Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tools On My Belt

OK, No more surfing/procrastinating...time to write some thoughts on the week. I seem to feel overwhelmed every week with regard to the amount of information I need to learn about. I want to play more with some of the more interesting tools I am learning about such as Flickr. I have my undergrad in design, so I feel I should be using my love of art, design and photography for educational purposes like presentations, lessons and to develop visual literacy skills in students. I will try to include some nice visuals in my power point.

It was great to learn more on search tools and techniques this week, as there are so many ways to find information. Searchme and TinEye were new features that I look forward to trying out when I get the chance. I also want to spend some time checking out some of the google apps that I had not heard of before, like google notebook, google groups and google alert. I did check out google news sites and was impressed with the vast coverage of news from various sources, including blogs. I bookmarked this site and expect to use it often, if not daily for news. Google also impressed me greatly with Lit Trips for education. This is a great way for students to increase their understanding and interest in a story, and also provides geographical context to the literature.

Lastly, I think I learned quite a bit about the social bookmarking tools that we are using through the readings and discussions. Most seem to prefer Diigo, but I find delicious easy to use as well. I'm not sure if it makes sense to have them both, but maybe eventually I will designate one, such as Diigo for educational information and groups, and use delicious for personal interests. I can access them both from my iPhone too, so for now I will continue to use them both. I am also continuing to add interesting sites and blogs to my google reader acct. I just need a little more leisurely reading time to enjoy them.

Off to another busy week...hop, hop, hop!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Line Conferences and the Social Web

This week was full of new information, mostly absorbed through online conferences. I spent a lot of time viewing and taking notes on the content of many different web 2.0 technology tools for learning. I also noted the presentation features that I liked or did not like so I might consider these features when creating my own presentation. I found I had little time to work on the power point with the readings, conferences and discussions that I needed to participate in. I also had a great deal of reading and a lesson plan to develop for another class. Hopefully the week ahead will allow me some time to work exclusively on my power point. Despite my concerns about my work load, I did feel that I learned a great deal this week and I would much rather gain as much as possible from my classes than to work for just a day and be done for the week. I wished I had more time to view online conferences and will try to come back to them again when I have some time. I also liked the article by Doug Johnson on copyright. He is all for protection of copyright-when it makes sense! I like reading about this topic from him because he admits that much of the expectations on Fair Use are unreasonable and thinks too much control is in the hands of the creator.

I also enjoyed reading Will Richardsons chapter on the Social Web and learned much more about tools that I have been using like Diigo, Delicious and Twitter. I honestly did not know what the difference was between Diigo and Delicious. It seems that Diigo is primarily about saving content and Delicious is really great for sharing links in the easiest way possible. A feature that I had figured out for myself on Diigo is the ability to find someone who has bookmarked a site that I am interested in to find more links and resources for information that I need. As Will put it, "It's like someone else doing the research for you". I always love his enthusiasm. His book will not be sold after this class is over as he has taught me so much and I need to try more of the tools and features that he has discussed in his book. Now that I have his Twitter name, I will add him to the list of people that I follow-that should be interesting. I also should check his blog this week! So much information, so little time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WebQuests and Power Points

I made a decision, finally! The topics that I chose from are all somewhat new to me, so I need to learn them all, but know little about any. I have not read much on webquests and I do think they are a very useful tool for the students learning to use the web for research, so this is what I propose to work on. The Bernie Dodge website has so much information, that it is almost overwhelming. He is the expert on this learning tool though, so I am glad he has provided this comprehensive resource. I must admit that I am nervous about this project as it will take me a long time to put together and I have no experience with creating power points. On the bright side, I will have learned so much.

I also have been working on the iSafe modules and am at the point of implementation. I need to select my class size and grade level, which seems odd, as I do not have a class to work with. I hope I am doing this correctly? I need to get back to this program and clarify the directions. Thank goodness tomorrow will be a quiet day in my home. Weekends are a wash!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Power Points, RSS and Wiki's

Although I did finally get through all the tutorials on power points, I feel it will take doing one to actually know what to do. I did have some trouble keeping up with Dan's podcast, as I played around with the tools of the PP, but eventually found all the items he mentioned. It was hard to take notes, while doing this on the print out of the power point! I am likely one of the few in my course that has never learned how to use PP and now I am anxious to get my project started to ensure that I will have enough time to work through this new technology. My eleven year old laughs at me and says they are sooo easy...we'll see!

I enjoyed reading the chapter in Richardson on RSS feeds. He is an excellent writer with the way he inspires you to try using these new web 2.0 tools. The RSS feed should be helpful for me in organizing the growing quantity of information that I need to keep up with and will save me the time of looking for updated posts and articles. I plan to add more to my google reader account in the coming weeks.

I found myself contemplating the article "Wiki Woman: How a Web Tool Saved My Career" by Grace Rubenstien as I rode my bike through miles of country roads today. I like how she stated that she wanted to challenge the students to find answers on their own. This is an important skill, that will help them not only for the science class they are currently working in, but for their future learning endeavors as well. Students had the chance to share what they know in this wiki and to collaborate and learn from their classmates. Teaching and learning in wiki's can be a more creative, authentic learning experience, that students enjoy! I continue to think I should try creating a wiki for my bike group as a way to practice using one for future educational purposes. I could create a calendar of upcoming rides with links to starting locations, the routes, photo's, road safety, youtube videos on bicycle maintenance, bike shops, touring groups, my bike blog, etc. I would also have a discussion board, where the group could talk about ideas for future rides, problems encountered on rides, carpool connections, upcoming birthdays or special events-the possibilities are endless!

So, going back to this article, I read the comments that followed and was struck by one that I thought made an excellent point in response to a post about how wiki's for the classroom will not work because some students do not have home computers. The responding commentator related this excuse to not giving a student, in the past, an assignment because they might not have an encyclopedia at home. That would not happen, as the student would be expected to use a library where encyclopedias are available. The same can be done today with regard to access to computers. So, no more excuses-web 2.0 technologies can be used in most schools today, especially if a library is within a reasonable distance.