Darin Janssen’s Weblog

Collaborative Project Final Prezi

For the collaborative project Jordan and I worked with Paul Park and his grade 7/8 class. For our reflection Jordan and I created a Prezi to show what we did.  Our Prezi is bellow.

I would like to thank Paul and his class for the opportunity to work with them. Due to the end of the university semester we were not able to finish the “final” presentations yet, but I will continue to help where I can.

Jordan was a great partner and I would also like to thank him for all he has done for the project. He is extremely good at designing excellent presentations.

We used WiZiQ to teach our lesson to Paul’s class and google docs to give feedback to the students helping them improve their presentations. Below are links to my two previous blog posts on the project and the lesson we taught.

Post # 1 – Collaborative Project

Post # 2 – Collaborative Project Rolls On

WiZiQ lesson – This is the recording of the lesson we taught. If you would like to watch it you will need to sign up for a free account. The recording is not the best because there is a lot of feedback. The first 15 minutes were our set up time so you will have to fast forward it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “ECMP Collaborative Project“, posted with vodpod

April 19, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, General, school | 2 Comments

Jeff Utecht Interview

For my “Interview with a Learner” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Utecht from Bangkok, Thailand.  I was first introduced to Jeff when I took ECMP 355 two years ago and I have been following his blog since.  Back when I first met Jeff he was working in Shanghai, China at the Shanghai American School.  Jeff is now Elementary Technology and Learning Coordinator at the Bangkok International School. I thought at first it may be difficult to arrange a time to do my interview with Jeff because of the time change.  In the end it all worked out because when Jeff’s day in Bangkok was beginning my evening was beginning; it could not have been better timing for me.

I was not able to use the video recording of the skype call (as explained below), but here is the link to the audio of my interview with Jeff.

I would like to thank Jeff again for allowing me some time in his busy schedule.  It was greatly appreciated.

Two things from the interview really stand out for me from the interview.  The first is parent/teacher communication and education.  I now realize that when I am using technology in my future classroom I will have to educate parents as much, if not more, than I will have to educate their children.  Parent education sessions on technology should help ease the fear some parents have about technology.  I really like the how Jeff’s school has now gone to not having parents give image consent, but having parents fill out a form if they do not allow image consent.  I do not understand parent’s fear of posting student’s images on the web.  Parents would be thrilled if their child’s picture was on the news or in the newspaper for an achievement they had.  Why is the web any different?

The second is the use of a 1:1 digital camera program for primary grades.  This is something I never thought of before but it makes so much sense to me.  Students can take as many pictures or videos as they like and it does not cost anything.  They can keep what they like and delete what they do not like.  The possibilities are endless; especially in the viewing and representing areas of the curriculum.

I did run into some technical difficulties (which seems to happen every time I use technology lately).  My video feed froze up basically as soon as we started the interview, but Jeff’s was working so I ignored it and continued without worrying about it.  I used Vodburner to record the skype call.  Vodburner worked well, but I was not wearing ear phones so I ended up with bad feedback so my recording was not of good enough quality for me to post.  If I knew something about video editing I could probably fix the sound quality, but I was able to move to my back up plan instead.

My backup plan was my digital recorder.  I recorded the audio of the interview and it did not have all the feedback.  I used Audacity to edit the audio file and the file was ready to go.  Accept of course for the fact that I could not get my audio to export out of Audacity as an mp3 file only as a wav file.  After a tweet I was able to convert the file to mp3 via iTunes.  I uploaded the file to my Podcast People account and my ordeal came to an end.  It sure would be nice to have a technology endeavor to go off without a hitch soon.

Over all the interview was a beneficial experience.  I was able to ask Jeff some questions about things I am struggling and thinking about and I received some ideas which now give me some more things to think about.  I definitely will be more open to contacting educators on my own if I think they will help me work on some of the struggles I have and will have in the future.

Image:  http://www.facebook.com/jeffutecht

April 12, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, school | , , | 1 Comment

March Teach Us Something

After watching part of the recording, I have to apologize to everyone who sat through my presentation last night and has watched the recording.  I clicked the pointer tool and was using it to point to different things on my slide deck while I was presenting, but it was not showing up for you.  I must have had to actually click on something else to engage the pointer on the screen.

Well I feel this presentation went better than the February one but I still have some work to do with presenting online.  I stumble a lot, but not as much as last time.  That was a plus.  I guess I need to practice what I am going to say even more.  I really need to be more conscious about how much I say “uhh”.  I need to get rid of the verbal thinking because it makes me sound like I do not know what I am talking about.  It is one thing to pause to think, but to verbalize a pointless sound sounds terrible.

I kept referring to Smart Notebook Software as PowerPoint.  This was especially bad because I was teaching about Notebook Software.  I can attribute this to PowerPoint being such a staple word to our vocabulary; much like referring to all snow machines as “Skidoos”  even if they are Arctic Cat snow machines.

I was disappointed with my slides after they uploaded to elluminate.  When I created the slides all the images and text were clear and legible; not so when they were uploaded and converted.  I created all my slides in notebook and then exported them to PowerPoint so they could be uploaded to elluminate.  The slides still looked good in PowerPoint.  My screen shots of notebook were not clear and therefore hard for everyone to clearly see what I was talking about on the screen shots.  At this time I do not know what the fix would be for this problem.  Maybe it has something to do with the actual image quality of the shots before they are uploaded.  Quality must get decreased when the images are converted so I would need to use a much high quality of image in the first place so the image is still of decent quality in the end.

I struggled with the idea of creating a slide deck verses screen sharing.  My experience with screen sharing has not been the best for two reasons.  One is that the screen sharing opens up too big in elluminate.  I then have to scroll left to right, and up and down just to see where the presenter is talking about.  I think that the screen sharing should only open into the same size window as the whiteboard and show the presenter’s entire screen in this space without the need to scroll.  This alone would make screen sharing more effective and I would not be so hard on it.  The second reason is that there is a delay in what the presenter is doing on the screen and what is shown to the viewer.  If the presenter is moving through steps too quickly or is scrolling up and down, the viewer can not see anything but flashes or messed up images.  I realize this is a limit to screen sharing because of the time it takes the data to move over the internet.  Presenters have to be aware and conscious of these problems when using screen sharing.

In the end I decided to use a slide deck because of the possibility of few technical difficulties and easier for everyone to see everything I am talking about.  The problem with a slide deck for this assignment is we were trying to teach about a program.  This is not done easily without a huge slide deck.  It is really hard to visualize what the presenters are explaining to me when I do not have any experience with their programs.  I decided to create my slide deck and use the pointer tool to help explain what I was talking about.  As my apology above states, the pointer did not work for me and thus my classmates did not receive my presentation to its fullest.  My classmates who used the screen sharing, even with its limitations, were able to do a better job of showing their program then I was.  Next time I will have to look at using a combination screen share and slide deck depending on what I am explaining at that time.

Overall, the teach us something lessons were great.  I wish we had more time to do another presentation.  I would have liked to use what I have learned to improve.  Who knows, I may have the opportunity to teach online in the future and I will then use what I have learn then.

Here are the links to the Smart websites I mentioned in my presentation:

SMART Products – http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-us/products/

SMART Training – http://smarttech.com/Trainingcenter/

SMART Exchange – http://exchange.smarttech.com/curriculum.html#Saskatchewan%20Standards

March 31, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, Reflection | , , , | 1 Comment

Collaborative Project Rolls On

After our online lesson Jordan and I taught the grade 7/8s we had a few days where nothing was happening.  It turned out Mr. Park was doing some PD so he was not in the classroom.

Some of Mr. Park’s students have uploaded their presentations to Google Docs now but I have not seen all of them yet.  Jordan and I found some problems with one of us being invited to the document and not the other, but in the end it was because the students had typed in our email addresses wrong.  We fixed the ones we have access too, but are unsure about the rest of the class at this time.  I have been able to check out the presentations I have access too and have made suggestions as to how some slides can be improved.  Some of the things I have noticed on the presentations which are easily fixed are with image placement, poor colour combination, writing everything they want to say on the slide, and generally slides which are too busy.

Mr. Park is having some problems now with not being able to edit the slides in Google Docs.  Jordan and I are able to edit the presentations, so it must be something on Mr. Park’s side.  We are trying to figure it out and resolve the problem now.  We are also thinking about a possible plan B.

The project so far has being a great experience for me.  The problems with technical difficulties have been a pain, but nothing every works out perfectly.  With more experience with the tools involved I am sure there would be few difficulties.  The concern I have is all the extra work which Mr. Park and his students have had to do so that the project is collaborative.  I am sure that Mr. Park could have had students fix up their projects in less time than it is taking now.  But, the experience of working with someone other than Mr. Park and to gain insights on their work from someone else will be beneficial to the students in the end.  It would sure be nice if everything worked as easily as we thought they would in the original plans.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455 | , , | Leave a comment

Collaborative project

For the collaborative project for ECMP 455 Jordan and I have been working with Paul Park’s grade 7/8 class.  Our project is to help Paul’s students create better presentations.  Because Paul is teaching in Mortlach we were able to meet face to face to discuss the project.  It was great to be able to have that initial meeting face to face and get to know each other before the project began.

Jordan and I then met a couple times and emailed with Paul until we were all sure of where we were going with the project.  Jordan took on the part of researching good a bad presentations, and I took on the tools side of the research.  We originally wanted to use either Slideshare or Google docs to do our collaborative side of the project with the students and use WizIQ or Skype to teach a lesson in Paul’s class.  After some research on the programs and their capabilities Paul and I had conversations using Google Chat, Skype, and WizIQ and came to the conclusion that the best route would be to use Google Docs and WizIQ.

Jordan and I prepared a lesson for the grade 7/8 class and made sure all the technology worked the way we were hoping it would.  On the day of our lesson everything went well accept for some minor difficulties.  Even though we tested everything the day before we were unable to get the screen sharing to work properly and the Youtube video would not play.  We came to the conclusion that with WizIQ running on twenty computers plus the added band width of video it was too much for the school server.

The lesson went well other than these minor issues and I was very please with how the lesson turned out.  I am pretty sure that the students learned something from us and I know that I learned from this experience as well.  I learned that no matter how many times I rehearse and practice a lesson beforehand there is always something that can go wrong; especially when using technology with students.  We just have to roll with it and do the best we can.  I also learned not to trust that screen sharing will work.  Before this lesson I did not trust screen sharing because of how poorly it works during elluminate sessions.  In testing, screen sharing worked so well, but when it was time to actually teach with it, it failed me again.  I am not saying that I will never try to screen share again, but I will always have a backup plan.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, school | , , , , | 2 Comments

Notebook software and online teaching

My first online teaching experience went pretty well.  I did not rehearse what I was going to say much before so I spent a lot of time stumbling and say “uhh”.  It looked at the experience as a test experience before our March online teaching, so I can live with it.  Some things I have learned are:

1. I have problems following the chat and talking at the same time.  With more experience teaching online, I should get better at this.

2. I need to practice and plan more of what I am going to say so I do not stumble as much.

3. Rather then having people typing questions in the chat while I am talking I should ask people to put up their “elluminate hand” and address questions that way.  But with practice and more online teaching I may not have to worry about this because I should get better at reading the chat while talking.

During my portion of the elluminate session I use the recorder built into Notebook software to record my teaching.  I am quite happy with how it worked.  With the notebook recorder you have a few different options for recording.  You can record your entire desktop (which I did), a window, or draw a rectangle around a certain section of your screen you would like to record.  I will be using the recorder to make a screen cast of how to upload onto slideshare for Jordan and my collaborative project.  The recorder worked very well to record the desktop and the voice from my mic.  The only downfall I found was that it did not record the audio from the elluminate session.  In the last 45 seconds of my recording Dean is talking and I did not stop the recording because I wanted what he was saying in the recording.  His voice did not record so the video ends with 45 seconds of silence.  I do not know if I can change a setting or something to record the audio off the desktop; that is something I have to check into further.

There are two other uses for the notebook recorder.  One is to pre-record a lesson or video to play for student; either when a sub is in your class, or if you are in a split class you can play a recording for one grade while you work with the other grade.  Another use is to record your smartboard lesson while you are doing it.  This is a great option for reviewing or playing for students who missed the class.  This works much the same as recording the elluminate sessions.

In the making of my slides, I used shots of part of my screen (iTunes and my Google reader).  For this I used the capture tool in notebook.  Notebook screen capture tool can be used to capture an image of an entire screen, part of a screen, draw a box around something (which I used), or an irregular line around something (eg. someone’s face).  When the capture is made it is put into a slide in notebook, which you can copy and paste, and use like any other image.

Both the recorder and the capture tool are both tools which are bonus parts of the notebook software.  You can watch the recording of my online teaching below.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, school | , , , | 2 Comments

It makes no sense to me

Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine about how stupid it was that the Canadian men’s hockey team beats Russia in a quarter final game and it was getting more press then actual medal winners.  Canada’s women’s bobsleigh team wins gold and silver medals and the short-track speed skaters take the silver, but they are not written about until section C Page 2.  But the big news in the hockey game, not only front page news of the A section but also the C (sports) section.  I just can not figure this out; it is just a quarter final game and not a medal win.  I guess I should state that I am not a sports fan.  I generally do not watch any sports other than Saskatchewan Roughrider games with my wife.  She is the sports fan in our family.

I went out to get the newspaper this morning and what do I find on the front cover…”One Gold one to go…”  Congratulations to the women’s hockey team on their gold medal.  The problem is not that the women won the hockey and it is front page news.  My problem in my mind is the headline; Canada has seven other gold medals already, this is not the first one.  Secondly, “one to go”, does only one other medal matters?  In the spirit of the Olympics all the medals matter not a certain sport’s medals.  I then look at the sub-headline which reads “Hockey: only sport that really matters”.  There it is the headline which confirms what I was thinking yesterday and been thinking for years.  Rob Vanstone says in the article “With all due respect of aficionados of bobsled, biathlon and snowboarding, the 2010 Olympics is now, in essence, a hockey tournament”.  Hockey is not the most important sport which is happening at the Olympics.  The Olympics are a celebration of sport and competition not just hockey.  After a quick scan of the sports section, which also has hockey on the front page of that section, I did not see anything about the bronze medal which was won in women’s figure skating.  Why is this?  Joannie Rochett deserves some attention for her win doesn’t she?

I never have figured out why watching sports is so important to some people, especially males.  I know that I am in the minority of men.  I can also state that I am abnormal in other respects as well.  I do not watch much TV at all (maybe one hour a week), I do not drink coffee, tea, pop,  or alcohol, usually water or apple juice, and I do not smoke.  So the questions I have are:   Why is watching sports so important to you?  Why are some sports, especially in the media, given so much more importance than others?

February 26, 2010 Posted by | General | , | 4 Comments


I listened to a few of the spark episodes which Dean suggested and found them to be interesting.  I have now subscribed to Spark and I will continue to listen in between my camping and kayaking podcasts.

The one I am going to write about today is the Episode 77. QWERTY and salvage old technology.  I found the discussion about how the QWERTY keyboard came into existence interesting because I did not know the history behind why our keyboards are the way they are.  The only thing I knew was the keys in the middle row are the keys which are the most used when writing words.  The episode then went on to discuss why people always want the newest technology which comes out.  I think there are two main reasons.  One reason is people like new things.  We buy new things because we like “shiny new” things to play with.  The other reason I would say is “keeping up with the Jone’s”.  My friend or neighbor got something new so now I have to get the same or better.  I too live this situation.  I want a new computer, but in reality I do not need a new computer.  I can make up all kinds of excuses as to why I need a new computer but in reality my computer will do me just fine for a couple more years.  I sure would like replace my pc with a new macbook though.  I can say the same thing about many other things as well.  My phone, my car, my camping gear, my kayaks, as well as others.  They are all thing I would like to upgrade but I really do not need to.  I just know there is something new and better out there.

Now let me look at schools.  New computers for the entire school system or every couple of years some new focus or better way to teach students.  Are the computers needed or the new focus/way to teach actually better or are they just “shiny new” things that administrators or bureaucrats want to try.  Funny “no proof” that they are better or needed.

I was in a discussion before the break with some classmates and the professor of my moral education class and my professor related students being hungry at school to smoking.  Odd comparison but here is how it was related.  Years ago the discussion was around if smoking was bad for us or not.  Many doctors said there was “no proof” that smoking was bad for us, so we can smoke all we want.  After many years of testing we now have “proof” that smoking is bad for us.  My professor said “look at a chimney”; we have to sweep chimneys, what is smoking doing to our lungs?  Now look at schools where kids do not have breakfast and come to school without lunch.  How can they learn if all they are thinking about is how hungry they are?  I know that when I am hungry food is all I can think about.  We know in our heart that students need to have food in their stomachs in order to learn, but there is “no proof”.  Why do bureaucrats need “proof” before they move on something that is so obvious yet on other things they just do it.  They will spend thousands of dollars replacing computers in an entire system every three or four year for “shinny new” ones but they will not spend money to feed students who need a lunch in order to learn on those “shinny new” computers.  I think community schools should be feeding kids the lunches they need and then in ten years the bureaucrats will have the proof they wanted that kids can not learn if they are hungry.

February 21, 2010 Posted by | General | 2 Comments

Stuck in the Past

We were asked to discuss university classes which are rooted in the past.  I have two of these classes this semester.  One is a Religious Studies class where the professor stands at the front of the class lecturing for the entire class.  He has his notes up on the smartboard to refer to, but only allows us to see two lines at a time.  At the end of each section he asks if anyone has any questions but rarely any questions are asked.  It is a daily struggle to stay awake during the class.  My other class is History.  This class consists of lectures as well.  He has thrown in some pictures, music and a couple of discussion periods but for the most part he just talks at us during the entire class.

For the most part I find education classes to be different.  Professors do not stand at the front the entire class and lecture.  They do lecture some times but there is generally half the class time spent in small group or whole class discussions.  The problem I find with some education classes are that they do not practice what they are preaching.

The professors who I find are the best at teaching are the ones who are still teaching in the school systems.  The downfall to this is they are all night classes because the professors are teaching all day.  Maybe all university professors, especially the education professors, should be teaching kids part time so they are still experiencing what is happening in schools.  This would allow them to relate their topics to what is actually happening in schools now.

February 21, 2010 Posted by | ECMP 455, General | | 5 Comments

Smart Training

Last week I attended SMART notebook software level one and two training in Calgary.  It was not the best time to go because I am so busy with school, but it was so worth it in the end.  Except, of course, for all the work I am trying to catch up on now.

I found myself amazed at how many things the software can do which I had not found or figured out yet.  I have spent some time working with notebook software both at the university and during my internship.  I had figured out the basics of how to create a presentation, but it was time consuming.  But then again creating any presentation is time consuming no matter what software you are using.  I have now learned many short cuts to doing things and many things that I did not know could be done.

In the course for level one there was a woman who had not spent any time working with the software.  I could tell that it was hard for her to comprehend the basics let alone the advanced ideas which the other two participants and myself were asking for and figuring out.  The good thing for her was she knew the other two people and they would be able to help her when they returned home to Yellowknife.  I would definitely suggest to anyone who is thinking about taking the training to get into the software and play around before going to the course.  You will get a whole lot more out of your time and money.

The level two course expanded on what were learned the previous day going into all the advanced features the software provides.  And boy does it have some advanced features which I did not have a clue about.  I only hope that I can remember them all.  We spent the entire day learning about a feature and then pushing the limits of the feature.  We experimented and figured things out which my instructor did not know were possible.  If there was something which we thought should be part of the software my instructor wrote it down to put in as a request for the next version of the software.  It was so wonderful that we were able to explore the software together rather then just being shown how it worked and lectured at.  By exploring I am sure we have learned more from the training then the course was originally meant to teach us.

Dean, my ECMP instructor, has asked me to use what I have learned for our teaching portion of the course.  I think it is a great idea to share what I now know with my classmates, but I do not know where to begin.  Before the training I had showed some people how to work the basics, but now I do not know where to begin or where to end.  I am struggling with the idea of either going through and showing all the possibilities quickly with no detail, or show the basic with some detail.  I guess the first thing I should ask is if anyone has any experience using notebook software.  Do you?  Please let me know so I can then decide how to teach it in less then fifteen minutes.

I like the thought of having a smartboard in my future classroom, but the reality is that it may not happen.  Option two for me is the wireless slate and a projector.  Before the training I was going to try to find the money to purchase my own slate because I could see the potential and if fits my teaching style.  Now that I am done my training, I realize that I definitely need to find the money to buy the slate.  The potential for teaching and student learning seems endless.

If you are at all interested in the use of smartboards or any other technologies which SMART offers I would highly recommend taking the software training so you can get the most out of the tools.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | General | 8 Comments