3 October 2015

Being a Digital Citizen

While promises of autumn still need to come to my world, my mind turns towards my students' concerns about digital safety and how they will navigate the many paths of being a digital citizen. Just as contemporary culture is intricately linked to web life, so too are many students' lives similar around the world - cyberbullying, abuse, discrediting one's self online, among one's peers, risks taken, and mistaken,  are all shared by young people growing up today. 

It is not enough to talk about it while teens roll their eyes.  However, I do believe that it is a topic which needs to be regularly introduced in lessons, regardless whether the lesson is a foreign language or ICT. Learning transpires boundaries set by curriculum at times. 


Digizen is a great interactive game to introduce to learners, with the stress being on how responsible the individual is. 

Without wishing to give too much away, the learner can select their gender and responses as they go along. At the end of the lesson, there can be feedback and further discussion. What is realistically close to their realities? How did they feel as they made their decisions in the game? What solutions can they find for their own pressing realities. 

Touching on a topic such Digital Citizenship requires student involvement and participation - not only a to-do or not-to-do list. 

How will you be approaching the topic of digital citizenship this autumn?

Further suggestions:

23 September 2015

Are You Known?

Despite the possible frustrations of getting students to maintain a blog, blogging is a great activity for learners. Depending on the context, educators can either ask students to set up their own blog, or simply create a class blog, which in turn, may be kept public or private. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, namely that if a blog is open to the public, a wider sense of audience is achieved and there are more possibilities for reflective exchanges, collaboration or simply, acknowledgement of one's work. 

And though I began this post referring to possible frustrations (forgotten passwords.... providing regular feedback, which is demanding on teachers' time and demanding schedules,  and so forth), keeping a blog is still, in my eyes, a wonderful way for students to develop their own digital portfolio. Not only is there are a register of their work and creativity, but by blogging, students participate more actively in their own learning, especially in terms of digital citizenship and responsibility. 

In a world where every trace of our lives are shared online, where mainstream culture is instantly referred to by happens online (e.g. Twitter trends, Instagram trends, Facebook trends), involving learners in blogging is an important learning activity.  Blogging teaches open sharing, building students'  digital identity  by extending their digital footprint in a responsible way, collaborative learning, and through the use of different digital tools, the development of digital literacies. 

Just as not all writing students will become professional or gifted writers, not all learners may continue developing their blogs once a course has ended and perhaps that is not the main purpose. Nevertheless, giving students the space and opportunity to showcase their learning, to share their creative voice , learning and being engaged in their own learning process while doing so, is what matters. 

Known is a social platform for blogging and sharing by creating a site where content is shared, commented on and where projects may be discussed.

Open source and easy to work with on different devices, Known is yet another platform which educators may wish to consider when choosing a blogging platform. Features include:

What will you be doing - dreaming or planning with your students? 

Further Suggestions:

Blogging cartoon - Cartoons about Blogging

22 September 2015

Joining Charlie Brown's Gang of Friends

Earlier today, I was once again speaking with a colleague about students' digital abilities and the fact remains the same - despite students using their devices and gadgets intensively, how digitally literate are they?

There are numerous tools and platforms which may be introduced in educational settings, each one adding (hopefully) to building and developing digital literacies. For those who use a LMS (e.g. Edmodo or any other), having students create an avatar, is for me, a ritual on every new course I teach. 

Creating an avatar is not only a "bit of fun" - it can be a visual aid that students can then use to describe themselves, for example, in a language lesson, hence mixing a digital visual creation with text. 

In regard to EdTech, in a recent article, Siemens, refers to

"My framework for technologies in the edtech space now, those that I find empowering for learners and reflective of a human and creative-oriented future, includes five elements:

Does the technology foster creativity and personal expression?

Does the technology develop the learner and contribute to her formation as a person?

Is the technology fun and engaging?

Does the technology have the human teacher and/or peer learners at the centre?

Does the technology consider the whole learner?"

Asking a learner to create an avatar, does include the above - particularly an element of fun. And by reading the screen, following instructions, learners are also practising other skills related to digital literacies.

Get Peanutized creates customised characters based on the Charlie Brown comic strip and characters. 

Simple and free to use, easy to create on a laptop or mobile device, Get Peanutized is yet another option for students to create their own personalised avatar. 

Which character will you decide to be this autumn?

Further Suggestions:

Is Education Technology Losing Its Humanity?

Who are You? Where is your Avatar?


Emoji Mosaic

18 September 2015

A Quiz to Delight Students

Unlike Tao Tzu's words of "A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving", teaching does make me want to have a fixed plan, a goal. Or rather, different aims at different levels - one of them being that my students do take an interest in their own learning. 

Over the past week, there has been a flurry of  discussions and comments on Educational Technology in our classrooms and institutions; as a teacher who encourages the use of digital technology in classrooms, I too need to reflect on the purpose of whatever tool/platform I am using with students. Not every tool may be necessary. Not every tool may be appropriate for every contexts. That is something only the classroom teacher will be able to decide. As I curate and look into different tools, I wonder about their purposes and how they are able to foster inquiry and creativity among my students, for that, in my current F2F teaching context, is what more immediately relevant to me. 

Audrey Watters points out how "Most ed-tech has done very little to support students’ agency as creators – not just as creators with digital technology but creators of digital technology." Despite agreeing, I must be practical, focus on my teaching context and the need to call my students' awareness to be more responsible in their learning process. 

Hence, today I'd like to share another tool which is great for polls and quizzes - something to perk up students' visual interest as they reflect. Below is an example:

As you can though, when we create a quiz, we need to pay close attention to how we would like the results to appear for our students.
The one above is a mere example.

Apester is free,  offers different images for slides, may include videos,  and is fun for students to use. Simple, it is yet another way to perk up interest and awareness; and of course, may be adapted for revisions. 

As for some of the recent discussions mentioned above, references are given below. 

Digital literacies, need for creativity, the gift of giving voice and confidence to learners are constant in our practices. EdTech should be enabled to allow this without tech companies dictating to educators what to use in their teaching contexts.


Above: As seen in a shop window in Reykjavik
Below: Created with Word Dream

Further Suggestions:

QuizSocket - Real time Quizzes

Ed-Tech Might Make Things Worse... So Now What? - Audrey Watters

Adios Ed Tech. Hola something else. - George Siemens

George Siemens says 'Adios Ed Tech. Hola something else' - Jon Dron

15 August 2015

Online Quizzes - New Resources and Explorations

Mid August and the door to a new academic year is soon to be opened to students and teachers in many parts of the world. The use and implementation of educational technology seems, at least to me, to be more generally accepted and welcomed in a variety of institutions. However, Steve Anderson raises essential questions for everyone who uses digital technology in education, in his article, Evaluating Technology? Here's What to Look For, - a thought provoking article that many should read. The image below, points briefly to some of the issues that Anderson raises:

As for me,  I look forward to meeting new faces, new challenges and as in previous years, introducing new learning tools which, perhaps, my students will enjoy. 

Two of these tools regard online quizzes:

Quiz?lize  is free and compatible with different devices, making assessment more engaging for learners.  There is a Teacher Guide, as well as the opportunity for educators to share their quizzes for  free or for a small fee.  Here is a short video, explaining more:

Another online tool for creating quizzes is qzzr.

Here is an example of a quiz: What's your tavel destiny for 2015? 

Some may think it is more geared towards marketing, but by adding images to quizzes, students become more engaged and participative in the assessment (which they may also share). Especially for revisions, it certainly is a different way to carry out a class quiz. 

Other resources which I will be dipping into, include:

Google for Education

As well as the terrific Global Oneness Project 
which offers stories and lesson plans, in different media types and subjects. 

Our world becomes smaller and wider, with each day unfolding different ways of learning, different ways of connecting and furthering our understanding of issues and cultures. The world of education is no different, and from Finland, TAMK is offering new courses and fresh enrolments for the coming academic year. A great way for teachers to connect, learn and develop their skills. 

What other roads of exploration will you be taking this new academic year?

Further Suggestions:

Resources to Create Online Quizzes

Revisions with Games

The Revision Game

That Time of Year Again - Testing and Revisions

Riddle - to create Pop Quizzes, Polls, Lists and more

Using Digital Media in New Learning Models (Flipped and Blended Learning)

And an up-date for Kahoot! -

13 June 2015

Changing Mindsets to Learning

Change does trickle down into classrooms, no matter, despite, regardless. 

Change takes time, yes, and no, it's not a case of throwing out the baby along with the bath water. 

And though there are (and will be still) many challenges which include teacher training for the contemporary social settings of today, and yes again, the challenges faced by lack of digital devices and speedy wifi connection, there is one major stumbling block. 


Important Work Skills for 2020
Source: Top10OnlineColleges.org

Skills such as cross-cultural competency may not be new for many, but they are new for countries which are finally opening up to the rest of the world and for those who venture out of their comfort zones to interact and work with others from other cultures. Nor are they skills which come easily. 

There are some others which I would like to highlight (based on this infographic and where you can find more from Top 10OnlineColleges.org):

Sense making - being able to determine the deeper meaning and significance of what is expressed. 

Being able to understand vast amounts of data

New Media Literacy - not only understand but also participate in the expression of new media literacies. 

The ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. 

Learning mindsets need to change - for both learners and educators. 

And the best part?

All it takes is to believe in change, take a step and to get started. 

9 June 2015

Collaborating with Words, Images and Poetry

Words tumble out, words of stories, words with mistakes, words with worlds to explore. 

Whether one likes it or not, sharing words, images, stories of one's daily life has become part of our social lives today. Though there may be precautions to take before introducing certain tools/platforms in a classroom (depending on context), there is also space to introduce sharing tools for students to learn and express themselves. This is particularly true in the foreign language classroom. 

Here are some collaborative suggestions to try out with learners. 

Sharealike  creates slideshows, which are great for storytelling and presentations. 

Sharalike - Photo organizer and SlideShow maker from Sharalike on Vimeo.

Haikujam is a collaborative app for writing poetry, more specifically, for collaborative haiku writing. 

When students are hitting that zone out point, why not get them active and collaborating instead?

HaikuJAM 2.0 from HaikuJAM on Vimeo.

My last suggestion for today is Twine, open source , compatible with Windows and Mac, and offers both a Wiki and Forum to help get started.

I'd like to thank David Gilmore for teaching me about Twine - a great educator who is really worth following on Twitter.

Collaborating? Twitter, is and continues to be a great space to learn and collaborate!