Thing 22 – Social Networking

A social network is an online environment in which people connect around relationships, content, shared interests and ideas.  During this course, we have already encountered a number of sites and tools that incorporate social features such as tagging, commenting, user profiles and online groups, to add value.  Human beings have always been social learners, and, increasingly, we learn in digital networks as well as “real-life” networks (Paul, 2010).

Paul (2010) suggested networked learning is based on the belief that when one of us gets smarter, we all do.  When used effectively, online social networking can play a powerful role in both classroom and lifelong learning.  As Steve Hargadon describes, “Social Networks’ are really just collections of Web 2.0 technologies combined in a way that help to build online communities.”

Social media, and twitter in particular, is breaking down the barriers that previously prevented teachers from seeking out help from fellow teachers in other schools.  Nowadays, communication tools like twitter have allowed teachers to converse, exchange best practices, and even make friends with people around the globe (Edudemic, 2010).

I can see how Twitter will allow the members of our school to share information, pictures and videos in the world of education.  I can see how usable twitter can be as an educational tool to help colleagues make connections with teachers and hopefully learn something new, without the need to attend out of school conferences and workshop.  Twitter will allow our schools staff to maintain contact and read updates on all forms of instructional strategies.

Thing 23 – Where Do We Go From Here?

This Web 2.0 journey has truly been an eye opening experience.  I would like to begin by thanking Ms. Debbie Gaskins for being an exceptional 21st Century Technology Coordinator for our district.  She constantly looks for new tools and ways to engage and upgrade Camden High School’s faculty and staff member’s technology skills, and provides us with educational opportunities that will assist teachers in developing the best technical instructional strategies for teaching our students.

I would also like to thank Ms. Shelly Paul for having the foresight and wisdom to create the Web 2.0 course, sharing the vest wealth of knowledge with all interested educators.  We are very thankful for her patience and understanding as it relates to the inconveniences that you encounter with regards to not receiving your payment in a timely matter.  We are partly controlled by the New Jersey State Department of Education, and therefore we must go through a three tier process for approval to spent funds, (school, district business office, and State) this procedure sometimes prolongs the payment process.

The course content was remarkable, as a business/computer educator it has solidified how important it is for teachers to be life long learners, and that urban educators in particular must drive this concept home by modeling this behavior for our students. so that they realize that this should be a natural way of thinking for them as they move into their adult phase of life, and that learning should not stop when they graduate from high school.

Comment 1/ Slide 1:

Web 2.0 is a wealth of resourceful tools which can help teachers to make their instructional learning fun, exciting, and allows students to be an active participant in the learning process.  The world is changing everyday, thanks to the Internet and social networking tools such as Twitter, FaceBook, and MySpace.  Students and teachers have the opportunity to interact with schools and classrooms world wide.

Teachers and schools need to change their approach to how they deliver instruction in the 21st Century, if they are going to provide students with the necessary tools they will need to be successful productive workers.  Educator’s can’t continue to conduct business as they have during the past century.  The one style of delivering instruction fits all mentality does not work with today’s learners.

If we want students to be responsible and effective users of Web 2.0 tools, we must first, insure that they have the opportunity to explore and use these tools, and secondly, we must model the desired behavior for our students, and monitor their activity daily to make certain that are they using correct behaviors.

Comment 2/ Slide 2:

The past ten week experience has allowed me to reflect on my short comings as a technology instructor.  During this class I have discovered a wealth of new knowledge and techy resources which have sprouted new ideas and perspectives regarding mys student’s project-based activities.  Experimenting with the Web 2.0 technology tools, which I dismissed as non-educational tools, and which I only thought of as social recreational devices with no educational value or impact on student academic achievement.  However,  after exploring these Web 2.0 tools, I can now see the many beneficial values of  Web 2.0 tool such as Blogs, wikispace, podcast, and social networking tools like Twitter, FaceBook, and MySpace, I also better understand that these tools should be the driving components in every 21st Century classroom.

I plan on using many of the Web 2.0 tools to help make my classroom environment and project-based assignments more engaging, challenging and exciting for my students.  While I can see all of the tools discovered in this class being used in my Computer Graphics and Office Systems classes, it is my belief that the most valuable tools we will use will be video (slideshow), podcasting, blogging, and GooglDocs devices.

Thing 7C – Google Reader Article

The Google Reader article that I found interesting was entitled 11 Techy Things for Teachers To Try This Year, by Richard Byrne.  Mr. Byrne is the designer of Freed Technology for Teachers, which is a free resource and lesson plans for teaching with technology blog website.

This article helped to solidify how important it is for educators to continue to be life long learners in this ever changing technology drive 21st Century.  It also supported the values of the Web 2.0 course’s content and showed me that my decision to take the class was a wise investment of my time.

In his writing, Mr. Byrne indicated that educators across the country are getting ready to start a new school year, if they haven’t already done so, and teachers should have set a goal to try to do something new in our classrooms this year.  He gives a list of eleven techy things teachers should try during in the 2010 – 2011 school year (Byrne, 2010):

  1. Build a Blog or Build a Better Blog – blogs can serve many purposes for teachers.  You can use a blog to communicate information to parents and students.  You can use a blog to create a running journal of classroom activities and lessons throughout the year.  Blogs can be used by students to record and reflect on their own learning.  Make your students contributing authors on a class blog and have them write a weekly reflection on their own learning.  Three good platforms for classroom blogging are, Blogger, Edublogs, and Kid Blog.
  2. Build a Wiki With Your Students – Building pages on a wiki is a great way for students to record and share knowledge about topics they’ve researched.  Teachers and students can also use wikis to create digital portfolios.  Students can create and edit their own pages to show-off the work they’re most proud of.  Wikispaces, PB Works, and Wet Paint provide free wiki hosting.
  3. Build a Website – Try building your own website.  On your website you can include calendars of  assignments due dates (try Google Calendar), post reference videos and documents for students and parents, and even collect assignments.  Building a website used to be a difficult process.  That is not the case anymore.  There are many free website creation and hosting services on the web.  Three websites creation and hosting services you might want to try are Weebly, Webs, and Yola.
  4. Create Videos Without Purchasing Any Equipment – A video is a powerful form of communication.  In the past you needed expensive editing software and other equipment to engage your students in these types of projects.  Today, anyone with access to the web can make a high quality video production.  Two good web-based video creation services are Animoto and JayCut.
  5. Create Maps To Tell A Story – Maps are obviously useful for Social Studies teachers, but did you know that you can also use multimedia maps to tell a story?  Google Maps and Google Earth can both be used to create a multimedia story.  Try having your students write the biography of a famous person by plotting points on a map and adding text, images, and videos about that person to each placemark.  Some good websites to visit for ways and ides for activities are:  Google Lit Trips, Maths Maps, Google For Teachers, and Google Earth Across the Curriculum.
  6. Try Backchanning In Your Classroom – A backchannel is another name for a chat room in which your students type their questions and comments whenever they have them.  You can address those questions and comments immediately, have students reply to each other, or address the questions when time permits.  Learn more about uses of backchannels in my presentation about using backchannels in the classroom.  Some more school-friendly services that can be used to host backchannels:  Today’s Meet, Chatzy, Edmodo, and Present.ly.
  7. Join a Socal Network for Your Professional Development – Social networks can be used for much more than just sharing pictures of your kids with your old high school friends.  Twitter, Classroom 2.0, and the Educators PLN are great places to connect with other teachers around the world.  Use these connections to gather ides for improving you lesson plans, share and find great web resources, and perhaps virtually connect your classrooms to another classroom.
  8. Use an Online Service to Save Your Bookmarks – Using an online bookmarking service allows you to access all of your favorite websites from any internet-connected computer anywhere.  Three good bookmarking services to try are: Diigo, Delicious, or Google Bookmarks.  Learn more about online bookmarking services in this video from Common Craft.  Learn how to use Google Bookmarks in my free publication Google for Teachers II.
  9. Get Your Students Searching More Than Just Google.com – Give students a research assignment and the first place that most of them go is to Google.com.  There’s nothing wrong with that, however, they may not find the best possible information.  Other alternatives are to introduce your students to Google Wonder Wheel and Google Timeline.   They are refinement tools built into Google Search, which are two of Google’s advance search options.  If your students are searching for information that contains numerical data such as distance and time introduce them to Wolfram Alpha.  Learn more about internet search strategies and tools in my free publication Beyond Google.  To learn how to build your own search engine try my free publication Google for Teachers II.
  10. Have Your Students Create Podcast – Creating podcast is a great way for students to preserve oral histories or to hear themselves practicing a foreign language.  Audacity and Apple’s Garage Band are excellent platforms for recording podcasts.  Free podcast host are PodBean and Blubrry.
  11. Eliminate Inbox Overload – Get all of your students using Google Docs or Zoho Writer this year to eliminate the need for them to send you document attachments.  Simply have them share their documents with you.  You can edit their documents and grade their documents without having to open attachments.  Using Google Docs or Zoho Writer eliminates issues associated with students sending attachments that you cannot open.  Getting your students to use these two services will save a lot of email storage space (Bryne, 2010).

Because, Shelly Paul our instructor and the Web 2.0 course’s content gave me an opportunity to explore and experiment with many of the eleven techy things mentioned in Mr. Byrne’s article.  I know that I can accomplish my goal of trying new things with my students this year.  I feel empowered and read to step outside of the box, in order for me to provide a more enriching, engaging, and challenging educational experience for my students.

Thing 21 – Pageflakes

Pageflakes is a “custom start page” application that allows users to customize web content by adding and organizing any number of links, RSS feeds, podcast, search tools, and useful embeddable objects (also known as widgets, gadgets, and, in this instance “flakes”0, such as calendars, notepads, to-do list, videos and calculators, each in its own container(uh,”flake”).  Each “flake” can be dragged and dropped around the page the page for ultimate customization.  Thus, unlike a “typical” RSS reader or podcatcher.  Pageflakes stores each feed or subscription inside its own customized container on the page, then allows the user to mix in all sorts of other goodies (Paul, 2010).

I explored some of the same snowflake sites that you listed, however, I found them to be to busy and cluttered, with little or no instructions giving students, parents, or visitors, any understanding of the pages content or purpose.  I will revisit these items at a later date, when my mind and head or clearer, maybe then I will be able to see the instructional benefits.

Thing 20 – Online Office: Getting Started with Google Docs

One of the “hallmarks” of Web 2.0 technology is the idea of the Internet becoming not just “a place we go,” but an application, allowing users to perform “software” tasks (such as word processing and image editing) online, inside a web browser.  Probably the best example of this trend is the development of several online office suites, including ThinkFree, Zoho Office and Google Docs, which all users to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, for free.

While it doesn’t include every advanced feature of traditional desktop office software, Google docs has many features including some that traditional desktop software can’t match.  And they are always adding new features.  Here are a few of the highlights (Paul, 2010):

  • It’s free
  • It’s easy
  • Documents are stored online and accessible from any computer
  • It’s compatible with Microsoft Office (and other file formats)
  • It offers built-in revision history
  • Chat feature Google spreadsheets allow users to discuss a file while working on it. Google presentations allows viewers to discuss the presentation while watching it online!
  • Instant forms
  • Many sharing and publishing options (2010)

Because I am a business/computer technology educator, and we constantly use Microsoft software products in the business department as teaching tools.  I found that there were a lot of similarities between GoogleDoc and Microsoft’s word, excel, and powerpoint features.

However, I was impressed with GoogleDocs ability to allow for the sharing and editing of documents by multiple users at the same time.  I can see how this tool and the sharing process can be beneficial to my students when they are working on group project activities and assignments.  It will also help me, allowing me to see who in the group has provided input and when.  I can also see that GoogleDoc can be of service to me during the grading of my students work, as Ms. Paul stated during her overview of Thing 20/GoogleDoc – Online Office:  Getting Started with Google Docs, it will save me time and effort, cutting down on the number of emails received and attachments that are need to be opened and resent.

As department chairperson of Camden High School’s Business Department, I will be highly recommending to my departmental colleagues that we convert to using GoogleDoc to produce our student’s assignment documents, even if we continue to use Microsoft as our teaching tool.  I will also be suggesting that the members of our Career Academy Small Learning Community Executive Planning Team convert to using GoogleDoc, as we are constantly required to review, edit, and upgrade each academies educational binder throughout the year.  In fact it would have been very helpful had we known about this great tool during our three planning period this past summer.  I truly enjoyed reviewing this tool and foresee Google and I becoming very good friends in the near future.

Thing 19 Video: A Tale of Two Tubes – Video Sharing in the Classroom

Technology Education Is More Than Computer Classes For Kids.

The Academies of Nashville Signing Event

Teachers have been using video to supplement classroom instruction for decades.   Online video sharing is big business, and it makes classroom video use cheaper, more convenient, and more customized, as long as you can find quality content amidst the junk.  Like other Web 2.0 tools, video sharing sites enable users (for better or worse) to easily publish content to the web.  YouTube, the most popular video sharing site on the web, currently garners about 20-30 Million visitors a day from the US alone (Paul, 2010).

TeacherTube is a video sharing website similar to, and based on, YouTube.  TeacherTube was launched, on March 6, 2007 and was initiated by Jason Smith a Superintendent from Melissa, Texas and his wife Jodie and younger brother Adam (American Institute for History Teaching, 2010).

American Institute for History Teaching (2010) for suggested TecherTube was designed to allow those in the educational industry, particularly teachers to share educational resources such as video, audio, documents, photos, groups and blogs.  The site contains a mixture of classroom teaching resources and others designed to aid teachers training.  A number of students have also uploaded videos that they have made as part of K-12 and college courses.  As of July 2008, the website contained over 26,000 videos.  As of March 2010, TeacherTube has over 525,000 plus educational members and over 200,000 educational videos.  It has found favour with educators for whom YouTube content is blocked by their districts content filtering systems (American Institute for History Teaching, 2010).

I see a lot of potential for using YouTube activities in my classroom and as a professional development tool for my colleagues.  I enjoyed experimenting with the YouTube website, it was filled with a lot of information related to my instructional content areas of business and computer studies .  I plan to use YouTube technology with my students to develop project presentation activities, moving them away from the standard PowerPoint presentations.  Therefore, I will be researching and gathering more data on how to create and publish YouTube videos to help upgrade and enhance my YouTube user skill development.

Thing 18 – Podcast Using Windows Sound Recorder, iTunes and Podbean

A podcast consists of an audio file(in mp3 format) published to the web and an RSS feed (an XML file) that allows listeners to subscribe to your podcast using an RSS reader or podcatcher.

Technologically, producing a podcast is actually pretty easy.  There are lots of free podcast hosting sites on the web, and many services available to help you host your own podcast and create the appropriate RSS feed.  there are “pod-safe” music sites, offering Creative Commons-licensed music to enhance your podcast.  There are scores of recording devices, software options, and production tools to help you create polished, professional-sounding audio (Paul, 2010).

Producing a quality podcast is not so easy.  When you are ready to begin podcasting with your students you will find the real work lies in planning, writing, editing, developing quality content, rehearsing and creating meaningful assessments.  Just as blogging begins with reading, prodcasting should begin with listening (Paul, 2010).

I enjoyed developing my beginner’s podcasting skills.  The only problem that I encountered was trying to embed the podcast into my blog.  I copied the code and embedded it into the HTML window, however it would not play; however, it did play on the Podbean website.

I plan to strengthen my podcasting skills, because I would like for my Computer Graphics students to create podcast advertising campaign projects this school year.  I also see were we can use podcast as technique for delivery professional development activities for our colleagues.

Thing 16 – LibraryThing/Where Books Meet Web 2.0

LibraryThing is cataloging and social networking site for book lovers.  LibraryThing helps you create a library-quality catalog of books: books you own, books you’ve read, books you’d like to read, books you’ve lent out….whatever grouping you like.

Since all users catalog online, they also catalog together.  Each user can contribute togs, ratings and reviews for a book, and common knowledge (facts about a book or author, like character names and awards) as well as participate in member forums or join the early reviews program.  Everyone gets the benefit of everyone else’s work.  LibraryThing connects people based on the books they share.  LibraryThing does not buy, lend or sell books online.

I plant to introduce this website to my students because a lot of them enjoy reading, and this is a good way for them to share their favorite books.

Thing 15 – Social Bookmarking with Delicious

Delicious is a popular social bookmarking site (of which there are dozens) that allows internet users to store all of their saved websites (a.k.a “favorites” or “bookmarks”) online, so that they are accessible from any internet–enabled computer.  Users can organize their sites using tags (user-defined keywords), and descriptions.  The “social” aspect comes from the fact that users’ bookmarks and gags are publicly browsable and searchable. Users can also subscribe to others’ bookmark collections or to specific tags to create a personal resource network.  Delicious tags are an example of a folksonomy, or user-created organizational structure (Shelly, 2010).

This site was very helpful.  I can see using it for student research (data gathering) for project-based activities in my computer classes.  For my colleagues, I feel that it will be a good Web 20 tool for recommending instructional professional development in-servicing.

Using the delicious to bookmark websites will allow our staff and students to access their favor/bookmark sites from anywhere in the building as well as from home.

Thing 7b – Google Reader Article Serious Game Reveiw: Do I Have A Right

The Google Reader article which I found interesting was Serious Game Review:  Do I Have A Right? By Alan Reid.  “Do I Have A Right?” is an interactive we-based game that focus on the Constitution of the United States and the rights of US Citizens by having the user manage a law firm.  The game does not specify a target audience, but given the content, it is most likely aimed towards elementary and middle school grade levels.  The ultimate intention is to educate its user on the rights guaranteed to US citizens in the constitution by presenting him or her with real world scenarios of law cases and their courtroom verdicts.  Successful defending a client in accordance with his/her rights results in a courtroom and an increase in “prestige” points, with which you can afford to hire more lawyers with different expertise.  The host site for the game offers a teacher guide to accompany the game play (http://www.ourcourts.org/our-courts-pdf-library/DIHR_Game_Guide_v2.pdf), and a corresponding lesson plan on interpreting the constitution (http://www.ourcourts.org/our-courts-pdf-library/Interpreting_The_Constitution.pdf).

As a technology educator, who has the opportunity to see daily how technology helps to get students engaged into the educational learning process, and the direct impact it has on helping to enhance the academic achievement of most children, no matter what their learning style.  I would recommend to colleagues that they try to infuse gaming software and others forms of technology-driven real world hands-on activities into their instructional bag of assignments and projects.