Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reflection...Good Times!

Final Blog Posting…for EDES 545 : (
Blog Posting #11-Reflection
Well…I have written about reflection several times in my previous blogs. I see reflection as a great tool for personal growth and professional development. I am glad that I can now reflect on the happenings in EDES 545!
Highlights of my Learning:
Now that I look back on the long journey through this course I realize how much I learned and, of that, what I will carry with me throughout my career as a Teacher-Librarian. When I first read the name of this course, “Information technologies for Learning” I was not overcome by enthusiasm. I must say…I was one of those teachers who was a little hesitant to drive on the technology highway (so to speak). My integration of technology consisted of teaching my students how to look up a book title or the works of an author on the library computer. Now, I feel much more confident in this area and I must admit I am looking forward to converting many of my colleagues into “techies”. So, the biggest highlight of this course for me was gaining confidence in my ability to use Web 2.0 tools in my library.
Collaboration is another highlight for me as it was hugely beneficial in my journey as well. I am used to reading an article for a class and having to dissect it on an individual basis, and then having the familiar feeling of, “Am I understanding this correctly?” I once even tried to have my mom read one of my course articles so we could converse about it and I could see if she would come from the same perspective…she did! What I am trying to say is that having the opportunity to follow up an article with collaboration now seems almost essential in the learning process for me. I would read an article, connect it to my life and teaching experiences, read what others thought and then discuss! The collaborative aspects of this course were definitely one of the highlights for me.
Another highlight from this course was how useful it was in preparing me for my future role as a Teacher-Librarian. Not only did I learn what that role entailed, but I also learned tools that I could use for the rest of my teaching career. I learned about the tools, researched them and even got to use them in this course. The saying “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” makes sense to me, but I think it should include, “Fish with a man.” I am a firm believer that in order to truly learn something you must do it. This course has taken inquiry-based learning methods and given me an opportunity to really learn by doing. I now have the tools to create my own wikis, podcasts, blogs etc… into my library and teach them to my colleagues. These are tools I can take everywhere with me.
The last highlight I will mention is that this course has really taught me that information technology really can transform learning! We no longer live in a world where text-base, pencil and paper teaching will prepare our students to be successful and productive members of society. Our everyday lives are bombarded with technological innovations that have preceded us and will continue to. In order for our students to walk proudly and confidently and feel prepared for this world they must be information literate. Information literacy skills are imperative in preparing for the jobs that are available to our youth today. We must start teaching these skills to our students at a very young age. This course not only exaggerated this idea, but also helped prepare me to prepare my students and colleagues in these skills. I now have the ability to use the appropriate resources to teach this generation of students how to effectively use the technological tools they were born into.
This course has been tremendous in my Professional Development as a teacher and I look forward to using all of the tools in my future. I cannot say that about many of the University courses I have taken!
Lowlights of my Learning:
The lowlights of EDES 545 are a lot more difficult to come up with. Obviously the first would be the amount of time, effort and frustration it took me to learn and perfect the tools. Creating my blog was very challenging at first because I had never “blogged” before and I did not know if I would enjoy it. Once I figured out what was expected of me I did find blogging easier, but weekly blogs still plagued me in my sleep!
Another lowlight of my learning is this course is the fact that it is ending and all of the collaboration that took place is going with it. The constant ideas and feedback from peers was not only relevant to my present job, but also very interesting and entertaining. I will miss hearing stories about others libraries and gaining valuable insight from those whom have been in this profession a lot longer than I have.
The last lowlight I will mention is that this course was online. I think about taking this course in a classroom environment where I could see examples of the tools being used and contribute directly to live conversations. There is something to be said for face-to-face contact and learning and I really do feel that I would have gained more valuable insight with personal interactions in EDES545.
I cannot say that any of these lowlights would ever sway me from recommending this course to others as they were only minor setbacks. Even the lowlights weren’t that bad!!!

Future Plans:
When I initially started this course I didn’t really know the full role that a Teacher-Librarian played in their school. Now that I am more aware and confident of this role, I have no doubts about continuing in this field. This is my first year as a TL and I will definitely be continuing as a TL in the future. My immediate plan is to complete my coursework so I can be professionally trained as a TL and then continue to work to work in my District. I would love to become more involved in the integration of technology in our libraries and I will find a way to do this. I have even considered starting a blog on integrating technology into Elementary libraries so I can network and gain insight from people all around the world. I will definitely try to incorporate the web 2.0 tools I have learned into my current school. I plan on beginning the foundation for a library website in my school that contains links to several outside sources that my students and colleagues can use for resources for their own Professional Development. My future plan is to have my own library that has a traditional community-like feeling, but a modern outlook on incorporating technology into schools.
I have already circulated several of the articles I have discovered through EDES 545 and I will continue to do so. Joyce Valenza’s work has been inspiring and I definitely want to learn from much more of her work. I would like to introduce my colleagues to some of her podcasts as I think they are impressive and beneficial to all teachers.
I have learned as much from others in this class as I have learned from the articles and Professors. Through constant collaboration I have learned and incorporated several ideas into my library already. For example I have recently introduced a comfy reading corner where students are welcome any time of the day to sit and read or just reflect. Several of us collaborated on this idea and a few course members suggested similar situations in their libraries. I have found that my students love knowing they can come to the library just to think and take a breather. I always thought of my library as having an open-door policy, but through the suggestions of my peers I have realized there is much more I can do to promote this idea.
All in all from day one until now this class has been a lot of work, but very beneficial. It is by far one of the only classes I have ever taken that I am leaving knowing I will use most of what I have learned. Initially I doubted my own ability or interest in learning about technology, but now I have the confidence to continue building this knowledge. When collaboration and blogs were being built I thought to myself, “These people must have taken some introductory course that I have never heard of.” Beautiful, professional blogs were created out of nothing and all of a sudden an empty WebCT section was transformed into a world of information. I did not feel as though I was contributing to this and so I had to take extreme measures and re-learn the basics of creating a blog. With some help from others blogs and some trial and error I eventually created a somewhat comparable blog. I feel as if I will perfect it in the future for self-satisfaction. Maybe a few strays will pass by and be impressed by what I have done through learning about Web 2.0 tools.
So goodbye for now….but not for long!

Blogs for Professional Development

Blog Posting # 10
After much thought and deliberation on which of the fascinating Web 2.0 tools would be most beneficial to introduce to my staff I have chosen the first and last one that this class introduced me too-Blogs!
There is a substantial reason for my choice; I think that blogs and blogging have the potential to enhance learning and incorporate reflection; also you can literally create links to ALL of the web 2.0 tools we have learned throughout EDES 545! For example blogs can contain links to wikis, photo sharing (Flickr), podcasts, multimedia sharing sites, virtual reading (including virtual books), voice threads, social networking sites. So, because of these potentials, it seems to me that blogs would be best web 2.0 choice to introduce to my staff!
Most of us are aware that this “Information Age” we are living in requires us to be more information literate than ever before. We are living and teaching in a new and complex generation in which technology plays the leading role. We, as teacher-librarians need to instill information literacy skills in our students to prepare them for their futures in this world. When questioned about how Web 2.0 tools, like blogs, can help with the teaching of information or literacy skills Joyce Valenza responded that they allow students and teachers to “... record, manage and reflect on major research projects. These make the chaotic process more transparent and more interactive. They allow teacher, librarian, mentor, and peer intervention. They can also prevent research disasters.” I agree that web 2.0 tools, specifically blogs, can make learning way more interactive. Francis Harris suggests that blogs can transmit a sense of voice and personality. She introduces us to an example of this transmission with Northfield Mount Hermon’s School library blog site. The website contains blog entries and pictures of students in the library doing various activities. It really does transcribe a feeling in users as they read the blog entries and look at weekly “library lounge lizards.” This site is a good example of one of the many benefit class blogs could provide. Harris also reminds us that blogs are great tools for “self-expression, communication and information exchange.” These are three very important factors in my desire to push for the integration of this web 2.0 tool.
I also think that reflection plays a major role in good teaching and learning practices. I would like to remind my staff that through reflection, they themselves have likely come a long way in their profession. Introducing blogs to their classrooms could allow teachers to reflect on their own, and their student’s ideas, suggestions and opinions. Blogs are essentially electronic journals, and journals have a use in mostly every classroom I have ever been in.
As well as creating their own blogs for classroom and personal use, teachers and students can learn how to use educational blogs for professional development. In initiating my proposal to introduce blogs I would showcase some of the professional blogs I have come across. There are many educational blogs that I would introduce and stress that could be beneficial to learning for both students and teachers. Joyce Valenza has a “NeverEndingSearchBlog” that is an incredible resource for teachers and administrative staff. The TL-DL Blog that we were introduced to through EDES 545 is another great example of a blog I have used for professional development. There are also many educational blogs for students to discover and be able to comment on. They include KW Zone (Kids World Zone), which is a fantastic site for kids to discover blogging. This site is not purely educational, but it definitely has the potential to get kids excited about blogging. Also 21Classes is a great student-centered resource for educational blogs. Most of these blog sites are free; you simply have to register to become a member. Therefore another great reason to incorporate this learning tool is that it is cost effective. This would also appeal to administration who may present a challenge in the implementation of this tool if it was to be costly!!
I also think that blogs are a great introductory web 2.0 tool for teachers because of their potential in the future integration of more of the web 2.0 tools. As I mentioned earlier, all of the other 2.0 tools that are beneficial in the classroom (wikis, podcasts, and multi-media sharing sites) could later be integrated to classroom or individual blogs. In EDES 545 we were first introduced to blogs and then step-by-step we integrated other web 2.0 tools into them. By the end of the semester we had created blogs that looked professional and would be great learning tools for others. So I think that this same idea would work with my staff. I would share my idea that teachers could firstly introduce their students to a simple blog site like The teacher could have previously set up their own blog to get students interested in blogging and then have their students each create their own. Once students were comfortable with the blogging tool, the teacher could incorporate another web 2.0 tool like a wiki. Teachers could lead by example and slowly build up these tools along with their students to eventually integrate many web 2.0 tools. I think this would also be a great idea for a teacher workshop. If I had the time and administrative support I could introduce teachers to one web 2.0 tool at a time, all through our blogs, and they would learn of the benefits to their classrooms by actually using the tool. I could also use an aggregator to link together some of my favorite blogs so that teachers would realize that blogs were also great social networking tools. An aggregator would also make it possible to connect all of the individual student blogs to a central class blog or school blog…I don’t know anybody that wouldn’t be impressed by that!
I think that it is important to create something impressive so that you could capture teacher’s attention immediately. For example I would create a library blog site and send the link to teachers so they could learn about new resources in the library, author’s visits, collaborative schedules etc. This would likely capture teacher interest in this teaching tool by showing them some of its benefits. One of the first teaching techniques I ever learned about successful teaching was to begin every new unit with an attention grabber!!!
I understand that one of the challenges in incorporating this tool includes some teachers being uncomfortable with the thought of incorporating technology into their classrooms. Many teachers, including myself several months ago, may be fearful of integrating tools they know nothing about. Maybe they cannot figure out their DVD player at home and so cannot even imagine technology as having a place in their classrooms. I would encourage these teachers to give blogs a try by introducing simple techniques to get them started. If they did not feel overwhelmed they may become more open-minded about this great tool. . “Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts…Oh my” would be a great introductory video to introduce staff to blogs as a web 2.0 tool. The video discusses that blogs are one of the tools that can be very beneficial to learning because “students respond to technology more quickly than they respond to pen and pencil.” I think it is important to remind teachers that these web 2.0 tools are not only beneficial teaching tools, but they really do help students learn better. I also discovered a great web link called “The Year of the Blog…” which gives teachers great ideas for introducing blogs to their classrooms. I would definitely incorporate this site in my push for reluctant staff to integrate this great web 2.0 tool. “Using Blogs in the Classroom” is also a great video on YouTube because it interviews real teachers on why blogs are beneficial in the classroom. I wouldn’t use this specific video as an introductory video to blogging, but it does state some incredible benefits of blogs in the classroom from a teacher’s perspective. The video also addresses the importance of blogs in allowing teachers to “live something from a student’s perspective.” I think blogging is an incredible way for students to be able to voice their perspectives. Teachers can gain valuable insight into their student’s perspectives by reading their blogs.
So, I think I have created a sense of what I would do to integrate blogs as a Web 2.0 tool to introduce to my staff. I have mentioned several articles, websites and videos that would aid in my journey to do this and I have also discussed the importance of blogs in professional development for teachers and students. I have included ways to motivate reluctant teachers and also a bigger plan for the future of my technical integration. I have also addresses potential challenges in the integration of this web 2.0 tool. Let’s take this blog and implement it!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Today...I went for a blog!

Blog Posting #9

Blogging? Hmmm...what can I say? I am so used to blogging now it seems that is has become a habit more than a conscious effort. i do enjoy it and have created a personal blog that I am not yet confident enough to show many. I must say that I think the number one benefit of blogging (in the classroom and outside) is refection. Blogging allows you to look back on your writing and see what you were thinking at that time. A friend of mine has always been a big "blogger" and I read her blog, but never created my own out of fear I would have nothing to say that interested anyone reading it. Through blogging in this course I have realized that it is not only about the people reading your blog, but as well it is about you recording thoughts and being able to later read and reflect on them. When you are recording your thoughts and re-reading them you learn a lot about the way you think and reason. I think this would be beneficial for students in their learning process. If you had students create a blog it would be a virtual journal/diary and could potentially be a real life changer.

Blogging uses in the classroom;

-Reading students blogs would allow us to understand them better. We could have students create weekly blogs and through this we could understand what is happening in their lives. This would be especially great for introverted students who chose not to talk in class a lot.
-Blogs would be a good way for students to better connect with each other. Through blogging students could communicate and form connections outside the classroom that could carry through within the classroom. A community like feeling could be created from blogging amongst peers.
-Blogs would be a good way for students to converse about anything that is going on in their lives. Maybe for those that don't have close relationships with parents/teachers/peers blogs would offer a way to have a virtual conversation. Students could blog about anything they wish to in order to get their thoughts out.
-Blogging would allow your students to practice their writing skills. If you had your students create blogs that would be marked you could use them to assess their writing skills.
-Blogging would be a great way to introduce students to the beneficial uses of computers. Especially for those students who were not confident using computers, blogging would prove that they could definitely use one.
-Blogging is a way to get out whats on your mind. Unlike many of the other Web 2.0 tools we have come across, blogging is a way to record personal thoughts and feelings. Blogs don't have to be public, but can be just the same. Students could have one blog that is just for personal use and a public one for friends/family etc...
- If students have a blog in school it forces them to write for an audience. Students would likely put forth more effort and imaginative writing skills when writing for an audience.
Those are just some of the many examples of ways that blogging can be beneficial in the classroom.

Creating a blog:

Creating a blog is amazingly easy. I have explored several blogging sites and here is a list of some of my favorites;

Essentially a blog is a personal space for your mind on the Internet. ! It can be a collection of thoughts, pictures, ideas, links, political beliefs and anything else you can dream up that is organized in chronicle order and can be viewed in an HTML browser. You definitely do not have to be a "techie" to figure out a blog. The blog sites that I explored all made it very simple to set up an account...and most of them are free. From my explorations I found that most blogs are updated quite frequently and are usually kept up by the same person. I didn't see many blogs that were written by a network of people or even more than one person. I also found that most blog sites were written on specific topics. There were many personal blogs that were diaries of people's lives, but there were also several blogs that were topic specific. Here are some of the features that I found on most of the blog sites I explored;
-Archives-This includes links to past entries and websites etc.
-comments-others who read the blogs can usually leave comments about the blog writer.
-Photos-Most blogs have pictures posted within them
One of the greatest things about a blog is that you do not have to go to separate sights to download all of your information. For example you can just go to your blog and download pictures, record information, download web links etc.

Articles related to blogging:

I found some interesting articles when I was exploring blogs. One of the articles was called "What we are really doing when we blog."
Meg Hourian, the author, mentions a few things about blogs I found very interesting. She introduces us to an article she reviewed that suggested that after September 11 blogs took on a different tone. Blogs, the article suggested, used to be personal diaries, but after September 11 they became political sites that commented on news channels etc. This I found interesting because not once did I come across this type of blog in my search. I agree these extreme political blogs are likely out there, but this seems like an extreme generalization and it really got me thinking about whether or not others don't blog because they think this is what blogs are all about. I must admit that the first time I heard the word blog I thought about websites in which people rant and rave about wordly issues (which can be good at times) and self-consumed worries. I had a negative outlook on blogging myself so that is why this statement caught my eye. The author puts a more positive spin on blogging as a wonderful form of communication rather than political badgering. She suggests that it is a system that allows us to say what we need to say...which I agree with.

One of the other articles I found interesting was called "Blah, Blah, Blah and Blog." This author refers to blogs as transforming journalism as we know it and being the way of the future. He also brings up an example of how blogs are being used as a tool in the corporate world to inter-connect people in different regions within the same company. When you think of this idea many of the other Web 2.0 tools come to mind, but never blogging???? The author suggests employees that live in very different areas but feel like they really know each other because of blogging. So I guess blogs can connect people in the same ways as tools like wikis do. They are a great way to learn about people.

Blogs related to professional development:

K-12blogWrite - A blog site for teachers from K-12. They describe this site as a that is very informal. People can come and go, chat, close the doors or open them on blogging.

-This blog site is run and written by a technology coordinator, but the topics range from technology in the classroom to philosophical issues in teaching. -This web link provides us with several of the best teacher blogs there are. It seems to me that this would be the place to go if you wanted to look through a list of topics before looking at a blog for professional development.

The one that I reviewed in detail was called "Teaching Generation Y" ( This blog site reviewed issues from cyber bullies to problem-based learning. I liked the fact that there was a categories section where you could highlight a specific entry based on its title. This was convenient because you didn't have to go through the blogging in chronological order but rather you could just jump to the blog you wanted. This blog is fantastic for professional development because it allows you to explore a wide variety of controversial and non-controversial issues. It also organizes them in an easy to follow way with no time wasted!

So, I think blogging is a tremendous tool, not so much because it is a useful teaching tool, but more so in terms of reflection. Students can use blogging more for personal motivation and reflection than they could to learn new material. Reflection was one of the most important tools I learned in my teacher training and I have definitely carried that through to my students. Blogging is one of the Web 2.0 tools that allows this ritual to be practiced.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Social Networking Sites

Blog Posting #8- Social Networking Sites

Ahhh…finally something I have had some experience with. I must say that with some of these blog postings I have had little or no experience at all, with social networking sites I was a fence hopper for months and finally jumped in with the rest of them. I was always one of those people that claimed if I wanted to stay in touch with someone I would call them or go for coffee with them, I didn’t think an electronic relationship was sufficient for those I was even mildly close with. I was wrong, I admit it! Through facebook I have come back into contact with people from high school, people from the old small town I used to live in, friends of my family, family itself etc. I find out who has had babies, bought a new house, got married and graduated and much, much more. It is hard to change the way you think in regards to things of this nature, you must admit to yourself that what you once believed has, yet again, been changed by technological innovations. I remember a time when my father (now addicted to the stock market) said that computers were a waste of time and people needed to learn a real trade. Now when I think about that statement I laugh…the man now has 2 large computer monitors and the best computer money can buy. I was the same way with Social Networking Sites…I thought of them as immature ways to “hook up” with boys or chat MSN style with friends. It turns out that these sites can be incredible forms of communication and great fro sharing life’s precious moments via pictures and quotes. Facebook is a social networking site that I frequent on a daily basis. I have not often thought of its uses in school because it has had quite negative stigma attached to it in my school. Principals warn teachers to not allow students on their facebook profiles (which I obviously completely agree with if it is a personal profile) and principals also do not allow it on the District computers. I do have several of my colleagues on my facebook and this is the only real professional/social relationship I have had. It is nice to see what your colleagues do outside of the school doors, really schools are not our complete world. I did notice that some of my colleagues have parents of the students in their classes on the profile…that seems like a bit of a fine line, but I think it is acceptable. I can now see having a facebook profile that is dedicated to your classroom or library and all of your students and their parents can have access to it. I believe that teachers must have their personal lives separated from students outside of the school, but not in an obsessive way. I think that it is a great idea to have a class facebook profile as a teacher or a teacher-librarian .


Before I rant on and on about the uses of Social Networking Sites let me define them in the way that I understand them.
“…web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.” (


This is the best definition I found for all that these sites entail. The possibilities of these sites are endless, but I have narrowed them down to…building electronic communities for people who share common interests and activities, or want to share in those of others.
Some examples of Social Networking Sites include Facebook, Friendster, classmates, Flickr, Flixster, Librarything (a great site for book lovers) and MySpace. The one I used a lot is Facebook, but I also use MySpace for music interests. To set up my Facbook account I simply went to Facebook. Com and followed the easy and free registration instructions. This is something else that is fantastic about these sights-they are free to join and use for everyone involved.

Are they beneficial in the classroom?

I can see some Social Networking Sites being useful in the classroom, although I do not see them as being as beneficial as some of the web 2.0 tools like Flixster and Wikis. I think that much of what they offer in terms of games, writing on each others walls and buying each other items is a complete waste of time. However some of the options available could be useful. For example I could see the teacher and each classmate being a part of each others facebook profile to learn about each others families, home life etc. I could also see it as a collaboration tool. Students could collaborate about group projects and teachers could assign projects and keep parent sin tune with what is going on in their classrooms. Parents could be on the class facebook to see their children’s friends and class participation. MySpace would also be useful for these reasons.

Cons to Social Networking Sites:
I do find some negative attributes to Social Networking Sites though. Many times when I go on mine people have left notes, pictures etc that I am not interested in nor do I want any part of. Although there are security measures I am sure it wouldn’t be difficult to “hack” into someone’s private profile. Also I think that these sites are hard for parents to monitor. Students could have private settings so their parents/teachers could only witness some of what is going on; also they have private passwords so that parents wouldn’t even know they had a profile. Also, just like in chat rooms, when you are dealing with virtual relationships, anything is possible. People could claim to be someone else… this could be dangerous even on a classroom site. When reading J.A. Hitchcock’s article “Cyberbullies, Online Predators and What to do about them,” I learned about all kinds of bad situations. In one example from the article some students pasted a classmates head onto the body of a cow. I could see this happening on a classroom site. Also the article mentions that many online predators have false identities and can influence the minds of young children. I hear about these cases all the time on “Dateline” and other News channels; it seems that it is too easy to be bullied by these predators, even on a closely monitored site. Hitchock definitely mentions some great advice when dealing with these situations, but you can never be too careful when introducing your students to a web 2.0 tool that could be negatively used. I guess you can say that about many of these tools, however this one seems particularly negative to me.

So all in all I think that there are better Web 2.0 tools for collaboration and classroom uses than Social Networking Sites. I think these sites are more beneficial for personal use.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Multimedia Sharing Sites

Blog Posting #7

Well I cannot say that I was beyond impressed by the idea of this particular Web 2.0 tool, not because it could not be useful, but rather because I have seen it used innappropriately so many times it has lost its appeal. You tube is an example of a multimedia sharing site that has been more than controversial at my school. Students spend a lot of time perusing music videos and funny clips rather than using it for educational purposes. I have decided to take my negative feelings about You tube and not let them sway my opinion while I research other multimedia sharing sites. In stead I will try and remain open-minded and develop educational uses for this tool in my library or classroom.

Having said that, let’s start out with a basic definition of Multimedia sharing sites. One of the websites I discovered that gave me the most understandable and basic definition was The definition they used was “Multimedia sharing sites facilitate the storage, sharing, and sometimes creation of audio, images/photos, and video.” This definition seems to include all of the benefits of multimedia sharing sites I have thought of while learning about them.

One of the first questions I asked myself when inquiring about multimedia sharing is why wouldn’t I just have my photos stored on my home computer and make a slide show from the program already on it? Well the answer is simple…It takes up way too much of the available storage space on your computer. Also you could not share these photos with the public, including friends and family, without e-mailing them. So if you use a multimedia sharing site you can not only save massive amounts of space on your computer, but you can also easily download photos and videos onto one of these sites to share with the public.

Voice threading is another reason that these sites are useful and one of the main reasons I can see them being useful in the classroom. Voice threading is when you can record an audio commentary that relates to an image you have uploaded to your computer. For example I could have a slide show of my family and have all members of my family record a voice commentary on their take of the picture. My mom and dad would obviously come from far different perspective than my sister and I.

What I Learned:

From researching some of the multimedia sharing sites I have learned you can do the following;
- You can upload pictures directly from your scanner or camera
- The up loader can create a movie for you with your own pictures (A fantastic option)
- You can “grab” any video, audio or picture clips to use in your own sites. This is an incredible tool for the classroom because students or teachers could “grab” pictures of videos of the resources relevant to their presentations.
- You could make your website/class website public so that you can get feedback from others.
- Voice Threads can be available all the time to create dialog for others and get feedback on your own.
- You can make voice comments on videos (FUN!)
- Security features allow you to decide who can do what. I still don’t know how “secure” these are.
- You can “doodle” and edit pictures and video files. So a teacher presenting can use the multimedia site like they would an overhead projector.
- One account can have several different identities. This would be beneficial to students collaborating on a project.

The above mentioned ideas are just some of the benefits of multimedia sharing sites offer.

How can these sites be beneficial in the classroom/library?

If you explore the suggested websites (Jumpcut and Voicethreads) you can see several examples of what I have just mentioned. I was very impressed that I could move around and zoom in and out while listening to commentary about the picture. I can see this being beneficial in classrooms in the following ways;
-multimedia sharing sites allow you to share ideas, information, charts, images and videos in an efficient and easy way.
-Students could learn from digital lessons i.e.; a scientist could show a science experiment on a multimedia sharing site and the kids in the classroom could add comments to it.
-Multimedia sharing sites would be great teaching tools for visual learners.
-Students would likely have an increased interest in presenting information in this digital format.
-Essentially, teachers could use these sites as digital whiteboards. For example a teacher could create a slideshow and the students could brainstorm ideas that could be presented on the site.
- Voice threads would capture the attention in any classroom and a human voice is a lot warmer than text in a book.
- Voice Threads could be presented in a style that would promote collaboration within classrooms and groups work.
- The flexibility to take part in the presentation at any time from any computer makes this a great web 2.0 tool.
-Students in a classroom could use their own voices to tell a story to the entire world via a multimedia sharing site. This would be a great idea for pen pals from anywhere in the world. Students could show pictures and describe them in their own words to pen pals that live in other cultures.

These are just a few ideas that I have considered using multi media sharing sites…the possibilities are endless.


Two major problems that I can foresee would be security and wrongful use. I researched a few possibilities for securing one of these websites because I could see students taking advantage of their ability to comment publicly on these sites. This could end in disaster if students decided to use these sights for the wrong reasons or make inconsiderate comments where they don’t belong. It seems to me that even if you secure your site there would be ways to get around this.

Also, as I have witnessed on You tube, these websites can be carried too far and be used for purposes that are far less than educational. I guess these web 2.0 tools are like anything else we are teaching our students…we can give them the tools and the best we can do is teach them to use them appropriately.

Setting up my own voice thread!

To set up my own voice thread I did the following;
-Went to and registered for a Yahoo account (Easy Peasy)
- Once registered I chose to create a “wizard” account to make a movie
-I uploaded the only 2 pictures I had on my computer from a recent trip to Mexico
-I went to Audacity to create an audio file for each picture. I created audio files with my computer microphone and saved them to my computer desktop.
-I re-opened my Jumpcut account and uploaded the two audio files I had made.
-I clicked on the picture and chose to “add an audio file”.
-Once I had added the audio files I had a very short example of a Voice Thread.

Although I would like to spend more time with this tool and try it out in the classroom, this brief introduction allowed me to remove purely negative thought in regards to mulitmedia sharing sites. I have such a negative feeling about Youtube that I had a hard time realizing the real benefits of this type of site in the classroom. Now I have already decided that I will create one of these movies to show my students a few amazing sites I have pictures of from a trip to Europe! They will likely benefit more from seeing my real pictures than that from a history textbook!

A very brief example of Voice Threading!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Hooray for Wikis!

I love this Web 2.0 tool…It is easy to use and very beneficial socially and academically.

To start off my exploration of wikis I watched “Wikis in Plain English.” Although I did have a limited amount of experience in wikis, this video put it all into perspective. The example set out was easy to follow and allowed me to understand how a wiki was more beneficial for collaboration than e-mail. Once I figured out how wikis could be used I immediately started exploring wiki sights to begin assignment #2. The following are wikis (recommended by the video mentioned above) that I perused to figure out what I would use:

I liked the way that had a video that showed you how wikis and their site worked.
I find these videos very beneficial, more so than written instructions. was great as well, although it bothered me that you had to create a wiki before you received instructions on how to use it. is the site my partner Jessica recommended for assignment #2 and that is the one we went with. I did like the fact that this sight had templates for your wiki spaces. Since I am a visual learner I LOVE templates. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use once I started to edit information in our wiki.
What are wikis good for? By Meredith Farkas is an article I found while searching through wiki facts on the web. This article was great because Meredith suggests several websites, some of which relate directly to teachers that were fun to look through and really showed the benefits of wikis. The following websites were the ones I looked through that Meredith recommended;
The first sight that was mentioned was a wiki creator designed for teachers. It seemed a lot like a networking wiki sight. They claim to have over 10,000 educational wikis, which is beneficial to teachers. The wiki sights started to blend together and they all seemed as easy to use as the you tube video suggested. There were the three buttons, Edit, Save and Link, which were similar on all the wiki sights. I decided that creating a wiki was all about personal preferences, such as template design, rather than discovering the one perfect wiki sight. Really, I would be fine using any of them, but most comfortable with pbwiki because I have used it for the creation of assignment #2.
The benefits of wikis in the classroom/libray
The following is a list of some of the benefits of using wikis in schools;
- They involve students in the building up of knowledge.
- They are ways to use and so students focus on the information rather than using a new technological tool.
- Students can feel like they have a say in all wikis because they can edit the pages.
- Wikis allow for class collaboration and would lead to discussions frequently because they would always be changing.
- They can teach students how to collaborate
- They can be used as a source of information and knowledge
- Wikis are a great way to complete group projects.
- Wikis would teach children co-operative learning skills.
- Wikis would enhance students understanding of building on each others ideas and how beneficial this can be.
- Wikis would be engaging to students because they are so interactive.
- Teachers could create class wikis and students could participate from home. Students would feel like they had a voice in classroom politics etc.
- Students could use a class wiki to collaborate and share information and ideas for class projects.
- Teachers could monitor student’s participation on a wiki.
- Wikis will help student reflect because they will get feedback on their input and also have it recorded so they can re-read it.
- Students can learn to review and peer-edit classmate’s work and ideas.
- Wikis can be used for presentations by students. For example assignment #2 in our course was a wiki presentation. I can definitely see this working in a classroom or library setting.
- Teacher-Librarians could create library wikis so students could leave comments about books etc. The links could take students to author’s websites.
- Students could use wikis to record school work so that they have a record of the years work. This would be great for teachers as well.
As you can see the list of wiki uses is long and students and teachers alike would both benefit form the use of this tool.
The only problem I can foresee with wikis in schools is the fact that teachers would need to be enlightened in their positive and beneficial uses. I think it has proven difficult to entice teachers to pick up these web 2.0 tools on their own in order to benefit their teaching techniques. Karthigeyan Subramaniam’s article “Teachers mindsets and the integration ofcomputer technology,” was included in our class recommended readings. She discusses the need for teachers to better understand computer technology when she states, “A better understanding of teaching with the use of computer technology is now urgently needed.” Subramanian’s suggestion rings true in every school now and in the future. Teacher’s mindsets need to be overhauled to include the idea that computer technology will help and not hinder their teaching. With wikis I could see teachers using them if they just learned how. If you could have a 30 minute workshop and show the youtube video mentioned above teachers would likely explore the benefits of tools such as wikis on their own. As Subramaniam mentions, they just need a better understanding. This hold true with all web 2.0 tools, not just wikis.

“Digital game-based learning once removed: Teaching teachers” by Katrin Becker is another article I discovered on training teachers. Two quotes stood out for me:

“Teachers cannot be expected to embrace digital games as a tool for learning unless they have a sound understanding of the potential as well as the limitations, and are confident in their ability to use games effectively to enhance learning.”

“Teachers need resources that are readily available. If games are going to be put to use as technologies for teaching and learning, teachers must not only be taught how to use them, but the resources they need in order to do so simply must be made available and easy to find.

This article discusses the use of computer games and how they can benefit student learning, but I think the premise of these quotes can relate to wikis as well. Teachers cannot be expected to see the benefits of wikis unless they understand wiki’s potential and they are confident in using it. Once teachers were confident in using wikis, they could introduce them in the classroom. Also, in relation to the second quote, teachers need these resources to be readily available. For example professional development should involve the uses of wikis and the school software should make creating wikis easy. If schools trained their teachers in using wikis (and other web 2.0 tools) and then made sure their software allowed for its development, wikis could be hugely beneficial.

So, in conclusion, wikis could definitely be beneficial to teaching and learning. If teachers were made confident in using wikis and made aware of their benefits, I think they could be used in classrooms and libraries everywhere!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Blog #5

Blog #5
Virtual Libraries

At first this term scared me, as a virtual library seemed to be something that would take the place of our school libraries. Once I explored the concept however I realized that the two could co-exist. A virtual library was just a virtual public or school library. So we still needed the actual building and librarian that was in it…Phew!
I read an article in Topic 3 of our course readings called
“Electronic books versus adult readers: effects on children’s emergent literacy as a function of social class.” As soon as I saw the title I got a bad feeling about the article, just like I did when I saw “virtual library”. However, after reading the article I did begin to see several advantages to electronic books. I read this article during the same time that I was exploring virtual libraries online, they seemed to relate to one another, and this is why I am mentioning it. Now one thing I cannot differentiate is whether or not virtual libraries have electronic books. I will go explore that and come back and let you know. But before I do that I will tell you that the advantages I saw to electronic reading material were in the fact that the kids would definitely be interested in an interactive book than one that they had to read through. I could see students be very interested in learning to read when they were doing it on an interactive website where they could press words and play games with the words on the screen. Now I will go find out if virtual libraries would have electronic reading materials, or just be networking links to several different library sites.

…Ok, Nope…don’t think they have much to do with one another. Initially I believed that virtual libraries were making our school libraries a thing of the past and that virtual libraries along with electronic reading materials were the way of the future. Upon reading and investigating further into the topic I discovered that virtual libraries were actually just networks. As far as I know and have learned they are actually extensions of school libraries…a way to take them other places so others can use their resources.

Virgil Blake is the author of an article that discusses virtual libraries and defines them for those of us who have never come across the idea. He states, “The virtual library is a metaphor for the networked library.” (Blake, 1994) I still questioned what exactly they meant by virtual libraries at first, even after reading this definition. Were they going to take the place of Elementary School’s Library so there was no such thing as a room in the school called the library? Or was a virtual library simply a webpage designed to globally network libraries? The article goes on to suggest that virtual libraries simply make it possible to go to a library’s website and have access to several other libraries as well. For example if you went to the Surrey Public Library’s homepage you could have access to libraries all over the Lower Mainland. After reading this article my mind was changed somewhat. I realized that what they meant by virtual library was not taking the place of the actual library, but rather creating an electronic network of the buildings so that people could have access to them from other places. Now this is not to say that our school libraries will not eventually be virtual, but not yet anyways. Phew!
An article that I came across called “Helping students use virtual libraries effectively” by Mary Ann Fitzgerald and Chad Galloway discusses that Departments of Education across the United States are incorporating virtual libraries into their education systems. Students were able to access a wide variety of information from these virtual libraries for school projects or general reading purposes. When I attended SFU, my local University, I had access to a virtual library. I found it very useful for my University studies and also remember thinking that it would have been great to have it in high school. Now I see that educators are realizing the benefits to virtual libraries and they are becoming more popular. Some of the benefits of virtual libraries in teaching are as follows;
- Virtual libraries are not the same as the internet. So students will learn that internet searches are not the only resources they can use for research purposes.
- Students will have access to resources from different libraries, not just their own.
- Resources from a virtual library will be scholarly articles and they will all be fact checked, unlike Wikipedia articles.
- Teacher-Librarians can use virtual libraries to entice teachers to trust that technology needs to become more a part of the curriculum.
- Virtual libraries are constructed collections of information, not like the internet which has scattered collections. These collections are organized for specific users and designed to meet the direct needs of students and teachers.
- Virtual libraries offer many different types of sources and many different formats as well, including digital formats.
- Virtual libraries provide immediate access to materials.
- Virtual libraries don’t close.
- Virtual libraries can bring information home to those with learning disabilities or physical disabilities.

As great as this is I think virtual libraries are they come along with the same problems as incorporating any other type of technological innovation into schools…the students learning to use it the right way. We would need to teach students to use this virtual technology in order to benefit them. Also another avenue of exploration is whether or not virtual libraries would be as beneficial to primary students. I know that the article on electronic books.
So…after yet another exploration of a technological innovation I am again please and impressed. I would love to see all libraries have some sort of virtual part to them!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Podcast Exploration

According to WikiPedia, a podcast is "a web feed of audio files (although increasingly people are applying the term to video and other media) that is placed on the Internet for anyone to download.It's usually possible to download the files directly from the website, just as one would normally do; however, special programs called podcatchers exist that let users subscribe to podcasts in order to automatically download and store the media files for later playback."
The only podcasting I have ever encountered thus far in my educational journey was in the introduction of this course with Joyce Valenza's Podcast. I must say that I wasn't impressed by podcasting until I discovered the different ways it could be used. The first thing that came to my mind was the negativity I felt towards listening to AM radio...which is what I felt podcasting was like. I wondered how my students would learn by listening to audio files derived from sources and presented like am radio...Boy was I wrong. I will take you step-by-step through my journey into the exploration of podcasting!
Creating my Podcast
1) Google "How to create your own podcast" I always start with a brief Google is familiar territory, what can I say!
2) Looked into various MP3 recording programs after reading that podcasting involved these programs to record audio files. I was slightly familiar with some of these sites from downloading information into my ipod shuffle.
3) Checked out classmates blogs to get ideas for what a podcast was like. I felt I needed to know what my classmates were using their podcasting for...a good variety I found out.
4) Downloaded Software from the internet to start my podcast creation...The software I chose was called Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. I found out about Adacity by doing another Google search on recommended software for podcasting use.
5) Audacity allowed me to create a podcast in MP3 format, however it would not allow me to export the MP3 from the program. Oh Oh...
6) So I had to download additional software called LameMP3 encoder (more Google searches). This allows Audacity to export MP3 files.
7) Once I realized I was able to record my voice I had to choose what to do my podcast on. I opted to base my podcast on a children's poem I was using in my library to teach the primaries about hibernation. The poem was not edcuational, but a good introduction and attention grabber to the unit I was going to introduce them to. I thought it would be neat to create something that would bring podcasting into the primary grades. Although I think podcasting is a valuable teaching tool within every grade, I wanted to create something visual using a talking character. Ex: Smokey the Bear. This type of character could potentially have a weekly lesson brought to the students in the form of a podcast brought to the students.
8) After looking on the internet for character podcasting I discovered Voki. Voki is a website launched by which allows you to create user profiles called "avitars". Simply put, an avitar is a computer users representation of himself/herself in the form of a 3D or 2D dimensional character (You can even upload your own photo). Ex: Video Game character.
Companies such as Burger King and Coke have using Voki for their advertising for years. An example of this type of software can be found at www.mytalking This example shows how Voki can be used in advertising as an effective tool in capturing audience attetnion. Corporate companies are also using this tool as virtual salesmen in a sense. This ties into why I would want to incorporate this type of podcast into my classroom, it would definitely get my students' attention if it is used to capture the world's attention.
9) Once I discovered Voki I literally spent several hours exploring all the possibilities it gives its users. You can create a character that looks like you, or you can create a n imaginative character. You can upload your photo and turn a character into a friend or family member too! I found a bear character that could represent me by communicating the "Fuzzy Bear" poem I was going to read. In a classroom setting I could use these character podcasts and children would get a kick out of it for sure, especially because they would hear my voice.
10) I recorded my voice using Audacity, then I uploaded the voice recording from Audacity by using the lame software. Once I had the voice recording in the Voki program I simply followed the step-by-step instructions to create my talking bear! (See Fuzzy Bear podcast)/.
Using Podcasting in the Library/Classroom

I discovered an article called "TOOLS FOR THE TEKS: INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM" that discusses using podcasts in the classroom as learning tools. The author starts out by suggesting that 21st Century education should focus on "authentic Literacy skills" for students. This, he goes on, includes "Learning to read, write, listen, speak, critically analyze information and communicate ideas using a variety of modalities." (Fryer, 2007) This quote embodies many of the ideas we have explored within EDES 545 by suggesting the need to teach students how to critically analyze and use different modalities to express themsleves. I think that podcasting is one of the modalites that teaches students about communicating ideas in a different way, this would also definitely increase student desire to express their thoughts.For example if you asked your students to do a presentation by creating a podcast they would likely be more excited than having to write a report, or create a presentation on paper. Also the audience would likely be more involved in the presentation and the students would cater it to their audience rather than just their teacher. Fryer suggests that some students are not motivated through writing assignments and receiving high grades from the teacher. These students, she suggests, would be able to try and capture the attention of his/her classmates through using technology rather than just working to please the teacher. I think this is a brilliant way of thinking. I think we all have students that could care less about pleasing the teacher, podcasting may offer them a way to learn by keeping them self-motivated.
The website ( is one that the article suggests is a good place to find classroom podcasts. This site shows great examples of using podcasting in classrooms and it gives us a pespective of just how beneficial they are as teaching tools.
There are many other ways that podcasting would be beneficial to the clasroom/library and they are as follows (Some I learned from the article and some are my ideas);
-Podcasting is in-expensive. We all know about budget constraints in the classroom, podcasting does not require an annual fee, or any fee for that matter. Students and teachers alike can get access to podcasting at home or in school for free. The only piece of equipment you need is a microphone, which is easily accessible and cheap for schools to buy. You can find most of the sofware needed for podcasting from free software downloading sites on the internet. ( is just one example site that podcasters can use to record audio for their podcasts. "Identifying Key Researcch Issues" states that one of the reasons for schools not integrating technology into their curriculum is the cost. This would be a great example to show teachers within the school that integrating technology doesn't need to be expensive.
-Audiene is unlimited with a podcast. As a teacher you could have the whole school listen to your podcast, or just your classroom. Parents could also listen to podcasts to get a taste of whats goingon behing closed doors within their children's classroom.
-Students, and parents for that matter, can access podcasts form home, or even their ipods. This is great considering that learning doesn't necessarily need to occur in the classroom all the time. Students could listen to podcasts as they are going to bed, in the car, or even on vacation. Students could always download other educational podcasts from worldwide sources. Joyce Valenza's podcast is an example of this.
-Podcasts can be audio files or video files. Fryer suggests that programs such as powerpoint have too many gimmecks that may distract students from what they are really supposed to be learning. Podcasting is so basic, especially audio podcast, that there are no distractions for students.
-Podcasting is a way to teach or tell a story digitally.
-Podcasting is interactive. Teachers and students can react to podcasts and leave comments or idea
-Podcasting is fun and creative. It allows students an outlet for their creative energy and it is interactive, which makes it fun!
21st Century Learning- Re-thinking traditional methods of instruction:
Fryer's article, as mentioned above, suggests that the 21st Century is one in which we need to focus on "Literacy Skills." One of our article in Topic Two's readings is called "Understanding Resources: Media and Information Literacy" and gives us a better definition of just what those skills entail. The article suggests that "...helping learners understand and deal with the world of media and information" is is the new way to think about teaching literacy skills. The article goes further to say that traditionally we thought of literacy as reading and writing, but it is time to re-think that and include "listening, viewing, speaking and image-making." It also states that ..."literacy education is to build essential skills for success in a complex information-rich environment." I think that introducing your class or library to podcasting is a great way to build these skills and help students understand the world of technology. As important as podcasting is as a learning tool it also prepares students for the digital world they are growing up in and will be presented to upon graduation and joining the workforce!
I think that it is important to remember that although students will be elated about being able to use this kind of technology, it must be used asppropriately as a learning tool. Podcasting, for example, can easily be used inappropriately and taken out of an educational context. In the library I asked that my students design their own homepage for our library website on a piece of paper. I wanted to see what they would come up with if given the freedom to create a homepage. Although I did remind them that it was a homepage for a "Library" many of them just wanted to be silly and imaginative with creating characters that had nothing to do with the library. For example one student drew a naked baby flying across the sky with a sign that read "I'm naked...can you see me?" I had to remind him that creating a website was not a joke and that this theme would be innapropriate for a library homepage. "Identifying Key Research Issues" adresses this idea in their article as well. They suggest that..."learning with technology should not be about the technology itself but about the learning that can be facilitated through it." This quote is a reminder that podcasting should not only be about the fact that students or teachers can present information digitally, but rather the information that is presented is of the most importance. Initially there will likely be excitement about learning how to podcast, but when the excitement dwindles the podcasting should be a way for students to remember information and be able to access it conveniently.
Wow! Podcasting is an incredible and fun tool that I will definitely be incorporating into my teacher's tools ideas!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blog Posting #3

Social Bookmarking Sites
Blog Posting #3-February 11, 2008
When I initially perused the delicious website I was brought back to an idea my boyfriend had shared with me several months ago. Andrew (my boyfriend) spends a lot of time (work and social) on the computer. He visits several websites daily for a variety of reasons ie; work projects or entertainment. His idea was to have a central website that opens as a homepage and have it download information from your favorite webpages. For example...He would go to his home page and he would be able to go from facebook to guitar lessons to his work inventory at the click of one button. All of the websites would be available from one page. I was surprised to see (and I may sound like a dinosaur) that something like this already existed. I initially thought that social bookmarking sites were more of a social neworking idea. Delicious, the first social bookmarking site I discovered (http://delicious/jcloke), is easy to use and very beneficial for anybody who visits multiple websites. How many times have you been playing around on the web when you come across a site that is of interest to you that you may want to go back to? This happens to me on a daily basis. I watched "Social Bookmarking in plain English" on You Tube for a brief overview on how to use these websites and then I went straight to I registered and then downloaded the tag button and the delicious button the YouTube video recommended. Then I started to think of all the websites I visit frequently and decided the best way to do this was through my "favorites". The YouTube video suggested that the favorites option was a great idea, but ended up getting lengthy and unorganized. I couldn't agree more! When I went to my favorites I had forgotten what many of the sites were because there was no notes. For example I had some favorites that said "work stuff", which I had to open to remember what they were. I am a very visual learner and am also very visually organized and so delicious appealed to me right off the bat. I tagged several websites with the tag button, which moved the site to my delicious homepage. After I had several sites on the homepage I began to "bundle" them into groups of websites that are related to one another. For example (I am a bit of a celebrity news junkie) I have a bundle with all of the celebrity websites I go to everyday and then another bundle with all of the blogs I visit weekly. They are all organized and it feels like I have completely renovated and cleaned out my disaterous favorites section. One other aspect that I discovered is that your delicious account is public. This means that others can see and use my delcious sites for their own entertainment or education purposes. This scared me at first...I felt like it may be a bit intrusive if my friends were able to see all the junkie sites I visit. Then I realized how beneficial this tool could be. I could create a delicious site for the school library which included all of the resource sites I recommend to my students everday. My students could go to the social bookmarking site and have all the resources they need at their fingertips and I could even organize the resource sights into subjects.
Delicous is not the only social bookmarking site I found...some of the others include, delirious, Digg and Most of the sites are similar, but have different ways of categorizing the sites you have tagged. Some of the social bookmarking sites, like are based on a more specific type of sites. is based on technology news and has combined that with social networking. Essentially they all work the same way and have the same advantages. I found delicious to be very user-friendly, maybe largely because the YouTube video showed me exactly how to use it. Delicious is the site that I will continue to use and I will incorporate it into my work and social lifee

Monday, February 4, 2008

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2
Video sharing sites.
Several months ago a few teachers and I were in the staff room (enjoying our third cup of coffee) chatting about YouTube. One of the teachers was adament that the program be taken off of the school computers. I wasn't surprised, as I too felt that the students abused this video sharing site when they were on the computers. We decided to do some research in this area and find out if our students were using this tool educationally, or abusing it. We created a communications book and we kept it in the computer lab. Every time one of our classes had computers we would jot down a few bits about whether or not our students had used YouTube and if so to what extent. Several weeks later we met to dicsuss it and several of us were not surprised at what we found. Most students were using YouTube to try and watch innapropriate music videos or other videos of silly and innapropriate nature . Not once did we record students using it in an educational way. It is easy to think that we, as the teachers, weren't particular about what our students were doing in the computer room, but we were. However, when students are in the computer lab for research purposes they are allowed to use most internet sites that are appropriate, YouTube included. To make a long story shorter we all decided to do a workshop for students on the ins and outs of researching on YouTube and other video sharing sites. We covered things such as how to search for videos related to curriculum content and how to share videos you thought were educational, with a friend. We didn't expect too much to come from this workshop, but we thought we would try one last thing before we forbid the use of YouTube in our school (it was a small school). The results from the workshop were turns out that the students loved researching curriculum content on YouTube once they knew how to do it. It is much funnier to watch a short video on something than it is to read about it in an encyclopedia (frogs for example). Needless to say we did allow our students to use YouTube for the rest of the year in appropriate ways that they had been taught about, and it went well.
Doug Achterman, an author of one of our class articles "Surviving Wikipedia..." also suggests that it is important to improve the search habits that students use when exploring websites. He discusses collaboration amongst teachers as being a way in which they can plan together to gather "information literacy skills" in order to educate themselves and their students in regards to imroving search habits.Although Achterman's article focuses on Wikipedia searches it brings up the importance of realizing that not everything you see on these websites should be taken at face-value. Videos on most of these video sharing sites, like Wikipedia, can be posted by anybody. This increase the risk that many of them will not be accurate or factual and need to be looked at in a critical manner. As I noticed when I typed in a few subjects in the YouTube search engines much of what came up was there to get a few laughs. We need well-informed students who don't just believe everything they see, but rather look closer through a lens. This, Achterman suggests, is a student that is "information literate."
While exploring video sharing sites for EDES 545 I came across Teachertube, which was mentioned in the outline. This site is YouTube without the ridiculous content. I love how you can type anything into the search engine and a listing of videos related to that topic comes up....and it doesn't have anything to do with pornography or incredibly gruesome topics!!! Not to say that this is all that YouTube has, but it is a more difficult website to narrow searches within. I immediately set up a profile (search jcloke) and began my journey into educational videos. I cannot believe there are even channels you can visit. For example if you are interested in getting information on something within the Science field you simply go to the Science channel and explore what they have...or even search within it for something more specific!! The tutorials are can actually watch tutorials on other teachers instructing their classes to get ideas for your class. There are student movies, groups for individuals to gather and chat, teacher blogs and even "recently updated" and "most watched" videos. A very convenient video sharing site for everybody, especially teachers. I could even see myself bringing my mac computer into the classroom and showing one of the videos on a projection screen. That is actually an idea I am considering for a unit I am doing on hibernation. The site also gave me many ideas that other teachers have used successfully in teaching their hibernation units.
I researched a few more video sharing sites once I discovered that there were several different "types of them" 1 User generated video sharing 2 Video Sharing Platform / White Label Providers 3 Open Source Video Sharing Platforms 4 Web based video editing 5 See also . Although YouTube was definitely the most widely used, I found the following quite useful; IFilm, GoFish and EngageMedia. I also came across an interesting article entitled "The Value of E-Learning with YouTube: Video Sharing for Education." The article reminds us of how mainstream YouTube has become and how easily accessible it is for everyone to upload or download videos. It also dives into an important issue that never really crossed my mind too much concerning video sharing sites, which is their advertising techniques and the effects of these on students. This likely caught my eye because about a year ago I came across a class (I was a Teacher-on-Call) that was doing an assignment on Reality versus Media. The students were to divide a paper in half and compare what media portrays and what was a reality concerning the same topic. Several students discovered through this that what the websites and tv comsider reality are actually just ways to sell things to people. Students discovered that what was really "cool" was being an individual and not following others. Although this seems slightly off-topic it made me realize just how much media messages on sites such as YouTube affect the students. I think it is important to cover the fact that this is all done to sell, sell, sell, and that just because you don't do it or have it doesn't mean you don't fit in.
Anyways back to the rest of the article...The article also mentions that class projects and presentations can really be enhanced by using video sharing sites. For example, the article suggests showing an instructional video on the step-by-step instructions for doing something that is related to their topic. The article also discusses the collaboration that these sites allow between groups of people that use them. I noticed on most of the video sharing sites they have places for you to join groups of people that you likely have things in comon with
Video Sharing sites are definitely useful in schools as long as they are being used appropriately, like anything on the internet really. Educating students on the ways to use these sites for research purposes is helpful because we cannot assume that they already know this. In fact many students probably only know how to search for a few types of videos, like music videos for instance, from watching their classmates or friends. Educating them about the possibilities of using these websites, like learning how to do origami step-by-step for example, will help them use it appropriately for school.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flickr Account

Hey Everybody
Here is the link to my new Flickr account

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Say cheese...Blog posting #1

This week I took it upon myself to peruse my boyfriend's Flickr account. My first thought was...Wait a minute...what a waste of time...he has these photos on his computer and I can check them out anytime I want. Then, I noticed some comments attached to some of the photos and, after some extensive searching, realized these photos were public and could be accessed from any Internet connections.
I explored the site and quickly noticed the tabs, favorites, groups and even blogger tools. The possibilities were limitless on this website when it came to picture sharing. You can upload photos from your cell phone (including the newly introduced iPhone) or computer, post them, and then have them available for viewing and comments to all the people you can add to your "friends" list. Not only are they available to all the people in your contact group, but they are also made public unless you opt to keep your photos private. Public or private, those who view your photos can add them to their "favorites" list, comment on them, or suggest you add them to a collection of similar photos. Furthermore, by selecting the photo or photographer as one of your favorites you get constant updates sent to you when they add a new photo or join a group.

Once you become familiar with this site you realize that you are part of a large socializing network with an eye for information and lots of creative talent. You can search through public photos for anything you may wish to see. My interest in Flickr led to me to want to learn more about this site. I found an article called "I'll Show You Mine..." which enlightened me about just how big Flickr has become. The article states that Yahoo (a major Internet company) had purchased Flickr in 2005 seeing the potential of this powerful Web 2.0 tool. The article outlines Flickr's unique capability to create communities of photo sharers throughout the glob binded by a single website. Flickr is different then many other photo sharing sites, such as Picasa (Google's main photo sharing site) and Shutterfly, because they have turned sharing photos into a social activity by connecting its users. Many of the other photo-sharing sites also have options like adding photos to your favorites list or sharing them with friends, but Flickr has taken this idea to a new level by making it global, fun and easy.
I can definitely see the potential for using this tool in a classroom or even the library at school. Perhaps one idea would be to create groups for an individual classroom within Flickr where students could post photos of their favorite books, favorite hobbies, etc and could post comments on each other photos as well. This would be a great way for students to communicate with others in their class and also make them familiar with a great visualizing Web 2.0 tool. I could also see creating a school library group for posting favorite book covers and commenting on each others favorites. One of the class articles called "Building Student Data Literacy:An Essential Critical-Thinking Skill for the 21st Century", mentions that with today's technology tools (such as photo-sharing sites) we, as educators, can help students "manipulate and view data in ways that help them develop meaning." With the internet students have a huge world of information in front of them and by exploring sites that interest them they will become more comfortable with using it and build their "data literacy". These sites can also be used by students to view public pictures that may be used for research etc. Students could go to the sites and find photos of a subject they type into the search engine on the page. For example if a student was doing a research assignment on bears they could view a large variety of bears in Flickr.
Another of the class articles "A Thousand Words..." reminds us that classrooms are still too text-based and that visual multimedia sources should be incorporated to re-capture the interest of students. I agree with this and think that students can greatly benefit from some of these sites when they are used in an educational setting.
We need to remember that teaching our students to be critical in their thinking when it comes to this technology is very important as well. I did notice that there were a few places on Flickr that I wouldn't want my students to ponder. This encouraged my thought pattern to return to some of the realities of these websites, they may not be used appropriately. In conclusion, when used appropriately I think that photo-sharing sites, such as Flickr, have the potential to create great socializing networks within groups of people. These groups of people can include small groups, classrooms or entire schools full of people to share unique photos and ideas with each other.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Introductory Blog

My name is Jean. Why do I all of the sudden feel an innate need to write something inspiring ;) I must admit that this whole blog idea is a bit intimidating. It feels as though the entire world will read this...although I suspect the entire world likely has zero interest in what I have to say! I chose this website because I am completely unfamiliar with blogging and it was shown as an example in my readings for EDES 545. I think once I get more comfortable I may choose to explore this further. A friend of mine is obsessed with blogging and has mentioned that it is therapeutic to reflect on her daily life activities. I am really looking forward to learning more about the Web 2.0 tools as I would love to incorporate more of them into the library I work in now and those in the future. I do have a facebook account set up (by the looks of the amount made by the young man who started that company up...everyone in the world does!) and although I am not completely addicted, I do tend to check that on an everday basis. Unfortunately, I do not keep it up to date as well as I would like to, however I love looking at the people's profiles who do. I am looking forward to changing up the template of my blog as I am a very visual person and this template is highly unsatisfactory. I had the idea that you would be able to choose from a variety of beautiful backgrounds, like butterflies, waterfalls and sunsets. This template reminds me of being in Grade 11 Computer Processing classes and trying to type 6o words per minute. As for the evaluation sems fair to me. Evidence you have read and have an understanding of the material, you think about it, relate it to your own life and reflect on all of that. Learning is quite fun to me and I love to reflect in journals when I read; I have a feeling this will be a similar experience!! I look forward to a future of blogging!!!