Salon Blogs

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Throughout my readings, viewings and mult-media discoveries I have been exposed to numerous blogging websites. I thought it would worthwhile looking at how some of these websites perceive and define blogging. Consequently I have listed below a couple of extracts from online blogging websites: Salon Blogs

Salon Blogs:

What’s a blog?”A blog, or weblog, is a personal Web site updated frequently with links, commentary and anything else you like. New items go on top and older items flow down the page. Blogs can be political journals and/or personal diaries; they can focus on one narrow subject or range across a universe of topics. The blog form is unique to the Web — and highly addictive.”

http://www.salon.com/blogs/index.html

Blogmeister:

About Blogmeister

Perhaps one of the most fascinating tools that has emerged from the Internet cloud in recent years is the Blog. A shortening of the term Web log, the Blog is an online publishing tool that enables people to easily publish their loves, passions, dislikes, peeves, discoveries, and insights.

Thousands of teachers have discovered the value of classroom blogging, both as an avenue for their communications, but also as a tool for giving voice to what their students are learning and how they are learning.

Class Blogmeister is one of several blogging engines that have been developed specifically for classroom use. You are welcome to explore the writings of teachers and students alike.

http://classblogmeister.com/

Blogbeat:

About The Blog Beat
The Blog Beat is a site dedicated to the art of blogging. While we’ll focus on all parts of blogging such as writing and monetizing, there will be an emphasis on marketing and promotion. Many sites breach the subject of marketing & promotion, but few really delve deeply into the subject and I think we can provide killer detail and information in that area. We love comments, questions and input from our readers so please let your voice be heard!

http://theblogbeat.com/

Blogniscient:

Everyone has heard the buzz about blogs, but finding the best information is a real challenge without the right tools.

That’s where Blogniscient comes in. We categorize and rank blog articles and blogs in real time, providing up-to-date information on the hottest blog entries.

Blogniscient…
your portal to the Blogosphere

http://www.blogniscient.com/

Del.icio.us

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This posting is another description of a useful online teaching tool. Del.icio.us is a website of social bookmarking where people use tags or bookmarks to organise and categories Internet sites. In this way Internet sites are collated in folders and sites can be tagged as frequently as desired.

The home page for the website states that as del.icio.us “all your bookmarks are in one place” you can “bookmark things for yourself and friends” and “check out what other people are bookmarking”. Users can be used to tag sites including articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes and podcasts. It can be used for online collaboration with friends, family, co-workers and other networks.Social booking marking using del.icio.us has the following advantages:

  • Bookmarks can be found from any location such as home, university, work, library or holidaying overseas.
  • Bookmarks can be shared publicly so people you know or the wider Internet community can view them.
  • You can use del.icio.us to search and browse internet sites other people have bookmarked.

This valuable resource has immense power in pooling resources and sharing ideas. Throughout my readings and viewing of podcasts and vodcassts I have observed del.icio.us being used within primary education. Allanah King and Kathy Cassidy both use del.icio.us as part of their class Weblog to direct students to educational websites linking to their classroom work. I perceive del.icio.us as an invaluable teaching resource which can be used seamlessly and effectively alongside class blogging.

Social Software

It was interesting to read Amy Jobson’s blog comment about Allanah King’s video on teaching using technology. I recently viewed this video as well as wrote an extended reflection on Allanah’s teaching strategies and approaches as a static blog page entitled Social Software.

Like Amy I was inspired by Allanah’s use of technology in the classroom. Amy reflects on how Allanah uses a class blog as a tool to assist other curriculum work. Amy also picked up on how Allanah spent time at home understanding Weblogs before integrating them into the classroom. Amy also commented on how children at Appleby School have contact with schools globally through blogging. She stated:

“The children at Appleby have contact with other schools around the world. One being in Wales and the other in New Yorkwhich is an incredible learning experience for all the children involved. The children according to Allanah King get excited when they see how many people are watching their blogs globally.”

Amy’s concluding remarks were:

“The important thing is that everyone has a go. There are challenges along the way, however the rewards are GREAT!!!”  

I was similarly inspired by Allanah’s work with her year 4/5 class. It was encouraging to see how online tools such as Weblogs can be used in such innovative, creative and effective ways. For me Amy really highlighted the importance of risk taking in teaching technology by having a go and being excited by the challenges this presents.

Download Video: Posted by AllanahK at TeacherTube.com.

Allanah King’s Yr 4 / 5 NZ class. Use of social software. http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=93fe8abcfe3ce2003e5c

Scratch

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Scratch is a new and innovative programming language which allows users to create their own stories, animation, games, music and art which can then be shared on the web. The constructivist design approach allows young people to develop computational and mathematical skills and ideas which develop a greater understanding about the design process. It is free to download and is an excellent teaching resource in demonstrating to students the principles behind animation. The rationale for the program is allowing people to be involved with interactive media in a dynamic way. Scratch uses a simple graphical programming language which facilitates complete control and design for the user.

The coding for Scratch is much simpler than traditional programming. A script is simply created by using graphical blocks which snap together. Projects created in Scratch can then be shared on the Scratch website or other web-pages such as MySpace or Facebook. This makes it a powerful learning tool as students can share their work with a wide audience.

Animations created using Scratch are not necessarily sophisticated or seamless. However, they are very user-friendly. Students are easily empowered by taking control of their learning in an engaging and personal way. Scratch is also an effective teaching tool as it provides ample opportunity for students to share their work.

A young user of Scratch commented:

“I’ve found a great site called Scratch. It’s about programming. You snap together blocks to create stories, games and animations. Then you can share your projects on teh web!! You can download it for free!” Mick, age 10

A teacher reflected:

“There is a buzz in the room when the kids get going on Scratch projects. Students set design goals for their projects and problem-solve to fix program bugs. They collaborate, cooperate, co-teach. They appreciate the power that Scratch gives them to create their own versions of games and animations.” Karen R, teacher, Minnesota

WebQuest

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 I thought it would be worthwhile reflecting upon a number of educational tools available through the internet to further my discussion about teaching using technology. The first online teaching medium I have chosen to evaluate is WebQuest. WebQuest is a guided research resource where students have a role and sense of responsibility in learning. WebQuest is an effective teaching tool as it gives students educational direction whist providing scaffolding for learning. WebQuest was designed as a resource for teachers to teach through using the web. This is achieved through directing students to materials and resources available online focused on a particular topic or idea. It is an inquiry orientated activity where students draw upon the web in seeking information. This model of teaching was developed in 1995 at Dan Diego State University by Bernie Dodge and Tom March. It receives a startling 1700 hits per day.

Web-quests are becoming widely accepted amongst primary school teachers as an effective and informative way of encouraging students to learn through inquiry and investigation. The process of learning is largely reliant on students taking responsibility for their educational experiences. Generally WebQuests are good at directing students to topical online resources which develop greater insight and depth of knowledge in any given subject area. Some WebQuests also embrace the concept of constructionism. This is done through giving students roles such as navigator or secretary and embracing the idea of exploration to increase motivation. However, other WebQuests use a fairly restrictive and limited approach towards teaching using technology and the extent on constructivist approaches is simply sharing students’ work with the class’. I feel that the Internet is such a powerful and easy tool for sharing students work and providing them with a real, global audience. I do not consider only sharing students work within the classroom as deep sharability or a meaningful sense of audience.

WebQuests all follow a similar four step format: Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Conclusion. Additionally at the end of each QebQuest there are pages for credits and teacher evaluation. I believe WebQuests are an excellent teaching resource. It is interactive and provides students with responsibility and purpose in learning. It is also a very diverse resource and covers a vast array of topics which could be explored in the classroom. As a prospective teacher I can envisage myself using Web-quest but also creating my own WebQuest pages. I can imagine that WebQuests would be an effective way to encourage collaborative work and assemble learning activities in an engaging manner.

I thought it would be worthwhile reflecting upon a number of educational tools available through the internet to further my discussion about teaching using technology. The first online teaching medium I have chosen to evaluate is WebQuest. WebQuest is a guided research resource where students have a role and sense of responsibility in learning. WebQuest is an effective teaching tool as it gives students educational direction whist providing scaffolding for learning. WebQuest was designed as a resource for teachers to teach through using the web. This is achieved through directing students to materials and resources available online focused on a particular topic or idea. It is an inquiry orientated activity where students draw upon the web in seeking information. This model of teaching was developed in 1995 at Dan Diego State University by Bernie Dodge and Tom March. It receives a startling 1700 hits per day.

Web-quests are becoming widely accepted amongst primary school teachers as an effective and informative way of encouraging students to learn through inquiry and investigation. The process of learning is largely reliant on students taking responsibility for their educational experiences. Generally WebQuests are good at directing students to topical online resources which develop greater insight and depth of knowledge in any given subject area. Some WebQuests also embrace the concept of constructionism. This is done through giving students roles such as navigator or secretary and embracing the idea of exploration to increase motivation. However, other WebQuests use a fairly restrictive and limited approach towards teaching using technology and the extent on constructivist approaches is simply sharing students’ work with the class’. I feel that the Internet is such a powerful and easy tool for sharing students work and providing them with a real, global audience. I do not consider only sharing students work within the classroom as deep sharability or a meaningful sense of audience.

WebQuests all follow a similar four step format: Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Conclusion. Additionally at the end of each QebQuest there are pages for credits and teacher evaluation. I believe WebQuests are an excellent teaching resource. It is interactive and provides students with responsibility and purpose in learning. It is also a very diverse resource and covers a vast array of topics which could be explored in the classroom. As a prospective teacher I can envisage myself using WebQuest but also creating my own WebQuest pages. I can imagine that WebQuests would be an effective way to encourage collaborative work and assemble learning activities in an engaging manner.

Rich Informational Experiences

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This YouTube video produced by Transforming Teaching Trough Technology challenges teacher to consider how much attention they devote to understanding the way their students learn. The video profoundly states that a large majority of students are digital learners. This statement is supported by a number of statistics:

Today’s average college student graduates have spent…        

Over 10 000 hours playing video games       

Over 10 000 hours talking on cell phones        

Roughly 20 000 hours watching TV.

Today’s children and teens spend 2.75 hours a week using home computers (Institute for Social Research, 2004).

70% of our nation’s 4-6 year olds have used a computer.In any given day, 68% of children under two will use a screen media for an average of just over two hours (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003).

Our digital learners have sent and received over 200 000 emails or instant messages by the time they graduate from college (Presnky, 2001).

The video challenges the viewer about whether they consider the digital disposition of our future generations. Is our curriculum designed in a manner to enhance students’ understanding, application, analysis and creativity in technology education? Do students actively create? Are we reaching students? Are we engaging students? Or alternatively do students simply “play school” and not truly experience genuine and authentic educational experiences? The researcher of the video clip claims that “on average students in a class only get to ask a question once every ten hours” (Graesser & Person, 1994).  This seems such a limited and restrictive environment for students to be engaged in genuine and whole hearted learning.

I was challenged to ponder the question “why not use the technology that our students love to create, reach and engage and teach more effectively?” (Graesser & Person, 1994). It is imperative as future primary teachers to “pay attention to our children’s intensely rich informational experiences” though using technology effectively to engage students (Warlick, 2006). 

Graesser, A.C., Person, N.K. (1994). American Educational Research Journal.

Prensky, M. (2004). What Can You Learn From A Cell Phone?

Warlick, D. (2006). Teaching and Learning on the Edge of Change.