Sunday, December 19, 2010

CEdO515 Session 2 Blog

This week in class we focused on where the internet comes from, search engines and how to use them properly. We also checked out online word processing programs. All of these lessons can be integrated into my teaching.

I really enjoyed reading the 20 things I Learned about the Internet article. It discusses where the internet comes from. It is something that I use every day but I never really gave it much thought. I definitely learned new information. I enjoyed reading about AJAX programming. It was a nice article and a I liked the book-like interface.

I also enjoyed comparing the search engines and search techniques. The biggest thing that I learned is that Google is NOT the only option. We read an interesting article called "choose the best search engine for your information need". It was pinpoints the search engine that you use should based on the type of information that you require. I also learned about new browser like Exalead, INFOMINE, and many others. The last thing that learned about was how to be more effective when doing searching. I found out that I was making a big mistake by not capitalizing AND, OR, and NOT when I was using them as part of my search. I also learned that if you put quotations around words it will keep them together as a phrase. I now can use the + and - symbols in my searches to further refine my needs. I really hope to pass these tips on to my students when we do research projects. Becoming a better online web researcher is a life skill that all students should obtain.

The last thing that we did this week was investigate online word processing programs. I love the idea of Online word processing for the classroom. It has so many positives. My favorite thing about online word processing is that it removes the common excuses that you hear from a student. Students can no longer say that they don't have word processing software available to them. These web based programs are free and available to anyone with an internet connection. It also removes the excuses of forgetting to save or not being able to print their document. These programs typically save your work as you use them which prevents students from losing their work. It is also nice because if a student is unable to print, the student can just share it with the teacher (this also reduces paper use - think green).

I checked out GoogleDocs, ThinkFree, WriteWith, and Zoho. I think that Google Docs is the most widely used product available thus far. My favorite feature with Google Docs is the forms feature. The forms feature compiles all of the users data. I can really see using this in the classroom. Students can complete surveys or compile data from a lab. Its an easy way to collaborate.

ThinkFree and Zoho both had an easy to use User Interface and remind me a lot of Microsoft Office. These programs should be easy for the students to use because they are typically familiar with Office. I can see using these as a place for collaboration on a lab report or presentation.

The WriteWith program is simple to use and would be great for in class collaboration and brainstorming. You can get the students to all join the document and add commentary all at once. This can be done anonymously or not. This is a great way to get feedback from all students and it provides the necessary wait time that some students need before providing an answer.

I think that each program has its own purpose and should be used for the proper need. I like that each program is free and the ability to collaborate and share.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 1 of CEdO515 - Using Productivity Tools Effective

During this week's lecture we discussed what this class would be about, what is technology, what is educational technology, and how does it affect student learning. We checked out chapters 1 and 2 of our book (Supporting Learning with Technology: Essentials of Classroom Practice), graphics programs, presentations programs, and type with me.

Technology includes everything from pencils and paper to computers and software. Educational technology is utilizing technology as an aide to enable learning. Educational technology is not limited to just the use of computers; however, the book and the class will focus on how computers can be used (hardware, software, connectivity, etc.) Each one of these tool allows students to learn and communicate in a different way. Technology can make it more possible for students to learn in ways that resemble natural learning by providing resources, support, and feedback that teachers alone may not be able to provide. The goal is to make technology use itself transparent, while examining the interactions, content, and process of the learning that occurs with technology.

In both our book and our class we discussed how technology should be seen as support for what teachers already know and do. It is about efficiency and effectiveness; not just a gimmick to catch student's attention. In order for real learning to occur teachers need to start with a focus on learning and then figure out a way to integrate technology. I have been interested in integrating technology into my curriculum for years. Now I have to look at the content and lessons that I have already created and figure out how I can use technology to complement my lessons.

The teachers role has changed with the use of technology because learning has become more student focused. I think that a lot of teachers are afraid of using technology because of the uncertainty that is associated with it. Teachers are uncertain if the students will learn the same skills that they would obtain from other lessons. There is also the inevitable technological difficulties that can ruin any lesson involving technology. I think that teachers need to realize that the integration of technology can be used to not only teach content, it can also teach various skills. Technology allows students to research, create, and collaborate. These are skills that are in some ways more valuable than the content itself.

One of the assignments for this week was to check out one of these graphics programs: Roxik, Draw Greetings, Queeky, ToonDoo, Toonlet, ImageChef, ZCubes, Shidonni, Mr. Picassohead, Face in Hole, GoAnimate, MagMyPic. I chose GoAnimate and made my first animation. I can see using this to have the students do a presentation. It allows students to present without having to worry about standing up in front of their classmates. Stritch Graphic by cmbauhs

We also need to make a presentation using one of the following programs Google, Slideboom, 280 Slides, Slideroll, authorStream, SlideShare, PreZentit, Empressr, or another possibilities. I have already used Google so I will most likely use one of the other options. I like that these are internet based presentation programs. This allows the students to create a presentation without having to worry about the cost of the software. It also saves their work online and allows them to share it in multiple ways (embeded, links, emails, social networking, etc.).

The last thing we explored in class this week was type with me. It is a pretty cool site that allows users to create a document that multiple users can work on at the same time. It would be a great way to get anonymous feedback from students in class. It also provides extra time for students that may require longer processing time.

I definitely think that I picked up some new strategies and techniques for my classroom. I hope to be able to find a way that these strategies will complement what I already do in class.

Thanks for reading my long post!