Musings

"The journey which started with the invention of the punch card for a loom to the development of personal computers and the internet we use today has changed the way we communicate and learn. Technology has been a catalyst driving innovations and the way we do things in our daily lives. Every aspect of our modern life is touched by technology. My life-long quest for learning and fascination with gadgets has fostered a need to learn more about new technologies."

Rosellen Bonney

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jing

Hands-on E-Learning Tool – Week 3

Jing is a screencasting software launched in 2007 as Jing Project by the TechSmith Corporation. Downloading Jing was not a very difficult task. I learned quite a bit from the tutorials and found them to be most helpful. I played around with the program for a couple of hours to familiarize myself with this “new to me software”. I can see how Jing can be easily applied to E-Learning.


Here are the links to my screencasts:

Just playing around: http://screencast.com/t/YmMxZmY2

Assignment 1: http://screencast.com/t/YWM5OThmYTA

I made an additional screencast showing how I created the above links in my blog.
Enjoy:

Posting your Jing Link to your blog: http://screencast.com/t/YmRlNzI2

Thursday, June 3, 2010

EDU 651 Final Paper

Reflection on EDU 651- What did I learn?

INTRODUCTION

The journey which started with the invention of the punch card for a loom to the development of personal computers and the internet we use today has changed the way we communicate and learn. Technology has been a catalyst driving innovations and the way we do things in our daily lives. Every aspect of our modern life is touched by technology. My life-long quest for learning and fascination with gadgets has fostered a need to learn more about new technologies. The Web 2.0 classroom is in reach.

Thank you for this time to reflect. Working with my schoolmates during this course has been delightful, in fact I learned many new tricks and gathered new ideas from viewing other student’s works and participating in discussions (I read them all). As a newbie to Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking and Social Bookmarking tools, this course has taught me a great deal about Web 2.0 technology and its applications for teaching, learning and sharing. I enjoyed everyone’s input.

BLOGS

Weblogs are a new form of Writing Genre. In January, I started a blog to use as a journal and from what I have learned in the course I can see how the opportunities are endless for collaborative connections to larger audiences. Blogs can be used for reflective writing, publication of creative writing, posting links, multimedia productions, photographs and much more. The opportunity for feedback is built into the blog as well. Blogs when properly used and maintained open up the chance for students to make connections and construct knowledge. Additionally, blogs can be used as resources for further study. I like the idea of a single piece of writing that does not end but continues on to improve over time through feedback from others like a living dialogue. Additionally, the skills of reading for research and writing all come together in this one medium. Blogs can be interactive allowing students and teachers the chance to dialog through comments on posts.

Richardson (2009) gives examples of the use for blogs across curriculum for example: AP Calculus, Extreme Biology, and the Write Weblog at the end of chapter 2 is a list of Classroom Uses of Weblogs (p. 33-36 & 38-39). The potential uses are endless. I can think of ways to use blogs in all subject areas from digital art portfolios to discussion of physics. I used portfolios of student work when I taught during the 80’s and 90’s, blogs open up a whole new dimension. Blogs can be easily adapted for use as a Class Portal, Online Filing Cabinet, and as a Collaborative Space as well.

WIKIS

I had never actually thought much about how Wikis actually worked until this course. Wikis are fairly easy to set up and use. Their multiple applications for teaching and learning opportunities, much like blogs, foster active rather than passive learning through participation in construction of ideas and publishing. Reflecting back on what I have learned over the past few weeks can be summed up as inspiring. In a sense, Wikis represent easy collaboration for everyone in the digital commons. Probably the best know application for wikis has been Wikipedia.

Personally, I use Wikipedia as a starting resource for most of my writing and research. It’s a habit. I have noticed that Wikipedia has continuously improved over the years. Wikipedia not only has more posts but those posts are much better documented and in many cases provide further readings. Richardson calls it “the most important site on the web” (p. 55). I agree. Its collaborative nature has truly been gathering the “sum of human knowledge”. To again quote Richardson, “By the time you read this, the English version of Wikipedia will house over 2 million separate entries with information about everything from the Aaadonta (a type of slug) to Zzzaz (a fictional super villain from Marvel Comics) (p. 55). That’s phenomenal to me. If you can’t find what you want on Wikipedia you have the ability to research the subject and add it if you like. That’s a great concept.

Wikis can be a useful tool for online learners as long as the project is well designed and students are prepared to work in the digital commons. West & West (2009) covers setting up Wikis and project design. In addition, there are examples for projects in knowledge construction, critical thinking and contextual applications. I explored ways to avoid wiki pitfalls including unbalanced participation, a lack of progress and direction, mistrust, misunderstandings, and conflicts. There are a number of way to mitigate issues encountered by groups, most of which can be addressed through proper student preparation, good instructional design, well defined assessment measures and diligent monitoring. Student must be prepared to work and learn in the digital commons.

SOCIAL NETWORKING


Richardson (2009) states that, “Nowhere is this continuous conversation becoming more obvious that the explosion of Twitter, a “micro-blogging” tool that has grown by leaps and bounds since its introduction in 2006.”(p. 86)
What about Social Networking? Let me expand on this topic and reflect on some of the applications we reviewed and I learned a bit about during the course of this class. Ning is a social site that is used to connect people who share common interests. Facebook is a social site that is used to connect friends and family. RSS feeds are an easy ways to keep up with what’s new. Twitter is used for micro blogging and has become a powerful political tool, not to mention that you can keep up on friends, classmates, your favorite blogs, or maybe even your favorite celebrities.

Professional learning communities need mention as well. I think PLC’s are the wave of the future and seem to me to be a much better way to acquire true knowledge. PLC’s allow for mentoring and new opportunities for educators, students and the world to share substantive content leading to deep understanding and true acquisition of knowledge.


What’s more you can connect all of these tools together through links and make a one stop shop for learning, collaboration and keeping up with your network or PCL, family and friends. I will continue to work on getting that shop together on my Blog, although it’s not quite finished yet. Connections to our network help us learn together. At times, all the input is simply overwhelming, but just think . . . everything is at your fingertips through links, feeds and connections with others.

We also explored the use of Social Networking tools for classroom management and my conclusion to this is that although Facebook, Ning and PB Works could be adapted to be used as a LMS they are not designed to be used in this way. I do not think any of the three would be a good choice to replace a program which is designed to be a LMS. PB Works comes closest to the criteria needed, but I found it a little hard to use. Ning is for networking with like minded people and Facebook is for networking with friends and family neither is truly suitable for a classroom management system, but can be used in other learning and networking environs.

SOCIAL BOOKMARKING

Social bookmarking services are public websites like Furl, Simpy, and del.icio.us which were developed as tools for internet users to save, tag with “keywords” and share with users both publicly and in their own network. Social bookmarking is a new way of organizing information and categorizing resources. (Lomas (2005), p. 1) Richardson (2009) goes on to explain that “What these services do that’s social is take all of the entries that are tagged the same way and connect them, and then connect all the people who posted those links in the first place.” (p. 89) Educators and students can then share websites with each other narrowing the parameters for research down to key words used by their specific community of users. Using tags simplifies reference lists and logging into your bookmarking service makes it accessible to you anywhere you can connect. I use bookmarking religiously. I particularly like and the move from taxonomy to “folksonomy”. The tag is now everything and that works great for me. Keywords make a lot of sense and are intuitive. In addition, I love the idea of sharing bookmarks and the portability is wonderful. No more losing my bookmarks … what a relief.


SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS


When considering using web-based learning opportunities it is extremely important to take time to make sure that you and your students are safe. Safety considerations include identity protection by not publishing children’s names, location and pictures on the internet. This can be accomplished by use of first names only and vigilant monitoring of content before publication. Coaching students by use of classroom discussion about inappropriate language and content is another teachable skill. Making parents, administrators and colleagues aware is also extremely important. Most schools have policies in place for internet use and there is legislation to filter content that is accessible on the internet as well. Richardson (2009) provides an example of a letter to send home to families at the end of chapter 1 (p. 14-16). Checking out any web quests before you assign it is a good rule of thumb as well and as always monitor student work. Make sure that all computer screens are visible to you so you can keep an eye on what students are looking at.

Other ethical considerations include authentication of sources. This can be accomplished through educating students on proper validation of resource material and how to accomplish that. Again facilitating critical thinking is a teachable skill. Wikis usually have further reading sources and references.

CONCLUSION


In conclusion, I feel that EDU651 has been a mind expanding experience for me, although a bit overwhelming. The learning curve has been huge. Web 2.0 tools can truly benefit us all as learner and teachers. I found Richardson’s book enthusiastic, passionate and very readable. Some of the things that I will take away with me include his vision of “What It all Means?” According to Richardson (2009) “… the classroom of the Read/Write Web is going to be defined by two unstoppable trend is in the use of these technologies.”(p. 129). First, is the digitization of research libraries such as the Library of Congress causing rapid expansion in content accessible to all internet users. Second is the trend toward use of collaborative tools and shared workspaces. (Richardson (2009), p.129.) New literacies and the 10 big shifts made a powerful impact on me.

”Minds on Fire” was also very inspiring and informative as well as a bit alarming. (Brown & Adler, 2008) The educational implications of a “flat world” have created a demand for a well-educated workforce that can easily access new skills at an ever increasing rate. Sir John Daniel (1996), points out a measure of this demand in his quote: “To meet this staggering demand, a major university needs to be created each week.”(p. 17). That is a huge predicament. Brown and Adler (2008) clarify the problem by stating that:

“It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to build enough new campuses to meet the growing global demand for higher education-at least not the sort of campuses that we have traditionally built for colleges and universities. Nor is it likely that the current methods of teaching and learning will suffice to prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the twenty-first century.” (p.18)

The statement above implies education systems need to make a drastic change in the way we teach and learn. What does this fact mean? It means that the traditional learning setting must expand its walls and make use of new technologies to meet the demand. Obviously, brick and mortar will not work here. The internet is just the right tool to use with its latest evolution to the read-write web or Web 2.0. (Brown and Adler (2008) p.18.)

Teaching and learning with the use of technology is much more accessible than it has ever been before. “In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading.” (Brown and Adler (2008) p. 20).

Another thing I take away from this class is a better concept of what my web presence truly means. Teaching can be very difficult at times and conditions are not always ideal. Educators have been held to a higher standard than most because they are responsible for educating our children. An educator’s online content is no different than any other content that a professional might publish we should strive to meet that standard.

Blogs, Wikis, Social Networking and Social Bookmarking tools can be used to collaborate, teach, learn, and keep connected. Many Web 2.0 tools make it much easier to sort all the information available and categorize that same information into convenient and manageable blocks which can then become a product or construction of what we know and are passionate about. Tools like RSS feeds and social bookmarking bring information to us rather than going out to find it. Web 2.0 technology and tools makes the internet manageable in our lives, harnessing the power of the Web as a tool for learning.

Reference

Brown, J. S. & Adler, R. P. (2008, January/February). Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review.
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0811.pdf

Lomas (2005), 7 things you should know about…Social Bookmarking, Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved May, 2010 http://www.educause.edu/ELI/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutSocia/156804

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. ISBN: 9781412959728

West J., & West M. (2009). Using Wikis for Online Collaboration. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Minds on Fire

Mind on Fire Critical Thinking Exercise, Week 4, Assignment 2

After reading the article Mind on Fire, I am happy to share some of my thoughts. Thank you for this learning opportunity. I found that the questions posed in this exercise helped me focus my sometimes wandering thoughts.

What are the educational implications of a "flat world" that Thomas Friedman coined?

The educational implications of a “flat world” have created a demand for a well-educated workforce that can easily access new skills at an ever increasing rate. Sir John Daniel (1996), points out a measure of this demand in his quote: “To meet this staggering demand, a major university needs to be created each week.”(p. 17). That is a huge predicament. Brown and Adler (2008) clarify the problem by stating that:

“It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to build enough new campuses to meet the growing global demand for higher education-at least not the sort of campuses that we have traditionally built for colleges and universities. Nor is it likely that the current methods of teaching and learning will suffice to prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the twenty-first century.” (p.18)

The statement above implies education systems need to make a drastic change in the way we teach and learn. What does this fact mean? It means that the traditional learning setting must expand its walls and make use of new technologies to meet the demand. Obviously, brick and mortar will not work here. The internet is just the right tool to use with its latest evolution to the read-write web or Web 2.0. (Brown and Adler (2008) p.18.)

What are some of the major initiatives the elite universities have undertaken to provide access to their curriculum and instruction to not only their students, but the world?

What are the implications in next five years as well as next 20 years?


Utilization of the Internet as a global platform Brown and Adler (2008) propose “has vastly expanded access to all sorts of resources, including formal and informal educational materials.” (p.18). Institutions have provided free access to resources through the Open Education Resources movement started by MIT in 2001, many other colleges and universities have followed suit. (p. 18.) Other initiatives include social networking sites, blogs, and wikis. Wikipedia has become a reliable source for accurate and easily verifiable resource materials as well as creating a forum for participatory learning opportunities. The Terra Incognita Project built by the University of Southern Queensland is another example of new initiatives in their virtual classroom on Second Life. (p. 20).

When I first reviewed Second Life a few months ago I discovered numerous universities, colleges, archives and libraries that use second life for distance learning and resources for students, educators and the general public. The internet has allowed for sharing of expensive equipment with students, scholars and educators through the e-Science movement. One example highlighted by Brown and Adler (2008) is “the Faulkes Telescope Project, sponsored by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.” (p. 24) Brown and Adler (2008) also describes “Hands-on Universe based at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley”. (p. 24). I am certain that there are even more examples now.

As more and more resources, archives, and high tech equipment becomes wired, digitized and internet accessible, I believe that anyone anywhere will be able to receive and send anything they want to learn and be able to study from anywhere that a wireless access point is using a cell phone or notebook. Now that’s exciting. I can see a much more collaborative open ended opportunity for students and educators to share and learn in a less didactic environment than I am familiar with, eliminating the walls of the traditional classroom. Education will become much more accessible to the world. Brown and Adler (2008) describes this phenomena:

“As more of learning becomes Internet-based, a similar pattern seems to be occurring. Whereas traditional schools offer a finite number of courses of study, the “catalog” of subjects that can be learned online is almost unlimited.” (p. 28)

Do you agree or disagree with the authors of this article that professional learning communities will be the next major frontier in education? Please justify your perspective.

Yes, I do agree with Brown and Adler. I combined my understanding of this enhanced learning opportunity with the next question. Teaching and learning with the use of technology is much more accessible than it has ever been before. “In this open environment, both the content and the process by which it is created are equally visible, thereby enabling a new kind of critical reading.” (Brown and Adler (2008) p. 20)

According to Brown and Adler, how has the way students learn changed and therefore, what is learning 2.0?


I had to look this concept up for a better definition to clarify my thoughts:
Wikipedia defines a Professional Learning Community (PLC) as "extend... classroom practice into the community; bringing community personnel into the school to enhance the curriculum and learning tasks for students; or engaging students, teachers, and administrators simultaneously in learning." Richard Dufour, a recognized national expert in PLCs, finds that "To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than on teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results." The Ontario Ministry of Education defines a PLC as "a shared vision or running a school in which everyone can make a contribution, and staff are encouraged to collectively undertake activities and reflection in order to constantly improve their students’ performance." (p. 1)

Brown and Adler (2008) take this vision one step further when they state: “The web offers innumerable opportunities for students to find and join niche communities where they can benefit from the opportunities for distributed cognitive apprenticeship. Finding and joining a community that ignites a student’s passion can set the stage for the student to acquire both deep knowledge about a subject (“learning about”) and the ability to participate in the practice of a field through productive inquiry and peer-based learning (“learning to be”). These communities are harbingers of the emergence of a new form of technology enhanced learning-Learning 2.0-which goes beyond providing free access to traditional course materials and educational tools and creates a participatory architecture for supporting communities of learners.” (p. 28) Technology enhanced learning or Learning 2.0 is defined above.

I think PLC’s are the wave of the future and seem to me to be a much better way to acquire true knowledge. PLC’s allow for mentoring and new opportunities for educators, students and the world to share substantive content leading to deep understanding and true acquisition of knowledge. I liked the graphic presented in Brown and Adler’s (2008) article:

Retrieved May, 2010 from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0811.pdf (p. 28)
Great concept Create, Use, Remix.

More and more educational resources are becoming available on the web. In what ways does the access to computers and broadband Internet for every student become an equality issue? i.e. Two students enter high school. One has a laptop with wireless Internet access at home while the other has neither. Is there a fundamental disadvantage? Explain.

Yes, there is a fundamental disadvantage. The access to computers and broadband Internet for every student cannot be overlooked or underestimated. There is a definite disadvantage to the student who does not have access to technology at home. More and more resources are being digitized and made available online each day, without access this effort will miss a lot of learners. There is a movement here in California to put text books online, it’s a good idea, but there are still many that do not have reliable internet connections or up to date equipment to use. A student without access to resources cannot fully participate in a world where the use and advantages presented by the online environment are not readily available. In rural areas of California many places do not even have basic internet or cell phone service. Somehow this dilemma must be addressed and a solution found to equal the educational playing field. Infrastructure needs to be built, computers need to be made accessible and the dollars must be found to make this a reality.

Reference

Brown, J. S. & Adler, R. P. (2008, January/February). Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review.
http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0811.pdf

Professional learning communities, Wikipedia retrieved May, 2010 from. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_Learning_Community

Assignment 1 EDU 651

INTRODUCTION

Before I get started, I would just like to say that Richardson’s (2009) book is a delightful read. His casual writing style, personalized manner and thoughtful explanations took the edge off of what at first glance seemed quite daunting to me. He makes Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts seem very simple and easy to use. I feel that I have a much better handle on the content of this course after reading these first four chapters. I had an “AHA” moment. I actually know a lot more than I thought I did and I get what he is saying. Thanks largely to a natural fascination with technology, osmosis from using the web and teaching computer applications for 12 years during the late 80’s and 90’s, I seem to know a lot more than I thought I did. These technologies are not that foreign to me. After all, one of the courses I used to teach was HTML Web design.

CHAPTER 1

1. What are some of the changes we must make in our education system to expand the classroom walls?

Education has traditionally been very slow to react and adjust to changing times. Teaching to the test has become the standard in many classrooms in the USA and Canada due to the ongoing push for government accountability and standardization. Students are much more in tune with technologies than most of their teachers. The teacher’s role is changing in scope the shift is more to the teacher as a facilitator of learning. Educators can fill this role by teaching the skills student need to become master user of technology and the internet. The educational system has to adapt to our clients.

Yes, I said clients. Teachers must see students as their clients and personalize course materials and content to meet the challenges faced in the informational age. Text books are outdated before they even make it to the classroom. Use of the internet, can help mitigate this dilemma through appropriate use of blogs and wikis. Accessing and teaching learners how to use the Read/Write Web is a necessity that cannot be stopped or put off. Attitudes have to change. Richardson (2009) points out that “….today’s students may not be well suited to the more linear progression of learning that most educational systems employ.” (p. 7). Expanding the walls of the classrooms means that technology must be promoted and embraced by teachers and the education system.

2. The web 2.0 is pushing us to remember that learning is a social construct. The saying “I think, therefore I am”, is being replaced with “We think, therefore we are”. However, many educators still operate in a more linear progression of learning. How can we encage our students in a more non-linear, collaborative, participatory learning environment?

First we must change the way we do things as educators. Richardson (2009) states this very eloquently speaking about the Read/Write Web in the following excerpt: “It wasn’t until I fully understood how these technologies can facilitate global connections and conversations around my own passions that I was able to see what needed to change in terms of my curriculum and my teaching.” (p. 8). Teachers have the opportunity in these changing times to not just put their course materials into digital format but to actually make use of the technologies available to guide students through the journey of life-long learning. I particularly like the use of wikis and weblogs for this process. The tools are all there we as educators just have to use them.

3. What is the difference between a blog and a wiki?

Richardson (2009) defines a Blog as “easily created, easily updateable Websites that allow an author (or authors) to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection.” (p. 9). Blogs can be interactive allowing students and teachers the chance to dialog through comments on posts.
Wikis on the other hand are “a collaborative Webspace where anyone can add content and anyone can edit content that has already been published” (Richardson (2009) p. 9).

4. What are some of the ethical and safety considerations educators must consider when developing web-based learning opportunities?

Safety considerations include identity protection by not publishing children’s names, location and pictures on the internet. This can be accomplished by use of first names only and vigilant monitoring of content before publication. Coaching students by use of classroom discussion about inappropriate language and content is another teachable skill. Making parents, administrators and colleagues aware is also extremely important. Most schools have policies in place for internet use and there is legislation to filter content that is accessible on the internet as well. Richardson (2009) provides an example of a letter to send home to families at the end of chapter 1 (p. 14-16). Checking out any web quests before you assign it is a good rule of thumb as well and as always monitor student work. Make sure that all computer screens are visible to you so you can keep an eye on what students are looking at.

Other ethical considerations include authentication of sources. This can be accomplished through educating students on proper validation of resource material and how to accomplish that. Again facilitating critical thinking is a teachable skill. Wikis usually have further reading sources and references.

CHAPTER 2 AND 3

1. What are some of the educational advantages of weblog vs. a website?

Richardson (2009) states that “… what really distinguishes a blog from your run-of-the-mill Website is much more than process; it’s what you’ll find there. Weblogs are not built on static chunks of content. Instead they are comprised of reflections and conversations that in many cases are updated every day…” (p. 17). Websites are not usually updated on a daily basis and there is not the opportunity for the ongoing dialogue and interactivity available through blogs. Blogs allow for ongoing reflection and discussion of content. Interaction with the author opens the door of the classroom and gives student access to information from experts in their field of study. Blogs are much more personal allowing learners to ask questions and receive answers and the opportunity to participate in the sharing of the knowledge constructed.

2. List some of the pros/cons of the potential use for Weblogs Richardson mentions, i.e., E-Portfolio, Online Filing Cabinet, Collaborative Space, Journals, etc.

PROS/CONS

Class Portal

• Communicates curriculum, syllabus, class rules, assignments, rubrics, handouts, and presentations to parents, students, other teachers, and administrators.
• Can make the classroom virtually paperless
• Not all participants have internet access.
• Not all classrooms have enough computers for student use.
• Unauthorized access by outsiders.

Online Filing Cabinet

• Students can always find their work
• Work is well organized and easy to access
• Opportunities for sharing with others
• Can be made into an artifact to track growth

• Not all participants have access from home.
• Usually not enough computers in the classroom
• Many teachers do not know how to use these technologies
• Unwanted access by outsiders after publication

E-Portfolio

• A collection of Student’s which can be cross curricular
• Students can keep an ongoing record of progress
• Data can be transferred to CD for portability when class is over and can be
followed on from class to class creating an archive of present, past and future
materials

• Not all teachers a student may have know how to use the technology required
• Not enough computers in the classroom in many cases
• Not all homes have internet access
• Data can be lost sometimes due to poor management
• Unwanted access by outsiders.

Collaborative Space

• Opportunities for collaboration with the global community

• Same drawbacks as listed above.

3. What are some of the ways weblogs can enhance writing activities? What are some of the ways weblogs can be used across curriculum?

Weblogs are a new form of Writing Genre. In January, I started a blog to use as a journal and from what I have just read I can see how the opportunities are endless for collaborative connections to larger audiences. Blogs can be used for reflective writing, publication of creative writing, posting links, multimedia productions, photographs and much more. The opportunity for feedback is built into the blog as well. Blogs when properly used and maintained open up the chance for students to make connections and construct knowledge. Additionally, blogs can be used as resources for further study. I like the idea of a single piece of writing that does not end but continues on to improve over time through feedback from others like a living dialogue. Additionally, the skills of reading for research and writing all come together in this one medium.

Richardson (2009) gives examples of the use for blogs across curriculum for example: AP Calculus, Extreme Biology, and the Write Weblog at the end of chapter 2 is a list of Classroom Uses of Weblogs (p. 33-36 & 38-39). The potential uses are endless. I can think of ways to use blogs in all subject areas from digital art portfolios to discussion of physics. I used portfolios of student work when I taught during the 80’s and 90’s, blogs open up a whole new dimension.

CHAPTER 4

1. In what sense has the quote by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, come true?

“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we are doing.”


Personally, I use Wikipedia as a starting resource for most of my writing and research. It’s a habit. I have noticed that Wikipedia has continuously improved over the years. It not only has more posts but those posts are much better documented and in many cases provide further readings. Richardson calls it “the most important site on the web” (p. 55). I agree. Its collaborative nature has truly been gathering the “sum of human knowledge”. To again quote Richardson, “By the time you read this, the English version of Wikipedia will house over 2 million separate entries with information about everything from the Aaadonta (a type of slug) to Zzzaz (a fictional super villain from Marvel Comics) (p. 55). That’s phenomenal to me. If you can’t find what you want on Wikipedia you have the ability to research the subject and add it if you like. That’s a great concept.

2. What does the word “wiki” mean?

“The word wiki is a short form of the Hawaiian wiki-wiki, which means “quick” (p. 55).

3. In today’s digital world, students can access information, and create it, with a click. However, not all information found and created is accurate. How can we help our students become critical consumers of information?

Teach your students to be critical consumers of information. Make sure that they know how to check documentation and make follow on research. This skill is not only needed on the web but it is required for just about everything you read or hear. Check the documentation. As a teacher, you can provide credible websites and books for research as well and of course there is always the library. A good rule of thumb to teach students is that it is not a fact unless you can verify it by at least two references or different resources.

4. List some types of collaborative learning activities that can be driven and enhanced through a wiki.


a. Create an online text that you and your students can work on.
b. Make your own Wikipedia, on any topic or subject
c. Use it to follow science experiments
d. Create your own textbook
e. Publish a Wikibooks
f. Cross curricular research projects of any kind

5. How did Vicki Davis at Westwood High use a wiki to connect her students in Georgia to the world?

Richardson cites Vicki Davis project at Westwood High:

“Vicki has started to use wikis to connect her students to other learners from around the world, and her “Flat Classroom” project wiki in 2007 is a great example (flatclassroomprojec.wikispaces.com). ……… She connected with Julie Lindsay, a teacher in Bangladesh, and together they connected their students for a two week investigation, the results of which are reported in the wiki.”(p. 63).

REFERENCE

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. ISBN: 9781412959728

Week 5

What is Micro-Blogging?
A Wikipedia definition: Microblogging is a form of blogging. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically much smaller (usually 160 characters or less), in both actual size and aggregate file size. A microblog entry could consist of nothing but a short sentence fragment, or an image or embedded video. (p. 1)
Richardson (2009) states that, “Nowhere is this continuous conversation becoming more obvious that the explosion of Twitter, a “micro-blogging” tool that has grown by leaps and bounds since its introduction in 2006.”(p. 86)

Why do you think Twitter has become such a fad in politics?
Microblogging has become such a big fad in politics because it is a quick and simple way to keep in touch with our representatives in government allowing for nearly instant updates and connectedness to what is going on in the day to day lives of our elected officials. The network created by Twitter gives the people and politicians a forum like none other. Through this tool sharing instant feedback and a continuous conversation about policy, ideas, law making, and domestic as well as world events is here and now. Digital politics is an embodiment of a new kind of democracy making it possible for everyone to be heard and to participate.

What are social bookmarking services and what is their purpose in education?
Social bookmarking services are public websites like Furl, Simpy, and del.icio.us which were developed as tools for internet users to save, tag with “keywords” and share with users both publicly and in their own network. Social bookmarking is a new way of organizing information and categorizing resources. (Lomas (2005), p. 1) Richardson (2009) goes on to explain that “What these services do that’s social is take all of the entries that are tagged the same way and connect them, and then connect all the people who posted those links in the first place.” (p. 89) Educators and students can then share websites with each other narrowing the parameters for research down to key words used by their specific community of users. Using tags simplifies reference lists and logging into your bookmarking service makes it accessible to you anywhere you can connect.

In what way does “del.icio.us” approach social bookmarking differently?
Richardson (2009) defines the different approach by “del.icio.us” as follows:
“Whereas Diigo is about saving content del.icio.us is all about sharing links in as easy a way as possible. But although it may not have all of the flexibility and power that Diigo has in terms of search and archiving, its simplicity makes it an equally powerful tool for teachers and students.” (p. 96)

With del.cio.us, the tag is all you need to know.


What are the pros/cons of setting up mechanisms that bring information to you such as RSS Feeds/Social Bookmarking, rather than you going to it?

On the positive side, RSS Feeds/Social Bookmarking allows for the filtering of vast amounts of information on the web and gives users the opportunity through tagging to categorize their own perspective on information and to share it with other users they are working with.
On the downside, these same technologies raise concerns about privacy, reliability, inconsistency within the tagging process, and possible bias.

Chapter 9
The title of chapter 9 is “What it all Means”, well, what does it all mean?
This is a big question to ask for sure. What it all means according to Richardson (2009) is that “… the classroom of the Read/Write Web is going to be defined by two unstoppable trend is in the use of these technologies.”(p. 129). First, is the digitization of research libraries such as the Library of Congress causing rapid expansion in content accessible to all internet users. Second is the trend toward use of collaborative tools and shared workspaces. (Richardson (2009), p.129.)


What are some of the big shifts on the Read/Write Web that have taken place over the last few years that worry you?

According to Richardson (2009) there are 10 “Big Shifts” #1. Open Content, #2 Many, Many Teachers, and 24/7 Learning, #3 The Social, Collaborative Construction of Meaningful Knowledge, #4 Teaching is Conversation, Not Lecture, #5 Know “Where” Learning, #6 Readers Are No longer Just Readers, #7 the Web as Notebook (or Portfolio), #8 Writing Is No longer Limited to Text, #9 Mastery Is the Product, Not the Test, and #10 Contribution, Not Completion, as the Ultimate Goal. (p. 131-135)
Some of my worries include the fact that not everyone can participate due to lack of connection and /or appropriate hardware, or training. Privacy issues, acceptance, and reliability of content need to be considered as well. Another concern that I have noticed is that established education systems are mired in traditional pedagogy. Furthermore, I am concerned that there are not enough people who are aware of or ready to change to the requirements needed to participate in the Web 2.0 environment. Just keeping up with the rapid changes in web tools may also be an insurmountable problem for some.
Why is the open content so vital for educators in a world of budget cuts and copyright rules?

The importance of open content cannot be over emphasized. Just think of the cost savings access to the internet provides to schools for resource material alone. If each school were required to have onsite the books, periodicals and resources that educators and students need to participate in the Web 2.0 classroom it would not be feasible. Open content allows for access to everyone who is able to connect.

Will enabling learning to take place 24/7, 365 days of the year benefit all students, or just some students? Explain.

I believe that at this time not all students are able to benefit due to connection and equipment problems, and hope that in the future this will change. The concept of 24/7 Learning makes great sense. The possibilities for learning and teaching opportunities are endless. Anyone who can connect is able to continuously fit learning and teaching into their daily routine no matter where or when they are through the asynchronous nature of the Web 2.0 Classroom. Richardson (2009) illustrates the importance of this shift when he states:
“The Read/Write Web allows us to connect to not just other science, or English or social studies teachers, however. Instead, we can now find biochemists, scholars of Faulkner, and Civil Ware re-enactors to bring into the classroom. Teachers who harness the potential of these tools are tapping into the knowledge of primary sources such as authors and historians and researchers.” (p. 132)


Do you agree that mastery of a concept should be evaluated by a product and/or project, not a test? Explain.

Yes, a test can only determine if you know the answers to the “Test” not whether or not you can apply what you have learned. To show true mastery you must be able to produce a product of what you learn. According to Richardson (2009), “students can display mastery in countless ways that involve the creation of digital content for large audiences. Even more traditional forms of showing mastery through performance or putting together projects can now be easily published to the Web in a variety of ways.” (p. 135)

References
Lomas (2005), 7 things you should know about…Social Bookmarking, Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved May, 2010 http://www.educause.edu/ELI/7ThingsYouShouldKnowAboutSocia/156804

Microblogging, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. Retrieved May, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-blogging

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. ISBN: 9781412959728

Reflections on Piaget

Piaget Reflection
Piaget poses three questions in this video.
“Our real problem is - - what is the goal of education? Are we forming children who are only capable of learning what is already known? Or should we try to develop creative and innovative minds, capable of discovery from the pre-school age on, throughout life?” (p. 1)

Piaget (1896-1980) is best known for his Theory of Cognitive Development or “How we come to know”. (p. 1) Piaget’s statement brings to the fore the fundamental question of why we educate. It is the educator’s job to encourage creation of knowledge as well as to teach the basic skills required by students to participate in that same construction of knowing. Teachers, parents, government, and institutions are responsible for ensuring that the tools and curriculum are available. Education is a lifelong process and inevitably learning and construction of knowledge is the goal of education.
It is my belief that our current education system is deeply rooted in old fashioned and outdated models of teaching and learning. My fear is that without radical change and the introduction of Web 2.0 tools into the classroom construction of knowledge and critical thinking skills are stifled, but not stayed. Educational institutions are slow to change, but more and more educators are using Web 2.0 technology. My hope is that this shift will continue as a catalyst for change in the way we educate.
Reference
Huitt & Hummel. (2003). Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved May, 2010 from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cogsys/piaget.html
Piaget (2007) Retrieved from YouTube May, 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtNdLKqPCyI

Monday, May 10, 2010

What did I learn this week?

This week's focus was on Facebook. We had a very lively discussion about Facebook privacy and ethics. I reviewed Schaffhauser's (2008) article.

The article by Schaffhauser (2008) may have stirred up a lot of controversy about privacy, but you have to ask yourself, “What on earth was she thinking?” Maybe I am a bit old fashioned, but my understanding of professional behavior does not include making crude statements about my students or the school where I work. Professionally and ethically she was in the wrong and she has made a very na├»ve mistake. I am sure the parents of her students are more than a little concerned about a teacher with this kind of attitude. The statement quoted in Schaffhauser’s (2008) article. “She probably thought what she was posting was private,” is irrelevant. (p. 1)

We also discussed Facebook applications. This was my big idea for the week:

• Finally, I did not notice a Learning Styles application on the above list. So, here is my big idea for the day, I think that Facebook would be a good way to poll students for a learning styles inventory. Just a thought.

I also learned from my fellow students about a number of other applications. These were Mary Jeff's contributions(p.1), I thought they were very well chosen.

1. Zoho Online Office – This application allows you to have all of your office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online for free. Once this application is added to your profile, it can be used to create and edit documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Then, you can share these documents with other Facebook users, which allows for a collaborative learning environment.
2. Ma.gnoolia – This application allows Facebook users to share links to websites on Facebook. This is great for collaborative research and sharing sources with others online. It is also helpful to share websites that offer more information about a topic being studied by other Facebook users.
3. JSTOR Search - JSTOR Search allows you to find full text research articles on Facebook. Facebook users can use this application for research or additional reading about a specific topic.
4. Study Groups - Study Groups makes collaborating on group projects easy. This application helps the development of a close-knit online community as well as encourages collaborative learning.

Finally, I learned how to set up a Ning account and subscribed to Classroom 2.0.

References

Jeff, Mary (2010), Facebook Applications, Retrieved, May, 2010. http://classroom.ecollege.com/re/DotNextLaunch.asp?courseid=4112491

Schaffhauser, D. (2008). Suspended Teacher in Facebook Incident Ignites Debate: Should Online Privacy for Educators Exist? The Journal. Retrieved May 2008. http://www.thejournal.com/articles/23611