Sunday, July 12, 2009

The lighter side of technology

I was at a loss for what to do as a podcast! I normally am not at a loss for things to talk about so I went with one of my favorite pass times which is basically reading jokes made about computer users, computers, and the technology in an around a computer. I did not wan this to turn into a Mac vs. PC debacle so I chose humorous computer terminology definitions. Hope you enjoy them.

Excel Chart #1 using Jing

This is the type of demonstration I would normally do using Apple Remote Desktop. This method is so much better because the students can view it and replay it side-by-side with their own work which should make the process for creating their first Excel chart much easier!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My YouTube Classroom Procedures Video

A brief overview of basic procedures to augment the beginning of each quarter when I receive a new batch of students for each technology class.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Photosharing in the Middle School

How would I use this opportunity in the classroom? Most students today seem to carry around much more technology than I would have though possible even 5 years ago. I am even out there on Facebook because a great student of mine took a picture of me, and then she posted it on her Face-book site. No longer is it possible to corral the creative juices of individuals into the form of slides, 3x5 prints, and glossy or mat? The web 2.0 experiences will make it possible for students to share what they did over the summer using something other than a Power Point presentation. Now with a few simple clicks and a good firewall-free internet connection, students can put themselves out there into cyberland for the whole class to enjoy. Students could use a photo-sharing site to demonstrate a skill. Imagine demonstrating how to shoe a horse at your stable, or the basics of barrel racing. Then maybe you could move on to sharing a week in the life of you. Maybe taking one meaningful picture at a different hour everyday until you had 24 pictures. Could you tell a story without ever talking? You could also create an assignment where you pick a subject or topic then have the students create a photo montage or slideshow demonstrating their take on the subject or topic. This would be a great way to see what they hear when you discuss or talk about something in class. The possibilities are endless and more than likely some students have already expressed themselves using this medium. I would however (ever the internet safety advocate) discuss methods for ensuring as much personal safety as possible. This would also be a great time to discuss the general concepts of fair use and collaborative/comment potential when using some sites. In addition students could demonstrate different methods for solving problems, mathematical or otherwise using pictures with or without sound. Students could also demonstrate their understanding of the chronology of an event by expressing it in modern symbols relating the story or event to the rest of the class. Plus you could offer students who choose to the opportunity to express some of their own poetry in a short picture montage. I attended the 2008 digital storytelling camp as well, and was fortunate enough to meet Ali (a soon to be sixth grader) in the class. What a great way to augment her own poetry!

As for allowing students free reign on the internet at most photo sharing sites? I shudder to think how many phone calls I would receive on that day. I would use the sites but I would create limits and expectations for the students. This would probably also include a letter home to parents explaining both the purpose and possible issues. I would run this by the administration first as well!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things I've Learned About Social Nework Creation

In his piece Some Things I’ve Learned About Social Networks Steve Hargadon made several great points about social network creation and uses. I particularly appreciated this comment (point #2) "Our job is not as much to define what is talked about, but to help conversation to take place." because it is so true of most students today that they have a great desire to be heard regarding even one facet of their life. Even if I don't have a passion for playing the guitar I do enjoy listening to guitar music. So giving voice to someone, allowing him or her to interact and feel connected is much more important than the subject he or she or I choose to discuss. I am not sure if I would necessarily encourage this type of open discourse in a technology class per say. Obviously I have the equipment I the room to allow this to happen but I think this might be better in a Language Arts class. On the proverbial other hand, I would enjoy creating an open forum setting where students who might not otherwise speak out will be comfortable enough to express themselves. The concern might be what do I tell the Language Arts teacher who has been trying to get this student to respond to writing prompts to no avail, that they are creating writing on their own within the framework of my class. I understand that teachers should be happy with any writing that a student does regardless of the room location. But, the reality is that right now the students do not get to pick the writing prompt on the AIMS/Terra Nova. So allowing free and open discourse is wonderful if it somehow translated into the student being able to perform on the writing portion of the AIMS. I agree that that is an unfortunate reality but, I am paid by the state to abide by their guidelines and state mandated testing.

My second point, I would like to comment on is the notion that a network needs to fulfill a compelling need. The students who are interacting with the site need to feel that what they are contributing is not just “monkey work” that is work without a point work that is merely filling in time for the teacher and student. I believe that students will respond to items that they find important. As the author pointed out so eloquently you never know what that you create will take off. So when I create a social network site in my room I will be doing it with massive input from the students. I am pretty sure I am not going to do a great job sometimes, but there is the potential for getting it right eventually which will allow me to open up another part of the web 2.0 experience for my students.

My Space a Social Network Site

The phenomenon of the Social Network Sites (SNS) on the web has created a multitude of fits and starts with many sites emerging just long enough to create a spin-off site which then moved on to create yet another site. Many of the SNS are still around others are merely a footnote in the relatively short history of the Internet. The SNS that I have chosen to report on is My Space. It seems lately all I hear about this site is how bad it is and how little the site seems to care about the safety of the minors who are using their site. I wanted to know more about this site mainly because I tend to field more questions about this site that any other site in my technology class. Students invariably want to know why they cannot check on/work on their My Space page. However the authors (Boyd, Ellison, 2007) of the report on SNS seem to indicate that the unsafe nature of sites such as My Space seems to be somewhat over blown/reported. So I did a google search using the keywords My Space Issues. I received back 70,2000,000 hits the top most hit coming from the New York Times in a piece they reported on in 2007. So, I wonder has the furor over the predator issue been over blown or over reported? I am not sure but I do know that this particular site is number one on the hit list amongst parents I have talked to about Social Network Sites!

My Space was started hundreds of miles away from Silicon Valley in Santa Monica California just as another site Friendster was considering making some major changes that would eventually alienate it from some of its most ardent supporters. My Space apparently saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to attract the indie band segment of the Internet by embracing all bands and allowing them to use their site to promote themselves. This then attracted their fan base, which then attracted some teenagers to the site. Once this happened the site took off. My Space also enamored themselves with their users by allowing them to modify the look of their site with HTML code. The site also started to grow due to word of mouth and the ease of use their site promoted amongst the copy and paste generation that was looking for a site to express themselves on while keeping in touch with friends and musical groups.

My Space was eventually purchased for 580 million dollars in 2005. In the You Tube video “Shift Happens” the authors create a chart indicating how long it took various forms of communication media to reach a target audience of 50 million. Radio took approximately 38 years to reach this mark; television took 13 years the computer a mere 4 years to reach this target audience. The video goes on to point out that as of when the video was made there have been over 60,000,000 visitors to My Space since 2005, that 230,000 people signed up during the course of a day, and that if My Space were a country it would be the eighth largest in the world.

Yes, there are many opportunities for the internet to lead you astray, but the upside of the internet so outweighs the down side that ignoring the potential would be akin to standing in the ocean and trying to kick back the waves of the incoming tide. You will eventually expend all of your energy and the ocean will have swirled in around you and engulfed you.

I personally do not have a My Space/Facebook type of site mainly because I never considered the up side to getting myself out their in the web 2.0 experience. I will probably hold off a little longer mainly because I now have a blog site, a ning site, and a wiki. This has created a much more open side to me than I had even 3 weeks ago. I will stick with these for now and see where they take me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why A Wiki?!

Why I would include a wiki as one of the many tools I utilize in my classroom?
The main point that would encourage me to utilize a wiki in my class would be the opportunity for the students to directly impact my class. When I place a link to my wiki on my class intranet (within my classroom) site I will definitely encourage students who might not otherwise contribute in class the chance to add some information on their own. This will also allow the students the opportunity to influence the products being produced in the classroom in lieu of or along with whatever I am already teaching. I will also be empowering the students with an opportunity to inform other students about the “inner” workings of the computer lab from their own viewpoint. My content, as of now, will include the following: Home page-explaining the purpose of the wiki, Eighth grade assignments suggestions, Important dates, Keyboard shortcuts-information about keyboard shortcuts keys for both platforms, Procedures-for interacting with the computer lab, Seventh grade assignment suggestions, and finally, Sixth grade assignment suggestions.

While I am wholeheartedly behind the concept of a wiki, I am also a realist and I understand I will have to monitor the content of the wiki pages to guarantee the veracity of the content placed on it by the students. This will be an interesting experiment for sixth through eighth grade students to work on. Ultimately I would like to turn the maintenance as well as the development of the wiki over to the students. I may start out allowing select eighth grade students access to the pages, which would allow me to monitor their progress without 113 students deluging the wiki on a daily basis. Then I could roll out access (content input and editing) to the pages to the seventh grade students and finally the sixth grade students. This will be an interesting year! Students for the most part do a great job of monitoring themselves in other situations in the lab but, this potentially, will be the first time they will have an opportunity to delete, modify, or create content of their own while also potentially removing another students work. So, instead of going overboard on rules and guidelines the first time I will explain the concept of a wiki while also showing some of the You Tube videos that were suggested regarding the use and nature of a wiki.

Wikis in the Classroom

Wikis in the Classroom at Green Bay UW