The Quest

Our Quest, throughout this learning experience was to bear in mind and consider while learning, the most  effective ways to share our knowledge and resources accumulated, in order to bridge the “digital divide” between those of our colleagues and other faculty members “in the know” and those who don’t know-(in regards to education and web 2.0 technologies).

A broad and interesting quest, In my experience with computer and information technologies there are three ways to learn. #1) fiddle, #2) read #3) be taught

Of these the one that teaches the most is fiddling, the one that shows you the tricks, fast-tracks the process and helps in the most relevant way is one on one attention, and reading and tutorials are always there as a back-up or start-up to help on the path.

Possibly if our colleagues or faculty members have no experience with web 2.0 and have an inclination to begin learning a broad overview of technologies giving a brief précis would  be useful, at least to create a starting point of interest for further exploration.

Beyond that its a matter of self-directed learning, a matter of finding people, resources, networks, software and ideas that can help… and perusing them.

At least it will be, until with the advent of web 7.0 and the use dictation to have the computer perform as you desire.

web 2.0 programs from go2web20.net

go2web20.net, whilst being one of the coolest sites I have ever looked at contains a bewildering array of programs designed around of fulfilling the philosophical attributes necessary to say, “that is web 2.0”

they range from the uber cool, to the not so functional, to the reinvention of the wheel and soon to be forgotten or perhaps never even explored

the coolest thing about this site is the little explanation bubble that comes up as you drag the mouse over each innovative software package- go on try it! www.go2web20.net without which sorting through that mound of software alone would be to say the least, unappealing.

We explored three programs this in class:

Fotoll- an online application for making and posting polls

Kerpoof- a rather mundane application designed to be used in making cards, pictures, animation, short films etc.

and Pikikids- a comic making application that allows the uploading of scanned or internet based images-(accident waiting to happen)

web2.0 software offers a huge range of potentially useful programs

the trick is sorting through them to winnow out the wheat from the chaff, and then finding ways to help utilize what you find in the pursuit of effective classroom learning, in ways that are worth the trouble.

Google earth, the one stop shop for all your atlas needs.

Google earth can only be described as super-dooper-uber-smashing-cool

Essentially a composite mapping system, covering practically the entire globe including; detailed satellite images-(best resolution to 15cm), topographical maps, three dimensional as-real animations, and various overlays. Google earth is both downloadable software and online forum.

In the words of Google earth- “Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and even explore galaxies in the Sky. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places and share with others.”

Along with first player “fly through Google earth” animations, three-d animation of the landscape, real satellite and plane images, street-map style overlay or basic view-(allowing various levels of complexity in what is shown) Google earth links in with:

real life webcams, street view-(360 degree panorama shots taken in sequence along that can be navigated by the user along most roads of many major cities in the US and Australia, many in Japan and the tour de France rout), ‘Panoramio’- uploaded pictures of other areas or landmarks, wikipedia, an integration that ties google earth in with wikipedia articles, traffic, weather and points  of interest etc -(ship positions etc are available from other services)

Paid versions have more features including movie making and gps capacity and integration.

Google earth integrates with Google maps, and Google sky, essentially the same program except this time looking outwards, these further integrate with Google mars and Google moon.

In the classroom Google Earth (& Co.) has clear-(and ever improving) applications for  (at least) S&E,  Maths,  English and Science. -(and I’m sure some for arts and phys. ed. too) especially on the large screen

eg.  http://earth.google.com/outreach/edu_culture.html                                                                                    http://earth.google.com/outreach/env_science.html

etc.

And… if we were to accept that children should be able to upload photographs, podcasts etc, this would be an interesting forum to use.

downsides?

I honestly cant see any, let me know if you can!!

search engines, effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and the ever present duty of care

In a sense the use of search engines in a classroom is just as much a matter of consideration for the parents as it is for the teacher.

Search engines are algorithms that search the internet for information, pure and simple.

There are probably thousands of them.

The problem with this is that at least a quarter of the internet is devoted to porn, much is devoted to violence and a lot to other things children should perhaps be protected from, such as American Television and Religious extremists.

As our in-class presentation showed -(http://curtininnovationteam.wikispaces.com/Search+Engines) even the carefully selected child-suitable search engines were not infallible, turning up websites that were certainly not what I would like a child of mine to be exploring in school.

In conclusion, while search engines are one of the most important features of the internet, it is essential that students learn how to use them effectively and efficiently, but it is just as important that students are protected from the wide range of materials the internet holds that children should not be exposed to.

A range of strategies including safe-search filters, age appropriate search engines-(especially but not exclusively in the lower grades), and computer based website blocking software are useful strategies in regards to this.

For any and all that are interested, here are three fantastic websites that teachers might want to have a look at in regards to their own web-searching tactics.

http://www.philb.com/whichengine.htm

http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

http://www.infopeople.org/search/chart.html

happy hunting 😀

Clickers

Well today I took part in presenting to my peers the innovation known as “the clicker”

Clickers are pretty cool I suppose,  and the research is pretty clear, they really do genuinely benefit some aspects of classroom lessons, including engagement, enjoyment, understanding, summative and formative assessment, time on task, and potentially maybe even learning.

I like them because of their googly ‘we work with all of the software for everything else’ nature, sliding nicely into the whiteboard system-(or not as the case may be)

Clickers are essentially a remote response system, a handheld device that allows each student to respond to questions asked by the teacher.

Depending on the software they are used with, or the type of system this can vary, but the functionality is essentially the same.

They can be used for any purpose that you can envisage for such a device.

The specific software and hardware we looked at in class was the turning-point system, not a testing system or a system that works outside of the classroom with a remote receiver.

Simply explained the turning point system consists of three components, a toolbar/add on that fits into PowerPoint presentations allowing active polling of the audience, keypads with limited response buttons that allow limited audience response, and a receiver that fits into any normal ‘thumb drive’ port on the computer, the system we used utilized radio for transmission.

The potential draw backs of such a system include; the price-(at the very least ten US dollars per student) the limited nature of multiple choice questioning for testing systems, and the potential for over-reliance by a classroom teacher.

On the upside ,the system is incredibly simple to use, supported by research as to its benefits, practically invincible, and its simple functionality ensuring it will remain relevant-(for that exact function) for years after many new models have been introduced to the market.

Online Photosharing

well long gone are the days of developing your own photos, and perhaps even of film, sigh…

I will one day tell my students, when I was a child we used to go outside to ride our bikes.

Playing cricket meant actually hitting a real ball, and going surfing meant actually getting in the ocean.

But I suppose its all progress, now we can take photos with our phones, webcams, video cameras-which might be cameras and phones too, and so forth and so on, and share them in files of thousands straight to the net.

I’ve been using online photo-sharing for years, as a record of children’s work, as a way of keeping in touch while travelling, as a way of building up conversation pieces and discussion staters, showing graphs, and so forth and so on.

And damn, the free images on the net are soooo cool!!!

I have concerns about privacy, accessibility, purposeful use with students, parental concerns, inappropriate content accessing by students.

Unless I am convinced otherwise I am going to be storing my photos to my hard-drive or thumb drive.

Much as it may be useful for me privately and much as I have used it in the past, I prefer the security of having a hard copy stored in my bag. on disk.

The I-pod / Mp3

Yes we can use these in class or outside for school stuff, yes we can record on them, yes they can play sound and music, yes we can have quiz’s, flashcards, music, podcasts, videos and so forth and so on and yes there is DEFINITELY a place for these in the education of students who have a visual disability.

BUT, is it fair to expect every family to buy one for their child, is it affordable for the school to buy one for every child-(bearing in mine their notorious breakability) and will it really make a concrete contribution to student learning??

(I have to admit, the dictionary and encyclopaedias for them are kind of cool)

Does the smaller screen and smaller speakers of an I-pod with its individualised experience justify its price?

Is there an important difference in that individualisation that means we cannot more effectively supply visual and audio media to the whole class via sorround sound and a E-whiteboard?

Should we be teaching students to rely on technology instead of books? I-pods instead of computers?

Is it worth the price?

Google docs, a googly future awaits!!

Google docs, (and other such online access docs)

Essentially an online access document for use in group collaboration, -(if you know how to use the internet and office)

I’m genuinely interested in knowing how anyone may have used this one-(with good effect), or envisages it being useful in the educational sense.

Personally, in-so-far as my view of “google docs” extends at the moment, I’m hesitant about embracing it for group assignments/homework. -(in the primary school context)

Simply because no internet=no access, and I’m not in favour of setting assignments that discriminate against students on the basis of their home situation, or perhaps on the basis of skills not relevant to its outcomes-(such as computer literacy on a S and E project)

I can see some use for it with keeping open googly connections between the home and work.-(everything talking) whiteboard, computer, projector, clickers, etc. and  also potentially with collegial collaboration on shared programming etc.

I would love to hear from anyone who has any really positive uses or experiences with this technology in the primary school environment.   🙂

Podcasting???

A podcast is the audio or video (digital) file first developed for the I-pod scripts that can be distributed through the net by syndicated download.

In laymans terms its software that amounts to a glorified dictaphone-(or youtube) with a easy way to share it via the net.

What is the place of this in education?

According to wiki put together by my class, ( http://curtininnovationteam.wikispaces.com/Podcasts ) ‘Podcasts’ have many uses, but upon examination these uses do not relate to the aspect that makes podcasting unique-(its method of sharing) but rather relate to the fact that you can record audio of video and play it back, which neither has to be digital-(althought its useful) nor based on a computer or in any way related to the internet.

Podcasting’s main benefit would appear to be the ease with which you can transfer the file over the net, although the huge range of podcasts available that with careful and time-consuming vetting may be educational, must also be listed as a benefit.

On the down side of the potential applications for pod casts;
Should we expect our students to each have an I-pod-(or equivalent)?
Is it worth recording our voice when we could have our students practicing reading?
Should students be using this technology?
Should we use online lectures, radio shows, found through podcast sites? etc?

An interesting and useful way of sharing, but like photosharing I have to say I prefer the physical hard-copy.

Smarter boards, Smarter kids?

The smartboard/projector combo has got to be one of the coolest things to be brought into the arsenal of the classroom teacher for a rather long time.
However with all its potential and regardless of the fact that it appears to be a major component of the direction education around the world is heading, it is something that I have learned very little about the actual use of in my university training, and something I believe might take years to become truly competent with.

The specific functionality of a electronic whiteboard is simple, it is everything that a computer screen can display, combined with the ability to function as a touch screen, essentially a glorified tablet.

Naturally there is software around that complements this functionality.

That is to say,,, using this technology as a gimmick is easy, truly making the most out of this board pedagogically and in reality might be somewhat more challenging, as it appears to truly be an acquired skill.

While the research I have read in regards to the electronic whiteboard has overwhelmingly shown it to be of use in several areas that form important considerations for the classroom teacher, It seems an almost bewildering innovation to really grasp the use and range of without some serious practice.

At the same time, exciting and daunting.

It is bizarre to know of and be able to see in every university class, this innovation that I believe will become a fundamental tool for me in my career, along with the wider practice of teaching around the world. While at the same time I am without access to it. Or for that matter, real and comprehensive understanding of its hardware set up and use, pedagogical and professional usage for the primary years, and true, research supported, educationally useful software capabilities.

As with the so named evolution of web 2.0, I’m excited to see where the next generation of software and hardware head with the whiteboard. A googlier world awaits. -(and with its prohibitive pricing hopefully a cheaper one)