Friday, February 26, 2016

Getting Jiggy with Ziggi!

As a presenter that is often traveling to and from conferences and events, I am always on the lookout for quality presentation equipment that does what it is supposed to do but is light weight and easy to transport.  This past week, I found something that I really want to add to my gear bag.

The great folks at IPEVO (online at and on Twitter @ipevo) recently sent several items to use as door prizes for EdCampMontgomery coming up on April 2nd. They only had one request- Use the devices during EdCamp so that participants could see them in action.  This is important to note because that means that I would have to open the boxes before the items were given away.  Hmmm, if they have to be opened and used before they are given away then it really doesn't matter if they are opened now or then, right? Yes, I wanted to give these things a try so I decided that it would be acceptable to do this so long as I shared my experience with you!

The IPEVO team sent a total of four different device types to us.  I'll try to get reviews of each of them, starting with the Ziggi-HD Plus USB document camera.  At just $99, this document camera seems like you are stealing it from IPEVO, but at that price, I was wondering about the quality.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The Ziggi ships in a sturdy box that could certainly be reused but they also offer a nice carrying case for less than 20 bucks.

Inside the box was everything you need, which isn't much.  Of course, the document camera is there but IPEVO also includes a slide on anti-glare screen for those fluorescently lit classrooms (how is there always a light directly above where you need the document camera?)  and a quick start guide.  The very capable IPEVO Presenter Software is available for free download for your PC or Mac.  There is no power adapter needed, which is great.  There never seems to be enough outlets so not needing another is helpful.

To get started, I pulled out my Asus Windows 10 laptop and headed to the IPEVO support site to get the software downloaded while I took a look at the device.  By the way, the software downloads and installs quickly and I was ready to go in short order.

The first thing I noticed when taking the Ziggi-HD Plus out of the box was its heft.  It is not heavy (just over a pound and a half) but the base feels very solid.  It would take some serious jarring of the desk or table to move this thing!

The Ziggi feels very well made with lots of nice little touches.  For instance, the USB cable comes directly out of the camera at the top of the device but IPEVO incorporated a nice slot that runs down the length of the arm that the cable tucks into to keep it out of the way.  Leave a little bit of the cable loose at the top, though, because you can swivel the camera head to best handle your setup location.  The multi-jointed stand adjusts easily but then stays in place.

My quick review was done in my living room with no overhead lighting connected to a digital projector projecting the image onto a blank painted wall.  As you can see below, the image for the 8.0 megapixel camera was great and this was even after I took the resolution down significantly.  I reduced the resolution to counteract a bit of stutter that I am convinced was a result of the relatively low power of the Asus chipset in that budget laptop I was using.

Overall, I am in love with this document camera and I haven't even had time to try out half of its features.  The Ziggi can live stream video and even includes a built-in microphone allowing you to use it to create video demonstrations or even podcasts.  How great would that be in your flipped classroom!  The camera features 12x zoom and autofocus.  The autofocus was quick and smooth, barely noticeable and certainly not distracting.

The Ziggi-HD Plus is a well equipped and completely affordable document camera solution for both a permanent set up or for a frequent traveler.  Add in the live streaming and recording capabilities of the free Presenter software and it becomes a great option.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

The importance of TPACK, SAMR and the Four Cs

As Instructional Technology Coaches, we must always be working with our teachers to ensure that they are effectively integrating technology with their pedagogy and content.  We know that effective integration can have positive results but even experienced teachers often struggle with how to do this.  It should start in their preservice program, but many great teachers make it into the classroom with little background in integrating technology.

The framework that provides the basis for effective integration is TPACK.  First introduced by Punta Mishra and Matthew Koehler in 2006, TPACK attempts to explain how technology fits into the "multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge" (TPACK Explained,
Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

As you can see, the TPACK framework acknowledges the equal importance of content, pedagogy and technology.  This creates areas of effective combinations of two forms of knowledge as well as the sweet spot of TPACK when all three forms of knowledge are effectively utilized.

But even when the sweet spot is hit, there are still levels of effectiveness.  I remember seven to ten years ago when teachers, or even administrators, would brag about the integration of technology that was going on in a particular classroom.  I would eagerly go to visit that room only to find the teacher standing in the front of the room dutifully advancing through a PowerPoint presentation that was being projected on a screen ( or sometime even being projected onto an interactive whiteboard that cost thousands of dollars).  What was being projected?  The same notes that the teacher had been hand writing on the board for the last five years were now being displayed digitally while the students hurriedly scribbled them into their notebooks.  That is not integration.

One commonly referred to framework that can be used to promote effective integration is the SAMR Model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.  SAMR, as shown below, encourages teachers to move past the basic substituting of technology for another, less digital, method to the more effective redefinition of learning using technology.

It is important to note that Dr. Puentedura's work has come under some scrutiny because there are no significant peer-review studies to validate it as a framework. (See however, I consider this criticism in the same vein of that of Bloom's Taxonomy and the new Digital Bloom's Taxonomy.  Are they perfect?  Absolutely not.  Do they provide teachers with effective frameworks that should be considered in the planning and implementation of lessons and units?  Absolutely.

This is especially true when you consider how effective technologists have adapted these frameworks for practical application.  One of the best in my mind is the incredible Kathy Schrock's interpretation of Bloom's Digital that highlights the cognitive processes inherent to learning.

This graphic is useful to me because it reminds me that all of the cognitive levels are interconnected. As much as we want to criticize those activities at the lowest levels of Bloom's (when referring to the traditional, triangular version), this graphic reinforces that when done correctly, all of the levels can work together to drive the creating aspects of real learning.

That is why crosswalking these frameworks to see where and how they relate to one another is important.  Kathy has done this for us as well with this crosswalk of SAMR and the Cognitive Cogs of Bloom's.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills introduced the P21 Framework and a major component of that are the Learning and Innovation Skills.  These skills are commonly referred to as the Four Cs- Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity.  Helping teachers focus on these skills has become a priority for instructional technology coaches.  A significant impetus for this priority is the findings of the Partnership that employers are looking for these skills in future workers, and are having a hard time finding young people with these skills.
The effective integration of technology, along with other pedagogical methods such project-based learning, can result in an increase in student obtainment of these skills.  This takes a significant shift for traditional teaching methods and is the perfect opportunity for coaches to to work with teachers to help with this transition.

How have you used these frameworks in your work?  Share in the comments below!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Two Great Apps for Photos

This weekend, I picked up a couple of apps that I hoped would help me manage and edit the growing number of photos that are accumulating on my iPhone.  I took just a few minutes to check them out and here are my early thoughts.

The first app is called Flic and it is designed to help you quickly go through your photos to weed out those that you no longer need.  One of the biggest roadblocks to cleaning out unneeded photos is that you have to select them in the photos app in a view that presents many photos very small.  But install Flic and open it up and Flic will begin displaying your photos one at a time in an almost whole screen view.  From this large view, simply swipe or Flic left to trash the photo and swipe right to keep it.  Don't worry about making a mistake though because Flic will give you one more chance to confirm before it actually deletes any pictures.  It is an incredibly quick and easy way to get rid of those pictures that you took or downloaded for a specific purpose, such as a meme you downloaded so you could repost it or that picture of a shirt you took to send to your daughter to see if she liked it.  Flic is a free app but that limits you to 100 flics per day.  Splurge two bucks for unlimited flics and the ability to go back to any month and see what has been checked already.  The app will even remind you eachn month to take a few minutes to clean out your camera roll.  Think of the space you'll save!

Next up is Relight, a photo editing app that is wonderful for saving those over and underexposed pictures.  I grabbed it for $1.99 hoping to finally find an app that could save so many of those ever common lowlight iPhone shots that are really good pictures if only the lighting was better.  Well, after just a day or two with Relight and playing with about a dozen random pictures, and I quite pleased with the results.  Relight has a low light mode specifically for what I needed and it works by giving you steps that you can select to preview the results.  Once you are happy, you can save your changes either to the original or a copy.  Relight actually has seven additional modes to go along with low light.  These include enhance, over exposure, dramatic, fog, artistic, clarity, and sky.  Some of these are for corrections and some are just some cool filters to improve your photos.

Both of this week's apps are iPhone apps and are available in the Apple app store.