Monday, August 6, 2007

Going Beyond the Requirements

In completing this Web 2.0 Blog Project, I have exceeded the requirements. Instead of choosing 3 of the technologies, I have blogged about all 5 of them. I have at least 2 posts each (1 for social networking). I have also included more than 1 example of my use of the technologies. I have links to 3 Google Docs and Spreadsheets examples. In addition to this blog, I have a link to a blog I have created to use at my school next year, I have also created a Wiki to use with teachers in my county. I also have many links to external resources that I visited in order to create my blogs that are very helpful to someone who does not know much about these technologies (As I did in the beginning of this project!). This project really allowed me to experiment with types of technology I was not familiar with before. The knowledge that I have now should prove to be very useful to me next school year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Social Networking for Kids

In looking for information on social networking I began to visit sites like MySpace and Facebook. My question was, "Are there any other sites that are appealing to a younger demographic?". We looked at sites such as Club Penguin and Whyville during classtime, but I stumbled upon a different one I had never heard of. Imbee.

This is the original article I found about the site.

After reading this I decided to visit the official site for imbee, which ironically had a link for teachers to use imbee with their students. There are 3 lesson plans listed there with puposes like making online friendships and creating their own profile. There was one about learning to question their virtual friends to ensure they are who they say they are which is a much more important lesson. Here is the link to the Teacher page.

I began to create my own account, but stopped when they started asking for credit card information. The site is free for teachers to use, but they do charge a $1 fee and then refund it automatically. Since this was my first time navigating this site, I opted to stop there.

Sharing Lesson Plans through Wikis

This article, from July 2007, explains how the superintendent of schools in Charlottesville, Virginia is helping teachers use a wiki to create and share their lesson plans. The thinking is that they will be able to find quality lessons that they can tweak to fit their needs. They can also post information about how the lesson went or how to improve it for the next time. It also talks about a nonprofit group from Washington who launched a Web site this year called, a play on the words “curriculum” and Wiki. The site allows anyone who registers free access to curricula and instructional guides geared toward students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

I think this could be a useful tool, however, some teachers may be reluctant to share their personal plans, unless it is required. I do think that if each teacher put 1-2 lessons on a wiki like this each school year, the district would have a wealth of resources to help them plan lessons or improve on old ones.

My Wikispace

This is the wikispace I created. I set this wiki up for the purpose of teachers sharing lessons and activities. I would like to share this wiki with other teachers in my county so that we could share various activities and lessons in a way that would make them easy to find and identify when we would be using them based on the units of each content area. I have already added two links; one to my Critical Information Literacy Project and the other to my Telecollaborative Plan-a-Project.

A New Blog!

I have added a link to the blog I have created to use at my school next year. I think this would be a great tool to use for communication with parents and students that they could easily access at home. I have set it up so that it is the blog for our entire fourth grade group.

Podcast vs. Video

On my journey to understand what a podcast really is, I found a site that described in detail what one is and gave various examples. When I looked at the examples they explained how to subscribe to them which further lead me to understand the difference between a podcast and on online video.

Explanation of podcasts:
Here is an example of a podcast:

What is a Podcast?

Wikipedia defines a podcast as "A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers. A podcast is a specific type of webcast which, like 'radio', can mean either the content itself or the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also termed podcasting.

In other words, a podcast is a collection of files (usually audio but may include video) residing at a unique web feed address. People can "subscribe" to this feed by submitting the feed address to an aggregator (like iTunes - software that runs on the consumer's computer). When new "episodes" become available in the podcast they will be automatically downloaded to that user's computer.

Unlike radio or streaming content on the web, podcasts are not real-time. The material is pre-recorded and users can check out the material at their leisure, offline.
Though podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.

Certain podcasts, can even be live and interactive. Dozens of podcast enthusiasts can be on at once, with the "host" being able to control their audience in the same way a radio host can.

This was alot for me to process considering I have never had any knowledge of podcasts.

I started off searching for some good examples of podcasts, but some of what I found didn't seem to follow the definition above.

One of the first examples I found seemed like a great educational use of podcasts, but after further scrutiny, I have decided this seems to be just a video, not a podcast.