Category Archives: Uncategorized

Philosophy Posted

Hello all,

I posted my philosophy on my site at   I have spent so much time with you all this semester it feels odd to put up the final post and walk away.   I enjoyed getting to know you, learned from each of you, and will look forward to bumping into you in future courses.   So, goodbye for now!


Philosophy + Goodbye

I’ve attached my philosophy assignment at the bottom of this post. I’ve written about a half dozen of these by now and every professor in the School of Education has told me to keep them pretty short, and since we didn’t have a length specified, I tried to do that. I also tried to not retread water, so to speak, and to make sure everything in here was kind of new and pertained specifically to online education since that is, of course, what we’re in. So this is kind of unrelated to the normal philosophies I’ve written.

Also, I guess this is goodbye. Obviously there will still be comments made on people’s posts but this is the last assignment posting for the course, so I’d like to thank everyone for their input and feedback over the course of this semester. I’m not even done going through everyone’s final units yet but that seems a lot less final than “the final post.” I tried to get this assignment done early to make sure I had time to make comments on everything. Your posts are all just so interesting I feel the need to read them all!

I’ll keep this short and say I enjoyed meeting and interacting with all of you, and I’ve learned a lot from everyone’s posts this semester. This is my last ever ONID course (at least for a few years) so I doubt I’ll bump into you all again. Take care!

Goodbye, and I hope you all have a fine winter holiday!


Unit Defense Paper (One Page? How?)

This unit, which is designed to exist part of the way through an entire year long course covering Alaska Native literature, is designed for low-level high school students in rural Alaska. It is assumed that there will be a small number of students in this unit and they will have been in this course all year long and be familiar with course structures. I envision them as being, most likely, ninth graders with some experience with English but little experience studying Alaska Native stories outside f the context of their own lives or elementary school culture classes. I am not sure how many students would ever enroll in the course but my guess is that the numbers would be fairly low, likely below ten per semester.

Many rural Alaska schools have surprisingly decent libraries, so that is obviously important in this unit. The course is not particularly designed to impart technological skills so there is little in the way of explaining complex tools. I have tried to include multimedia somewhat, as well as student interaction as best I can. I believe the new inclusion of student interaction is executed at a level that best suits.

Student interaction is a foundational element in teaching lower level students (Burke, 2008). It helps them feel more comfortable and it helps them build ideas off of each other, so that even if they’re studying different things they can share an intellectual space with each other and grow ideas together (Lorber and Pierce, 1990). This ideology lies within the realm of constructivist theories, as I hope to position students as active learners rather than passive vessels (Ally, 2008). Students need to be involved in both designing their own educational paths and helping to teach other students, otherwise the entire educational process online can find itself being remarkably similar to 19th century mail-in correspondence courses.

The design of the course has now undergone many revisions and I have now come to a version of the unit that I am happy with. The activities are very loose and based largely on students building their ideas up to a single project. English lends itself very well to a longer brainstorming process than do many subjects, so I feel as though the current structure basically just builds up and up for weeks, which I like. I am picturing these potential ninth graders in rural Alaska as being largely at a level that necessitates long drawn out spiral building processes. The fact of the matter is that the education works best when you start from the end and work your way backwards, so that students can always be building to something (Burke, 2008). The current activities are all designed to force students to engage in activities that should make the final paper and presentation easier to conceptualize. That is the hope, anyway.

The course has three major outcomes, all of which, like I said, should help move students towards the final outcome which is the paper. The first two outcomes are peppered throughout the course; within three weeks students will have met the first two outcomes and absorbed the products of other students also meeting those outcomes. The student interaction in the first three weeks is designed to ensure that if some students are having difficulties meeting those first two outcomes, they can bounce other ideas off of each other. The fourth week’s peer edits are designed to make sure that students have no problems meeting the third and most important unit objective. If the first two build into the third one, and all of the activities are designed to build into each other, I am fairly confident now that the course is designed in such a way that student have to meet all the outcomes.

In short, my goal for this unit is to create a unit that allows students to come in without much background information and follow a path that most interests them. Obviously that puts a kind of unusual responsibility on students, but I am okay with that. That is my intention here; transferring responsibility for course design from the teacher to the students is part of what I am shooting for. I hope the unit proves successful, and I am fairly confident that this unit is designed in such a way that any student who works their way through it will meet my objectives and then some.



Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In Anderson, T., & Elloumi, F. (Eds.). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.) (pp. 15—44). Athabasca, AB, Canada: Athabasca University.

Burke, J. (2008). The English teacher’s companion: A complete guide to classroom, curriculum, and the profession (3rd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lorber, M., & Pierce, W. (1990). Objectives, methods, and evaluation for secondary teaching (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Review of Toontastic


Toontastic was fun and easy to use but perhaps more appropriate for K-3, than for higher ed. This is an iOS app, so I downloaded it to my ipad and started playing. My 6 year old took over and had a blast figuring it out. The learning curve was minimal and the guided step-by-step was very good. He had no trouble making his first movie and we were able to create right away with no frustration factor. There is also a pretty nice little parent/teacher guide.

Toontastic is a little different than the other cartoon creation tools I reviewed in that the tool lets you create an actual animated movie. You are assisted in choosing a background, characters and props. Then you record a voice over while dragging these elements around the touch pad. When you play it back, you not only hear your voice   but the character movement was is recorded, creating a fun and engaging little cartoon movie.

I don’t see this as being as useful with older audiences. For the younger set, they do coach you through creating a story with a beginning a middle and an end. That being said, if you had a specific project in mind that wanted to combine animation with voice, this would be a good choice.

Unless,   everyone that you wanted to particpate didn’t have iPads. I don’t know what this is going to look like in the future. The creators of Toontastic, Launchpad Toys, was just acquired by Google.

I was not able to export my silly movie to give you a demo without granting the app permission I did not want to grant it but you can watch the official demo movie on the Launchpad Toys webpage

Learning curve: Minimal
Ease of use: Easy
Time required to create a product: 10 minutes +
Key features: Easy to create animated characters with voiceover
Problems you encountered: Export restrictions
Barriers that might prevent effective use: iOs specific
Possible educational uses: Teaching storytelling to k-3

Review of StoryboardThat

After my experience with PowToons, I almost decided to change my review selection to give me more variety.   I am really glad I didn’t.   StoryboardThat is fantastic. The user interface was intuitive and frustration free. Their were enough built in elements to illustrate an idea without getting lulled in to searching forever.   Everything just worked.   I made the storyboard below in about 15 minutes including signing up for an account and figuring out what I wanted to do.

I was very impressed with the flexibility of use allowed to the free user.   You can’t set privacy settings but you can download the entire board or individual frames. You can download as a high resolution jpeg (Adobe Illustrator) or as a pdf.   You can create a slide show or download to powerpoint.   You can also send directly to social media or get an embed code for you website.

At the end of my 15 minutes, the little vignette below was already on my work Facebook page.

StoryboardThat has also provided dozens of lesson plans for teachers.   One created for A Streetcar Named Desire, introduces students the key elements of the 5 part play (intro, rising action, climax, falling action), and then asks them to identify and recreate a scene representing each plot point on their storyboard. Another has them storyboard the character traits of the main characters.   There are so many things that you could do with this it makes the $10/month education price very tempting.   I want to play with it more, but I am thinking of using this in a later lesson and having my leadership trainees practice civil disagreement by storyboarding a conflict scenario.

The tool is easy enough to use that it makes it realistic to add it into a workflow.   Maybe I will story board my next lesson plan or unit!

Review of Powtoons

I have been wanting to try this and I am glad I did.   I have disabused any romantic notions I might have had about creating really cool professional looking animated lectures.   This tool would be best used to create a short (15 second) animated video.   Unfortunately, you can’t download or set privacy without a paid subscription, so I am not even sure that would be worth while.

I think this tool is pretty sophisticated, but I don’t see it coming in very handy in very many instances in the classroom unless someone has more time on their hands than   I do.   Or they have a very specific idea that fits the abilities of this tool.

Here is my animated PowToon review

Learning curve: Closer to MS publisher than InDesign
Ease of use: It was easy to use, but frustrating to get a clean result.   I think you would have to use it regularly to get a decent looking product in a reasonable amount of time.
Time required to create a product: It took me a couple hours do to this.   That includes the time I wasting by starting with a complicated 2 minute lesson intro lecture… instead of the beginner level video I’m including here.
Key features: Cool animated text and graphics.   Slides with a timeline.
Problems you encountered: The timeline is too simplistic to give precise control.
barriers: If there is a close caption feature, I didn’t find it.   That takes it off the table for me.   I think the animation would actually distract from a lesson message unless very sparingly applied.   Polished and professional looking results would take some time to create, sloppy results are even more distracting.   Expensive to be able to download your product.
Possible educational uses: Given the barriers, I think there are other products that would better for most educational uses.

The company puts out some fun animated video tutorials: