Integrating Technology with Project Based Learning… Four Indicators to Blend the Learning

Read this great post by 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning on PBL and Technology. Make sure you check out the SAMR link as well!

21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning


Welcome to this April post designed to look at the idea of technology and PBL. In my work at the BUCK Institute (BIE). I am often asked about the relationship of PBL and technology. This post is designed to give you my best reflection as to how they can work together. Also, be on the look out for my next few series… entitled the ABC’s of PBL and Deeper Learning, Going Beyond the Tech Shine,  and also… 40 great education sites to discover in 2015. First, to ensure you do not miss a valuable post or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration, please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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Everyone Needs Encouragement

Life has its struggles.

I know that my student teachers  work really hard. They are exhausted. I was trying to think of a creative way to encourage them. I decided to send some encouraging words – on a photo…because…I enjoy a photo with text!

I downloaded PicLab HD to test.  They offer a beautiful selection of artwork and overlays to add to photos. Not only that, I enjoy the handwritten font choices. It was quick and easy.

Here is the finished product:


Short, Sweet Stories

Life is full of stories…

  • funny
  • sad
  • instructional
  • etc.

I love Prezi’s newest app – Nutshell. Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 8.03.36 AM

It is so SIMPLE to use and turns your pictures into a short, sweet story to share with others.

All you do is snap 3 pictures, add captions, choose graphics and press play.

Nutshell turns it into an awesome video which can be shared through messaging, email, or social media.

I tested it out yesterday, not really knowing what I was doing…

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This morning I tried another one with my breakfast! I’m having fun with this one!

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Oh yes, you’ll love this app! Think about how you could use it in the classroom…portfolio samples, student work, projects, short story, capture student attention … be creative!

DOWNLOAD from iTunes ~ for FREE!

Best New Apps for April!

Yes, there are some great new apps and web sites out there just in time for spring!

1. Have you seen Google’s Smartbox by Inbox? It’s a mixture of physical mail and the inbox:

Click here to read more about it!

2. #Chromeselfie – Show your friends how you feel about articles!

3. Wiffi – A new way to connect to wifi.

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4. The NEW Google search tool – try it out!

5. Amazon Dash – You’ll never run out of laundry soap again. Just press and it will be shipped to you from Amazon!

I hope you enjoyed these new products! And oh yes, Happy April 1st!

Global Leadership Summit – Speaker List!

By far, the best leadership event I have attended is the Global Leadership Summit. I began attending a few years ago and each year it gets better and better. This year’s speaker list has just been released!

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It is transformational!

Bill Hybels: Best-selling author of more than 20 books including Simplify, Courageous Leadership and Leadership Axioms.

Sallie Krawcheck: Named number 9 on Fast Company’s list of the “100 Most Creative People 2014”

Adam Grant: The youngest tenured professor at Wharton. Named one of BusinessWeek’s favorite professors and one of the world’s 40 best business professors under 40.

Brian Houston: Senior pastor of Australia-based Hillsong Church

Ed Catmull: Five Academy Awards including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for a lifetime of contributions and leadership in the field of computer graphics for the motion picture industry.

Sam Adeyemi: Founder of Daystar Leadership Academy, which is dedicated to releasing a new generation of leaders who will serve as catalysts in the transformation of Africa and the world.

Sheila Heen: Authored two New York Times bestsellers, including her most recent, Thanks for the Feedback, which helps leaders improve their ability to receive feedback.

Jim Collins: Authored or co-authored six books on leadership that have sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

Albert Tate: Combines biblical challenge with humor and is a sought-after guest speaker at universities and churches across the United States.

Horst Schulze: CEO of Capella Hotel Group; inspires client loyalty by raising the bar for customer service.

and a personal favorite Dr. Brene’ Brown: Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world ; wrote Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Make sure you register now and use the referral code 15FrndNS-4929

Jazz Up Google Slides!

Tired of the same Google slide templates? Google slides is a great choice when wanting to increase student collaboration – but the templates offered are a bit limiting. Slide Carnival offers free templates for Google slides! Choices include inspiration, playful, and even professional!

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Once you choose your new template, how about finding pictures that already are student safe and have an automatic citation with every download? The images are Creative Commons licensed for school use. Yes! You will feel like this:


6 Do’s for Social Media so You Don’t Create a Nightmare!

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Seriously. I can’t believe I need to write this post.

I thought most teachers understood social media do’s and don’ts. But I am finding they don’t. Really? Okay. Here it goes.

Teachers – you are in a unique position. While many some people feel they can post anything on social media that they want, don’t do it! This is especially true for teachers. According to Mike Simpson’s post on NEA,  “Newspapers across the country have begun trolling social networking sites for embarrassing and titillating postings by local teachers.”

Want a way to be fired from your teaching job? Don’t use your brain and post your uncensored thoughts or pictures to social media.

In the past 2 years, I have witnessed 3 different teacher friends post “without really thinking through it” on Facebook:

  • One continually posted classroom pictures with no parental permission
  • One posted an example of poor student work (with the name left on the paper)
  • One posted on Facebook during work hours, left the laptop open, students got a hold of it and posted atrocities about the teacher on the teacher’s home page

Don’t want the past to come back and haunt you? Then don’t put it out there. We tell our teacher candidates to “clean up” their social networks if necessary because many schools will look at accounts to find out about new hires.

  1. THINK first. “Both Twitter and Facebook keep logs of every instance of online activity – every post, message, interaction, like, friend, comment etc. If there’s anything inappropriate, it will have been recorded and logged. But as well as clearly demonstrating what a user has done, the logs will clearly indicate and prove what hasn’t been done online.”  e-Safety Report Understand that what you do online is like doing it in public. 
  2. Check your own privacy settings. This guide will teach you about privacy basics for Facebook. Privacy settings will HELP prevent others from seeing your posts, but NOT PREVENT other from seeing posts. If it is out there, it leaves a footprint. We call this the digital footprint.
  3. Model good digital citizenship for your students. We try to teach our students about cyber-bullying and good digital citizenship, right? Then model it. 
  4. Check your school’s policy regarding social media. 
  5. Change your passwords often. Make sure that you do not become a target of identity theft. Here is a site that may help you.
  6. Do your own research.  Keep up with education and social media and understand what you should and shouldn’t do. I am not going to take the time to list everything teachers should and shouldn’t do. There’s just too much! So read up on what is out there. Edutopia is always a great resource.

Social media can be used as an educational tool to create and share knowledge. It’s great to be able to post and share ideas, videos, and resources. Just be wise. Use your noodle brain. Think. Many schools will want teachers to use a student-safe site such as Edmodo. Edmodo is a wonderful social media option for school that gives teachers control over content. There are even school district accounts so schools are under one secure network.

Please share this with your teacher friends. Have more helpful hints? Post your comments and ideas!

Frames Just for Fun!

This site is simply fun. Frame is a web site that will take any photo and place it into a scene for free! It takes four easy steps:

  1. Choose your scene (all technology related)
  2. Upload a screenshot or photo…or enter the URL of a site you want to showcase!
  3. Adjust the cropping
  4. Download the photo! (Or share via Facebook or Twitter)

That’s it!

Here are some scenes I’ve tested:


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And, just for fun…I tried my own picture!


Flow Through Your Presentation with Flowvella

I get so excited when I use an app that works with our LMS!  I used Flowboard in the past in a very limited capacity. It is now Flowvella – and wow – they upped their features! Love it!

Flowvella allows a user to create an interactive presentation by adding navigation, videos, PDFs, and image galleries. Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 3.41.03 PM

The presentations are then stored in the cloud and are available to your audience to view, comment, or share. If you wish, you may even password protect your presentation.

Recently, I created a Flowvella for my course and added various YouTube videos I wanted the students to view. I was able to easily upload it to their cloud service, then I received an embed code which I used to embed into our course on Moodle:

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Students may view the presentation as shown or full screen. The videos are embedded right into the presentation. Sweet!

With Flowvella Education (the $4.99 version for educators), you can:

• Add transitions to your web links
• Add and arrange objects on your screens
• Add photos and videos
• Pinch, zoom and crop your photos
• Send your objects forward and backward
• Add links to screens or to the web
• Add photo galleries

• Export to PDF, print via AirPrint
• Present straight from your iPad, connect to a projector, or use AirPlay
• Flows work OFFLINE and are SAFE without an Internet connection
• Share your presentations with anyone via URL or PDF
• Share via Facebook, Twitter, email, or copy the Flow URL and paste anywhere

I am a fan of anything that makes the content visually appealing and easy to use for the teacher and students. Flowvella has my vote!

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Meeting the Needs of Your Students: UDL


The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) is a leading proponent of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). “Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Watch the video below to get an overview of UDL” (CAST).


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We know that all students learn differently. As educators, it is important to understand that one-size does not fit all. I am my own example. My strength is visual learning. Even at my age, I have a hard time listening to someone speak longer than 20 minutes. I seriously get antsy. I need to move my legs. My mind wanders. I start to make-up jokes in my head to entertain myself. Sorry, I’m just being honest here! I need to be engaged with pictures and movement. UDL offers a framework for creating learning environments that are flexible and help accommodate various learning styles.

I recently stumbled upon UDL on Campus. It is a guide for Universal Design in Higher Education. It begins with assessment. “This resource describes how to apply the principles of UDL to postsecondary assessments to help identify and minimize construct-irrelevant barriers in order to increase the relevance and accuracy of assessment measures.”  There are also guides for choosing media/technology, improving institutional policies, planning your course, and teaching approaches. Innovations and the increase in technology have helped increase accessibility of course content to students, an important factor of UDL. UDL on Campus provides a guide to blended learning and planning core content through synchronous and asynchronous examples.

UDL works through these 3 principles (UDL on Campus)

1. Representation:  High quality learning environments must provide multiple means of representing concepts.

2. Action and Expression:  High-quality learning environments must include multiple ways for acting upon material, as well as demonstrating knowledge and understanding.

3. Engagement: Students must be able to engage with the content and with each other in a variety of ways.

So please – don’t always lecture  (representation). Do something other than chapter tests (action & expression). Allow students to engage with the instructor and with each other in a variety of ways (Poll Everywhere, Socrative, student-lead discussions, Twitter, hands-on projects, etc.)

Want to learn more? Check out some of these resources:

National Center on Universal Design for Learning

Access Project

Principles and Practice

Postsecondary Education and UDL

University of Vermont Resources