14 Edtech Challenges completed at UMass Amherst for Education 593A

Challenge #1: Live Hosted Tweet Chat

Equipment Used: TweetDeck

Chats Attended:

#SatChat Saturday Chat – Saturday @ 7:30AM EST

For current and emerging school leaders, #satchat became so popular it spawned two geographically specific offshoot chats: #SatchatWC for West Coasters and #SatchatOC for educators living in Oceania (Indonesia, Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, etc.).

#nt2t New Teachers to Twitter – Saturday @ 9:00AM EST

For educators who are new to Twitter: #leadupchat Lead Up Chat – Saturday @ 9:30AM EST
A conversation for thought leaders about connected leadership, growth mindset, paradigm shifts, school culture, and general education topics for the 21st century learner/leader.
Lessons Learned:
Twitter chats are often, but not always, very well attended by regulars. They are rapid fire discussions with Questions posed by moderators. Q1 -> Q2
An interesting potential addition to an educator’s PLN.

Challenge #2: Personal Learning Environments

What I found enriching about this challenge was the exposure to new and interesting ways of acquiring news, new research and a passive approach to remaining topical on a curated variety of topics.  I appreciate how feedly passively collects and curates information  in an RSS feed rather than requiring the user to actively searching out new information.  What I find is searching out new information can limit the input of new information since I only find what I’m looking for.  

 I sometimes find my own learning stagnating due to being able to insulate myself from outside information when I keep my PLN too limited.  Fore example, we have seen what happens when Facebook and Instagram as primary PLN sources and an “echo chamber” emerges. 


I also explored several Online Learning Communities including:

I found these communities helpful in that they could be extremely targeted giving a deep, but not broad, focus to an area of interest, such Edmodo and English Language Arts.   These were different from the Feedly design in that required active participation to find and learn, rather than a feed delivered in near real time.

Challenge #3: Three Hours of Pokemon Go


This challenge was to figure out how to play Pokemon Go for 3 hours, without any instruction, and get to the highest level as possible

Challenge #4: Flipgrid


Registered for a FlipGrid Account and made my first Flipgrid video.  It seems like a very Western approach to education.  Lots of focus on the individual and what they themselves think.  Interesting experiment.  It’s definitely engaging.  I could see my children enjoying this type of medium for school.

The Digital Literacy I postulated on was Digital Literacy.  Much like reading, it all begins with being able to function in a digital environment and understanding the basic tools.  As someone who as served as a Network Administrator for School Districts I can tell you many people who did not grow up with computers find using them to be challenging and frustrating.  Computers represent a barrier for them.  They lack the basic tools necessary to use them in a functional fashion.  

Education on the basic workings of Operating Systems, common software such as word processing and spreadsheets, password protection, virus protection, and the difference between local and cloud storage would be light years ahead of where we are right now.  Taking computers apart and learning about the basics of processors, RAM, SSDs, types of ports (printer, display, usb-c) would be an excellent start for basic education in these digital times.

Challenge #5: The SIFT Mode

The SIFT model reminds me of basic investigation techniques and what Axios did to Donald Trump in a recent interview. They asked basic follow up questions to his claims to find they were completely baseless. When Trump would claim, “They all agree with me. You can ask any expert. Look in any book.” Axios followed up with, “Which experts? What books? Can you tell us any of them?”

  1. Stop
  2. What is the source?  Where is the news coming from? Is it credible?
    Can you find other credible new sources corroborating the information?
  3. Who is sharing the information in the story? Are the witnesses credible or are they suspect?

For example: Bigfoot

The news sources that most often report on BigFoot in the Pacific Northwest are tabloids such as The Inquirer or the Jerry Springer show. Others sources may also say similar things about BigFoot but not around similar times pointing to any specific event involving BigFoot and the same witnesses. Nothing is presented as current. The witnesses described in the stories are not authorities but campers or hikers we’ve never heard of who may or may not be truthful. No physical evidence is ever supplied other than blurry photographs that may have been doctored.

Loch Ness Monster follows a very similar line of reasoning as BigFoot.

According to the SIFT model BigFoot and Loch Ness would be considered False.

UFOs are another matter. Recently the CIA released information with evidence of Unidentified Flying Objects. They do not explicitly say the flying objects are extraterrestrial, but they do go on record to say they are Unidentified. As Unidentified Objects by an organization with a long history of feeding false information to the public when it suits a larger purpose or campaign, we must determine this information as uncredible. Plus we could not get other government agencies outside of the United States to corroborate the information.

Challenge #6: Create an Animated Video About Universal Design

Challenge #7: Alternatively Accessible Social Media Post

The ALT in the lower left corner signifies this post is available to Screen Readers for as an alternative to seeing the image.  The screen reader will give a verbal description of the image or posting.

Challenge #8: Infographic about the ISTE Standards for Students

Challenge #9: Create a Printable 3D Model

Using SketchUp Pro I created a printable 3D model of the Bluetooth Symbol.  I chose this because of Hedy Lamarr’s contributions to frequency hopping radio signals to prevent radio-controlled torpedoes from getting easily knocked off course by German and Japanese defenses.  Her inventions in technology were incorporated into early version of WiFi and Bluetooth technology.  

Few people knew of Hedy Lemar’s nearly secret double life outside of a handful of people.  By day she was known around the world as a famous actress, but she was a tireless inventor making contributions to electrical engineering, chemistry and technology.  

Challenge #10: Digital Detox

Challenge #11: Online Annotations

I enjoyed the web-based annotations tool. I appreciated how you could share annotations publicly creating shared academic resources. Personally I use Beanote. It’s also Chrome extension. I allows you to highlight and annotate web pages and remembers pages you’ve visited in the past. I use it frequently for this course.

Challenge #12: Exploring Podcasts

House of EdTech

Topic: An approach to improve memory retrieval.  Rather than try to Input more information, have students dump information they have already learned.  Then apply that information to a visual forum so it can be watched by them and shared with other students.

Online Tool: Flip Grid

Ditch that Textbook

Episode #2 

Topics:  Platforms and tools to assist education and teachers.  How Twitter is preferred for classroom communication over Facebook.  Use of Google Docs for teachers.Feedly replacing Google Reader Creating lessons using Vines.  How these platforms are being used in the Cherry Hill, New Jersey school district successfully.

Episode #3

Topics:Use of Learning Management Systems for curriculum management

Online Tools:


  • Has a Facebook look and feel.
  • Easy for end users to become quicklyfamiliar


  • Good for Middle School students through College Level
  • More Sophisticated than EdMoto


  • Great way to engage with students
  • Excellent platform to give feedback to students
  • Side Note: Is used by several professors at Temple University

Challenge #13: Program a Game or App on Scratch


Finding where to start was the most difficult part about this challenge.  It’s all about the Sprites.  Once I had that figured out the rest came quickly.  All scripts control the sprites.  You can have Sprites interact when actions occur.  There is a high degree of control for the programmer.  I didn’t appreciate just how elegant Scratch was before this exercise.  I’ve programmed in PHP, CSS, and XML for quite awhile.  This was very fun and true to form for programming.

Challenge #14: Build an Online Portfolio


This page is the 14th Challenge concludes the challenges. 

This challenge included: