Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review of Online Office-Style and Image Editing Applications

The technology side of our assignment this week in EDT 5410 Introduction to Educational Technology consists of a review of at least one online application each in two categories: Office Suites (Google Docs, Zoho, or ThinkFree) and Image Editing (Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, Sumo Paint).

Rather than picking out just one of each, I ended up looking at all of them. Of course, a couple of them, Google Docs and Zoho, I have used for several years, so they really aren't new to me at all and I really didn't need to "review" them or get to know them. As far as the Image Editing programs, I hadn't used any of them, although I have read about them and some of my friends and colleagues have used them. So, after reviewing them, here are a few thoughts about them.

Office Suites
Google Docs

  • Great collaborative tool (if shared with a team, each team member can be on the document editing it all at the same time. I consider this one of it's greatest advantages over some other office suites/collaborative tools.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
  • Ability to upload Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, PDFs, videos, and images.
  • Ability to create surveys, comment forms, and various other forms, which are accessible from Google Docs. I have found this to be a very useful tool. 
  • I love Google! I use so many of their products and I love that all of the ones I use are FREE!
  • I'm able to link Google Docs in the project management online application I use called Manymoon
  • I'm able to sync my Microsoft documents, spreadsheets, or presentations with Google Docs automatically or manually with the Microsoft-Google Docs plug in downloadable here: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
  • As much as I love Google, I still like some of the offerings that Zoho has, such as discussion boards, wiki, meetings, and projects, along with offering similar products such as Google Docs offers. Although I don't regularly use Zoho, I do keep my account active to be able to share it with others as appropriate. 
  • One of the things I don't care for as much in Zoho, is that there is a cut-off point on some of the tools where they are no longer free, which is different than Google Docs, but on the other hand, it's probably not much different in that Google sales a lot of different tools and products that aren't available through Google Docs. 
  • Zoho offers several business products that could be quite useful, but I think I find them less useful for education.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation, just as Google Docs and Zoho.
  • Seems to provide collaborative ability just as Google Docs and Zoho, but I didn't actually try the tools in that way.
  • It seems like a fairly easy tool to use and it offers some options within the spreadsheets, etc, than Google Docs or Zoho provides, but it doesn't appear to be as robust, so I don't know that I would ever switch to using ThinkFree over Google Docs, particularly since I use so many Google products.
Microsoft Windows Live Skydrive Online Office Applications and Storage
  • Ability to create actual Microsoft Office Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and OneNote notes, along with being able to store up to 25 MB of files for free. 25 MB of storage is not a lot of storage, but more can be purchased if desired and it's sometimes kind of handy to create the files in the real thing, rather than a converted file; because the formatting doesn't change.
  • Provides the ability to share and collaborate online, just as Google Docs, Zoho, ThinkFree, and others.
  • If you want to try it, you can access it here:

Image Editing
I didn't spend a lot of time of any of the image editing online applications noted: Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, and Sumo Paint, as I have PhotoShop on my School/Professional laptop and Paint on the laptop I use for more personal things, so I don't see where I usually need to use the online apps, although I appreciated some of the effects and card creations available with a couple of them and will use them in the future for those reasons.

Below I've noted a few pros and cons that I saw after trying them out for a few minutes.


  • Easy to use and easy to get started; don't have to register, just click on the "Get Started" button.
  • Allows you to edit photos, make a collage or even a fancy collage, a slide show, and a keepsake, such as a card, etc.
  • Allows you to quickly access your photos on your computer, Google's Picasa Web album, Flickr, and PhotoBucket. 
  • There are premium services available, but you do have to pay for them, although they look like they would be fairly reasonable.
  • Very similar in many ways to Picnick, particularly for being able to quickly and easily start just by uploading a photo.
  • Allows you to access photos from the many different sites where you might have photos stored.
  • Doesn't seem to offer as many options or be as robust as Picnik.
The Christmas Card I Wish I Could Send!
  • Again, just as the others, it's easy to get started and use. 
  • Although it was easy to use and fun because of some of the cards it offered and editing options, it didn't appear to be as robust to me as Picnik and FotoFlexer. 
  • I particularly liked some of their Christmas card designs and even made up a Christmas card with a photo of me and a friend of mine from this past March. Unfortunately, I won't be able to use it for my Christmas card since we aren't seeing each other right now and he might not appreciate my putting us together on a card, but it was fun trying it out and I've included the image to the left of this text as the example. I think I may use this application or Picnik to create a Christmas card from a different photo and then print off and send it to my family and friends. I like the idea of creating my own Christmas Photo card.
Sumo Paint
  • Although I looked up Sumo Paint and tried it for a couple of minutes, I've never liked "Sumo Wrestling," so I detest the "Sumo Wrestler" face looking at me all the time on the site and although it has a lot of similar options as does Paint, the downloadable image editor that is very similar to PhotoShop, I would never use it because of the name and the sumo wrestler face icon it uses on it's website. Also, since I have PhotoShop and Paint, I would probably just use them if I wanted to do that type of editing. I guess if I didn't have any of my computers available, which is extremely rare, since I have two laptops and two netbooks and always take at least one computer with me wherever I go, I might would use Sumo Paint, otherwise NO!
In conclusion, I think it's important to make time for trying out new tools and emerging technology if an Instructional Designer/Educational Technologist wants to stay ahead of the game and wants to truly provide the best learning experiences and outcomes for learners. In my personal network, I follow Instructional Designers, Educational Technologists, Techies, Web Designers, Graphic Designers, Social Media experts, Teachers, and many others related to the various roles I play as an Instructional Designer and I do make some time almost every day, but at least once or twice a week to read up on and try new technologies to see what technologies make the most sense to be part of an effective learning experience for learners.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflections on Learning Online

This week, our reading focused on elearning and it's relationship to instructional design. One of the ideas presented by the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, that is of interest to me and I agree with is the fact that technology used personally and by schools and corporations and the level of technology use by all is changing so quickly that it "has outstripped our ability to modify or maintain existing definitions." (2007). Some examples they provided is the fact that the educational field used to be defined more by modality, ie, face-to-face (f2f) vs. distance, asynchronous vs. synchronous, hybrid vs. fully online, etc. The authors believe that defining by modality is outdated, as now days any combination of these may be found in any of the learning environments and that we are beginning to recognize "learning as learning," whether f2f or distance, asynchronous or synchronous, or a combination, along with inclusion of social media and collaborative tools. Personally, I don't even think the newer generations understand the differences in the same way as I do or generations past have. To the newer generations, it's all learning and they have come to expect a combination of any and all of the various modes. Computers, online access/applications, mobile access/use, and social media is a way of life, not specific to learning, but definitely a part of learning. Of course, this isn't true for everyone in the newer generations and particularly not in all countries, but for the majority of Americans, I would expect it is fairly commonplace.

Another point Reiser and Dempsey brought out that I don't find happening much in my experience as an instructional designer or as an online student, is "Where collaboration is needed, learners should be able to self-select from a variety of tools such as instant messaging, texting, wikis, and conferencing technology. Where interaction in real-world environments is important. Web conferencing tools and virtual worlds should be available for discussions, meetings where presence is desirable, or role-playing." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007). Although the tools are certainly available, I have found educators and students reluctant to try new things or use them. Oftentimes they seem to want to stick with the "tried and true." Formal discussions on discussion boards have become the norm, which can become very, very boring, in my opinion. Or there might be a few links here and there, PowerPoint files to download and read, a video, and many PDFs or oftentimes what seems to be the "same ole, same ole." In the same paragraph within the textbook, Reiser and Dempsey (2007) made the point that, "Certainly, the proliferation of all of these technologies contributes to anxiety for learners and instructors," which I have found to be very true in most cases, although not for me personally.

For example, I worked with an instructor to implement the use of a Wiki for a Global Management class she was teaching. The way she used the Wiki for the assignments and the way she wanted to grade turned out to have a few issues, but with tweaks, could be made easier for her. What interest me the most about the experience though, were the comments from students. The comments went all the way from students feeling scared, but enjoying the "change-up" to the typical online class to another student hating it and feeling angry at the instructor for implementing something that caused her to have to not only learn content, but a new tool. I also have experienced in an online class where an instructor gave us a lot of different collaboration tool options, but the group I was a part of were very traditional and didn't want to use anything except discussion boards, which was very cumbersome an inefficient for our project. I felt so frustrated at being outvoted and that no one was willing to try something that could make our collaboration so much easier. I'm sure the other students didn't want to use any of the other tools out of fear or a general unwillingness to try new things.

So, even though technology has brought about a lot of changes in the newer generations overall and in our daily lives, I don't think that online or elearning is as advanced as we "say it is." The technology is there, but the educators and students are not!

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My "Googlio" Site or ePortfolio Updates

This week in the EDT 5410 Introduction to Educational Technology course, we were asked to create a Google Website with the following minimum criteria:
  • At least two pages.
  • Use the Navigation function on the left to be sure someone can easily move from page to page.
  • Use at least one image on each page.
  • Use at least one Google "gadget" on each page (calendar, announcements, or other...there are tons of them to choose from).
  • Use one of the Site Themes for your website.
  • Be sure to provide a clickable link to your website in a new blog posting, along with a written description of your site's purpose and why you included the elements you did.
This past spring I started building an ePortfolio using Google Sites. I had read some information on creating a portfolio using a Google site, watched a video on "Googlios," a term used to describe a portfolio built on a Google site, and viewed some of the examples at: After viewing some of the examples, I thought that I would like to create an electronic portfolio using Google Sites, so I began working on it. I didn't get real far in developing it, but when this assignment came up, I thought I would work on developing it further. It still has some work to be done and I want to change several of the pages, along with adding in the Educational/Professional links that I just don't have time to get entered tonight.

The purpose of my ePortfolio is to showcase my educational and professional accomplishments and to share my educational/instructional design goals and philosophy. In continuing to work on it for this class, I feel it accomplishing two goals in that I'm continuing to develop it more fully and I'm also gaining experience in developing a "Googlio" and can teach students how to create an electronic portfolio in Google Sites.

Some of the elements I have included are:
Home page: 
  • A Picasa Slide Show. I would like to create a more instructional design/professional-based slide show for the Welcome page, but for now, I'm displaying one of my photo shoots from September 7, 2011. This provides both images and a Google gadget all in one.
About Me page:
  • A profile photo and information about how I got started in the field of Instructional Design and Educational Technology.
  • Inserted a Google Form, the Social Networking Tools Educator Survey as the Google gadget.
Contact Me page:
  • Another profile photo of me, my personal, school, and work email addresses, and a contact form as the Google gadget.
Educational & Professional Calendar page:
  • Inserted my Google School Calendar as the Google gadget. Did not include an image on this page.
Educational Philosophy page:
  • Inserted image from another Website into a "Text Box," which allowed me to also add the image credit and the link to where I obtained the image. 
Educational Technology Blog page:
  • I used a Google gadget that allows you to embed other Web pages, including Google Blogger, into a Google site and my blog has imaged on it.
Instructional Design Competencies page:
  • Again, I used a Google gadget to embed the IBSTPI Web pages that shows the Instructional Design Competencies. I actually plan to change this to write out my own competencies, along with providing a link to the IBSTPI's Web page. Particularly since I don't know that they would want their Web page embedded in another Website.
Master of Arts in Educational Technology page:
  • I've included an image of WMU that links to WMU.
  • I've set up the page as a list, which allows me to show what classes I've taken and classes I still need to take to complete my degree.
Professional and Educational Links page:
  • I did not get to this page at all, as you can tell.
Vitae/Resume page:
  • I inserted my LinkedIn Profile Web page with a Google gadget and my LinkedIn Profile page has a photo of me on it.
And finally, here's the link to my ePortfolio, a Google site:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Instructional Design in Different Arenas

In our reading this past week for the EDT 5410 Intro to Educational Technology we read about Instructional Design roles in universities in three different countries, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. Over the past three weeks, we've read about instructional design in business, P-12, and this week in higher education. For our reflection we are to "identify 2 or 3 significant themes or differences" we've noticed across these contexts and describe them. Additionally, we are to note if there is a particular area or way that you believe your current professional working environment could learn from the other contexts described in the chapters.

I think in any ID role there are some similarities, but of course, how it all plays out can be significantly different between the type organization and the age of the students/trainees. In business, even in a non-profit organization, money oftentimes plays a significant factor in the quality and quantity of ID. Depending upon the organization, the ID may have to fill many different roles, particularly that of a project manager, ID, and technologist. Additionally, because time=money and money is such a huge factor, efficiency and rapid development is encouraged and expected, while doing all you can to maintain quality.

In the P-12, their usually is less money, although this isn't true for all districts, but many times I hear of teachers/technologists, as many IDs are called in P-12, having to make do with free software, even when a purchased software would be more effective. Also, there seems to be many more restrictions on what Websites can be accessed and software that is available. Fortunately, many of the P-12 IDs and technologists are proactive in identifying free resources and obtaining grants which allow them to design instruction that integrates technology into everyday learning.

In the higher ed arena, I think there is a lot more room for trying new things and taking the time to test out and design more effective learning. Usually, the colleges and universities will have whole departments that have several IDs and/or technologists who work with faculty to design the instruction, particularly for online classes, and who also provide technology workshops and other training to help faculty to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to integrate technology in their classes. Of course, not all colleges and universities have the same money and other resources to utilize technology as others, but utilizing technology in the classroom, whether face-to-face (f2f) or online, is becoming something that more and more students expect from their college or university and from the faculty members.

In comparing the three areas of ID,  the most significant factor that stood out to me was how similar ID is in all three arenas and yet how different it can be. All IDs have to deal with various constraints, they just are sometimes different depending upon whether it's in the business arena, P-12, or higher education. Some work as the sole designer, the project manager, the media producer, and others work on teams where everyone has a more specific focus to their role. No matter what the situation is though, the goals remain the same, and that is to improve learning through the use of technology.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Mapping

There are various programs available for mind mapping; some you have to pay for, others are free. The tool we are exploring this week for the EDT Intro to Educational Technology class is It is a free program and is fairly easy to use. The mind map I created is for planning my church's Christmas program. Although most students in the K-12 wouldn't be planning a Christmas program or a large event, they could be. There are several other types of uses I think a tool such as this would be useful, such as planning a video production, developing a science or art project, or exploring a topic for a paper.

There were a few things I would change, if I was the developer for the program. Trying to change color, connect to other bubbles, move, unpin, or delete seemed a little troublesome. You have to click on the bubble and above it will appear another bubble with those options. I would prefer to just be able to right-click with the mouse and choose any of the above. Also, it would be nice to be able to change levels by moving the bubbles around, but you have to first disconnect and then you can "connect" them, but it's different type of connection than the original connect. I guess I'm thinking of the navigation within FrontPage, Microsoft's old Web design program. I could move pages around from parent level to child level to sub-child level and back up to parent level, all without having to connect or disconnect specifically. I would like to see that kind of ease of movement in a program like this. Occasionally, I had to click several times on the "child" button to create a new bubble. I don't know if I was just not clicking in the right spot or if this is something that is a problem for everyone. No matter, it was a good experience and kids would probably enjoy using a tool such as this.

Here's the mind map that I created using

Monday, November 7, 2011

IDs and P-12 Technology Integration and Screencasting

Reflection on Reading Assignment

For our reflection on last week's reading assignment, we were to "pick out two trends or issues that particularly surprised you and/or hit home and explain why."

The first issue was that I was having a difficult time getting much of anything out of the reading, as it seemed so disconnected from anything I've worked with. It was focused on Instructional Design (ID) in the P-12 environment, which I'm only familiar with in theory, not practical hands-on. The second issue, was that the authors talk about the importance of technology integration and the role of the ID, but then notes that the outcomes or results of technology integration have not shown significant student gains in learning as hoped. This didn't really surprise me, but I think it's an issue. We, as educators and instructional designers tend to focus more on integrating technology more for the sake of technology than for the sake of the learning sometimes. I love technology and I'm all for everyone having the opportunity to learn with technology, but technology is a tool and can only improved learning if it is used appropriately and effectively.

The two things that were new to me were the ASSURE and the NTeQ technology integration models. Although I had heard of the ASSURE model, I don't know that I had had it explained as a technology integration model and I hadn't heard of NTeQ before that I can remember. I've added below the steps involved in application of the two different models. They both seem a little wieldy to me, but maybe it's just that I'm not familiar with them.

The authors discussed a couple of classroom-level technology integration models: ASSURE and NTeQ. I had heard of ASSURE, but not the NTeQ. ASSURE "follows a traditional ISD classroom process that incorporates Gagne's (1985) Nine Events." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). ASSURE is an acronym for six step process: A=Analyze learners
S=State standards and objectives
S=Select strategies, technology, media, and materials
U=technology, media, and materials
R=Require learner participation
E=Evaluate and revise

NTeQ has a ten-step lesson plan, which are:
1) Specify objectives
2) Computer functions
3) Specify problem
4) Research and analysis
5) Results presentation
6) Activities during computer use
7) Activities before computer use
8) Activities after computer use
9) Supporting activities
10) Assessment

The differences in the two really seem to be that the ASSURE model "uses an ISD foundation to provide teachers with a systematic approach to integrate a variety of technology and media into instruction ranging from traditional teacher-led to constructivist student-centered strategies." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). On the other hand, "NTeQ "provides a more focused approach to technology integration." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

In conclusion, the authors noted that even though there has been much emphasis put on technology integration and there are "pockets of excellence," integration of technology still not wide-spread. (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Screencasting is great and can be used for many different things. Educators can use it to provide feedback to a student or they can use it to show students how to work a particular problem or formula. In the article, What is Screencasting by Jon Udell, he notes various genre of screencasts, such as tutorials, short how-tos, conversational demos, and feature stories. I've used it for a tutorial, short how-tos and conversational demos, but I haven't tried to use it to give feedback or to feature a story.

As part of our assignment, we were to create screencast using Jing and embed it in our blog posting. One of the first postings I did back in September, I included a screencast as part of my post, demonstrating my use of the iGoogle in the Chrome browser. I had planned to go ahead and use it for this assignment, but I had shared it with a URL and I have since found out that once you share it with a URL, you can't go back and get the embed code, or at least that the way it seems to be working. Therefore, I went aheand and did another Jing video this evening to show my use of iGoogle, which I've embedded below.