Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Seven (6/17/2016)

Want to use YouTube in the classroom, but find it a bit risky and potentially embarrasing or worse with younger students? Wish you could convince your district to open up YouTube but not sure how to argue for it? Well…I am offering some answers to those questions in today’s episode.

First. Perhaps you want to use just the soundtrack or song from a YouTube video? Then I recommend you use Peggo(no, it’s not named after our peerless WKUWP director, Peggy Otto). I really like the advice in this video by writer and researcher, Dan Ariely.

I just want the audio. So I take the YouTube link and plug it into the Peggo page and presto! I have an audio which I can share either in a blog or on Soundcloud.

You can also record the video without the audio. Fun to get students to reverse engineer the dialogue or just improvise it.

Second. Maybe you just want to strip away all the distractions from the YouTube video. There are lots of tools to do that. I suggest Purify. It has a nice bookmarklet that you can drag into your bookmarks bar in Chrome so that whenever you find a YouTube you like all you do is just click the “Purify” bookmarklet.

Third, try my “go-to” tool for converting YouTube vids into lots of different formats, ClipConverter.

Last, (and there are many, many more both third-party tools as well as YouTube tools like its new GifMaker) we have a simple editing tool, Tube Chop.

YouTube is one of the core tools for your digital literacy repertoire because it provides free cloud space, ease of use, and universal embedding capacity. You and your learners need to be able to gather, share, and manipulate video as part of their own digital literacy efforts. So that means you, as their teacher, need to be able to use it, too. I know, I know, but I don’t see any way around it.

Just consider yourself lucky. Think about when we were converting from scrolls to books.

Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Six (6/16/2016)



Today, a simple suggestion. Use Twitter for professional development. And use a hashtag for the WKU writing project–#wkuwp.

Twitter is a very easy to use channel to share with others yet it is surprisingly flexible given its 140-character constraints.  You can embed videos, images, animated gifs, links.  You can send direct, private messages (no 140-character limit with those) or you can tweet to a very select group of folks by sharing a hashtag.

Once you get the hang of it then I recommend two ways to make Twitter even more valuable.  First, get a Twitter client like Tweetdeck to manage your tweeting activity.  Below is a short screencast where you can see my Tweetdeck screen.


Second, partipate in a tweetchat, an organized gathering of Twitter users that usually lasts an hour and consists of a Q&A over a particular topic.  If you want to see how big this has gotten, then check out this site that gathers together what is available.


Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Five–the Ides of June Edition

This is Episode Five  of my WKU Writing Project Tech Pedagogy Marathon. My post today is about annotating SoundCloud. Yes, you can make time specific notes on sound files. It’s free, easy to use, congenial to share, and worth having in your repertoire. SoundCloud SoundCloud is a free sound storage site. It is simple to share with all the usual social media ‘suspects’. They give you three free hours of file time. I blew through that so I got a paid account for $7/month. I blew through that so I got the pro unlimited account. I have plans to do some podcasting over summer break so I think I can justify the $15 /month; however, the free account should stand you in good stead. The SoundCloud app is very sound indeed. You can do everything there on both Android and iOS platforms that you can do on the desktop. You can upload files or you can record. Low bar to entry personified. In other words it is ubiquitous and shareable and here is the secret sauce: it is annotatable.

I ‘cottoned‘ onto the annotation part of this tool early on. Below is an example from one just published by Kevin Hodgson this week where I annotate how he put together a mentor sound file for his student’s use this week. Be aware that sixth graders are accessing this so annotate as a circumspect adult (but do annotate). Just “mouse over” the tiny red dutch shoes



Here’s another one below, a sound file for a podcast done by Hybrid Pedagogy, hosted by Chris Friend. There are comments at the beginning, but the last two-thirds of the podcast need some love. You can practice “scrubbing” through it and commenting at liberty.



Last, here is a playlist by Maha Abdelmoneim. It is a collection of soundfiles created using a game-like music creator called Incredibox.



Incredibox allows you to download the music file that you create. You can use it anywhere so long as it is for “private use, non-commercial projects and student projects.” Upload it to SoundCloud and you have an embeddable digital object to share almost everywhere online. Add annotation to it and you have a collaborative music project. Yeah, it is as handy as that Swiss Army knife. The idea here might be to create soundfiles of music, spoken word, students reading their own work aloud with peer responses.



Annotation gives SoundCloud a depth of use that other apps can only dream of. And it has the added benefit of being very mobile friendly. I am trying to do at least one “mobile only” project this month and I think SoundCloud just might be my golden ticket to getting that done.

Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Four (6/14/2016)



Let’s take a little break from annotation and close reading to use a really simple and fun tool called Pablo.

(Aside: In a way, Pablo could be thought of as a way to annotate images?)


First, go to Pablo.


Next (Image Below), click in the provided picture or search for another or upload your own.  Add you own text. I love this for creating quotes for Twitter or blog posts or even to send in emails to make them more visually appealing.



You can send your finished product to a variety of social media tools or just download it. There are some simple editing tools that are fun and useful, especially the resizing and effects.



You can make Pablo even easier to use if you add the Chrome extension for it.  If you use the extension all you have to do is highlight the text you want, click on the extension icon, and ‘Bob’s yer uncle‘.



Pablo is one of the best ways I know to begin to understand design principles and text placement.  Right now some of my friends are posting pictures every Sunday to a Google+ Community .  I am uploading those images to Pablo and adding some quotes from William Blake’s book of aphorisms, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.  I am putting them all online using a site called Kapsul, but I could just as easily make a Pinterest board to show them off.  All of this activity falls under what I think of as “developing a repertoire.”  The Internet is still a collection of small tools loosely joined.  All you need is a small collection of tools in order to create and share.










Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Three (6/13/2016)

I noted a very worthy “close reading” tool in yesterday’s TechPedagogy for All–Vialogues.  Today I want to introduce you to a more traditional close reading (and writing) tool–Hypothes.is.

Here is an introduction to Hypothes.is from their education division director, Jeremy Dean. Inspiring uses for close reading.

Hypothes.is allows you take any web page on the Internet and annotate the text.  Like Vialogues, it is free and open to all.  You just need to sign up with them and then begin.

Here is poem by James Still I have begun close reading.    

Here is a screencast of how I use Hypothes.is using the inimitable Screencast-O-Matic.



If anyone wants to go on a little excursion with Hypothes.is then I am happy to bring you along. Perhaps a Google Hangout?  Facetime? As always, it is a pleasure to share.



Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode Two (6/12/2016)


Over the next couple of days I will be focusing on “close reading” but with a twist.  Did you know that you can close read a video?  a sound file?  an image? If you did, then good on you.  If not, then you are in for a treat. (My idea of fun is rather…idiosyncratic?)

Close reading is an old buzzword.  The idea of slowing down and breaking open a text in order to explicate its meaning goes back to the the very earliest Biblical scholarship.  Like most ideas it bears a bit of skepticism.  In other words use it and don’t be used by it.  Given that caveat here is how I closely annotate a video–I use Vialogues.

Vialogues is a free, online, video annotation tool that allows you to upload YouTube, Vimeo, or self-loaded videos (up to one gigabyte) for sharing and comment.  It was created and is hosted by Columbia University’s EdLab at Teacher’s College. I have bee using it since 2012.

Here is one that I have created for us to “play” in.  It is Monty Python’s John Cleese telling us “How to Be Creative”.


It is a simple process to comment once you have an account with Vialogues (FREE).  Once you have practice with a few Vialogues then you can begin to see the power of the tool.  I use it for lots of different purposes:  personal, professional, and pedagogical


A discussion of dance moves.

RSA Short: Power to Create.


‘First day of class’ discussion: This Is Water

Natalie Majors’ video response to a question in an online Intro to Lit course

Language use in Othello


John Seeley Brown:  becoming an entrepreneurial learner

Venkatesh Rao: orderly readers


How do you get started with Vialogues?

1. Sign up for a free account. You can’t comment unless you have a login.

2. Browse the “explore” section to get ideas on using Vialogues.

3. You can get help online.


And now for something completely different. Set yer bizarr-0-meter to ten and have fun.





Writing Project Tech Pedagogy: Episode One

I am the tech liaison for the Western Kentucky University Writing Project. So…every day over the next few weeks I will have some tech tool, process, or fact that I will be sharing.  Here is my first one.  We are using Schoology in our project as a platform.  I am not totally new to it, but I kinda like it, proprietary mess that all of these things can be.


I believe that unless technology helps you or your students learn (and unlearn and relearn) it is worse than useless.  It is actively harmful.  I also believe that unless technology evokes fun and the spirit of play it will never be personally useful to you as a teacher and learner.  So…I propose to bring you a series of tech tools, processes and information that you will come to find are “as handy as a pocket on a shirt”.  

And that is how each of these posts should be actively judged. Life is short, teaching time is precious.  If the tool is handy and you find it is valuable to you personally, pedagogically or professionally, then “have at it, hoss”.  If not, then move on to the next one. I will promise to do my best to not waste your time.  

Now, on to the “tech-pedagogy” sandbox.


Let us start with some play.  Microsoft made big news by buying the Swedish game company Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014.  You might not know Mojang, but you have likely heard of Minecraft.  Minecraft Education Edition is now open and free for educators. Check out this link.  Once you get there click on “Get Started”, cough up a school email address, and download the program.  Maybe this the summer to figure out what the fuss is all.  And listen to Eva Cassidy’s version of “Summertime” while you are at it.



Reader Be Aware. There is a There There. Beware.

2016 - 1

First, I followed the trail Venkatesh Rao blazed below:


How to Take Your Brain Off-Road

The more you read, the more you know how to read, and the harder it is to get lost in reading. When you’ve read only a few things, it is not possible to get very lost because each book, article, blog post or tweet stands in isolation.


Venkatesh Rao is my personal Daniel Boone, mapping with blazes in the trees. Next, I acknowledge that I am more than a bit lost, but it’s the good kinda lost.


the zone or the woods

This map above is adapted from another rabbit hole of Rao’s, his “Breaking Smart Newsletter” (CF. below)


Is there a there there? You’ll know when you find it.

1/ You’ve probably read a hundred versions of the argument that in the software-eaten world, you have to “learn to learn.” 2/ In a world where masses of stored information are a google search away, learning has increasingly come to mean “doer skill.”

Then I created an annotation map using Hypothes.is here:

Is there a there there? You’ll know when you find it.

1/ You’ve probably read a hundred versions of the argument that in the software-eaten world, you have to “learn to learn.” 2/ In a world where masses of stored information are a google search away, learning has increasingly come to mean “doer skill.”

I leave quite a bit to the imagination here. I realize like Rao writes, “Everybody has a very different ambiguity and uncertainty tolerance. What feels like a rewarding search for meaning to me may seem like dissipation to you.” Rao argues for joining him on this trail by breaking smart.  He advises.

But big picture, the range of possible futures for humanity depends on our individual and collective ambiguity tolerance. Ours is an age of low ambiguity tolerance and a hunger for one determinate future for all. Resist! Increase your ambiguity tolerance. Help keep the future indeterminate!

Join in. Resist much & obey little. Get lost (and I mean that in the most congenial way I can imagine)!

pablo (59) copy