Monthly Archives: September 2019

The Use of Cinema In Education – Annotated Spreadsheet of Sources

The history of the use of cinema in education is long and film has been used in many contexts over the last one hundred years.  In my search for information, I uncovered many artifacts discussing this topic that were written between 1919 and 2019.  Here, I have provided an annotated spreadsheet of five sources in which I felt particularly relevant to my search for historic uses of film in education:

The use of cinema in education annotated spreadsheet



Smart Homes and the Implications of Abundant Content: A Collaborative Exploration of Home Automation – By Lisa Gedak & Tala Mami

Imagine in the future:

“Your wrist phone chimes with a message from your spouse.  Her business trip to review the Sahara forest project will finish early and she ought to make the noon hypersonic shuttle and be home by teatime. Maybe you can still make the premiere of that new zero-G dance show tonight. Time to leave. You signal the table to resorb the scant remains of your nutritionally balanced breakfast. The kids couldn’t wait. They are already in the media room for the day’s first lesson – their artificially intelligent tutor-cum-playmate is conducting a virtual reality tour of the first Olympic Games, reconstructed from the latest time probe results.” (Turney, p.6, 2013)

Our homes are embracing technological innovations at speed we may not have imagined ten years ago.  Turney (2013) imagined a home where technology has seeped into all aspects of our daily lives: information, communication, education, entertainment, leisure, transportation, and infrastructure.  Smart home technologies are making this vision a reality.  In this joint blog post, we explore some innovations that are enabling home automation; we provide some resources that exist for setting up and use of each smart home technology; and finally, we explore the implications of the abundant content and resources available.

Through several meetings and asynchronous research efforts, we have uncovered three cutting edge smart home technologies and some resources that will allow homeowners to learn how to use these innovations.

  1. The Philips Hue Home Lighting System

Control both intensity of light — dimming or brightening on-command — and the color of lights. It can create a personalized experience by using special color-coordinated moods (i.e. choose the “energize” theme on Hue app for a specific room or sync it with music). Also, by using color-coordinated alarms (i.e. wake up every morning to a bright pink bedroom). Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. Sync color smart lights to your TV shows, movies, and games

Three gadgets of Philips Hue Home Lighting System:

  • Hue lights: These smart and energy-efficient LED lights come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and models to suit different spaces.
  • Hue Bridge: The Bridge acts as a smart hub, connecting your devices to your smart lights. up to 50 Philips Hue lights and accessories can be added to one Bridge.
  • Hue app: Control smart lights quickly and conveniently with the Philips Hue app


  • Turning off all your lights with one tap
  • Using color to personalize and transform the home atmosphere as per convenience
  • Safety by programming lights to make it seem like you’re actually home.

Use of Philips Hue:

  • Bluetooth: A Bluetooth-controlled system can control lights within Bluetooth range. Set the mood of a single room with any Philips Hue Bluetooth-compatible bulb and the Hue Bluetooth app, which controls up to 10 lights
  • Hue Bridge: Adding a Hue Bridge activates the built-in Zigbee network — a more advanced way to control your lights — and unlocks the full suite of smart lighting features: add up to 50 bulbs, set routines, and more.

Compatible Devices:

With an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device, you can use simple voice commands such as, ‘Alexa, dim the lights’, or,’ ‘Hey Google, turn on the table lamp’, to control your lights. Compatible devices include: Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation, Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 5, Google Home Mini and Google Home Hub

  1. EcoBee4 Thermostat

The Ecobee4 allows to control air temperature with voice commands, it also works as its own Amazon speaker, so it can do everything your Alexa or Assistant can do, including play music, shop, and control other devices.

Use of EcoBee4 Thermostat:

  • Provides personalized all-around comfort: Room sensor to help manage hot or cold spots
  • Comes with Amazon Alexa Voice Service built inside: perform the many ‘skills’ that come with Alexa. All you have to do is ask and watch the blue light pipe on top of the thermostat blink in response. For total hands-free control, it can even hear you from across the room
  • Lets you focus: With Alexa, fulfill everyday tasks with a simple command. (i.e. grocery lists, play music, set alarm)


  • Clear Communication: ecobee4 has embedded microphones with far-field voice recognition and a speaker engineered for clear voice and full sound
  • Accessible: All commands can be controlled using one app
  • Energy Saver: Save up to 23%* in heating and cooling costs each year. ENERGY STAR® certified

How to start using EcoBee4 Thermostat:

  • Hire a professional installer to get ecobee device or do it yourself;
  • Removing your old thermostat back plate
  • Determine your HVAC system type by checking if you have one or two sets of terminal labels on your old thermostat’s back plate.
  • If you have a C-wire, it will power your ecobee. You won’t need the PEK included in the box
  • If you have an extra wire that isn’t connected to any terminal on your thermostat, you can use it as a C-wire.

Compatible Devices:

Ecobee4 integrates seamlessly with apps and other home ecosystems like Alexa or Apple Home Kit.

  1. Portal from Facebook

Portal from Facebook allows video conferencing, listening to music, checking the front door, displaying photos, sharing stories using augmented reality effects, playing games, surfing the web, and accessing popular apps.

Use of Portal:

  • Hands free video calling
  • Comes with Amazon Alexa Voice Service built inside: play music, surf the web, get the news and weather by saying “Hey portal”
  • Play games and share photos


  • Camera automatically pans and zooms to focus on you, even in a room full of people.
  • Voice-enhancing microphone that minimizes background noise. front porting stereo speakers and a rear woofer for rich hi-fi sound
  • When you’re not on a call, Portal can show pictures from your Facebook photo albums
  • Display birthday reminders and the weather.
  • Can connect to TV for large display

How to start using Portal:

  • Purchase a portal box here:
  • Download the portal app for syncing with devices
  • After plugging in device, follow onscreen instructions for two step set-up
  • Call, email or chat instantly with portal support team for set-up issues or technical support

Compatible Devices:

Portal integrates seamlessly with several apps including, words with friends, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Facebook watch and CNN, and connects with smart devices for use on the go, is compatible with WhatsApp and messenger.

Incorporating these technological innovations into our homes to make them “smart” can be exciting, and it is fun to imagine the future possibilities that these innovations can generate.  The content available currently surrounding smart home technologies is vastly abundant, but consideration needs to be given to the number of innovations that are emerging, and the speed of their arrival. Weller (2011) postulated the impact of having an abundance of learning content and resources and examined how in our digital, networked age, the scale of the content we have access to is on a different level.  In smart home technologies, the user is the generally self-taught, and installs, sets up, and operates the technology with remote support, instruction, and troubleshooting being supplied by the company designing the tech.  As home automation continues to grow, so does the amount of content that will be available concerning these innovations, and this abundance may need more educational considerations then the smart technologies themselves.


Turney, J. (2013). Imagining technology (Working Paper No. 13/5). Retrieved from

Weller, Martin (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249. 223–236 Retrieved from

Application of Theoretical Perspectives in Instructional Design

Ertmer and Newby (2013) postulated that many instructional designers are inhibited by an inadequate understanding of foundational learning theories, and in their paper, intended to familiarize designers with three original learning positions.  Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are dissected and evaluated for practical applications in learning environments.

The authors convincingly argued that instructional designers possess two requisite skills and knowledge: understanding the position of the practitioner and using evidence-based research to implement solutions (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p.43). Exploration of these three foundational theories was not a new exercise; however, the way the authors analyzed the theories through comprehensive comparison allowed for a fresh review and contemplation.  Although not only one theory can apply to all situations, within my past teaching practice, I have aligned most closely with a constructivist approach.  Learning to work in a healthcare setting, requires that students are reflective, self-directed, critical thinkers in real-world (often in crisis) situations. According to Ertmer and Newby (2013), constructivism links experiences and meaning-making, and does not merely passively obtain knowledge, but rather create and interpret meaning from their interactions and experiences.  When teaching medical language foundations, I would collaborate with nursing instructors and design simulated patient scenarios where students in different programs could practice speaking the medical language to each other and interact in context. In these simulated scenarios, students could reflect and decide what they might do differently based on previous interactions. During the simulations, there were plenty of opportunities to pause, reflect, and make meaning.  Brandon and All (2010) suggested that healthcare instructors who allow for regular assessments of activities and debriefing through questioning, enable students to learn strategies that help them actively learn, and to become life-long learners. This constructivist approach in my previous healthcare education teaching experiences seemingly adheres to the first principles of instruction identified by Merrill (2002, p.43).

Merrill (2002) identified five principles of instruction which are arguably commonplace in a variety of learning theories. In using a constructivist design, healthcare instructors planning simulation activities are supporting learners in solving real-world problems, in accessing and applying previous knowledge, in the demonstration of new skills by instructors and peers, and by integrating new knowledge into an experiential world; which aligns with Merrill’s (2002) identified principles of instruction.

Both articles argued that learning theories are needed to underpin the instructional design and to implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies. Surprisingly, neither article heavily emphasizes the need for connectedness, peer interaction, or social schemas.  Philosophically, I feel that this interaction and exposure to peers and instructors is crucial, and much research has emerged that supports building classroom community and that creating student connections with each other and with instructors has a beneficial impact on the learning. McInnis Brown and Starrett (2017, para.3) surveyed students who answered questions on connectedness and their academic experience overall and found that almost all (94%) of those surveyed revealed they felt that connectedness improved their overall academic performance, provided a sense of safety and security, was motivating and assist with memory retention.  Vygotsky (1978) argued that all mental functions be explained as products of social interactions, and I tend to agree with his theory; I have never seen students as energized and keen to learn as when they are in interactive learning situations: simulations, role plays, group collaboration and problem-solving activities.  In my new role, I will be working with faculty from various programs and subject areas, and as an instructional strategist will be mindful that not all learning theories will apply to all situations; but I will carry forward Merrill’s first principles of instruction as a starting point in my hunt for the appropriate theory.


Brandon, A., & All, A. (2010). Constructivism theory analysis and application to curricula. Nursing Perspectives, 31(2), 89-92. Retrieved from

Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26, 43-71. doi:10.1002/piq.21143

McInnis Brown, M., & Starrett, T. (2017, April). Fostering student connectedness: Building relationships in the classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Merrill, D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development 50, 43.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge Mass, Harvard University Press.

Notable Contributors in the Field of EdTech

There are many bloggers, podcasters, authors, and internet contributors who are devoted to revolutionizing the field of educational technology and are deserved to be added to the RSS readers of progressive and passionate educators everywhere.  Among those many trailblazers is Michelle Pacansky-Brock, a college teacher “turned faculty developer” (n.d.) whose passion for access, equity, and professional development for online teaching and learning is palpable.  Pacansky-Brock dedicates a large portion of her blog, podcast, and multiple publications to the topic of educational technology; and further specializes in “humanized learning” (2016), which uses the cognitive and affective domains to inform course design and instruction to build connected online learning communities.  The process begins by asking, “how might I design a humanized learning experience using digital technologies?” (Pacansky-Brock, 2016).  Creating and managing an online learning environment in which diversity is not only recognized but valued is one of the key aspects of Pacansky-Brock’s humanized learning approach, and; this desire to break down systemic barriers and begin to bridge the equity gaps in education merits attention.  By acknowledging these gaps, she is opening a meaningful dialogue that is needed to truly begin creating connected learning environments that are safe and accepting for all.  She also acknowledges that she is coming from a place of privilege, which inspires further dialogue critical to breaking down systemic barriers “Just gotta put this out there. When white people discuss diversity-inclusion-equity, we have an obligation to explicitly recognize that we approach this conversation through a privileged lens” (Pacansky-Brock, 2019).  This notable contributor will undoubtedly continue to revolutionize the field, and I, for one, am excited to follow this trailblazer.



SlideShare Presentation:



Pacansky-Brock, M. [@brocansky]. (2019, September 8). Just gotta put this out there. When white people discuss diversity-inclusion-equity, we have an obligation to explicitly recognize that we approach this conversation through a privileged lens. [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Pacansky-Brock, M., (2017). Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. Second ed. Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN:9781138643642

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2016, Jan 12). What is humanizing [SlideShare presentation]. Retrieved from:

Pacansky-Brock, M. (n.d). Re: Who am I? [Blog comment(s)]. Retrieved from


Perspectives and Interpretations of the History of Educational Technology

Comparing the opinions and evidential research presented in the respective papers of Weller, (2018), and Reiser, (2001); uncovered patterns of anticipation and anti-climatic stagnation when new technologies throughout history promised to revolutionize education, and then ultimately were followed by the next forecasted innovation.  Although written nearly two decades apart, both articles are relevant and have convincingly argued that although there have been significant shifts in educational practices, technology has been slow to make a substantial impact in the field.

In relevance to my own experiences adopting and incorporating innovations and technologies into my classroom, one “lesson from the past” that resonates after reading these individual pieces, is that “Patience is required: educational transformation is a slow burn” (Weller, 2018, p.28).  I have felt the excitement and anticipation of the promise of new technologies in my classroom, only to be let-down when the hype subsides, and the deciders have resolved to go with yet another new technology; as the cycle continues.  In addition to the disappointment that this recurring broken promise generates, this causes problems when designing the digital learning environment as it is challenging to maintain resources and assignments created for specific platforms and learning management systems if they are continually changing.  It would seem apparent that when adopting new technologies, instructional designers, instructors, and administrators will require stamina as “EdTech is not a game for the impatient” (Weller, 2018, p.48), and the next big technological innovation is yet to come.


Reiser, R. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part 1: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), pp. 53-64.

Weller, M. (2018a). Twenty years of ed tech. Educause Review Online, 53(4), pp. 34-48. Retrieved from

The Nebulous History of EdTech and Its Equally Hazy Future

Researching the history of educational technology is an interesting and interminable venture.  A simple internet search will turn up an endless array of articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and other internet medias analyzing diverse topics related to the field of EdTech.  Although there is seemingly an endless amount of information on the subject; the topics, concepts, and frameworks (or lack of) can leave researchers with more questions than answers.  Perhaps the problem is that the history of the field is vast, nebulous, and to all appearances based on a variety of opinions on origin and definition.  Januszewski (1996, p.285) found that individual constructs varied in the field of educational technology, but that the plurality of histories provided more options to adopt EdTech for specific needs.  Nearly a quarter of a century later, the disparity in these histories has led to players without an instructional design background filling specific EdTech needs.  Collins and Halverson (2010) argued that new technologies have exploded, and companies are capitalizing on educational technology products that are targeting consumers with deep pockets and that schools are being left behind. They argued that if schools continued to be excluded from the technology discussion, they “may not be able to adapt and integrate new technologies, and the association of schooling with education, developed over the past 150 years, will dissolve into a world where wealthier students pursue their learning outside of the public school” (Collins, & Halverson, 2010, p.165).  In more recent publications, the theme of learning from our history, or lack of history to mold the future continues to be explored.  Macgilchrist, Allert, and Bruch (2019) speculated about the inherent characteristics of future students through three imagined futures influenced by the present-day policies of educational technology. The authors hypothesized that these social science fiction scenarios could inform future research in educational technology and guide the ID of digital learning environments, and after exploration of the nebulous history of EdTech and its equally hazy future I agree this is warranted; let us clean up the messy landscape now and create a solid history for the future.


Collins, A., and Halverson, R. (2010). The second educational revolution: rethinking education in the age of technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26,18-27. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00339.x

Macgilchrist, F., Allert, H., & Bruch, A. (2019). Students and society in the 2020s. Three future ‘histories’ of education and technology, Learning, Media and Technology, doi: 10.1080/17439884.2019.1656235

Januszewski, A. (1996). History in Educational Technology. Retrieved from