Friday, April 24, 2009

Thing 23

I've certainly become more open to breaking into "Web 2.0" in the past 2+ months. When this started, I certainly knew plenty about the web, but I hadn't used much of it because I felt comfortable with the web I knew. I'm glad I took this class if for no other reason than it forced me to acquaint myself with technologies that nearly passed me by.

I'm also happy with the timing of the class. This being my first year of teaching, I'm glad I got a chance to get some first hand experience on my own in a classroom before trying to adapt my curriculum around technology I wasn't all too familiar with. I also am fortunate to have not formed habits that I might refuse to break.

I need to spend some time this summer looking over my own blog posts to remind myself of all the ideas that came into my head these past few weeks. Everything from long class collaborative projects like the Wiki to shorter, individualized assessments like a podcast.

I think the biggest idea that I'll take away from all this is that those who refuse to adapt get left behind, whether you're talking about students, teachers, or just the public in general. The internet first became popular when I was in my early teens, and I was waaay ahead of the curve creating HTML websites and following newsgroups. I feel like I've slipped in the past few years, not jumping on bandwagons until they've nearly passed me by. Hopefully, this can help me catch up lost ground.


Thing 22

Mr. Fuller's Wiki

I definitely like the idea, but the setup at WikiSpaces seems very basic. I'm sure it's fine for my purposes, and I probably shouldn't expect more for a free service.

Blogs and Wikis definitely have their own space and should be able to coexist without any problems. The main purpose of a blog is for one person to share information with a larger group (mainly, teacher to student). A wiki is designed to let a large group of people share information with each other (in this case, students).

I don't think there's any reason a teacher would HAVE to use one over the other, or both, or whatever. Each can be molded to fit the teacher's needs.

Thing 21

Without even looking at the wikis, I started thinking of ideas on how I could use them. We have a lot of hands-on building projects in my physics classes, so the students could pass on helpful info from one year to the next. Ideas on what make the best wheels for a mousetrap car, or where to buy the right springs for a catapult, etc.

We could also use them as a place where students can explain the subject matter to others in their own language. A student masters a particular subset of info, and relates it to both their class and future classes using a wiki written in their own language.

The biggest hurdle I foresee is the continuing problem of access to resources for some of my students. Ideally, students would need computers with internet access available before and/or after school, which my building does not provide. There is a computer in the classroom, but only one, and I can see traffic jams building up from here.

I think if done properly, a Wiki could be a good idea for a yearlong class project. It's one of those ideas that will be extremely rocky the first time out, but will hopefully get better year after year.

For the record, the Wiki that I liked the most was the Flat Planet site exploring environmental issues.

Thing 20

Full disclosure: I hate iTunes. I've used it in the past, both for music and for podcasts, and I just don't like using the program. Thankfully, they're not the only aggregator out there anymore.

I subscribe to lots of NPR shows that I don't get the chance to listen to during the regular course of life. Car Talk, Wait, Wait..., Science Friday, and a series called RadioLab. I used to subscribe to more, but the files would just pile up as I never had time to listen to them all. The NPR website makes it easy to subscribe to the podcasts without using iTunes.

I've occasionally subscribed to other podcasts using various other techniques, but they've fallen by the wayside as I've had other demands on my time this year.

Thing 19

I used to love using podcasting when I had the spare time to listen to the files. Now it's more of a good idea I wish I had the time for.

The first podcast I chose is NPR's Science Friday. I could have students listen to a portion of the 2 hour program (assigned or student decided) and write a brief summary of what they've learned. The topics cover a wide range of science, so it wouldn't be limited to things we're leaning in class - it could be a great way to encourage students to explore other fields of study.

NPR - Science Friday

I would use this second podcast as an example to my students of what they could do with the technology. Students could create a weekly exploration of a new topic, or do a series focussed entirely on equations (we have enough of those in physics to study). Rotating groups of students creating podcasts on a weekly basis could be a full semester project.

Eagan H.S. Honors Chemistry

Definitely a lot of potential using podcasts in the classroom. I almost wish I didn't have to wait until September to get going with a new group of students.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thing 18

I chose this intro lecture on thermodynamics for it's potential to show students what they could do with PowerPoint and SlideShare. I see myself using this tool as a student directed alternative assessment project - they create a ppt presentation after a unit to teach the next class about the subject.

It looks like there is a wealth of presentations on the site, but it was hard to narrow down a search effectively. I also prefer to create my own presentations, because I feel more comfortable lecturing off of material I wrote. At the very least, it could be a chance for students to find an alternative presentation to material that might be difficult to grasp. I know that just hearing something a different way could help understanding it.

Thing 17

I chose Zoho Show for it's ability to host PowerPoint presentations. I use ppt a lot for my classes, and while Internet Explorer tries to allows users to view the slideshows, it often causes more grief than anything.

Zoho seems to work easily enough. I especially like the functionality of exporting files to other formats (.pdf for starters). I could definitely see myself using this as an addition to my classroom website for students who might be absent during a lecture. I'll have to play around with it some more, but I would also like to be able to add audio recording as part of the presentations.

The other functions seemed useful, but I already incorporate much of what they do with Microsoft Outlook and my smartphone.