Dr. Paul Leslie

Dr. Paul Leslie

Friday, 18 March 2016 07:19

Engage your audience

I am currently participating in a Poll Everywhere webinar. They are using the 'GoToWebinar' software, which seems to be quite effective. In the past few weeks I have used Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting for different online group activities. Today, as I watch and participate in the activities, I am struck by how powerful the simple act of getting people to perform small tasks can be to capture our focus and attention.

poll ev

During the webinar, they were able to bring us into the conversation through a variety of options. One was to allow questions on the side as we watched the presentation. In this instance, the moderator / presenter needed to be careful to actually check the question box to make sure that the audience questions were answered in a timely fashion and in context of what was happening on the screen. I asked a couple questions and the moderator actually noted that, "Paul asked the following question, ...". This lets me know that I am being heard and the quick response and full answer was very useful. In this example, the moderator was using text messaging to let people respond and so, since I am in Canada, I did not want to send a text and asked about this. He was able to show how others could answer via text from almost anywhere in the world and not incur large charges on their phone.

By asking questions in a timely manner, he was able to keep the presentation moving smoothly and get a large number of people to respond properly to the answers. In many cases, the success of the polls is highly dependent on everyone answering so that there is an abundance od data and ideas being shared which can then be rolled back into the presentation. This may seem obvious, but the importance of this must be stressed.

As each poll is finished, there are a number of options for retrieving and preserving the date. The most simple means is to capture a screen shot of the poll. The poll does let you create a lovely screen shot or a downloadable slide which can then be shared with students or the group afterwards for review. This could be embedded in a Flickr album, if there are numerous slides and then the album could be embedded in a blog or other online 'article' such as might be found in a BlackBoard or Moodle blog or content screen

poll informalself 200

There are actually a wide range of great features including an extensive student response capture feature that integrates with BlackBoard and soon, Moodle. These will allow participation grades as well or a wide range of group activities such as group quizzes with large groups of students. If you have 80 - 100 students, you can put them in groups of 5-7 and then have one recorder for each group to add their response. The answers are more or less immediate and so this could be a very exciting activity. 

One idea that the moderator mentions, and that I have actually done in the past is to get an assistant to help manage the polls from a laptop. As you progress, you can actually activate each poll individually yourself from a mobile device, or you can get a student or teaching assistant to manage the polls from their laptop.

One of the true values of being able to let students or the audience participate in presentations this way can be found in Freire (1996), who states that the truly reflective and liberated educator,

“presents the information to the students for their consideration, reconsiders her own considerations as the students express their own” (p. 62).

express ideas trans

By allowing our audience and students to present their ideas to each other, we allow a sense of teaching presence, which is the ability to ask questions of each other and challenge each other's ideas and perceptions. This creates a sense of cognitive dissonance in which we feel unsure, or out of equilibrium. We are then naturally inclined to then try to adjust our own ideas or those around us by seeking or creating new ideas to allow us to reestablish equilibrium. Knowledge is purpose and that causes us to be engaged.

  teaching presence

Tuesday, 08 March 2016 05:45

Mobile Learning - EFF 17 and UNESCO

As I listen to the Education Fast Forward webinar, I am very interested and intrigued by many of the comments. I am going to try and capture a few as we go along.

education fast forward logo

One comment came from a content provider in the UK. He noted that despite the fears and hesitations in using mobile technology, over 90% of teachers use mobile devices to access their content. His point was that lets stop worrying about these devices and just get on with it. Similarly, a speaker from India noted that although mobile learning was being piloted all over the country and great efforts being made to use mobiles, they are actually banned in most schools.

Another comment noted that how can we pursue mobile learning if teachers are not familiar themselves with this technology. I tweeted that perhaps teachers could learn with their students. Teaching does not necessarily mean learn first, teach later. Many people are asking about teacher training with mobile learning technology. Others are saying and repeating, just get on with it.

One comment stated that since most people just want to get on with it despite cautions and concerns, he would like to see tweets about how to start using mobiles tomorrow. I tweeted that we could start with our own blogs and try to use features that are mobile friendly. Perhaps that is a good topic for me to pursue on my site?

Screenshot paulleslie site

For example, when putting images in mobile blogs, make sure you use the "alt-text" feature so that screen readers can read the image for blind people or if the image is not loading properly in the many different phones available.


In an effort to offer support to my curriculum vitae - AKA my narrative of learning - over the past 22 years of teaching, I am offering this voiced presentation that discusses my philosophy of teaching and learning and how this philosophy informs both my research and my pedagogy - what I do in the classroom.

Through this presentation, I also endeavor to give a glimpse of my vision of what I hope to achieve in the near future through my research into the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Friday, 12 February 2016 01:36

Technology in Education - A Second Language?

Linda Liukas, in her Ted Talk, discusses her vision of the future where computer languages become the next second language that children will learn as they grow. She is not the only one. Code.org also offers computer programming lessons that start at age 5 for KG children and then lets them progress up through increasingly complex actions, but all done in informative and interesting ways.

hello ruby 200

In her Ted Talk (below), at 4:32, she comments, "unless we give them (children) tools to build with computers, we are raising only consumers instead of creators". She then goes on to discuss the internet of things and how young children can think of the most amazing uses for computers. 

She also makes a very interesting comments about getting "back to basics". As an advocate of technology in education, I hear this refrain quite often. Lets get back to basics in Education and not worry about all this distracting technology. However, to Linda, back to basics means lets strip away all the layers of wonderful media and get to computer basics - how do they work and what language do they speak?


In the UK, computer programming will start at age 5 and in Nova Scotia, all schools are now using Google Apps and other such tools throughout the school system. These tools are becoming a second language to the students. 

I cannot imagine where all this technology will lead, but I am very excited to find out.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 23:45

All you need is ... Teachers and Technology

Reading through the regular influx of emails and reports that I receive about Education, Technology and Development, I am struck by a couple of thoughts. One issue is that we have a shortage of teachers. According to the UN Global Education First Initiative report, 

"Globally, we need an additional 1.6 million teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015. The shortage of teachers, combined with absenteeism and the lack of qualifications, is a major barrier to learning. We need a strong cohort of both female and male teachers who are paid well and respected in their communities." - See more at: http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/219.htm#sthash.LCJxig27.dpuf

© UNESCO, Nicolas Axelrod

The report lists many other issues as well, not least of which is access to supportive technologies and ICT resources. There is a connection between this lack of teachers and the consequent lack of education among these various populations and some of the troubles we experience in parts of the world.

Infographic Quality Education for All Web 200

I also read a significant amount of reports about the use and growth of technology in Education. I am particularly interested in mobile technologies. One reason is that in many parts of the developing world, mobile connectivity is the only option. The UN Mobile Learning site tells us that, "Today over 6 billion people have access to a connected mobile device and for every one person who accesses the internet from a computer two do so from a mobile device." They also note that, "over 90 percent of the [world's] population is blanketed by a mobile network."

At many universities and colleges mobile technology is becoming more readily available to support all sorts of activities. I tweeted this podcast about using an app to support academic advising where the the college advisers could access student data much more quickly and thus have much greater time to actually counsel and not just compile. My point here is that if we are graduating new teachers who cannot manipulate these new tools properly and effectively to support their students, then we need to rethink what we are doing.

Monday, 08 February 2016 02:46

Polleverywhere - Share your thoughts

My Poll Everywhere page: https://pollev.com/pleslie

qr poll 400

Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:32

What I like to do everyday

During my current sabbatical year, I have been applying for a number of positions all over the world. Some of the applications requirements requested include essays, presentations, references, teaching philosophy and research statements. One recent position requested a video repsonse to a question, which I thought was a very interesting method of getting to know the applicant.

Like many people, I am not always comfortable watching myself on video because we have a tendency to focus on the 'warts and all' of our person. Of course, others see these all the time and perhaps do not notice them. We however, can see every single little flaw and these revelations are often quite shocking. At any rate, here is my video, below, 'warts and all'!

Sunday, 31 January 2016 04:24

Teaching Placement Supervision

One of the great privileges of supervising teaching placements is to actually to go to the placements. Here is a collection of placements I have visited from 2009 - 2015.

  Teaching Placements

Sunday, 31 January 2016 04:04

Graphics - Medium is the Message

Given that the medium influences the message, I make an attempt to shape my thoughts ideas to be shared with students by designing graphics that I hope will help to shape the message.

  Education Graphics

This gallery shows a cross section of visual text projects as envisioned by one of my former colleagues. My colleague came up with the great idea and then we bashed out the details including the description, outcome mapping and the rubric. Please have a look at the assessment document or download it by clicking on the link below.

Visual Text - 2015

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