Vision and Mission Statement for EdTech 541

I teach a 5th Grade class in an international elementary school. The pupils come from all over the world and are all very different from each other. The school systems that they have come from and the cultural values held by their families are all very different. They have one thing in common though and that is the reason that they are in school – to learn. And by learn, I mean it in the widest sense of the word – academically and socially. My job as a teacher is to help and guide them. To support and challenge them in every way that I can. I use every tool that I can get my hands on and am constantly looking for ways to do it more effectively. Educational Technology is simply one part of my toolkit. When I use it well, I can provide the pupils with transformative and engaging experiences. When I use it badly, they don’t learn much at all.

Throughout history, civilizations have developed tools to help them move forward. From the Roman’s understanding of water engineering to the industrial revolution in the mills of England, technology has played a part in moving people forward, and so it must in our classrooms. To ignore the benefits that current technologies afford us would be to do a disservice to our pupils. The difficultly lies in using it well. Reuben Puentenrda who devised the SAMR model describes how difficult it can be. He states that, “The plethora of choices available can prove paralyzing, frequently resulting in ongoing substitutive uses of the technology that block, rather than enable, more ambitious transformative goals.” Therefore the use of Educational Technology in my class has a simple objective. To make a difference to the learning of the pupils. If it does that then it has value and is worth exploring. It is no more valuable that my ability to use humor to engage a class.

The use of technology should address all the issues that a teacher faces daily. Motivating the pupils, engaging them in effective and realistic learning activities, supporting their progress across all areas of the curriculum, assessing and facilitating quality feedback. Technology should support me in my desire to help every pupil fulfill their potential. It can help me to individualize each pupil’s experience and connect them to a winder world. It affords me the opportunity to open their eyes and see more of the world that they thought possible.

Different learning theories impact my decisions as a teacher but I have always found that best practice lies in the world of balance. Roblyer (2016) writes something similar with respect to Educational Technology and different learning theories, stating that her text is based on the premise that, “There are meaningful roles for both directed instruction and constructivist strategies.” (p46) While both approaches come from different beliefs about how we learn. Ideas and theories will be challenged and adapted and changed and grow, just like the technology we are discussing. What seems important is to look to the world which our children are entering and use every tool we have to prepare them for that world.

Works Cited:

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. 7th Edition. Massachusetts: Pearson.

Puenterndra, J. (2014, Sept 24) SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy: Assembling the Puzzle. [Blog comment] Retrieved from:



Screen casting for the first time

My final assignment for my EdTech 513 Multimedia class was to create a screencast. My challenge was to try and apply the principles and theories which I have been learning about to a finished piece of work. Screen casting is not too tricky, the software does all the technical parts, what is important is that you have a script and have rehearsed what you are going to say and do.

I decided to make a screencast which would serve as an introduction to Thinglink for teachers and pupils in our school. I was familiar with Thinglink and so it seemed to make sense to choose something which would actually help and be used. Overall I am happy with the finished piece of work. There is one part in the middle where I tried to pull up a link and it didn’t work. I stopped the recording and adjusted but did not edit it out in the final piece. Voila doesn’t let me do that and so I left it it. I don’t think it detracts from the overall quality too much…

I tried hard to keep my voice sounding natural as possible and I am pretty happy with the outcome. In order to add some dimension to the video, I added questions with Education. If you have not used it, it is a great resource which lets you add a variety of different questions to videos really easily. It adds a layer of involvement to the watching experience. I have only used it once before so my timings are a little out.

Have a look and do please leave feedback.

Great class, great semester. All the best to those of you who are graduating.


Digital Storytelling: The light

This is the video which I created for my Multimedia class at Boise State. We were tasked with creating a digital story after having looked at and studied some examples last week. I chose to reflect on the importance of education to me in a very personal way. Over the last 8 months cancer has affected both my mother and wife. Almost everyone’s lives are affected in some way by cancer. Studying kept me going. It became my light. The one thing I could control and shape and take ownership of. This video is my personal reflection on that process.

I wanted to keep the images simple but high quality. I wanted  imagery to play a big part. I wanted to apply what I have learned. I keep the audio simple, the images are times and chosen to match the words and towards the end they transition from black and white to color which is a pretty crude attempt to show our progress into brighter things. It’s maybe a little cliched as a film but I am proud of it because it is real and it tries to communicate my feelings and motivation.

All images apart from 2 were sourced from creative commons licenses. I hope you find something in this that helps you should you ever be in a similar position.




Using the Personalization Principle

This week I read about the Personalization Principle in Clark and Mayer’s book on E-Learning. For a task, I had to imagine that I had written a text for an e-learning course and my team leader who was an English major was upset with the more conversational tone I had used. The following is an imaginative response to the hypothetical situation in order to justify the use of the 3 main tenants of the Principle.

Thank you for your feedback Mark, I appreciate it. I know the narrative seemed different from my previous work but if you give me a couple of minutes, I’ll try to explain my word choice. You know that I hate a split infinitive as much as you do but there is some really good research behind my apparent slide to the dark side!

I have just finished reading about something called the Personalization Principle and it was eye opening.  The basic premise is that in certain circumstances and with certain conditions, conversational style can be used to aid more effective learning. It is covered in the Clark and Mayer book that I have told you about before. (Clark and Mayer 2011)

They have looked a range of studies and hard evidence that support the theory that a more conversational tone can support greater learning. That is why I used second person active rather than passive voice – I wasn’t going crazy! They acknowledge that it seems to go against a common sense viewpoint but that it is inline with research into how the brain works.  The use of personal pronouns helps to engage the learner and build a personal connection with the content.

The chapter I read goes on to look at how using a human voice seems to promote learning more than a computer-generated voice. I know that is something your team have been playing with, so it could fit in perfectly? A more conversational tone also doesn’t mean more impolite, just more personal. There is also some really good data on the use of pedagogical agents on screen that I think we should look into.

The final aspect of their research looks at how visible to make the author of the lesson. By making the author of the lesson more visible to the learner, motivation levels of the learner are higher. When you read the chapter it all makes sense. There is not a huge volume of research yet but enough to justify the theory.

I think that we should really try to use some of their ideas. By changing a few words and using a real voice with a visible author, I think there is a good chance that we can achieve higher learning levels with our students. If we don’t see results, the work involved in going back to a more formal style is pretty minimal. I know that we have to be careful to get the balance correct and not go too far and make our lessons, distracting or condescending, to the students. Maybe I can lend you the book to see what you think – there are some good examples to look over.

Happy to talk about it further when you have some time.

Thanks again for your feedback


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3rd ed.) San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Using HTML templates

This week’s learning in our EdTech 502 class involved using HTML and CSS templates. On paper this sounded like fun. It was fun looking at them all. I spent hours looking at different templates. When I decided on some I liked and downloaded them. Then I hit  a wall. I got myself into a mess with where to put files, which files were important and wanting my page to look far better than I was actually able to understand. I learned  lot this week and have tried to summarize some observations below.

1. I am not a business and do not need an overly fancy website.

2 It was really easy to get sucked into things that looked great but that I didn’t really understand. It was like passing my driving test and wanting to drive a Ferrari on day one. Good things don’t happen.

3.There are some clear trends in website design at the moment which don’t lend themselves to a simple portfolio homepage (big images, fancy graphics, sliders etc)

4.Give yourself time to play and troubleshoot.

This week I was on holiday and so had some time to play with. Luckily for me! I worked on this for a few days and only got it all together on the final day. I was distracted by the beauty of some websites which were far too complex under the hood for me to understand. I eventually settled on a template I loved and discovered it was XHTML which brought up problems with differences in code that I had to learn along the way. I really didn’t know where and how to save my templates so that they were in the correct part of the 502 folder. I figured it out eventually but it took some time to reconnect css files in the correct way.

Overall, I am really happy with the page I created. I like the look and everything works. It has potential to expand and change and grow with me over the next couple of years. Once I figured where to save the template I enjoyed playing with the code to try and get it to do what I wanted. I created some icons and managed to solve the most number of errors I have ever had with my validation. XHTML is different and I had to really read up to problem solve. I will work on using different templates in the future and hopefully I will get some feedback from my peers.

I can highly recommend as a resource for free and premium templates. A tough week with a good end result.


Cheers Andrew

Techy Talk for Teachers: an adventure in podcasting

This last two weeks I have been creating my first ever. . . but hopefully not last, podcast. As an activity for my Multimedia course, I had to write, record, edit and publish a podcast. The technical side of things proved quite easy. I had previously used Audacity but for this longer episode switched to Garageband which I had not used for a podcast before. It was straightforward to edit and add little jingles and sound files and I managed to save as an mp3 with no trouble.

The hard part was coming up with a topic. I spent most of the two weeks going back and forth on how I could create content that was actually useful to someone else and could be relevant in a nice simple format. I hummed and hawed on a lot of topics but eventually settled on the idea which I have detailed below.

The name of the podcast series is: Techy Talk for Teachers.

The series of podcasts will cover Ed Tech ideas and resources which are aimed largely at elementary school teachers but which really can be used across all areas. It might seem easy taking the EdTech option but I felt it was what I could get excited about and what other teachers might be able to use. I wanted it to be pretty jargon free and easy going which I think I have accomplished. Hopefully it is a podcast which someone with limited ICT/EdTech experience would not be intimidated by.

The first episode, has an introduction and reviews of and as well as a reflection on the power of Twitter for professional development.

I enjoyed writing and recording it. Listening to your own voice is never fun but then my students have to do it all the time so I was probably due it! I hope you enjoy the episode and I am actually going to try and keep it going  – certainly as a resource in our school and across our group of international schools.

Hope you enjoy and thanks in advance if you make it to the end.


Here is a link to the file in dropbox. 

Draft Social Media Policy.


This week we had to examine the important topic of social media policy. The activity was informative, instructional and, in my case I hope, beneficial to our school. Our school does not currently have a policy and so what I have written will become the starting point for an actual policy. We have a new Director of E-Learning in the school and he was enthusiastic that the document that I created could be the starting point for a school document. In that respect, I have stuck to a format which will be easy to modify, edit and change –  and which also fits with current school policy structures.

I really wanted to finish it and use some kind of graphic program to make a cool looking poster, image. No reason, just my desire to create things which appeal to students. However, that would have been wasted time because the document will need to undergo a lot of changes. So I stuck to Google docs this time. When it is finished, I will ask if I can make it look appealing. This is important stuff and so I want all stakeholders to look at it and think, ‘yup, I’m gonna read that.’

I can’t say that creating the actual document was a lot of fun. Not because it was difficult or overwhelming – I have written numerous school policies over the last 16 years. . . but because I didn’t like doing it on my own. I feel that the initial creation of a policy is always better or stronger if it is done with others. You come to the table prepared and work collaboratively to shape the document. It is more difficult if the document you share for feedback is largely the work of one person. If I was to change anything about this assignment, I would have enjoyed doing it with perhaps one other person. Using social media to connect and share would have been a nice touch. That said, these feelings are totally personal to me and my style of learning and working.

I have created a pretty simple document because it will need to grow and change. I have phrased headings under positive, ‘Be’ statements to give some structure. There is a lot still to add, I am aware of that. However, I know that what I have started will hopefully grow into a strong, dynamic, school policy and ethos which will help to guide all members of our community in their online interactions and use of social media.

As always, comments are very much appreciated.

The link below is set to only be available to Bronco-mail users so as to maintain confidentiality and privacy until the policy is made public.

My draft Social Media Policy


Tech Trends in Education. It’s not a game. . . except when it is.

macrae gamelab

This activity was consuming! I make no apology for getting excited or enthusiastic. I hope that my reflections engage you in some way. If my excitement and hyperbole are too much, please forgive me.

First of all, I read the  2014 The Horizon Report – several times. Barbara was correct; this will become one of my favorite pieces of reading. I was not sure where to start because there were many aspects which interested me, so I decided to go with my gut. Gaming in education. Over the last 10 years I have experimented in a haphazard way with games in education. Never really taking anything to an interactive level, what I have done is use games with children as a starting point for traditional learning. For example, using Myst to help with creative writing. My efforts in the last few years have been less and less though, and I saw this activity as an opportunity to further my knowledge, develop new skills and reignite something that I know in my heart works.

I explored Idaho Teen Game Lab which was fantastic. This online virtual camp for teens learning how to build games utilizes the Framework of 3D Game Lab and so I went there to explore the concept of quest based learning. My first late night led me to the conclusion that there would be a lot more to learn. I also concluded that in order to really add depth to my understanding in this area, my artifact would have to be more than a document, lesson plan or Prezi

I read the rest of the articles in the report and then tried to really reflect on what I should create. I came to the conclusion that to wax lyrical about the benefits of games in education without being a player was disingenuous. So how could I play? I decided that I would sign up for and create an account using 3D Game Lab. I had no idea that its origins were in Boise State until I read the website. That hometown link only solidified my desire to participate, so I signed up for an educator account.

Over the next week, I completed 13 ‘quests’ which were designed to explain how to go about creating and designing learning experiences with the system. After about 20 minutes, I decided that my artifact would have to be a Quest.

I decided to create a simple quest on the topic of game based learning. In order to to this I had to successfully complete quests which unlocked certain tools for me. I then collected some resources together and set about making a quest of my own.

My first attempt is pretty simple and basic. Aimed at teachers like myself who are brand new to the topic, the activity requires that the participant watches a video and explores 3 different websites in order to create a reflective piece of work which can be in any form. I was attempting to use Universal Design for Education (UDL) principles for the assignment aspect. The reflections can be completed in any way that can be shared with a url.

The player must submit their response to me and will earn a number of XP (experience points) for submitting. I created badges, awards and achievements for players. It has been consuming, and the learning curve is quite steep. However, I see this quest as something more than just an artifact for the course. It is not something I have created, but a seed I have sown. It will grow and develop. At the moment I have a group with no participants and one little quest. My goal is by the end of December to have a group established for pupils in our school to support their literacy and maths. It might be 3 or 4 pupils or it could grow to many more. Maybe someone who reads this will join the groups and complete the quest!

I have learned the following things.

  • This is a path I will travel further down
  • This is not a fad and affords great opportunities for learners to lead their own learning and engage.
  • I have a lot more to learn, and in this case learning by doing is important.
  • I don’t think it is possible to create effective game based learning experiences unless you can think like a player which means be a player.

I come away with a feeling similar to the one I had while researching flipped classrooms for my EdTeach 543 class which was that, it is not about flipping the classroom, it is about flipping the learning to achieve a better learning experience. With game based learning, it is not about just using a game to deliver the same old content in a new way, it is about creating an experience where the student has deeper learning experiences.

I was not sure how to share or demonstrate my artifact, so I have created a google slideshow with screenshots of my journey through 3D Game Lab and the quest that I created. That way I have evidence for those who do not have an account.

If you want to sign up to 3D Gamelab – my name is mrmac and you can request to join the group – Pilot Group 1

Here is a link to the slideshow.

I hope that someone joins in!
















For the final part of our assignment this week we had to create an original image which represented our concept and idea of a PLE. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted my image to be. I am quite a visual person so I wanted it to look good but spent too long playing with Photoshop. I even went to the IT department and borrowed a Bamboo drawing tablet and pen so I could create an original drawing. As usual, I was off on the wrong track. If I could only remember my wife’s advice that I am always wrong, then I would regularly dismiss my first idea and go straight to plan B.

Anyway, I realized the art was not as important as the metaphor so I listed the things I wanted the image to say. They were in no particular order:

  • My PLE is unique and dynamic
  • It will be different each time I access or use it
  • Even if someone else create the same PLE it would be different
  • I have to be a creator
  • There has to be a change for learning to take place
  • The end result (my learning) is created from a mixture of what different inputs I have.

Just by listing those things, it came to me. My PLE is a recipe. I use ingredients and select, decide, choose, add, adjust, taste and create something for myself or others. The subtlety is mine, the final flavor might be different from what I expect and if done correctly I feel satisfied. Yup. My PLE is Pie, Soup and Casserole.

I have created this image to reflect that. The PLE Kitchen. I used Glogster which is limited but did the job. I hope it makes sense to you all. It does to me.

As always feedback is much appreciated. Thanks


Link to original Glogster diagram. The PLE Kitchen

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 2.33.04 PM



After posting this, I spent some time reviewing and commenting on my peers’ images in our Facebook group. A couple of thoughts jumped into my mind in terms of comparing their images to my own. Firstly, all of the images I reviewed involved the use of icons to represent different sources, combined with a different and personal interpretation of how each person processed and made sense of them. To that end, mine is very similar.

Where mine differs from some, is that my image is quite linear. Input, process, output which is different from a few who had chosen the circle concept to represent their processing. Matt’s was similar to mine in that respect. All of the images I looked at had thought and refection evident in both the concept and the execution. I went for a metaphor to deliver my message which again was different from most images. It is just my own style – I learn from analogies and comparisons. What was evident was the caliber of my peers on the course. Everyone had put in effort and thought to their images and while many of us took a similar approach I got something out of each image I reviewed. Thanks to everyone.

Digital Curation

Digital curation was something that I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago. Now I have a great collection of resources that will hopefully benefit me and others who are interested in the same topic. Our assignment was to learn about digital curation and then explore and find a tool to use to curate a topic. The first week of the assignment we worked in mini-PLN’s to read up on the subject and create a list of criteria which we would use in the second part of the assignment to assess our peers’ curated topics.

It all sounded very confusing and then. . .  as I read on . . . the light came on and I got it. I chose to curate resources on the flipped classroom for beginners because I want to experiment with it in my own context. I set about curating the topic using I really enjoyed the process of reading through resources and watching videos in order to build up a collection. It is mildly addictive and the site made it easy to do. As a beginner, my comments and insight are still pretty basic and don’t include a lot of synthesis but I hope that will develop with time.

To finish the assignment each of us in the group read and analyzed each others’ resources using the criteria which we had created the previous week. All in all a successful module. I gained new knowledge, began to develop new skills and enjoyed the activity and experience. A well constructed activity which has once again impacted my day to day teaching.

Fantastic. My collection on the flipped classroom can be found here:

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