Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thing # 23 - Reflections on the 23 Things

I was going to say this was the end, but it's not. If I had to summarize this experience in one sentence, I would say it was an incredible journey and a hell of a ride. I enjoyed it, but along the way I experienced many frustrations and sorrows. Computer and software incompatibilities, mistakes, computer crashed, blocked sites, missing buttons, etc. The most signifucant drawback was the lack of large blocks of uninterrupted time to pursue my jpurney. I hope I never reach my destination, for the travels have been fun. I greatly enjoyed most of the journey, and I learned things beyond my wildest dreams.

I thought mashes were some of the strangest things I explored. I really had to ask myself. Well, yes, I can do this, but, why do I want to??? My most favorites were the wikis, animotos,, and RSS feeds. I want to further explore many of these areas, and plan to spend part of my summer delving deeper into the mysteries, especially nings. My least favorite was the flickr site.

This program has altered my lifelong learning goals ny emphasizing that I have a need and a responsibility as an educator to try and stay abreast of technology, and to keep and open mind and keep learning. I would eagerly participate in another discovery learning activity, but there were a few times when a little more guided learning in the form of a few types or written directions would have speeded up the process. As time is one of our most precious commodities, next time plan on a guided discovery process for the more difficult technological issues. GFor example, I never could get my trading card to post properly to my blogsite.

But, I have plans to use what I learned both personally and professionally. Since teaching is in my genes, I expect to share this knowledge with many. I hope to influence my faculty and school librarian to use more technology nest year. It will be my second year in this building, and, as Dr. Bishop and Dr. Claes cautions, get to knwo your community before you make any changes. I have, and I will. It has been an unforgettable journey. Thanks for providing the experience. Personally, I think the entire class could have been the 23 things, taught as a more guided discovery experience. I would then be a much more proficient student ready to go forth and teach this technology.

Thing # 22 - Nings

I joined the Texas School Librarian Ning and explored some of their postings. They seemed to be tallking about things I was interested in and concerned about, however, I was dismayed to find that while there was a high school group, a middle school group, and even 2 Harry Potter groups, there was no elementary school librarian group. I will have to see what I can do to rectify that situation.

I have to admit, when I first heard about nings and that they were a social networking group, I was not excited about learning about them. I don't care for sites such as my space, etc. But, I was pleaseantly surprised to find that nings were focused on a specific interest. As a result, people aren't hiding behind pseudonyms and facades to protect themselves. Instead, they are genuinely interested in networking and collaborating with each other. I am going to try and start 2 new nings, one for me professionally among educational diagnosticians, and another personally specifically for canpeong and kayaking instructors. I haven't decided yet if it will be specifically for one craft (then I would need two) or even for a specific venue (whiewater as opposed to flatwater as opposed to sea kayaking).. All I know at this point is that such collaboration could be very valuable. I am looking forward to developing a ning just for Red CRoss instructors as well.

I am going to encourage my teachers to join the Ning for Teachers, but first I have to convince the district to unblock it. INterseting that the librarian site is not blocked, but the teacher one is. They are both social networking sites!

Thing # 21 - Podcasts, Vidcasts, and Audiobooks

I am familiar with audiobooks as I have been accessing them through a publisher who has been providing them free of charge as an attempt to boost sales of the books. I don't know id the sales actually increased, but my teachers sure enjoyed sharing the books with their students. Capstone Press provided this free service, which expired at the end of March, I believe. It presented the full color pages of the book and even read the story out loud and turned the pages upon mouse direction.

As to vidcasts and podcasts, I have marginal experience with either. I tried to download audacity to my Mac, but never got it wirking correctly. While I haven't created anything independently using Photostory, I did collaborate and contribute pictures for a nice slideshow with music detailing the Medina River Cleanup, which I am a section head for annually. I cannot take credit for its creation, but I did help in planning and contributing. Medina River Cleanup. I will pursue this more this summer, as I would like to make more presentations like this to promote my canoeing and kayaking classes to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

I think kids can learn valuable lessons if they are given assignments in which they have to collaborate with their peers to present vidcasts and podcasts. Learning comes alive and becomes personal. Many lessons are learned from this type of experience. Unfortunately, few are measurable by TAKS, so teachers have to fight to justify the teaching time to allow this sort of assignment. I will try to educate people as to its value. We are using a podcast in our final collaborative teaching assignment for this class.

Thing # 20 - You Tube and Teacher Tube

Until I took this class I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a Teacher Tube. I was remotely familiar with You Tube, as many paddling conquests of waterfalls and rapids were videoed and posted to this site, but I had no idea of how to navigate through it.

I wish the school district didn't block You Tube, because there are valuable teaching videos there as well. However, I understand the difficulty of censoring the inappropriate content available there.

I love Teacher Tube. I viewed the video 3 Steps and I thought it was excellent. I'm going to show it to my principal, because I'd like our campus to move more in that direction next year. You cannot make it a goal if you first cannot conceptualize it. maybe it would help prevent such a high failure and dropout rate. Of course, we have to compete with TAKS prep time, and that seems to be sacred. But, back to the video, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to teach the 3 C's, Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration, and we need to create a safe and creatuve learning space for our kids. Web 2.0 tools can helpus do this, as they are great at communication and collaborative tasks.

While I have little experience with streaming technologies such as United Streaming (since I don't teach) and zero experience with Zamzar, I recognoze that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, and in turn, a video is worth a million words. Not only are they usually multisensory, they allow the poor and nonreaders to participate in the curriculum on an equal footing. Teacher Tube is an awesome tool in our teaching toolboxes. Unfortubnately, many teachers have never even seen a Teacher Tube video.

I am going to try and create a tecnology survey to give at the beginning of the next school year. Hopefully, I can get my librarian to collaborate on it.

Thing # 19 - Web 2.0 Awards List

When I visited the Web 2.0 Awards Site, I was immediately humbled by the knowledge thatthere are over 500 WEb 2.0 tools out there and how few I have learned, and how even fewer I have mastered, and how many more I have to learn. And now, I here, Web 3,0 stuff is already appearing. I really have a lot to learn.

I looked at the award winners in books and was pleased that I was familiar with 2 out of the top 3 sites, LibraryThing and I would like to learn more about lulu, as I have always aspired to be a writer.

Similarly, I was excited to learn that I had visited 2 of the top 3 hosted wili sites as well, wetpaint and pbwiki. However, there were many categories where I had never heard of that website.

This looks like a great site to begin an exploartory trip through the websites listed ina specific area. I sure that the award winning sites have value and would be worth the time investment to explore the category of interest.

I think the Web 2.0 Awards could be used for research in a middle school, high school, and college age environment with great success. It is probably too advanced for elementary students to access indedoendently. As a librarian, I would want to have this site inmy research toolbox and probably want to bring it to the attention of my teachers as well.

Thing # 18 - Online Productivity Tools

The biggest advantage I can see with online productivity tools is the price. Free is free. Microsoft charges a fortune for their Office products. It appears that Open Office is a great and inexpensive solution to having the same tools I paid lots of money to get on my home computer. I mainly use the word processor, spread sheet, data base, and power point programs. I don't know how compatible these would be with my MacIntosh and I cannot try it since I already had Microsoft Office bought and paid for and installed. But, even those don't interface seamlessly. Formatting gets lost in the translation, and don't even get me started about how incompatible the excel programs are. So, the boast that Open Office makes for their use on multiple platforms doesn't really cover the ability of the programs to crossover from platform to platform correctly. I am suspicious of this capability, since Microsoft cannot even mange this, despite all of the resources they have available to throw at the problem. However, if you are not crossing platforms, it is probably a wonderful solution.

Open Office will allow many people who could otherwise access these office tools due to their expense the ability to have and use them. I wonder about the security of the documents, but that is a concern on any platform with any software program.

As to, I learned about them when I was creating my first wiki. It is a wonderful site for sharing a single document that many people are working on. I think it is the ultimate collaboration Tool. I really, really like it, and will use it often, as I do a lot of collaborative work.

Thing # 17 - Sandbox

I had no idea when I started this technology class that what I learned could have such a profound effect on how I do my job and how I can improve on doing my job by using some of the Web 2.0 tools I have learned here! My giggest question is - why hadn't I heard of this before? Why aren't we disseminating this more quickly and more broadly? Why don't new teachers and librarians and those in training for such not know more about Web 2.0 technology? This is too big and too important to hide in a college class. Why isn't there a blurb about it and a link to a teaching website on the 6:00 news at least once a month. It's a shame that we have such wonderful technology that so few people actually know about. And, I'm talking educated people with multiple college degrees. This could benefit anyone who uses a computer, whether they use it at the library or at school or have their own home computer. Let spread the word. We need more national publicity about Web 2.0 and even 3.0.

I enjoyed playing in the SBISD Sandbox and reading evryone else's comments. The overwhelming reactions all seem to include amazement and excitement at learning the web 2.0 technology. I hope we can padd this on to our students as well.