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.