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“Twouble with Twitters” April 8, 2009

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Found this amusing look at Twitter. I find it funny as I can see some of Derrick’s side of Twittering. Now before everyone gets in a uproar over this I must clarify that I haven’t spent much time with Twitter, and have found Derrick’s point of view to be at times right on the button. However I have seen some positive uses of it and maybe with time I might find it [more] useful. Regardless, this is a funny view of the Twitter phenomenon.

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A term in review… April 7, 2009

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So I am at the end of my tech exploration for my Masters course. It does not seem that long ago that I began this blog and course. I thought as one of my last posts I would briefly explore my successes and shortfalls. Notice that I do not say failures as it is my strong belief that I am not done with technology and exploring those things that did not work. I firmly believe that I have not failed with any technology. I believe that I have not successfully found where and when I can best use it. With more time and thought I believe everything that I tried can successfully be used. I simply must find the appropriate time. Simply adding technology into the class is not the solution. It must be thought out to be successfully integrated where all educational partners benefit from the experience.

Successes

Perhaps my biggest success has been my Classroom Blog. Here I have had many compliments from students and parents alike for this resource. Students find it useful to make reference to it for upcoming tests/assignments and for downloading misplaced study sheets/assignments. Parents have found it useful as a communication tool to talk with their sons/daughters regarding their educational experience

Google Docs has been a pleasant surprise as a resource for my Law 30 students. With group work and sharing of assignments forgotten thumb drives, blocked email, and locked lockers have been a troublesome problem over the past few years with the Law 30 Newspaper Manual. With Google Docs this barrier seems to have been removed. Each class there seems to be more and more students adopting its use (not only for my class but others as well).

Connecting to students. Technology has brought a new world to me that today’s students seem to be at home in. As students see me interacting with technology and using vocabulary that they are familiar with a new “respect” seems to be emerging for us. Though we are not connecting in the traditional “Web 2.0” world, it seems to be happening within the classroom. Is Web 2.0 simply a virtual landscape, or can it be on the physical realm as well?

Professional Learning Communities/Networks. Though I have not yet mastered social connecting tools such as Twitter, I have found a new life in sharing ideas, resources, and technology with others both virtually and in the physical setting. I am consistently talking technology and its various uses with my VP. We seem to compliment one another in our views on such topics, pushing one another to explore other ways in using technology that separately we have not thought of. Within our PLCs the Social Science department at Carpenter has struggled to find a common goal all year. Last PLC we discovered technology and I found myself as leading a sort of technological birth within the Social Science department. The department has embraced Blogs & Wikis as a technological tool to reach students/parents on a whole new level.

Comfort level. I find myself willing to take chances now with technology. Though I was a little comfortable before [this course], I rarely ever took chances or time to look for new innovative ways of using technology within the classroom. This class has done that. Instead of passively waiting to have someone show me a new technology, I am actively seeking it out.

Shortfalls

Twitter: I have yet to tap this resource fully as I have not had the time to explore it on any in-depth level. I have found some useful sites from it and feel that it has more to offer and in time it might.

Podcasting/Videos/VoiceThread: Both of these technologies intrigue me and I see much potential in using them as most students seem to be comfortable with these technologies. Perhaps using them to create “Historical Minutes” reviewing aspects of Canadian history (like CBC Heritage minutes) would be a fun process combining technology and studies. Podcasting and VoiceThreads could be used to give students a voice from the traditional written journal entries that I do in class. Definitely these reach out to those students (like me) that hate to express themselves in written word.

Student Blogs. I have attempted to use these in my Work Exploration course. With some students they have worked and for some they have not. The main reason for this seems to be a digital divide between town students and rural students. With more thought about how best to implement this I believe it could be a huge turning point to connect students to the online world.

Final Thoughts

With time and effort, when all the Masters craziness ends I believe technology and its use will carry on within the classroom. Its use is assured, just in what venue to best adapt it to is the remaining question. With my PLN and my comrades within the Community Based Masters course and my friends within EC & I 831 I think we will be there to support and push one another into Web 2.0 and beyond (Web 3.0). This has been a most positive adventure that has many returns associated with it.

Connectivism revisited… February 12, 2009

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Over the past week I have begun to see, much more than ever before, the value of connectivism. I have found blogs from colleagues to be enlightening and a powerful resource to share support and ideas with one another. My initial experience with Twitter was lackluster at the best. Initially I saw little value in a 140 letter message to be of any good. How can this connect people to anything worthwhile? Did I really care so-and-so was going into a grocery store? How about what’s his name he was going to the city?

As first impressions went I was struggling with how this would affect me in a practical manner to take within my classroom. However that has greatly changed in the last two weeks. Google Reader has been at the heart of this change and two particular people in general: Stephen King and Sarah Hill. These two people through their blogs have inspired me to push me in directions I have never even thought of. Through reading about their attempts at trying new things or interpreting things in a different manner I have felt the urge to explore some of what they have been trying.

Today is a prime example of such an connective sharing process. Waking up I read Stephen’s blog entry on Google Docs and Forms, which was inspired for him by Sarah’s blog (a cyclical process to quote Steve Kemp). In reading both blogs I was inspired to take a stab at exploring Google Docs. This exploration led me to create a Form for my Law class to try Journaling online. Entering their name, a small poll, plus their journal reflection, sends that info to a spreadsheet document for my perusal. This allows me to connect to students via my blog (where the Form is embedded), technology, and enables me to collect info in a much different way. This info I can turn into graphs that can be used to further class discussion. I am truly excited by this. Oh yeah, I save some paper too! A five minute read in the morning has lead to a change that I hope to turn out positively for myself as I explore more options to connect to my students. The cycle continues as I had to share this newfound knowledge with two of my colleagues (Jim and John) who I am sure will use this knowledge in their own classes and blogs.

Twitter as well has born some fruit. I am still a little overwhelmed with the amount of traffic that occurs on it. Perhaps Tweetdeck might assist me in sifting through the chatter, but I have as of yet found the time to explore that option. However as I have been sifting through the info I have found some useful links to blogs, news, and articles. Perhaps the use of Twitter is to find info that you may want to look for but simply do not have the time to do so. I have already used some of the articles and info within the classroom. With more time I am sure Twitter will become clearer to me.

Connectivism is becoming an integral part of my daily experience. I look forward to waking up each morning reading about and sharing with my colleagues ideas, thoughts and the learning experiences that each of us are having. This sharing strengthens us all, turning us into a virtual professional learning community. Thanks Stephen and Sarah 🙂