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Updated: 2018-03-06T10:56:25.559-08:00


Professional Development that Works?


"THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF EFFECTIVE STAFF DEVELOPMENT 1. THOU SHALT BE A VISIBLE LEARNER 2. THOU SHALT TREAT ALL INDIVIDUALS INDIVIDUALLY 3. THOU SHALT FIND YOUR OWN VOICE 4. THOU SHALT SEE THINGS AS THEY OUGHT TO BE 5. THOU SHALT MODEL THE MODEL " - (unknown author)I look forward to professional development days because usually I get to choose what it is that I want to learn about. In the past, this has meant that I could focus on some aspect of English or social studies - I definitely wouldn't consider anything to do with technology because I felt that I was competent, and that students would figure this out for themselves. I can look back on this now and laugh at how truly closed-minded I was. However, sometimes I don't have a choice as to what I am doing on these days because the decision is made for me by the school administration and pro-d person. Often times, this was frustrating because it meant that we were once again learning about some aspect of Microsoft Word, or worse yet, we were going to be reviewing how to use our marks program (which I was already very familiar and comfortable with). There would be the typical grumbling of frustrated staff members who were competent in these areas, and usually by after lunch there seemed to be noticeably fewer people in the session.The best decision that I made with regards to professional development came two years ago when I played with the idea of pursuing my Masters. This was a tough decision in that I had to figure out how to juggle the many different aspects of my real life while trying to fit in coursework. Then someone mentioned to me that there were universities which offered online courses. Great, but likely not in the area of librarianship which is where I was hoping to go. I mean seriously, how can you offer an online course that deals with being a librarian? After all, a librarian doesn't have that much to do with computers. Oh, how WRONG I was!Since I have started doing coursework, my brain has been thinking again, and I have a new enthusiasm for sharing what I am learning with my colleagues. I have learned much more in the courses that I have taken than in any form of pro-d that I have participated in. Why is that?Simple, because I:was able to choose my pro-d can fit it in to my schedulehave, for the length of the course, a professional learning communityam immersed in technologyam encouraged to check out new sites, tools, etc. by my classmates and professoram constantly revisiting what I have learned about through assignments, projects and discussions.This scenario has worked for me, but when it comes to pro-d, one size doesn't fit all, as we read about in the articles of the same title. In Judi Harris' 4 part series entitled "One size doesn't fit all," she refers to educational technology professional development (ETPD) and she believes that "[g]iven whatever amount of times is already allocated . . . . we can 'work smarter' in designing effective [ETPD]." She proposes several different models that can be used and links them to goals and the ultimate effect that this has on one's teaching style. It makes sense to have different models to suit different school situations even though the desired end result may be the same for many schools. Two points that she makes in the February 2008 article that I think are essential considerations when implementing ETPD are that:"[b]efore most teachers are willing to integrate the use of new tools or resources into their teaching, they need to recognize the relative advantages of doing so" "continued on-site support as [teachers] experiment with new tools and techniques in their classrooms is essential to ensuring continued and productive use of new tools and ideas."We know this to be true in any scenario, not just education; however, it seems to be the most true in education because teaching is such an isolated profession that doesn't require people to change in order to keep up with the the day-to-day life of a school. Without support, or continual contact with someone (a mentor, colleague or t-l) who is working with[...]

Technology in the classroom


"With these [digital] tools, students act like scientists and innovators, rather than serve as empty vessels. They arrive at their own conclusions through controlled experimentation and what scientists call enlightened trial and error." Marc PrenskyIntegration of technology in the classroom is not easy for most educators, despite the inspiring articles that were part of this week's readings, and the discussion that ensued. There are many obstacles that need to be overcome such as financial barriers, lack of access, training and perhaps one of the biggest deterrents - lack of time. Many educators would agree that it is essential in today's digital world to be able to integrate technology into classroom instruction in a meaningful way. In order for this to occur successfully, an environment similar to that of the Hong Kong International School as discussed in David and Margaret Carpenter's article "All Aboard!" needs to be consciously created where they "harnessed the talents and time of various stakeholders through a carefully orchestrated and collaborative process." Clearly this is an example of an ideal situation where the school and its administration valued innovative uses of technology, and therefore provided a select group of educators, which included "the instructional technologist, the library media specialist, and the gifted-and-talented coordinator," the time to collaborate and evaluate curriculum.Pedagogically it does not suffice just to throw in a random lesson including technology here and there as the class moves through the curriculum. In a close-to-ideal situation, teachers would be provided with basic technology such as a computer (or perhaps several) and an LCD projector in the classroom. This would allow them to begin to incorporate some web-based images and videos into their lessons, and teachers could enhance the "teachable" moments that often arise. Not only would teachers' lessons be enhanced, but invariably students' interest and understanding of what is being taught would increase.I think the key to successful integration of technology is for teachers to be exposed (through pro-d, or after school sessions) to one or two digital tools and then they should be encouraged to go away for a few weeks or months, and play with it in their classrooms. Certain grades or departments could support each other by sharing how they are using the technology in their classrooms. The best case scenario is when a teacher who is meeting with success using technology, as a means to reach curricular objectives, is able to share with and mentor a colleague. The organic benefit of having something develop from within as opposed to being delivered top down lends itself well to both quality and staying power. This idea is further reinforced by the TeacherTube video demonstrating how Keri Hem, a preservice teacher, plans to use Google Earth to teach a social studies lesson. Her description of how she plans to use this tool for her lesson shows a how she will seamlessly integrate technology, and she gave me many ideas that I can work from with my social studies classes. Not having ever used Google Earth before, I am intrigued by what it can offer me and my students. Further to this was the video found at Edutopia which was a great example of how one school has integrated technology in all aspects across the curriculum, creating authentic learning experiences for its students. These visual examples are excellent resources which could be shared with colleagues to encourage the integration of technology.Ultimately, as educators, we need to be able to move away from twentieth-century teaching practices and embrace what the twenty-first century has to offer us and our students. If we are not using technology, then it is entirely likely that we are not engaging or adequately preparing our learners. Speaking from the perspective of a teacher who up until recently was afraid of integrating technology into the classroom, it is entirely possible to learn about new digital tools and to use them with confidenc[...]

Does Privacy Matter?


“Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite.” Marlon BrandoI am a firm believer in privacy. I have made several conscious decisions about what information I do and do not share about myself on the Internet. Not only that, but because I am a private person, and despite all of the hype surrounding social networking sites, I have chosen not to join one. I am generally quite cautious about what I use the Internet for, and as a result, this week's topic gave me a few more reasons to feel comfortable in my decision not share all with the World Wide Web.I began my exploration of this week's topic with the YouTube videos about Google and its efforts to maintain its user's privacy. I found these videos informative because I really didn't understand the function of IP addresses and cookies. At least now I have a better understanding of what these are and how they identify my computer. I, perhaps naively, found these videos reassuring in that they seemed to indicate that people's privacy was important to Google, and that they were making efforts to ensure privacy. However, with all of the security measures that the U.S.A. has implemented in recent years, one has to wonder if these videos are only a means to pacify members of society who are questioning what information is being collected about them.Most importantly, I had a chance to think about the privacy of my students, which is of utmost importance to me. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner makes a good point when it states that "[w]hile many young people recognize the risks associated with their online activities, they lack the knowledge and the tools to mitigate those risks." Working with high school students, this is very evident to me. Almost daily I am surprised with what my students are willing to reveal or share about themselves on line. Not only that, but they freely admit that they do not read the privacy policies, because they are confident that there is nothing for them to worry about because so many people are using the same sites that they are joining. Beliefs such as these concern me, and I try my best to explain to students that they should be wary about what they share, because once the information is on the Internet, it is almost impossible to revoke it. I am very aware of my students' privacy, and since I have been trying to implement/use many of the Web 2.0 applications that are available to me, I have had to come up with some ways to ensure that they are able to use these "collaborative" tools in a somewhat "private" way. When using blogs, VoiceThread and Animoto with my students, I ask them to use only their first names and last initial to identify themselves. I do not allow students to post a photo of themselves on Blogger or VoiceThread, rather I ask them to find a photo on the Internet that represents them (I will have to remember to encourage them to use Creative Commons photos from now on). I have all of my students' blogs connected to my Bloglines, but I have them listed as private so not everyone can view what my students are writing.When students set up their blogs they adjust their settings so that search engines cannot find their blogs, and their blogs are not added to Blogger's listings.Having students set up these applications using the above criteria does limit the "collaborative" aspect of Web 2.0, but because I am still "playing" with these tools, I haven't worked out all of the details yet.What I have come to realize after this week's readings, is that it is up to me and other educators to teach students about online safety and privacy. Even though our students are digital natives, we can't expect them to know everything about the digital world. I appreciated Doug Johnson's sage advice in the Bloggers Cafe article "Lighting Lamps", and I think that I will share these points with my students:Write assuming your boss [mom, teacher, friend] is readingGripe globally; praise locallyWrite for edited publicationsWrite out of good[...]

Intellectual Property - Free or Not?


This week's topic has been a brutal slap in the face for me, as I became aware of the fact that I, quite unintentionally, have not been appropriately respectful of intellectual property. First of all, according to Wherry as quoted in Butler's article "Social Responsibility: Intellectual Property Defined," intellectual property is "the fruit of one's intellect." This definition wasn't quite enough for me, so I looked a little further. The World Intellectual Property Organization provided me with a much more detailed definition: "Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce." Once I knew this, and started to read a couple of the articles, it became obvious to me that I have been a copyright offender, and as a result so have my students. Let me explain. . . The Internet has been a great tool for teachers in allowing them to enhance projects and lessons in many ways. It has helped to enhance my lessons by giving me access to literally millions of articles, poems, song lyrics, and so on, which can be easily printed and copied. I have used these to develop synthesis response questions for my senior English students; lessons on analysis of song lyrics, using these same lyrics as links to periods in history, and as springboards for class discussions, and this is only a short list of how I have used the Internet's "treasures" in my lessons. I have freely used the works of others without asking their permission; however, I have always credited the sources, but according to copyright laws, this is not enough. As for my students, I can't count the times when I have allowed them to include graphics from the Internet for their projects such as powerpoints and posters. In fact, I have encouraged them to use graphics to make their projects aesthetically pleasing. At the same time, I have insisted that they copy and paste the URL where they have taken these from, but after this week's discussion, I realize that this does not quite cover it when it comes down to copyright laws.I am still a little confused when it comes to copyright on the Internet, and I clearly need to do some more research/reading when it comes to this topic. For example, when I have my students do their poetry analysis project are they not allowed to use music lyrics from the Internet, or use other poems posted there? I am also not quite sure about the pre-Creative Commons materials. How difficult or easy is it to make contact with people who posted materials on the Internet 7 years ago? Unfortunately, there are numerous pictures on the Internet (Flickr is a prime example) that might be great to include in student or teacher works, but cannot be used because permission is not granted in time for the project's completion. The difficulty arises when the original owners of the work no longer visit or check the site where they originally posted their materials. This past week I made a concerted effort to only use materials covered under Creative Commons - this was not easy! Partly because this is a relatively new form of dealing with intellectual property, so there still isn't that much out there. However, I did find an article that had a Creative Commons licence, for my discussion on moral dilemma's, and this tied in nicely with the short story "Just Lather, That's All" that I teach in grade 12. So, I realize it is not impossible to find materials that support my teaching, but it is certainly more time consuming. What this means for me, and for my colleagues who adhere to Creative Commons, is that we need to allow ourselves enough time to sift through the information located on the Web. We also need to make ourselves aware of websites that promote Creative Commons.As for students, I believe many students understand what plagiarism is, but I agree with Tammy Morris' perspective in "Do Students Respect Intellectual Property?" that they do not necessarily understand the issues surroundi[...]

Bridging the Digital Divide


"The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential." Steve BallmerBefore getting too far into this post, I have to admit that I really didn't know what the digital divide referred to until I read the wikipedia definition. I was under the false impression that it was more to do with the divide between digitally aware students and digitally unaware educators. Was I ever wrong! Although, I do believe it is possible that digitally unaware educators can contribute to the digital divide. I really liked the simple, yet straightforward model that shows the "four levels of influence that take the form of 'digital divides' in schools" found at the AASLBlog Web 2.0 in Schools: Our Digital Divides Are Showing! So, for this post, I am going to focus on this model and ways in which we can bridge the digital divide by addressing each level.* Access - This seems to be one of the largest areas of the digital divide, and there was much information to mull over on this topic, as I began to think outside of my relatively urban community, and contemplate what ICT access or lack of access could mean for students who live in more rural and remote areas of Canada (I am going to narrow my focus to Canadian children, as the global digital divide is such a huge issue). The realization that came to me as I read the 2003 study The digital divide in Canadian schools: factors affecting student access to the use of information technology is that there is a difference between access to computers and access to the Internet. It hadn't really crossed my mind that there are still some schools that use computers as "glorified typewriters" because they are still unable to access the Internet. This clearly puts these students and teachers at a disadvantage in many aspects, in particular when it comes to all of the collaborative web tools available. However, upon further investigation, I had some hope that perhaps access was becoming less of an issue, as I came across Canadian Internet Use Survey completed in 2007. According to this study, the access to the Internet numbers are slightly higher than shown in the 2005 study, with "65% of residents living in small towns or rural areas access[ing] the Internet, well below the national average, while just over three-quarters (76%) of urban residents d[o] so." This study only looked at home access, so I would assume that students would have access at school.Further to the access to technology issue is that of bandwidth which seems to be a constant battle that I am dealing with at my school. It seems that students' bandwidth is being constantly decreased, whereas teachers' bandwidth is at an "acceptable" size. The problems that arise are significant in that when a teacher investigates whether or not students can access a Web 2.0 site such as Animoto ,for example, she has no difficulty, but once students try to access it and upload pictures, the entire library lab moves at a snail's pace. The frustration level that results for both the students and teachers is imense, and discourages everyone from using web tools to enhance learning.The key to bridging this aspect of the digital divide is for Federal and Provincial ministries to designate funding for ensuring that rural/remote schools have access to the Internet. We need to make it a priority that equal access at school is provided for all Canadian students. Not only is access essential, but adequate bandwidth is also a necessity for students and teachers in order to experience success with the many available web tools. (However, from what I understand of bandwidth, this may be closely linked to the issue of filtering.) If we deny teachers access to these essential elements of digital education, then we are not helping to prepare today's [...]

Filtering or Censoring - Is There a Difference?


This week's topic has been an eye opener for me, as I truly was unaware of the filtering that happens in schools, and its impact on student learning. My naivete arises from the fact that I am fortunate enough to teach at a school where the level of filtering seems to be quite low. Students and teachers are easily able to access YouTube, blogs, wikis, voicethread and other web 2.0 tools. It was interesting and surprising for me to read as others in the course spoke about their inability to access web 2.0 tools in their schools. Upon further reading, I was surprised by Mary Ann Bell's survey results listed in "I'm Mad and I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore!" She states that in her survey, 65.2% of the people polled were dissatisfied with the internet access at their schools. I began to wonder why school districts would spend so much money on filters, rather than spend this money on educating students how to use the Internet in a school appropriate way? What does this mean for the students (and educators) at these schools? Should teacher-librarians be advocating for a filter-free environment?In the discussion, it came up that not having filters could be a liability issue for a school district. Dale McDonald points out in his article "Educating Students to Protect Themselves in Cyberspace" that "[a] 2006 Harris poll conducted on behalf of Cable in the Classroom found that 71 percent of parents believe the responsibility of ensuring children's safety online belongs to the school" (2007). I was a little surprised by this statistic because as a parent, I feel that it is MY responsibility to ensure that my child understands how she should be surfing the Internet, and how to access appropriate sites. I want to be the one who discusses with her how she should deal with certain difficult situations such as coming across inappropriate websites and not providing too much personal information. However, stepping back from this a little bit, I have come to realize that over time I have become more Internet savvy (Thanks for helping with that, Joanne!), and even though I feel comfortable maneuvering my way around, it is very likely that many parents do not feel this way. So what does this mean for our students? I think it's important for educators to act as "prudent parents" as someone (I think Danielle) put it; however, perhaps we are going too far in this role. I initially argued that I think that it's important to have different levels of filtering at the different school levels, but after this week's discussion I am tending to move away from this view. I think that we need to focus on teaching our students how to be smart searchers, and we need to develop a protocol of what to do in the case that someone happens upon an inappropriate site. After all, "[h]ow does one learn to use something effectively and safely without being able to see and experience actual examples and Web sites" (Abram 2007)? This brings me around to Acceptable Use Policies, which I had never heard of before this week. I think that we need to be moving towards developing and implementing well thought-out AUPs. I tend to believe that these would be much less expensive and intrusive than filtering, and they allow our students to be responsible users of the Internet. All that we do by installing filters is create an environment of distrust; students believe that we don't trust them, and as a result, some go on to try to circumvent the filters, which results in further distrust - this time educators of students.Another problem surrounding filters is that it is possible "blocking and rating decisions are made by unknown third parties with unknown qualifications and unknown ideological agendas" (Schrader, 1999). The reality is that much of the content that is filtered was chosen by people who do not teach; therefore, it is possible that there is a lot of valuable information and web 2.0 tools for students and teachers that is being filtered[...]

The changing face of the library


The traditional view of the library, and the librarian's role, is beginning to undergo a radical shift with the many digital opportunities available to 21st century library users. With the help of library-change advocates such as Joyce Valenza, Diane Oberg, Ross Todd, Marlene Asselin and Ray Dorion to name but a few, librarians are beginning to emerge in a different role than before. With the increase of literature, such as can be found in School Libraries Worldwide, school librarians are encouraged to analyze and reevaluate their learning and thinking about what a school library is and find ways to facilitate the learning of school library users, which includes both educators and students. This week's discussion topic revolves around Valenza's Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarian and articles found in School Libraries Worldwide Volume 14 all of which provided a lot of food for thought. To begin, Valenza's inspiring and enthusiastic presentation was an eye-opener for me and although I am not yet in a library setting, her manifesto forced me to look at how many of her points I could check off as a classroom teacher, and how many of these points I still need to work on. However, her manifesto is not the only one out there; I also found A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto to be equally thought provoking.Valenza's Manifesto works together with Asselin & Doiron's article, as well as Todd's article in that they challenge librarians to "rethink the school library as a knowledge commons that both intersects with and bridges the digital and print terrain, and provides the intellectual tools across these multiple environments to foster creativity, to enable young people to develop their own personal knowledge and understanding of the curriculum, the world and themselves, to interpret and apply knowledge they interact with, and to foster the intellectual, social and cultural growth of our young people in a 24/7 time-space environment" (Todd, 2008). Asselin and Doiron reiterate the fact that many educators are not prepared to deal with the reality that many of today's students learn differently due to their daily exposure to the digital world, and as a result, we must change our teaching styles to take what students already know, and find ways to connect this in a meaningful way to what they need to know. They refer to literacies for the information generation and argue that these are necessary for learners to be able to "participate in the global networked society" (2008). Two of these that I have been working on with my students are critical literacies and ethics and social responsibility, and I was happy to see that McPherson's article expanded on these literacies. In fact, his article is very useful in that it links to specific lesson plans to teach these literacies, and after having checked out a few, I can see using them with my high school students. Sanford's article about video games in the library is another article which challenges most people's thinking about school libraries. This article gave me a lot to think about because I am not a "gamer" nor do I really understand why so many people like to play them. Having said that, I have not even tried to play a video game since PacMan and Donkey Kong were popular when I was a teen (Okay - I realize that maybe I need to check the newer games out one day). This article was of particular interest, because this year our school library has decided to allow gaming. Initially, there were only certain computers designated for this activity which was only permitted before school and at lunchtime; however, it seems that now any available computer can be used for this. The problem that has arisen is that there are many students who would like to use the library lab to complete class assignments, but many of these students cannot find an available computer, and they are too timid to ask someone to stop playing an intense ga[...]

Fall activities


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The end is near!


Not really, but the completion of EDES 501 is almost here, and as much as I have enjoyed the course, I am REALLY looking forward to the break. With Christmas in the air, and my daughter excited about Santa Claus, Christmas cookies, and so on, I have found it difficult to focus this past week. Highlights of EDES 501 include all of the wonderful new tools and ideas that I have been exposed to over the course of the semester. I have had much luck incorporating many of them into my personal and professional life. Here's a quick list of how I am using some of the tools I have learned about.I am creating a blog to post my weekly updates to, so that parents can find out what we are doing in class.I have introduced blogging to my grade 11 English class, and they will use this to journal while we are doing a novel study.I am following blogs for professional development. See my bloglines at the side. I have set up an RSS feed with Bloglines so that I can follow certain blogs, sites, etc. This is going to make my life much easier with regards to the journaling blogs that my English students are writing.I have created a wiki which I am using to post my class assignments and useful links for these assignments.I download podcasts to listen to while I am working in the kitchen. The one that I am really hooked on right now is Women of Web 2.0 - thanks Joanne!I had my English 11's read and record Macbeth using Audacity. I originally wanted them to create a podcast, but I had to abort that mission due to technological difficulties.I have introduced VoiceThread to my S.S. 9 students and they are creating their own VoiceThreads. I also intend to continue to use it on a personal level for family and friends so that they can watch my daughter's progression through toddlerhood.I use YouTube videos to enhance my lessons, or just to make my daughter smile.If I would have read the above list just 3 short months ago, I would have laughed out loud and said that I wouldn't possibly be able to do all of those things because I didn't have a clue what any of these things were. Because of that, I am fairly proud of myself for learning about these new Web 2.0 tools, and for introducing my students to them. I am excited that teachers on staff are becoming curious about what I am talking about and doing, and that my students are engaged and excited about what they are learning in my classes. I am much more confident when it comes to using technology, and along with all of the web tools I have discovered, I have learned how to insert hyperlinks, embed videos, voicethreads and pictures (I still haven't figured out how to embed a podcast, but maybe the holidays will provide me with the desire and some time to do this), and I can comfortably skim/read information off of a screen rather than printing everything out.Lowlights are that there never seemed to be enough time to really explore some of the web tools we learned about in depth, or to follow many of the links that others posted on their blogs or mentioned in their discussions. There were often times when I felt it would have been nice to have 2 weeks for each topic (podcasting in particular because I found it to be the most difficult and time consuming); the drawback to this being that we would not have had as much exposure to web 2.0. As discussed in my previous post, I am definitely taking a grassroots approach to getting staff on board with learning about, and incorporating, these new tools, and I will continue to do so. I really believe that these tools will make a difference in students' learning, and they definitely make me excited about what I am teaching. I will try to advocate for more computers and computer access in the school, and I hope to have some input in the use of technology in our school. As for my learning, I will continue to follow some of the blogs on my Bloglines, an[...]

The future with VoiceThread


I am going to be approaching this week's topic of "What's next?" from the perspective of a classroom teacher rather than a teacher librarian, so my take on how to introduce a tool to staff may differ from what t-l's might do. I have already begun the process of introducing VoiceThread to my students and the teachers in my department areas. I am absolutely thrilled with it and its possibilities. I have just started a project with my students who are using it as a means to present their findings on a First Nations tribe in North America; if you are interested, you can check the project out here. My students are very receptive to it, and I am really looking forward to seeing their finished projects on Thursday. As for introducing the staff to this great collaborative tool, the process began a few weeks ago with me talking to the social studies department head one Friday after school and showing him my first voicethread. He, in turn, was quite interested in it and went home and played with it all weekend. On Monday morning he came to me bubbling over with enthusiasm for it, saying that he wanted to introduce it at the next department meeting on the following Thursday. Of course I was thrilled to have someone else interested in a web 2.0 tool, because so far I've been the only one in both of my departments to even know what these are, and to be honest, at times this has been frustrating because I have no one to bounce lesson ideas off of, or to share queries or concerns with.The S.S. department meeting went without a hitch and the other members were excited about it, but without the opportunity or time to practice and use it, I didn't think that too many of them were going to integrate it into their teaching unless they had some encouragement and help from me.I recently saw the opportunity to use voicethread in my Social Studies 9 class, so I recruited my department head, and we spent an afternoon together working out the logistics/details. When I booked computer lab time, I went one step further and invited him, as well as another member of our department to participate in the lab blocks. This was partly a selfish move on my part in that not only did I have a couple of extra bodies to help students set up their voicethreads, but I also figured it would cement their learning and interest in this tool. I was right, because not only is my department head now hooked, but so is the other teacher, and she has had an opportunity to see it in action without having to go through the frustrations of figuring out how to use it all on her own. She was going to go home this weekend with the intention of playing with it, and teaching her son how to use it. So I think that the S.S. deptartment is well on its way. Further to this, once students have finished their voicethreads, I am going to divide my classes into thirds and each group will invite either the vice principal, the grade 9 counsellor or the learning resource teacher to view and comment on their voicethreads. I forewarned these 3 people already on Friday, so hopefully they will play with voicethread over the weekend, but if not, then I will help them with it once the projects are completed on Thursday. In doing this, I hope to introduce people outside of my teaching areas to voicethread. Maybe one of them, or better yet, all three will also see its potential.As for the English department, at our last meeting I brought up the idea that we should be looking at different Web 2.0 tools which we could use in our classes. I volunteered to share what I have learned, and I am optimistic that others will have some things that they can talk about as well. It was agreed upon that at our next English department pro-d day in February we would all try to come with some technological knowledge to share. Of course I have volunteered to demonstrate voi[...]

Blogs - the "new" pro-d?


"[W]e need to resort to personal recommendation, trusting one individual’s ideas, suggestions or advice because we’ve ‘known’ them online over a long period of time. The longevity of my relationship with some fellow professionals who keep blogs has given me more successful learning opportunities as a teacher than attending some ‘5* status’ conferences." Ewan MacIntoshSince last January, my professional development has consisted of me working on course work in order to attain a Masters degree in librarianship. This has been a much needed awakening for my brain, and although at times I feel somewhat like Sisyphus, I am enjoying the journey on which I have embarked. At the beginning of September, I really didn't understand or know what a blog was, nor did I realize that blogs are an amazing resource for professional development. Blogs allow some of the "edublogging greats" to maintain continual communication with bloggers/educators around the world. The ideas and thoughts, as well as explorations of bloggers are easily shared and expanded upon by the blogging community. This is an amazing resource for educators which seems to be largely untapped because many do not know that this collaborative tool and community even exists. Granted, I am generalizing based on my personal experience in talking to teachers in my school, as well as several other schools throughout the province, but I don't think that I am far off the mark. The few times I forwarded blog links which I thought would be of interest to certain staff members, the response I often received was "What am I supposed to do with this link?"The opportunity to explore this world that I knew nothing about has allowed for an invigorating and thought provoking experience, and I will continue to embrace it once this course is over. It is inevitable that over time, the blogs that I have been following in Bloglines will likely change and the number will increase as I find others that I want to add. But this is a natural evolution as I progress and learn about different educational and technological topics.In a blog from 2006, Richardson comments on what he read on Karl Fisch's blog: "The latest post on Karl’s blog is a really interesting explanation of a staff development program with real vision, and how blogs have become pretty central to the way he and his teachers reflect on their practice and create community around common goals which were to 'improve teacher and student use of technology, to achieve curricular goals, to help transform our school to a more student-centered, constructivist approach, and to prepare our students to succeed in the 21st century.'” I would have liked to have read more about this process, but unfortunately, I couldn't go that far back in Karl's posts. But this is enough to demonstrate that blogs and blogging can be used effectively as a means of pro-d by a school community. Not only do blogs provide a means of personal professional development, but they also provide suggestions for promoting professional development. A recent suggestion can be found at the Ideas and Thoughts blog where Dean Shareski tells of how he created a great learning experience for teachers by organizing a time for some of them to get together to view some of the K12 online conference sessions. Shareski creates a meaningful pro-d experience with minimal cost, compared to going to a conference and having to pay hundreds of dollars. This is an excellent idea that I am going to share with my social studies department.I recently listened to Ewan MacIntosh's podcast which he presented at the 2006 K12 Online Conference. Accompanying the podcast is a blog entitled "Professional Development . . . with fries" and in this MacIntosh explains how "[a]fter a year of promoting the use of social media fo[...]

RSS - helping me stay sane!


"Tools like RSS feeds are moving the information experience from “mass media” (few producers of information communicating with a large number of consumers) to “personal media” (many producers of information communicating with a more individualized group of consumers)." Doug Johnson At the beginning of September, as suggested by Joanne, I signed up with an RSS feed; little did I know how efficient this would be because, "you can read more content from more sources in less time" (Richardson, 76, Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms). At the time, I didn't have a clue what RSS was, or how it could make my life easier, so I began my quest for "RSS knowledge" by reading Richardson's chp. "RSS:The New Killer App for Educators" and of course viewing, what has become a standby for me, Lee Lefever's RSS in Plain English video. What I learned is that instead of me going to find all of the blogs that I need/want to follow in order to see if there is a new post, RSS tells me every time there is new content on the blog. Not only does it tell me that there is something new, but I can actually read that information directly through my feed reader! Marvelous!As mentioned in my September post, it was Richardson's "tried and true" book that helped me focus in on Bloglines, which has worked amazingly well for me! I check my Bloglines once or twice a week, and I can immediately see when someone has added a blog post, whether it be someone in EDES 501, or one of the other blogs I am trying to follow. However, as of late, I have been thinking about how I can use Bloglines to streamline my following of all of the different places I am creating on the web. I added a feed to my Classroom 2.0 Ning as well as a feed to my voicethread, but I am not sure if that will work the way I want it to. I also added Women of Web 2.0 podcasts - this way, I won't have to check my bookmarks to see if there is a new podcast which is what I have been doing up until now. I feel like my RSS feed is really helping to keep me organized in what seems, at times, to be web 2.0 overload. I recently checked out Google reader, which is also popular with people using RSS (according to Richardson's blog, he has switched over to this reader as well). I even signed up with it, but at the moment I am comfortable using Bloglines, and to be honest I don't want to mess with something that is working well for me (Unlike Blogger which didn't save this post the first time I tried to post it this morning )-: ). Also, being a minimalist, I prefer the simple straightforward layout of Bloglines versus the busier layout of Google Reader. However, there are many people who have done comparisons of both, and some of the most recent can be found at Library Stuff, ReadWriteWeb, and Pleasure and Pain: Measuring the impact of new technology on human experience, (this blog does the most thorough analysis of both) and after having read these, there is considerable evidence that suggests that Google reader is the RSS of choice.Why do I like Bloglines? I was able to set this up without too much difficulty at a time when I was quite clueless about how to set anything up on the web.I can have different folders in order to group the blogs that I am following.I was able to add a "subscribe to Bloglines" button to my favorites. This way all I have to do is click on this when I find a blog or site that I would like to add. I am able to show my Bloglines feeds on my blog, and, once again, I was able to accomplish this without too much difficulty.I can "clip" certain parts of a blog to review later.How can RSS be used by teachers?They can easily and quickly follow students' blogs, which is what I intend to do when my students set their blogs up in December.They can use th[...]

Social networking - It's not just for students


"People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It’s a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it’s the togetherness of modern technology." - J.G. (James Graham) BallardThe exploration of social networking sites is the one assignment for EDES 501 that I have been dreading the most. I am one of those (possibly few) people who doesn't want everyone in the world to be able to make contact with me, or know everything about me. I don't want to share information about me, my job or my family on the web; I'd rather share it with people whom I know, or am connecting with by choice, such as people in this course. I don't want my high school students to add me as a "friend" to their social networking sites, and to be honest, the thought of it seems a little odd. I also don't need/want old acquaintances to connect with me through a social networking site just to say that they have one more "friend." If they really need to get a hold of me because they want to visit/reminisce, then they can call my parents to find out where I am. Furthermore, articles such as Faceless no more: Social networking comes with a price, found in the Globe and Mail, Sept. 12, 2008, make me feel very uneasy about putting too much personal information out on the internet. So, for these reasons, I swore that I would never join a social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace, and I procrastinated all fall about becoming a member of one of these sites. (By the way, this didn't help with my negative feelings about this topic (-; )However, now comes the time when I have to re-evaluate what little I know of these sites. I began my search by checking in with Lee Lefever at Social Networking in Plain English. He manages to simplify the concept, and make it appear beneficial for all involved. Having done this, I decided that if I was going to join a social networking site, it would be to my advantage if I could find a site that would be useful to me and what I am doing now. So I began my search by finding out what was "out there." Using the keywords "social networking sites" brought up a site called Social Networking God: 350+ Social Networking Sites - who knew that there were soooo many??? I scrolled through these, but there wasn't anything very appealing. So I decided to narrow down my search by adding "educational" to "social networking sites." This is when I stumbled upon the Social Networks in Education wiki which is an extensive list of sites, and Ning in Education. As I was checking out Ning in Education, I discovered its "sister" site Classroom 2.0 - this looked very appealing to me, and I decided to join this Ning because I could connect with people and learn more about Web 2.0 tools being used in classrooms. According to Wikipedia, "[t]he unique feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own custom social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific audiences." Perfect - this is exactly what I needed!I created my profile page to reflect me, (I chose a profile that reminds me of summer) and I proceeded to invite my classmates from EDES 501 who had included their email addresses in their profiles, as well as a couple of colleagues from school whom I thought might be interested in exploring and learning about web 2.0 tools. I then joined the Digiskills group and the Free & Open Source Software group - both of these groups' names sounded daunting, but once I explored their spaces, they seemed accessible to me. What are the positives about joining a social networking site?For Me Personally: So far, I am happy that I have joi[...]

A fairy-princess' Hallowe'en


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10 reasons why I LOVE VoiceThread!


1. It is not necessary to download VoiceThread onto your computer which allows easy access for students at school, and it means that it is accessible anywhere at anytime. 2. It provides a creative avenue for students/people to present their work/ideas! 3. As a teaching/learning tool, It's a thousand times better than powerpoint because it is interactive, allowing others to comment on students' work, as well as contribute their own ideas. 4. It does not require people to have a microphone or webcam, as they can comment using the keyboard. 5. The author can moderate the comments that are made in order to avoid any personal or inappropriate comments. 6. It is user friendly!!! There are tutorials which are very straightforward and easy to understand. 7. It can be used with still pictures, video or text, which are all easy to download from places on the web or one's computer. 8. One VoiceThread can have multiple identities, which is great for teachers. 9. One can "doodle" on the picture to emphasize or point something out. 10. K-12 educators can apply for a free VoiceThread Pro account by signing in, clicking the Create tab - 'Go Pro' – ‘K-12 classroom educators’. If one isn't an educator, it is still FREE, but the options are somewhat limited.For the above listed reasons, and probably others that I haven't thought of yet, Voicethread has become my new favourite web tool! My brain has been buzzing with all of the possibilities for using VoiceThread in both my personal and professional life. In my personal life, it will allow me to EASILY and QUICKLY document and share interesting events, successes or journeys that we are experiencing. After creating A fairy-princess' Hallowe'en, I immediately added all of the addresses from my address book onto my profile, and I invited everyone who would want to know what's happening in my daughter's life to view it. This is great for my family because we are so spread out around the world. Unfortunately, the only one who can't view it is grandma who is stuck with dial-up, but at least she can see these little "documentaries" when she goes to visit someone who has high-speed.As for in the classroom, there are endless possibilities - I only wish I would have known about this two weeks ago when we were working on poetry anthologies in English 11. There are a lot of good ideas about how to use VoiceThread in the classroom, and below I have included a few links of interest.Voicethread Examples in EducationDigitally Speaking Wiki / VoicethreadVoicethread 4 EducationAnother idea that I think is great and could be easily done in an elementary or middle school classroom is to create a digital scrapbook - sort of like a yearbook, but with pictures only relating to one classroom. I think this would be a great way of creating a classroom community by allowing all students to participate in the contribution and creation of the scrapbook. "Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual." Arthur Koestler[...]

Quick, quick! Come see my Wiki!


"Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself."Alexander Graham Bell - Inventor (1847-1922)So what is a wiki? Well according to one of the world's largest wikis, Wikipedia, it is "a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language.[1][2]" Although not a difficult concept to grasp, the most straightforward description of a wiki can be found at Wikis in Plain English. Clearly there are many benefits to using such a user-friendly collaborative tool, but the main one is the idea that "many hands [or heads] make light work." According to 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis, The Wiki Way states that "[a]llowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site...encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users." I think the most important thing to note is that it allows people, (in my case teachers) who are not "techies," to create and use a free tool with students that will make their work easier. I created my jessicamartens wiki using PBwiki, as it was quite straightforward, and seemed to be one that is commonly used. In case you're confused, I go by my maiden name at school and once I am finished this course, I will take out the reference to my married name. When I began checking out wiki sites, I started with PBwiki, and went on to Wikispaces as well as Wetpaint. I found Wetpaint to be far more involved than I was prepared to get, so I decided to save that for another day. In the end, the deciding factor was the name - Peanut Butter Wiki - I like peanut butter, so right now, when I don't have time to weigh all of the pros and cons, this seemed the obvious choice.I began by setting up my frontpage, and then I personalized my wiki by changing the colour. I couldn't think of a logo, other than my school logo, and I thought that for the purpose of this course, I would leave that out for now. This was easy, but then I had to think about how I was going to use this tool with my classes. At the moment, the most logical step for me is to use it as a message board, where I post the projects that my classes will be working on. This is a good starting point because then students and parents can access the projects from anywhere. Also, I took an idea from Joyce Valenza's Springfield Township High School Virtual Library, and I am using the wiki as a pathfinder, which students can use to help them begin their research. I spent A LOT of time finding useful links, and I am hoping that students will contribute some links as well. I realize, that there are many other ways that wikis can be used, but I am hoping that if I start with this, then other Social Studies 9 and English 11 teachers might contribute as well. I think that teachers and students can really benefit from the use of wikis when students are working on group projects. A wiki allows all group members access to the project at all times which would help to avoid the problems that arise when a group member is away, and s/he has all of the work on his personal drive.What I appreciate about PB wiki is that so far, I have received daily emails from them with a new aspect of setting up my wiki. I have only really skimmed these messages, but it is nice to know that there is support available. I also found the pbwikimanual which I referred to several times while I was setting up my wiki; however, in all honesty, everything seemed quite straightforward[...]

A library is a library is a virtual library


"The only true equalisers in the world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom." J. A. LangfordAlthough Langford is referring to a library filled with books, he couldn't have possibly known what was to come with the arrival of new technologies. He would not have been able to envision the benefits or the possibilities of virtual school libraries for students and educators. According to digital library federation in the USA as quoted on the Library and Information Science wiki, virtual libraries, also known as digital libraries, "are organizations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities." There are many other definitions available, but this seem to encompass all aspects of what a virtual library is.Here begins my exploration of virtual (also known as digital) school libraries. This is the first time since the beginning of the course that I have had an inkling about the blog topic for the week. But to be honest, I had not yet explored virtual school libraries as a teaching or learning resource. What I discovered was that there was yet again another valuable option that I hadn't fully investigated.Before I began my exploration of several different virtual school libraries, I wanted to know what some of the advantages and disadvantages of this library format would be. The advantages seem to vastly outnumber the disadvantages: According Virtual Libraries Supporting Student Learning, some of the advantages of virtual libraries are that they: allow for instant access to a wide variety of resources which couldn't possibly be available in "physical collections"are available anytime and anywhereprovide opportunities for learning that might not occur in a regular school librarycontain information that is current, and can be easily updated (which is almost impossible when working with print material)are "organized and managed to increase productivity and efficiency of the user"make audio and video resources available, which can benefit people who are visually and hearing impaired (as well as engage the students of the 21st Century many of whom are visual and oral learners)more importantly, provide the opportunity to "build a different type of library collection in [which] student created art, photography, oral histories, local histories, and local survey data" can be housed.Disadvantages of virtual libraries seem to have more to do with how the students use the information. Many of the initial concerns about access and the skills to manouveur through a VL don't seem to be an issue any longer as computers and the Internet are used in almost every household. One of the main concerns is that students have difficulty "making effective choices when confronted with multiple databases" (Gunn) and as a result struggle with deciding which information is relevant. As with many of the teaching and learning options available through the Web, I think that the virtual library is another one of those unexplored opportunities due to the fact that teachers aren't aware of the possibilities. It would be beneficial to have some professional development in which educators could investigate the many different virtual school libraries. With this in mind, I began my investigation.I began by visiti[...]

Podcasting with limited success!


I had a great time creating this podcast featuring my daughter's recitation of a couple of nursery rhymes that she recently learned. However, there were numerous steps that I needed to follow, which I would not have been able to do without Podcasting for Teachers & Students by Tony Vincent. Listed below are the relatively easy, straightforward steps that I followed:
1) Download Audacity - a program which allows one to record and edit audio
2) Practice, and "pump up" my daughter's enthusiasm about talking into the computer - a fairly easy task, as it is still relatively novel for her.
3) Record her nursery rhymes
4) Edit the file to get rid of some of the "dead air" - I could have deleted her comment about having to "concentrate," but I thought it was cute.
5) Add some sound effects using SoundSnap - I found a great "water" sound, as well as a turkey gobbling. Then I had to find and add a "burp" otherwise the rhyme doesn't make sense, and my daughter doesn't include one.
6) Export file to my desktop
7) Download Levelator - a program which "levels out the volume"
8) Add identifying tags in iTunes
9) Create artwork using Piknik - this was a fun and allowed my creative side to come out. I could see myself spending a lot of time doing this
10) Add artwork to my podcast
11) Save the file to my desktop
Up to this point the steps were fairly easy, although some more time consuming than others, but this is where I hit a stumbling block. I wanted to have my podcast accessible on my blog. I spent several hours trying to figure this out and have now decided to attach a link for fear that I won't be able to accomplish this today.
I hope that you enjoy Jes' Podcast! I know that it makes me smile when I hear it, but I am slightly biased.



"Podcasting will shift much of our time away from an old medium where we wait for what we might want to hear to a new medium where we choose what we want to hear, when we want to hear it, and how we want to give everybody else the option to listen to it." Doc Searls of IT Garage as quoted from the article "Podcasting 101 for K - 12 Librarians" found in Computers in Libraries v26.Podcasting in Plain English refers to podcasts as "Personal On Demand Casting," which is a clever phrase that makes sense to me, although it is not the origin of the word podcasting according to Wikipedia.I love Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe but very seldom am I close to a radio on Sunday afternoons at 1:00 pm in order to listen to this great program. Not only that, but I would love to have my English students listen to Stuart telling one of his humorous stories about Dave and Morley and their "real-life" antics. Well, through podcasts, I now have this ability, and I am THRILLED!!!For the past few days, I have been reading about and listening to podcasts, as well as searching for different podcasting sites. What I have discovered amazes me and terrifies my husband . . . I could spend literally every minute of my day listening to presentations, music, and discussions through podcasts!I love listening to the radio, particularly the CBC, as I am working in the kitchen, which is where I spend a lot of my time. In fact, the radio is the only way that I can stay informed because I am one of the few people in the world who doesn't watch TV. And, of course, I have some radio programs that are favourites such as Vinyl Cafe, Hot Air, and Sounds like Canada (which sadly no longer exists as of September). But what I have discovered through learning about podcasting, is that I can actually listen to most of my favourite shows, or specific episodes that I want to hear whenever and where ever (once I get an ipod) I want to. AMAZING!!! The question that I kept asking myself this past week is why didn't I explore this sooner. Granted, I don't have an ipod, and I just assumed that I would need one in order to be able to listen to podcasts, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I now have our laptop plugged into the kitchen, and I find myself searching for something to listen to as I wash dishes or make lunches. I had no idea that there were so many podcasts of personal and professional interest available on the Web. This has truly opened up a new world for me. I have even gone so far as to ask for an ipod for Christmas from my family, so that I can download podcasts to listen to when I go for long drives, or when I finally manage to find time to go walking again.I have to admit that most of the podcasts that I listened to the past few days have been for personal pleasure, but I also spent some time looking at podcasts that could be used in teaching, and I came across a few sites that were quite useful: Podcasting in Education, is a helpful site that explains what podcasting is and how it can be used in the classroom; The Education Podcast Network, which is provided by David Warlick and The Landmark Project, is designed to bring together podcasts for teachers and students, and Education World has several articles on podcasting. Of course there were many more to choose from, but I found that these could be useful for teachers and students. Furthermore, I was even able to listen to a podcast about Podcasting in the Classroom. My head has been spinning with the possibilites for podcasting in my classroom. In the next few weeks my grade 11 students will be studying Macbeth, and I plan to di[...]

Bookmarking - Personal or Social?


"You have to solve a problem that people actually have," Schachter says [about the creation of]. "But it's not always a problem that they know they have, so that's tricky" Technology Review.Joshua Schachter the creator of the original probably didn't realize the impact his bookmarking system would have on the Internet when he originally launched it in 2003. Not only is it a social bookmarking system, but its use of tags is also making it an invaluable resource for many. I was one of those people that didn't know I had a problem, until about two weeks ago, when suddenly everything changed. Let me preface this by saying that I have three computers that I consistently work on - two at school and one at home, and I have the same list of favorites on all of the computers. The way that I achieved this was to always email myself the sites that I had bookmarked, so I could access them at either location. (Right now, I can almost see all of you in cyberspace shaking your heads and laughing at me.) Only now do I realize what a waste of time this was.The slow destruction of my old system began at the end of August when I started EDES 501, and started to visit and revisit what feels like hundreds of sites on the Internet. I happily bookmarked many of the sites that I had been visiting - some for future reference, others because I needed to investigate them further. As per usual, I emailed myself all of the site URL's that I had bookmarked, but I was beginning to have an inkling that this was not the best scenario..Suddenly, two weekends ago, my semi-organized world came to a screeching halt! I (somewhat) merrily went into school to work on photosharing sites; however, the entire network was down, which meant that I couldn't access anything. My frustration escalated, as I realized that I was unable to work at home that day because my husband and daughter were housebound due to the rainy weather (Anyone with young children will understand why working at home wasn't an option for me). Suddenly, I could feel panic setting in as I realized that I would need toa) find a computer to use andb) waste precious time by having to find all of my bookmarks over again.Fortunately, I was able to use a computer at my husband's school, but I spent (wasted) a lot of time trying to find all of the sites that I had bookmarked. This is when I thought to myself that there must be a better way to make this work. With all of these great web tools, I should be able to access my bookmarks from anywhere in the world.In keeping with the inquiry topic for this week, I embarked on a journey of trying to stay organized in an electronic Web 2.0 environment. But the first thing I needed to figure out was what this tool might be called. Fortunately, it didn't take too long to figure out, so I then began reading Solomon and Schrum's section on social bookmarking in Web 2.0 - new tools, new schools. They note that "traditional bookmarking is an exercise in frustration because students use different computers each time they work[,]" and even if they could work at the same workstation, it is possible that someone may have erased the information. Frustration was what I was feeling , so I knew that I was on the right track.Then I went on to read Richardson's detailed description on social bookmarking. He talks about both and (Note that this spelling is no longer used); his favorite being In general, I have found that Richardson's favourite tools are also the ones that I tend to gravitate towards because they ar[...]

Some final thoughts on videosharing


Below is my first so called attempt at videosharing. I realize that it is not a true video, but we don't have a webcam, so I have to make due with what is available. I used Windows Movie Maker to create a video using still pictures. For a first-time user, it was quite easy to create my "masterpiece." The only difficulty that I had was choosing suitable music - that took much longer than creating the video! Once I was finished creating my video, I had to decide where I would upload the video. I didn't think that it was appropriate for Teachertube, so I decided to use Youtube. The process was fairly easy once I signed up, and the only real difficulty I had was actually trying to figure out how to get it to show up on my blog, rather than hyperlinking it as I have done with the past videos that I have viewed.

So what can videosharing add to teaching and learning?

Besides what I have mentioned in a previous blog about teachers using videos to enhance lessons, and students using them as means of presenting knowledge, there are other benefits as well. As some teachers (me included) are just figuring out, our students are teaching themselves how to use many of the web tools that are available. But the important thing to think about is that they don't necessarily think of this as learning, rather they are thinking about it as a necessary means of social networking. They don't realize that they are infact analyzing, manipulating and synthesizing information, as well as collaborating with others and creating amazing products.

Further to this, Young makes an interesting observation in "The Chronical of Higher Education" when he states that "Web video opens a new form of public intellectualism to scholars looking to participate in an increasingly visual culture" (January 25, 2008). Video sharing sites allow people to seek out information. People tend to educate themselves on topics of personal interest, and because the videos are short bits of information, most not longer than 5 minutes, they are effective in maintaining people's attention spans and providing them with the desired knowledge.

What really made an impact on me is Michael Wesch's comments that "Web video offers a new way for scholars to communicate,. . ., noting that he wrote a scholarly article about the same ideas he put in his video, but that the article might be read by only a small number of scholars." (Young, 2008) That would be ashame, as the information that he presents in An anthropological introduction to Youtube helps to explain the impact that Youtube has had, and will continue to have, on society.

Finally, because our youth are so visually inclined and stimulated, educators need to be encouraged to use web media within the classroom in order to maintain students' interest. I know that I will now make a conscious effort to scan Youtube and Teachertube for interesting tidbits to enrich the learning environment in my classroom.

My attempt at videosharing


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Teachertube - An interesting resource!


This morning I have had the opportunity to explore Teachertube, and I was quite impressed by what I saw. I like the idea that I don't have to wade through all of the videosharing files on Youtube to find something relevant and appropriate for my Social Studies or English classroom. To begin my exploration, I decided to do a search on the French revolution, as that is what we will be studying in the coming weeks in S.S. 9. So I started by looking at the options on Youtube, and found many of the videos contained inappropriate content, and were more of a satire of the revolution, but there was The French Revolution Rap - JC which appears to be a presentation created by a student for a teacher or class. I thought it was quite a clever video, and although some of it is difficult to understand, I might consider showing it to my class just for fun. I then went to Teachertube and found a few listings for the French revolution - many of which were obviously student produced projects for a teacher: Reign of Terror & Jack and Jill - French Revolution . Up to this point, I had only thought of videosharing sites as an option for me to present videos to students about certain topics, but clearly I was not thinking about how students could use it to submit a project to me! This seems like a great way of using videosharing, and the possibilities are endless.I thought about what students would have to do, or have access to, in order to be able to do this, and it seems likely that many would have the means at home. The only stumbling block that I encountered was that in order for students to sign up to upload videos to Teachertube, they must be at least 18 years old, whereas on Youtube students only need to be 13 years old. I can understand the age limit of 13, as I would think that there numerous legal issues for schools surrounding the posting of student videos. However, I don't quite understand the age limit of 18 on Teachertube. As an educator, I would prefer that if my students were to upload a video in order to share it with other students and teachers, they be allowed to use Teachertube because I think it might be a "safer" environment with more purposeful viewers. I spent some time exploring Teachertube for personal interest, and found Did You Know?2.0 and Pay Attention (I notice that someone in class already posted this on the interesting weblinks in WebCT) videos which could be used as clip for a staff meeting or department meeting to lead into a discussion about using technology in the classroom. These clips could be quite effective in that they are not too long, and provide fascinating pieces of information. Further to this, I was surprised to find an interesting video clip called Do We Really Need Teacher-Librarians? I was fortunate enough to stumble across this in the Groups section under EDES 501 - I guess that's us![...]

Youtube - Initial Thoughts


I started watching Michael Wesch's presentation An anthropological introduction to Youtube, (Please notice that I finally figured out how to link sites to my blog, using words rather than just the web address - there's always something to figure out! (-: ) on Tuesday morning, but was unable to finish it until today (more about that later). I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation, and found it captivating because he used so many Youtube clips to support his discussion. The concepts he spoke about were amazing, and entirely new to me, but they became obvious once he presented and discussed them.

I then went on to watch his presentation Web 2.0 . . . The Machine is Us/ing Us. This is when I realized that, if I wanted to, I could spend days watching videos on my computer. Not only am I able to watch videos to support my learning in EDES 501, but I could use them to enhance my teaching. Although I have been aware of Youtube, and its potential to be quite useful in my classroom, I haven't actually explored or used it yet. The first reason being that up until this year, I didn't have the technology available to me in my classroom to do this; however, as of the end of last June, I can now hook up an LCD projector to my computer and show videos. This is pretty exciting for me, but this leads to my second reason for not yet having explored Youtube or Teachertube - I just can't seem to find the time!

Fortunately for me, and for my students, I will be exploring videosharing and thinking about where I can go with it over the next few weeks. However, one problem that did come up for me, and I would not have thought about this before, is that last night when I tried to access Wesch's presentation in order to finish watching it, I was unable to. There was a message saying that the video was unavailable for viewing at this time. I am uncertain why this occurred, but this could be a problem (and a big surprise) if I did select a video for viewing with my class. I will have to investigate further as to whether or not these can be saved somehow.

Some "ah-ha" moments


I feel like some things are starting to come together for me with regards to EDES 501. Even though I still feel completely overwhelmed by all of the information that I am reading and learning about, I finally figured out what I need to do to meet the requirements of the course. It was slightly stressful last week when I realized a little too late that I was supposed to create an inquiry question for further discussion. However, now I have reread everything, and laid it all out on a calendar - this will help to keep the visual learner in me organized.

One aspect of setting up my blog that confused me was how to customize my blog. I was viewing all of these great blogs from class members and couldn't figure out how they made this work for them. However, as I was playing around the other day, I discovered the "add accessories" section - now I can be just like everyone else! I also figured out how to add blog addresses to my blog. I decided to add only professional development blogs, rather than my class member's blogs because I already have their blogs linked to bloglines.

I have been thinking about Flickr and wondering where exactly all the pictures are stored. Is there going to come a time when Flickr won't be able to continue storing my pictures because I will have used up my personal storage space? I don't quite understand the finer points of how all of the information is kept on the Internet, and likely this is why I am wondering about these things.

I still haven't set up my Facebook account, but I will work on this in the coming days. There is so much out there to explore that sometimes it feels like a black hole. I find myself exploring one thing, and then going off in several different directions because it is so easy to do with all of the hyperlinks, etc. This must be how many of our students have become so knowledgeable about the Web and what it has to offer.