Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Website: CLICK HERE

When starting this assignment of creating a digital portfolio, I visited many of the sites listed in order to see where I wanted my website to be hosted.  I immediately gravitated to, as I was drawn to the infographic style they used.  I signed up for an account and started editing my page.  After a few minutes, I realized that this site did not offer the customization that I wanted.  I was unable to upload videos and documents, and I could not customize the layout in the ways I wanted.  I decided that was not going to suit my needs, so I went to  Again, I signed up for an account and began editing, when I ran into many of the same issues.  After thinking for a while, I remember that I had used for a previous Wilkes class in order to make a website.  I remembered that Weebly allowed for much more customization, and had many more capabilities than the other sites I had explored.

In building my Weebly site, I had to make a lot of choices about what I wanted to include.  I really like the social media buttons that Weebly offers (in the top right corner and bottom of my page).  These buttons allow people to e-mail me, and connect to me on social media sites, but do not take up a lot of space on the page.  I do not like cluttered websites, so I appreciate these buttons.  I then began to include coursework and projects.  I linked to the two blogs I have created for Wilkes classes, and then took advantage of Weebly's capabilities and included a document, video, image, and link.  I'm happy with how my website turned out, and I think it is representative of what I have accomplished here in the Wilkes Instructional Media program.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Broadcast Yourself

This week's assignment was to complete a live broadcast.  My friend and I write a blog about nail art and nail polish, so I decided to broadcast a tutorial.  I chose to do a tutorial for galaxy nails, which are a popular design at the moment.  I have posted galaxy nail designs on the blog many times, and I have had a lot of people ask me how to do them.  I posted a photo tutorial for it a while back, but I still get questions from people.  So to answer those questions, I decided to do the broadcast tutorial.

I invited friend and family members who are always asking me how I do various nail designs.  I also advertised on the Twitter account I use for the blog.  Four people showed up for the broadcast (although one left partway through), and they seemed to enjoy it!

For the broadcast, I chose to use Google Hangouts.  I wanted to use this program, because it was a Google tool that I was not familiar with.  I like to try out all the Google tools that I can, so I was glad for the opportunity to use Hangouts.  I started the broadcast by showing everyone what polishes they would need to complete the design:

I then walked through the process of creating the design step by step.  One issue I did run in to was the clarity of video.  I used an external webcam for this, since the one built in to my computer wasn't what I needed for this type of video.  Because I wanted to be able to aim the camera at my nails, I needed the external webcam.  I'm not sure if it was the quality of that camera, or just the quality of video on Google Hangouts, but it did take away from the broadcast a bit.  Since I was trying to show close ups of nail art, I would have like to have better quality.  It was slightly better than what is shown here (the capture feature on Google Hangouts takes very low-quality screen shots), but was not as good as I would have liked.  I had to give better descriptions of what I was doing, rather than just relying on the video to show what to do.

 One thing that I really liked about doing a live tutorial is that people were able to ask questions along the way.  For example, after I finished the design, there were a few questions about nail art in general.  One person wanted to know what kind of tools I used to create my designs, and I was able to answer the question and show the tools.  It was nice to be able to provide immediate responses to questions.
 Since the captures picture quality is so low, here's a better picture of the final design:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have done live broadcasts with my students.  I think that live broadcasts can be an extremely helpful tool in certain situations.  While I don't think Google Hangouts is the best choice for broadcasting with students, I could certainly see myself using Google Hangouts in the future in order to connect with friends and family.

Attend a Live Webinar

Earlier in the course of this class, I signed up for an Edmodo account.  I had heard that it is a wonderful tool for teachers to use, and I know a lot of teachers in the World Language department use it with great success.  So I signed up for an account, and hadn't really done anything with it since.  I knew I wanted to use it next year, but wasn't even sure when to start.  Then, I got an e-mail from Edmodo inviting me to participate in a "Intro to Edmodo" webinar.  Knowing that I had this assignment this week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

The "Intro to Edmodo" webinar lasted about 30 minutes.  During that time, we were given an overview of what Edmodo is, a look at the features, and some tips for implementing Edmodo in our classrooms.  The presenter was knowledgeable about Edmodo, and also had experience as a classroom teacher.  I appreciated this, as I felt like I was getting information from someone that understood the classroom side of Edmodo and not just the technical features.  I would definitely consider attending future Edmodo webinars, because they seem to be a great way to get information on how to best use Edmodo.  I would like to learn about Edmodo in more depth before the school year starts, so I will be looking out for future webinars.

I have used webinars with my students before, and plan to continue to do so in the coming school year.  My 7th and 8th grade French 1 and French 2 students have to take a comprehensive county-wide final exam at the end of the school year.  This exam covers everything they have learned in the class, and if they do not pass the exam, they do not earn high school credit for the class.  This means they have to repeat the class the following year.  Needless to say, this causes a lot of stress for my students.  Two years ago, to help alleviate some of the stress, I set up a webinar for the night before the exam.  For the webinar, I used WizIQ, which I had learned about in a previous Wilkes class.  During the webinar, I answered students' questions, reviewed topics that would be on the exam, used the microphones to help students with pronunciation, etc.  My students absolutely loved the webinar.  At the end of last year, I had over 40 students participate.  They came in to school the next day and thanked me profusely for the webinar, and many said that they would not have passed the exam without it.

Webinars are wonderful tools, however they do require a time commitment.  Since they are held live, you have to be in a certain place at a certain time.  This could be challenging for both students and teachers.  I don't know if I would incorporate regular webinars into my class for this reason.  I think they are great for the situation I described with the final exam, but I don't know if they are really feasible or necessary for regular use.  That being said, I know that many webinar hosting sites offer the ability to record the session for future playback.  This might make regular webinars more possible.  Unfortunately this eliminates the live aspect, where students can interact with each other and the teacher.  However it is a good compromise for the time commitment.  There's definitely a lot to think about when considering webinars for classroom use!