A 5000 word essay coming up? – Don’t expect your students to have computers at home…

mac_1As a wise man said, the times, they are a changin’, or really when you think of it, just repeating.

When I was going to school, the chances of students having access to a real computer at home was pretty rare (I didn’t even have a Nintendo!…)* then as time went on, and prices went down, it was quite common, in fact it probably did a 180, students not having access to a computer at home was pretty rare.

But now in the days of mobile computing (think iPhone, iPad and the like), the amazing power these things have, their price, and rapid availability, things are starting to change again.

“and more suited to sitting back on the couch”

I would think the reason that there would have been a dedicated computer at home back in the day (think a traditional desktop or laptop) would be mostly a decision of the parents and their needs. This is where things are changing, the parents may be sitting in front a computer all day for work, when they come hope they may just want to browse YouTube, check in on their social media, check some email, do some eBaying, all these things mobile technologies do much easer (and more suited to sitting back on the couch). And now with iPad programs so prevalent in schools, parents must be asking themselves “well didn’t I just pay for a computer for you?” – and the answer is yes, you did.

“An iPad for example is such a powerful creation tool, if you design your lessons to its strengths”

So our schools and teachers today need to understand this and cater their resources to suit the tools at their students disposal. This is in no way ‘dumbing down‘ or limiting what you are asking your students can do, in fact it is the complete opposite. An iPad for example, is such a powerful creation tool, if you design your lessons to its strengths.

So maybe next time instead of asking your students to write a 1000 word document on Weather, get them to create a video, do a real-life weather report, collaborate, share and create, and then share this online for others… I am sure they will thank you for it (and learn quite a lot more)

*Yes, this is probably the tenth time I have bought up my like of Nintendo childhood. I did get a SEGA eventually…thanks mum.

RESOURCES: HTAV – Australian Curriculum World War 1 Course iBook Author Working Files (and more)

pictureFor those of you that attended my workshop yesterday, I promised a lovely little gift. All the working files from two of my popular History courses. My Year 9 Australian Curriculum course for World War 1 (currently highlighted in the iTunes Store’s Australian Curriculum section) and also my Japanese Art History Project (currently highlighted in the DEECD channel)

All these books show slightly different use-cases for iBooks Author and Multi-Touch books (The World War 1 course has a collection of books for different topics, all with different purposes, the Japanese Art History books is a very detailed and visual example)

As I said in my talk, I think the best way to learn something new is to pull apart something old that works (which is why I was always getting in trouble for working our old 486 Computer when I was 13…sorry mum) so feel free to pull my work apart.

To access the resources click here*

*The page is password protected, so for those interested please just send me an email at danielmgarcia@live.com or tweet me at @dgarciatweets

RESOURCES: HTAV – Teach the Past with Tools of the Future Workshop – Flemington Racecourse 29 September 2015

workshopI will be running a workshop tomorrow (or today depending on when you get to this page!) at the History Teachers’ Association of Australia (HTAA) National Conference.

This post is for the attendees to my workshop and will contain links to all the resources I have created for the day. First of which will be my Keynote deck for my opening talk (as I intend to blaze though this pretty fast so we can have more time doing the fun part…making stuff)

I will also be recording the keynote and workshop sessions so you can come back to these later (you know, in case you missed one of my witty jokes) or to share with others that were unable to attend. I will update my blog when these are available after the event.

Downloads / Links / Video (Updated)

iBooks Author (from the Mac App store – Free)

Keynote Deck (as a PDF without fancy animations I’m afraid…)


Though I recorded today’s session, I thought it best to show you something similar, but new – Here is a video of a session I run with a small group of teachers, no time limit on me on this one!

Start at the 18 minute mark to skip my keynote but see some hands on examples of iBooks and iTunes U and also a more in-depth creation session. Enjoy.

Creating a Gameful learning space, not gamified education (gamification)


Gamified, or gamification in education was all the rage a few years back, and why not, kids love video games, naturally if we make education like video games they will love it too!, well it is never really that straightforward but that didn’t stop people talking about it. It seems that gamification is still in the air in education circles, and it has found a big place in business and industry.

“many, many hours of plays testing”

My concern with gamification is in its implementation. Sure, adding game elements sounds fun, but doing it right is tough. There is a reason why a typical video game has many game designers, years of concepts and interaction, and most importantly many, many hours of plays testing.

I know when I was designing lessons for my class, to keep these original and engaging I would often come up with them the day before, or on the spot – my play testing was done in the class and changes made on the fly. Good luck finding the time to really take a gamified approach to your lessons.

The other issue I have with the way gamification is often tackled in class is the extrinsic motivations it adds, are students really engaged in the content? Are they completing their latest activity because they really enjoy it and can see a positive result in their lives…or just so they can get to the top of the leaderboard?

“they are given a space in which they can put that learning in action in an engaging, challenging and, at times, competitive way”

These are all the questions that are coming up as I work on my current project. And my answer? well, it is a rather complex system, one I can’t just show you yet, but it basically comes down to the learning space.

I want to focus on creating a learning space that is engaging, challenging and playful – the game or play space. (I am working on an online space, but this could be your school or classroom) and some lessons that empower its users to learn by doing and create media artefacts that speak to this.

Think of it like a sport; game of football. Football takes a lot of training, commitment and, well, hard work. Yet every weekend our students come together and put this work into action on the sporting ground, they are given a space in which they can put that learning in action in an engaging, challenging and, at times, a competitive way. They are working together to achieve a goal bigger than themselves.

This is the space I want to create. How?, well, that I hope to show you soon.

So, what is a (video) game these days?

A question I have been asking the past few weeks is the place of video games in society these days, the ‘what are they’ question. Sure, we could go back to the beginning where it was an electronic game that was played on a video screen, heck, even computer game is fairly self-explanatory. But what is it? entertainment, distraction, hobby?

My work these days is now in the sport field and more often than not I have been thinking of video games, or games, as just another sport. Both can be done for fun, or be part of serious competition. Both may require a lot of training, practice and knowledge to get better, or just be a causal play session with no prior knowledge or skill needed. Both can be played alone or in teams. Both can transcend language, culture and distance. But most importantly, (and in most, but not all cases) both require some input and direction from the player (a fact that separates video games from other media such as movies or music). I won’t even get into the nitty gritty detail of how video games as a medium have come so far from mindless entertainment to develop complex and branching narratives and messages – That is a conversation for another time.

I have been thinking of video games, or games, as just another sport

Video games tend to get highlighted when ever anything negative comes up (a lot like sport) but the positive effects they have on education, wellbeing, community and more tend to get left in the background in the main stream press (us teachers have known about the positive effect gaming has on learning for years now)

Maybe if we change they way we think and classify video games, it will help in changing the way we get others to engage in them.

Video games are an expressive medium, a cultural platform: like movies and TV, they have something to say and they fit together with other ways in which we communicate with each other and explore ideas as a society.

Further reading? – Keith Stuart writing for eurogamer on Why I will never call video games a hobby


There’s Money in Teaching Yet, well, at least $27.56 – How Google AdSense can work for Teachers

In a previous post I showed you how you could make some extra cash for your school using Apple’s Affiliate Program, well, now I will share with you how to make some cash for yourself! (or school if you are so way inclined).

I have been posting videos on YouTube now for years, most of it educational content I created for my classes or students. These videos have produced many, many thousands of views over the years, and recently I thought, “what if I tried some of Google’s advertising options?”

When you setup a YouTube account you have the option to monetise your videos. This, I think, is an area you want to be a little careful with, for me, this is educational content I am putting up so my main goal here is to help students, not hit them with ads. Thankfully Google give you a range of options to how you monetise your videos.  Check out the image below:

Ways to monetise your videos.

As you can see from the three options, they really are a range of how intrusive the ads will be, option one and two, I feel, add a bit of extra work for viewers of your video, no one wants to sit through an ad (especially students that are watching this to learn something) so these two options are providing a small barrier to that content. These two I avoid, I use the last option which puts an ad on the side panel of the webpage, not interfering with your message (and to be honest, far enough out-of-the-way to be forgettable).

Of course, one thing to bear in mind is that each of these options of ad placement also affect the payments you receive, longer, non-skippable ads will earn you quite a lot more cash, but again, I was really just experiencing with how this works and not in it for the money…clearly, when you see my results.

So, I had a look art some of the hundreds of videos I have made, the most popular? How to use Google Maps to find contour lines on any map. 

It then became the first result when doing a google search on the topic!

This video, was one of those perfect teacher moments. I was teaching a Geography class and we were looking at maps, specifically, contour maps. During the class I had a question from a student; “How do I use Google Maps to find corner lines?” at the time there was no easy way shown on how to do this, so, I just did a super quick screen recording on how you find them – Student Happy, Class Happy. Then I thought, well, if my students wanted to find this info out and couldn’t, others might, so in one click I uploaded it to YouTube and quietly forgot about it – It then became the first result when doing a google search on the topic!

Then, it was just set and forget.

With over 40,000 views I thought this would be a perfect test video. So, I went through the process of setting up monetisation (just sign up to Google AdSense), and turned it on.

Then, it was just set and forget. I am not exactly sure how the whole ads = cash work, but it basically comes down to views. The more views the video has, the more ad impressions it can serve, the more cash you will make.

 I am earning a massive 10c a day!

Again, I am not going to retire off this, but this is how it worked out over the next few months:

What is going on with that spike there?

As you can see, I am earning a massive 10c a day!, if this keeps up I could retire, by the year…. 2899.

What is that spike in the middle there, when I earn an unprecedented $1.53? let’s have a look:

Thanks Norway, today I can buy a coffee…maybe I will pay in krone?

Yep, Norway. Why the surge? Who knows, maybe it was a national exam on geography the next day?, Norway teachers are running a class on contour maps?, either way, I was rolling in the kroner

I was rolling in the kroner

So that was my little experiment, what did I learn from this?

As I said, I have hundreds of videos on my channel, most of these are lessons for my students, student work, and other things like that, but from those I am lucky to get a few cents. In fact, this contour map video made up half of my complete earnings from all my videos in the time frame.

it answered a simple question that many people around the world were asking

Why?, well the answer is simple. All my videos are for my students, the world as a collective whole isn’t searching for them, but this 1 minute video – it answered a simple question that many people around the world were asking, it was what they were searching for, why it is on the top of the google search listings, and why it is watched.

My advice for teachers? What is the constant question you are getting in your classes, the one that all students seem to ask every class, lesson or year? – The one you answer and explain simply so they get it? – Well, film it, put in on YouTube and see if the world is asking the same questions?

You too could be retiring with me…in 2899

Design your App first and your website second?

As I plug away on designing the ‘what‘ of our project, one thing is clear, user engagement and usage. Accessing the web via mobile is ever-growing, and the benefits of the ease of was of an App; being able to access more functions of the device easily, will be key in our users using our product.

So, why go to the trouble of building a web platform at all? (think of what you are doing right now..yep, at work, wasting time, on your work computer)

 it is a one screen, one purpose space

The biggest thing to consider though is the window the mobile platform gives you. To me, it is a one screen, one purpose space. You need to capture the users attention and be able to deliver what ever you need in one screen. Sure, you will have other functions, but these can be on other screens (and hopefully be intuitive to slide between).

The web?, well, that can come later. Once we have a solid App platform, redesigning and repurposing that for the web is the easy part.


From Industry to Teaching and Back Again (and what the teaching profession could learn)

As you know now, I am on to career number 23 (but who’s counting?)

how can you teach a design class if you never have had to design a product and get it to market?

I started in industry many years ago focusing on design, production, making stuff and everything in between. It allowed me to learn on my feet, travel, and most importantly, bring some genuine knowledge and experience to my teaching and in my classroom. This is something I feel is very important for all our teachers, how can you teach a design class if you never have had to design a product and get it to market (after many failures)? The reflection on my work and what I learnt helped me create some real thinking and discussion in my classroom. Of course, I know this is not always possible (heck, I taught Year 8 History for two years without ever traveling back in time to Medieval Europe, but that’s not my fault, it is really this guy’s). tumblr_msnyf479g51qban3jo1_500 Now I have headed back into industry (still with an education focus) it got me thinking about the difference between the two (and not the fact that I can get a coffee without having to pay for the weekly coffee fund…but only 4 weeks holiday a year… swings in roundabouts). But the time that is placed on ones skills and how they are valued.

You skills are not only valued but sort-out and used!

What I found in teaching was that your skills, passion and time you put into making what you do for your clients (that would be students) is often taken for granted. You know, some people just want to work harder, try new things, and engage students. If you went above and beyond that was just what you do. This is not the case I have found these last two months. You skills are not only valued but sort-out and used!, colleges see ways in which what you know or are doing may help them and instead of ignoring that fact they ask “how can this benefit my project” – you know, how can we all work together, and share our knowledge. Time is given for this, people learn and grow from each other and we become a better organisation. Now, if only this was the case in all our schools?*

*Thought this one needed a bit of a ‘but’. I know this is not happening everywhere, in fact, my last school really promoted and celebrated what I was able to bring to the school (shout out Good Sam) but imagine if this was an approach that all teachers and leaders in schools took on board, given time in the week to focus on, celebrate and share? 

I will be presenting at the HTAA National History Conference – 29 September 2015

NapkinYes, blatant self promotion.

I have been asked to present at the HTAA National History Conference this September (29 to be exact) at Flemington Racecourse. I will be giving a workshop: Teach the Past with Tools of the Future – a hands on session that will allow participants to see how powerful, and easy, it is for teachers to create original, engaging and interactive content for their students. My focus being creating Multitouch Books and using online platforms like iTunes U, and empowering the participants to leave having done (or at least started) the same.

If you’re a History teacher, come along. Should be a great day.

You can find out more details on the event soon here.

Click here for the advanced Conference Program