Archive for July, 2007

Will Richardson Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,… Today I finished Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. I have always appreciated Will’s viewpoints on his blog, and I like the straightforward, easy to understand approach he presents in his book. Having used many of these tools in my classroom for over a year now, I was familiar with much of what Will shares, but I had many “I should have tried that moments!!!” Now, I am in a new position (district level educational technology specialist) with a new audience (educators) and the book proved valuable in giving me ideas and ways that I can share these tools with teachers.

Teachers themselves will benefit from reading this book (Get it ASAP!), and I believe it would serve as an excellent textbook for in-service training and for use in teacher preparation programs. Even a seasoned Web 2.0 teacher (Can there be such a thing in such a short period of time!?! 🙂 will pick up new ideas or ways of using these tools that they hadn’t thought of before! As with any text that concerns the web the reader will encounter shared links that have since moved on in such a short time since the book was published; nevertheless, I could easily search the name of a particular person or topic mentioned and find the new location of the information on the web. (Maybe Will could add a page to his blog with updates or create a wiki page where readers could help update links.)

The book, to me, is written for the now, and it is intended to jump start educators and students into using the many Web 2.0 tools that exist today. I know Will has much more to say concerning these tools and the future of integrating technology to facilitate collaboration, critical thinking, and self-directed learning, and I feel his blog serves as a continuation and expansion of the text. One of Will’s main points in his book is to recognize the “teachers” that are and information that is out there, on the web, ready to fill your RSS feed reader! His text is really a staging area for the journey that he invites the reader to take in using these powerful web tools in the classroom, and I think it is a good place to start and to take ownership of your own learning.

I have put together a presentation concerning digital citizenship based on information from a workshop I attended at the Building Learning Communities Conference 2007 given by Sue Loubser Director of Technology Hebrew Learning Academy of Atlanta.  I believe this presentation highlights the issues we must address with our students, their parents, and the community in today’s digital world.

Students & Computers A key component to successful integration of technology in schools is digital citizenship, and this ties directly with acceptable use that I mentioned in an earlier post. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recently updated and released new national standards, and digital citizenship reigns as one of the main six areas (see National Educational Technology Standards for Students: The Next Generation). This is a standard that must be taught and practiced if we want our students to become responsible digital citizens. Any social skills training can easily incorporate digital citizenship into its curriculum if it isn’t already a part of it, but this training is vital in our digital world. I also feel it is paramount that parents/guardians are part of this process to help them understand what their children face each day, especially on the internet, and to provide information that can be used to transfer these digital citizenship skills at school, at home, and anywhere our children may go.

Another area of focus in the ISTE national standards is creativity and innovation. As Dr. Tim Tyson mentioned in his keynote speech at the recent Building Learning Communities Conference: we should ask our students, “What do you have to say?” What a powerful question! The key is to then enable our students by allowing them to utilize new technologies to “say” what they have on their minds and to share their ideas and products with a global audience. This gives meaning to what they have to say and lets students contribute to our society as a whole. Allow students to use blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, etc. as a medium to share their thoughts, creations, and let them figure out new ways to tell their stories: innovation. However, teach students to be safe in this digital world and to think critically about the information they are exposed to while fostering creativity and innovation. The connection is important, but you already knew that!

There are so many issues to deal with in order to implement and integrate Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. Acceptable Use Policies that were created by districts in the past no longer address the explosion of collaboration tools that exist in today’s world. I have spent part of my last few days, since attending the Building Learning Communities Conference, thinking about, researching, and defining/redefining acceptable use in my district.

What it comes down to is building a foundation and being proactive as I anticipate the use of blogging, wikis, podcasts, vidcasts, etc. It is part of being responsible and accountable for the learning and safety of our students, and I believe acceptable use must be addressed before immersing these technologies into our instruction.

Some resources I have come up with so far include (mostly from Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms):

http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/2005/06/000877.php

http://www.budtheteacher.com/wiki/index.php?title=Blogging_letter

http://static.hcrhs.k12.nj.us/gems/centralISP/uses.doc

I would appreciate other ideas from the instructional technology and education community. Please share in the comments section. Thank you!

I first saw this humorous video clip at EduTechie.com, who got it from the Cool Cat Teacher blog, and then Wes Fryer has shared it from Karen Montgomery and the list could go on!  Isn’t the web great!  Enjoy!

I am not trying to promote Cisco by any means by sharing this video, but I think the message ties well with the digital age that we live in and the connections that people, especially students, are able to make in the world today. Watch this video and let me know if you agree.

While attending the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston, Mass. I had the opportunity to see and hear and learn from Dr. Mitchel Resnick an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Laboratory.  In his Thursday morning keynote speech he shared Scratch (See video below!):

“Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.”

When I got home I showed the Scratch web site to my six year old son, and he was ready to download immediately!!!  Once installed, Nicholas and I played around for a few minutes to get our bearings; then, I turned Nicholas loose to program at will.  He did!!!  There are many possibilities in applying this application, and I especially like that young people can upload and share their creations with a global audience.  It is FREE, and can also be run on the web.  Try it, you’ll like it!