Unit 7: Learning folios

The concept

With all of the opportunities available for free, continuous learning online, it’s important to consider how we make our learning visible (and why we would want to).

As professionals we are can often be asked to provide some examples of our own professional learning. Often professional registration can depend on having this. So if nothing else, being able to show evidence of this learning can help in that process. But more importantly, publishing our learning online means we can also open ourselves up to feedback, conversations and further learning opportunities.

The same applies to students (at any age level). Making work available online means the student has a more authentic audience. Initiatives like the #comments4kids hashtag on Twitter (where teachers promote student work and ask for visitors to provide comments) shows the value of involving students in learning communities. Have a look at the work of Rebecca Spink and her Grade 5/6 class to see what happens when student work is promoted.

The other benefit of this is that students build up an online ‘learning folio’ that showcases their work and makes it easier for students to come back to the work later. For example, when students move from year level to year level, primary to secondary school or even from school to school they will still be able to access their work. In this age of ‘digital footprints’ and concerns over online behaviour a folio of published work will also make a Google search for their name more likely to bring up positive results. For a great summary of why this is important read primary teacher Kathleen Morris’ blog post on Teaching children about their digital footprint.

So there are some real benefits to keeping an online learning folio. Your blog entries from this course will serve as a record of your learning. If you hadn’t blogged before then hopefully it has inspired you to reflect on your learning online. The next time you attend a conference, listen to a podcast, read a book or complete an online course make sure you publish your notes and reflections. Apart from the benefits of keeping yourself organised, it also lets others benefit from what you’ve learnt.

Remember to also share it back into the #vicpln network (and your other networks) using your preferred social media or social bookmarking tool. It may not feel natural, but remember that if people are following you or the #vicpln hashtag then they are probably interested in what you have to say. You could also make use of the sharing options in Evernote to publish your work, but we have found that blogs are still the most flexible way to record what you’ve been up to (because you can embed all sorts of media and also people can follow your blog via RSS).

On that point, let’s have a look at a way to make your blogs more visual and help share your learning.

The task

Would you like to know how we made all these little how-to videos for the course? Screencasting is a video of what you’re doing on your computer, so you can share it with other people.

It’s really useful for professional development and passing on instructional details, because you can outline the process without having to actually say, “Click on the button on the left of the screen”. You just do it. It’s also a great option for students to share what they have learnt about a piece of software- they could record tutorials for other students about a range of topics.

As with many of the other tools we have explored so far, there are a number of different screencasting options out there. We have chosen just a couple to share with you that we have used successfully in the past. These tools are free.

Screenr

Screenr is free to use and you don’t need to download any software. You can record audio and video from your desktop at the same time, so you can narrate what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. To publish your screencast you will need to log in, but you can do that by using your sign in details from an account you have already set up with Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

The video below is a quick tour of the features of Screenr.

If you have any trouble with Screenr, Screencast-o-matic is a good alternative. It can be installed on your Mac or PC and offers similar features to Screenr. You can also upload videos directly to YouTube.

Jing

Many of the videos in the PLN course were made using Camtasia, a paid screencasting program made by Techsmith (we also use Techsmith’s SnagIt for taking screenshots). Techsmith also offer a great free screencasting program in Jing. You do need to download the software which is about 6.60 MB. You will need to accept the fine print, but the install should be pretty quick and it will automatically open with a quick Jing tutorial (Note: there is no audio for this). You will need to sign up for a Jing account, then the little Jing ‘sun’ will appear at the top of your screen and you’re ready to start recording.

You can read more about Jing here, and find out about how one teacher uses Jing to not just record tutorials, but also provide verbal feedback to students about their work.

Screenshot software:

There is a wide range of software that lets you take snaps of your screen. Many also let you annotate the shot by adding text, arrows and shapes. It’s how we did many of the step by step tutorials and troubleshooting throughout the course. One great free tool for screenshot software is Skitch. It is owned by Evernote and can send screenshots straight to your Evernote account.  There are also mobile app versions of Skitch for the major phones and tablets. It does require installation on your computer, but if you’re looking for a screenshot alternative for Chrome then Awesome Screenshot is worth a try.

Make a tutorial:

Using Screenr, Jing or another screencasting tool of your choice, make your own screencast of a tool, skill or resource that you have discovered using the PLN. Embed it in your blog and share it with your colleagues. It doesn’t have to be long – you don’t even need to include narration if you don’t want to – but it’s a great way to share your professional learning with others.

Go to the next task – Continuous learning

Go to Unit 7 overview.