EDTech 542: PBL Course Reflection

After completing this course I now have a greater understanding of Project Based Learning versus just assigning a project. In a project based learning model the instructor acts more like a coach and the students are finding their path through the content through discovery. The process of creating a PBL approach to instruction involves a lot more planning on the part of the teacher than a traditional model of instruction. As the teacher needs to anticipate the various paths that their students may travel and how to coach them in the direction that will be most meaningful given the driving question and the learning objectives. I feel that the most challenging part of PBL was creating a broad enough driving question. Getting that aspect of the PBL model is an area I still feel I need more practice with in the future.

When I first signed up for this course I thought it would be more of creating projects that infused technology into the classroom. I hadn’t realized the main goal of the course would surround an overarching learning theory that was this scripted in it’s process for development. I learned the correct process for creating a PBL experience for my students. I’ve also gained a toolkit of resources of where to go to create additional PBL experiences for my students in the future.

I plan on implement the elementary version of the PBL created next week through the completion of the academic year. As I transition into my new position for the fall, I will implement the Middle School/High School timelines for that position in September. I will continue to reflect and make modifications along the way as various elements of the Digital Footprint project are tried out. In the new position I have acquired for the fall the philosophy of the school is project based learning infused with a classical education model. As a result, I believe that I will be looking back at the toolkit of resources frequently to develop curricular units in the future.

Creating a Positive Digital Footprint Project

EDTech 513: Digital Story Project

The above project has been created as a sample to use with my students next year for an All About Me project.  Students are coming into a charter school as 6th graders from several other different schools.  This assignment will introduce students to using Movie Maker to create a video about themselves.  Students will discuss where they have gone to school during prior academic years, their interests and extracurricular activities, their families, and their favorite things.  This will create a digital story about each student that will later be used as an artifact for their digital portfolio.

This assignment demonstrates the personalization principal because it is created with more of a conversation style of writing in order to inform an audience.  It will be used as a kick off for students to learn a little bit more about their teacher in order to build a sense of community and sharing within the class.  In addition, given the personal story I believe that students will be able to better identify with the story as it is presented in a first person account.  I specifically referenced my own experiences as a middle school educator over my teaching career and how each of my choices impacted the next creating a linear story line.

EDTech 513: Personalization Theory

Problem Scenario

You have been working on a script for a narrated lesson. As a teacher, you are convinced that a more relaxed, less formal conversational style is the way to go. However, you need to get this approved by your instructional design team, one of whom is an English major and a stickler for “proper” English and grammar. When you show him your script, he is aghast. How might you respond?


Dear Script Naysayer,


I appreciate your point of view regarding wanting to use “proper” English and grammar to create a professional piece of instructional material.  However, there is research that backs the model for which my script for the lesson narration is based.  We want the learner to engage with our content.  This can be a challenge in a virtual learning environment such as the one we are creating for this course.


According to Clark & Mayer and the Principal of Personalization, “The psychological advantages of the conversational style, pedagogical agents, and visible authors is to induce the learner to engage with the computer as a social conversational partner.” (p. 180).  This can make the learner feel more engages in the learning process rather than in a more formal model where learners feel less connected to the content. Given the cognitive theories of how the human mind works, using a conversational style in a multimedia presentation conveys to the learner the idea that they should work hard to understand what their conversation partner is saying to them (Clark & Mayer, p. 184)    I feel that I have created the fine balance in the script where the conversational partner is both engaging but not so informal that it becomes distracting from the instruction.  We have chosen to have an actual human voice because research states that learners respond better to this that that of a voice that is more computerized.  In addition, we have chosen a female voice for the instruction given the fact that the course we are designing is for teachers which tends to be a predominantly female profession.  It has also been found that learners rate the female narrators more positively and show better problem-solving performance from a female-narrated lessons (Clark & Mayer, p 189).   I feel that if the voice selection will enable our learners to be better problem-solvers of technology use in instruction then this is a solid choice.  I was thinking of creating machinima that was dressed professionally in a virtual classroom that mimics that of the age group of students that the teachers will be instructing.  This will allow elementary teachers, middle school, and high school teachers all to envision themselves as integrating the technology into their day to day instruction better.  In addition, I felt that the narrator and coach of the instruction would be more believable if we used terms such as “I,” “we,” “our,” “we,” “you,” and “your.”  (Clark & Mayer, p. 202).


As you can see the elements included in the design have been carefully considered given sound instructional theory.  I hope you will take a second look given what I have presented with an open mind as we move forward to collaborate on this project.


Thank you in advance for your consideration

Clark, R., & Mayer, R. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

EDTech 542: PBL Reflection & Perfect

It feels odd reflecting upon my project that I have created as a 5th grade unit at this point.  I have recently accepted a different position where I’ll be teaching computer science for grades 6-9 to start.  In reflecting upon the overall project given this new development it changes my perspective quite a bit when I think about actual implementation.


As far as who will be involved in the process, I envision having numerous discussion regarding the creation of a digital portfolio with my new principal and the president/chairman of the board for the new charter school in which I will be working next year.  After several conversations over the past few weeks, they currently do not have a portfolio process in place.  I plan on adapting this project to be done with students in grades 6-12. This would be a fluid ongoing assessment/showcase of students growth throughout their educational careers as it pertains to meeting various standards that include the NETs, CSTA, as well as, core content standards.  I foresee the initial vision being formulated by myself and the administration then filtering the digital portfolio for a positive digital footprint into other contents as well.


Given my new position in a charter school that is in its infancy.  The beginning of the process will be to establish a scope and sequence of which I foresee the Positive Digital Footprint project will be introduced during the 6th grade year.  We will begin with the creation of artifacts that have digital reflections upon the learning as it pertains to the NETs and CSTA.  In addition, students will create the word cloud as one of the next phases as a visual way to represent who they are.  Students will complete the 6th grade portion of the matrix to organize their artifacts.  These artifacts can be created in any content area as well as in enrichment activities provided during the regular term or during the summer enrichment camps offered.  Student will begin to create their Positive Digit.  al Footprint by beginning the digital portfolio process.  Students will create a homepage explaining the purpose of their digital portfolio and a brief introduction to who they are.  They will add their word cloud to their home page.  They will then add a page to their Google site for their 6th grade year and upload any artifacts along with digital reflections they possess.  Their design team will review and provide feedback on their site for revision.  At this point, students will be assessed and given feedback from the course instructor that they can use for further revisions.  Student sites will be shared with the computer science teacher.  Depending upon the result of further conversations, I envision it may be shared other classroom teachers, with parents, the principal, and president of the board for the charter school.


In year two, students may be assigned to a new design team.  They will review their 6th grade page with attached artifacts and reflections.  Students may want to make revisions and adjustments to this page in order to improve its content.  In addition, they will revise their homepage to include any additional new interests and their current grade levels.  As 7th grade students they will have completed the digital footprint graphic that will be the header of their 7th grade page that will be added to their digital portfolio.  Students will upload new artifacts that have been outline in their artifact matrix along with relevant reflections pertaining to their learning process.  As in the prior year, the student design team will review each others portfolios and provide feedback for improvement prior to final submission to the instructor.  The students will again be assessed and given feedback from the course instructor than they can use for further revisions.


The 8th grade and subsequent years of will follow the same process of artifact showcase, reflection, peer feedback, revision, and submission.  As students approach the time of applying for college, further discussion will take place as to students sharing these as part of their college application process.  At the present point, the school is only 6-8, however, a grade will be added each year until the charter school is 6-12.  Given the fact that I’ll be creating the curricula for the department and the overall mission of the school, I feel that this environment will provide more flexibility for the PBL model of education.

As a result of all of this, I am finding that I need to go back and make some revisions to the timeline of my initial project.  In addition, the matrix needs adjustments as well.  I believe that I may want to add additional information about digital citizenship into the mix as well.

EDTECH: 542 PBL Week 9 & 10 Reflection

In a project based model of learning other educators and administrators don’t see the the students as “learning” because the teacher isn’t standing in front of the classroom “doing” the modeling of each and every step in the process.  The student centered approach to learning has not been the “preferred” methodology in most of the schools I have worked during my educational career.  Most educators, I have found, are more comfortable using scripted programs, fill in the blank worksheets, and canned curricula.  This seems to be more prevalent at the elementary levels than the middle and upper grades.  The thought of looking at the standards and using that to drive instruction rather than the teachers manual to many is intimidating.  With this said as an I.C.T teacher there isn’t a one size fits all curricula with a teachers manual.  Project centered learning with the teacher as a facilitator, coach, and problem solver is the nature of my position.


What I find eye opening is that this philosophy is embedded into my position as a specialist, with learning that is project centered on process, quality, and product seems to be an ongoing contradiction to the philosophies ingrained in elementary classrooms.


How do we as educators respond to criticisms about project based student centered learning?  That is a great quadry.  I find that I am backing my instruction by using the standards and pointing out to others the shift in the language.  For example many of the K-2 ELA standards use the phrase “with adult assistance students will”.  This phrase appears a lot less in the 3rd grade and is almost non-existent come 4th grade.  The language changes to “students will create, publish, type, cite, etc.”  The shift in the standards indicates a shift in instructional strategy from being teacher centered instruction in K-2 to that of student centered in grades 3 and up.


An effective classroom facilitator knows when to coach, engage, and directly instruct given the needs of students.  When acting as a facilitator rather than a teacher on the stage one tends to have smaller more meaningful conversations with students given the current phase of the process they are in.  As a facilitator you need to be flexible and be able to change direction with the changing needs of the students as they work their way through the project based learning tasks moving towards the culminating end result.


Students will even in a project based learning environment develop the skills and competencies need to be successful.  In the positive digital footprint project students are gaining valuable skills of organization, research, citing sources, uploading files, editing an website, and reflection upon learning.  All of these 21st century skills are an integral part of being a great digital citizen in what is become a global economy.  Students need to recognize that their internet presence is visible and they need to put their best foot forward by showcasing their skills.


In order to be an effective facilitator in my PBL unit, I will create screen-casts of how to use the various digital tools available to students in the project.  As these are needed, I will push these resources out to students in Google Classroom so they can access them when needed.  We will have students give status updates in classroom along the way so classmates can give feedback and as the facilitator I can monitor progress and jump in when students may need additional assistance and guidance along the way.  Paper copies of resources will be organized in a central location of the classroom and digital copies of these will be available in Google Classroom as well.

This week additional refinements have been made to the PBL unit on Creating a Positive Digital Footprint.

EDTECH 513: Coherence Principle

The Coherence Principle


According to Clark & Mayer, the coherence principle may be the single most important of those presented.  In summary, it basically states to not over do it with extra unrelated graphics, sound, and media.  This principle appears to bring all those discussed up to this point together in a cohesive form.

  • make sure for those with little prior knowledge there are relevant graphics presented with word (these must be connected)
  • Audio narration of animation (if this is done; don’t use music too)
  • Avoid extraneous graphic as they can be disruptive to the learning process (Clark & Mayer, p. 159)
  • Avoid graphics and media that create distraction, disruption, & seduction
  • Keep images simple
  • Short concise narration is best
  • Use signaling such as: headings, bold, italics, underlining, capital letters, larger font, color, white space, arrows, and related techniques to draw the learner’s attention to specific parts of the display or page. (Clark & Mayer, p. 173)


Coherence in Action

In my own practice as an elementary educator, I have made the most use out of signaling to draw the learners attention to key information.  When creating step by step directions for students I make actions bold on the page.  Any screenshots showing students where buttons are in a software application have arrows pointing to where they need to look on the screen.  Give the fact that students are using these tools for the first time, I include a lot of screenshots embedded into project directions so students always know what the next step looks like.  I have also found video modeling to be very helpful.  Initially, I recorded a project as one long video file.  I found this was too long for students to track.  As a result, I now chunk the video modeling into chunks of about 3-5 minutes.


As for the acquisition of new vocabulary into working memory with younger students, I find using digital flashcards that have pictures and words very powerful.  Just last week I was using the interactive whiteboard as a whole group lesson on shapes using Quizlet.  We first previewed the shape vocabulary with word and image showing as phase one.  For phase two students matched the image with the correct work using the word using the scatter game.  It made for a great whole group lesson using digital tools to support learning.


Clark, R., & Mayer, R. (2008). Applying the Coherence Principle. In E-Learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.


Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(7), 611-623


Moreau, R., & Mayer, R. (n.d.). IMEJ Article – A Learner-Centered Approach to Multimedia Explanations: Deriving Instructional Design Principles from Cognitive Theory. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://imej.wfu.edu/articles/2000/2/05/index.asp

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EDTECH 513 Coherence Principle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://joannamarcotteedtechlearninglog.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/edtech-513-coherence-principle/.