Unwelcome Messages

Several of you have emailed me recently regarding “unwelcome messages” you’ve received.  I get them too so no need to forward them to me, just delete them from your email and from your coetail inbox too.

If you’re not sure where your Coetail Inbox messages are, run your mouse over your name in the top right hand corner of your blog when you are logged in and the following menu(s) will pop open …

We have some pretty tough anti-spam plugins activated on our coetail sites – you’d be amazed at how many we stop but occasionally the odd ones slip through! (Like the “delightful” Samara who is in fact a real person taking the time to do this annoying stuff!) 

Jeff wrote a great post called Spammer Dilemma on the main Coetail Blog.  In case you missed it, I’ve pasted it below for you.

Spammer Dilemma

Many of you….if not all of you…..received a message from a spammer last week here within our COETAIL system. You probably also received spam messages in your own email box as well….however those systems are getting really good at keeping them out of your eye sight…but they are still there.

flickr photo by pandemia https://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/3148748563 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by pandemia https://flickr.com/photos/pandemia/3148748563 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Spammers are a constant problem with websites. On one hand we should be honored I guess that COETAIL gets enough traffic to be recognized as a spamming opportunity. On the other hand it becomes extremely frustrating playing the cat and mouse game with them.

I have already have had to give in to spammers on COETAIL in the following ways.

  • You’re blog must be approved by Kim or I as we have spammers trying to create blogs daily. So now we have extra work of trying to monitor which blogs being created are real COETAILers and which are spammers.
  • COETAILers are no longer free to create groups within COETAIL freely as spammers were creating all sorts of spam groups within the system.
  • We have two different spamming plugins running on the site to try and keep spammers out. This in turn slows the overall speed of the site down.

There there are spammers like the one that got through last week. That spammer was a real human who took the time to fill out all the information needed to create a real account. That type of spammer nobody can stop making it even more frustrating.

In the end I’m sure this is not the last spammer we’ll see here on the site. In the future if you would please just delete the spam message from your email and COETAIL inbox it would be appreciated.

Back to fighting the good fight!



Welcome to Week 3: The Present

I think what is important when thinking about course 4 is to choose pedagogies or teaching philosophies that speak to you and your own interests. Maybe you’ve been wondering about flipped learning for a while.  Or you’re thinking about challenging yourself to try something new … maybe gamification is a new idea for you.If you look at the Horizon Report and see something that’s not on our list, feel free to explore that. We have given you options, so you don’t need to read every article or reference every idea. The big things for this week is that you don’t have to talk (or read) about ALL of it … just the stuff that matters to you.

Flipped Learning: 

Watch this video for as long as you’re interested and not a second more.

Did you last more than 30 seconds? Did the bad lighting, the corny jokes, and poor sound quality annoy you? Was the subject matter of unclogging sinks not interesting? Did you wonder why I was making you watch it?

Now imagine, your sink was clogged. This is BIG and REAL problem that need to be solved IMMEDIATELY. And what if you lived in a country where you didn’t speak the language of the plumber? And perhaps the plumber doesn’t work on the day that you desperately need him?  How attentively would you watch the above video? How grateful would you be to these guys for taking the time to create the videos?  How many times would you pause, rewind and rematch that video?

For me, this sets up the challenges and the opportunities of Flipped Classroom.  We have the ability to make videos and to change how content is delivered. But do our students understand why they are watching the videos? Are they engaged in the videos? Are they grateful for the work you put into creating the videos? Are our students using videos to solve BIG and REAL problems?

Flipped Classroom: Not for the Passive Learner

Good teaching, regardless of discipline, should always limit passive transfer of knowledge in class, and promote learning environments built on the tenants of inquiry, collaboration and critical thinking. We, as educators, must strive to guide students through perplexing situations, and more importantly, work with one another to develop the pedagogical skills to do so. Keeping this in mind, good teaching comes in many forms, and the flipped classroom mentality can be one of many solutions for educators. – Should You Flip Your Classroom? Edutopia

To be honest, I’ve struggled a little with the idea of Flipped Classroom. (I think it’s my Elementary background) and I am a little wary of the hype around Flipped Classroom. Many articles (often written by non-educators) celebrate Khan Academy, Neo K-12Teacher Tube (just to list a few) for freeing up more time to get through content. Getting through content is the least inspiring reason to make changes to pedagogy. And they forget that just because something is on YouTube, it doesn’t mean our kids want to watch it. And just because a video is on their iPad, it doesn’t mean that our kids will rewind and rewatch. I’ve watched kids fall asleep watching boring videos in-class. What I find interesting is the best lectures are interactive and actually feed off of an audience.  And, as Jeff says, lecture as a content delivery is dead. So I know that showing a video is not enough. I’ve tried flipping my own classroom of 3rd graders.  Albeit on a much smaller scale and only for one topic in Social Studies. It was a struggle for some because it was a different way of doing things than we’d done in the past, but what isn’t when you do it for the first time?

That said, if introducing flipped instruction allows a teacher to differentiate instruction and create a more learner-centered classroom, I’m all for it. And if the videos can be used to quickly assess understanding and student learning, then we’re moving in the right direction. And if a teacher has found a way to have students want to watch the videos (or learn independently in general), then that’s amazing.

Redefining Flipped Classrooms

In actuality, reverse instruction is more than videos. And it’s more than just technology.

At it’s best, reversed instruction is about empowering learners. 
Upside DownPerhaps, you engage your students in a passion projectgenius hour20% time or a DIY project. Your students go home and learn what they want to learn. They Skype family, watch experts explain how to do something on YouTube, or poll friends on Googleforms or Survey Monkey. Perhaps they join Code Academy or a MOOC to learn more about something they are passionate about. They want to do work at home, because they’re geeked.Reversed instruction allows the walls of the classroom come down. And it can extend the school day, so that learning doesn’t stop at the bell. So if we are changing the very nature of school, we better make sure we are doing great things with our students.

Perhaps, you flip who is learning from who. Have students read each others blog posts in preparation for a fishbowl discussion (link with a great description of what this looks like in a DP English Class). This can also mean teachers look to learn from their students.

Perhaps, you create problems that kids want to solve. Math Teacher Dan Meyers is a great example of someone who creates real problems where kids need/want to learn how to answer the problem. They watch videos about derivatives and functions, because they are desperate to know the answer.

Perhaps, students recognise their own problems worth solving. Design Thinking talks a lot about how students can recognise problems and find ways to solve them. Moonshot Thinking is about choosing to bothered by something, being inspired, and hard work.  A flipped classroom can help our students solve problems that we as teachers don’t even recognise as problems.

Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Game play has traversed the realm of recreation and has infiltrated
the worlds of commerce, productivity, and education,  proving to be a useful training and motivation tool. While a growing number of educational institutions
and programs are experimenting with game-play, there has also been increased attention surrounding

gamification — the integration of game elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios – New Media Consortium Horizon Report 2013

When we are talking about game based learning and gamification, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

  • Gamification and Game Based Learning is not about entertaining students. It’s about engaging students in their learning.
  • Including games and simulations into our classroom can create authentic learning experiences that tie to curriculum. Check out this incredible Games in Education Wiki for a comprehensive list of games, for all subjects and all ages. Minecraft has proved to be an excellent way to combine student interest with necessary content and skills. The Google Ninja Program is another great example of how Game Based Learning can encourage our kids to learn skills. This is fun stuff and our kid want to learn. 
  • The best games should be “hard fun” for our students. As we apply game mechanics and include Game Based Learning in our classroom, we should be thinking about how we can allow for creativity and inquiry. We should be creating games where our students want to engage and ask questions. Moreover, the best games allow students to fail, go the wrong way, and try new things. Because that’s the best way to learn.
  • All games have a goal. As you gamify your curriculum, knowing where you want your students to go is essential. And as you gamifiy your units, Understanding by Design can be an excellent model to use as you mix in game mechanics.  Remember, gamification is not just playing games.
  • Gamification and Game Based Learning can help build empathy and grit in our students. But watching them playing games, I am less concerned with their ability to deal with failure. When they are engaged in the game (and their learning) they just try again when they fail. That’s amazing. Don’t believe me…watch this must-view Ted Talk
    Image Attribution:
    The Mobius: Lauren PM under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license( BY-NC ) license
    Upside Down: cc licensed Some Rights Reserved Johnny Jet: 

Welcome to Week 2: The Past

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 1″ in Course 4 under “My Courses”
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 4″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 4 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 4 – again, some slightly different options from previous courses, this one is designed to help you start thinking about your Course 5 project (coming up soon!)

Blast From the Past: PBL & CBL

This week focuses on established learning strategies project-based learning and challenge-based learning. So they’re not really that far in the past, in fact these learning strategies are still relevant today and can be combined with many of the current and future ideas we’ll be looking at in the following weeks (which is why we’re starting here).

A solid understanding of these strategies and why they’re so powerful will be really helpful as you begin to explore with some of the newer approaches. Fostering student independence, working toward student-centered learning, and building up to longer term projects will all provide support for differentiation and creativity both with and without technology.

One of my all-time favorite books on this topic is Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe (there’s one chapter available for preview on the ASCD site, or you can purchase on Amazon). If you haven’t already explored this one, I highly recommend it!

Because these pedagogical approaches are quite well established, there are tons of great resources available (some of our favorites are in the readings for this week). One “non-traditional” example is Caine’s Arcade:

One of the things I enjoy about teaching in a project-based classroom, is the opportunity to fail, to learn from mistakes and to try again. When we have that overarching goal or purpose, particularly one that is individual to each student, there are so many chances to be independent in our learning and take risks and explore. This short mini-documentary from Honda explains the power of failure really well:

And, this TEDxTalk from Diana Laufenberg, currently at SLA, highlights the value project-based learning, and failure, as well:

And one more for the mathematically inclined, Dan Meyer’s TEDxTalk, Math Class Needs a Makeover:

Hopefully these examples can help you start thinking about your own Course 5 project opportunities too!

Image credits:

Welcome to Course 4

And we’re back!

With courses 1 – 3 behind us, we’re really going to get practical with courses 4 and 5, bringing all of your COETAIL learning together with a strong focus on pedagogy in course 4, and the practical implementation of all of these ideas in course 5.

Course 4 Overview

The focus for course 4 is exploring some of the different pedagogical approaches to using technology in the classroom. The course is structured so that we start by looking at the big ideas and concepts behind technology integration, including the SAMR and TPACK models (in week 1), then we move into the most widely known pedagogical approaches organized into “past” (week 2), “present” (week 3) and “future” (week 4) to give us an idea of where we came from and where we might be going, and then wrap up with a look at the technology rich classroom (in week 5).

It’s great to discuss some of the concepts we’ve talked about in passing in more depth, things like flipped classroom, game based learning, badges, and of course connectivism comes back around again! As usual, we’ll have our standard week 6 + 4 days “catch up” time so you can wrap up course 4 and get moving on your course 5 project!

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments

All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet – please use the Course 4 tab of your spreadsheet.

Some thoughts from Course 3

What do you think? As you write your blog posts, remember that it’s your thoughts, your ideas, and your application of the weekly readings that will be interesting to other participants (and readers beyond our immediate community). Because all of the articles are available online, just linking to them is enough of a summary, then share your ideas so we can get your unique perspective. As we’re now moving into the final courses of the program, please remember, you don’t have to respond directly to the weekly prompts – they’re just there for those that prefer them. Please use your blog to write about whatever inspires you about this week’s topic and readings.

Get practical! One of the most common highlights for our participants is the chance to actually implement so many of these ideas directly into their classroom, particularly during course 4. So, as you write your posts, please share with us how you’re trying out these new ideas, how your students are reacting, and how it’s enhancing (or not) the learning in your classroom. Although you may currently be writing these posts as “homework”, you may be surprised at how many people are reading them, and will come back to them time after time. The practical posts that describe what’s happening in your classroom are usually the most relevant and useful for others (and for you, too).

Building Your Community: As we start looking ahead to course 5, one of the key elements of this program (as you already know) is to help you build your own professional learning network. Finding the people that help push your thinking, contributing to the conversation, and reflecting on your learning can be the most effective, relevant and powerful professional learning that you have. In course 4, you’ll still have the standard weekly blog prompts (that you can use only if you need them), and as we move into course 5, you’ll be selecting the themes for your posts, as well as reflecting on your community involvement. If you can start thinking about these ideas in course 4, you’ll be well prepared for our next step!

Preparing for Course 5

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Rick van der Wal

It seems kind of crazy to be thinking of course 5, when we’ve only just started this course, but it’s good to keep in the back of your mind which of our course themes and ideas you really want to delve into for your final project. It’s also really important for you to have a strong understanding of SAMR model, which you will be exploring this week. Your final COETAIL project will have to demonstrate how you have used technology to redefine your classroom –  to create tasks that would be inconceivable without the computer/tablet/etc.  We will be helping you get ready for the final project throughout course 4 and sharing a lot more information as we go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Understanding Technology Integration

Many, if not all of us, are working in schools where technology is integrated into the core curriculum(meaning students don’t take technology as a separate class, or even if they do, it’s expected that key technology skills will be taught within the core content, “just in time” as a natural part of learning in today’s world). Often the system has been set up before we’ve arrived, or maybe we haven’t had much input into why students are learning this way. This week is all about why schools are integrating technology and how they’re doing it. For one of my favorite examples, check out this introduction to High Tech High in California:

Image credits

A Visual Symphony!

The final projects coming out of Course 3 are phenomenal!

It is clearly evident that Course 3 has had a positive impact on your ability to rethink the nature of design in our lives and the effect it has on our communications. There is evidence of your care and consideration in colour schemes, font choices, alignment, storytelling, presentation re-designs, and the ability to redefine storytelling for students. I heard many of you state that this course was the most enjoyable thus far and has allowed you to directly implement the learning in practice.

That’s what this is all about – it’s not about getting through course work – it’s about the shift that inevitably happens when you start to rethink how you present yourself to the world, how you convey your knowledge to others, how you can capture the attention of an audience and captivate them with strong imagery. It’s about helping you to see the world differently and empowering you to offer this chance to your students and peers.

Here’s a glimpse of some of your well-honed projects:

Visual Resumé/CV

In terms of visual CVs, noted was the struggle many of you had to simplify your information in not only a graphical manner, but also having to be much more concise than in a traditional resume. The end results were very good and demonstrate a new way of representing ourselves and our experience.

Mavis shares with us a before version of her resumé and reflects openly on how she applied new learning from the weekly readings into her updated version (below) using Piktochart and one of it’s free templates.

Lindsay also tried out Piktochart and using her new knowledge of visual literacy and infographics, she created this New and Improved Me infographic resumé. Linsday is also asking for any feedback you may have for her!

Digital Storytelling

This option was challenging to many people, but again there were some excellent examples of how it could be used in the classroom.

Laurie was very open and honest as to how her Building a Learning Commons project unfolded for her. Despite considering “giving up” on this option, I’m so glad that she didn’t.  I think Laurie shares an important point in her reflection too:

I’m insecure about sharing it, but if I want my students to take risks in creating and sharing content, I need to do the same.

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s a snippet of a very detailed reflection that James shared about Making a Video (worthwhile read)

One of the driving forces in making a video for my final project the teachable moment where I was able to share ideas for videos my students had made. I wanted to do this because there were so many mistakes with some video projects that I thought it would be a good idea to show students how to improve them, instead of talking about how I wanted to show them how.

YouTube Preview Image

Presentation Zen

More people in this cohort opted for this option than I have seen in previous cohorts. It was fantastic to see the principles of Presentation Zen applied – especially noticeable when comparing a newer version of a presentation to an older version!  You definitely need to click on the post URLs to see the differences between the versions.  Some “must sees” include:

Tara’s incredibly reflective post and her before and after Henri Mattisse Google Slide Presentation 

Andrew also shares an indepth reflection of his process called Moving My Zen in the Right Direction.

You are going to be blown away (like me) by the differences in Rob’s “In with the New” – he has really taken on board the Zen principles and applied to his newer version!

In her post, From Bland to GrandMiriam decided she needed to apply the skills she’d been learning this course to the presentation she was scheduled to present at NESA in Bangkok.  (I’m sure she nailed it too!)


There is real value in the process of describing a process, system or information in a visual manner. These can be authentically used and embedded in your classroom. Whilst it can be a lot of work to create them, the end result breaks down details into more manageable chunks for an audience. However, during the topic on Infographics, many of you saw (and mentioned in your reflection) the value of having students create infographics as a means of sharing their work/knowledge visually. Goosebump material! If you do this with students, PLEASE remember to share with us all how it goes! Educational Blog readers LOVE seeing examples of actual student work!

Anyone not on visual overload (in a good way) right now?

Course 3: The Home Stretch

It’s the beginning of Week 6 already and I cannot believe that we are heading down the home stretch with Course 3!

Just like our last course, after this week (Wk 6) you have a few extra days to catch up and make sure you’ve completed all the work for Course 3. Here’s what you should have:

  • One blog post for each week of the course (for a total of 5 posts)
  • A final project (with reflection) embedded into your last blog post for Course 3
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)

All of these items should be listed on your grading spreadsheet so that we can give you feedback.
Important Note: All assignments should be completed by Thursday 24 March, 2016. 

Course 3 Final Projects & Sharing Media on Your Blog

CCO Public Domain: https://pixabay.com/en/cms-wordpress-265126/

CCO Public Domain: https://pixabay.com/en/cms-wordpress-265126/

Because Course 3 is very heavy into visual media, a few great questions have come up about how to best share media on your blog. You may have already noticed that there is a limit to the file sizes you can upload to your blog. This is because there are great places to host your media on the web where lots of other users will be able to find it and connect with you (and of course, we don’t have unlimited server space to host all the files everyone could possibly want to upload).

So, as you create your final projects for Course 3, you may want to think about where you’re going to upload your finished products. Here are a few ideas originally compiled by Kim (CoETaIL Co-Founder) for the Online 3 cohort which are just as valuable and timely for us here at AIS-R:

Uploading & sharing Images:

Personally, we love Flickr. The free accounts are really generous, the sharing is super easy, and the community is really active. Of course you can host all your images within Google+ if you have an account already (which used to be Picasa). Another popular resource is SmugMug.

Uploading & sharing Videos:

Mostly people tend to use YouTube. The fact that it’s integrated with Google Apps makes it easy to manage. When we have longer videos, we tend to use Vimeo. You can upload videos to your Google Drive account and embed them in other places on the web too, if that feels more comfortable for you.

Uploading & sharing Presentations:

Google Slides has gotten so amazingly good in the last few months, that several of us at CoETaIL have almost entirely stopped using any desktop software – you can now use transparent colours to fill shapes, mask images to have them be different shapes, crop images and even enhance image properties – all right within Google Presentations.

If we have a lot of custom designing on a presentation and we don’t want to upload to Google Presentations, we usually create in Keynote or PowerPoint and then upload to Slideshare. Again, it’s easy to embed presentations from slideshare pretty much anywhere on the web, there’s a good community there, and lots of great resources to look at for inspiration too.

If you’re planning to create a presentation and narrate the slides, you have a number of options. You can import your slides as images into your video editing software (iMovie or MovieMaker for example) and then recording your audio and uploading the video files as suggested above. You might also want to try making ascreencast (here is a great guide from Kathy Schrok with a list of some tools you might want to try). If you have a Mac, QuickTime is so easy to use for screencasting with audio. If you do make a screencast, you can also upload that video file to the same services listed above.

Uploading & sharing Other File Types:

Pretty much anything else that we need to upload and share, we use Google Drive. It’s easy to publish almost any kind of file to the web on Google Drive, and then embed that work into a blog (or anywhere else).

Where do you prefer to host your files? Please feel free to share suggestions in the comments!

Comments Awaiting Moderation

Just a little reminder to be checking your blog regularly for comments awaiting approval.  We are noticing that there are many comments awaiting approval – it’s considerate to be approving comments as quickly as possible as people have taken the time to comment thoughtfully on your posts.

comment_discussions-10-16_at_4_50_34_pmYou might not realise this, but you can change the settings of comment approval – so that you do not have to approve any comments (you might be ok with this, personally I like to know when someone comments).

You can also get an email whenever someone comments (that way you can approve them quickly too).commenting

Multimedia & Attribution

Now that Course 2 is complete, we get a little tougher about the use of images on your blog and in your blog posts. It is our ethical and moral responsibility to ensure that we are modelling appropriate use of images/audio/video with permissions and attributions.

If you use a copyright image, and/or you don’t include attribution, your post grade will be affected. Thankfully, we actively encourage mastery at CoETaIL so you will always have the opportunity to amend your blog posts and seek a re-grade of your posts!


You must ensure that you have permission to use any image on your blog. We highly recommend the use of Creative Commons images (because the owner has already given permission for anyone to use the image as long as you give credit/attribution), or the use of your own images.  You can of course seek permission from the owner to use a copyright image but that can take time, hence the recommendation for Creative Commons images!
In this post, to help make the search for Creative Commons images a little easier, I shared some fabulous places to “go to” (and I’ve shared which ones are my favourite!)

Attribution (Giving Credit)

Image Attribution (Credit) must be included in your blog post. You must include attribution (credit) to the owner of any images you use. Include the owners’ name and a hyperlink back to where that image is on the web.

TIP: Don’t link to URLs that end in .jpg or .png – that’s not the correct hyperlink

You can also include the type of license (ie: Some Rights Reserved or CC) if you want to but it isn’t compulsory. I personally like to do it to show/clarify that the image isn’t mine and that I do have permission to use.  If I have special permission to use the image (ie I specifically asked the owner for permission & it was granted) I include the words “used with special permission”

Some bloggers like to include this in the image caption area.

caption attributionimage attribution

If you want the caption to hyperlink to the image you will need to use some html code like this:
<a href=“https://insert url of image here“>insert that you want to display in the blog post here</a>

Some bloggers (like Kim) prefer to include image attribution (credit) information at the end of their blog post.

kim's attribution

Even if the image is yours – you should still give attribution/credit! (That’s my image below and I blog under TeachingSagittarian). You could write “Own Image” in the caption if you prefer. It makes it clear that you haven’t omitted the attribution and shows that you’re not passing someone else’s image off as your own.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 1.27.48 PM

Use what ever style of attribution suits you, as long as it is there in your post!

Important to Remember

Just because you attribute/give credit/hyperlink to an image – doesn’t mean that you have permission to use it.
Make sure you have permission first.

Silvia Tolisano has a fabulous post and infographic about this very thing! If you haven’t seen it/read it – I highly recommend it!

But What About Videos?

Videos are a little different and the use of Video (especially embedding Video from YouTube) can be a little unclear at times – YouTube videos are usually already Creative Commons – the uploader/owner of the video isn’t always required to state this though.  We err on the side of caution – if it’s on YouTube then we can embed in our blogs BUT it doesn’t hurt to include who’s video it is in a paragraph before embedding it in your post.

If in doubt about any image/audio/video – find something else. Create your own image/audio/video.  Or search a little deeper to find out if that image/infographic/video is licensed under Creative Commons.

Finding Images & Creative Commons

Welcome to Week 2!

By now you should have:

  • read and completed all readings in “Week 2″ in Course 3 under “My Courses”
  • written 1 blog post and 1 comment
  • started using the “Course 3″ tab of your grading spreadsheet to record the work you’re doing
  • recording the URL of the post you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • recording the URL of the comment you would like assessed as part of COETAIL on your grading spreadsheet in the Course 3 tab
  • had a read through of the final project for Course 3 – it’s a little different than Course 1 or 2 – with even more opportunities for exploring and experimenting with different types of media

The Power of Images

After exploring about visual literacy last week, you might be thinking about how to bring more images and media into your classroom. This fun TED talk gives an interesting insight into how we can influence the perception of a product through the presentation. As you’re watching, think about how we might be able to use some of these “lessons” to positively influence our students perceptions of our subjects or content area:

If you find yourself inspired to start using more visuals in your setting, here are a few tools you can use to explore Creative Commons media (for a refresher about Creative Commons check out Course 2 Week 3):

  • Compfight – my personal favourite  (but don’t forget to put the Creative Commons search on!)
  • Search Creative Commons – my second favourite (and you can see a tutorial on how Kim uses it in the Week 2 readings)
  • Pixabay – becoming a new favourite of mine (it’s free to sign up, but you don’t have to, and don’t forget to search creative commons)
  • Color Lab – this is great if you’re going for a color theme or a “mood”, particularly with a series of images
  • Google Advanced Image Search – perfect for those who prefer Google
  • 500px – not as much of a search engine, but a great way to be inspired by images – you might be surprised by what kinds of connections you can make with these beautiful images
  • Google Art Project – an amazing resource, particularly for those teaching Visual Art or Humanities
  • Find photos & links & cite automatically with the Research feature on Google Docs (video)
  • Chrome extension: Flickr CC Attribution Helper – also part of the tutorial in Week 2, the easy way to properly attribute Creative Commons images (FYI: the newest version of Flickr has “broken” the original version of this helper, but Alan has a newer one here – give it a try, but it’s certainly not required)

Creative Commons was updated to version 4.0. in November 2013.  It’s previous version hadn’t been updated since 2002.  Here’s an overview of the changes from The Atlantic, that occurred in 2013 and a more detailed description on the Creative Commons site.

Copyright, Ownership, and Creative Commons – A Reminder

Back in Course 2, we read and talked a lot about Creative Commons. First, it is awesome to see so many in this cohort already using (and attributing) Creative Commons (CC) licensed images in their blog posts.  It’s important to note that it is our expectation that all multimedia you are using in your posts and projects is either Creative Commons (CC), your own, or you have specific permission from the owner to use it.

To refresh our memories, CC is an alternative license that creators can use when publishing their work. This license gives up some of the rights usually associated with copyright – namely the need to ask for prior permission before using the work – so long as certain conditions are met. These conditions are usually some combination of the following:

  • Attribution (BY) – All CC licenses include attribution. Put simply, if you want to use the work, you must credit the creator and, if possible, link back to the original.
  • Non Commercial (NC) – Some CC licensed work allow you to use it without seeking prior permission only if it is for a non-commercial purpose. If you want to use it for a commercial purpose, you need to get permission.
  • No Derivatives (ND) – Some CC licensed work allow you to use it so long as you agree to not alter the work in any way. For images, this includes cropping the image and/or adding text over the top of the image.
  • Share Alike (SA) – Some CC licensed work allow you to remix and build upon the work so long as you promise to publish the work under the same conditions. I like to think of this as the ‘pay it forward’ nature of Creative Commons. A CC licensed work can be No Derivatives, or Share Alike, or neither, but not both.

Taken from Creative Commons infographic by fotor.com. Click for full image (CC BY SA)

And We’re Off! Course 3 Begins!

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and you were able to take a nice long, refreshing break from COETAIL!

Welcome to Course 3!

We’re already almost halfway through COETAIL!
Course 3 is all about visual literacy – understanding the impact of media and making use of the many different tools and strategies for communicating ideas using current and emerging media. There are lots of great opportunities for experimenting and trying the various tools to see how they can best support and enhance the learning in your classroom.  Here’s our Course 3 Overview:

Course 3: Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators
(SUNY: EDC 604 Authoring for Educators)
The curriculum of design and attention to aesthetic has always been the property of the visual arts, however as so much our media is now consumed and created electronically a new set of visual literacies have emerged. Awareness of how an audience interacts with that medium and how to take advantage of this to strengthen their message or purpose for communication will be addressed.

Just like last course, you will need to complete:

  • 1 blog post per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course
  • A final project (see more details about the final project after the Week 1 readings)
  • 1 additional blog post reflection on your final project  – for a total of 6 posts
  • 1 comment per week for each of the 5 weeks of the course – for a total of 5 comments

All of these items should be documented on your grading spreadsheet. (Please ensure that you copy and paste the URL of your “published” post into your grading spreadsheet – not the draft URL).

A few updates from the last two courses:

The final post for each course (reflection post): In addition to sharing/embedding the final project, the reflection is a really important part of each course. Whether your whole project is completed or not, (sometimes when the final project is a unit, you’ve yet to teach it or haven’t quite finished teaching it) you can still write your reflection. You can highlight the process you went through, some thoughts about your own learning or the learning you think your students will experience, your ideas and goals for using this unit or piece of work, and/or your thoughts about what you might change if you did it all over again.

The GRASPS Task in a UbD Unit: (If using this planner for a final project) This portion of the unit planner is intended to be given directly to students, and therefore written in student-friendly language, rather than the “students will…” format that you use during other unit planning formats. The idea is to give students context for the unit so they have a big-picture understanding, rather than just taking one lesson at a time.

What is Visual Literacy?

The idea of this first week is to explore what visual literacy means, and why it’s so important, particularly in our very media rich environment. Here are few videos that make spark your interest (along with all the other materials in Week 1):

You might also enjoy exploring these image-rich resources (we’ll be doing lots more with pictures as the course continues):

As you explore these videos and image resources, you may want to think about how you can apply them in your teaching. How they might change the classroom environment or help students think differently than a written or verbal prompt? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or in your week 1 blog post!

Course 2 Comes to an End!

And that’s a wrap folks! December 17th is the last offical day of Course 2 – just in time for a welcome break into the New Year!  You’ve made it through two courses!  How do you feel?

By now you should have:

  • One blog post for each week of the course (5 posts)
  • One comment for each week of the course (for a total of 5 comments)
  • A Global Collaborative Final Project (embedded unit plan)/Reflective blog post (total of 6 posts)

Don’t forget to:

  • Reflect on your the global collaboration of your project
  • Copy and paste the correct URLs for your blog posts/comments on your gradesheet
  • Moderate any comments left for you on your blog posts
  • Complete our Mid-Course Feedback (so we can improve our instruction, know what is working and not working, and make sure the course is meeting your needs)
  • See below if you are completing CoETaIL for SUNY credit

I will be completing the final grading of all your gradesheets between now and December 24th.

SUNY Paperwork

Just one more reminder that if you are taking COETAIL for SUNY credit, your paperwork is due to SUNY by the end of this course (ie: this week). You need to have submitted your paperwork before the end of course 2 to receive credit for the 5-course program. If you have any questions about the process of your application, please write to SUNY directly at: intlearning@buffalostate.edu
If you’re not taking COETAIL for SUNY credit, you don’t need to do anything!

Spammy Comments


CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

Several of you have reported that you are getting a message about a spammy comment when you try to leave a comment for a colleague.

As you can imagine, we have to have a pretty staunch Anti-Spam plugin for the CoETaIL site.

Unfortunately, it means from time to time you can get caught up in it!

Here’s a few things to know:

  • Overuse (and sometimes one time use) of capitals (like acronyms) are often pinged as a spam – try to avoid whenever you can
  • Leaving several comments at once or over a short space of time also gets you pinged as a spammer – lengthen the time between leaving comments
  • Sometimes, the Anti-Spam plugin decides it just doesn’t like your computer’s IP address that day!  – try again another day

If all else fails and you can’t leave that comment, just send it to me in an email (don’t forget to tell me who it’s for and what post it’s for) and I’ll post it for you manually.  Don’t forget to still add the details to your gradesheet and link to the blog post your commenting on – I’ll know all about it!

Peek Into the Future:


CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

Finally, if you haven’t heard, the Online 3 cohort (facilitated by Kim Cofino and myself) have just finished Course 5!
This End of Course 5 Post for Online 3, is worth checking out.
Not only are there some amazing projects, but it also gives you a great sense of what you are working towards in this course.


And on that note, I wish you all a very safe and relaxing break!