Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflection #3: Reflecting on My Final Project

To stretch myself on this assignment I ventured out into a more unfamiliar topic to me. At first I considered doing a workshop on digital storytelling but then realized that was already comfortable to me. In this project I explored new tools and created products with Web 2.0 tools such as Vocarro, Diigo, Scribd, and Jog the Web. I also got more in-depth practice with creating a wiki by adding widgets and a table of contents.   
My intent when I began this project was to create a set of clear step- by-step directions with screen shots to help the learner understand the subject matter. I also wanted to provide some background knowledge for those who didn’t really know a lot about 2.0. I also wanted the content to be relevant to K-12 educators so I demonstrated and showcased Web 2.0 tools that could be used at all levels in an educational context.  I feel my original intent measured up to my final product in a sequential and logical way.
In the future I would like to try to make very simple videos something along the lines of the Common Craft Show videos (  I’d like to add the video to my training course.  I might try creating the course in another way instead of through a wiki. 
I was satisfied with my Scribd documents. I felt they were very clear and detailed and that anyone who was not in attendance during the course could easily read and follow the directions.  I was satisfied with the flow of training events and how there was a range of instruction, practice, and creation time.  
I was dissatisfied with the large amount of subject matter that I crammed into one four-hour training class. I would have preferred to do this over several courses with different learning modules. Each module would have extensions for the learners to pursue and gain further practice either independently or by connection with a PLN. Lastly, I would have liked to work with a colleague and plan a course together.  
At first I brainstormed a topic. Like I mentioned, I decided to pick Web 2.0 because it was a little bit more out of my comfort zone and I thought I would learn something along the topic while creating the training session.  Then I started to think about Web 2.0 in terms of education and for Personal Learning Network (PLN) purposes. I mapped out some ideas of tools I thought could help educators connect with others, as well as expand their knowledge in an organized and coherent manner. I thought about my audience.  The course was intended to be an introduction to the concept of 2.0 and I wanted to establish rudimentary knowledge in 2.0.  I decided that iGoogle, Delicious, and Jog the Web would be the foundations on which I would have them build.
I thought iGoogle would be able to help them connect and share ideas easily with others as well as allow them to use features such as RSS to stay up to date with the latest information from blogs they are following.
 I then chose Diigo as a tool to organize and sort great web-based resources with tags. Then those resources can be shared with others who are delicious “friends.”
Next, I wanted to showcase Jog the Web as a way to share websites and resources in a guided way.  I liked the idea that my learners could explore the sites and read the annotations along the way.  Sometimes learners are overwhelmed or get side-tracked, so this was a great tool to teach concepts in an organized sequential order.  I wanted the learners to use Jog the Web to create a learning exercise for their own students.  I wanted to offer a variety of Web 2.0 sites to choose from and some sites that led to other resources for those who were ready to explore on their own.  After I knew what topics and skills I wanted to cover I decided how much time I wanted to allow for each topic. After allotting the times, I considered the type of learning experience I wanted to create for my learners. Variety in instruction is important so I chose a combination of direct instruction, short videos, as well as time to explore in a guided as well as more independent way.
At the end of the course, the learners created a product by utilizing Jog the Web. They also used their newly established delicious account to “bookmark” and tag new sites they discovered during the training.  There was also a brief reflection/evaluation that the learners completed via Survey Monkey. This allowed learners to evaluate their own learning and think about ways in which they can implement their new skills.
One major issue I encountered during this project was having to change from Delicious to Diigo as there is talk that Delicious won't be around much longer. Just a reminder that technology is always changing! Another issue during the project was learning how to format the wiki properly to include widgets and a table of contents.  Never having done this, the process was a bit cumbersome at first.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blog Post #4

This is in response to Steve Dembo’s post titled The Trouble With Alts .It is frightening to me that many kids are able to just sign up for anything online.  Kids can misrepresent themselves online and see absolutely nothing wrong with it. They potentially could put themselves in danger.  They are able to sign up for sites and there is no accountability for the information that is put into the site registration.  This scares me.  I think we need to help teach kids to be responsible digital citizens and that means making ethical decisions with accounts.  Many kids have the perception that everything online is trustworthy and it contains factual information and that those “you won a free laptop” pop-ups are true.  Many kids as well as parents are completely unaware of terms of service of many sites out there.  It starts with responsible registration and ownership of one’s actions.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome to My Blog!

This is a blog of reflections and ideas on educational technology.  This is a part of my CI 579 class at ISU in which we are exploring issues in educational technology and learning to think and wonder in this realm. Enjoy!

Blog Post #1

Visual Notes: Digital Literacy, Week 2 from by Angela Maiers posted March 19, 2011
This post dealt with the abundance of information and its relevance, reliability, and real time qualities.  We certainly are living in exponential times and dealing with information overload. There is so much to attend to, that we have to choose what is important otherwise we get bogged down easily.  One way to do this is by creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Since no one can spend all their time acquiring the vast amount of information that is available, we can rely on others to share their findings and then decide if it’s worthy information.  Another way to help with organization is to tag information in delicious or diigo. You can also friend others and see what sites they have tagged. This increases your knowledge and amount of information but saves you time.

Blog Post #2

Thoughtboxes from March 23, 2011 posting
When I read this blog post I instantly thought of a few students in my school that would benefit greatly from this organizational tool.  I liked the feature that allows you to cross off tasks that have been completed. It seems like a great way to help students divide up their life into categories and see how much time is invested into each one and to see how much they accomplish in a day. Many students struggle with understanding when specific tasks occur during the school day (such as what day do we have music, or are library books due today?) It would be helpful to have students create a Thoughtbox for various days of the week to help keep themselves organized. I’m also thinking it might help students break up a project into sections and allow them to organize their ideas better.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Reflection #2

An interesting concept I learned about was the Pecha Kucha presentation methodology.  It is used as an organization model consisting of 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds.  Unlike a PowerPoint presentation, this presentation relies heavily on images to represent concepts.  Not only was this an interesting concept for presenting content, but it also made me question my own teaching methods which have been typically droning on and elaboration followed by more talking and kids looking at me like “is she ever going to stop talking?”   A lot of times in giving directions or explaining I see the deer in the headlights look—like I’ve lost my audience….but I still have all this content to relay!

I have definitely learned that less is more! By limiting audio and increasing visuals I think I will be better able to capture my audience’s attention and hold it there.  Lastly, I have been able to practice this skill in class by limiting my blog posts to 150 words.  This made me really think critically about the information I read.  Sometimes it’s easy to go on and on because you don’t want your readers to miss anything.  I’m trying to apply this same skill and concept to my own teaching methods.

I am really looking forward to trying the Pecha Kucha out with students next time instead of doing a PowerPoint.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Post #3

 This is a video/article about the loss of creativity in schools.  The presenter cites examples of projects like fill-in-the-blank poems, or drawings done with certain colors. She says students have been subconsciously pushed to do things one way. In elementary school, kids are starting to learn and we should encourage new ways of thinking.  At my school, holiday decorations are created by template and each one is the same.  I know teachers who say the skill is “following directions.”   I think of technology projects I have done with kindergarten. I have given a template to color in.  So where do we draw the line between structure and non-structure?  Why do we insist on templates and step-by-step directions? Control? Lack of time? Fear?  In my next lesson I am going to ask “Why are we doing this in this way?” 
Are teachers doing too much of their work for students”?