Thing 7: Podcasting and Screencasting

I finished my MLIS and student teaching recently and have completed many projects using these tools. I built screencasts for how to use Prezi and how to access videos on Safari Montage. I have also worked with students as they built book review podcasts using Audioboo.

Until this week, though, I hadn’t considered how screencasting could be used to assess students. All the students in my school are new to the country and learning English. I teach three Computer Essentials classes at school and am the librarian. Most of the students I work with have no computer experience and prior to coming here lived in refugee camps. Imagine trying to use Word or Outlook email if you have never used a computer before and do not speak any English. The image prompts are really not helpful (have you looked at the image for “save” lately?).

I spent weeks working with them on email ( My assessments included having them write and send an email to me as well as reply and reply all to an email. In all of our lessons across disciplines, we are always working on language skills. My aforementioned assessments had a written language component built in. In retrospect, though, I could have also had student groups create a screencast instructional video on how to use email. This would have incorporated a verbal component while also verifying that they understood the content of my lessons. If I teach this unit again, I will definitely be incorporating screencasting into the unit plan.

Thing 6: Curation Tools

I was excited to learn we would have the opportunity to explore curation tools. Given the exponentially growing content available on the web, there is a very real need to have expert curators sift through it on our behalf. Thus, providing students with opportunities to develop and market these skills could have a positive impact on their future careers.

I also appreciate how curation activities inherently require higher order thinking. It is obvious that curators must constantly evaluate content. What content is worthy of re-posting or linking? What content should be lost in the sea of information? A curator’s reputation is directly tied to how appropriately the curator evaluated content.

Effective curators also ensure the content they promote is unified with a central theme (technology in education, curation in education, etc.). I have no use for a curator who communicates a disjointed “stream of conscious” feed. If I wanted that, I would go directly to the source without an intermediary. Effective content aggregation is really an exercise in effective synthesis.

During my observation, I taught a journalism class a short unit on curation. Due to time constraints, we were unable to complete a project, but if I was to again teach at a more traditional high school this would be a focus. Journalism students are great targets for this exercise because journalism editors must complete similar evaluation and synthesis tasks when selecting content to publish.

Thing 5: Digital Storytelling & Presentation Tools

I played with Storybird for a while before realizing it isn’t the best tool for my lesson. Students created storyboards for an Afghani folktale I told them. My students are English Language Learners so sequencing an English language story is a big task.

After completing their storyboards, I asked the students to retell the story to a friend to practice English speaking and develop confidence. I then hoped to have students work on their writing skills by re-writing the story in their own words.

On first blush, I thought Storybird would be a good tool for that. While I found a few images on Storybird, they didn’t match the story I needed the students to retell so we need another tool. Storybird would work better if the students needed to craft a storyline to accompany prescribed images.

I decided to instead create a video story of our recent fieldtrip to the public library. I used Animoto to create this video. Enjoy!