifically with restoring power grids.

As is the case in every organization and with every challenge, good leadership is essential. It’s crazy to learn from this PBS Frontline documentary how much faster the emergency response for things like tarps to cover homes were in places like the Philipines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, than they were in Puerto Rico in 2017. It does seem that FEMA was much better in responding to hurricane damage in the Houston area last fall, than they were during Katrina in 2005. Some lessons have been learned and applied, but there is so much more to do when it comes to increasing the efficiency and rationality of our government agencies.

I highly recommend all PBS Frontline specials, including this one on “Blackout in Puerto Rico.” I always feel like I am a better educated citizen when I watch a Frontline special and discuss it with others. Climate change is a reality, and we’re going to keep seeing severe weather in the Caribbean and in other parts of our amazing planet. I am very thankful to the journalists at PBS Frontline and for the funders which make their journalism possible. I hope we can continue to apply lessons learned to the inadequate disaster response in Puerto Rico following Maria not only in improving government services on the island, but elsewhere as well.

The work of our first responders, disaster relief agencies, and government representatives as well as contractors is so important in times of need. Let’s continue to educate our students and our fellow citizens about these historical events, as well as the importance of efficient and humane responses to them so we can do better in the future.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Podcast461: Instructional Coaching, Middle School French Class and Explain Everything for iPad

Welcome to episode 461 of Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer, from March 18, 2018. This podcast features an introductory overview about instructional coaching and technology integration coaching specifically, drawing on the author’s experiences in this role with teachers since the late 1990s. In addition to defining instructional coaching, keys to successful instructional coaching experiences for mentor teachers as well as coaches are highlighted, as well as “lessons learned.”  The second part of the podcast features an interview with middle school French teacher Blake Pardue, who has been connecting his students to “pen pal” classrooms of French speaking students in Europe and in Africa for several years. The past two years, Blake’s students have used the iPad app “Explain Everything” to create media-rich introductions of themselves and practice their French skills with their pen pals. This interview was a reflection with Blake Pardue and Wes Fryer about this year’s iteration of the Explain Everything project, which utilized the new “cloud based” and collaborative version. They discuss project procedures and lessons learned. Refer to the podcast shownotes for links to referenced apps and resources from the show.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Follow Wes Fryer on Twitter: @wfryer
  3. Learning Showcase of Yukon Public Schools (Oklahoma)
  4. Learning Showcase of Casady School (Oklahoma)
  5. Show with Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?
  6. CNAME Change for Blogger websites on GSuite Domain
  7. Folio Collaborative (platform for faculty goal setting, mentorship and growth)
  8. Explain Everything (@explainevrythng)
  9. Seesaw (@seesaw)
  10. This podcast was normalized before publication on Amazon S3 with Auphonic

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Excellent Videos on Hawaii Volcanos to Share with Students

I love YouTube and specifically having YouTube on our family AppleTV. Last night I discovered a series of excellent videos on YouTube about the recent spike in volcanic activity in Hawaii on the Big Island on YouTube, and I’ll share three of the best ones. Since Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed on Friday (May 11, 2018) “in Anticipation of Possible Explosive Steam Event at K?lauea Summit,” this is a current event many of your students are likely to know about and be interested in.

This 2 minute video from USA Today (@usatoday) on May 10, 2018 (“Creeping lava, toxic gas: Why Hawaii volcano is a unique disaster”) not only has dramatic footage from the new fissures which opened on from the K?lauea Volcano last week, but also some excellent graphics helping viewers visualize the geothermal forces at work.

The 57 second video from the US Geologic Survey (@usgs“Repeated overflows onto the Halema‘uma‘u crater floor” from April 27, 2018, is dramatic, especially when you consider how rare it’s been in the past three decades to see lava almost completely fill the entire K?lauea summit crater. USGS is posting frequent updates from the Kilauea summit observatory as well, and these are good to share even more current volcano activity videos with your students. They are mostly “talking head” volcanologist videos, and don’t include dramatic lava footage or detailed visualizations, but are short and still excellent to share. These are posted to the USGS YouTube channel.

The 10 minute video “Crazy Lava Flows Captured in Hawaii” from May 9, 2018, has 2.1 million views as of this writing, and includes footage which had to be very dangerous to capture. It’s “citizen journalist” footage, and can provide a segue with your students to not only discuss and marvel at the power of the earth’s geothermal core, but also the practical safety hazards of capturing and posting video footage to social media during a natural disaster.

The 10 minute video from May 10, 2018, “USGS/Possible Geo-Thermal Explosion/Hawaii,” showcases some dramatic earthquake visualization data from USGS from the week preceding the recording as well as the previous day. I’m not sure the exact tool the video creator was using, I think it’s more than USGS earthquake data in Google Earth. If you know please share a comment below or reach out on Twitter to @wfryer.

Two final videos I recommend are a little older but provide excellent historical as well as scientific background on K?lauea and what makes Hawaii volcanos so unique in the world. The 24 minute USGS video from October 2017, “K?lauea Summit Eruption | Lava Returns to Halema?uma?u,” is outstanding and provides both excellent scientific commentary as well as dramatic footage. I especially enjoyed learning about “Pele’s Hair,” which is a volcanic phenomenon I hadn’t heard of previously.

Finally,Dianna Cowern’s (@thephysicsgirl) video from March 2017, “Why Hawaii’s volcano is so UNUSUAL,” is terrific from the standpoints of scientific information, history, and also videography techniques. I love it and your students will too!

I have added these videos to my STEM Curiosity Links page. Although I’m not currently teaching a STEM class, sharing short videos like these (or portions of these videos using a tool like SafeYouTube) are one of my favorite ways to start class. It’s awesome to encourage student curiosity about our natural world, activate interest in current events, and provide them with safe links and places to go online to learn more.

If you use any of these links with your own students, please let me know!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Classroom Podcasting / Radio Shows 101 (April 2018)

We are continuing an almost weekly “Making Media Monday” series of workshops at our school, and today we focused on creating podcasting / radio shows. I recorded a 9 minute narrated slideshow version of the introduction I shared with our teachers today, and uploaded it to YouTube. The linked slides are also included below, along with our Google Doc of resources for all these “Making Media Monday” workshops. My BIG recommendation in this workshop is to use the app Anchor! It’s free for iOS, Android and web browsers (so it works with Chromebooks, Macs and Windows PCs) and Anchor also provides FREE hosting for audio podcasts!

This is a link to our “Casady Voices” audio podcast channel on Anchor. Here’s the 3 minute audio interview podcast we created today during our workshop as an example of how to use the app.

Access more resources about podcasting and radio shows on ShowWithMedia.com.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Engaged, Educated and Impressed by the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.

This week my daughter and I had an opportunity to spend several hours at the new Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. Wow were we ever impressed! I can’t wait to go back with other members of our family and spend a LOT more time taking in the exhibits as well as the special events and media “extras.” In this post I’ll share a few highlights.

There were many standouts from our visit, but the biggest one was an experience which we couldn’t video or document. It’s the “Hebrew Bible Experience.” This was, without a doubt, the most media-intensive museum experience I’ve ever had. It reminded me of the initial modules of “The Bethel Series” Bible study which we took a number of years ago at our church in Lubbock, Texas, except it was exceptionally media intense. The Pentateuch is the collection of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible in the Torah, and is featured in this 30 minute museum experience taking visitors from the first chapter of Genesis through the reign of King David and King Solomon. The creation, Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah and the Flood, the story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob/Israel and his sons, Joseph in Egypt, David and Goliath, David and Bathsheba, the reign of Solomon, the fall of the temple, the division of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms, the exile of the Jews to Babylon and the return to Israel… All of these events are portrayed with a stunning combination of videos, lights, sculptures, and multiple rooms which visitors journey through in different segments. A room of white filled with rainbows after the flood, a dramatic burning bush and the voice of the Lord speaking to Moses, a room surrounded with blue water as visitors metaphorically pass through the waters of the Red Sea escaping Egypt… all of these are masterfully stitched together in a powerful experience that was both engaging and emotional (for me) to experience. Wow. This history and these stories are incredibly powerful without any media, but it was even more inspiring to experience them again through the media of cutting-edge digital storytellers in 2018. This is an experience at the Museum of the Bible which should not be missed!

Backing up a little bit, the entrance doors to the museum are really impressive. The main idea and focus of the Museum of the Bible is to encourage and support members of the public to interact with and experience the Bible, and this is obvious as soon as you walk into the building.

I really loved the way the museum’s digital storytellers creatively employed media to tell the story of “the Great Awakening” in the United States, in the second floor exhibit “The Bible in America.” The screen in one area is a wrap-around design, and has black outlines of colonial village buildings and trees. On top of that background, images of people and scenes are displayed with voice narration, creating an extremely unique interactive experience. Photos of that era are not available, but these techniques overlaying silhouette images with music and voice narration was extremely immersive and effective in telling the story of this time.

I also loved how, in this section of the museum, different actors interactively read letters between different founding luminaries of the United States, bringing their ideas and contrasting views to life. Subtitles on the videos show who the actor was portraying, and subtitles help emphasize the words and message of the letters being read. This is masterful museum storytelling! So engaging, and much more inviting than simply printing the words of these letters on displays to be read by visitors.

Live museum docents narrate and bring to life other elements of the Bible’s story, like the section about Gutenberg’s printing press and moveable type. Although we saw the traveling Bible artifact display in Oklahoma City several years ago which included elements that have become part of the Museum of the Bible collection in Washington D.C., it was great to see some of these elements again and experience the ways museum creators encourage visitors to interact with the. One small story which I don’t remember learning about previously was how Gutenberg was unable to pay back the financial loans which had permitted him to build his printing press, and as a result his press and all the materials he’d created were repossessed in a bankruptcy legal proceeding. A sad footnote to the man who had ushered in a huge revolution in communication and information sharing on our planet.

In the museum’s third floor exhibit, “World of Jesus of Nazareth,” realistic homes and village areas are re-created. In the synagogue area, a docent shared about how the village synagogue was a place of gathering and teaching, but not of worship: Worship happened several times a year in the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a clarification which was also new to me. I thought of the village synagogue during Jesus’ time as a place of worship, but I learned that was not the case. Overall, this was a very immersive, powerful way to get a better understanding of the world, rituals, customs, and life experiences of Jesus and those with whom he lived 2000+ years ago.

The elevators at the Museum of the Bible is remarkable because they include video LCD screens on three sides, showing vistas of Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. The projected stained glass and paintings on the ceilings of the museum, and these elevator video experiences, serve to further immerse visitors in the world of the Bible and Holy Land where the Bible has its origins.

The food on the sixth floor of the museum is also exceptional. We had two different plates which included various types of Middle Eastern food, with lots of vegetables as well as meats. Sarah had chicken and I had lamb. Yum! Definitely plan to eat at the museum when you visit. The view of the U.S. Capitol and other areas on the mall from the 6th floor of the museum is also impressive.

I loved the section of the museum which included short video clip testimonies from a wide variety of people, both celebrities and “regular folks.” People shared how they came to know God, how the Bible is a vital part of their daily routine and walk with the Lord, and how God has supported them during difficult times of their lives. Of course, this made me think of my book and project, “Pocket Share Jesus: Be a Digital Witness for Christ.” As Christians we are each called to tell our story, and it was inspiring to see digital storytelling used in such effective and inspiring ways at the Museum of the Bible to share the Good News of the Gospel.

I could write more about the exhibits and experience, but I think I’ll close for now so I can share this before we board our Southwest Airlines flight back to Oklahoma City tonight. Most of my photos from our trip this week, including many from the Museum of the Bible, are included in this Flickr set.

If your travels take you to the Washington D.C. area, I strongly encourage you to make plans to spend several hours or several days at the Museum of the Bible! You will be so glad you did! The story of God’s continuing love and relationship with humankind is the most important of all stories… and it’s wonderful to experience it in new ways with rich multimedia as well as a wealth of artifacts from the Bible’s history.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?