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Before this last week’s OAME conference in Toronto, I’d only seen one use of Educreations: students record themselves teaching through a lesson or a problem as a kind of summative assessment. This assignment has been recommended to me in 100% of the tablets-in-education sessions I’ve attended. (Chris Hunter called the students “Khanabees,” which is clever.)

In her session at OAME, Marian Small used Educreations to show student thinking in its raw, unrehearsed form, full of loops and self-references, which for some purposes is more interesting than the polished Khanabees presentations.

The premise of her talk (PDF of her slides) was that the job of teaching comprises two very different, very difficult tasks:

  1. promoting student thinking through interesting questions,
  2. responding to that thinking in productive ways.

So her session was simple, but engrossing.

  1. She had students talk through and work out on an iPad interesting questions that they were seeing for the first time. (Here’s an example.) The iPad recorded their real-time sketches and markings and paired it to the their voice.
  2. She asked us what we’d say next and analyzed and critiqued our responses, highlighting their differences and categorizing them as either “scaffolding,” “redirecting,” “probing,” or “extending.”

An hour flew by.

This approach to representing student work has advantages and disadvantages relative to both scans of student work and videos that show the student and teacher. Rather than outline those differences myself, I’d rather take your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re into Talking Math With Your Kids or Math Mistakes, this approach to student work is worth investigating.

Featured Comments

Kate, referring to Small’s two bullet points above:

That is the most beautiful job description I’ve ever read.

Ryan Muller:

I am not a teacher, but as a technologist/researcher, it strikes me we can, at least in the short run, have a lot more pedagogical insight with humans looking at a few these than machines crunching context-poor big data (even though I’ve argued the case of the latter before on this blog).

Wade Roberts, co-founder of Educreations:

Android is the next logical platform for us to support, but we don’t yet see sufficient demand to justify the cost of development. We’re monitoring Android tablet growth within schools, but iPad is still over 90% of school market. It is already possible to replay our videos on Android, however.

And:

We’re incredibly excited about this use-case. People are often surprised when I tell them that just over half of the 5 million videos on our platform have been created by students.

18 Responses to “The Most Interesting Use Of Educreations”

  1. on 14 May 2014 at 9:18 amBryan Anderson

    This is great! It’s like DOOM- Math version. Here’s what I mean, you are looking the the problem and seeing what the student is doing without any exterior cues. Many Ss are well versed in picking up visual cues from Ts or other Ss. I found myself thinking like the student and not like a teacher. I started predicting what the Ss was going to do, or trying to decide how they were thinking based on initial comments or writing. I really like the fact that you get their first impression ideas and explanations, you can see their thought process without any refinement. If you played a video of student work for the class, it would be great for error checking and you could pause at any point in the video to address skills or make predictions. This would also be an easy medium to give individual feedback.

    Some things I did not like is that you do not have a “record” of all of their work for quick reference. In order to be able to see each step, you have to play the video back. I would have to develop a folder of assignments of assessments (for accountability purposes) which could cause issues on my limited server space. It would also take longer to assess Ss work because you do have to play each video- it could become an issue for teachers with large Ss numbers. I also wonder how this would work for group-type work- I would imagine you would have to train students in proper digital recording (one talking or drawing at a time, everyone provides their input).

  2. on 14 May 2014 at 10:09 amDan Allen

    Hi Dan,

    I’ve also seen Educreations used similar to this to have a record of student knowledge heading into a unit. Very raw but I like the way the student talked his way through it.

    @Brian,
    Educreations holds the videos on their servers, not yours so that might not be as much of an issue, however, I’m sure they limit the amount of storage they’re willing to provide without some sort of a fee involved.

    Dan

  3. on 14 May 2014 at 12:40 pmBeth Ratcliffe

    As part of a team of grade 7 and 8 teachers in Gravenhurst, Ontario we have been using Educreations as a student tool to record Ss thinking when given a rich, open task to solve. Within an agreed upon and student developed framework for math talk communication, Ss record what they are visualizing when presented with a problem and then their ideas and math talk verbalization are recorded too. Ss then have a conversation and representation to look back on and to listen to so that they have more ideas and connections for solving the problem or open task. It has helped several students who are initially reluctant to share their ideas, who process information at a differing speed or who solve problems more effectively when working collaboratively!

  4. on 15 May 2014 at 4:12 amDan Allen

    Checked into it with Educrearions & there is no limit on the number of videos an individual can upload, just a 30-minute time limit per video.

  5. on 15 May 2014 at 6:35 amKate nerdypoo

    Wow, for me the real goldmine of this is her presentation, since Educreations is a bit out of reach unless you have a tablet school, which I don’t.

    I am printing out her words to hang by my desk as a reminder of just what the heck I’m supposed to be doing up there:

    My job as a teacher is to:
    1) promote student thinking
    2) respond to student thinking

    I promote student thinking by asking rich questions.
    I respond to student thinking by posing further questions that either scaffold, redirect, probe, or extend.

    Both skills need practicing.

    That is the most beautiful job description I’ve ever read.

  6. on 15 May 2014 at 9:39 amRyan Muller

    Pros over scanned work:
    - Sequencing and verbalization of their thoughts. The scanned work is hard to follow.

    Pros over student/teacher video:
    - More privacy for the student
    - Stronger focus on the work/less distractions

    Disadvantages:
    - Disfluency in the medium. Without practice, students may struggle with fitting things on the screen, using the writing tools, knowing what to write, etc.
    - As a teacher, it can be a lot faster to evaluate scanned work if you know what to look for. But it’d be easy to have a tool, say, generate screenshots from the video and allow partial playback from those.

    IANATeacher, but as a technologist/researcher, it strikes me we can, at least in the short run, have a lot more pedagogical insight with humans looking at a few these than machines crunching context-poor big data (even though I’ve argued the case of the latter before on this blog).

  7. on 15 May 2014 at 2:06 pmChris Hunter

    Marian’s approach means less guesswork compared to scanned/handed-in work; there’s less “What was he thinking?” You see this in Pershan’s math mistakes; part of the draw is this puzzle aspect. Listening to our students tells us so much more about what they know than what shows up on paper. Our K-2 colleagues get this. As someone who once taught (mostly) 15- to 18-year-olds and now teaches 5- to 8-year-olds, that’s been one take away for me.

    One advantage of videos that show the student and the teacher is that, watching a kid-only video, you may wish you could ask a clarifying (That’s not on Marian’s list. Huh.) or probing question. The teacher in the video can ask this question for you. Fingers crossed. One disadvantage is that the teacher may get in the way, perhaps paraphrasing what he wants to hear rather than what the student is saying. I know I’ve done this (e.g. “So, are you saying…”) [Note: I’ll watch your student & teacher example after posting this comment, so I’m just speculating/reflecting here, not commenting on the teacher in the video.]

    I’ll quibble a bit with teaching through a lesson or a problem having the same appeal. When I poked with the Khan khomment, I meant those step-by-step kid-created how-to factor/rationalize the denominator/solve for x videos (“teaching through a lesson”?). I’m with you there. When I think teaching through a problem, I’m thinking of seeing/hearing a student’s own strategy for an activity in which she has not already been given a way to solve it — that’s not a problem, but practice (or worked example?). Then again, what I describe is formative, not summative, so I guess I’ll withdraw my quibble.

    This notion of “polished” is interesting. Certainly, Khan isn’t polished in terms of style (just a man and his Wacom pen, after all) or in terms of being rehearsed (that Wikipedia comment). I guess that’s why you added the adjective.

    But, yes, I’d want a quick, unrehearsed video (not a project) from my students that explained their thinking (not just what they did). Ideally, these videos would clock in at < 4 min. Maybe that’s another disadvantage as compared to paper: this really limits the problems you can pose if we’re stuck on capturing kids’ initial rather than rehearsed thoughts.

    If the video is not created in the problem-solving moment, can we think of it as reflection rather than rehearsal time? This involves setting clear expectations — wanting to hear stories of missteps as well as success — and teaching students what communication in mathematics looks like. So, for the child in Marian’s video, I’d want to hear from her about how she came to realize that the three sides didn’t have to be equal, not just that 5, 7, 8 works.

  8. on 15 May 2014 at 4:10 pmJoe Schwartz

    I’ve used the educreations whiteboard app on my ipad working with basic skills students. I’d record them working through a problem (say multi-digit multiplication, or adding fractions with unlike denominators, something procedural). Then the next time we’d meet, instead of me reviewing the procedure I’d just play back to them their own work. Pretty basic. But the kids love to hear themselves as they watch their work unfold, and it seems to make things stick a bit more. Never tried it with problem solving, but now I will!

  9. on 15 May 2014 at 5:00 pmCathy Yenca

    My students used the Explain Everything app recently to create review videos for the Algebra end-of-course exam. They’re quite fun, and many of them are wrong. Since our class culture embraces mistakes pretty comfortably, we used the incorrect videos as talking points just as much as the correct ones. Feel free to check them out – and be kind, we’re really new at this!

    https://www.thinglink.com/scene/515598950074417152

  10. on 15 May 2014 at 9:12 pmWade Roberts

    Wade here, co-founder of Educreations. Thanks, Dan, for sharing this great post on Marian’s presentation. I wish I could watch a video of her talk, but the slides are very helpful.

    We’re incredibly excited about this use-case. People are often surprised when I tell them that just over half of the 5 million videos on our platform have been created by students.

    We’ve been thinking a lot about how we might develop new app features to better support teachers who want to implement this strategy. I’m interested in hearing any ideas you guys may have.

  11. on 15 May 2014 at 10:08 pmHelen Squires

    We are a Year 1-8 school in NZ and many classes are using educreations and/or explain everything for children to record their thinking through and solving problems in maths (among other things). It really is a fantastic way of getting an understanding of how they are thinking independently and any misconceptions they have. The children all have their own blogs and embed their educreations onto their blog as evidence of what different strategies they can use.
    It is great that they are able to access educreation from their chromebooks. It would be amazing if there was the ability to create a template that could be used by each child to record on as you can do in explaineverything. I love both of these apps – they are so powerful in the classroom.

  12. on 16 May 2014 at 5:55 amBryan Anderson

    @Wade Roberts Our school is starting to pick up learnpads. We received 30 last month and our admin will order more dependent on interest and use. How soon before we can use Educreations on this platform?

  13. […] like Dan Meyer is seeing value in capturing students’ voice […]

  14. on 16 May 2014 at 8:50 amCathy Yenca

    @Wade Roberts – do students and teachers have access to the actual video files in Educreations? Sometimes kids like to remix their work (cut from a screen cast to a video demonstrating how to, say, use a graphing calculator for something, then back to the screen cast… or… add music, transitions, etc.). I’m curious if Educreations give students that type of control/ownership over the vids. Thanks!

  15. on 16 May 2014 at 9:24 amWade Roberts

    Great questions!

    @Helen – templates are a great idea and we’re planning to enable you to create them and easily distribute them to students in the near future.

    @Bryan – Android is the next logical platform for us to support, but we don’t yet see sufficient demand to justify the cost of development. We’re monitoring Android tablet growth within schools, but iPad is still over 90% of school market. It is already possible to replay our videos on Android, however.

    @Cathy – yes, we will be enabling video export in a major app update coming later this summer, along with many other amazing new features.

  16. on 17 May 2014 at 12:44 pmDan Meyer

    Thanks for the insight, everybody. I featured some comments on the main post from Kate, Ryan, and Wade.

  17. on 25 May 2014 at 4:16 pmDennis Ashendorf

    You are fabulous teachers. I’m not sure I’m willing to give the time to view so many videos.

  18. […] A student or teacher walking around the class watching and listening to responses to meaningful math questions, puzzles or games, are both engaged in another important layer of assessment:  Observation.  These observations can, but don’t necessarily have to, lead to conversations.  The benefit here is that through observation, student thinking can be seen in its raw form; in the moment.  These important glimpses into student thinking, as they work to make sense of how new math ideas match with what they already know, are essential to the assessment process.  Digital platforms like EduCreations or VoiceThread can help the teacher capture those important but at times elusive opportunities to observe a student in a class of thirty.   This was discussed in more detail by Dan Meyer, here. […]

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