On June 8, 2015, in Personal, by Leigh Graves Wolf

In Heaven

My heart has been broken since I received word that my friend Bianca Ní Ghrógáin passed away.  It was was just one short year ago we met for the first time.  Catherine, Pam, Mary, Helen and I had had planned a lunch when I arrived in Galway for the summer. Pam emailed and said Bianca would be in town too, would anyone mind if she joined? Of course we didn’t – and there was the beginning of a fast friendship. Our band of #ITWomen continuing to grow stronger. We all left that lunch with a tremendous sense of energy and hope in our hearts.

It has been an honour to know Bianca.  Like many of my #edchatie family, we instantly connected as if we had known each other for well beyond 351 days – not even a full calendar year.  Bianca came back to Galway a few weeks after this picture to attend the #GREAT14 conference put on by our students, continuing to make connections, share her expertise for Making and education in general. Our connections continued on twitter over the past year – and we were looking forward to seeing each other again this summer.

There is a large void in all of our hearts – do a quick google search or search on twitter, to start to scratch the surface of Bianca’s impact on this world. Read her blog:  Listen to her being interviewed by a student to see how much she loved teaching.  Listen to her recently being interviewed on Dublin City FM.

This sadness and loss is quite surreal right now.  I am forever grateful for the time we had together and my heart truly aches for a life and a friend lost incredibly too soon.


Office of Educational Technology Tech Tuesday

On Tuesday I was honored to participate as a panelist on the weekly Office of Educational Technology Tech Tuesday Google Hangout.  The topic of discussion this week was EdTech in Teacher Prep.

There were many issues discussed in the short 30 minutes we had together. I hope the OET continues the opportunity for open conversations (would be a wonderful opportunity for a Future Ready event? Extend the conversation into Higher Ed?)

I have a few brief follow up points:

I think that faculty unnecessarily received a bad rap in parts of the discussion.  Teacher preparation programs (and the faculty within the programs) are under tremendous pressure. How to successfully integrate technology into teacher preparation programs is indeed a wicked problem.  I tried to touch on this in my closing statement – this is not a one sided discussion.

We didn’t have the opportunity to discuss how (and where) teaching online factors into teacher preparation. This adds to the “wickedness” of the problem – and is a perfect topic for further discussion!

Thank you to Zac Chase for the invitation to participate!



I’m excited to share that CEP 811: Adapting Innovative Technology into Education has been awarded Best Fully Online Course in the annual MSU AT&T Award Competition in Instructional Technology! I’m so proud of this course and so honored to work with the amazing individuals below and our amazing students who bring CEP 811 to life!

CEP 811 Team



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This afternoon about 500 participants at the #iPDX15 conference collectively authored a book, in about 20 minutes.

Here’s a quick behind the scenes peek into what we did, and, how you can do it too!

Almost a year ago Darren Hudgins emailed me and challenged me to create an interactive keynote for about 500 people at the IPDX15 conference.  A year or so of thinking culminated in a fun activity that took place this afternoon.  I have been running Quickfire Challenges for a while now, but, I’ve never done anything to this scale.  At the core of a Quickfire challenge is a deep (hopefully) transformational learning experience in a short time period.

Here’s how this challenge played out.

My goal:

I wanted participants active at their tables curating the information that had been shared over the 3 days of the conference. I wanted the activity to have a meaningful & tangible outcome.  I decided that the outcome of this activity would be a collaboratively authored book and I worked backwards from there.

Pre-activity preparation:

I created 50 open google documents (with custom links) with about 45 different writing prompts.

To start the session:

Each table was given an envelope with the custom URL.

I told everyone the smartest person in the room was the room and that we were going to collaborate.  (It’s very important to note that they knew nothing of the final outcome!) 

When the timer (20 minutes) started the participants accessed their google documents and began on their prompt/challenge.  The prompts ranged from writing poetry, to creating images to sharing a “just one thing” take away for specific disciplines.

The timer stopped.

Then, it was at this point that I gave them a little background. I had been listening to how overwhelmed they were by all of the information, how could they cull through everything? And the surprise was revealed…they had all collectively authored a book called: TL;DR The Quick, Creative, Crowdsourced Guide to #iPDX15

Then, I talked a bit about bricolage, Sherry Turkle’s Evocative Objects and then added one more twist … I let everyone know that there is an Espresso Book Machine at Powell’s Bookstore and they could take these raw materials and print a book! I gave them an extra 10 minutes to go back to their document to edit/clean up the text for printing.

It’s about an hour or so after things have wrapped up and I have posted the raw first draft of the book.  As you can see - it needs another level of copy editing.  The beauty of this being an open, collaborative and living document is that it can continue to be improved! I have downloaded all of the files and will work on a second draft to add more context and clean up some of the copy. (This is just a brief reflection, but, if I had to do this again I will think more about the scaffolding I provide participants in terms of formatting.)

If anyone is interested in printing the book, there is one more level of formatting that needs to be done to prepare the text for the Espresso Book Machine.  Formatting directions are here ( or (for a fee) Powells can help with the formatting as well.

To summarize:

One of the key things I wanted people to take away from this was that there was an intentional and tangible purpose to our activity.  It was really important for me in creating this activity for our group to collectively create something that could be useful to others.

I believe this idea could be repurposed in many ways.  Say you’re working on curriculum alignment – you could have a large group of people with carefully constructed tasks, give them a short amount of time, then SURPRISE – you’re half-way to aligning your curriculum to standards.  As a classroom teacher you could do a derivative of this activity in almost any discipline.

I would sincerely like to thank everyone for playing along! This was a tremendous challenge to me and I hope you enjoyed the experience.  If you take this idea and run with it, please keep in touch and let me know how it plays out!!


#edchatie Friends: Save the date for #GREAT15

On February 9, 2015, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

If you are an educator in Ireland (or if your summer travel plans include Ireland) be sure to attend the free 8th annual MAET/ICT/Educational Technology Conference (#GREAT15) on the campus of NUI Galway in Galway, Ireland on Thursday July 16, 2015 from 1pm-4pm (IST).

great14 photo by catherinecronin on flickr

Last year’s #GREAT14 conference again exceed our expectations. Several of our #edchatie friends made it to Galway for the conference and the addition of the Youth Media Team was incredible. It truly was an amazing day and we are looking forward to reconnecting and making new friends at #GREAT15.

The conference is organized and presented by the Year 2 Overseas MSU MAET students as a requirement for their CEP 815: Technology and Leadership course (see the assignment here), and is targeted towards anyone who works in the field of education (K12, higher ed, and beyond).



Below you will find archives of the past 7 conferences to give you an idea of the spirit of the conference:

2014 #GREAT14:
2013 #GREAT13:
2012 #GREAT12:
2011 RELATe:
2010 RELATe
2009 PLATE
2008 PLATE (parts of site available on

If you’re interested in coming, fill out this simple form to register your interest. We will send more updates as the schedule emerges:

One more opportunity to connect:

If you’re an educator or maker in, or around, Galway I would love to talk to you about the possibility of visiting your classroom/learning/making space! Our students are eager to not only visit classrooms, but potentially collaborate with you on an activity. We will be in Galway June 28 – July 24, 2015.  I know this is the end of the school year and into holidays (which is a tricky time) but we are very interested in connecting with you! Just tweet me (@gravesle) if you’re interested!


39 forever

On January 28, 2015, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

Ten years ago I posted this to my blog:

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Well 29 year old Leigh, the past 10 years have been very eventful. I have:

  • finished a PhD
  • become an aunt to 5 amazing human beings
  • traveled to places I never imagined I would go: UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland, China, India, Malaysia, South Korea, across Canada and the United States.
  • lost a father
  • had major surgery
  • ran 2 half marathons and several 5 & 10K races
  • + more

Turning 39 isn’t bothering me like 29 (apparently) did.  It’s hard to start to gracefully articulate the incredible opportunities that have presented themselves over the past 10 years. 10 years ago, I had never stepped foot outside of the US/Canada. Directing the MAET program has truly been a defining, life changing part of the past decade.   I feel incredibly fortunate that I can say, without hesitation, that I have a friend wherever I go, on earth.  Everyone reading this, each and every one of you that I have had in class, as an advisee, as a friend, acquaintance has transformed my life.  I have a lot more left to learn and experience. It’s quite exciting to anticipate what the next decade will bring to my life – 49 here I come.


I wouldn’t go as far as calling this a New Year’s resolution, but, I have been feeling very lax in keeping up with journal reading and want to get back on the ball. I do a great job of keeping up with blogs, tweets and books, however, academic journal reading has fallen down on the list and I am working on fixing that.  I wholeheartedly blame Google Reader for this – ever since its demise I did not set up an alternate feed reader.  Well, I finally had a minute to pick this back up and turned to my favorite website around IFTTT for a solution.  I know, I know, RSS is dead, but, while it’s still around I’m going to take advantage of the technology to create a quick fix for my journal reading problems – creating RSS > Evernote recipes for new journal issues using IFTTT.
I created a series of feeds for a handful of journals. Because IFTTT is awesome, I can publish and share them with you as well. Enjoy!!
This list is certainly not exhaustive, I follow other journals on twitter (e.g. and will certainly be adding more along the way. Have a suggestion? Would love to hear your favorites in the comments, bonus points if you create an IFTTT recipe to go along with the suggestion.

Today I had the honor of kicking off the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools i3 Tech Conference at Salem High School. i3 = Inspire, Innovate, Integrate and the conference hashtag is #PCCSi3

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (PCCS) is in the early stages of a large technology transformation.  A recent passing of a bond has allowed for many exciting 1:1 initiatives (both iPad and Chromebook) a migration to Google Apps for Education and upgrades to labs and new STEM labs.  Now, 1:1 initiative may seem fairly routine in these days, however, if you’re not familiar with PCCS  you need to know that the district is comprised of over 19,000 students, 1020 teachers, 606 support staff and 63 administrators…it is practically its own city!

I was asked to come to kick off the teacher led (yay!) PD days today and tomorrow.  Now, as I told my friend Michelle – I can’t get up in front of a bunch of teachers who are being asked to use Google Apps & Chromebooks and present from my MacBook, I would look like a total j*****s! So, I ordered an Acer C720P Chromebook, it arrived Tuesday and I started delving into the world of Chrome. My dearest MAET students helped me out and pointed me towards some incredible resources (which are embedded in the Google :) presentations below.)  These three in particular led me to extraordinarily helpful resources:

Google the Good Stuff (via Jason Kaiser)
Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts (via Sara Best)
Extensions, Add-Ons and Apps, Oh My! How to Utilize Google in Your Classroom (via Melissa Gorsegner)

I went all in and presented from Google Presentation. I’ve used it for low stakes things, but never for anything this important! I made great use of the free Snag-it plug-in for screenshots.  It all worked wonderfully.  In full disclosure, when I was working on the presentation I was mostly using my MacBook air, but, that’s the beauty of Google Apps right?

I’m not one to use much text on my slides, so, as standalone resources the slides below don’t make much sense – but there are embedded hyperlinks on each page that take you to the resources I was discussing. It was great presenting from the Chromebook and things were very smooth – no discernible difference, a presentation is a presentation! I’m really enjoying learning all the great things Chrome and the Chromebook can do, certainly pushing me out of complacency and reminding me that I have to do a better job at keeping up with all platforms.

BIG thanks to all of the PCCS Elementary teachers for coming today (some MAET students and alums!) Looking forward to kicking off the day for the secondary teachers tomorrow. Though I have the easy job, the sessions delivered by the teachers were phenomenal!

Elementary Group (Thursday):

Secondary Group (Friday):


Thank you MSU WIC #ald14

On October 14, 2014, in educational technology, by Leigh Graves Wolf

This is my 5th year blogging for Ada Lovelace Day.  It’s a wonderful exercise in celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

This year I would like to celebrate a group of women here on campus at MSU – the MSU Women in Computing (WIC) group.  They are a phenomenal group of young women here on campus (here is their current executive board.) I had an opportunity to work with a member of the MSU WIC community at a hackathon planning meeting a few weeks ago and I was so inspired by her knowledge and drive.  I’m so excited these women are leading the way for MSU and beyond!


Add your story!

On October 14th, 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!


2013 Post – Thank you Dr. Kyla McMullen
2012 Post – Thank you Mary, Pam & Catherine
2011 Post – Thank you Dr. Caroline Haythornthwaite
2010 Post – Thank you Dr. Catherine Mohr


Here are a few quick tips to think about as you’re getting online courses ready for fall!

#1 – Use personal videos
If you don’t like the way you look on camera, get over it.  You need to create presence in your online course and a quick and easy way to do so is to fire up your webcam, iPhone or DSLR and get talking. Keep it short. Reiterate a few of the things that are important to you in the course and give the students an idea of who you are and what to expect (more on that in a moment.)

I don’t stop with the videos after the first week, they’re an easy way to create systematic presence. For more, read my post on Video Voicemails from a few years ago.

Please use a tripod and focus on production value (I personally prefer Vimeo over YouTube for posting and embedding). A little setting up and thinking through the production goes a long way!

#2 – Tell students what NOT to expect
We spend a lot of time crafting syllabi that tell students what to expect over the semester. Online students in particular come to the course with a set of a priori expectations and assumptions that may not be a part of your course.  Now, this is all very vague and takes an experienced online instructor to know these norms, however, there is one easy place to start – and that is with feedback.  This is the most important piece I have learned and improved upon over the years.   There are unrealistic or undefined expectations in the student-professor relationship when it comes to feedback.  Students say they want more, professors think they’re giving it.  The problem (I have found) in online classes is that the conditions of feedback are unstated.  Once I started to say “You will receive cursory feedback on this, in this format, within this # of days” or “You will NOT be receiving feedback on X, because” things improved dramatically. Students reported high levels of satisfaction with the feedback in end of semester evaluations, even though it hadn’t changed! I was setting realistic expectations.

This is a learning process for me that is under constant evolution.  In one course I supervised last semester the TA spent copious amount of time writing incredibly helpful feedback to students in the Google Docs comments.  He would pose questions to the students in the feedback, which often went unanswered.  Seeing feedback as a dialogue is a wacky idea to many, SO, as an improvement this semester, we are making responding to feedback an explicit part of participation and evaluation.

#3 –  Make sure you have clear deadlines and due dates
I unfortunately have seen one to many confusing online courses.  In all of the courses I teach, each online unit has a “road map” – this is a simple checklist of what is to be read/watched and what is to be turned in.  If you’re not an expert instructional designer, it’s NOT easy to convey this in a CMS or on a syllabus. Make a checklist and everyone is on the same page.

#4 – Clarify communication channels
Be explicit on how you prefer students to contact you (email, tweets, texts, etc) and state your standard turn-around for email.  (During the semester I promise a 24-hour turnaround on course questions.) If you’re working with a TA, clarify if students should email both of you, or, if you prefer to have one point of contact.

That’s it – there is so much more, but, these 4 quick tips will give your online course a level up!

Do you have any quick tips and tricks? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!