14 January 2020

Trolling for Learning about the Polarization of Public Discourse

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels


Recently, there seems to have been news that Finland would be implementing a 4 day working week. This however, was not true as you can see here, How Finland’s fake four-day week became a ‘fact’ in Europe’s media

As all know, fake news is a phenomenon that has become a regular feature in our lives both on  social media and often on the 24-hour news cycle. We also know how this can negatively impact individuals and communities who may become victims to the spreading of news which is not true. 

Where does this leave learners?

Troll Factory is a game to help people learn how to unmask how fake news spreads. It's aim is to promote news literacy, and as Yle's News Lab clarifies: 

"A game developed by Yle’s News Lab team takes users into the dark underbelly of social media information operations, where likes and shares are hard currency for online trolls looking to sow fear, bias and suspicion.

Titled "Troll Factory", the game aims to promote digital media literacy, especially among people who don’t consume traditional news, and helps social media users understand how they play a role in spreading false information -- even unintentionally.

Players learn to wield the tools that trolls use as they seek to influence public opinion: botnets, paid marketing and internet memes in a realistic mobile setting. This gives them an opportunity to reflect on their real-life choices, and to better understand the consequences of their actions."

This is not a game for young learners, but more appropriate for more mature learners who may be college or university students, and as always, the degree of appropriacy will depend on each particular context. Whether this helps curb the spread of trolling and fake news, depends very much on each individual and context as well. Nevertheless, as educators, giving learners the opportunity to experiment and learn, to help students understand the how media may be manipulated, is increasingly part of our teaching practices. 


Further Suggestions:






31 December 2019

Find the Sound


Images are wonderful for storytelling, learning/expanding vocabulary and basically, for immediate understanding. Images spark one's imagination and memory. Images transport one's soul.

Scents and sounds equally trigger memories and longings. Sounds, too, can transport one to worlds past, to worlds of the present.

FreeSFX offers free sounds - from insect sounds to strings to oceans, from ice cubes to magic portions brewing, there are sounds to delight, sounds to remember, and plenty of sounds to add to stories. 

Or simply to listen, guess and create the context of that particular sound. 

How will your students make use of these sound effects?


Further Suggestions:



Creating Charts for Learning Projects


As 2019 crawls to its end, I turn (once again) to this space which I use when in need. No, this is not a post about predictions nor remorses; not even hopes and dreams. Those are to be written across the skies and perhaps, by others who make predictions their daily routines. 

As a practitioner, I tend to focus on what learners need in classrooms, on what may open up learning processes and connections. And, of course, what may be interesting, possibly provocative to stir critical thinking and useful beyond the classroom walls. As such,  it is practical to end this year including two practical tools for creating charts. 

Charte.Ca is a free chart editor for "non-techies", simple to use and with interesting features as shown in the image on the left. 

I particularly like how charts can be embedded and may be interactive (as the example below indicates):




Charts Factory is another free tool for creating visual data,
which students may use for their research projects. Easy and simple to use, learners can choose the visual display they prefer, adding whatever colours they most like as well.


To anyone who happens to click by, may the new year bring you light and lightness.

And skies sprinkled with dreams with light. Naturally.



Further Suggestions:

Visualise Anything You Want

Create Your Own Infographics

Visualising Data




4 December 2019

Managing Notes and Meetings


If meetings make your heart flutter with the desire of freedom or make your mind switch off, knowing full well what pointlessness will chew up your time, I completely understand. It always amazes me how many meetings in educational settings could be more constructive with a clear email sent to participants, rather than the counting of heads in a room. 

Instead of dwelling on the uselessness of many meetings, the fact is that people do need to get together at times to exchange ideas, update projects, and ensure that any possible problem is being looked into and taken care of. One of the purposes of meetings is to agree on a plan of action and not for mindless rambling of what could be easily shared in an email. A meeting should also be collaboratively constructive.  But I digress. 

As increasingly more teachers work online, Hugo may be a possible tool to use for online meetings. 

Hugo has a free version for 40 users,
with whom you can share agendas and notes. It integrates with other web tools and apps, including Zoom. 




For anyone who may be interested in checking this tool for meetings, there are also these considerations to look into   - Evernote vs. OneNote vs. Google Docs vs. Hugo vs. Notion


One feature, however, that I don't particularly like, is how the user has to use their email address to sign in for an account. 

Nevertheless, it probably will be a new tool to add to my digital bag-pack for further exploration in the coming new year. 

With web-conferencing and digital meet-ups happening so regularly, how do you keep track of documentations and notes, sharing agendas and follow-ups?

Further Suggestions:

Do You Have a Digital Office?

Is this Your Fortune Cookie for Connecting?

Connect. Ask. Learn.

Adding Interaction into Presentations

Learning How to Learn with Notes & Maps

Young Juvenile Youth 'Animation' from Kosai Sekine on Vimeo.

2 December 2019

A Grammar App for those Lazy Days


Sometimes it's the simplest of mistakes that give it all away.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps it's just a question of distraction, lack of attention, multi-tasking.

However, despite all the business that fill up our days, I am sometimes left wondering whether what I read is a typo, a distraction or quite honestly, a mistake.

Grammar Fix  is free and has decided to end those hesitations and possible misunderstandings in written English. 

Once you have downloaded the app, you can go ahead and begin checking your hesitations. There is a short explanation for each of these most common writing mistakes, as well as some practice. 

Do your students ever need a nudge with spelling?


Further Suggestions:








Rubrics, Assessment, Evaluation - A Re-Visit

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

I never liked exams much. Yet, as an educator, yes, I have administered and written many tests, quizzes and exams. Just something that comes with the job. 

Just?

No. Not really. 

Not only is evaluation/assessment an integral part of formal education, giving feedback to learners is important. Whether that feedback is continuous, formal/informal, formative or summative, peer feedback or self-reflecting feedback, providing learners with feedback and strategies on how to be better achieve their learning goals, is a cornerstone of education. 

Any assessment/evaluation approach will obviously depend on context and purpose. In many instances I tend to favour awarding badges and having students submit a portfolio with their work. However, this may not always be possible in different educational contexts. 

Teach Thought sums up 20 different suggestions on giving feedback to learners:



Although individuals may have their own rubrics and evaluation criteria to follow, when it comes to digital learning tasks, Teach Thought also offers a Bloom's Digital Taxonomy which is of interest, especially when selecting digital tasks for students:



Whether it be feedback, evaluation or assessment, these elements are embedded in learning processes. And just like the range of tasks one may choose, there are also different perspectives and considerations to bear in mind according to each teaching/learning context. 

Perhaps the most important is that rubrics are kept simple, clear and transparently shared with learners - no one appreciates unexpected tasks for assessment or evaluation of tasks not practiced in lessons. 

How do you carry out assessments, evaluations, student feedback?


Further Suggestions:

















Do You Have a Digital Office?


Over the years that I have maintained this blog, I have watched as web tools and apps slip slide into fashion and then quietly, glide to a silent retreat. With web culture, in general, changing so quickly, it is no wonder that digital tools and platforms also go through trends and waves of change, whether in terms of popularity or merely because of the features they offer. 

One interesting trend is how there have been efforts to create visual connecting spaces. The other day I attended a webinar with GoBrunch (mentioned here) and really enjoyed the novelty of its visual layout and features for webinars and online classes. My Digital Office offers similar features in regard to visual support when connecting online. 

My Digital Office is mostly geared for professionals in the business world, but also have a free version allowing 3 team members. 

It's interesting because (besides the similarities with GoBrunch and their visual digital spaces), My Digital Office includes video conferencing and chat features for meet ups, indicates the local time participants log in from, and the ability to exchange files/documents with the team. My Digital Office also includes a practical User Guide  and the integration of Zoom

For teachers who work online/remotely, this could be an interesting option to connect for online meet-ups.

Further Suggestions: