I had the opportunity to present with several colleagues at SITE2014 (the annual conference of the Society of Information Technology in Teacher Education.)

Here is the abstract of our presentation along with the associated paper.


Teachers are the single most important factor when it comes to adding value to student learning (Sanders & Horn, 1998) and teacher effectiveness, demonstrated to be paramount in face-to-face classrooms (Darling-Hammond, 2000), likely plays a large role in online and blended classrooms as well. Given the steady growth in online learning in the last decade, 1.8 million enrollments in the 2009-10 school year up from 600,000 in 2006 (Queen, Lewis, & Coopersmith, 2011), and an estimated 740,000 enrollments served by state virtual schools and over 300,000 students served by fully online schools in the 2012-13 school year (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2013), it is somewhat surprising that so few states currently offer formal avenues of additional training and preparation of online and blended K-12 teachers. Only seven states (Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah) have online or distance education endorsements.

The paper can be found here: <paper_3060_41819-1 SITE2014_Panel>

Kristen DeBruler, Michigan Virtual University, United States
Kathryn Kennedy, Michigan Virtual University, United States
Leanna Archambault, Arizona State University, United States
Stein Brunvand, University of Michigan Dearborn, United States
Leigh Wolf, Michigan State University, United States
Leah Breen, Michigan Department of Education, United States
Susan Lowes, Teachers College Columbia University, United States

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At the Master’s in Educational Technology Booth at the MACUL14 conference, we created a mini Maker Faire, inspired by the larger maker movement that challenges us, as a program, to imagine technology integration in creative, authentic and meaningful ways. As a program, we embrace the idea of creating, not just consuming and encourage our students to think of ways to repurpose the world around them for their curricular and pedagogical goals.

We have purposefully integrated the maker mindset into one of our classes — CEP 811 — and today, we discovered that MACUL attendees LOVE to make things. Over 160 teachers and technology integration professionals joined the maker magic!


(Full picture set at: http://goo.gl/2AFlg8)

We featured two “maker” activities today, a simple paper-based circuit and a more complex sewn circuit. Below, we’ve included lists of materials, estimated costs, and recommended how-to information for both of these activities. We have also embedded .pdfs below that highlight curricular connections to electrical circuits for content-area teachers who would not typically integrate electrical circuits into their curriculum — English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, and Visual Arts. We’ve also written a set of curricular connections for teachers of ANY discipline.

Maker Activity #1: Paper Circuit Name Badge
(Inspired by http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu//paper-circuits)

In this activity, MACUL participants added an LED light to their conference name tag.


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Decide where you would like to place the light for meaningful effect. Do you want to light up the “i” in your name on your name badge? The “M” in MACUL? Punch a hole in that place with the paper punch.

  2. Plan out your circuit. Based on where the light will go, decide where to place the battery and how long your copper tape will need to be. For this project, most people cut a length that is about 10 cm or 5 inches.

  3. Cut the adhesive copper tape in half, lengthwise. You’ll need two skinny strips of copper tape, placed very closely together to make the circuit work. Plan the placement of the two pieces of tape on your name badge so that the LED light, which you will place between the two strips, will shine through the hole you punched in the paper. Generally, this means that you have to place each piece of copper tape so that it partially covers the hole you’ve cut and that the end of the tape strip adheres to the paper beyond on both sides of the punched hole.

  1. To make the circuit, stick down the first length of copper tape. Lay the coin battery on top of the tape, positive side up. Position the other piece of tape so it connects with the positive side of the battery (the top). Stick this second piece of tape down on the paper so that it runs parallel to the first but so that there is a 1 mm space between them. Use Scotch tape to fasten the battery to your name badge.

  2. Place the LED light across the copper strips so that each teeny diode of light touches one copper strip. Test the circuit by pressing the LED against the strips of copper tape with the tweezers. Does it light up? If not, flip the diodes.

  3. Stick the LED light down onto the copper tape using the double-sized Scotch.

  4. Voilà! You have a paper circuit and a very fancy MACUL name badge!


  • Be sure you have a good connection between the battery and the copper tape. Stick it down with scotch tape — a couple of pieces might be required.
  • Be sure the strips of copper tape do not touch. This will short out the circuit.
  • Be sure the LED light is positioned properly. There are positive and negative diodes on the light — you have to position the LED so that the electrons will flow! Flip the LED light around if it doesn’t work at first.
  • Be sure the light is securely connected to the copper tape. You might need a few pieces of tape to do the trick.

Maker Activity #2 How to Sew a Circuit into a Felt Badge


  • Two pieces of felt (Green and White, preferably)
  • An LED light [$8.88 for 100]
  • A coin cell battery [$29.72 for 100]
  • A coin cell battery holder [$.95 each OR $.76 each when you buy 100 or more]
  • Conductive thread [$39.95 for 360 yards] length per project will vary depending on your ambitions
  • Scissors for cutting thread [classroom scissors will work!]
  • A needle [check your sewing kit!]
  • Garden variety white thread [check your sewing kit!]
  • [long enough to sew around the badge]

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Put the battery in the battery holder. The “plus” side should be facing up.

2. Cut two lines of conductive thread, each one about 20 cm in length.

3. Thread the conductive thread through one of the battery holder diodes (there are small holes at each end). Tie a knot to connect the thread to the diode. Important: Leave enough conductive thread trailing from the diode for sewing.

3. Thread a second piece of conductive thread through the other end of the diode on the battery holder. Tie a second knot.

4. Puncture the felt with the ends of the LED light. The light bulb will be on the outside of the badge. The two ends of the LED will be on the inside of the badge, attached with conductive thread to the battery holder.

5. Once punctured through the felt, bend the ends of the LED so that they’re flat against the felt — you’ll have to bend them down too so that they don’t stick out the sides of your badge. They’ll make a “u” shape.

6. Before you sew, check to make sure the positive end of the battery holder is connected to the positive end of the light; the negative to negative. Test this by seeing if your light illuminates when you touch the ends to the trails of conductive thread. If it doesn’t work, switch the thread. Remember which way this worked so that you sew the correct thread to the correct end of the light.

7. Position your Battery Holder below the ends of the LED light so that you can sew the conductive thread through the felt and around the ends of the LED light. You only have one strand of thread for each end. Threading the needle with the conductive thread can be a bit tricky…but don’t lose patience!

8. Once you have both ends of your LED light sewn into the felt with the conductive thread, you should have an electrical circuit and the light should be shining!

9. Put the back on your badge by sewing it together with the other felt square using the regular white thread. The battery should be on the inside. The light will be on the outside.

10. Once you’ve sewn it, together, attach an MAET button under the light. Voilá! A felt badge that glows with an LED light!


Remember that you’re making an electrical circuit. If bits of thread from one side of your circuit touch the other side, the circuit will short out and the light will not work. Trim the ends of the conductive thread before you seal up the backing. You don’t want the circuit to short out after all of your hard work!

(cross posted at http://edutech.msu.edu/2014/03/14/macul-2014-maker-space-activity-curriculuar-connections/)

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#IPDX14 Quickfire Follow up

On February 27, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Thanks to all who attended the session today! If you were not able to attend, participants took notes in this collaborative google doc. Simply open the doc and search for “Quickfire” – that’s the easiest way to get to our notes!

As promised, here are the slides from today:

I have blogged quite a bit about quickfire challenges, here are a few posts you may find useful (they all have additional examples of quickfires for you!)

Here is our “explore.create.share” database of PD activities we use in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program at Michigan State (it has more than just quickfires in there!):

Below, you will find a recap of the Quickfires we experienced today. Thanks again to all who came and engaged! If you take this idea into your own classroom/PD please share and let me know! I love to see all of the creative ways this activity can be repurposed!

IPDX14 participants were presented with 2 challenges today – one, was a 15 second video challenge (explained in the embedded slides above) and one was a Quickfire Quickfire were participants had 20 minutes to design – here is what they came up with!

Challenge #1 – the 15 second videos (as an archive for the participants, it’s one of those “you had to be there” things ;)

Challenge #2 Quickfire Quickfire

Tag Team Programming

Students are given a desired outcome by teacher.  They are put into teams of 2. Using Scratch, have student A begin the activity.  Student B is not allowed to watch or talk with student A.  After 5 minutes, the bell rings and student B takes over. The partners are not allowed to communicate with one another, but every partner A can brainstorm and discuss strategies quietly with the other partner As.  After 5 minutes the bell rings again, and the switch occurs again.  Time limit and task description would vary based on the age/ability/task.

Your Rights?

Each group of three is given the following challenge: Create a visual representation of how the Civil Rights Movement impacted your life. Be sure to demonstrate an understanding of a key Civil Rights event. You have 40 minutes. You have two minutes to share your visual representation (twist– have them share another group’s visual representation and interpret or apply their understanding of it)

“Mute the Acronyms” Professional Development

  • Use current educational terminology

    • TPACK

    • SAMR

    • Webb’s DOK

    • CIPA

    • COPPA

    • FERPA

    • CCSS

    • NGSS

  • Small groups of 4 or more

  • Using pictures or videos to explain the terms without actually use the acronym nor the words that make up the acronym (i.e. act out, draw pictures)

  • 20 minutes to create

  • End product must be no longer than one minute long.

  • End product must be digital to share

  • Collect responses in a way where they can be cataloged for reference later

Research: Finding Reliable Sources

The Challenge: Student teams are asked to find web resources for a research project.

Half of the group is asked to find examples of bad resources and the other group finds good resources in 10 minutes. Students have a list of criteria that define bad vs. good. In the last 10 minutes, each group presents the resources they have found and compare or contrast what makes them good or bad. The good resources could be shared on a website or collaborative doc.

From Green to Great

Freshman in groups of 3 use any technology to create and share a 2 min video  creating a collective story of who you are. It should highlight you as individuals and also who you are as a group. You have 30 min and may share any way you like as long as the instructor has a url into this Google form. We will Fruit machine 5 videos today to watch and over the course of the year, load your videos to our Youtube Channel and play your videos over our closed network tv’s during break over the course of the year.  Part of your graduation requirements for your senior project will be to reconnect and create a video that follows the same format and reflect on how you have changed.

Chopped to the Core

The Dynamic Universe



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#rbjse14 Keynote follow up: The Total Package

On February 17, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Michelle and I were extraordinarily honoured to serve as the keynotes for the inaugural graduate workshop in preparation for the 2014 Rosa Bruno-Jofré Symposium in Education at Queens. We had an absolutely amazing day interacting with students and faculty.  On our long drive home Michelle and I could not stop sharing our enthusiasm for what a fantastic opportunity we experienced.  Thanks to all who attended and an extra special thanks to Jason Shula for the invitation and hospitality while we were in Kingston.  We wish all of you attending the Symposium on February 28th the best of luck and you can be sure we will be watching twitter for all of the #rbjse14 tweets!

Here are the slides from our presentation for reference:

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#rbjse14 Conquering the (online) presentation

On January 16, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Today Michelle Schira Hagerman and I will be presenting our take on “Conquering the Online Presentation.” at the Rosa Bruno-Jofré Symposium in Education at Queens University.

The slides from our presentation are embedded below.  One external source we referenced is the fantastic viral infographic from Lemonly explaining “How Not to Look Ugly on a Webcam

We’ll post some more notes after we present!

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The Love of Learning (more than) French

On January 9, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

When I got home this evening, I opened up Facebook and this post from my (incredible) high school French teacher Madame Moulin had (thankfully) risen to the top of my feed:





With out having to go to Google Translate – the post reads:

“This morning, my blog is in French.  It’s for all my old students who I miss so much. Read it, have fun, remember your (mistakes, nope, had to look it up) silliness from past years, correct my mistakes.  Fifi, who is cold.”

I followed the link to the post: http://www.the-write-note.blogspot.com/2014/01/je-suis-heureuse-et-reconnaissante-jai.html
You should follow the link too and read before continuing – if you don’t read/speak French, you can (and should) use Google Translate to get the gist of the message.

Just as Mme was paralysee de froideur – je suis plein de larmes.

To give you an idea of the profound impact my French class had on my life, you need to start in 1994.

(On a side note, the video was made in my TV Production class, which also had a profound effect on who I am today. I know I keep using the word profound, it truly was.)

Madame, or Fifi la Folle as she was lovingly known, instilled a deep passion and love for the language.  So deep, that though I never had the chance to travel to French speaking country until 2009, 15 years after graduating from Fifi’s class, I was able to communicate and function (fairly well) in business and social settings.

As I was searching for the link to the video above, I came across a post I wrote a few years ago, called Moments (please take a minute to read): http://www.leighgraveswolf.com/2011/06/30/moments/

Fifi, in your post to us you said:

Comme professeur, mon but n’était pas seulement enseigner une belle langue; c’était toucher les vies, créer des liaisons, apprendre de vous, mes élèves. Vous étiez mon prof, et vous me manquez.


As a professor, it was not my goal to just teach a beautiful language, it was to touch lives, create connections, learn from you, my students. You were my teacher, and I miss you.

Fifi, I hope that you can see that you were there that day with me in Rouen, not just because I could order un verre de rosé after work, but in the way I approach my own teaching, learning, and sharing.  I am beyond grateful that I have the opportunity to share that with you here.  Merci infiniment for continuing to teach, learn and share.

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#21CLHK Recap

On January 6, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

It’s already 6 days into 2014 and I’m still catching up – December 2013 was a doozy! I had a wonderful time presenting and connecting at the 21st Century Learning conference in Hong Kong a few weeks ago.  I was asked to present a 3-hour workshop on Online Learning.  My “handout” can be accessed here – it contains the references/links to everything I presented in my slides, which are embedded below.  We had a great discussion during the workshop and many of the attendees were facing similar challenges (with the top challenges being frequent LMS changes, in-house vs. out of house instruction, and managing multiple, yet connected, learning systems.)

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My friend Mark posted a great article last night from the NY Times called “My Selfie, Myself.” Little did he know with that post he unearthed the Margaret Mead I had been suppressing. The article reminded me of a grant proposal I wrote early in my PhD career (almost exactly 8 years ago) for a small in-house Spencer research grant. I dug up that proposal (below.)

I’m missing my original passion for ethnography & cultural anthropology – maybe it’s time to step back and see how I can integrate the passions I set aside into new or existing inquiries…

That Which We Do Not Scrutinize: Digital Photography as Research
Submitted for a Spencer Small Research Grant November 2005, Awarded December 2005

In this study I wish to explore how aspects of culture in educational settings can be visually interpreted and expressed and how these images can be understood as artifacts of culture.

During a recent interview on NPR, biographer Edmund Morris was discussing the discovery of Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge” manuscript (Figure 1):

He liked to manhandle music into its shape…from everything I hear it’s [the manuscript] very tactile, it has holes warn in the paper where he has erased passages, splattered with ink and gouged and dog-eared; one whole section of music literally plastered on the page with sealing wax.  It stands as, I’m sure, we’re going to see it next month at Sotheby’s, as an artifact showing how physical the labor of composition was for Beethoven, and how he needed to fight music onto the page.  (Conan, 2005)

We are rarely aware of our own routine ways of seeing the world.  The technology of photography has become transparent. Photographs appear on our televisions, computers, phones, and iPods. A photograph not simply a record of an event, but is only one of an infinite number of possible representations. (Chandler, 2002)  Douglas Harper’s study Working Knowledge demonstrated how photographs can be used to observe work practices and engage participants in dialogue.  (Harper, 1987)  This use of photographs to provoke a response became known as photo-elicitation.  (Harper 1984) Other seminal anthropological works have demonstrated the power of intertwining text and images.  (Bateson & Mead, 1942; Riis, 1957)

I have a B.A. in audio and video production and a M.A. in digital media, art and technology.  My world is heavily laden with images.  For most of us, the world around us is constructed of text and images. Contrast this with the sphere of scholarly research; rarely do photographs or images make their way into mainstream journal articles.  Events, participants, and observations are turned into words. Given my background, this practice seems artificial.  With relatively low-cost and low-threshold technologies at hand, why not integrate images into the practice of scholarly research? Gould argues that “While we may pour over our words and examine them closely for hidden messages and meanings, we often view our pictures as frills and afterthoughts, simple illustrations of a natural reality or crutches for those who need a visual guide.  We are most revealed in what we do not scrutinize.” (Gould, 1993; Mishra, 2004)

A description of the research process

I see using photography as an integral analytic and creative tool in my research endeavors.  In spring 2006 I will be teaching a Master’s course, Learning Technology Through Design.  I would like to use take this opportunity to explore the use of photography as a means of data collection and analysis by investigating the affordances and constraints of capturing digital images in the classroom environment.  I would like to survey the multiple methodologies outlined by Collier and Collier (Collier & Collier, 1986) as a pilot for my dissertation which will report on the design, development and teaching of an undergraduate technology course for pre-service teachers.  .

To capture the images I have chosen to use a Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera.   When you look through the viewfinder of an SLR camera, you are looking though the lens at the actual image.  With a less expensive “point and shoot” digital camera you don’t see the real image formed by the camera lens, just rough idea of what is in view; because of this, you never really know if the picture is in focus.  SLR cameras allow the photographer to choose her own point of focus.  Digital SLR cameras have a start up time of a fraction of a second and allow for multiple images to be captured at high speeds (over 3 frames per second.) Point and shoot cameras have very slow start up and shutter response times.  A Digital SLR camera also allows for the interchanging of lenses expanding the focal range and aperture (amount of light allowed through the lens.)  A zoom-lens allows the photographer to stay at a distance from the subject while capturing intimate, ‘up-close’ portraits.  This added control allows for high quality images to be captured in any setting.

The purchase of a digital SLR is a capital cost and once purchased requires no further expense (e.g. film storage and development.)  The costs for this project are not covered by a research project or other source.

Equipment Budget

Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens 900.00

Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM Zoom Lens 55-200 mm  200.00

Total – 1100.00

Works Cited

Bateson, G., & Mead, M. (1942). Balinese character, a photographic analysis. [New York,: The New York academy of sciences].

Beethoven, L. v. (1826). Grosse Fuge, http://www.sothebys.com/. New York, NY: Sothebys.

Chandler, D. (2002). Semiotics : the basics. London ; New York: Routledge.

Collier, J., & Collier, M. (1986). Visual anthropology : photography as a research method (Rev. and expanded ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Conan, Neal (2005, October 26) Interview: Edmund Morris discusses Beethoven,
‘Universal Composer’ [radio broadcast] Talk of the Nation (NPR.) Retrieved October 26, 2005 from NPR http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4975606

Gould, S. J. (1993). Dinosaur deconstruction. Discover, 14(10), 108-113.

Harper, D. A. (1987). Working knowledge : skill and community in a small shop. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mishra, P. (2004). The Role of Abstraction in Scientific Illustration: Implications for Pedagogy. In C. Handa (Ed.), Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World : A Critical

Sourcebook (pp. 177-194): Bedford/St. Martins.

Riis, J. A. (1957). How the other half lives : studies among the tenements of New York (1st American Century series ed.). New York: Hill and Wang.


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Thank you Dr. Kyla McMullen #ald13

On October 15, 2013, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

For the past few years, I have been participating in the Ada Lovelace Day blogging event.  This year I would like to talk about Dr. Kyla McMullen.

Dr. McMullen is the University of Michigan’s first African-American female computer science PhD (in 2012.)   She is now a professor in the Human-Centered Computing Lab at Clemson University (which also has a lot of amazing women!) Her primary research interests “lie in rendering spatial audio virtually to enhance virtual environments and to sonify information sources.” As a former telecommunications grad, I find this inspiring and awesome.  Take some time to visit her page to look at her research and publications and to be as inspired as I am!

You can follow Kyla on twitter https://twitter.com/Dr_Kyla

Now, take a minute to share a bit about a heroine that inspires you -
From http://findingada.com/

Add your story!

On October 15th, write a blog post about your STEM heroine and add it to our collection: Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Write about a woman in science, technology, engineering or maths whose achievements you admire.
  2. Publish your story online.
  3. Add your story to our collection.
  4. Tell your friends!


2012 Post -  Thank you Mary, Pam & Catherine
2011 Post – Thank you Dr. Caroline Haythornthwaite
2010 Post – Thank you Dr. Catherine Mohr

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RIP Seamus Heaney

On August 30, 2013, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

I was quite struck by the announcement of Seamus Heaney’s death this morning. In recent years, his poetry has inspired and connected to me many people and ideas.  In tribute, here is an excerpt from my MAET Graduate Recognition speech from this past summer – inspired by Seamus.

The connections that we make manifest themselves in affection based on admiration, benevolence and common interests – love.  The strong bonds that tie us together give us collectively the support we need to succeed because as you know great leaders never work alone.  They have trusted circles, a brain trust if you will, of other individuals who also dedicate time to their professional growth. A trusted group of colleagues from different disciplines and mindsets who push each other to greatness just as you have done here.  So, to end, I would like to read a poem by Seamus Heaney – the poem is called Scaffolding.

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.

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