Last week #CreativeHE set an activity a day to challenge academics to be more creative and explore creativity in their academic practice.
This was Monday’s task: Summarise your thoughts around a specific creative and inspiring learning and/or teaching experience by filling an empty jam jar with your key take aways from this. Share your jar here in the community and engage with others in conversations around the content of their jars. At the end of the day, reflect on this experience.
This is my jar on the right and this is what I wrote abut it:
“The contents of my jar look rather ordinary but they have the potential to unleash creativity in my students. I’m planning and collecting resources for two sessions next week exploring the connecting between art made in the physical world and digital manipulation of images – in my jar are some of the things I’ll be taking to the sessions for the students to create with. The other key items will be iPads – on which this photos was taken. As I collect the resources I’m filed with anticipation of what we’ll make together. ”
In the comments Sue Watling asked: “I’m wondering what your digital ‘ipad’ jar might contain Jean 🙂 Are there any particular apps you find useful for encouraging students to think creatively? ”
This prompted me to make another jar which can be seen here.
Later in the week I came across another jar related activity in Paper53 Joey Gao (@dotunfolded) had posted an empty jar entitled ‘A jar full of______’ and invited people to fill the jar and share it.
Lots of people have had a go – and their ideas can be seen by browsing through the paper53 stream.
Unfortunately this was the only day I managed to take part in – but I’d love to joining again another time. Browsing through the responses and comments of other participants made me think about how I can use creativity more in my teaching in the future.
Task 1 Reflecting I’ve shared a ThingLink that I made in early Septeber to help the students who were starting on the FDLT course. You can see it here – Welcome
The purpose was to be able to share some key links to resources using just one link in a visually attractive form.
Task 2 Poster The teacher scenario – I feel the same about getting to know students as they arrive. We are sent a photos of each student in class groups which is helpful but the idea of it being a video or annotated image is even better. I wonder if we could build that into induction in the future. This September I set up a Padlet for each new group and asked students to introduce themselves. Here’s one to look at: Introductions Padlet
As I think about this now I realise that we could make more of this so that it could be a reflective experience for students and an informative one for tutors. It would be important not to take away from the spontaneity and willingness to have a go that happened in this example. It allowed students to make contact before they began the session they independently set up a Facebook group before they met at the first session.
I’ve made a poster for task 3 by accident!
Task 3 Making
The beginning of a poster created using the Phoster app (right).
Below is another beginning using this large letter C in the app Moldiv (collage part of the app).
I was thinking about either adding links to one of these in ThingLink or annotating it in the app Skitch.
Processed with MOLDIV
I came across the post that asked to represent the entire experience and that led me to making this:
Teacher scenario – the question posed in this scenario is of great interest to me. I am in the early stages of supporting some colleague to plan a session with an international focus. I too have been thinking about strategies to make this happen and I’ve come across something shared with me by a student (@TheTechyTA) called Mystery Skype. You can read about his experience of it here – Mystery Skype in school.
I’ve been wondering if I can use this with the students. If anyone has any contacts abroad who work in education at school level, especially as teaching assistants I’d love to hear about them.
Task 1 reflecting As part of a work project (Teaching with Tablets MOOC) my colleagues and I are using Slack as we work on designing each week of the online course. We can access this from phones, Ipads and computers so it is very accessible for the whole group. Its the first time I’ve used it so its early days in terms of evaluating it. I know Slack has come up in the #BYOD4Lchats as well but I haven’t found my way to it yet!
Task 2 making – I’ve tweeted to see if anyone has any contacts with teaching assistants in international schools in relation to the session I’m seeking to organise with my colleagues (see above). I’ve included a colleague in the tweet to enlist her support in looking for people as she is one of the tutors who will be leading this session.
Task 3 development I realise the possibility of doing this online experience alongside other colleagues in the same university as this task in particular would be so helpful and productive. I hope next time BYOD4L runs to enlist a group of colleagues to take part, maybe from within the division that I work in as I think it could be a powerful way of developing our use of devices, something that will be essential in the next few years as the nature of out university and our jobs change.
As an artist as well as an academic I am very interested in this theme of curating. In working on these activities I’ve realised how important it is to support students in being able to manage all the available resources they can now encounter.
Task 1 Reflection – This theme has made me consider and evaluate the way I try to collect and arrange all sorts of material and this partly related to where I found it and partly to what it is about.
Where I found it: some tools have an inbuilt way of collecting so on Twitter I will often like or retweet something so that it appears in my timeline and can be found again. I do the same with Facebook – by likening or sharing an item it is them in my feed. I’ve recently learned that ‘likes’ can be found in a list in the ‘activity log’ which is very useful. If I’ve found a useful link on Twitter or Facebook I will often save that to Pocket. For visual images I pin these on Pinterest boards.
What it is about: I’d like to be able to collect links and resources into themes (art (printmaking, teaching, sketchbooks), education (English, digital technology, teaching assistants, assessment)). I used to do this using bit.ly as I could save links and then group them into bundles. Having invested quite some time in setting this up the bundles function was discontinued and since this I have been hesitant to start again with another tool. I have just begun to add tags to my links in Pocket as an alternative.
Task 2 Making – Teacher scenario
The challenge is to share resources with students in such a way that they will access them. Having collected a range of interesting and enriching resources I agree that if students then do not use them it is disappointing and frustrating. I wonder if involving students in curating this collection of resources so they are actively involved in compiling it might help. As I have considered this scenario I have begun to wonder if this could be an interesting task to build into teaching.
In the context of the course I work on students could be asked to add a link to and brief evaluation of their favourite teaching resource website for a particular subject or aspect of learning to a Padlet. They could then be asked to follow up another student’s link to comment upon it. We have been building activities in where we ask students to collect and curate reading in relation to assignments and this perhaps addresses that challenge mentioned in the teacher scenario about whether students do follow up the shared information. Perhaps the key is that the students can see a clear benefit to their learning at university or their professional role in school.
I have recently begun making this Padlet to share resources about an area we are investigating in the spring and summer terms – learning beyond the classroom. You can see it here. Since beginning to think about curating this week I might approach it differently, making it more a product of shared recommendations from students.
Task 3 Development In an annual project based on enriching the curriculum through practical activities I seek to record what the stduents have made. In 2014 I did this by adding images of all their matchbox sculptures to a Pinterest board. You can see it here – 2014 project. In 2015 I changed the way I curated the images to use Explain Everything and make a sequence of slides accompanied by music. You can see this here – 2015project. I haven’t decide what to do in 2016 yet – does anyone have any ideas. I’d like to involve the students in curating the images of the project this time. I’ve been thinking about a virtual pop up museum or gallery maybe…
In the student scenario the student talked about joining a degree course as a mature student and seeking to manage the demands of university study, a job and family life and considered the challenge of how to use technology to stay in touch with his course and fellow students. This is exactly the situation the students I teach are in. They are Teaching Assistants (TAs) in schools, coming to university for one day a week so its vital for them to be able to stay in touch with us and each other when they are not at university.
For us as lecturers we have a several channels of communication:
Blackboard NILE – announcements, which we often choose to have sent as emails to students. We hope we can guarantee that everyone gest this information.
Course Blog – to share interesting items and resources that is additional to core content. Students are encouraged to subscribe to this so that they will get an email alert when a new post appears. A link to this is also tweeted.
Email – to individuals, usually responsive to student questions and concerns.
NILE discussion boards – Sometimes we create a NILE discussion board for students to use to ask questions and share ideas, especially about assignments. This allows tutor answers to be shared by all students and might mean that we don’t have to answer the same question via email to many individuals.
Task 1 Visualising – A representation of myself as a communicator: I created this ThingLink introducing My Digital Self in the summer.
Task 2 Making – I’ve represented a summary of my formal channels of communication as lecturer with students using Penultimate:
Task 3 Reflection – We allow students to decide and manage communication within groups for themselves and this often evolves. Perhaps it is dependent on someone in the group deciding to take the initiative using a channel they favour. One group has a Facebook group and another use Whats app. As tutors we do not get involved with this but are aware of some of answers to questions, for example, being shared in this way. My only concern is that the chosen channel does not exclude some students in the group eg if a group used Facebook but one or two members are adamantly against Facebook and so are exclude from the conversation and support.
My reflection on future actions – I wonder if we need to be more proactive about this during Induction into year 1 so that students choose one from several channels after discussion of their features and the students’ own devices, skills and attitudes to them. I think I will contact each existing group and ask what they use and their evaluation of it to see if we can learn something from this ready for the students who join us in September 2016.
Monday – Connecting
In the student scenario the student wanted to use social media to search for up to date material in her area of interest – well being. This is an interesting question – the wide range of a connections that can be made on Twitter can be useful here. It’s possible to find people who are working in your field, or interesting in it and learning about it. Ideas and links to resources, activities and publications are often shared. You can take part in organised chats or unexpected exchanges with people you might never be able to meet and work with face to face.
There are associated challenges – how do we track of all the links and ideas we come across? How do we help students learn to evaluate what they come across online in social media so they can use of in an academic context and understand its reliability and validity?
Keeping track – in the past I have used bit.ly, now I’m using Pocket to save links and resources that I coma across. I also use Twitter itself by ‘liking’ interesting things so I can come back to them later. I sometimes post links to a relevant Google community eg our Mobile Learning community at work.
Evaluation – I’ve seen Padlet used as a way of sharing useful academic resources with students and teaching them to evaluate sources.
Task 1 – who is who? completed on Google+ (using my digital self ThingLink) and In the Twitter chat Task 2 – making – I used ThingLink to collect all the various spaces where BYOD4L is happening and collect them together on one image. You can see it here: ThingLink BYOD4L2016 Task 3 – reflection – in the Twitter chat we talked about using Twitter or another channel communication with students. Getting everyone to use the same channel is a challenge as we all have our personal preferences. Suggesting about showing how useful a channels is made me think I could try again maybe by having a Twitter recommendation or tweeter of the week on our course blog.
Pic Monkey is a free online photo editor available at this link.
You can use it to group and place photos together to make a collage of images. In order to use Pic Monkey you need to have collected the photos you want to use saved in ‘my pictures’ on your computer.
1. Adding the pictures to Pic Monkey.
Click on the ‘collage’ button at the top and this will initially open to allow you to choose a photo by clicking on it. The photo will appear in the list on the left. Click on ‘open photos’ to add more photos from ‘my pictures’ on your computer. Continue until you have collected all the photos you want to use in the collage.
2. Making the collage
Click on the collage icon in the list on the left (second down) and explore the different layouts of collage. The ones at the top are freely available and the ones lower down are only available of you pay for a subscription. When you click on the one you want it will appear in the square on the right.
3. Adding the photos to the collage
When you have chosen the collage layout click on the photo icon in the list on the left (at the top of the list). Click on and drag each photo to where you want it to be in the collage.
4. Finishing off your collage
After you have arranged your pictures in the collage you can edit the collage by changing the frame colour and edges, adding text and make other additions. To do this click on ‘edit’ in the list at the top of the picture and then use the icons in the list on the left.
5. Saving the collage
When the collage is complete you can save it to your computer. Click on ‘save’ and you will be given the open to save.
When you have made the collage you can use it to import into ThingLink and add tags to.
This summer I took part in the ThingLink Teacher Challenge. The activity in week 1 was based around introducing ourselves and our connections in the digital world. This is a useful activity to consider when meeting a new class or group or as a task to set before pupils or students begin working together.
It consisted of two stages: firstly, designing a digital avatar and secondly, uploading this to ThingLink and adding tags.
Designing a digital avatar.
There are number of tools that can be used to design a digital avatar and you can see links to a few on the ThingLink below.
I used a web tool called ‘doppel me’ to create mine. It allows the user to make choices about the appearance of their avatar. If you join and sign in you can add more detail. e:
This is mine.
There are other ways of creating the image of yourself for this activity such as those suggested in the ThingLink above, using a photo or using a collage of photos of yourself.
After choosing or creating an avatar of yourself you can go on to the next stage.
Making your ThingLink
There are some instructions on how to make a ThingLink in this blog post. For this ThingLink the focus is you as a digital user and creator. I made a list of the various ways I appear and interact digitally on social media and other tools. This is a very good opportunity to consider issues related to internet safety and information it is appropriate to make public online. Here is my digital self ThingLink. Feel free to explore it!
How do you use digital tools to make introductions?
Aurasma is an augmented reality app that allows you too a picture, sound or video to a picture or object.
It is available as an app for IOS and Android mobile devices and tablets. The website is here.
In order to use it you need to create an account or use other existing accounts to log in (google+ etc).
The app works in a similar way to a QR code reader. When you hold your device over an ‘aura’ this triggers an image or video on your device. The app can be used to create your own auras for fun or learning. Unlike a QR code the symbol, object or picture itself triggers the aura, which can be an interesting and useful feature of using it. In order to access it the aura must be public and the user must sign into aurasma and follow the maker of the auras or the channel they are on.
This video clip is a clear guide to how to create an aura:
I’ve just made these paw prints and added an aura of the creature that makes each one. I’d be asking children to look at talk about the prints, using their existing knowledge to sort them, possibly identify them and make guesses. they can then use a phone or tablet with the aurasma app to check which animal made the track. On the back I have added a QR code that takes the user to further information about each creature so they can research them further. Discussing this with students it was suggested that pictures of the animals or the names could be available for matching before checking using the app.
Other uses in education might be:
adding to photos of children’s activities and linking to videos of them performing these activities eg photo of the school choir, video of the choir singing;
adding to pictures to provide extra written or spoken information;
adding a speech to a picture of a story character eg picture of the big bad wolf, video of his saying ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’
adding a description or explanation of a piece of art or technology made by a child.
If you are using aurasma or a similar app add your ideas and links below.
Paper, scissors and glue – camera, apps and dropbox: exploring the relationship between making art in the physical and digital world.
Over the last few weeks I have been teaching a session to Year 1 Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) students based around using digital technology along with more traditional art materials (collage). As I have taught the session to the three groups a number of interesting questions and points have arisen.
The session was introduced by asking students to use collage materials (coloured card and newspapers / magazines), scissors and glue to create a skyline of buildings. The only restrictions were that students all had square backgrounds to work onto and should include at least two very tall buildings. I chose to provide them with squares because the three apps we would be using each use square images and I have found from experience of using one of the apps that having variations of height can be especially visually dramatic.
This phase of the session was a time when students worked on their own collage image but collaborated by talking with each other about what they had chosen to do and why, sharing ideas and approaches and asking for help from the group (has anyone got any pictures of flowers?). Students also talked about whether they usually support pupils with art and their feelings about making their own art. Unfortunately some students were still experiencing negative feelings left over from harsh or insensitive comments made about their own art in lessons when they were at school. It was interesting to observe the varied approaches – if I had been doing this with children I would have kept the glue out of reach until they had chosen and arranged and rearranged their paper into an arrangement that was pleasing.
As students finished their collages we discussed the potential of this activity for supporting learning in art. Students used a list of visual elements to consider how the choice of materials and challenges could be adjusted through the introduction of more focus and different choice of materials to promote exploration of specific aspects of art – colour, tone, pattern, texture, shape, space, form and line. The development of fine motor skills through the physical use of tools (scissors) and application of glue as well as developing ideas from imagination, observation or the work of artists were considered too. Making choices, arranging and placing were also aspects that could be developed, as well cutting out holes to allow for a see through and layering effect.
The next step was to take a photo of the collage using the camera on the ipad. Setting the camera to square could be useful here, or editing the photo using the cropping tool. The photo would now form the basis of the rest of the session.
Students were next introduced to the app ‘RollWorld’. This is a ‘tiny planet’ that allows an image to manipulated spatially. Students were encouraged to use the crossed arrows to see what the app could do and then go on to use the six sliders to exercise more control, saving any interesting images to the camera roll. Some amazing images were produced ranging from reducing the collage to something completely abstract and making a change in the space that created a distorted, sometimes surreal perspective.
The next app students explored was ‘Fragment’. This is an app that allows the image to be manipulated in pieces and layers, with built in colour changes. Using the crossed arrows and saving images to camera roll were relevant to this app as in the previous one. Again, the image could be pushed to change completely or be changed slightly in layout or colour.
It was interesting to note that whilst the students worked with the apps they were often more focused individually on their ipads leading to less collaborative talk. There was more talk about technical aspects (how to do things) with students who were more experienced and confident with ipads supporting those less familiar. Some students suggested that this individual ‘private’ experience would be valued by children, allowing them to work in a situation where they did not feel judged or compared.
Having now made many images students were asked to to choose their collage, a Rollworld image and a Fragment image as a record of their exploration and load them into another app – Visual Poet. They could give this sequence a title, an author and annotate each image then take a screenshot to save it to camera roll. On reflection this could be replaced by creating three slides with spoken comments or by making a picture collage using Moldiv as the Visual Poet app is rather restrictive in size of image and placement of text, as well as being difficult to share.
Finally students were asked to log into the FDLT dropbox and upload their images so that they were all saved and available to them after the session. As I taught the sessions I found that the collecting, saving and sharing of images must be built in to the session. The students needed also to be asked to log out of the FDLT dropbox so that other random material does not appear as the ipads are used around the School of Education. The photos from the session need to be deleted from the camera roll so that the ipads don’t get clogged up with lots of old images.
After the sequence of activities were completed we discussed some key questions about the role of digital technology in learning.
The varied levels of experience with ipads throughout the groups can be a challenge or the peer support that emerged can be seen as a positive outcome especially where children could be deliberately paired to develop this.
The availability to the user of all apps on the ipads can lead to other related apps being introduced and explored, enriching the learning or random game playing that detracts from the focus on learning – this must be a greater challenge with children in the classroom.
Sharing the images created on an ipad – creating a sequence of slides to be shown on screen best preserves the vibrancy of the images where printing them out is costly and leads to a loss of their glowing brilliance.
Before each session I made sure each ipad had no photos stored in the camera roll and signed out of any dropboxes. After producing images (in one session nearly 200 images were made) all need to saved all to dropbox, drop box logged out of, and delete all photos from camera roll. If this is not built in to the session it is very time consuming for one person to do after each session. One or two of the ipads would not share the photos and this was disappointing for the students whose work was trapped.
The possible detrimental effects of using apps with vivid and changing colours on students (experienced with a minority of students in one of the three groups).
The physical challenges of swiping and touching with right pressure for some students leading to frustration.
The advantage of being able to explore some aspects of art in a ‘clean’ situation for pupils who dislike or are distressed the messy aspects and feel of art materials.
Curriculum and learning:
The concern that making art digitally could replace using physical materials which can be expensive, messy and time consuming to use – leading children to miss out on the sensory experiences inherent in the subject. This was balanced by students who suggested that for children who dislike the ‘feel’ of art materials the opportunity to explore colour and effects on the ipad would allow them access to this experience.
The opportunity to use ipad apps to allow children to create and manipulate images could help overcome children’s reluctance to make art if they are reluctant to draw or paint. The use of apps allowed for accidental effects that could be chosen and developed and some students felt that there were no preconceived ideas of what was ‘good’ and so felt less pressure. The use of the do / undo allowed for easy discarding of images. The idea that many, many images could be created and then chosen from allowed freedom to have a go and create.
Using physical and digital manipulation together can lead to some outcomes that could not be achieved by working in one way. These apps in particular lead to an exploration of space, colour and pattern as well as a step into abstraction that can be hard for younger children to learn in other ways.
A next step would be to use the images to make further physical art by recollaging or drawing from.
Some students were enthralled and enthusiastic, enjoying the experience themselves and immediately seeing the potential for using with their pupils in lessons or out of school clubs.
Others were less keen and some were actively worried about this replacing art, a subject already under threat in many schools.
When planning and teaching I need to consider:
Basic skills: use of dropbox, connecting to internet, connecting and disconnecting an email account.
Basic skills of using an ipad: taking a photo, cropping a photo, finding an app by gently pulling down the screen and typing the first few letters, finding the camera roll, taking a screenshot, swiping.
Skills specific to the apps: remembering to save interesting images to camera roll, using the crossed arrows to explore at random, using the specific tools in each app to control effects and deliberately create something.
Should a session like this be based on technology provided by the university / school so that all can have the same device and apps or should it be ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and equivalent apps used on different types of devices?