Colin's EDCI 336 Website

Education and Technology

Category: EdTech Inquiry

Fresh Grade

Fresh Grade in an online communication tool for teachers, parents, and principals. It has many various applications for reporting and assessment, including digital portfolios, scores/grades, checklists, and anecdotal comments. It is very helpful for teachers wanting to document, track and highlight students learning. Teachers can use Fresh Grade to send out announcements. assignments, and activities online. They have the ability to communicate with the whole group of parents or select specific ones. The accessibility and timeliness of Fresh Grade supports parents’ engagement with their students learning. This makes early intervention easy, especially because all parties (parents, teachers, principals) are all in the loop from the start. It can also be a tool for students’ online journaling and self-reflection


Fresh grade is open to anyone to use and it is easy to set up a classroom.  There are some concerns. Focusing on the quality of posts over quantity is urged. Teachers have the ability to document students’ entire educational experience and all their work.  I am concerned with the psychological effect this might have on children knowing that so much of their life is being tracked and documented.  The over-structuring of children’s lives and overbearingness of helicopter parenting continues to be an issue that society struggles with, and Fresh Grade definitely has the potential to step in that direction.

However, using Fresh Grade for ways that you would already communicate with parents has many benefits. For example, replacing paper handouts and announcements with online notifications saves lots of paper.





Digital Storytelling





A couple of weeks ago some of my classmates did a presentation on digital storytelling. It seems like a great way to increase student engagement and participation in class. As a teacher, I would like to use it to introduce exiting topics, as well as a way for students to sum up their learning. From the demonstration in class, it’s clear that you can convey complex and emotional messages with simple texts, photos and videos. You don’t need to be very tech-savvy with video software, or to have a picture in every frame. The multimodal nature gives every creation a unique feel. The class gains skill while collecting images, making soundtracks, filming, editing themselves. When students are given lots of freedom over the storytelling process, they are able to show their own diverse learning and what they are getting out of class.

For language arts, I am interested in using digital storytelling as a tool for students to tell personal or book narrative, or create a trailer for a specific text. In science class, they could be used to document experiments. I also like the idea of using digital storytelling in math class to represent a word problem narrative, where students can record their questions, calculation, deductions, and answers.

Digital storytelling captures students’ voices in a way that doesn’tfeel forced. However, like most great practices it requires some scaffolding. You have to take the time at first to introduce students to the concept, and practice with paper storyboards and templates.

Image result for digital storytelling

Video Conferencing

The other week our Tech Ed. teacher facilitated a class over video conferencing. It was really interesting to be communicating over video and audio with other students and a guest speaker halfway across the country.  Although the tech ran into some problems with the internet connection, it was an eye-opening experience to see how this technology could be used to teach classes with students in different geographical locations or even just in a different room in the same building.

It gave me some ideas about ways these tools could be used to teach in elementary school. I think would be intriguing to run lesson over skype, like a test review done in a game show theme. Students would probably find this novel and interesting. You might need a teacher partner or substitute teacher to make this work. You surprise students by leading them to believe they are just going to watch a video online, which then turns into an interactive lesson with the person talking back to them and able to see them. You can introduce characters and narratives over interactive video conferencing. This technology makes bringing topic experts into the classroom so much easier or introducing students to environments they unable to visit in real life possibility

It is important to have a good internet connection though so that the lesson is able to flow seamlessly, using a wired connection is recommended to avoid any lag.


I finally had a chance to play the game Minecraft. After having read the same Minecraft book to a child that I worked with hundreds of times, it was interesting to get a chance to experience the game first hand. I was aware that the game had some educational aspects to it, regarding resources and building. It was insightful to how the game could also be played in a social way that utilizes communication, leadership, and cooperative skills. It is clear that teachers can facilitate the game in a fashion that requires students to practice their problem-solving skills, through play.

I found it interesting that have some environmentally conscious aspects built into it as well. Over exploiting natural resources like trees will have negative consequences-the trees won’t grow back. Leaving the tops of the trees will ensure their survival and players have the option to collect seeds and replant trees., this website attempts to explain some of the lesser know educational benefits of Minecraft, ranging from creativity to reading and math skills.

Image result for minecraft screenshot

Human Learning Institute

The Human Learning Institute website provides useful information and resources for anyone interested in taking up inquiry as an educational practice. One of the resources included in the Competency Assessment Framework. It lists and defines competencies and their characteristics for teachers and students to refer too. They providing guiding questions for assessment when discussing learning processes and artifacts of learning. The framework is useful for teachers who are interested in using inquiry, but not sure how they might go about  formative and summative assessment.
The institute also links to a step by step interdisciplinary inquiry guide that students and teachers fill out at each step of inquiry. It’s very useful, as it walks you through most of the process. There is also an example of a filled out guide which makes it even clearer. An Inquiry Process flow chart that outlines the steps students and teachers take throughout the inquiry process, that is a very helpful visual for putting it all together.


Power Point Art

Is Social Media Addictive

Last week, guest speaker Jessie Miller gave a fascinating talk to our Tech Ed. class on social media use in the modern-day, and the implications for Teachers. It was one of the most interesting lectures I have experienced at university. One of the issues he addressed that sparked a lot of interesting conversation was about screen addiction. Many of us were concerned about too much screen time in children’s lives, specifically regarding impulsivity and addiction. It has become very custom to hear screen and social media addiction presented as fact without any dispute, but Jessie Miller challenged this notion, stating there is no scientific evidence. In fact, the scientific community is not as clear on this matter as you might think. Yet, some of my classmates expressed having concerns over their own potentially addicted screen habits or witnessing impulsive behaviour amongst the children in their lives. This seems to fit well with a fair amount of social media addiction research, which relies on self-report measures. Whether or not screen addiction is a real thing, people are self-reporting as addicted. It seems to be a behaviour that they have identified as a concern for themselves. This raises some interesting questions. Does it matter if people are not technically addicted to media, or is the feeling or belief that one is addiction really what matters? Certainly, habits can a negative or undesirable effect on someone’s life with being addictive regardless. Jessie Miller does a good job of explaining how technologies like social media can have a positive effect as well, bringing people together or recognizing their skills. It just depends on how you use them.


Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry


At the link above you find the website for the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. A school I am genuinely surprised that I only started hearing about recently, because it is truly remarkable. The video on the front page describes the process  by which students learn at PSII, called inquiry. Students come up with questions about topics they are interested in and then conduct critical research into their questions. They learn and reshape their questions as they go.  Students then choose projects related to their research questions to work on and present to peers and teachers. Subjects are blended together when it makes sense, assessment is personalized, yet according to the website students either meet or exceed BC graduation standards.

Learning happens through the process of discovery and creation. Everyone’s learning experience is truly unique. It is remarkable to see a school with such a difference model than the public education system.  This unfamiliarness can make it seem scary, free inquiry. So much of the curriculum and learning lead by the children. Who will ensure that they are actually learning everything they need to? In western society, we often want knowledge to be easily observed and measured. But we also want children to grow to be independent, resilient and confident. This school model seems to be a step in the right direction. When these students go out into the world, will they be more successful or happier than those that graduate from the traditional school model? I think the autonomy, independence, and mastery that is weaved into free inquiry will be an asset to their professional and person development.

The website also has inquiry resources, samples, and guides, so that other educations can see what PSII is doing and try it out for themselves.

Education as if people mattered | Jeff Hopkins |

Education as if people mattered, is a great TED talk by Jeff Hopkins, who is a former Welsh international football defender and … just kidding that’s the wrong wikipedia. Jeff Hopkins is the principle educator and founder of The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry, in Victoria, BC.

Hopkins’ goal is to have an exceptional education system. One that distinguishes between knowing and knowing about, meaning students are not just given a bunch of information, but instead teachers facilitate learning at a deeper level. Knowledge that sticks with you and becomes a tool, skill, or competency for later in life.  My education over the years has provided me with tuns of “knowledge” that I forgot only days after the final exam. I think it is safe to say most people have forgotten more than they remember.  We need to help students build competencies that are going to help them overcome problems of the future; social issues, automation, and climate change.

Jeff explains that much of his talk is already well known by educators, but the status quo is largely upheld out of convince and tradition.  It can be difficult and requires creativity to adapt to a lesson style that serves this deeper, sometimes more abstract way of learning.  But as Hopkins points out, the world is changing so fast, if we truly believe students matter we need teach competencies, not facts.




Most Likely to Succeed film

Most Likely to Succeed:


The 2015 documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” produced by Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner and directed by Greg Whitely explores the pitfalls of our western education system and how it can be improved. It opens with the premise that our current system is outdated, restrictive and does not suite everyone’s learning style.  Which can cause some students to burn out and lose interest in school. Not a very controversial idea.

The film forces us to ask, “are we setting children up to fail?”. As technology advances at an ever-increasing pace, traditional labour and office jobs are likely to automated away.  it is unsure whether the skills we are teaching kids will be useful to them at all by the time they graduate.

High Tech High is presented as a model for the school of the future.  Teachers set their own curriculum, traditional boundaries between subjects are removed, and learning is much more self-directed by the students. It’s a system that places extra value on independence, resilience, grown mindset, and soft skills. This is meant to prepare students for an uncertain future, so that they have the capabilities to think critically, problem solve and adapt. Not just give up when the unexpected happens.  Teachers at HTH are able to teach to their passions, which also likely helps them be more engaging with their students. Instead of final exams that force you to cram your head full of content knowledge that you will likely forget a week after, students create complex projects that instil interdisciplinary learning throughout the process. For these reasons, High Tech High appears to be the ideal school.

Most people can probably agree that our current education system needs work, but the solution presented by the film may come off as extreme for some. No tests, no specific classes for math English, and science. Even though students at HTH complete a fair amount of traditional schoolwork, like papers and reports, parents still worry that their children will miss out. When it comes to standard test scores, will they be encumbered? and therefore, will they miss out on university opportunities? It is interesting to note that according to the documentary, children from High Tech High perform better on tests then the average public-school student and have higher acceptance rates to post-secondary education as well.