Renewable Assessments: Like solar power for your classroom

David Wiley; article “Toward Renewable Assessments” was a great read, and spoke many truths that I have thought myself.  The idea of students working on papers (assessments) that they will only toss in the trash or will “bit rot” on an abandoned hard drive makes me cringe.  It makes me cringe, because it’s not just an idea, it sums up most of my Jr High through High School experience and a good amount of my early college experience. Wiley gives this example of a disposable assessment:

  • Faculty member assigns student to write a two page compare and contrast essay
  • Student writes the paper and submits it to faculty
  • Faculty grades the paper and returns it to student
  • Student checks what grade they received, briefly peruses any written comments, and then throws the paper away

I would be surprised if many students even perused the written comments at all before tossing it in the trash!

While I didn’t have the correct language or well thought out construct of renewable assessments, I have attempted to create as many renewable assessments in my courses as possible.  Helping my students, (21st century learners) create something that they or others will use, watch, view, or learn from, drives my students to want to learn more.  In my media production course I have 4 major projects that could be qualified as renewable assessments; a photo montage, an audio story, a short video, and a website.  By the end of the course all of these projects come together as a web portfolio and personal website that they can each use to acquire jobs outside of college.  I also have them submit all their work to the local Community Media Access Collaborative to air on local television, and (if they want) into various competitions.  As Wiley says, “Replacing disposable assessments with renewable assessments goes a long way toward re-humanizing education, giving students a reason to care about and truly invest in their work,” and I could not agree more.  21st century learners have more resources than ever before, and it would be such a shame to continue to continue the path of disposable assessments while students are striving to do more, learn more, and share more than ever before.


As a teacher in the realm of multimedia, it can be easy to assume that technology should be used for all matters.  In my earlier teaching years I would make the mistake of wanting all my students to do storyboarding, shot sheets, camera pick lists etc via some sort of digital medium.  While this was good in theory, students who had never had experience with these ideas before were more comfortable starting with analog methods ie. Pencil and paper.  For me at least, I haven’t struggled with realizing the right time to utilize technology and media, I have struggled with realizing when it’s not the right time.   I tend to use baby steps, first starting analog so my students have a tangible element to the thought process, then bring in technology to show how it makes a process easier.

I understand that rubrics are important for assessment consistency, and as David Wiley stated, they can also help establish a degree of comparability which might persuade others into adopting renewable assessments, yet I am not great at creating rubrics!  Many of the media projects that I assign in my classes are assessed via rubrics and “learning outcomes”.  For instance, for a short video I would want: A clear story (Beginning, middle, end), clear audio, at least 15 shots, at least 6 shot types, and a script turned in.  While many of those are easy to put on a rubric, “a clear story” is hard to grade via a rubric.  Much of that relies on the class presentation and how I and class perceive the story.  If the class and I can easily find the beginning, middle, end, that’s great, and if not, the student is able to present his or her reasoning behind it.  If a compelling argument is made, that is also taken into consideration.

“Toward Renewable Assessments” brought up many good points that I will dwell on for some time to come.

Wiley, D. ( July 7, 2016 ). Toward Renewable Assessments. iterating toward openness. Retrieved from

In Class Gaming Tools

Game Maker

“Making games development accessible to everyone means taking away the barriers to getting started. Using our intuitive ‘Drag and Drop’ development environment you can have your game up and running in a matter of minutes without ever having to write any code! GameMaker’s built-in language (GML) helps you learn to program as you go and not jump in at the deep end of coding.”


  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Game Maker is much more complicated than a program such as Scratch.  While Scratch is easy to understand and easy to use for any beginner, Game Maker is for more advanced users.  Game Maker is easy if you have the time to sit down for a few hours and learn it. For students in upper levels of High School and students in College, Gamemaker is perfect for creating any type of game, educational or not.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning?
    • If a teacher is looking for something more in depth than what is found on Gamestar Mechanic or Scratch, and not quite as complicated as Unity, than Gamemaker is the program to use.  Being able to create a game that works on Mobile, Desktop, gaming systems such as Xbox and Playstation, all with a drag and drop interface is something that was unimaginable just a few years ago.
  3. Pros
  • Can be used as learning tool, or professional game development
  • Very large game logic, can create a simple maze game to a networked first person shooter.
  • Comes with own object oriented programming language.
  • Games can be played on multi platform (Android, Linux, Windows, Mac, etc.)


4. Cons:

  • Mainly used for creating non0-edtech  games
  • Free version that’s limited, full features of Game Maker have a higher cost.
  • Compared to Scratch and Gamestar Mechanic, Game Maker is not exactly “kid-friendly”






“Scratch is designed especially for ages 8 to 16, but is used by people of all ages. Millions of people are creating Scratch projects in a wide variety of settings, including homes, schools, museums, libraries, and community centers.”

  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Scratch was designed to be as easy as possible, and it shows.  While Scratch cannot produce games for various platforms, nor can it build complicatd console type games, you can easily create stories, games, and inimations to share with anyone.  Students of any age could jump into Scratch relatively easily and play or produce new content.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning.
    • Scratch was designed and is still maintained with studetns and teachers in mind. It not onl is a vehicle to help tell stories or provide content, the use of Scratch also teaches basic programming.  Programming skills enhacne problem solving skills, project skills, and communication skill.s

4. Pros:

  • Free
  • User friendly layout
  • Can easily create anything pretty much
  • Great at teaching object oriented concepts!
  • Good community
  • Can be for anyone (kids, adults, real game developers, programmers etc)
  • Can create games, videos, music, art, and a wide range of projects.

5. Cons



  • Projects only come in Scratch format. (No executable, just Scratch format for now.)
  • Very free
  • Third party software can export to executable, but not that good

VR/Augmented Reality Apps for the Class…or for fun!

Google Expeditions:

Website           App

Google has put together a project called Expeditions Pioneer that helps teachers create full field trip experiences, including roles such as a guide and student.

Another amazing thing about Google Cardboard: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.

  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Google Cardboard itself is the easier VR solution I have used so far.  Google has specifically geared it towards the EdTech movement, with simple controls, easy setup, and as many eye pieces as you can imagine.  The idea of actually building the VR kit in class out of cardboard and a few lenses is a great learning experience for the students as well.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning?
    • By being able to build the kit yourself, teachers can use Expeditions as a multi-learning unit.  Once the kit is built, there are many expeditions for teachers and students to “visit”.  Being able to tie an expedition into history, science, and math, gives teachers a plethora of uses.
    • Students will love the idea of immersion into a subject.  Instead of reading a book about the pyramids of Egypt, they can go on a virtual tour and “experience” the pyramids for themselves.  They would also be able to continue the learning process at home (as long as they or a parent have a phone and a $15 dollar Cardboard kit.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
    • Cheap: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.
    • Easy to purchase in bulk.  Google and Best Buy sell Expedition kits for classes. These come with WIFI enabled phones, headsets, and learning kits
  4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?
    • No IOS version yet
    • Technology moves fast.  Google has already released a new VR solution.



New York Times VR:

Website              App

Using the Google Cardboard setup, students are able to interact with journalism stories and learn about subjects in an interactive and immersive environment.

  1. Usability: How easy is the application to use for teachers? Students?
    • Like Google Expeditions, the New York Times VR app uses Google Cardboard as a gateway into the experience.  It is incredibly easy to setup and start a story.  By simply putting on the Google Cardboard, selecting the app, then selecting a story, you can jump right in.  Interacting within the app is intuitive for all ages.  Without an remotes, you simply move your head around and focus on an area to select various options.
  2. Motivation: What motivate teachers to use the app for teaching? Students for learning?
    • For a Journalism or Mass Communication class, this would help students understand the idea of crafting a story, focusing on individuals to personalize a story, and how to film in a captivating manner.  As Mass Comm and Journalism teacher, I would use this as an example of a well-crafted story and production.
    • Students can view these on their own time and always refer to them as examples.  It also gives in depth coverage of stories that you may not pay attention to if they were standard video and copy.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
    • As with the Expedition app, this is cheap: as long as you already have a smart phone, the rest of the device is as cheap as 15 bucks!  These can go up to $120, but the $15 work just as well.  I personally have the device by Viewmaster (roughly $30) and I like it a lot.
    • New York Times actually included a free Google Cardboard kit with issues of the New York Times as well.
    • Great starter into the world of VR journalism.
  4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?
    • NY Times has not produced enough content for continuous use.





Maxwell Smart Vlog #5: The Contiguity Principle

Continuing my readings through Mayer’s book, “Multimedia Learning,” and this week I was struck by the Contiguity Principle.

Short video explaining the Contiguity Principle and my thoughts on the subject below:

Assessment Tools that do not involve pen and paper.


“Flipgrid is simple yet powerful. Educators create grids with topics and students respond with recorded videos to discuss, reflect, and share via webcam, tablet, or mobile device. ”

Although Flipgrid is not free, it is affordable–teachers pay as little as $0.22 per student or $65 a year for unlimited students per teacher. With Flipgrid you can create discussion style questions that students respond to through video. It allows for you to easily provide students with an authentic audience. Students can receive “likes,” and the videos can easily be shared to social media, or by a web link.

  1. Usability: The flipgrid platform is intuitive and easy to learn.  I signed up for a trial and within a few minutes I had already created a sample grid and posted discussion topics.  Teachers can easily add articles, websites, photos, videos, links and any other web content or uploaded content to share with the users/students.  As for students, replying to a topic is as simple as opening the app on your phone, using a computer webcam,  or writing a response.  The teacher and students can then easily submit written or video feedback as well.  The teacher has a dashboard that shows all responses and can provide public or private feedback and grading.
  2. Motivation: Teachers will find flipgrid to be a new way to engage students in a more personal way.  By using video instead of written responses, teachers and students are able to connect on a different level.  I would find this very useful for multimedia projects.  Posting a project as a grid with all the needed info and tutorial websites, and for my topic, posting the actual assignment as the topic.  Students could easily present their video’s, photos, etc through flipgrid.  I would be able to give feedback via video which would be easier and quicker than typing it all out in a forum.  I think students would enjoy using flipgrid as responses.  It feels a bit less formal, and easier to get your point or answer across via a video.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
        1. Simplicity
        2. Works on web and mobile
        3. Simple sharing of videos
        4. More engaging feedback
        5. Privacy controls
        6. Easy to embed
        7. Simple grading

4.Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?

        1. Though cheap it can be cost prohibitive if schools are not willing to pay for it.
        2. Good web access is needed.
        3. While most have smartphones and computers, some people do not.


Google Forms + Flubaroo

Google forms lets you easily create suveys/quizes/assessments with all types of multimedia options, and a simple way to collect data and stay organized.

Flubaroo is a free tool that helps you quickly grade multiple-choice or fill-in-blank assignments that have been on Google Forms or Google Sheets.

If you use Google tools, you can use Flubaroo to create simple and quick quizzes and tests, and have them graded right inside of Google Apps. Flubaroo is a Google sheets add-on that grades quizzes simply, scores them and publishes them to a spreadsheet.

  1. Usability: Google Forms are multiple-choice style surveys that you can share with anyone (e.g. via email). Every time someone fills out the form, their responses are placed as a new row in an accompanying spreadsheet.  Forms is one of the easiest of the assessment tools I have used, as it lets you choose the type of question you want to ask, then gives you the prompts to create that question.  You can insert photos or videos as either answer options or as prompts for questions.

Flubaroo’s Add-on for Google Sheets automatically detects the information populated by the Google Forms assessment and quickly grades the answers.  It lets you manipulate the data to grade in different ways.  It also captures the students email so you can respond with feedback.

2. Motivation: For teachers, using the combination of Google Forms and Flubaroo is an easy choice.  It speeds up the test giving process, and especially the grading portion.  Students would enjoy the option to take a test from computer, mobile device, tablet and get the same experience across platforms.

3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)

  1. Simplicity
  2. Quick and easy grading
  3. Both are completely free
  4. Computes average assignment score.
  5. Computes average score per question, and flags low-scoring questions.
  6. Shows you a grade distribution graph.
  7. Gives you the option to email each student their grade, and an answer key.
  8. Lets you send individualized feedback to each student.

4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?

  1. Have to use two platforms for full functionality
  2. Forms was not built specifically for education
  3. Must be tied into the Google ecosystem

Intro to Adobe Premiere Pro: The Basics


Looking for a quick tutorial on the basics of Adobe Premiere Pro?

Well, whadya know?!  I have one below!

This video covers the very basics of Adobe Premiere Pro, yet everything you would need to make a video just like the one you will watch.

  • Setting up a new project.
  • Scratch disks
  • Importing footage
  • Basic Tools
  • Adding music
  • Adding transitions
  • Adding Titles
  • Exporting as a YouTube ready movie.

Video Conferencing options that are not from Google..and also not free

Adobe Connect:

Adobe Connect has an impressive list of features that allow us to put on impressive webinars or recorded lessons. The features that made Adobe Connect standout from the rest are:

  1. Adobe connect is a bit confusing compared to simpler offerings such as Google Hangouts.  In my experiences with Adobe connect, it was easy to use as a viewer, yet a bit more difficult to use as the meeting initiator.  Like many Adobe products, Connect has a myriad of tools, options, and plugins.  While these do give the users more ways to use Connect, it creates for a more complicated user interface.  That being said, most students and teachers should be able to use the basic features with ease.
  2. Why would teachers and students be motivated to use Adobe connect?  The real-time collaboration is the key use for Adobe Connect.  While Hangouts On Air from Google may be free, it is far more glitchy than the paid Adobe Connect.  Reliability for many users and long sessions is great for classes or study sessions.
  3. Pros
  • Complete mobile collaboration
  • Rich multimedia options
  • Video conferencing integration
  • Real ­time collaboration with presenters
  • Invitation and privilege management
  • Breakout rooms to focus discussion
  • Broad set of collaboration capabilities

4. Cons

  • Monthly Fee (higher than most)
  • Many features may make it more complicated for basic use
  • No dial in feature for VOIP calls




  1. Usability: ClickMeetings is the easiest and most user-friendly video conferencing software I have used. The layout is clean and simple, and while feature rich, ClickMeeting is not bogged down by too many options.  I think ClickMeetings would be incredibly easy for teachers and students to use for distance learning, group meetings, or any other need for video conferencing.
  2. Motivation:  If teachers want a simple way to video conference with a class, or students want to meet with a work group, ClickMeetings is a great way to do it. People can join via a VOIP call, Mobile apps, desktop apps, browser, and hop onto a call easily from anywhere.  ClickMeetings has a chat option that allows live translation.  For a multi-lingual class, ClickMeetings is intuitive and would be incredibly helpful.
  3. Pros: What are the benefits of using this app? (for teachers? for students?)
    • Ease of use
    • Translation
    • Screen sharing
    • Private chat
    • Mobile Apps
    • Webinar online storage
    • Social media sharing
    • Multiple Presenters
  4. Cons: What are the downsides or limitations of using this app?
    • Not Free
    • Toll Free Conference calls not available
    • No phone support for problems
    • HD video is additional cost.
    • Over 100 viewers is additional cost.




Better than Nootropics – Maxwell Smart Vlog #2: Using Time-Compression To Make Multimedia Learning More Efficient



PowerPoint is dead. Long live PowerPoint.

PowerPoint may be the king of slideshow software, but there are still many other options out there, most of which I like better.  Quick list of a few of my top choices below.


“The easiest way to create HTML5 presentations and animated videos.

  • Professional looking results in just 5 minutes
  • Infinite canvas & unlimited Zoom and Pan effect
  • Smooth transition animation with 3D Camera.
  • Tons of pre-designed templates and styles.
  • Build-in animation tools with dynamic characters.
  • Create, share, and present from anywhere.”


  1. Usability: Focusky can be intimidating at first.  There are a plethora of options and can each presentation can be as complicated as one wants, however, using the built in templates it can also be incredibly easy to use.  It is an entirely different interface than standard slideshow builders such as Powerpoint, but I do believe the learning curve is fairly easy for both students and teachers.
  2. Motivation: Teachers could use this software to create more interesting presentations.  Presentations can include any media type, and because they run in HTML 5, they can be native online presentations.  This makes is easy to embed on websites, blogs, and video.  Students would use this to create more interactive presentations or mind maps.
  3. Pros: Highly creative and engaging presentations. Native to web applications.  Available for web and desktop software for offline use.
  4. Cons: New software to learn.  Pre-built themes are extra cost.




“emaze is the next generation of online presentation technology, enabling beautiful presentation design automatically. With more than 20M presentations created on the platform, emaze big-data and machine learning algorithms utilize crowd wisdom to re-design PowerPoint presentations into impressive storytelling. State of the art HTML5 technology enables the addition of gifs, media, live data, hyperlinking and more.”

  1. Usability: Emaze is very easy to use for both teachers and students.  Emaze uses machine learning to automatically adapt Powerpoint presentations into impressive HTML 5 designs.
  2. Motivation: The ease of use is a motivation for both teachers and students.   Emaze is also cross platfrom and can be used on mobile, tablet, and desktop systems.
  3. Pros: Automatic design. Cloud based for use anywhere. Automated translation tools. Ease of use.
  4. Cons: No offline support.




“Prezi gives you unprecedented visual storytelling power, combining the freedom of an open canvas with spatial dimension and motion to keep audiences engaged as you guide them through your message.”

  1. Usability: Prezi is one of the most simple slide show software available online.  The templates are easy and straightforward.
  2. Motivation: The simplicity of Prezi would motivate students and teachers alike to use Prezi. In order to create more engaging presentations.  The ease in which videos can be embed from any source without any complications is a huge plus.
  3. Pros:  Most of the Pro’s are available with the paid “PRO” Prezi account.  These include: Charts, Offline Desktop apps, image editing, Privacy control and more templates.
  4. Cons: Very few options unless you pay for the PRO account.




“Go from start to finish in minutes. Sway makes it quick and easy to create and share polished, interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. Add your content, and we’ll do the rest.”

  1. Usability: Sway is built by Microsoft as an alternative to their own PowerPoint.  Sway is limited in options and features, but the features that it does pack are dead simple to use.
  2. Motivation: Easily transform old PowerPoints into interactive and well-designed presentations.  The built in search and suggestion features make it crazy simple to add images and videos, among other content.  Much more impressive looking than a PowerPoint and easier to use.
  3. Pros: Easily share online.  Create online and offline.  Simple presentations, reports, class newsletters.
  4. Cons: Lacks an easy to use copy and reorder slide feature.  Not as full-fledged as PowerPoint.



“YOUR PRESENTATIONS – YOUR WAY, SEAMLESSLY: Say goodbye to traditional slide and bullet point presentations. With SlideDog you can combine almost any media into one seamless multimedia presentation”

  1. Usability: If you are able to use any other presentation software, Slidedog will be easy to use.  It essentially combines files from all sources into one seamless presentations.
  2. Motivation: Most presentation software run into issues playing back videos, or have hiccups going back and forth between files formats.  Slidedog takes this pain out of the equation by linking all files into seamless flow.  If any student or teacher is wants a true “click-and-go” presentation, then Slidedog will do the trick.
  3. Pros: Creates playlists from almost all file types: Videos, Prezi presentations, Powerpoints, PDFs etc.
  4. Cons: Advanced features (which most people would need to use) are a bit pricey at $15 a month



Screen Recording Tools


Screencast-O-Matic ( is a great piece of software to easily lets you record the action happening on your computer screen or a section of your computer screen.  Recently I upgraded all of my PC’s to Windows 10 and I have discovered a great little feature built in to the Operating System that works wonderfully, and accomplishes similar tasks to Screen-Cast-O-Matic. The Windows Game Bar is part of the XBOX features built into Windows 10, and while it was built to help record gaming footage, it works at any time for any application.  With a simple tap of the Windows Key + G, the Windows Game Bar pops up and allows you to record audio and video of everything on your screen.  After you have finished recording, you have to enter the XBOX app (which is totally strange) and find all your recorded videos.  You can easily upload to YouTube, or my personal favorite video hosting site,  Since this is recorded in a standard MOV file you have free range to edit, post, quickshare, or do whatever you may want with the recorded footage.


The Game Bar is a fantastic Windows 10 feature and I wish it was not tucked away as part of the XBOX app.  I feel if this was just part of the standar OSand not associated with the Game Bar, it would used more often.  Either way, if you have Windows 10, this is a fantastic way to record your screen for any and all screencasting sessions.


Another notable application is Camstudio (

CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into lean, mean, bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs).  Camstudio is Free!  From the website:

So where can I get it and how much does it cost?

You can download and use it completely free – yep – completely 100% free for your personal and commercial projects as CamStudio and the Codec are released under the GPL (for more details on this license, click here.)

There are no royalties or any monies to pay – although if you do use it for a commercial product, I wouldn’t say no to a copy of whatever you produce.