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Using Google’s 20 Percent Time Concept in My Psychology Class

Psychology is a subject area about which most students are very curious. Thus, they generate many questions about the mind and human behavior. This was very apparent in my psychology course when I surveyed the students at the beginning of semester, asking what they want to know and hope to learn. Because this course at ACS is only a semester long, we only have a short time to investigate foundational elements of psychology (I modeled this part of the curriculum after the IB Psychology syllabus by investigating Biological, Cognitive, Sociocultural, and Abnormal Psychology). However, I don’t want students to leave the course without having the opportunity to investigate answers to questions with which they came into the class. In response to this, I developed the Personal Project which incorporates Google’s 20% time concept and builds their sense of curiosity, an important habit of mind in today’s world.

This Personal Project allows the students to investigate a question they have had or pursue an intellectual curiosity related to psychology. I calculate 20% of class time (based on the number of classes we have in the semester) and set whole periods aside (at approximately two week intervals) for the students to work on the project. This semester that’s about eight 82 minute periods. Of course, some home time needs to be dedicated to this project, as well. I do provide structure and have due dates within this process, however. These are the steps I outline for students on the project overview (the project rubric is in that document, as well):

  1. Chose a topic area where you’d like your investigation to focus. (I differentiate this aspect and leave this open for the students to define a topic in which they are interested. I do provide a list of topic areas that I and previous psychology students have found interesting to help students that are stuck).
  2. Generate a research question that will guide your investigation and get it approved by the teacher. (This part of the process is very important and will drive the research the students do. I work closely with them to develop a question that will have them working higher level thinking skills, not just a summary of a topic or question that leads to a simple yes or no response).
  3. Write an annotated bibliography for at least 5 sources relevant to your research question. (I feel this is an important academic process since I can check that they are thinking deeply about the sources they are using. This is a process they will do often in university, so it’s good practice for that, as well. This part of the process is assessed as a formative task).
  4. Chose the type of product you will create to show the findings of your investigation (product possibilities: documentary style video; website, podcast, online magazine style report, VoiceThread, research report, TED talk-like formal presentation) (I differentiate the product, as well. I want the students to push creative abilities and build technology skills in this project, so I guide them to technology-based products that have strong creative elements in them. This is not an exhaustive list of possible products, however. If a student has a different product idea, they can definitely pursue that upon approval. I only allow 3 students to do a traditional research paper style product since this doesn’t really push creative abilities. They must give a good reason for wanting to do a traditional research paper. I provide links to examples of each product type so students can make an informed decision).
  5. Write an outline or storyboard that organizes your content in context of your product. (Organization and planning! This part of the process is assessed as a formative task).
  6. Create a draft of your product for feedback from a class member. (Peer editing and feedback)
  7. Submit your final product and celebrate during a show and tell! (Students that choose to do the TED style formal oral presentation do it on the due date. After those presentations, the other students share their products. Self-assessment and reflection will also occur upon completion of the product).

Students have chosen some very interesting topic areas this semester and are working well through the process so far. They are showing excitement and motivation to work on this since they are in control of what they are learning and creating. My role is as a guide, helping them work through the process, refining their understanding of the topic and related research, providing feedback, and assisting with technicalities relating to their product production.

I plan to implement this concept with my IB Geography Higher Level course in the second year of the class when we are learning the options. Students need to know three options for that course. I will facilitate two of the options, then the students will chose a third option based on their personal interest. I will structure the time and process similarly to how I’m doing it in my psychology class.

If you are using the 20% time concept, I’d love to hear your comments and how you are facilitating the process in your course!

Citing Multimedia in Projects and Presentations

The in-text citation process in writing has been very streamlined for a while now with clear styles and expectations coming from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Other forms like footnoting have been around for a long time, as well, even though it’s not used as commonly any more. Schools typically require one of these styles to be used in research writing and the style is often assessed as part of the writing process.

Due to the easy access of it now on the Internet, students are being required to use more and more multimedia in their work and class projects. Many of these projects are being created on or being published to the web via wikis, blogs, YouTube, and other Web 2.0 tools. Students need to show clear attribution to any media used in these projects or presentations in the same way they cite text sources in writing, but it isn’t always happening. In the same way consistent styles for text-based research citation and attribution have been created, a consistent way of citing or attributing multimedia is needed. This is also the case for images used during formal presentations given both in-class and to larger communities.

Both MLA and APA provide styles for full source citations that get listed in a final works cited/bibliography list. Either of these formats can still be used on a sources page in a project or end slide of a presentation. But, what about the immediate attribution that appears on or next to the image, video, or in-line audio within a project or presentation? I haven’t seen or heard of a consistent way of doing this, but here are few possibilities.

1. Just use a traditional MLA or APA style parenthetical citation with the creator’s last name/username or title of the work (if no creator name is given). If the media is presented in an online published project, the student (or teacher) could hyperlink the citation to its original location, then have the full source citation at the end of the project. Alternatively, they could provide the full source citation near the image as seen below. This takes up a little more space, but all the attribution information is there immediately for the viewer.

From a project published to a wiki

If it’s a presentation, then just putting the MLA or APA style parenthetical citation on each image or next to an embedded video with the creator’s last name or the title of the image if no creator is given would be the process.

From a formal presentation

2. Another option is to put the full or shortened URL on or next to the media whether it’s a presentation or an online published project. An additional element as you can see in this example is the acknowledgement of the Creative Commons licensed nature of the image, which is important to show that the image is legally reusable.

From a conference presentation

3. A slight expansion on #1 above would be to use a consistent attribution phrase like “Image by [name] on [website]” or “Image from [website]” if a person’s name is not given. This is the style I typically use and guide my students to use.

From an in-class presentation

I prefer this 3rd style since it’s a little cleaner and visually pleasing, especially in presentations. I don’t think any audience member is going to try to get to the image during a presentation. With that in mind, I think using the URL for attribution isn’t necessary in a presentation. In text-based research and writing, only putting a URL in a citation is not accepted in MLA and APA, so I guess I carry this over to the attribution of multimedia, also. A works/images/media cited page can be provided at the end of presentation that shows all detail, then the presenter can email or post online the full source list for any audience member that wants the links to the media.

In the end, as long as there is a consistent method used and required and the media used is Creative Commons licensed, royalty-free, or labeled for legal reuse, then an important digital citizenship skill is being taught. It can even be assessed if desired (see rubric example below). Having students create their own media instead of downloading it is even better as it improves and builds creative tendencies and ways of thinking. In those instances I tell students they don’t have to attribute themselves unless they want.

Responsible Digital CitizenshipStudents advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology The student took great care to ensure all images, video, and other multimedia were original, had a Creative Commons license, and/or labeled for legal reuse. Attribution was given to all of the authors of any artistic element used and all were clearly and correctly cited with Internet-based sources hyperlinked. A complete and correctly formatted works cited was included at the end of the product. The student took care to ensure almost all images, video, and other multimedia were original, had a creative commons license, and/or labeled for legal reuse. Attribution was given to most of the authors of any artistic element used and most were cited with Internet-based sources hyperlinked. A complete and mostly correct works cited was included at the end of the product. The students may have used an image, video, and/or other multimedia that was protected under copyright, but it was cited. Attribution was given to a few of the authors of any artistic element used and/or there were gross errors in citations. Some Internet-based sources were not hyperlinked. A works cited was included, but contained many errors in format. There was blatant infringement of copyright by inserting downloaded images, video, and/or other multimedia from the internet that was not licensed for reuse. No attribution is given. No Internet-based sources are hyperlinked. No works cited is included.

If you have any other approaches or suggestions about this issue, I would love to hear them.

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