Towards a Community of Sharing: Reflections on a New @Voxer chat

On January 2, 2017, I found myself at a Best Western in Sonora, Texas nursing a bee sting and listening to various Voxerchats, including Edumatch, ConnectedTL, EngageChat. That’s when a request for help came in via Voxer. That evening also found me longing for a Texas Voxer community focused around teaching, learning, leading and edtech (well, of course!).

As I polished off my 8oz cup of Sonic french vanilla flavored coffee (quite good when you’ve been driving for a few hours, starving and bee stung), about to enter a caffeine-fueled swiftly flowing current of creativity (forgetting about my bee sting altogether until it started to throb at midnight, a 6-hour fugue), Dr. Dorian Roberts sent me a vox asking me about Microsoft stuff. She had been referred to me by Christy Cate (thanks!).

Please join in at | Voxer direct link

As we chatted via Voxer, I realized what a tremendous opportunity I was missing–the opportunity to setup a Voxerchat that results in me learning more about tons of different topics! And, what better way than to ask others to teach me what they are great at? So, with that idea in mind, I brainstormed (in a blink of an eye, since I was coffee crazed) what should be needed:
  • This needs to be a slow chat because who know when folks are going to jump in, and it’s great to not have the pressure of “we’re only doing this RIGHT now and you are going to miss out”
  • I need to setup pictures with info. Why not use Google Slides to create that and collaborate with others? (yes, yes, I could have used Powerpoint online, too).
  • Create a virtual space to house content, links, etc. Why not use OneNote Online? See image above
  • Invite new guest speakers to offer 1 question per day, Monday – Friday. 
    1. Build personal connection to topic. (what you feel)
    2. Share research and information (what you know)
    3. Share learning experiences (what you have experienced)
    4. Overcoming challenges (how you have detoured around roadblocks)
    5. Lessons Learned, Resources Gathered that may help others
  • Schedule some tweets using Tweetdeck announcing the chat.
  • Invite awesome folks to be “guest agitators”
  • A way to archive voxer audio contributions, or “voxerbursts” (yes, I’m trying to put that word in circulation).
  • Include voxer chat tips and tricks.
How is it working?
Curious as to how it’s working? Well, it’s working great! Our first two guest agitators have included Diana Benner (@diben; Read Sprinkle Innovation Blog) and Eric Curts (@ericcurts; Read Control Alt Achieve Blog). Both have done an incredible job sharing ideas and getting conversations going. More importantly, others have jumped into the conversations and I’m thrilled to be learning with them.
For example, during the inaugural week, Dr. Katie Alaniz (you may remember her from my series on edtech coaching) jumped in each evening (more like LATE at night) and shared awesome research and insights into everything. Tons of other great folks are piling on this week, sharing their take-aways and learning.

Want to be a Guest Agitator? Shoot me a Tweet or sidevox me!

While not every topic will appeal to every Voxer chat member, I am hoping that we develop a community of continuous sharing where everyone will feel comfortable stepping up to the microphone.
When that happens, I know #tceachat will have moved from a group of people hoping to learn from each other to a learning community.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Redesign That: SketchUp in Schools #txed

SketchUp Pro

“We’re going to redesign our Spot’s dog house this holiday break!”
“What do you have so far?” I asked. My colleague held out a legal pad, crude drawings marring the perfect yellow pages. If you’re going to be re-arranging a dog house or your living room to fit a Christmas tree, take a look at SketchUp Make and SketchUp Pro, available for free to K-12 public schools.

Get SketchUp

With a Google account, you can do the interior design work using the newly-released And if you want the full power of SketchUp Pro (a $695 value), fill out a short form through TCEA. Private schools can obtain SketchUp Pro EDU licenses for as low as $15 per seat per year.

Use SketchUp on Chromebooks, Windows, and Mac

Available for Mac and Windows computers, SketchUp Pro now comes as a web version usable on Chromebooks. What’s more, SketchUp Mobile Viewer ($13.99) allows SketchUp models to be viewed on the iPad.
As my colleague put it, “Google SketchUp is 3D modeling software that lets you create anything you can imagine. It’s powerful enough to build complex projects, yet is easy to learn and use.” Their work appears in SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, which houses millions of models. Simple enough to use that grade 3 through adult learners rely on SketchUp for a variety of tasks. SketchUp can be integrated into different classes.

Make Creative TEKS Connections

Classes such as, art, science, history, geography, and math are just some of the perfect venues for learning with this free software. Some ideas of how you might want to use it in your classroom are available at TCEA’s SketchUp Resources. Curriculum projects can align to the Technology Applications:TEKS in Grade 6, such as defined below:
Creativity and Innovation: The student uses creative thinking and innovative processes to construct knowledge, generate new ideas, and create products. The student is expected to…
(C) explore complex systems or issues using models, simulations, and new technologies to make predictions, modify input, and review results
You can find teacher guides that provide specific models.

Explore More Features

For children with autism, Project Spectrum shares powerful examples of student creativity made possible. SketchUp Pro can also be used for 3D modeling and printing. Students can create designs in SketchUp, then save them as OBJ files. These can then be opened in your 3D printer’s software (e.g. Makerbot) and printed. Talk about authentic learning!
SketchUp Pro also supports design templates for 3D printing, making it a simple matter to create to scale. You can also export designs in 3D Warehouse to STL file format for 3D printing. Doing so helps clean up your design before beginning to print. Another neat feature involves interacting with holograms. Visualize design data and collaborate with others using SketchUp Pro with Microsoft Hololens.


SketchUp makes creating models for sharing, and printing. Prepare your children for the future and introduce them to it today!
Special thanks to Taylor and Brian Wright for sharing their use of SketchUp to create real structures via their blog.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Activate Learning Innovators

Change can be difficult. But it’s almost always necessary. So how can we activate learning innovators in schools? In this blog entry, we will explore key technologies and action steps.

Getting Connected

Today, we have access to new technologies.  VoxerAppear.inEdmodoTwitter, blogs, Skype for Business, and  YouTube Live are only a few.  Decide whether the tool, such as GoogleDocs or OneNote Class Notebook, scaffolds learners’ efforts. Ask yourself, “How does this technology facilitate access and reflection across time, space, and devices?”

Growing from Network to Community

In a professional learning network (PLN), the more nodes (a.k.a. people) in your network, the richer the flow of ideas. Moving from information to innovative practice requires effort. Think of a PLN as a journey of learning and reflection. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) often involve groups. PLCs also describe a team’s shared journey of learning and reflection. Unlike a PLN, the PLC focuses on team efforts for achieving desired student outcomes. Which works best in your situation?

Activating Learners: Steps to Success

Allow me to share some action steps I have learned with past initiatives such as  Pathways to Advance Virtual Education (PAVE), EC3 iPads in the Classroom , and the Technology Integration Lead Teacher (TILT) Program in several settings. Take these action steps to get a similar effort started in your school or district.
  1. Organize learning around content that fosters innovation. That may be why one Texas district brought in George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset, to lead #NISDTechCamp district-wide conversations (see my notes and  materials).
  2. Provide incentives that generate excitement among participants. Providing a stipend or technology equipment (e.g. iPad, laptop, Chromebook) that facilitates access is a common practice. When in a technology rich environment, offer options for various incentives. Remember incentives can also include badges for professional learning.
  3. Use a blended learning approach to meetings, including face to face and online. Be sure to bring the group together, face to face, at the beginning, middle, and end of the initiative. Social media has replaced cumbersome learning management systems (LMSs).
  4. Secure support from school/district leadership. Invite leadership to align strategic goals to your initiative and vice versa.
  5. Support participants in creating an online portfolio of work with video and audio reflections that results in certification.
  6. Let empowered individuals give back by helping others on campus.
  7. Celebrate, such as with a dinner or graduation ceremony. Celebrate the efforts participants have put into learning. This can assist them in assuming a new, influential role.

An Example: Innovation Cohort

“Reach for the edges,” says Ryan O’Donnel via a Voxerchat I’m participating in (connect with him via the ConnectedTL Tribe Voxer chat) as he shares his vision in this Innovation Cohort Application. Notice that there are several components, such as required meetings, designing an innovation project, site-based support, financial reimbursement for time, and an application process. Many similar efforts exist, such as the Google Certified Innovator programMicrosoft Innovative Educator (MIE), Discovery Education Network (DEN) Stars program, as well as many more (e.g. Seesaw Ambassador).

Invitation to Reflect

Please share in the comments what your thoughts are about these kinds of efforts. If you have participated in these efforts, how did they impact your work?

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Dystopian Learning: No Matter What the Device

“You’re just a shill for Google,” a district colleague joked when I shared I had been selected to participate in the Google Certified Innovator program in 2010. I laughed for a moment. If that moment was funny, the fact that I became a Microsoft Innovative Education (MIE) Expert in 2016 must generate a few more chuckles. And some wondered at my efforts with a 1:1 Apple iPad classroom. Work in education, you soon find yourself avoiding a dystopian, technology singularity.
The Big Three, which includes Apple, Google, and Microsoft (let’s refer to them as AGM going forward), are competing for space in today’s classrooms. Each boasts new, powerful software, hardware, and online spaces that bridge the learning gap for educators around the world. From Apple’s Distinguished Educator (ADE)  to Google Certified Trainer to Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Trainer, each program connects you to a vibrant community of educators.
AGM’s respective efforts involve getting educators to adopt education versions of their consumer technologies. While claims of classroom transformations must be taken with a grain of salt, there are real benefits. Let’s explore some of the benefits below.

Drink the Kool-Aid!

“Have you drunk the kool-aid?” When you drink the kool-aid, you suspend your cynicism of AGM’s intentions. Instead, you embrace problem-solving with the technologies at your disposal. The more active the AGM-affiliated educator community, the better off you are. These communities connect via various social media, email lists, and face-to-face gatherings. All are focused on helping you bring the power of their technologies to bear on overcoming learning challenges.

Solving Learning Challenges

How would you approach the problem below?
Students need to adapt propaganda techniques seen in presidential candidate advertising. After analyzing those techniques in several video segments, students must create their own version. The version will connect to their reading of TIM, Defender of Earth, a dystopian novel featuring a dinosaur in a world-saving battle with nanobots.
How would you approach this from your particular AGM perspective? For fun, let’s jump right in and see (i  alphabetical order):


Students could collect video clips, recording relevant clips using the iPad’s built-in camera. They must provide a brief analysis of the propaganda techniques in the video, then transition to their application of the techniques to a TIM, Defender of Earth main character. They could use one of these free apps (Shadow Puppet EDU or Touchcast) to create narrated video clips and then stitch the production together in iMovie ($4.99), Videocraft ($3) or Pinnacle Studio Pro ($13). Videos would be turned into the class Seesaw account (free), appearing on the Class Seesaw Blog after the teacher approved them. Students in other groups could offer feedback via the Seesaw app on their iPads.
That’s one approach to solving this challenge using Apple. Let’s take a look at another way.

Google Suite

After reviewing YouTube versions of commercials and advertisements, students decide to use video annotation tools built into YouTube. They annotate parts of the video, highlighting the parts that exemplify a certain technique. Upon completion, students organize a Google Slide featuring still images, incorporating a comic strip storyboarded in Google Draw, and a video they recorded to YouTube using either their mobile phone with the YouTube Capture or their Chromebook’s webcam with ClipChamp extension($49 per classroom per year). Other students incorporate audio into their Google Slides presentation by recording voice-overs using Nimbus Screenrecording extension (free). And others might use Adobe Spark (free) or WeVideo ($250 per classroom per year) online.


Students might create a OneNote notebook, providing a written analysis of several videos from YouTube and Vimeo. They can copy and paste the video link (a.k.a. embedding) into a OneNote page, the video appearing for viewing. Then they use their MS Surface Pro 4 tablets to record a video rendition of their advertising. They could blend propaganda tips into the video and then add their explanation of what they did. As a final step, they create a view link for their OneNote Notebook. This makes it possible for anyone with an Internet browser to view the OneNote Online. Their teacher can make a class Sway highlighting the published products and share it online via Students with special needs are able to interact with the OneNote Notebooks their classmates create using the Learning Tools add-in.


You may have seen several possible ways to overcome the learning challenges in the scenario presented. In fact, like most educators, you imagined ways for all technologies to co-exist and empower students. Settling on only one technology may lead to an unwanted dystopian learning situation. Consider blending technologies instead. With that in mind, what would your technology classroom utopia look like? Please share in the comments!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Anytime, Anywhere Learning Opportunities #msftedu

“What can I learn this vacation break?” As a lifelong learner, I like to ask myself this question when I have some spare time. Balance quiet family moments your next vacation with anytime, anywhere learning. Below, you will find suggestions for self-paced professional learning this winter break. These will deepen your technological and pedagogical knowledge without impacting your budget.

Microsoft Education Community

The self-paced classes available will garner you badges and certificates you can print and share. In a profound way, these courses deepen your understanding of teaching and learning with technology in your classroom. Take these three steps to maximize your holiday learning.

Step 1 – Get a free account.

Your first step involves setting yourself up with a Microsoft Education Community account. Don’t lose your username and password. Some of the options that you have include a free Microsoft account (you can create one with your Gmail or Apple email account), Twitter, Facebook, and Office 365 account connected to work.

Step 2 – Select topics of interest.

Once you are logged in, you’ll see a menu bar running down the left side of the screen featuring several links. Click on the Badges and Points to see what options are available.
Recommendations for Microsoft classes are shown below, followed by more courses focused on pedagogy:

Microsoft Office Tools

  • Teacher Academy Windows 10 – A straightforward overview of Windows 10, great for newbies. You will earn 3,000 points and a badge for completing the course.
  • Teacher Academy OneNote – This provides some great insights into using OneNote, a collaboration tool that is available free to all. You will earn a badge and 3,000 points.
  • Digital Inking and Surface – Learn about digital inking and how the MS Surface Pro tablet can make learning more engaging. You will earn a badge.
  • Teacher Academy: Office 365 – Did you just get a free Office 365 account through work or on your own as a teacher? This course will help you create, edit, share, and work with others using Office Online, Outlook, and Skype for Business. Earn a badge and 3,000 points.

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Technology

  • 21st Century Learning Design – This 20-hour course combines eight courses with 4-6 lessons each. You will earn a badge, certificate and have a better understanding of the learning that is possible in today’s classroom.
  • Digital Citizenship – Explore digital citizenship concepts and become a confident digital citizenship champion. You will earn 500 points for this course and it will only take 30 minutes to complete.
  • Technology-Enriched Instruction – Learn more about TPACK, 21st Century Learning Design, and how to integrate technology into your classroom. This three-hour course will earn you 3,000 points and a badge.
  • Amplifying Student Voice – In this course, you will explore how to amplify student voice through the lens of research, practice, and integration frameworks. Tools like Skype,, and Sway will be used. You will earn 500 points for completing this course.
  • PDLN Connect, Communicate and Collaborate – Visit classrooms that have set norms for cooperation and collaboration. You’ll see how technology can expand the walls of your classroom. Earn 500 points for this one-hour course.

Learn More About Coding

If you’re interested in developing your coding chops, then definitely check out Prepare to Teach Creative Coding Through Games and Apps.  Join the TCEA Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE) Facebook group (with 210+ members) to tap into a dynamic community!

Step 3 – Share Your Learning

Take a moment to share your learning insights via a blog entry, record a voxercast and tweet it, or present at the next staff meeting.  Principals could certainly create a Padlet to facilitate sharing.
Did you know? Ditch That Textbook Digital Seminars are available for free. Go to the site and click “Today’s Speaker” to learn something.

TCEA Professional Learning

Need more human interaction? Check out all the available options at These for-cost options feature TCEA Professional Development directors to support your learning efforts. Here are a few certification courses:
  • 21st Century Administrator Certification – Learn what you need to be successful in a campus leadership role.
  • Campus Technology Specialist Certification – Understand the tools and processes to better engage students and increase relevant technology utilization in the classroom.
  • IT/Technology Director Certification – Become an effective district leader and support administrators, teachers, and students in the use of technology.
  • Chromebook Certification (Level 1) – Dig deeper in their utilization of Google Apps for Education tools.
  • iPad Certification (Level 1) – Build a solid foundation for integrating the iPad in your classroom by participating in this certification.


Mapping your vacation learning gets easier every day. Treat yourself with anytime, anywhere learning!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Creating Interactive Math Textbooks


“It is not the reader of a text who learns the most,” says Stephen Knudsen, “but rather the author.  When a student makes a textbook in a course, the student engages daily in all classifications of learning…when students are asked to make a textbook, they are required to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create. The results of this process are often nothing short of astonishing!”
Combine popular math tools like OneNote and GeoGebra to create astonishing, interactive math textbooks. Let’s find out how below.

Creating a Digital Textbook

Microsoft OneNote makes digital textbook creation easy. Students can work together on a single OneNote notebook that is organized into “notebook, section groups, sections, and pages.” Create a OneNote notebook as a textbook template, then share it via Students can grab the OneNote notebook digital textbook template, then enhance it. Each student or group of students can take responsibility for a specific section. OneNote enables you to insert all sorts of content, such as Vimeo, YouTube, Office Mix, Sway, and Microsoft Forms.

Organizing a Digital Textbook

Want to create a digital textbook template for your students? Let’s adapt Stephen Knudsen’s suggestions for a digital textbook:
  • Section 1: Welcome
    • Title page featuring student-created cover art
    • Dedication
    • A short Foreword by the teacher or someone who has read the textbook
    • Table of Contents. You can use Onetastic add-on to OneNote to auto-generate a table of contents for each “section chapter” and the digital textbook as a whole.
    • Author’s page with pictures of students, including their Twitter addresses
  • Section 2: Chapter 1 – Introduction
    • Organize the OneNote notebook into sections. Each section is a chapter.
    • Each section chapter will include its own table of contents and introduction.
  • Section 3: Chapter 2
  • Section 4: Chapter 3
  • Section 5: Chapter 4
  • Section 6: Chapter 5 – Conclusion
  • Section 7: Chapter 6 – Appendix
Students create hand-drawn resources and then digitize their creations with the mobile-friendly Office Lens app. Tablet access? Students can create their first draft of figures within OneNote. Identify key terms, record video/audio definitions and explanation. Design tall buildings and describe in a video how they were created. For math problems, students can use OneNote digital whiteboard technology to draft their explanation. Or rely on Microsoft Snip’s whiteboard capabilities and then embed that in the OneNote page. A few other tips include adding tags to chapters, creating a hyperlinked table of contents for each section, and setting a page template specific to each section. When complete, future classes can access the digital textbook via OneNote Online or a “frozen” copy can be permanently published at

Exploring GeoGebrainteractive

Wondering how to add difficult mathematics constructs? Take advantage of GeoGebra tools and materials.
GeoGebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education (free to non-commercial users) that joins geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics, and calculus. It also runs offline and works on various software platforms and devices (Source).
GeoGebra enjoys a rich community of support (check out Kurt Soeser, fellow Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), work | watch his video) with over 500,000 pre-created resources. In addition to creating content with GeoGebra, students can also place any of those half a million resources within their digital textbook. Want to see this in action? Go to my TCEA Connect OneNote notebook using this link. You can also watch the YouTube video walkthrough.


Rather than rely on traditional textbook publishers, adopt a maker attitude in your math classroom. Empower students to create digital textbooks using Microsoft OneNote and GeoGebra. Publish to a worldwide audience and ensure that the learning is meaningful and authentic.

Image Source

“Embed GeoGebra in OneNote” via Kurt Soeser as featured in the LearnOneNote Conference. Available at during 11/12-11/17, 2016.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Microsoft Leadership Courses

If you are an instructional leader who wants to continue growing, then mark your calendar to participate in these free K-12 Education Leadership online courses available in January, 2017. With the goal to drive systemic change and improve education, these courses are incredibly powerful and cover important topics like design thinking, gamification, and deep learning.

About the Leadership Courses

Created by Microsoft and edX member universities, these K-12 Education Leadership courses guide K-12 school and education system leaders in developing their teachers, enhancing classroom learning, and improving student outcomes in innovative, effective digital schools. Each course includes an About This Course section, a description of what you will learn, and the option to add a certificate that can be posted or shared via LinkedIn. Each Microsoft-funded course provides resources to K-12 school leaders. The goal is to meet the needs of leaders around the world at the intersection of education and technology.

Course Schedule

Arrange your schedule as follows:

Allow Yourself to Be Engaged

I found myself genuinely interested in the content of several courses. From topics like “Bringing people together around ideas they care about” to “Measuring progress and adjusting along the way,”  these processes are sure to prompt problem solving and thinking.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure