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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Week Nine: Thing #23

It seems to me that Creative Commons sums up the whole Web 2.0 movement with creativity as the main theme. People can show, share, and remix each others creations to reuse, recycle and return them for everyone to view, again. Again, very overwhelming to get the feel of how many creations are out there and available. It amazes me that anyone gets anything else accomplished during the day---like work and life, for example!

I really like the movies that explain what Creative Commons is all about. Watching the “searchcast’ I finally figured out that Creative Commons is a search engine and you can locate it when you are using Firefox/Google. Knocking down the fences so collaboration, sharing and remixing can take place in real time is amazing. This is a worldwide movement! It is not all or none as it is with Copyright “all rights reserved and ask permission”. Creative Commons allows people to decide how much or how little a piece of work a person has created can be used by others. It is a big change. All very exciting!

And in the end-----
Though I have dabbled with Web 2.0 things for a few years, this class helped me take a deeper look at the many features.
* I learned how the internet has become a place where people are now able to post their own creations instead of just consuming information.
* I now have a better understanding of how the young people I work with use the internet and its many sites for social interactions, education and entertainment.
* I have discovered a lot of features that will help students in their learning.
* Now that I have seen some of these great free programs I have a bigger job of sharing them with other teachers and students.
* The hope is that working together we can enhance our student’s learning as we incorporate technological tools into every day teaching.
* One more time I am humbled because the more I know the more I realize how much I do not know!

Thank you, Ann. You are a wonderful facilitator and a great teacher!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week Nine: Thing #22

I have heard of sites where you can download audio books for free and it was informational to explore this site---Project Gutenberg. I found many titles available to be read from the screen of the computer, and others that were recorded books. The information about each title explains if the book is read by a person or in some cases, read by a computer. I found the books read by a computer a little bit harder to follow. I suppose if I were to listen to the computer read book for a longer period of time I might understand it better, but there seems to be a great deal missing in comparison to books read aloud by a person. I have added this link to my library home page for patrons.

World Public Library charges $8.95 per year to be a member to their collection, which is a small amount for access to so many books. For one month (July 4-August 4) this site will allow some of their books to be downloaded for free.

One other site I explored is "Mobile Books". At this site you can pay for a subscription to download books onto your iPhone. Very cool for those who commute or would like to use their iPhones to read from. The site has instructions for using your iPhone menu options to manipulate the book on the screen. You can even bookmark your place at the touch of a button.

Chapter 4: New Tools in Schools

In this chapter the authors wrote about examples of schools that are using new technology. Of course I had to perform a quick internet search for "The New Tech High Learning System" and the "New Technology Foundation". What I found mirrors what our text states. Again, the main obstacle for more schools to implement this system is funding. Another of the models this chapter describes used community partnerships to implement internet connectivity between schools and homes. But the aspect that really makes sense to me in this example is the 120 hours of curriculum based professional development offered to staff. Staff development is definitely a missing piece in my district.

In the examples of how teachers are using blogs, wikis, podcasting, and digital storytelling in their classrooms I agree with the statement that one technological tool may be a better application than another for a specific project. This is where the teacher's knowledge of Web 2.0 tools can really help.

As I read and looked up the web sites listed in this chapter I realize again how much information is available; an overwhelming amount. It seems our district is behind in many ways but ahead a few. Here it is mostly up to the individual teachers to figure out how to implement Web 2.0 tools into their teaching. And, as a school librarian, it is my place to support efforts made by teachers in implementing the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms.

I have emailed the High School Journalism Broadcast Project link to one of our teachers. Even if our district does not qualify for grants, I think he might be interested in other information the site has to offer.

Week Nine: Thing #21

Podcasts are a great tool to use for creating and posting audio or video onto the internet. “Yahoo: What is a podcast” and “podcast.net” are dead end links. “Podcast alley.com” lists some titles that would hopefully be blocked from our school network.

I am interested in finding free music to be played in the background of student created podcasts and videos. I first explored “Free Music Archives”. This is a site where anyone who wants to can post their musical creations. I was disappointed that I could not search for just “instrumental” songs and it looked like from the titles of some songs that there might be some inappropriate songs to be used by students. So I moved on to (EPN) Educational Podcast Network which I found to be more useful for educational purposes. Some of the random links would not work, but the ones that did were great. I explored the secondary podcasts and found some great ones. I especially liked the link “New Books In History: Discussions with Historians about their Work” category where interviews with authors were cast.

Maybe as I explore podcasts a bit more I will understand why sometimes they open in iTunes and sometimes in QuickTime, or sometimes not at all. I also wonder when the word podcast will no longer be underlined in red by MS Word.

Chapter 1: New World, New Web, New Skills

Yes, it is a different, global world that our children are growing up in. Jobs are and will be different as technology enables interconnectivity 24/7 throughout the world. And, yes, as educators we need to guide our students in using the tools so they will stay engaged in life-long learning.

One aspect of the new Web 2.0 era I am concerned about is the storage and access to newly created items. Yes, it is convenient and wonderful that anyone and everyone can access, share and collaborate on documents and other online work, but REALLY if it comes down to it, if the information is stored on servers "somewhere out there in cyber space" doesn't that concern anyone else besides me? Maybe I am just being old-fashioned and the ability for many to contribute and create overrides these ownership fears. I do not really like the idea that everything I purchase at a Fred Meyer store goes into a database somewhere and keeps track of what I purchase and how often. In return for having an account, or in this case, a "Rewards Card" I get coupons that pay me back a small percent of what I have spent to use at the store. In reality, the business is only wanting to use my information for marketing purposes. Sometimes I wonder if we are headed into a world of "Big Brother" times just like so many futuristic fiction portrays or have I just read too many of them?

The aspect of many of the Web 2.0 tools I like the best is that they are free. We need free things for education in this country because for some reason the lack of funds is always an issue.

The changes that need to happen to better educate our students and get them ready for 21st Century jobs is slowly taking place. As the new college graduates come to our schools they are very comfortable with Web 2.0 tools and expect students to use these tools in their learning. Many of the long time teachers are people who are life long learners themselves and are learning about and using the new technologies, too. Yes, I agree with what is written in this chapter and have confidence in our teachers to meet the challenges of teaching 21st Century students.

Chapter 2: Students and Learning

The two dimensional revised taxonomy described in this chapter illustrates how new brain research has given us more information about how learning occurs for students of today. Does this mean they learn differently than previous generations? Many people in their 50’s say “If it worked for us, why doesn’t it work for today’s kids?” Educators also recognize how new technologies can enhance student learning when incorporated with best teaching practices where different styles of teaching match the different styles of learning. Furthermore, the new taxonomy is a more active one that uses verbs to describe the different levels of learning instead of nouns as in the traditional version.

Also in this chapter, the theory of connectivism (another new word that MS Word has underlined in red) makes sense to me. Also agreed is the connection between keeping students engaged so they learn lifelong learning skills to prepare them for their lives as contributing citizens. If the use of technological tools will help them learn these skills and at the same time learn what they need to know to pass the standardized tests they are required to take, then we as educators need to incorporate these tools. The last point I agree with whole-heartedly is that these new tools might change how students locate information and what they do with the information but they still need teachers to guide them.