I love who I have been, but I really love who I am becoming -- Dulce Ruby

Category: EDTC 300

🤩The Tool That Changes Everything!

Google Brisk Teaching is another teacher AI tool that I first learned about from my Learning Resource Teacher at work.  She said it is life changing not only for teachers but more importantly for our students and she wished more teachers knew about it, so of course I had to share it.

It is a Chrome Extension that you easily add to your browser where you can also pin it to your toolbar.  While it mainly works within Google Docs, the great part is you can use it on any webpage!  For example,News article with google brisk icon in bottom right corner I pulled up a story from the Regina Leader Post, and if you look in the bottom right corner, there is my Brisk icon.  If I click on it I can then access any of Brisks AI tools and use them for this article.  I could create a lesson around it, a resource or even a quiz but probably the BEST feature of Google Brisk is the ability to change reading level and even language for any text! Oh yes I do mean ANY text!

Have a look, I took the same article from the Leader Post that Brisk has identified as being a 12th grade reading level. With a few clicks I can adjust it to any grade level and Brisk will open a new google doc with the article at the adjusted grade level I requested, complete with a link to the original article!  Now let’s say we have some EAL’s learners ingoogle brisk prompt asking to adjust grade level and language our class, we can also have Brisk change the language, such as to Ukrainian and with a few clicks, once again a new doc at the specified grade level AND language!  I know, mind blown right? 🤯 Just think of how life changing this will be for our students.  They can read the same short stories and articles as their classmates but at a level or language that best meets their needs while allowing them to still engage in class activities with their peers about the reading.

And this is just one of the many features Google Brisk has to offer.  This great short video highlights some more features such as the feedback tool including glows and grows and AI detection.  Check it out and let me know your thoughts about this impressive teacher AI tool.

 

B-“risk” It!!

This week I was challenged with exploring a new tool and using it to document my learning this week.  I chose to explore Piktochart, an online app that claims to be the  latest AI powered infographic maker as it seemed to fit perfectly into the challenge we were given and for the focus of my learning project.  To read my full review of the app, visit my EDTC 300 post Not All Apps are Created Equal 

This week I wanted to introduce Brisk Teaching, a Google extension designed to make teachers lives easier.  The infographic provided a great way to highlight some of the features this program has to offer in an eye-catching way.  The pre-made, AI generated template saved me a ton of time, but as with any AI, the content it generated was not always accurate and vague requiring a fair amount of editing on my part.  While Piktochart is not a program I will use often or ever again really, I am proud of how it came out and hopefully what I created piqued your interest enough to check out next weeks post where I will explore Brisk Teaching in greater detail.

Infographic describing Google Brisk Teacher AI

Not All Apps are Created Equal

 We were challenged this week to try out a new digital tool or app we have never used before.  As I scrolled through the list,, one app popped out right away, Piktochart, an online app that claims to be the  latest AI powered infographic maker.   With my learning project focusing on teacher AI programs this felt like destiny and I signed up for the free version.  I also knew I would need a screen capture tool to document my exploration and initially settled on Lightshot, a google extension and that is where I encountered my first problem.

I have downloaded several google extensions and they work like a charm but while the Lightshot feather is in the toolbar it does nothing. Toolbar on computer showing purple feather for Lightshot app I closed down all my browsers, tried again and nope.  Even restarting had no effect so I turned to the web where I discovered this extension has a very low rating with everyone encountering the same issue, it doesn’t work.  Rather than waste anymore time, a quick google search turned up several other options where I settled on Greenshot and oh man what a difference!  Quick download complete with directions on how to use it, literally just press the Print Screen prompt and a toolbar appears that is identical to the snipping tool on most PC’s, works exactly the same but with better quality images. After using it today I am saying sayonara to the snipping tool forever!! Now Piktochart on the other hand, not so much.

Initially I was excited about the program and chose to focus on the AI tool located in the upper left of the home screen. When you click on it, a new screen pops up prompting you to describe the topic of your infographic below which I did and clicked the generate button.

Picture of screen asking to enter prompt for AI generated content

It instantly brought up several templates for me to choose from with AI generated content about teacher AI.  The template options were very limited (10) and the info generated was extremely vague and repetitive so it quickly became clear that I would definitely need to expand on it quite extensively.  

Screen shot of AI generated inforgraphic templates about Brisk Teacher AI

Once in the edit screen I noticed that the layout was very similar to Canva which again got me excited.  Ya that was short lived.   While editing text and images was just like using Canva, it quickly became apparent that the options for images and graphics were extremely limited without upgrading to the pro version.  What was available was very cheesySample of images available on piktochart app showing most require upgrade to access and depending on what you were looking for there were next to no good options to choose from. 

I managed to work through my infographic design highlighting the features of a new AI tool for my learning blog.  Once finished, I went to download my project and discovered you only get 2 free downloads.  If you need more than that, you need to upgrade so out of curiosity I had a look at the prices and oh my!! $177 USD ($233 CDN based on today’s rate)  if you sign up for a full year and pay up front compared to Canva’s $150 CDN.  YIKES!!

I wanted to check out some of the program’s other features and consider possible applications for the classroom to see if the cost would be worth it.  It does offer a variety of templates from presentations to newsletters, charts and graphs to worksheets.  But here’s the thing, the AI tool only works for infographics and you can only preview 5 templates before…you guessed it, you have to upgrade so my ability to really explore classroom applications was limited.  While there is some potential this tool could be used in the classrooms to take activities and lessons to the augmentation level and possibly even the beginnings of modification, in my opinion there are much better options out there that can take our teaching easily to the modification level and beyond.  This experience was a good reminder that as much as an app might remind us of another one, they are definitely not all created equal.

Infographic describing Google Brisk Teacher AI

Infographic I created using Piktochart AI Infographic Generator

A Whole New World

Growing up, we lived several provinces away from my Grandparents and if we were lucky, we would get to see them every few years.  Computers did not yet exist let alone Facebook and YouTube, so we had to rely on the telephone and photographs of our dance recitals and school plays in order for our grandparents to participate in our lives and learning about other places and cultures involved reading about them in books.  The whole new world we live in has made staying in touch and actively participating in each other’s lives so much simpler..

As Wesch described in his lecture, now with just a few clicks of a mouse or touch of a screen we can collaborate and participate with total strangers halfway across the world.  We have access to information and to people that before would have been unimaginable.  During the pandemic these platforms gave us a way to feel connected and to be with people when physically doing so was risky and at times, illegal.  In our classrooms, software such as Kahoot or learning activities such as digital escape rooms provide an opportunity to use students’ fascination with participatory culture to our advantage as a tool to engage them in learning, but not all aspects of this new culture that we see in our schools is positive.  

Social media concept.The ability to share information or snap a photo in seconds is all too present in our students’ daily lives and school culture..  When I was in school, if you did something silly or embarrassing it would be talked about for a bit and quickly fade, but now these events are immortalized on cell phones, posted to instant messaging apps and internet sites there to be seen by people around the globe for all time.  One mistake can follow someone and affect their lives for decades, all because of the desire to fit in and contribute to this participatory culture in a digital world.  As a parent of a young daughter, there is so much about the digital age and participatory culture that terrifies me.  I don’t know how to protect her because even if we teach her about responsible use, some parents are not and so we will never fully be able to protect ourselves or our children.  I can’t help but ask myself, are the positive aspects worth the risk?

Harnessing the Magic of Canva A.I.

I spent this week looking into and learning about the various A.I. features of Canva for Education.  I started by exploring the  Try Magic Write for Education page .  As someone who is a visual learner, I decided the best way for me to share what I have learned was to create a video (in Canva of course!) and show you some of these amazing features and share some of the tips and tricks I have uncovered along the way.  So follow along as I harness the magic of Canva A.I.

 

Do you believe in magic? You will!

Bewitched Book With Magic Glows In The DarknessMost educators and students are aware of Canva, an online graphic design tool that allows users to create a host of projects from presentations to videos and much, much more.  Many of us have used it for assignments or projects, most likely with the free version unless you have paid for the PRO version at a cost of $149.99/year.  Now here is where I am going to change your life. There is also a special version of Canva, designed and available to educators for free, yes for FREE, that provides access not only to all the features of the PRO service, but also to the life changing Magic Write for Education AI tools!!

Why do I want this magic?

Firstly, Canva is something we are already familiar with so many of the features we already know how to use. Teachers are stretched thin.  Between busy, overcrowded classrooms with a range of diverse learners, add in the demands of planning and preparing engaging lessons that meet the curriculum and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Using a program we are already familiar with and adding the magic of  AI will help to ease the burden by doing some of the work for us without reinventing the wheel so to speak.  Think of how many hours it took for you  to create that slide show for last weeks science lesson.  With these tools, it will be done in minutes!

How do I find this magic?

To access Magic Write for Education, you will first need to sign up for the Canva for Education where in addition to all the amazing PRO features, teachers can create classrooms and invite students, giving them access to all the features Canva for Education has to offer.  

Educators can review student work within their account and can also set controls for which AI tools students can access. To sign up you will need to verify your credentials which can be done through use of a verified educational email domain, or your school or district’s Clever, Microsoft, or Google account.  I was able to sign up using my staff photo identification card that came with our yearly school photos.  Once you are approved, then the magic can happen!  

What kind of magic can I create:

Canva Magic Write AI tools can be used by educators to generate ideas, create presentations and other learning materials, refine and differentiate those materials, create full lesson plans and can be used in all areas of Canva design.  So how do we create the magic you ask?  Tune in next week to find out!!

Finding Balance in a Digital Age

I grew up in a time that was not inundated with technology.  Computers were a new thing and internet access involved high pitch screeching tones that tied up your phone line.  I was in my 20’s when I got my first cell phone and apps didn’t exist.  Using our imagination and spending time face-to-face was the dominant form of communication.  Yes, technology has made our lives easier in so many ways, but it has also changed us for the worse.  Children now require constant stimulation and instant gratification and using their imaginations has become a thing of the past.  Companies are making billions of dollars of their ability to keep us clicking.  Working in the school system, technology is a part of my daily life, but it was also this environment that opened my eyes and changed my own daily technology use when a teacher showed grade 9 students the Netflix Documentary, The Social Dilemma.

After watching this film I became more aware of my own use and the effect it has on my and my family which is reflected as I consider my daily technology use for this post.  On a daily basis, the bulk of my technology use is for productivity tasks such as supporting students through the use of Google Classroom, Google Docs and SlidesEdsby and Outlook or my education primarily through  UR Courses and Zoom.   I also text, check the weather and my personal email  as well as my Facebook throughout the day.  I rely on a banking app to pay bills and monitor our accounts and use the calendar on my phone to help me stay organized, although I do transfer most things to a large monthly wipe board calendar in my kitchen including appointments, events and due dates for assignments .  If it’s not on the board or in my calendar app it doesn’t exist!! 

No posting, no liking, just living motivational quote on the letter board. Inspiration text for digital detox

I have made a conscious effort to limit the amount of time I spend using technology.  One way I have done this is by implementing a no technology at the dinner table rule, and to limit the use of my phone while my daughter is up to only what is absolutely necessary.  Games and social media apps I have buried on the last page of my home screen to help  limit the temptation and will only allow myself to access those apps in the evening after my daughter is in bed and my classes are done.  I will also randomly turn on the usage monitoring feature to make sure I am staying on track and I try to leave my phone in a different room in the house.  I want my daughter to have the best of both worlds, this new digital age but also the one of my youth, and what better way for her to have that than for me to lead by example in my use of technology.

The Future is Now: Exploring Teacher A.I.

AI, Machine learning, Hands of robot and human touching on big data network connection background, Science and artificial intelligence technology, innovation and futuristic.Anyone who has spent any time in schools has no doubt had experience or at least discussions about the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and their use in our classrooms.  Often the discussion is around students using them as shortcuts or to cheat through the use of programs such as ChatGPT or PhotoMath, but lately the discussion has shifted to programs that are designed to help lighten teachers workload.  As described in a recent Edutopia article, AI tools can “help teachers boost their productivity, personalize learning and create lesson content.” Intrigued, I decided to capitalize on the opportunity to dive deeper into and explore the world of teacher AI for my learning project.

My first exposure to the realm of teacher AI came as I read a syllabus for a class where the professor was encouraging us to use teacher AI programs to assist in our lesson planning for our assignments.  Yes, you read that right, a university professor was encouraging students to use AI, with specific guidelines on proper citation and including the AI generated content, the same as we would for any other source.  The next day during a discussion at work, a learning resource teacher (LRT) told me about a program she recently discovered that she wished more teachers knew about.  So what exactly is teacher AI? What do these programs do? How can it help us and our students?

Many times we fear what we do not know, especially when it comes to new technology such as AI that is often vilified in the media and pop culture movies.  Over the next few weeks my goal is to alleviate some of the fear surrounding the use of AI in our classrooms by exploring some of the available teacher programs, learning how  to use them and uncovering how they can be used to enhance our students learning and our teaching practices.  Follow along as I delve into the controversial world of educational AI.

Programs to be explored:

FEAR: Face Everything And Rise

Learning something new can be terrifying as we often fear the unknown and more so not getting it right.  This was definitely my feelings when I decided at the age of 45 to begin the journey to obtaining my Bachelor of Education degree.  As a mother and wife, we often put everyone’s needs before our own and it was a struggle to work through that guilt when I decided to start this journey.  Thankfully my daughter and husband have stuck with me every step of the way, through the fear, victories and mis-steps.  Now as I rapidly approach my destination, I am embarking on yet a new journey, exploring the world of educational technology and blogging.Big Journeys Begin With Small Steps sign on desert road

As an educational assistant at the high school level, educational technology is not completely foreign to me.  I see teachers using a host of technology in their teaching from YouTube videos to the Google Suite and now Teacher AI that is designed to lessen their workload.  I have watched my colleagues make the switch to the EDSBY program, and the struggle and frustration as they tried to learn the new program and navigate it.  I have been involved in many discussions regarding students’ use of AI programs such as chatGPT and PhotoMath as a way of cheating and how do we handle it.  As I embark on this course, I am looking forward to gaining more insight into the role technology will play in my future classroom, but at the same time am apprehensive about learning to use new technology including creating and maintaining this blog.

I have had some exposure to blog posting in previous classes, but to be honest it is not something I overly enjoy.  I struggle with what to include, how to format it and what the purpose is.  Once again, fear is rearing its head.  Fear that I won’t do it correctly; fear that I won’t captivate my audience; fear that something I post upsets or offends someone; just fear.  As I reflect on my apprehension and anxiety as I write this first post, I remember a Sheena Koops article that I had read for my Teaching Treaties in the classroom and an “aha” moment that I had.  Any new journey, whether it is learning something new such as educational technology or blogging or teaching, is not about getting everything exactly right. What counts is deciding to begin, not giving up, remaining dedicated and committed and learning from our mistakes and most importantly, it is during the learning process that incredibly beautiful things happen.

So join me as I take on my next journey through educational technology and blogging toward my degree.

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