Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thing #23 - Summarizing My Thoughts

Wow, what loads of fun this course has been for me. So many things to use which will certainly entertain us in the learning process next year. Here are some reflections:
1. What were some of my favorite discoveries or exercises? I have to say the Wiki hit me as the most useful as a tool to use in the class. By far it has the greatest potential for classroom collaboration. Writing this blog and maintaining it can serve as a great lesson plan format where students can come to retrieve assignments and post questions and concerns. Teacher Tube beats out You Tube for finding content to use in the classroom by far. Delicious is just that, delicious. I'll never have to worry about losing the URL because I'm not on my teacher computer again - a must for all. Google Docs and the free version of Office are great tools for students to have access to who cannot get them otherwise.
There were just too many things that I found both meaningful and useful. You did a great job of sorting through the plethora of 2.0 options out there for us to focus on.
2. How has this program assisted or affected my lifelong learning goals? This course has given me many useful tools to take back to work. As my campus technology trainer, I can now offer many courses which will benefit the teachers and staff as well - I hope you don't mind my doing that. Many of us still enjoy a classroom setting to learn things and the materials from this class are just too good not to share. I also now have modern tools to use in my classroom which will bring me up to the 21st century. I haven't taught students in 5 years, so these tools will give me an edge when creating interesting and relevant assignments.
3. Were there any take-aways or any unexpected outcomes from this that surprised me? The biggest surprise for me was that I completed an online course. I was hesitant to get started and even went by the library media services office to get a feel of being in a class. Once I got a grip on how the class operated, I was comfortable doing all this from home. Thank you Vaughn for your support and insight throughout this progam with your emails and posts to my blogs. As far as take-aways, this answers my concern from #2 above, I have classes to share with the teachers throughout the year now at MHS.
4. What could you do differently to improve upon this programs format? I think you have it there. I had trouble getting started, but once I grasped the big picture, the course flowed and was easy to navigate. Your introductions to each section were brief enough to gain a concept of what needed to be explored in each Thing and you gave good direction on what we were to discover.
5. If you offered another discovery program, would I participate? Without a doubt. I might wait until summer time to do it though as it is lengthy and my mind is much more alert during the day to open up to new ideas and tools.
6. How would I describe my learning experience in ONE WORD or ONE SENTENCE? Now that is just not right. I obviously ramble on to convey my thoughts, but here goes..."I have been totally enlightened by this experience."
7.) Go post - that I will do.

Thing #22 - Ning

I like the concept of being able to build your own social network. Currently we have Facebook as an option, but from what I've seen, the personal aspect of it can be much too distracting. While you can build groups in Facebook that serve well for certain things, you must open yourself up where students or colleagues can view your personal side. I found this unattractive and ended up dropping my work group because I was not comfortable with their "working" comments being viewed by all on my Wall. A few friends even commented, "Dude, what's with bringing work onto Facebook?"
Ning offers a good alternative to keep the personal stuff out. The group can focus on the objective of the group without being distracted. One thing though, by opening it up to so many, comments can get out of hand. For example, I saw one post with over 900 comments, that is just too much.
Now the resources available from the Educator Ning were good though. I enjoyed the classroom 2.0 site and the options it has. Again, the volume gets expansive, but at least it is focused on that area.
For simplicity, I might want to start with a Wiki for the class to focus on our classroom assignments and projects. I understand you can start a Ning with a limited group, but I find the editing components of a Wiki a bit more useful for student collaboration on a given topic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thing #21 - Podcasts and Videocasts

I played with Photostory and came up with a video on some photos I took up in the Texas Hill Country. This is a cool software program that is easy to use and fun to play with. There is a quirk with the voice recording section where you have to press NO on every picture to get it to work. You will probably have to go into your control panel, select audio devices, and make sure that your internal microphone is turned on. If you said YES when prompted by Photostory, it turns the microphone off. We need to check if there is an updated version to this software that has worked out this bug.

Audacity is another great cool to use if you want to provide strictly audio files. It can be used as a stand alone or it can be embedded into software applications which do not allow you to record, such as PowerPoint. I've been trying to post the sound file, but am also getting errors from I'll keep working on it.

Common Craft's web site has those nifty videos we've been watching that explain what some of the various 23 things are. It has many things which you can view for free while on their website, but if you want to use it, you have to buy it. I prefer the free things myself with the tight budget constraints that we have in education.

Thing #20 - You Tube, Teacher Tube and Zamzar

You Tube is filled with everything one can imagine. For this exercise, I choose a broadcasting blooper to emulate why certain rules and precautions need to be taken when conducting a live broadcast. (Fortunately, I don't plan on live broadcasts my first year and will look into the need for it as the school year progresses. I know SWHS goes live from time to time and I will investigate the need for this further. The SWHS Video Tech teacher will be my mentor for teaching this new course this year.)

Here is the You Tube video. I requested a file conversion from Zamzar and dowloaded the .avi file.

A major concern to note about You Tube, I did have trouble finding videos of this nature that did not contain foul language.

I found Teacher Tube to be much more useful than You Tube. The selection of videos was much more focused on the classroom with content appropriate for students. I selected the following video because it follows a format I would like to pursue with my classes. Although this is a group of junior high students, I believe the high school students can take it a step ahead.

An important factor with using Teacher Tube was that I was able to download the video and able to upload it on this blog without having to use Zamzar. One step less is more time saved. One noteworthy mention, uploading these videos onto my blog was very time consuming, especially during the processing time.

Finally, I found another reason why I will avoid live broadcasts which can be seen in the video that follows. Please note that my students are all 17-18 years old, I don't think I would share this with the younger ones.

This segment was emailed to me by a colleague. I obviously had too much fun with Thing #20.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thing #19 - Web 2.0 Awards List - Linked In

There are tons of of web 2.0 tools out there for us to use these days and I suppose the list will only grow. It only makes sense that the internet is no longer just for searching and retrieving information, but also for posting and collaborating. One does not need to become a webmaster to be able to participate these days.

I chose LinkedIn for this exercise to build my professional bio on line. With today's economy, one never knows when they will need to find that next job. My next door neighbor actually found employment using this site which brings it validation. I have also found that many of my colleagues in SBISD are now using the site as well.

Please feel free to view my profile on LinkedIn by clicking here and become a connection.

Thing #18 - Online Productivity Tools

Here are the answers to most everyone's prayers. A source for students who do not own Microsoft Office to be able to use and create documents on their home computers. It has ALWAYS been a problem sending students electronic assignments created with Microsoft Office. Many have old versions or none at all. Many student computers have Microsoft Works, which will not open in Office. Although you can get around by saving in .rtf or related formats, many times students forget to do this and are left unable to work on assignments until they go back home and resave their work. By using Open Office, this is no longer a problem. It's FREE for everyone.
Google Docs is a little bit different. Although you can work and edit on any computer, the format is a bit different than using traditional word processing software. It is on line, so the appearance is somewhat different than using a software application. I found that it also had limits when working with spreadsheets, but the basics are there. I have used this application with the district's Activ trainers group and it did serve it's purpose. For basic shared documents, I would rather use a Wiki myself.
Open Office is a prayer answered for all the low SES students we serve in our district who have a computer, but not the means to purchase costly software.

Thing #17 - Rollyo

Rollyo is a great way to save time and narrow your student's research on the internet for information. After creating an account, I made a search roll for AP testing, as this is a large part of my job. After putting in College Boards web address and conducting searches, I was happy to see that I could easily find the information I needed all within the confines of the College Board website.
As I search and find reputable sites for broadcast journalism, I can now create search rolls for the students which will keep them within the confines of certain periodicals which will have greater relevance for class.
Here is a link to my search roll on Rollyo.