Friday, August 7, 2009

Thing #23

Ok, I made it! Luckily, I stretched my arms so that I didn't pull any muscles reaching around to pat myself on the back. (having the summer to stay in shape helped with that also).

I have enjoyed reading up on the 23 things and learning about some of the things available to us as educators. It was also fun reading various blogs and seeing which of us got into it and let our personalities come through, and those that apparently were only in this for the pdlc credit and quit working on it once the things got more in-depth.

1. My favorite discoveries were how easy it can be to create podcasts, as well as learning what the RSS feeders are. I always noticed the RSS logo, but had no idea what it was for, until this program.

2. This program pretty much underscored the quote I listed in Thing 15, that the more we know, the more we know the less we know. I consider myself proficient in technology, but the more I learned from this, the more I realize there is so much more out there that can be used. I now know that I need to keep searching and broadening my computer horizons.

3. I wasn't totally surprised by anything, it was just good to see the different capabilities we have to enrich the students' learning process by using more technology as final output of projects instead of just plain-jane papers.

4. I don't see too much you can improve on, other than just finding different "things" that you haven't had in the program. That shouldnt' be a problem, as there should be many more things created in future that can be used by librarians and teachers.

5. I would consider participating, but would look at the things first to make sure it wasn't justt more of the same I'd already done. I would want to learn new things.

6. This program was great because not only did I earn some flex hours, but more importantly I learned alot of great ways to use technology immediately in my classes that I hadn't known about before.

7. I'm on it!

Thing #22

After looking at the three Nings listed for us to look at, I think a Ning could work in a high school setting. Majority of students are used to Facebook or Myspace, but are also wary of/turned off by older people (i.e. teachers and administrators and parents) having accounts on there and being "Friends" with them. They see their privacy disappearing. So, if a teacher or school set up a Ning, they can create a network just for the school relevant to school environment. Kids would see that its ok for adults to be on it, as the presence of the adults is relevant to the ning, yet would still feel secure that facebook/myspace was still "private". Its just another way of utilizing technology to reach the kids on level they are aware of and use it to benefit their education positively.

As we saw in the video back in Thing 15, students today have so many distractions from technology; Nings are one way to use one of the major technologies (the social networking) to our advantage.

Thing #21

Creating a podcast was fun, and I can see how great it can be to utilize this tool. I have already heard of professors posting lectures online in colleges. (iTunes U was created by Apple to take advantage of the great technology of the Apple iTunes store; lots of college classes utilize this to enhance the education of students).

Student groups could use this tool to teach a lesson on a particular topic to other students; they would learn about their subject, along with learning about how to use technology to publish it.

Ok, without further ado, here is the podcast I created.




video

Thing #20

Its great to have all these potential video sources available to refer to. YouTube obviously is a little tougher, because even though you might do a search for a legitimate subject matter, sometimes people posting videos can use titles that are misleading, so you have to be a little better. (Its also tougher to use since our district blocks Youtube on the firewall, although students daily find ways around the firewall via proxy sites). I did find a couple of good videos posted on YouTube by an American teacher in Korea on how to teach English. There wasn't much good I could find on youtube for teaching business classes, so I ventured on over to Teacher Tube...

Where I found a great video by a teacher on Formatting a Business Memo. He talks in background while showing computer screenshots while teaching. Basically, it allows students to follow along and do it on their own computer; great for visual learners! So, get your laptop ready with MS Word, fire up a bag of popcorn, grab a drink (but with the cap on, as we don't want to drown our keyboard when we inevitably spill due to sheer excitement of the moment) and enjoy this video.


Thing #19

Seeing as how I like Awards shows, or rather, just seeing list of winners (must come from my athletic background as a coach), I had most fun at first just scrolling down and seeing the winners, and seeing if any of the ones we have gone over thus far were listed.
  • Delicious was number one in both bookmarking and social news
  • Google Earth was number 3 in maps
  • Library Thing was honorable mention in Books
Its funny that Twitter has already overtaken Facebook for first place in social networking. I just never got into Twitter (I do have facebook profile, but I don't do much with that either). I don't see the point of letting people know what I'm doing every minute of every day that I feel like posting a status update.

Ok enough rambling, and on to the purpose of Thing 19. So I browsed through some of the award winners and chose to concentrate on .Docstoc which was number one under the category Education. I found this concept to be rather interesting. You can upload documents to it, so that others have access. Its a way of publishing information you want others to be able to refer to. Its basically like an online library of relevant documents, broken down into several categories. Want to find info on how to write a good college essay? They've got documents on that subject. I think this tool would be useful in a class setting, as students could upload their good works to be seen. Could also do a group project on a how-to type setting, and the students "publish" their final answers by uploading to this site.

Thing #18

I'm pretty much of mixed opinion regarding the online productivity tools. In this day and age, with so many people having laptops that already have microsoft office already installed, it seems like overkill to have Open Office as well as any of the MS Office applications.

(I don't like the fact that you have to register for googledoc as that just seems a way for them to include your email in their mailing lists and send more spam mail crap, so I'm concentrating on Open Office)

I would say the main benefit is that you don't have to worry about which version to install on which computer, as its all the same. For instance Mac users, such as myself, wouldn't have to buy office for mac in order to be able to use this software. The fact that you have a large choice of application types to save documents as is also a benefit; for an executive in a foreign country without internet access, they could use this instead of MS Office if there was a glitch in MS Office software and weren't able to download patch or whatever.

I'm curious as to what Microsoft thinks about this. I'd think that software companies that feel truly threatened by this would work hard to discredit it. On other hand, maybe this creates good competition and forces them to come up with better innovations...

Bottom line, mixed feelings on this one.

Thing #17

Is it just me, or does the concept of Rollyo seem somewhat similar to Technorati (Thing 9). They both have to do with setting up way to find information relevant quickly. But I digress...

Rollyo is an interesting concept, and I enjoyed being able to set up a custom search with info my students in a personal finance class could use. It is rather easy: just open up another window, and google search for sites relevant to what you want, then copy and paste the URL into the Rollyo search creator window.

In order to be able to post the link, I registered with Rollyo. Here is the link to the search I created.:


Thing #16

I think Wiki's can be good if monitored efficiently. The main thing students need to be aware of is that since anyone can join a wiki and post information, its always smart to check the information gleaned to make sure its correct. How many of us have found wrong information on Wikipedia? Yet students take whatever they find online as gospel. (To be fair, its not just wiki's that can be wrong; any information on internet has potential to be wrong, so we need to make sure students understand that).

I think libraries and schools can make good use of wikis, especially on large school/class wide research projects, where all students have a hand in the final product. A wiki can be used so students can post their info and update what they find, and learn from each other.

FYI, when I posted to the sandbox as per the instructions for this Thing, I followed the directions literally: it said to choose one of your favorite curriculum ideas from blog and copy and paste, so I copied and pasted about RSS feeders.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thing #15

I have seen this video before, and totally agree with it. Heck, I'm just like the students in there, as I would be in large classes doing things that had nothing to do with the class I was in. In this day and age, teachers need to realize what the kids of today have at their disposal and that the teacher needs to change their approach if they want to grab the attention of the student. The profs in college that actually kept my attention were the ones that didn't adhere to the old model of "I will stand up here and talk for an hour while you take copious notes", rather they engaged us regularly in discussion or debate.

The thing that stuck out most to me in all the discovery resources was the iceberg article. Library 2.0 to me means that we no longer should depend on just books or magazines. Heck, a good example is the process of textbook adoption: it takes a couple of years for a new edition to be approved, by that time the information can be out-dated, and they have to start all over again. Why use text when same information, only in different formats, can be available online. I think that for libraries to continue being relevant, they need to get away from dependence on just books and magazines, and to utilize the web much more. Kids need to see that there is a lot more than just Facebook or gaming sites online.

I finish this post with the following quote I remember the most from high school english, from Thoreau: " The more you know, the more you know the less you know"

Thing #14

Technorati seems to be a good way to get blog more "screen time" for lack of better term. In other words, more people are likely to see it. I think it would help students to a degree to view technorati, as it would be a good research tool to have them look for blogs on say, advances in technology for a computer class.

However, one thing to possibly be aware of is use of misleading tags. I can see someone wanting to get their social blog noticed more, and using a tag to try to have their blog show up in different searches. (much like all those spam mails that come through with subject lines that have NOTHING to do with what the email is actually trying to sell you, they are just trying to get you to open it up).

So, to sum up: tagging is good, and can assist greatly in research, but only if done in good faith.

Thing #13

I think Delicious (and other social bookmarking sites as well) has great potential for research assistance, especially early on in the process. When students get to point in the research process where they are brainstorming and looking for potential sources, they can use tags to help organize their sources.

(Sidenote: I myself always felt more comfortable getting my potential sources down first before going back and looking in depth at those resources, instead of going one by one; it just seemed to help my future paper take shape early on. I would have loved having this back in my student days!)

Yes, social bookmarking sites are of course also an easy way to just create bookmarks from anywhere. However, I think that teachers can utilize these by having their students come up with a topic first, and then use these to help them find sites that would help them in their research. (if we just tell them to go to, say Delicious, and find sites they can tag, they would most likely just end up tagging facebook pages and other things not relevant to anything educational!). As long as we have them come up with a purpose first, these sites can greatly help them in the learning and research process.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thing #12

I completely agree that commenting can be useful, but needs to have boundaries set in order to get off on right foot. I liked the part on CoolCat blog about "Darth Commentator". When I am going to news sources online, such as chronicle.com, I'll read the comments left after articles. Its obvious that some people get online and leave mean, derogatory comments because they have nothing better to do with their time than to criticize.

The two points that stuck out as most important to me are:
1)Set Boundaries-if you let readers know what is expected of them, and take care of people that get out of line, it can contribute to more meaningful experience for all
2)(this is sort of a combination of two) Ask questions and be open ended about it. Just like we don't want to ask our students plain, boring yes/no questions that don't really broaden their minds, we don't want to do the same in blog comments.

The blogs that drew my attention are, admittedly, more personal to me. One is a blog about a p.e. teacher in the district who suffered a heart attack a little over a month ago. His sister in law started a blog that she updates daily with info on how his recovery is going, with pictures when possible, and its good to see how much caring and support goes on in our world to counteract all the bad things we see in news each day. The other blogs I visit are more social in nature. One is about family/friends of family that was created to help us keep up to date on little kids in the family and how life is going. A third blog I like to visit is a celebrity blog that basically makes fun of alot of the ridiculously dumb things some celebrities do in order to draw attention to themselves. It has no real educational value, other than to reinforce how glad I am my life has taken the path it has (i.e. to be able to actually be a positive role model, and give back to society, and not some publicity-seeking leech)

Thing #11

I felt that LibraryThing is a good resource, especially for students that are given summer reading lists (i.e. pretty much every student in high school language arts classes!). They can use this resource to list all the books they have read, or need to read. With the ability to interact with other LibraryThing users and get different viewpoints on books, and generate discussions with poeple outside their classroom, they can broaden their horizons. I think a good lesson for kids is to reinforce that one book can elicit many different feelings and viewpoints, and that things they like might not necessarily be a favorite of others. In other words, this can help reinforce/promote the acceptance of ideas and beliefs not necessarily our own.

For my teaching situation, in a personal finance class students could be assigned certain books to read, and look them on on libaryThing and get opinions on the book from at least 5 other non-class users (i.e. can't use their neighbors in class!).

Thing #10

I had fun with the online image generator activity. I think the Custom Sign generator would be most applicable for a computer class. The comic strip generator can be good, too, as it can be used for history lesson, or any subject really. It was easy to get lost in all the links, really, and to lose focus. Any activity of this sort given to students would need to be very precise in instructions, and I would need to be sure to keep kids on task, as some would spend too much time looking around. I sure did! I can see this being more useful in libraries and at the elementary and middle school levels, but high school classes could have fun with it too and learn something, depending on how lesson was structured.

The link I used for the image below that I created is http://www.comicstripgenerator.com/maker.asp.



Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thing #9

The search tool easiest for me was technorati, as it seemed to be more organized and broke things down into better sections, or groups.

The Edublog award winners was somewhat confusing, until I figured out that I merely had to scroll down to actually click on links to see blogs. Initially, all I saw was the little checkboxes where users were allowed to vote for what they felt was best blog in that category. I also didn't like how it doesn't tell you what level of education the blogs in each award category are geared towards (i.e. elem vs. high school); I had to go to each site to find out if it was more applicable to elementary school or middle or high school, and that gets very time consuming. It would be nice if they organized it further to break it down into age related groups so that we could more readily find blogs that are more relevant to our situation.

Thing #8

I like the RSS readers because it delivers information fast without all the extraneous stuff that comes along with regular websites and blogs (i.e. ads and other eye distractions). Its nice having a choice of what to include and view and cut out stuff we don't want to see.

I know I can use this technology in personal life, as it will make viewing information on the internet that I'm most interested in alot easier to access. I can set up a link to it in my favorites, and then go right to it with one click, instead of having to have multiple favorites. For school, I can use it for education related blogs and sites, and keeping up with fellow teachers so we can share information.

Teachers can use this technology by first having students create their own blog relative to a specific class or subject. They can then use readers to include all other classmates' blogs in the reader, so that everything is located in one easy to find place, and make it easier to keep tabs on everything (I imagine this is very similar to what library2play does, as the "leaders" of this could have our L2P blogs in an RSS reader for more instantaneous access to be able to check and see how we are doing).

Thing #7

Cool google tools...it really is amazing what all is out there that can be used for positive benefits in education.

I liked the Google Earth tool. It would be good way for students in my international business classes to study terrain and imagery of different countries that they might consider "starting" a business in. The 3D tours of buildings allows them a way to see places they might not ever get a chance to. (Granted, that might be more from history class viewpoint, but it would be good way to create bridge between history and business classes).

A tool more relevant to business classes would be Google Finance. (http://www.google.com/finance). Students can use this when studying stock market, and begin to see how an event that occurs in the world (such as OPEC changing price of barrel of oil) can cause changes in marketplace in other countries, and then affect world economy, etc. (for instance, one of the articles on their today talks about how mortgage fraud is on the rise; students would be able to study how that might affect them if they were to be looking for mortage to buy a house).

From stock market standpoint, I liked how it has a table on current trends; students can follow popular stocks, or see which stocks were the biggest gainers/losers for that given day, etc. It also has a chart where it breaks different sectors down, so they can see how, say, the energy industry stocks are doing compared to transportation, or utilities, etc.

Thing #6

I enjoyed browsing around and finding fun mashups. The ones I got most out of were from bighugelabs.com. I think that for business classes, with emphasis on hands-on training instead of just lecturing, the magazine cover and Badge maker would be most applicable. Students could use the magazine cover app to promote themselves in a fun assignment that would require them to talk about themselves and speak in front of the class to "sell" their magazine idea. (Not to go off on a tangent, but this would actually be good for language arts classes, too; its amazing how many kids use bad grammar from their everyday life in their writings and speeches. LA teachers definitely have their work cut out for them!) For the badge maker app, a journalism or business class could use that to create hall passes to use when on official assignments around school. A teacher in any subject, really, could use that app before taking class on a field trip, so that each student has a badge to wear on field trip.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thing #5

In my search for photos, I looked for computer and business images. The pic below really stood out, as it shows how far personal/desktop computers have come (Its an old Apple III). I would use photos like this in showing the history of computers (which is in the TEKs for my class much to the consternation of my students, who seem to think that BCIS class is supposed to be all facebook, all the time).
Flickr is a good resource to have, but as a technology teacher, I can foresee that the students would need to be reminded time and again to be mindful of copyright issues and to make sure they use the Commons area of Flickr. They simply don't always grasp the fact that just because something is on the internet, they aren't allowed to copy and paste it for whatever they want. Its so easy to do that, too.

What kind of hands-on lessons could we as teachers use to reinforce that concept? (wow, I'm blowing my mind with all this deep thinking)

Thing #4

Sent email to register officially for 23 Things. Easy task. Got an out-of-office reply from Vaughn, the person in charge of registering, which said they are out of town for a week. Very jealous.

Thing #3

Creating the blog and Avatar was a lot of fun. In last blog I stated that playing is easiest of the learning habits...well, I definitely played around with this one! For those who might have trouble making up their minds, this one would be tough as the possibilities are endless.

Thing #2

I think that the easiest habit for me is #7 1/2, which is to play. Being a master procrastinator (I'm Yoda, or the teacher in "Kung Fu" that taught Grasshopper everything), this one comes even easier to me. 

Seriously, I feel that we CAN learn if we "play" and experiment with new skills we are learning, as that can show us ways to do things that might not have been discovered (or at least published) before. If we can give our students a basic framework of what we want them to accomplish on a given assignment, but allow them to "play" and come up with their own solution, they might surprise us with what they come up with.

The hardest habit for me, not so much in teaching but in other parts of life, is probably #1; I don't always go into things with the end in mind, but rather like to go day by day. As a coach, I have been working on getting better at defining what the "end zone" is going to be before I start.