EDTECH 597: Developing a Chocolate App Thats Good Enough to Eat!

These are three of the screens from my “Christmas Chocolate” mobile app. It’s likely that some features will change as I continue developing this app.

It doesn’t seem possible that we could be in week 12 of school, but I’m pleased to be here, because I’ve learned so much in my apps class. I’ve gone from someone who had no clue about designing apps to someone who now has enough background to move forward with confidence into the final weeks, even if I’m not completely certain about how I’m going to build one of the components of the app (my timer feature).

Chocolate on Google Trends

As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided on a chocolate-themed app to help promote my Examiner.com food column. I’ve done some additional research on Google Trends and found out that the most searches for chocolate are in the month of December. I’ve also searched on Google Keyword Tool and found that people are starting to search for terms like “chocolate app,” “mobile chocolate,” and “mobile phone chocolate.” This tells me that it’s not only a good time to roll out the app, but this research also gives me a clue about what kinds of keywords I should use in my article title and body. The more I’m aligned with what people are searching for on the web, the more successful this part of the app launch will be.

Below are two graphics of Google Trends, which show the results of people’s searches for the keyword “chocolate.”

This graphic shows a keyword search for “chocolate mobile apps.”

The graphic below shows how people have searched for the term “chocolate” over the period of a few years. Information like this is useful when you’re developing online content or trying to market something.

This graphic shows a Google Trends search for the word “chocolate.” As you can see, the term peaks at the end of the year, making a Christmas time roll out of a chocolate app logical.

Building and then Rebuilding

Right now, I’ve gotten most of the visual components worked out and some of the operational bugs. I was most concerned about creating the splash screen and making a functioning list feature for the recipe portion of the app. At the moment, my app has seven pages. There will be more, but the basic seven represent every type of page that I’ll be dealing with. It’s likely that once I get all the components placed, I’ll start the app from scratch, so that my file isn’t too large and so that I’ll eliminate any visual elements that don’t please me as much right now. But I have plenty of time for that in the coming weeks.

I’m really pleased with how much I’ve learned in this class. It’s surprises me, actually, considering that I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to program anything. But now I have this tool that I can really leverage to help me move my writing business to the next level.

RSS Feeds Assignment: How Using These Tools Can Enhance Educational Research and Put you in Touch with Digital Innovations in Comics

The Google Reader allows you to keep track of RSS feeds of interest to you, whether they concern themselves with digital education or digital comics.

I became acquainted with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds because of my work with online publishing outlets. At that time, it was suggested to me as a writer for these sites to use them to develop an online readership base. The editors of the sites not only actively encouraged to find places that we could place our columns’ RSS feeders, but also to use social media to gain subscribers and people who would promote the feed. However, because of this assignment I am looking at the RSS feed from the other side of the table so to speak.

Classroom Uses for the RSS Feed

Using RSS feeds in the classroom and for education in general presents several advantages. The first advantage is that it has the ability to bring information to directly to you, specific to your research preferences and/ or your work/ teaching interests. You don’t have to perform a Google or Bing search each time you want to find articles of interest. Rather, you just find a few RSS feeds that are relevant to your interest and save them in your RSS reader folder.

The second factor related to using RSS as a tool in education is that subscribing to RSS feeds can help save you a tremendous amount of time and allow you to filter the results by your specific criteria—for example, for an education RSS, you may want to choose only scholarly sources. This helps you automatically weed out research sources that wouldn’t be appropriate for a college level assignment such as user-generated content sites such as Wikipedia.

Additionally, this type of search tool puts you in touch with resources on the web that you might never see otherwise because of search engine filtering. What I mean by this is that when most people search Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., they will usually only look at the results for about the first five pages before they give up on a search term, according to Infinity Technologies. In context this means that if you’re the teacher or the student looking for good resources for your classroom, for a report or for work, you may miss some of the best information resources simply because the website or blog owner doesn’t understand about keyword optimization, which will put their pages beyond the first five. Subscribing to an RSS feed will help you see more of these pages that don’t make it to the first five pages of Google, because you’re searching by different criteria.

Long-Term Research Ideas

The other advantage that I can see to the RSS feed as it specifically relates to using it in education is that it allows you to follow a subject of interest over a long period of time. For example, one of the areas of research that I hope to delve into more deeply is using graphic novels–both the hard-bound and online kind–in the classroom and in education, and to add even more specifics to the search, I may want to follow what people are saying about something like the New 52 at DC Comics. This is not only a reboot of the most of the major characters like Batman and the Flash and their storylines, but also a change in the comics’ distribution. With the release of the New 52, digital versions of the comics will “hit the stands” on the same day as the hard-back versions. I could create a research project about this where I examine how technology has affected the distribution of comics.

To this end, I could start following some RSS feeds that give me ideas for research projects that I could do related to this theme. The RSS feeds would put the information about the reboot right at my finger tips everyday in a place that I could bookmark on my desktop and come back to each day. Additionally, I may find out through the course of my research that digital tools like iPads, Android phones, or tablet readers like Kindle are going to play a big part in the distribution of comics in general, so for a more well-rounded report, I would subscribe to a few RSS feeds that deal with digital tools in publishing or comics, mobile apps for comics and graphic novels, or other general topics that would help support my research.

Aligning with the AECT Standards

An assignment like this would adhere to several of the AECT standards. The use of the RSS feeder fall under the 4.4 AECT standard of information management. It allows for the planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning. The RSS feeder allows you to manage the information by organizing it logically into folders. It also helps you share the information, because you can share the link to your Google Reader page as we are doing for the RSS for education assignment and with the Teaching Resources Bundle that we’ve created.

Here is the link to my Teaching Resources Bundle. (Click on the red hyperlink that says “Teaching Resources Bundle” to be taken there.)

Finally, by adding graphic novels and phones/ tablets to this example, this type of assignment could also fall under AECT standard 2.1 which is defined as print technologies that provide “ways to produce or deliver materials, such as books and static visual materials, primarily through mechanical or photographic printing processes.”

Learning Log Assignment

Writing a learning log for Ed Tech 501 is a foundational skill that I will take away from the introductory class. It conforms to  several of the AECT Standards, according to the AECT website: “Standard 2: Development, with the sub-standard 2.0.7 “Contribute to a professional portfolio by developing and selecting a variety of productions for inclusion in the portfolio” as well as Standard 4.4: Information Management.”

Actually, developing my portfolio was one of the key attractions for me in getting this degree. I wanted to get back into the world of design since I had done design in the early days of my journalism career. However, most Master level design programs require you to have a portfolio to even enter the program, which I did not have. So this was a way for me to develop a professional design portfolio that I might eventually show to my design/ media/ art clients.

As for information management, the EDTECH 501 learning log allows me to keep all of my work in one place as well as allowing me to comment on what I’ve learned so that over a long period of time, I can put it into context. I spoke to Dr. Hsu about starting some independent research on graphic novels in the classroom–both traditional book as well as the online kind, so the learning log will be a place for me to put this information as well so that I might use it for a larger project later on or just help me to develop ideas for my own novels.

Here’s the rubric for the assignment.

  1. Introduction Video posted to blog or artifacts page and includes embedded YouTube video. (20 points)
  2. Category widget appears with AECT Standards assigned to Introduction Video post. (10 points)
  3. Home page includes a brief bio and image. (10 points)
  4. AECT Standards Table page includes AECT Standards Table. (10 points)
  5. EDTECH Courses page includes link to EDTECH 501 Course Syllabus (PDF) file. (10 points)
  6. Tag Cloud widget included, with tag “501” visible assigned to Introduction Video post. (10 points)
  7. At least one other widget included, such as “Blogroll” widget with appopriate edtech links. (10 points)
  8. Learning Log menu structure and design is clear and intuitive to navigate. (20 points)

This along with my EDTECH 501 Introduction Video have proven to be some of the key skills I’ve added to my portfolio in the first few weeks of school, so I feel like I’m on my way!

Digital Inequality Assignment

The digital divide addresses those who have access to technology and those who do not. It’s a common theme among not only those who work in the media, but also for people like me who look at educational technology. While on the surface it may seem irrelevant that a group of people do not have regular access to the Internet and to mobile technology, it’s become increasingly important. There are job and educational opportunities that a specific group of people will not have access to because they do not have access to online resources like job boards or lack basic computer skills like Microsoft Office, which is required for many jobs today.

The people who are usually the most affected by the digital divide are those who live in lower economic conditions, non-native English speakers, and other groups marginalized by income or location. The purpose of our assignment was to make proposals that would help bridge the gap in the digital divide. We opted to focus on Idaho, because three of the six people in the group live here and because we just had a huge bill on the election ballot that in part dealt with technology in the schools. It was voted down by Idaho citizens.

Working on the Digital Divide Project

Initially, it was difficult to come together on the project, because none of us are used to working on a project solely online. There was also some additional challenges in trying to reduce the amount of information we had to read into an intelligible report. This caused us to have a lot of starts and stops as we waded through the materials and hammered out the details for each idea.

We tried to divide the work up in terms of people’s strengths. We felt that this would save time and make the process more efficient. To that end, Bob dealt with graphics, Kathy wrote the information about the PSAs since she deals with marketing in her job. Brenda added the introduction, transition materials between slides, and the APA at the end. Greg worked on the computer lab information for both the schools and the libraries. Annie worked on this a bit, too as well as on the mobile learning unit and Internet cafes.

I did a lot of the organizational tasks—it helped that I used to be a newspaper editor, so I helped break the information down into easier chunks, set at least one of the conferences we had on Google Hangout and helped edit the overall presentation. I also contributed the information about the proposals we rejected. It made sense for me to do this since I live in Idaho, and I was following Proposition 3.

Hindsight Being 20/20…

I learned a lot about working remotely and about working in groups with this project. Everyone had a great sense of humor, which helped a lot! Also assigning tasks according to skill levels also helped. One of the things that I would recommend for the future is that the person doing graphics not be bombarded with information. Initially, everyone’s slide information was going to go through me, but in one of our meetings, we decided that everyone should have access to it. It made sense to do this since everyone brought great insight into each slide. However, it was a bit confusing to the person putting everything together since soooo much information was thrown his way.

I also would recommend looking into some project management software for future tasks. I use this kind of software for the magazine that I work for since a lot of us work remotely. It allows everyone working on the same account to access the material, but doesn’t clutter up the forum as our became toward the middle of the project as research information started coming in.

Finally, I’m not sure that two weeks is enough time to really get to know people’s working styles. I’m very adaptable, but it would be a nice luxury to know what helps people and how they work best so that we could tap into this even more and at an earlier place in our work.

Here’s our proposal.

This project aligns with the following AECT Standards:


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

2.4 Integrated Technologies

“Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 40). Integrated technologies are typically hypermedia environments which allow for: (a) various levels of learner control, (b) high levels of interactivity, and (c) the creation of integrated audio, video, and graphic environments. Examples include hypermedia authoring and telecommunications tools such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web.


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations

“Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 46). With an ultimate goal of bringing about change, the process includes stages such as awareness, interest, trial, and adoption.

3.4 Policies and Regulations

“Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 47). This includes such areas as web-based instruction, instructional and community television, copyright law, standards for equipment and programs, use policies, and the creation of a system which supports the effective and ethical utilization of instructional technology products and processes.

Standard 4: MANAGEMENT

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.

4.2 Resource Management

“Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 51). This includes documentation of cost effectiveness and justification of effectiveness or efficiency for learning as well as the resources of personnel, budget, supplies, time, facilities, and instructional resources.

Zotero Library Assignment

Zotero is an online resource management tool that allows you to keep all of your research and the citations for it in one place.

Our Zotero/ Library assignment for EDTECH 501 was intended to give us a foundation in using online research tools. Fortunately for me, I already knew how to use the interface for the BSU Library, because we did extensive research during Senior Seminar in German. Because most of my research involved journal articles and/ or foreign-language sources, I got quite comfortable using the online library tools. It was only much later that I realized that the only time I stepped into the library was when I went in to pick up a book that I had ordered from inter-library loan, and these usually came from Europe.

Using Zotero to Organize Your Research

Zotero I was not familiar with before this assignment, although right away I thought about how useful it would have been for Senior Seminar given the amount of research that I had to cite for my senior project and the number of resources I wound up using. Because Zotero can format a bibliography in just about every citation style, it would have saved me so much time and allowed me to keep all of the resources together in once place, include the notes that I had with these resources, and give me the ability to do keyword searches—something that I’ve grown quite accustomed to and quite spoiled by at times.

Although we used MLA in seminar, Zotero’s interface allows you to switch between different citation styles. In general, any kind of research project that I would have that involved heavy-duty citations that I have to keep track of would be a candidate for using this tool to keep your research organized. While I’m speaking about it in the context of the classroom, you could use it for large projects like writing books, which require you to keep pages and pages of citations depending upon the book you’re writing.

Using Google Scholar and Other Online Research Tools

Additionally, this assignment required us to become familiar with Google Scholar in addition to the BSU Library (Albertson’s Library). I was also familiar with Google Scholar because of some research I did in Bob Rudd’s class, Mass Communication and Democracy. I wasn’t familiar with these tools then, and I had talked to Bob about it. He came into class one day and showed us where to find it. I became further acquainted with what Google has to offer because of my work online as a writer. Google has quite a few tools that can help you organize your work.

In any event, Google Scholar allows you to search for a topic, but to only pull up scholarly resources. It’s an excellent tool for when you’re doing online research, because you don’t have to weed through what might be substandard research sources. This saves you time as well as giving you access to some of the best articles that pertain to your areas of interest. And like its regular search function, it allows you to create alerts for your areas of interest, which brings these topics to your email box daily.

Like the RSS Feeds Assignment, this particular tool falls under the AECT Standard 4.4. The standard allows for information management, and includes “planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning.”

Graphic Novels in the Classroom

Dr. Kemp suggested that we begin using this tool to collect research information for our areas of interest. Right now, using graphic novels—both digital and hardback—in the classroom is a strong interest of mine. To start my search, I first started looking for scholarly articles and publications that talked about using comics and graphic novels in the classroom. I allowed for both digital and hardback books, because I felt that it would not only give me a broad understanding of the subject, but also I found out that graphic novels can be used to help develop visual and media literacy. Both of these subjects will figure strongly into my EDTECH studies, so I included them. To round out my research, I also included resources dealing with ebooks and electronic publishing as well as mobile apps, because much of publishing is moving in that direction.

Once I got my resources gathered into a folder on Zotero, I copied the information onto my clipboard, having set my citation preference for APA, which is what I’ll use in EDTECH from here on out for research purposes. For my classroom citation, I was to include only five resources. However, I gathered more than that, because I’m interested in the subject.

The start of my research bibliography is below. Unfortunately, WP doesn’t seem to like the hanging indents common in research citations, so those are missing.


Adams, J. (1999). Of Mice and Manga: Comics and Graphic Novels in Art Education. Journal of Art & Design Education, 18(1), 69–75.

Barron, D. D. (1991). Zap! Pow! Wham!: Comics, Graphic Novels, and Education. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 8(3), 48–50.

Boone, R., & Higgins, K. (2003). Reading, Writing, and Publishing Digital Text. Remedial and Special Education, 24(3), 132–40.

Bucher, K. T., & Manning, M. L. (2004). Bringing Graphic Novels into a School’s Curriculum. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(2), 67–72.

Burn, A., & Reed, K. (1999). Digi-teens: Media Literacies and Digital Technologies in the Secondary Classroom. English in Education, 33(3), 5–20. doi:10.1111/j.1754-8845.1999.tb00720.x

Connors, S. P. (2012). Toward a Shared Vocabulary for Visual Analysis: An Analytic Toolkit for Deconstructing the Visual Design of Graphic Novels. Journal of Visual Literacy, 31(1), 71–92.

Goldsmith, F. (2009). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels. Amer Library Assn Editions.

Gorman, M. (2002). What Teens Want: Thirty Graphic Novels You Can’t Live Without. School Library Journal, 48(8), 42–47.

Green, M. J., & Myers, K. R. (2010). Graphic medicine: use of comics in medical education and patient care. BMJ, 340(mar03 2), c863–c863. doi:10.1136/bmj.c863

Karp, J., & Kress, R. (2011). Graphic Novels in Your School Library. Chicago: ALA Editions.

Laquintano, T. (2010). Sustained Authorship: Digital Writing, Self-Publishing, and the Ebook. Written Communication, 27(4), 469–493.

Monnin, K. (2010). Teaching Media Literacy with Graphic Novels. New Horizons in Education, 58(3), 78–84.