February 2010


I’ve been watching Henry Jenkins video on Edutopia.  Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.  He believes that students and teachers are being hampered by schools due to filtering and sites being blocked. The access to technology is being restricted by school IT departments who are not the people actually using the technology. I’m starting to see this trend in my own school division. I know that the internet has more filters and restrictions in the high schools in my school division and right now there are very few sites filtered in the elementary schools. This means that my students and I can access information, videos and web tools whenever we want to. Yes, occasionally a student goes on a site I don’t want them to go on but that becomes a teaching opportunity when I talk about digital responsibility. Jenkins also states that teachers and districts need to recognize that there is a lot of learning going outside of schools. He believes that educators need to value this learning and incorporate it into our teaching. If we give students to discuss and share what they are learning beyond our four walls we open up our classrooms to rich sharing and discussion opportunities.

Jenkins states that it is time to get rid of the roles of digital natives and digital immigrant.  I’ve often thought that those terms were over used and not always correct. There needs to be a shift that we work and learn together particularly in a culture of connectiveness and sharing. Jenkins also believes that we need to move away from the autonomous model of learning and move to a collaborative culture of students and teachers being partners in education. To accomplish this teachers need to be connected and build a supportive and social network to support the work they want to do in their classrooms. I believe that if teachers are connected we are more apt to connect our students to enrich their learning.

Jenkins suggests we need to make a paradigm shift in our teaching to give students the skills they need to work in the new media landscape: play, performance, judgement, networking, negotiation, collective intelligence and appropriation. These are collaborative skills that translate into all subject areas and into students lives beyond school. The bottom line is that students won’t remember a lot of the subject content that we teach them but they will carry they skills we teach them far beyond us.

Jenkins poses some interesting discussion questions which makes me consider the roles of teachers, technology and schools in teaching students for the future.

1. How are schools limiting kids’ access to digital tools? Do you agree with these policies?

2. Do you see the participation gap in your school and community?

3. How do we create shared learning opportunities across generations?

4. Are schools ready to give up control to kids, families, and communities of learning? What are the opportunities and challenges?

5. What does authorship mean in the digital age? How do we teach it to kids?

Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.

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I’m playing in the sand with some new web tools. I’ve been frustrated by how difficult it has been to embed different media into my blog posts. I decided to try one of the compatible medias to see how easy it would be. I chose PollDaddy because I have never used a poll on a blog before. I also was involved in a discussion  earlier in the week about the value of polls for classroom data collection and math literacy. I can see how my class could design polls or surveys, collect data then graph the results. I think the results could lead to some rich learning and discussions.

I created a PollDaddy account, created a poll and saved it. I then opened up a new post and chose “create a poll” from the upload/insert options. One of my options was to link to my PollDaddy account and then…ta da…I had a poll. Well, at least I think so because I haven’t published it yet so I really don’t know if it is embedded in the post. Wish me luck and if you read this post please respond to my poll.

I checked and it worked! I showed my husband and he said I should find out who everyone thinks is going to the gold medal for Men’s Hockey. I made a poll and put it on my class blog for my students to vote on. I’m adding it here because I used a very cool background, plus I want to see what everyone thinks.

This evening I decided to dedicate myself to playing in the sand. I’m messing with web 2.0 tools that I’ve never played with. The first one I’m trying is Sketchcast. I created a sketch of myself playing in the sand. It’s a bit frightening and I didn’t add my voice but you can get the idea. I could see it as a digital storytelling tool with younger students so that they draw the story that they are telling. Fun!

But, now for the difficult part. I wanted to embed the sketch on my blog. I’m now back having the same frustrations as I did trying to embed an Animoto video. Now, after much reading and searching I found the reason. WordPress uses Codex which is a “Function Reference/wp embed register handler” or in lay person’s terms it was designed to make it easier to put media content in your blog. But, the trick is that it has to be a site that it recognizes. No wonder this has been such a nuisance. “The oEmbed implementation in WordPress has discovery disabled. By default, you can only embed from websites that are listed on the internal whitelist. This is to prevent accidental embedding from malicious websites.”

“The easy embedding feature is mostly powered by oEmbed, a protocol for site A (such as your blog) to ask site B (such as YouTube) for the HTML needed to embed content (such as a video) from site B. oEmbed was designed to avoid having to copy and paste HTML from the site hosting the media you wish to embed. It supports videos, images, text, and more.”

Well, I don’t think it’s easier, I think it’s very limiting and makes some of my work impossible. Lesson learned. Check the editing functions of any blogs I use in the future!

Okay, now I’m back at it. Hmmmm….what to try out? Creaza looks interesting. There’s mindmapping, cartooning, video and audio editing. Cool! “Creaza offers you an integrated, web-based toolbox for creative work, both at school and in your free time.  You use the toolbox along with various fully developed thematic universes:  historical periods, fairy-tales, fantasy worlds, and current challenges, such as climate/environment.” However, it’s another site not supported by WordPress. Oh well, have a look at my creation:  http://www.creaza.com/members/classroomqueen. It’s pretty basic but then again I didn’t read the instructions.

I guess I could try the sites that are supported but maybe tomorrow because I’m down to 21% power and the red line is showing on my battery icon.

In case you were wondering, here are the supported sites.

“You can use all of these:

I wonder what I should try tomorrow?

I finished reading Will Richardson’s article “Footprints in the Digital Age” this morning and I thought about my footprint then about my students. So in the spirit of Block 5 I thought about I could use digital tools to represent my learning. I decided to create an Animoto movie with the ideas from Will’s article. I love using Animoto for my own projects and it’s a great alternative to iMovie for my students to use. The tricky part is that I’m having a tough time embedding it on this wordpress blog. I’ve tried exporting it directly but wordpress is not recognizing my password when I export from Animoto. I downloaded the movie to my desktop but because I don’t have Quicktime Pro I couldn’t export or upload it to my blog post. So I’m on attempt number three. I’m uploading the Animoto movie to YouTube then I will get the html link from Youtube to insert in this post. You’ll know if you see the movie that it worked. This exercise reinforces the concept to me that we don’t have to be technology experts but we must be willing to learn with our students, experiment, experience technological defeat and be ready to try again.

I’ve spent about 45 minutes looking through all of my emails from my Diigo groups and checking out the links. There are links about math, science, language arts, story telling, research, use of technology and on and on. Subscribing to Diigo and joining a few Diigo groups allows me to keep up on current posting and new links. The members of the groups find the links and post the interesting ones to the Diigo group. I like to go through the links then organize the ones I want to keep on my wikis. I have wikis for all of the subject areas I teach and a wiki that I use for all of my professional links. Today I came across this post and thought it was very fitting considering that we’re all planning our major digital project for our class. As well, I’m on my school division’s technology committee and we’re planning our technology goals based on why we’re going to be using the technology. These are questions that we should all be asking ourselves as we embark on our technological journey.

“5 Questions for Planning Successful Web-Based Activities

1. What is the curriculum related purpose of the activity? The outcome or assessment should be aligned to your lesson objectives and standards.

2. Does the Internet enhance the activity? If the answer is no, find a more appropriate place to integrate the web.

3. How will students use the online resources? Once students locate information, they should be asked to apply, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, or create. The activity should require them to move to higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

4. Do students have necessary information analysis/information synthesis skills or am I including these in instruction? The project should not become simply an exercise in locating information. Students must have the necessary background knowledge and pre-requisite skills to complete higher level tasks or these must be included in instruction prior to the web-based learning activity.

5. Do I have the necessary time and support for the activity? Double your original time estimate and always have access to technical support to resolve problems efficiently.”

“Lists are based on those outlined in Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching by M. D. Roblyer.” source: http://unhub.com/rXKd

Here I am a month into my last grad class before the magic of a M.Ed can be placed behind my name. The newest task for my EC&I 832 class is to look at learning theory and how it connects to what I’m doing in my classroom. Immediately I started thinking about George Siemens who I was introduced to in my EC&I 831 class. I remember leaving the session with my head bouncing around concepts like “connectivisim,” “connected learning, “emergent curriculum” and the power of networks. It has taken a  bit of time for everything to roll around and emerge as some concrete thoughts for me to work with.

Connectivism:

  • knowledge as networked
  • learning as connecting, creating
  • systemic impact: designing education to optimize the value of networks

Siemens made the point that networks are complex despite their apparent simplicity. This led to a discussion on the value of networks, what our networks look like and when do we introduce networks to students. Since that first discussion I’ve developed learning networks for myself and my students  to expand our learning opportunities. In the last two years my students have participated in blogging challenges, 1001 Tales, collaborative projects, exchanges with Imagiverse, Around the World in 80 Schools and continued blogging with classblogmeister. Recently, I introduced  Twiducate to my students as a way to connect within the classroom. Siemens work supports the ways that I can facilitate learning in my classroom through connections.

My own learning has developed through my Twitter network, colleagues that I’ve collaborated with in the past and various Ning groups. I regularly chat with colleagues through online networks as we share project ideas, technical help and new learning.

The one comment that Siemens made that I continue to think about is“one new piece of information opens up a whole new area of learning.” Isn’t this the truth.