Learning in 2015: An Endless Journey


Thinking about the Web and how much it has changed the last ten years has me thinking about a question that was posed in the commentary, “Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What Path Should we Take Now?” by Christine Greenhow, Beth Robelia, and Joan E. Hughes: What path should education take now? In their commentary they discuss how the web is no longer a place where students just read online information, rather where students read and create all within the same space.


This space that they discuss has changed the way teachers form their pedagogy, as many educators are shifting towards the social platforms available to create a social learning community that takes place both inside and outside the classroom. These “social operating systems” (Greenhow, Robelia, Hughes, p. 255) have changed the landscape of how teachers conduct their class using the web. Such communities are Edmodo, Moodle, Google+ and Google Classroom to name a few. Education is quickly gearing towards cloud computing, making class instruction and resources available to the students anytime, anywhere.


Within these social learning communities, or social operating systems, students can share what they are learning and reflect on how they can use this new knowledge in their everyday lives, or to create an opinion on a particular issue. This can be done by the teacher posting discussion questions within the community for students to respond via a discussion post, or through a blog post on the students’ own blog. I have become a big believer in implementing blogging into my teaching pedagogy in my short time in the IT&DML program at the University of New Haven. I feel this way because I learn best by responding to a few prompts made by my professor, and reflecting on what I have learned from the resources provided to formulate my own viewpoint within a blog post, allowing me to enhance my digital identity within my own personal learning network. Students can share their opinions with others in the class and comment on their posts, fostering collaboration and the appreciation of other opinions outside of classroom.

I believe that teachers should be studying new ways to enhance their teaching pedagogy to engage students in the class no matter where they are. I feel teachers should take advantage of any professional development where they can learn about the great advantages using cloud computing provides. Google Apps is a great tool for teachers and students to use, as they no longer have to rely on saving their work locally, being able to create and automatically save work in the same cloud. Students can share their work with others through peer edits and group work.

For the remainder of my time in the IT&DML program I see myself continuing to add to my technological skill set by utilizing the tools learned from my coursework into my own class practice. I look forward to making blogging a big piece of the learning experience for my students, as it has helped me become a better writer and digital citizen; listening to others and sharing my thoughts on their work. Our path of learning is an endless journey, and it is up to me as a teacher to continue honing my skill set to best prepare my students to succeed in the ever changing digital world that we live in.

-John V


EDUC 7710 Commercial: Who Am I?

View More: http://jfiereck.pass.us/wedding062114

Below you will find my one-minute commercial about me for EDUC 7710. This project seemed easy at first, as I put together bullet points for what I wanted the viewers to know about me. As I was shooting the video, I realized it would not be as easy as I first thought.

I decided to shoot the video in my back yard with a cardboard cutout of Ryan Gosling in the rearview for “visual support.” There was a little breeze as I was shooting this video by hand, and that created a couple challenges. One challenge was keeping a steady grip of my phone while shooting, and the other was Ryan swaying side to side from the breeze (this was rather startling).

Even though I was prepared with bullet points, that did not prevent me from shooting this commercial several times until I was comfortable with the final product. Once I was satisfied I edited the video using iMovie. Normally I am a Sony Vegas guy but I decided to give iMovie a try on my new Macbook.

Just like we do in teaching, I kept working at shooting a quality product, not letting small obstacles get in my way. As a result I am very happy with the final cut and hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed filming it.

My neighbors probably think I am a crazy person as they walked out into their yard as I was shooting, talking to myself with a cardboard hunk behind me.


-John V

The Bat Cave: A Frame for Success

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

It has been just over a month since I set my goal of completing the framing and insulation of my Bat Cave for the Network Learning project in EDUC 7714. I am happy to say that I have successfully achieved both goals, and am now ready for the next phase in the completion of the Bat Cave, which is hanging sheet rock.

I have learned so much throughout the course of this project that I would never have been able to do if I did not dive in and use my Personal Learning Network (PLN) as my best resource. The two main contributors from my PLN to my success and learning in this project were my good friend Tim Goff (General Manager of Goff’s Equipment Services in Litchfield, CT) and YouTube. Using my PLN as my best resources helped me learn how a room is built, and the elbow grease that goes into completing a project such as this. With the help of my PLN, I learned such things as:

  1. Measuring the necessary lengths for a frame
  2. Use heavy duty equipment such as a nail gun, miter saw, and a DuoFast high powered nail gun
  3. Build and hang a frame
  4. Box around ductwork and electrical work
  5. Build shelving for a closet
  6. Insulate a ceiling


I also applied my knowledge of TPACK in this project whenever something did not go as planned. One occurrence of using TPACK to adjust and alter a plan was when I came up short on insulation a couple times. I made an adjustment, rather than just ripping the whole roll of insulation out, I improvised and filled the empty space with extra insulation so that there were no empty spots where sound can get through. I compare this to our Cooking with TPACK project when we had to adjust to the tools we were provided for the dinner we chose to make out of a hat. We alter our instruction in education based on the tools and resources we have, and this project was no different.

Finally, I feel that blogging about each update on the project reinforced what I was learning and served as motivation for me to complete goals I set for myself in each post, making adjustments to my practices when necessary. I feel that this will be a good tool to implement as part of my pedagogy this year in school, having students blog about things that they are learning and class and how they can apply this new knowledge to their lives.

The framing of a room can be compared to the technology in a classroom, as both serve as the infrastructure and main support for each. The framing holds up the walls of a room, just as the technology of an assignment or instruction holds and engages a student’s attention. I am very happy to have participated in this project, and will continue to use my new learning in every aspect of my life. I put together a video compiling all the pictures and video I took while completing this project and embedded it below.

Let the sheet rocking begin. Thanks for reading!

-John V

The BatCave: How to Insulate a Basement Ceiling

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

In this NLP update I decided to show what I am learning through a video tutorial on how to insulate a basement ceiling. In this video I provide step-by-step instructions on how to properly insulate a basement ceiling. I was able to complete all the insulation for the BatCave, achieving a goal I set for myself earlier this week. I will provide more photos in my final NLP post.

In the video you will see that I make a quick adjustment to a small mistake I made. This is to be compared with our “Cooking with TPACK” video, as we had to make adjustments based on the tools we were provided in making our chosen dish. We adjust how we teach given the circumstances, whether it is the Internet being down or students not coming prepared to class for the lesson. My experience teaching and the skills gained throughout this project have prepared me to alter how I attack every step in this process given any obstacle that may arise while completing this project.

I would like to give credit to JB Bartkowiak for his video on how to insulate a basement ceiling; this resource was extremely helpful and provided a good visual on how to insulate the right way.

I hope you enjoy the video!

-John V

BatCave Update: Insulating the Basement Ceiling

Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics
Batman logo courtesy of DC Comics

In my last BatCave post I made it a goal to tidy up any framing that was not flush and any other miscellaneous work that might need to be done. The other goal was to finish the insulation by this post. After attempting to do so, I learned that that goal was a little too much to handle.

I decided to flip that goal and turn it into two. I will hold off on tidying things up until I am done with the ceiling insulation. My current goal is to finish the insulation some time this week.

I currently have half of the insulation completed in the basement ceiling, and look to finish the rest tomorrow. I installed all the shorter pieces first, which were primarily near the exterior wall. The reason for insulating my basement ceiling is so that it keeps the noise level from traveling to and from the basement to the living room upstairs. I am not going to insulate the walls since there is a steady temperature in the room already.

Half of the ceiling insulation  complete
Half of the ceiling insulation complete

The room is 275 sq/ft, so I bought five batts (48.96 sq./ft. each) of rf-19 insulation to do the job. This was a good level of insulation as the thicker you get, the more sound proof the room will be. I used a video posted by JB Bartkowiak on Youtube on how to measure and cut the pieces of insulation. I measured from the exterior wall to the edge of the floor frame, allowing the insulation to sit snug into the ceiling. One side note, insulation is made of fiberglass, so it is imperative that you wear gloves and long sleeves if you do not want to run the risk of cutting yourself or getting itchy skin.

Once I had my measurement for each ceiling frame, I measured the insulation accordingly for each frame and cut these measurements using a utility knife. When cutting the insulation, use a scrap piece from your 2x4s to hold down the insulation where you are making your cut. That was very helpful in making for an easy cut. I then pushed each piece of insulation into the ceiling frames, pulling each as tight as it could go to maximize the sound proofing of the ceiling. Once I had each piece in place, I unfolded the flaps on each side of the insulation and stapled them, using a staple gun, to the wood frames in the ceiling. I like to staple every four to five inches to ensure the insulation stays in place.


Insulating the first half of the ceiling was not as challenging as the framing was, but the next half of the insulation process will be much more difficult as there are several ceiling frames that go directly from exterior to side wall, with no pipes or other barriers in between. I envision it to be difficult insulating around the lights and junction box as well. The next half might call for a two-person job. I hope to have a video clip for you on the next update as I look to achieve my next goal of insulating the BatCave ceiling.

-John V

ORMS: Online Content Construction

under construction

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing the ORMS (online research & media skills) model in education and how it can and should be implemented into classroom pedagogy. In earlier work I discussed how collaborative inquiry and online reading comprehension are two important pieces of the ORMS model as they ask for students to work together as they sift and search through online content.

The third piece of the ORMS model is online content construction. Online content construction defines the abilities necessary to communicate the information assembled while searching, sifting, and synthesizing knowledge gained during online reading comprehension. (O’Byrne, ONLINE CONTENT CONSTRUCTION: Students as Informed Readers and Writers of Multimodal Information). Ian explains in his work that students today should not just be “movers” of knowledge, but should “construct ‘representations of new knowledge.’” (O’Byrne, 73).


In his work, “’At-Risk’ Adolescents: Redefining Competence Through the Multiliteracies of Intermediality, Visual Arts, and Representation,” David O’Brien discusses the ORMS model in two facets: intermediality (the ability to read and write media online) and using art or digital media to express opinion and comprehension of content. Students today are not stuck with just printed text; they have unlimited resources available to them on the web. Students can access content anytime, anywhere; we educators should urge our students to access resources for class on the Internet and use their personal learning network to help them find their voice so that they can be heard around the world.

It is getting more and more difficult to be the first to do something in 2015. In his Ted talk video, Kirby Ferguson explains how we need to remix the work we create and not be afraid to steal work from others. This “remix culture” (Maria Popova) promotes students to go find the information, and give it your own interpretation. We do this constantly in our graduate coursework, as none of us are inventing any one thing specifically. We are stealing ideas from others, just as Steve Jobs did, and putting our own spin on an idea.

In my classroom, students will be reinforced that after reading the content found online (online reading comprehension), it is ok to use other people’s work in creating their own idea based off another’s (online content construction), posting it on their class blog for the class and the world to see (online collaborative inquiry). Students will learn what makes a resource credible and how to properly cite the source within a blog post, linking the text to the site so that the reader can go straight to the source of the information. Students in my class will blog weekly on skills learned and reflect on topics discussed from class, providing them their own mountain top where their voice will be loudest.

Man on top of mountain. Conceptual design.
Man on top of mountain. Conceptual design.

The best way for students to learn, and for a teacher to assess this learning, is for the student to create and reflect with consistency through weekly blogging and commenting on classmates’ work to respect other viewpoints and ideas. This will take time to build up in class culture, but when students begin to understand that they are learning collaboratively and that everyone’s voice is valued, they will be motivated to be the best digital creator that they can be.

-John V

Multimodal Tutorial: Quizlet


Building this tutorial was a great learning experience because it reinforced how important it is to set accurate and precise step by step directions. I wanted to make this tutorial identical to how a teacher would create a classroom set of vocabulary for students. I learned that creating a tutorial takes time, and should not be rushed. Being impatient in this process could lead to a step or two being confusing, and then the teacher will end up getting multiple messages from their students who might be confused as a result. Quizlet is a great tool for educators to leverage their class vocabulary using the web and students’ smartphones and tablets. I hope you enjoy the tutorial!

Click the link below for the multimodal tutorial on Quizlet.

Quizlet Multimodal Tutorial

-John V