Creating an Online Quiz

Hey everyone!

We are getting close to the end of the semester, which means my learning project is coming to a close soon!

I am so thankful for my #edtc300 class and the fact that we were able to pick a passion project. If I was not forced to work on this project every week for this class, then it would have been pushed to the side for a very long time. Instead, I will be able to launch my own course in the new year!

This week, I utilized TalentLMS‘s quiz feature to add the knowledge check for the end of the relationships module. I am not able to add anything else into TalentLMS yet because I am waiting for the voice over, and so I figured that I could get a head start and add in this little quiz!

The photo above shows all of the options to add to a course. When I am ready to add my presentation I will use the “Presentation” feature, but for this knowledge check I used the “Test” feature.

TalentLMS is very easy to navigate and has a ton of options for every feature. On the test feature, you can add multiple choice, fill in the blank, ordering, drag and drop, free text, and more. For this knowledge check, I used all multiple choice!

Inside the test feature! Here you can edit questions, add questions, and change some of the details.

I quite like that TalentLMS allows the instructor to provide feedback or a rationale for all of the answers. This helps participants to understand why that is the correct answer.

What is looks when creating a multiple choice question.

Because this is just a simple knowledge check, I only chose 6 questions. Quite honestly, many people will be able to pass this check without even taking the course, but it simply reinforces some of the important ideas throughout the module.

What the test looks like as a student!

I am really looking forward to exploring more features on TalentLMS and finally uploading the rest of the relationships module! It is slowly but surely coming along, and I am SO excited to have it launch next year.

Thanks for reading,

x Paige Hamann

The Fake News Dilemma

In a time where “fake news” is covering virtually every aspect of the internet and media, digital literacy is becoming increasingly important. It is becoming more and more difficult to determine what information is true or false. Digital Literacy refers to “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” 

Fake news is becoming more prevalent because there are “easily accessible digital tools that allow anyone to create realistic but false messages, videos, and voice recordings.” For instance, take a look at this video. This can be dangerous because we now have to question what we see and hear so that technology does not manipulate us. It is crucial that students learn how to identify fake news and understand how they could be manipulated. 

Digital Literacy can be implemented in many areas of the English 9 curriculum. For example, it could be applied in CR9.1ab, CR9.2ab, and CR9.4ab

To introduce my students to the topic, I would show them a couple of videos to hook their attention. This Pizzagate video is a great hook, and this TedTalk would be a great follow-up! We would then have a class discussion about the videos, and why digital literacy is important and relevant.

As a class activity to engage students, we would play this “Spot the fake news headline” game, or this “Spot the troll” game depending on time!

As a project or assignment, students would be assigned an article and a stance– real or fake news. The student would create a presentation defending the stance they were assigned, and attempt to persuade their classmates that they are correct. This project builds upon digital literacy and persuasive skills. At the end of the presentation, the student presenter would reveal if their stance on the article was correct or not. 

It is so important to teach students about digital literacy. Learning how to identify which information to trust is imperative in the academic world, as well as everyday life.

A Fitting Post

Hey everyone!

I hope you had a calm and relaxing reading week.

I am writing to you from my third day of isolation in my tiny bedroom! I do not have my test results back, but I was a close contact to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. So, I am stuck in my small bedroom for the time being.

But let me tell you, it is HARD to find the motivation to do any of my work when I am in my bed all day. My room is too small for a desk, and so my bed has become my entire life for the last three days.

However, I suppose I have accomplished some work (make sure you emphasize some).

For my learning project this week, I found an individual to VoiceOver the relationships module, and I created the knowledge check!

The individual we found to VoiceOver the relationships module was a secondary educator and athlete for the University of Regina. With experience as a coach, athlete, and educator, we thought he would be a great fit to be involved with out course! We reached out to him over Instagram and have been in contact via email. We are still working out the logistics, but we are super excited to have him involved!

As I said earlier, I also created the knowledge check for the module. I want to make sure that there is some sort of assessment after each module to ensure the participants are paying attention. Even if the questions are rather straightforward, they reiterate the main messages of the module so that if participants don’t focus during the presentation, then they still take something away from the knowledge check! The questions I chose for the knowledge check relate to the learning objectives. The LMS I chose has the option to add assessments within each unit, so I am going to take advantage of that feature!

This was a boring post, but it seems fitting since my whole life is boring in my bedroom right now.

Thanks for reading!

x Paige

Who Am I Online?

Digital Identity is such a prevalent aspect of who we are in today’s society, and it is incredibly important that we convey this to our students. Being knowledgeable about digital identity can protect an individual in numerous different ways.

To put it simply, digital identity is how you portray yourself online. It is made up of photos, videos, articles, texts, emails, posts, or whatever people are able to find about you. It is necessary to acknowledge and realize that everything an individual posts online contributes to their digital identity.

An equally important aspect of digital identity is recognizing the digital identity of others. It is easy to get caught up in the internet and compare yourself to others. People tend to post their best self on social media, and so that is what you see. You do not see their bad days or insecurities unless they decide to show them, so really you are consistently comparing your worst to their best. 

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel

Steven Furtick

I personally have struggled with comparing myself to others, and it has caused some major issues in my life. I know that it has caused issues for many of my friends as well. In fact, I connected with Madison Holleran’s story a bit too closely. Between my own personal struggles and the struggles of my friend who took her own life, I see many similarities to Madison’s story. We need to recognize that people are more than their online identity. Even if they appear to have it all, we need to check on them. And if they do appear to have it all, then we shouldn’t let that damage us.

Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk was incredibly interesting to listen to. To be honest, I am not very familiar with her story, but listening to her speak made me empathize with her. Her message to “click compassionately” really resonated with me. It is so easy to get caught up in tabloids and rumours that do not involve us, but we need to recognize that these people are still human beings. I think this video would be great for older classrooms. 

Additionally, the article “Having Multiple Online Identities is More Normal Than You Think” was honestly quite reassuring for me! I personally have multiple Instagram accounts: My “main” account or my highlight reel if you will (though I try to be authentic and vulnerable), my “finsta” for my close friends where I post photos covered in acne and my hair unbrushed, my account for my photography business, and my account for my non-profit! I need to realize that most times, I am not seeing people’s “finstas” and am only seeing their most put together self. 

This week for #edtc300 we had to cybersleuth a classmate. The point of this activity is to realize how much we can gather about a person from their online identity. There may be personal information available to others that we may not want shared, and so we need to be careful and aware of  that. It also demonstrates that what you post can come back to haunt you, as it is findable and never really goes away.

The classmate I cybersleuthed was easy to find! The first things to appear on my google search were her e-portfiolio and her Twitter feed. Right off the bat, I see her professional spaces which leaves a good first impression. I also found an old instagram account that seems to only have some silly photos and old selfies. Nothing harmful, just a tad funny! Her current Instagram account is private, but I was able to see some of her photos on vsco which seemed to mostly be selfies. All in all, I don’t think that this classmate is an undersharer or oversharer. I was able to see some details that she is comfortable with people seeing, and that is awesome! It seems like she has good control of her digital identity.

After doing a few google searches on myself, I would say that I am happy with my digital identity. I definitely wish I would have been more aware of my digital identity in elementary school, but I can use that to teach my future students.

Thanks for reading!

Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

It is indisputable that the real world and the digital world are now more interlaced than ever. The presence of technology and social media is increasing, and this becomes evident when considering the age that young people attain their first devices or create accounts. As of 2016, the NY Times stated that on average children are getting their first smartphones at age 10. This means that teaching young people about digital citizenship is more important than ever. 

According to digitialcitizenship.net, digital citizenship is described as “the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use”. In other words, it is knowing the impacts of the internet and using it safely and responsibly. 

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

Dr. Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship have a major influence on digital citizenship initiatives around the world. These elements are a significant portion of Saskatchewan’s K-12 policy guide. 

As an individual in the Secondary Education program, it is clear that I would prefer to teach in a high school setting. That being said, I would hope that my students would already have a great foundational knowledge of digital citizenship from their elementary years. This means that my classes would continue to practice the elements that contribute to a good digital citizen

This is how I would integrate the elements of digital citizenship in the context of a grade nine Social Studies or English class (as these are my major/minor areas).

1. Digital Access

Who has access to technology and who does not?

Social Studies 9— IN9.2 Compare the factors that shape worldviews in a society, including time and place, culture, language, religion, gender identity, socio-economic situation, and education.  a. Explore personal student beliefs about some contemporary issues or problems (e.g., making friends; the role of technology in daily life; affordable housing; intergenerational families; global warming; post-secondary education; participating in religious or cultural ceremonies; designer clothing; healthy food choices; drinking and driving; violence).

Students can examine the role of technology in their daily lives and compare it to that of rural communities or other areas of the world. This can lead to conversations about privilege and help students to identify discrepancies in human rights.

2.   Digital Commerce

How are we manipulated by digital marketing?

English 9— CR9.7a and CR9.7b Read independently and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of information texts including expository essays, historical accounts, news articles, and scientific writing. j. Identify and analyze techniques and elements such as figurative language and rhetorical and stylistic features of texts.

Students can analyze the rhetorical devices and persuasive techniques utilized in ads. This will help them to recognize these tactics when online shopping.

3.   Digital Communication and Collaboration

How can we interact with others online in a positive manner?

English 9— CC9.2a and CC9.2b Create and present an individual researched inquiry project related to a topic, theme, or issue studied in English language arts. e. Use e-mail, threaded discussion, and file sharing to exchange ideas and findings.

Students can practice communicating and collaborating in a positive and respectful manner on online platforms.

4.   Digital Etiquette

Is this a good time to use technology?

Social Studies 9— IN9.4 Determine the influence of worldview on the choices, decisions, and interactions in a society a. Explain the influence of worldview on personal choices, decisions, and interactions (e.g., choice of friends, choice of fashion, the significance of education, participation or non- participation in events, choice of pastimes and recreational activities, approaches to nature and ecology, approaches to consumerism). 

Students can analyze when different people utilize technology and relate this to worldview.

5. Digital Fluency

What do we believe and what do we not?

English 9— CR9.1b View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Exploring Loyalty, Love, and Relationships), social responsibility (e.g., Equal Opportunity), and efficacy (e.g., Surviving and Conquering). t. Differentiate between fact/opinion and bias and propaganda in texts

Students can analyze articles and use text and visual features to differentiate between fact and opinion or “fake news”

6.   Digital Health and Welfare

How do we protect our minds online?

English 9— AR9.1a and AR9.1b Assess personal strengths and needs as a viewer, listener, reader, representer, speaker, and writer and contributions to the community of learners, and develop goals based on assessment and work toward them. a. Evaluate and modify own roles in group interactions in a variety of contexts.

Students can analyze their online spaces and platforms, evaluating how they are impacting other people and identify how they can improve as a digital citizen. Students should also evaluate who they allow in their online spaces and if they are preserving and protecting their mental health.

7.   Digital Law

What are online laws? How do follow this structure and be responsible digital citizens?

English 9— CR9.1b View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Exploring Loyalty, Love, and Relationships), social responsibility (e.g., Equal Opportunity), and efficacy (e.g., Surviving and Conquering). r. Cite specific information and support inferences made in texts viewed, heard, or read.

Students can cite their sources for all projects and understand the importance of giving proper credit.

8.   Digital Rights and Responsibility

What are our roles are responsibilities online? How do our roles differ?

Social Studies 9— PA9.3 Investigate the roles and responsibilities of members of the societies studied and those of citizens in contemporary Canada. c. Examine the rights and responsibilities of people as they existed within the societies studied, and compare findings to contemporary Canadian society.

Students can brainstorm their rights and responsibilities online and compare that to the online rights and responsibilities of their teachers and guardians.

9.   Digital Security and Privacy

How can we stay safe and protect our privacy online?

I believe that conversations about online safety should be prevalent throughout the school year. Students should discuss how to keep themselves safe, as well as what they believe educators should be doing to protect them.

The Meat and Potatoes

Hey everybody!

Thanks for checking out my eighth learning project post! I am really excited to show you what I have been working on this week. 

Last week, I created the content for the first module and created templates for the presentation. We are finally getting to the meat and potatoes and I am so excited! It is really starting to come together and I am really excited about the positive feedback I have received. 

This week, I worked on the presentation! I finished the slideshow portion of this presentation, but there is still a lot more to be done. I would like the entire presentation to be voiced over, and at some points I think it would be beneficial to have the speaker on the screen. I have not quite started on those pieces yet, so that will be my task for next week! Additionally, I need to create knowledge checks to guide the participants and ensure they are actively listening. As of right now, I would like the knowledge checks to appear at the end of each module. 

Anyway, when I was completing the slideshow, I wanted to make sure there were minimal words on the screen. The participants should not be reading the slides, they should be listening to the speaker! That being said, I would like to make sure that there is an option for subtitles because I know that some individuals need or prefer them. I also utilized the animation function to have my text appear on the screen at different times. This way, participants will not be distracted by the points that are yet to come, but will be forced to listen to the point at hand. 

To document this portion of my learning project, I wanted to create a time lapse! I have never created one before, so I was not quite sure how to start. I looked for a free online tool that would record my screen and automatically convert it to a time lapse, but I could not find anything. After a quick google search, I realized that if I simply recorded my screen, I could upload those videos into iMovie to create the timelapse. So, I used Screencastify to record my screen and then attempted to import the videos to iMovie. 

Screencastify automatically saves recordings to a folder on google drive, and so I downloaded all of my files from there. I have never truly used iMovie, and so I did not know which type of files could be imported. It turns out that the files saved from google were not compatible with iMovie, and so I tried to use multiple websites to convert them to .mp4. That seemed to be taking forever and I could not seem to get it right, so I went back to Screencastify instead of google to see if there was something else I could do. It turns out, Screencastify has the option to export as an .mp4 and so I just used that!

After finally uploading my files to iMovie, I found an article that helped me to adjust the speed on the videos. I followed that and increased the speed of the videos by 2000% because that seemed to be fast enough. From there, iMovie had an option to export directly to YouTube. That was super handy and made the export process much easier. 

Ultimately, I was very confused by iMovie. But like everything, there was a quick tutorial for me to follow which helped immensely!

I am really excited to continue working on this module and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

Thanks for reading!

x Paige Hamann

Better Late Than Never

Hey all you cool cats and kittens!

I think I might have seen one too many Carol Baskin costumes this past week, but that’s okay!

Welcome to my 7th learning project post: the one that is almost a week late. This post is very late, but stuff happens and I am learning to be okay with that. Because I posted late, I was able to have more than just my content notes (and those are really boring), so I guess that is a bonus!  The two weeks before reading week are always loaded with due dates, and so I am not going to beat myself up over this… so on we go!

I am finally ready and able to start creating content for module 1 of my course! It is starting to feel like this course is real and that I can really make a difference in the athletic world. 

I started to build my content on Google Docs, because I use it for everything. To begin, I looked over my research a few times to familiarize myself with everything I wanted to incorporate. From there, I picked three major topics: Connecting as humans, deeping the connection, and connecting in the coaching role. After picking the three major topics, I integrated the subtopics. For instance, in the connecting as humans topic, we will cover showing genuine interest in your athletes, listening to your athletes, and respecting your athletes.

My draft of content for module 1.

After choosing the topics and subtopics, I started to write. I wanted to keep everything short and sweet to keep people engaged, and the language simple so that it is not confusing at all. I also made sure to include examples of what coaches can do so there is something for the participants to take away. 

After finishing my first draft of content, I started to share it with people to get some feedback! I shared it with four individuals who have been competitive athletes as well as coaches. I also shared it with my counsellor, who is a psychotherapist and on the nonprofit’s board of directors. I wanted to have multiple sets of eyes go over the content to ensure it captured multiple perspectives and was effective. Knowing that a professional mental health worker, athletes, and coaches all think that this is amazing makes me feel so proud. Of course they provided a few tweaks and suggestions, which I am so thankful for. But all in all, module one is really starting to come together!

After I finished the content and had it approved, I wanted to start making the presentation! Now this is the reason that this post was late this week. I thought it would be incredibly boring if all I had to show for is another google doc. So, I kept working long past the due date. TalentLMS (the LMS that I will be using), has an option to upload PowerPoint presentations and convert them into a video that plays automatically so that participants do not have to keep pressing next. My vision for this module is to have my powerpoint play as a video, but with a voiceover. I would also like for the speaker to potentially be on the screen at some points, but that part I can figure out later on. 

I knew that I wanted the presentation to be aesthetically pleasing, but also clean and simple. I use Canva quite often for school projects and social media posts, and I noticed they have presentation templates, so I decided to use one of those! While putting my presentation together on Canva, I realized that I did not want to have all of my text on the screen at once, but rather have certain points staggered and appear on the screen when it was time to talk about them. This way, participants are not distracted by what is yet to come and they are forced to pay more attention to the content at hand. So, I made the foundation of the slides on Canva, and then decided to move them over to Google Slides to continue working on the final presentation. I saved all of the slides on Canva as .PNG files, and then uploaded them as images on google slides! I like that Canva automatically saves your work so that you can go in to change things later on. I am sure that I will be doing this at some point, but that is absolutely okay with me. 

My templates in Google Slides!

As of right now, I have the templates from Canva waiting for me in Google Slides so that I can start importing information and adding final touches. That is what I will be doing this week!

For the video in this blog post, I used Loom. Loom is another screencasting video tool, similar to Screencastify, which I used in the past. Loom can be added as a chrome extension, which makes it super easy to find. I found it really easy to navigate and use, but I did not go into too much depth. The video itself was super easy to export, as there was a download button right as you finished filming. However, as an avid google user, I appreciate that Screencastify saves their videos to google drive instead. I will definitely have to play around with Loom a bit more before I decide which one I like better!

Thanks for reading my very late post! 

x Paige Hamann

The Talented TalentLMS

Hey everyone! 

I am super excited to share my findings with you this week. 

Last week, I explored different learning management systems. TalentLMS is the online training platform that I am going to use to host my course. I chose to delve into TalentLMS because the website did a wonderful job of explaining the system and its features, and other LMS websites failed to do so. I honestly did not have the time to schedule a phone call with every LMS host that I was interested in, and so I saved time and jumped right into TalentLMS. 

The opening page on TalentLMS after logging in the second time. I really liked the option to take a sample course.

Right away, I registered for a free account on TalentLMS. All that was needed was an email address and a password! From there, you are to create a domain (which is free because it still uses .talentlms.com at the end). For instance, since my organization is called Inside the Box: A Mental Health Initiative, the domain is insidethebox.talentlms.com!

After signing up for an account, there are tutorial videos that walk you through the system and its different features. In fact, it has a course that demonstrates how to build a course. I loved this because it helped me to understand how the courses function as a student, but also as an instructor. 

The video I used to customize my account!

I watched this video which taught me how to customize the site a tad. I was able to add our logo, a short description, and change the header colour. For now, I added our slogan as the description: “Because it should not be outside the box to talk about Mental Health”. I chose a dark blue for our header colour because our colour palette so far has been sticking to blues and greens. We can easily change these features at any time. 

The Gamification options on TalentLMS

An aspect of TalentLMS that I found super cool is the gamification. Essentially, learners receive points for different tasks, which acts as an incentive! Administrators are able to determine how many points are awarded for specific tasks. Additionally, there are badges that can be earned for certain things including assignments, tests, and certifications. Students are able to cash in their points or badges for discounts on courses! The discounts and amount of points or badges needed is determined by administrators. 

TalentLMS has multiple payment plans and options. The cost varies due to the number of users and number of courses. As the price increases, so does the amount of features and support. Throughout the creation of this course I will stick with the free version, but as time goes on we will likely upgrade to a pain version!

The payment options on TalentLMS

I really appreciate the options that are available to upload content. This is a list of the different formats you can use to create content in TalentLMS:

  • Simple content 
  • Web content — embed content from external URLs in two clicks
  • Video — embed YouTube videos or simply upload your own directly to the platform
  • Audio — upload an audio file or record a new one without even leaving your TalentLMS account
  • Presentation — choose between uploading a presentation file or embedding from SlideShare
  • SCORM / Tin Can / cmi5 — add more interactivity to your courses by choosing among these three eLearning standards
  • ILT — Use instructor-led training and webinars to stay in touch with your learners even  if they are a million miles away
  • Flash object — of course, we support Flash, too!
  • iFrame — copy and paste any URL and depending on what you want, it’ll either show as embedded or as a pop-up.

TalentLMS will even convert PowerPoint slides and PDF documents into a video so that learners don’t have to keep pressing continue. 

If you are interested in any of the TalentLMS tutorials you can find them here!

I am really excited to start creating and uploading content. 

Thanks for tuning in!

x Paige Hamann

A New Kind of Culture

After watching “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” I became more interested in the culture of participation that Wesch mentioned. In case you don’t know, participatory culture “is a culture in which private individuals (the public) do not act as consumers only, but also as contributors or producers”. For instance, instead of simply watching shows on the television, an individual can create a video and share it for others to watch on YouTube. 

In his Ted Talk, Henry Jenkins described participatory culture as a rich form of informal learning that includes:

  • “relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement”
  • “strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others”
  • “some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices”
  • “members that believe their contributions matter”
  • “members that feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created)”

He also stated  that “Not every member must contribute, but all must believe they are free to contribute when ready and that what they contribute will be appropriately valued”. Now, imagine if all students felt valued when contributing to a class discussion… that would be amazing wouldn’t it?!

Wesch describes the phenomenon of silly dancing videos on YouTube as a “celebration of new forms of empowerment” (4:53). He says this is because anyone with a webcam has more of a presence and more of a voice. I absolutely agree with this. When people post online, they feel they are important because chances are there is someone listening to them. 

I absolutely see the value of the participatory culture. People feel empowered. People feel heard. People feel seen. It is important for people to feel this way! So if this a method for people to feel empowered, heard, or seen then I am all for it. 

However, I think it is incredibly necessary to teach the differences between what is empowering and what is not at a young age. We need to teach about online safety at a very young age, as students are becoming involved online very early on in their childhoods. This presence of the internet can be so incredibly damaging to a young person’s self esteem, and it can be dangerous as well.

In the early elementary years, we need to teach students not only how to be safe online, but how to choose what to engage with. We need to help students to differentiate what makes them feel good and what does not! If we help students to recognize their own feelings, we can help them protect their mental health. 

I definitely think that education will forever be changed after the pandemic and the major introduction to online school. There will always be students that enjoy face to face classes, but we are now more aware that some students are thriving in this online situation. The presence of technology in education will only increase from here on out. 

In the past, the idea of online school seemed completely unrealistic. Today, however, most families have a computer that allows them to participate in e-learning with their teacher. We are no longer stuck in the days of chalk boards and overhead projectors. Most schools now have more than one computer lab, and often have access to desktops, laptops, and iPads.

It is fascinating to imagine what future classrooms will look like.

Doing More with Smore!

Hello everyone! 

My new pal Cruz!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took some time for yourself. My Thanksgiving weekend was kind of amazing because my parents surprised us with a puppy! We now have an 8 week old mini Labradoodle and a 1 year old mini Aussiedoodle. To say it is a little hectic in my house right now is an understatement.

For this week’s blog post, we were challenged to try a new tool. I looked at the list of tools on our course weekly plans and decided to update you on my learning project through a newsletter! I think that this tool could be super handy for my non-profit or sending updates to parents. Creating a newsletter is also a great alternative to writing an essay and gives students a different opportunity to demonstrate their learning. 

SAMR is a technology integration model that helps us evaluate the use of technology and if it is enhancing or transforming the learning experiences of students. It stands for substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition. 

“File:The SAMR Model.jpg” by Lefflerd is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

At the substitution level, technology acts as a direct substitution with no functional change. An everyday example would be typing notes instead of using pen and paper. A e-newsletter like this could be substituted for a paper newsletter to parents informing them of school events. 

At the augmentation level, technology still acts as a substitution, but there is some functionality added. For instance, students could begin an online journal where others could comment. Augmentation could be demonstrated with creating an e-newsletter as Students could create and easily share them with one another to study from. 

At the modification level, technology begins to transform the learning experience and allow for task redesign.  A general example is using google docs to collaborate with classmates or even another class. An e-newsletter could act as a portfolio to show a student’s work, and could be sent to numerous friends and family members so that it could be shared with numerous people instead of just the people at home. 

At the redefinition level, the learning experience is transformed into something previously inconceivable. For example, students could attend a virtual field trip. An e-newsletter like this could allow this level of technology integration if it was used to create some social change or awareness in the community by being shared on social media or the news. Additionally, students could create a voiceover and share the newsletter with sound for those who are visually impaired or have a difficult time reading. 

I used Smore to create my newsletter because it was suggested on the tool list I chose from. It is very user friendly and easy to navigate. The free version of Smore limits the user to creating only 3 newsletters, but there is a discount for educators if you want to upgrade and use the website actively. 

The template options on Smore.

When you first begin to create your newsletter, you can create one from scratch or use a template. There are templates available for the following categories: Weekly Update, Class, Event, Business, For Sale, and Other. I chose the class template! From there, you can begin to add your text. The pre-made text boxes make it super easy to add your own content. Similar to our WordPress blogs, you can add different blocks for texts, pictures, events, etc. This way you can choose how you want to display your content. 

Creating my newsletter on Smore! The drop down list on the right are the possible theme options.

The customization on Smore is fairly limited, which I believe makes it more user friendly. I also think the lack of customization is perfect for classroom use, as students will be forced to focus on the content rather than endless customizations. When customizing your newsletter, you must choose a theme. Out of the six possible themes available, I used “vintage”. You can also choose your background, colours, and fonts from a limited selection. 

After adding content and designing the newsletter, it is time to export! There are more options for exporting if you are a paid user. For instance, only paid users can download their newsletters in pdf format. As a free user, you are able to email the newsletter, copy the link, and copy an embed code. Because I wanted to display my newsletter on this post, I decided to use the embed code. This is where I struggled. 

Smore has a feature that easily lets you copy the url or code, so I used that. Once I had the embed code, I was a little unsure of what to do since I have really only embedded links before. I tried to use both the “code” and “embed” widgets, but that was not working. I asked my classmates but they were not sure either, so I resorted to Google. It took me a while to find what I was looking for. I found a ton of articles that really just confused me more, and the first four videos I watched were from old versions of WordPress. But then I found this video and it was like the angels started singing. All I had to do was use the “Custom HTML” widget… who knew?! Once I pasted the code into that widget, I was good to go! I mean look at how gorgeous my newsletter is sitting up there. 

Before this week, I really had zero clue what a LMS was. All I really knew is that I would need some sort of online platform to host this course. Now I atleast have a basic knowledge of what a LMS is and some of the differences between them. I started to look at a few LMS online to figure out which one to use. I looked at Canvas, but I had to set up a phone call to get more information so I don’t have much of an opinion yet. I also looked at TalentLMS which I really liked. It seems to be very user friendly and have a ton of different features. I think I am going to set up a free account to see if it is something I will be able to use in the future. 

Thanks for reading!

x Paige Hamann