Creating a Pecha Kucha

In this post I’d like to share some insight on what I went through to create my Pecha Kucha.

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The first and easiest part was creating a PowerPoint presentation, with each of the 20 slides set to transition automatically after 20 seconds.

Then I turned to the classic dramatic storytelling arc:

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I created a table in a word processing document and I color-coded it to match the various stages of the dramatic storytelling arc.  Then I started to write the script while searching for related images, making sure to note the source of each image on my reference slide.

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Then I used Audacity to record a separate audio clip for each slide, making sure I adjusted my pace, if necessary, to keep each audio clip under 20 seconds.

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Then I was ready to insert each audio clip into the corresponding slide in my PowerPoint, making sure it was set to play automatically at the start of each slide transition:

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Finally, I used a screen recorder to take a video of the slideshow, which played through automatically, and uploaded that video to YouTube.

This was a great challenge for me and I really pushed myself to do a good job.  I’m really happy with the end product and look forward to another opportunity to make some improvements.

Producing a Podcast

For one of my assignments in PIDP 3240 I decided to produce a podcast!

You can check out the final product here.

I thought I’d write this post to share a little bit of a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made.  The process was really simple and if I can do it, anyone can!

So first and foremost, you are going to want a decent microphone.  After a bit of research, I decided on the Blue Yeti.   It’s pretty much an “industry” standard and I could tell from the moment I plugged it in, recorded my first sound bite, and listened back that there was a palpable difference between my previous run-of-the-mill mic.  For this project, I used the cardioid setting and definitely appreciated the 48kHz sample rate. Here’s a look at my set-up:

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As far as software goes, you can’t go wrong with the powerfully robust (and free) Audacity.  It should be self-explanatory how you start and stop recording and adjust the various levels, but I’m also going to run through a bit of how I post-processed my voice for some added pop.

You may have noticed that I did an interview via Skype for my podcast.  The quality of the Skype call could have definitely been far better.  I tried using the Windows WASAPI mode in Audacity to record the call, but was having technical difficulties while on the line, so just resorted to running the Skype call through a monitor and recording that with the microphone.  Definitely not ideal but I was kind of stuck at the time.  Something to try to explore and sort out for the next time I try an interview.

Anyway, once you record your soundbites there’s a super simple way to clean it up.  You can see in the image below that I left a good 10 seconds of white noise before I started speaking. When you’re done recording, select that first 10 seconds of white noise, click Effect and select Noise Reduction.  Then click Get Noise Profile. Then select your entire sound clip, click Effect and select Noise Reduction again. This time select OK. This will significantly clean up any background noise that may have been plaguing your recording.

I still thought it could have sounded a bit more like a studio though. So I started searching around for some better sound quality advice. This video was hands down the most helpful thing out there and I used this really easy process with great success and I totally recommend it:

To round it out I found some really catchy music at Free Music Archive. There’s something for everyone there.

And that’s pretty much it!

I’ve already had a second go at it and I think it turned out even better with just a single podcast under my belt.

Adaptive Learning

I’ve recently come across the concept of adaptive learning.

The concept is a classroom that uses a system to modify the presentation of content in response to student performance. The system relies heavily on analytics to tailor delivery of material.  It’s a method developed so that instructors can stop “teaching to the middle” (which has the potential to bore students with greater skill and cause anxiety for students who are playing catch-up).

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The theory of using analytics to deliver specific content to a user is nothing new – Amazon and Netflix have made a living off of recommending products to you based on your preferences.  The thought of using this in the classroom to deliver learning is incredibly interesting.

Adaptive learning has been designed to:

  1. Serve as a personal tutor to each student
  2. Adapt the sequencing of curriculum and associated learning experiences
  3. Individualize the pace of learning
  4. Regulate the cognitive load for the student
  5. Engage students in learning through gaming

While I can definitely get behind all of those things, I really need to see it in action as I’m having difficulty imagining teaching a college curriculum within the confines of the system.  The question that remains for me is summed up nicely by this tweet:

I’m going to continue to look more into adaptive learning systems like Smart Sparrow and Knewton to see if there’s any chance of incorporating these methods into my practice.

The concept isn’t without it’s critics, however.  Dr. George Siemens, the originator of the connectivism learning theory, says that adaptive learning focuses too much on product skills and low-level memorization.  It does very little to promote process attributes like thinking creatively, self-regulating, goal setting, and solving complex problems.  He argues that most product skills will eventually be automated and that adaptive learning systems rob learners of metacognitive abilities – the key attributes needed for lifelong learning.

This is another issue in which we can use technology in the classroom but without a solid foundation of andragogy, the potential to do more harm than good exists.  It’s up to each of us as instructors to evaluate technology and decide whether or not it’s right for us and our learners.

Education 3.0

I came across this tweet today from @TeachThought:

It really got me thinking about the evolution of education and the current state of my practice.

While I’m confident that I’ve moved on from Education 1.0 and have started to make great strides towards the art of implementing Education 2.0 in my classroom, it’s time to start thinking about how to incorporate the next progression of education into my teaching.

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This seems to be well aligned with connectivism – a learning theory that I’ve been reading a lot about lately. This Tedx Talk by Peter Hutton does an amazing job of describing the foreseeable future in education:

So which version of education are you using in your classroom?

Gamification Made Easy

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I’ve been using Kahoot! a lot recently with great effect in my classroom. To date, it’s been the easiest way I’ve found to incorporate gaming into my lessons. As long as your students have a mobile device with access to the internet, they’re ready to play your learning game.

The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require any apps for the students to download and sign-up for, it’s really easy for the instructor to create learning games, and it injects just the right amount of healthy competition among the students to enhance their learning experience.

I’ve discovered a great fit for these learning games in both the pre- and post-assessment sections of my lesson plans.  I definitely recommend checking it out.