Educ 892 – Video Test

Here is a quick video I made during class on Thursday, June 6, 2013 at SFU Surrey

An extremely rough definition of a “class” for use in object oriented programming.

Wikis as Cognitive Tools

Wikis in of themselves are not necessarily a cognitive tool but when used within a certain context and for a certain purpose, they certainly can claim that title.

When a wiki is used to collaborate and share information with other like minded individuals, it serves the purpose of providing an easily accessible and navigable platform. The platform allows a user to contribute and then view the contributions of others. They have the opportunity to receive peer feedback on their work and easily see what others are working on. This peer reference acts as a form of formative self-assessment to the user as they can assess their own work based on what they see others doing. Wikis also let you track any changes made and easily try out something new with the possibility of reverting back to your previous edit if the new one doesn’t work out. This reversion process allows user to generate and test hypotheses within the context of problem solving (source).

The cognitive processing that takes place when contributing to a wiki is much greater than merely writing in of itself. It’s a process of writing, reflection, observation, comparison, and analysis, just to scratch the surface.

Link to my wiki


Blogs as Cognitive Tools

Cognitive tools refer to learning with technology. These tools are intended to engage and facilitate cognitive processing.Technology integrated into the learning process has been proven to increase the capacity of the working memory and long-term retention. Cognitive tools are also beneficial to help users understand complex systems and theories, they share the cognitive load by providing support for lower level cognitive skills so that resources are left over for higher order thinking skills.

3 Types of Cognitive Load

A blog is certainly a cognitive tool, especially if it’s public and open to comment and discussion. Merely writing is a 1-way process and allows the user to summarize their understanding through verbal and visual means. The cognitive load increases as users comment or reply to blog posts, perhaps validating or even disagreeing with the author. This discussion fuels consideration and reflection which allows the author to reaffirm or rethink the original opinion. This exchange provides an excellent way to develop deeper integration and understanding of the presented topic.


Take my Cognitive Load Survey to test your knowledge of the subject.

13 reasons to use educational technology in lessons

Sometimes you need to convince colleagues to think about using educational technology in their lessons, or to identify where in their scheme of work they could incorporate it.

This list is a starting point: you may find one or two points that would “resonate” with your co-worker, and grab his or her attention.

  1. Where information and communications technology (ICT) is taught well, it has been shown to enhance pupils’ levels of understanding and attainment in other subjects. That’s because “real” ICT is more about thinking skills than about mastering particular software applications.
  2. ICT can provide both the resources and the pedagogical framework for enabling pupils to become effective independent learners. For example, computer programs are available that adjust themselves to the pupils’ level and then set appropriate tasks and give feedback on performance. Used wisely, these can help pupils to move on.Also, newer technologies such as Web 2.0 applications enables pupils and others to collaborate in ways that reflect a broadly constructivist approach to education.
  3. ICT places all learners on an equal footing. Given the right hardware, software and curriculum activities, even severely physically disadvantaged pupils can achieve the same degree of success as anyone else.
  4. ICT has been shown to have benefits in terms of motivating pupils. That comes about partly through factors like being able to produce nice-looking work with no teacher’s red marks all over it, and partly because the computer is seen as being impartial and non-judgemental in its feedback to the pupil.
  5. ICT enables pupils to gather data that would otherwise be difficult or even impossible to obtain. For example, data from inaccessible places (eg outer space), inaccessible times (eg overnight), from both overseas and nationally on demand (without having to physically go anywhere) or data at very precise time intervals.
  6. ICT enables pupils to gather data that would otherwise be time-consuming or costly or both. For example, pupils can use the internet to get up-to-the-minute information on prices. They can use a DVD or the internet to watch movies of old dictators speaking, or the moon landings, or to listen to a piece of music by Mozart.
  7. ICT enables pupils to experiment with changing aspects of a model, which may be difficult or even impossible for them to do otherwise. For example, pupils of Business Studies and Economics can see what might happen to the economy if interest rates were raised or lowered. Pupils can use webcams to capture the development of an egg or a plant.
  8. ICT enables pupils to draft or redraft their work until they are satisfied with it.
  9. Another reason to use ICT in lessons is because it can help to implement personalised learning.
  10. Pupils usually enjoy using computers and other types of technology, so lessons which make use of it start off with an advantage (which is all too often squandered).
  11. Educational technology puts the pupil in control (if it is well-designed), enabling her to personalise the interface, select and create resources, and even choose what to learn.
  12. Just about every aspect of modern life involves educational technology; therefore, to not make use of it in the curriculum is anachronistic.
  13. Because educational technology pervades all aspects of modern society, schools have a duty of care to ensure that pupils understand issues such as keeping safe online, protecting their identity, recognising good and misleading information sources on the internet, the effects of educational technology on communications and the economy, to name but a few issues.

Courtesy of Terry Freedman, Educational ICT Consultant

Helping Students Learn Vocabulary

Every course has vocabulary specific to it that we ask kids to learn. In my subject I am always looking for new ways to help kids “learn the words and what they mean”. I have recently been using an online flashcard program called Quizlet ( I am enjoying using it, and so are my students, for a number of reasons:

Convenience: Search cards already produced in almost any category such as AP History, Geography, Canadian history, AP Chem. Solubility Rules etc

A flashcard showing both term and definition (‘both sides’ option selected). Also can do audio for student to hear. Study and game options also shown

Ease of Use: Easily import vocabulary from word (or have a student assistant help?). Can also export into Excel from site. Supports written text and audio in a large number of languages – including Chinese (simplified and traditional), Spanish, French and Japanese

Accessibility: Students can access from any computer. They can also access using smart phones via free flashcard apps. Have your own site? You can even embed links to specific card sets into your current website.

Its More than a Simple Flashcard: Offers a variety of ‘testing’ for comprehension including matching, spelling, multiple choice etc. Can even say the word to have student hear as they read.

Supports Review: It’s a way to post unit vocabulary – once – and then it is done. Students can use to study for finals or unit tests.

No it won’t be used by all – but it may support learners who don’t benefit from traditional ‘studying’ methods and allows us to expand how we deliver info to them. Give it a try!

Any questions? Just ask!



This tip is not new but is a review for  some and can act as reference for others when needed.

Scenario:  You have an important clip that will enhance your lesson.  However, being realistic,  you know that is possible that the wireless connection in your classroom may be down.

Avoid frustration by saving the video clips into your computer account so that you can access this clip anytime.

There are several free relatively easy-to-use websites.  However, some programs need the updated version of Java, which is unavailable on some school computers.  If that is the case, try this program.   1) Click Continue   2)  Click MPG   3)  Scroll down and click “Start”



If you have the updated version of Java, these programs are even simpler to use:  (needs the latest version of Java)  (needs the latest version of Java) (needs the latest version of Java)


Worksheet or Word Cloud?

I recently looked at a new way of doing an “old” thing. My Japanese 11 students typically read an article (in English) on Haiku and answer questions about this poetry form. Admittedly it is a pretty dry, and not necessarily engaging, activity.  This year I changed it up and used a program called Wordle to make word clouds about poetry. Wordle (wordle.cnet) is a web-based program that is easily accessed from any computer in the school. It works in English (and even Japanese with a few tricks).

How does it work? Basically you enter English words directly in to the create ‘field’. The size of a word in the visualization is proportional to the number of times the word appears in the input text. So, for example, if you type “apple banana banana grape grape grape” into the create page’s text field, you’ll see that banana’s font size is twice apple’s, and grape’s font size is 3/2 that of banana’s. When a particular word doesn’t show up in Wordle it is probably because it thinks that the word is a “stop word” (a frequently-used, but unimportant word, such as “the”, “and”, or “but”) in some language. See the “Language” menu for a setting to turn off the removal of such common words.

To keep my students on track the criteria for the work included required

Alice Han - Japanese 11

elements such as a prominent title “Haiku”, demonstrated knowledge of topic via choice of words and at least 2 ‘prominent’ elements – words selected due to their relevance to the topic. Marking was done in a holistic way using a criteria referenced scale (‘word cloud rubrics’ are easy to find on the internet).   If you are interested in using Wordle and have questions, I am happy to send you the assignment that I gave – or talk to you about it.




10 Reasons to use YouTube for Teachers


YouTube is great for videos of dogs crying for bacon and keyboard playing cats but if you dig a bit deeper, it can also serve as an amazing educational resource. There is now a specific new service called YouTube for Teachers that helps to sift through the clutter and help you, the educator, find meaningful content to augment your lessons. Here are my top 10 ways how:

1. Spark Lively Discussions. Engage students by showing a video relevant to their lives. Video clips can bring in different perspectives or force students to consider a new viewpoint, helping to spark a discussion. Check out this Science video as a great example.

2. Organize all the great video content you find Playlists are YouTube’s way of allowing you to organize videos on the site: a playlist is a series of videos you put together – they don’t have to be videos you uploaded, and you get to choose the order. When one video ends, the playlist plays the next video without offering ‘related videos’, thus creating a curated environment for your students. Therefore, by creating playlists of videos you can select which YouTube videos you want your students to view. Watch the Dynamic Earth Processes playlist for a good example.

3. Archive your work- Capture and save projects and discussions so you can refer back to them year after year. This will also help you save time as you can assign old videos to your new students. For example, this teacher created a video explaining a plot diagram that she drew. Because it is video, it is archived on YouTube and can easily be shared with other teachers.

4. Allow students to dig deeper into a subject. Give students the option to dig deeper into a subject by creating a playlist of videos related to that concept. By creating playlists of relevant videos you allow students to pursue their interests without wasting their time searching for information (or finding potentially objectionable content). Here is a sample playlist a teacher created for their students on Math Story Problems.

5. Get struggling students up to speed, and push strong students ahead Videos (or playlists) can help supplement in class teaching for struggling students. Students can review them at home time so you’re not forced to teach exclusively to the middle 50%. YouTube user piazzaalexis created videos aligned with the state standards so students who needed to review a particular standard could get the help they needed. Watch it now.

6. Review for upcoming exams. Turn test review and flashcards into easy-to-watch videos. This way students can hear your explanations as they study. Watch an example of a review for a Medieval Japan test. You can also create a “test review” video students can use to study the night before the big test.

7. Create a YouTube center in your classroom. When working in stations or centers, have students use your YouTube channel to complete an assignment, freeing you up to work with small groups of students. Divide your class into groups and have them rotate through different stations. At the YouTube station, introduce students to new information, allowing you to help students practice their new found skills.

8. Create quizzes to accompany videos for instant feedback. Create a Google Form that students complete after watching a video.You can use this quiz to get instant feedback on what they’re learning. Embed your quiz on a class blog or site so students can watch a video and complete the quiz at the same time. View an example of this in action.

9. Create Interactive Video Quests. Use YouTube annotations to create “Choose your own adventure” style video quests. View an example now. You can also create a video guide.

10. Flip your classroom. If your students watch a video of the basic concepts at home you can focus in class on applying those concepts, working collaboratively with their classmates rather than simply listening to you lecture. View an example now.

Prezi – a power point on steroids!

Working with some students, I was reminded once again that not everyone has access to power point at home.  A good alternative is the free online program called “Prezi”, which essentially functions like a power point on steroids. With its zoom in-and-out features,  and the ability to easily embed images and videos, Prezi presentations
are more dynamic than regular power point presentations.  Another useful feature is the ability for users to work collaboratively at the same time (or at different times) on their presentation projects.

If you choose to try the program, sign up for “Prezi Edu”, which entitles you to more privileges without cost.  If you want greater control of student work, you can ask students to log in with your teacher password so that you can see what they are working on at any given time.

As with all new programs, there is a learning curve when using the program initially; however, once users start, many prefer Prezi’s over powerpoint.

– Leslie

Organize Your Favourite Websites – Visually & Easily!

Like me you probably have lists of websites that you bookmarked but you can’t remember why or what they relate to. They end up in a long list in your browser with little to suggest why you bookmarked them or what they might be useful for. I have discovered Pearltrees – – that allows you to visually organize your websites into useful (and memorable) clusters.  In the software’s terminology a “pearl” is a site that you mark and a ‘tree’ is a collection of sites that are organized based upon common theme or use.

You may create more than one ‘tree’ – perhaps for an overall subject and then individualcourses. I have mine divided into major categories – eg. web resources – as well as courses.

In a more ‘social’ angle Pearltrees also allows you to search other Pearltree users who have marked the same sites as you to find sites that you might find useful. It also let’s you know who has sampled your ‘pearls’ as well but ,no, it doesn’t bother you with suggestions!


If you use Firefox or Chrome you can also add a plugin that allows you to quickly save a new site (or pearl) and add to your collection to be organized later. When you land on a site that you would like to save – click on the pearl (circle) icon to the left of the site’s address (url) and it is automatically added to your Pearltree site.

Pearltree may not be for everyone but as a visual learner, and thinker, I found it a quick and easy way to organize my sites – and remember why they were considered important in the first place. If you are interested in using Pearltree, or want any further information just drop me an email (or tweet!) !