Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

Teachers: Find the Courage to Be Less Helpful

I just finished teaching my undergraduate edtech methods class at University of Portland. I had a dozen students  – sophomores through seniors. Most had limited tech backgrounds.

Rather than teaching apps, I taught adaptability. That began with having the courage to be less helpful. At our first class I gave them a simple assignment – create “Tech-Savvy Teacher’s Meme” using Adobe Spark Post and then write a blog post elaborating on your meme in our WordPress site. No one in the class had used either Adobe Spark nor WordPress. No direct instruction from me – I had a created some YouTube video explainers. They had to figure it out themselves. The result – everyone was able to make a cool meme and write their first post on WordPress. They didn’t simply learn a few apps – they learned “I can do this!”

Over the next 14 weeks, we progressed PBL-style through a variety of skills and perspectives. Each class added new tools and perspectives to prior experience – curating public domain content, screencasting, digital storytelling, video production. By the time we got to the end of the course, I had them testing and critiquing apps with no support from me. I would give them three apps designed to perform similar tasks, ask them to work in teams to figure out how to use them, report back to class the pros and cons. And then everyone in the class would choose one app for completing the next assignment – For example – turn a video into a lesson using EdPuzzle, Video Ant, or TEDed.

As a final assignment I asked them to create a demonstration of their favorite app as a chapter in our collaborative iBook – Tech Tips for Teachers. Available free at iTunes or as a static pdf download. (14 mb)

So how did it go – here’s some comments from their final reflections

Laura: I learned that I really need to push myself when it comes to trying new things, because I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. …  a lot of these new tools intimidated me and I was afraid to try them, but once I did, I found it pretty easy to use.

Margaret: I’ve really enjoyed my time in this class this semester. It was definitely one to look forward to in the week, a break from the typical lecture style of other classes. Something I learned about myself during this class is that despite not liking the amount of freedom given to me, I have found ways to create guidelines for myself. … I think with all the things that I have learned during this short amount of time, and the simple pride I got from figuring out how a piece of tech works on my own – I think I will be able to “keep up with the times” with relative ease.

Kiana: Prior to this class I was, admittedly,  worried and mildly fearful about utilizing technology so frequently in the classroom. I had very limited knowledge and experience with these types of tools and felt that I would be unable to create products worth sharing with the online world. Although my posts this semester may not be TPT (Teacher Pay Teacher) ready, I was pleasantly surprised with how much content I have created in such a short period of time…. I have already begun to share my knowledge of these “tech tools” with family and friends who are also impressed with how many accessible (free), resources there are.

Dylan: Unlike most classes that follow a specific rubric or have step-by-step instructions, this class and Prof. Pappas, gave us an incredible opportunity to explore new technology, but figure out all the tips and tricks on our own. .. one of the most exciting parts of this class were all the ideas I generated when thinking about what tech tools I now have in my toolbox and ones which I can easily use in lesson and unit plans, as well as on a daily basis with my students. I hope to encourage my students to use technology wisely and to most importantly…be creative with it!v

Nick: Our instructor gave us students just enough background information so that we could wrestle with discovering the technology ourselves. ..He pushed us students to learn for ourselves as he gently guided us alongside. I felt this was a perfect approach to teaching this class as I now feel more prepared to be adaptable and curious to continue learning.

Jordyn: There were also times where I would be using a new app and I just had to figure it out through trial and error. Once I had worked through it for a little while I felt very comfortable using it. Being willing to fail is one of the only ways that we truly learn anything in my opinion.

Melissa: Looking back on that first day of ed tech methods, I felt I was afraid to take that risk and get outside of my comfort zone. I  was an advocate for technology, but only ones that were safe,  such as SmartBoards or Elmos which are simply advanced versions of projectors and white boards. … While there were many programs I was nervous to use,  I was also able to learn new tools which I found my new strengths in.

Bri: I never particularly saw myself as a “tech person” and was a little fearful of whether I would be able to navigate my way around all this new technology. … I am proud of the amount of work I have produced in the short amount of time we have had together and I am proud to say I am not so fearful of exploring new technology that comes my way and I could also potentially see myself implementing these technology tools into my own classroom in the future.

Madison: I learned that stretching myself to learn different things is important in order to become more confident. I learned that although technology is a difficult subject for me, it is good for me to learn new things in order to grow as a person. I am definitely on my way to becoming a “tech-savvy” teacher!

Michael: Overall, it is my opinion that this course was a great success. One of the foundations listed on the class’s website states that the course “leverages a project/problem-based approach,” while another one says that it “…develops critical evaluation skills for assessing what works.” These were both met spectacularly: the course ran using an effective weekly project-based approach that promoted individual critical thinking concerning a wide variety of useful – and sometimes not useful – educational technologies for classroom use.

Lauren: I also learned a few things about myself as a learner too. I learned that I about how much fun teaching can be. All these tech tools take a lot of creativity and flexibility and these were both aspects of myself I needed to work on. Using the Apps we learned about caused me to challenge myself as a more hands on student and future teacher.

Hanna: I saw myself doing things with technology that I had never done before and pushing myself to try new things. I learned that technology is a lot more fun to include in every aspect of the classroom when you are comfortable with it!

Social Media Promised a Voice For All, Instead We Got Troll Farms

This is a remix of UP Tech Talk S06E02: Trolls, Tales, Twitter, and Thoughts - my conversation with cohosts Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of UP's Academic Technology Services

My preface: I grew up in a different media environment in the fifties and sixties. My information flow was controlled by big corporate media gatekeepers - network TV, record industry, newspapers, magazines, Hollywood.  I taught a media studies class in the seventies and eighties. It was all very McLuhan - how TV was shaping our thought.

When the digital revolution (and later social media) came along, my first reaction: "This is great. The barriers to entry are down and the media gatekeepers are dying off." I was publishing print on demand paperbacks and later multi-touch eBooks with my students. I was blogging, posting "how-to" videos on my own YouTube playlists and excited to network on Twitter chats with colleagues. I was advocating for my students to do the same - be content creators, not just consumers. 

I thought that social media would emerge as a low-barrier way for people to share information and that the "best content" would rise in a "marketplace of ideas." But now I realize that because of the algorithms, we're not in a common media space. We say we're on Facebook, but the Facebook that I see is different than the Facebook that somebody else sees. The social media business models hype "engagement" and the most outrageous content rises to the top. Trolls and bots further game the algorithms and we end up awash in "junk" news.

Maria, Ben and I discussed the current state of social media, where we've been and where we're heading.

Peter, Maria and Ben

“WW III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, “Culture Is Our Business”, 1970, p. 66

Here's a collection of essential reading on the subject

Made with Padlet

Image credit:  Adobe Spark  - UnSplash / ian dooley @nativemello

Podcast: Students Make A Difference with PBL

This is cross post from UP TechTalk Podcast S05E01: Connecting Student Learning to Real-World Outcomes with Project Based Learning by Maria Erb

Peter Pappas designs learning experiences that provoke reflection.  The UP School of Education adjunct instructor is known for pairing tech tools with creative assignments that lead to students having an external audience for their work, working as professionals do in a more public environment.

Utilizing the concepts of Project Based Learning, Pappas’s students have developed multi-touch books with iBooks Author on historical topics that have been downloaded 16,000 times from iTunes.  The blog Pappas uses for his course is public on the web and gets comments from beyond the classroom.  Students are startled to find out that someone besides a teacher cares about the work they do in class.

“Students really want to make a difference,” Pappas said.  This year, his students will be developing curriculum for the Oregon Jewish Museum And Center for Holocaust Education that can be used by middle and high school teachers when they bring students to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park.

At a time when we’re revisiting questions about history and people’s perspective on history, I think it will be somewhat cathartic for my students to feel they could make a statement and speak on behalf of people who perhaps can’t speak for themselves.

In this podcast, Pappas talks about project based learning and some of the other ideas that have helped to shape his current style of education.  Listen to this intriguing discussion about student engagement and more. Full Episode Transcript PDF


UP TechTalk App Picks of the Week
  • Peter picked Apple Clips, a new social video app from Apple.
  • Ben recommends Overcast as the best podcast catcher/listening app on iPhones and iPads.

Continue the conversation at the Teaching & Learning Community Blog: https://sites.up.edu/tl

UP TechTalk is a bi-monthly podcast with cohosts Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of Academic Technology Services that explores the use of technology in the classroom, one conversation at a time. Visit the UP TechTalk archives for a plethora of excellent content from our UP faculty guests. Get a sneak peak at the future with our UP Tech Talk special 5 part series The Future of Learning.

A History of Fear: KKK Kamp 1924

“To All the Klans and Klansmen of Texas Greetings:
Kool Koast Kamp. The Healthiest road to the Koolest Summer.”

"No worry. The Fiery Cross guards you at night and an officer of the law, with the same Christian sentiment, guards carefully all the portals."

As xenophobia takes a front row seat in American political culture, a bit of historical perspective is in order. In wake of WWI, the 1920s saw an explosion of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States. This brochure, from the Duke University Library Digital Collectionpromotes a 1924 KKK Family Kamp near Rockport, Texas. 

As Kelly Baker notes in White Collar Supremacy:

Middle-class white supremacy had another wave of popularity in the 1920s, when the second Klan, which had a nationwide following, drew on the ideas of [Madison] Grant and others to sell white supremacy to both the rural and urban middle classes. It printed newspapers and books, held seminars as well as rallies, and even tried to establish a Klan university in Indiana.

Along with drumming up racial fears, the 1920s Klan relied on scientific and theological racism in The Imperial Night-Hawk, its national newspaper. Writing for the paper in 1923, a Louisiana Klansman and minister, W. C. Wright, outlined the Klan’s intellectual position on white supremacy, in which white people were “the leading race,” America was “a white man’s country, discovered, dedicated, settled, defended, and developed by white men,” and the distinctions between the races were scientific and divinely created.

The second Klan spread quickly across America in the 1920's. The VCU Libraries have documented its growth in a project, Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940

Each red dot shows a local unit or "Klavern." The official numbers for each Klavern indicate a basic chronology for the chartering of the Klaverns, and they also reveal patterns of Klan organizing. This map invites you to learn about the second Klan in your area and across the U.S. and to study the courage of those who opposed the Klan.

timeline

To see more of what was driving KKK thinking, you can view a 1921 KKK application here.

Some of the KKK application questions echo today's voices of fear and xenophobia: 

4. Where were you born?
5. How long have you resided in your present locality?
7. Were your parents born in the United States of America?
8. Are you a gentile or a jew?
9. Are you of the white race or of a colored race?
10. What educational advantages have you?
11. Color of eyes? Hair? Weight?
12. Do you believe in the principles of a PURE Americanism?
13. Do you believe in White Supremacy?
15. What is your religious faith?
17. Of what religious faith are your parents?
19. Do you honestly believe in the practice of REAL fraternity?
20. Do you owe ANY KIND of allegiance to any foreign nation, government, institution, sect, people, ruler or person?

Mitch McConnell Flunks US History

Online_Privacy_and_the_Founding_FathersThe Founding Fathers wanted the Supreme Court to represent the “will of the people.”  
___ True   ___ False

I have to keep Mitch after class to review how the Founding Fathers designed the Supreme Court

Any high school student who’s been paying attention would know that the correct answer is “false.” I’m guessing that Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans would incorrectly answer “True.” Remember – the central argument being raised by Republican Senators who refuse to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court is “Let the people have a voice.” So I’m going to keep Mitch (and his Senate buddies) after class to review how the Founding Fathers designed the federal judiciary selection process. The late Justice Antonin Scalia justified many of his decisions by claiming to know the Founding Fathers’ “intent” – so let’s use the original constitution for this model. 

  1. Only a fraction of the American people (white, property-owning, males) are allowed to vote.
  2. Each state selects elite “electors” who have the final say in an elaborate procedure that serves as an indirect selection of the President.
  3. Each state legislature selects two Senators to represent the interests of the state. (Since they don’t represent the American people, every state gets the same number of Senators).  Only 1/3 of Senate is up for reelection every two years. Senators serve a term of 6 years (vs 2 years for the popularly elected House of Representatives). The Founders gave the Senate the power to approve Presidential treaties and appointments because it was the legislative house most insulated from the whims of the electorate.
  4. The President nominates a Supreme Court justices. (Same for all other federal judges). A majority of the Senate must approve the President’s nomination to the court.
  5. Presidents and members of Congress have fixed terms, federal judges serve for life. Judges’ salaries cannot be diminished during their time of service.
  6. The judge’s life tenure is “during good behavior.” Any high crimes and misdemeanors can be challenged by the popularly elected House of Representative through an impeachment (finally, there’s some “will of the people”). But the actual trial of the judge is handled by the Senate.

If the Founding Fathers believed the “people must have a voice” the constitution would have provided for popular election of federal judges. “Let the people decide” is an ironic justification when discussing the process for selecting a replacement for Scalia – the self-appointed champion of the Founding Fathers’ intent.

Image credit: “Online Privacy and the Founding Fathers” By Matt Shirk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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