Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Reflection: Chapter 9

Chapter 9: New Schools

"The name School 2.0 was chosen to encourage a discussion about the 'next generation of school' that can be supported by an integrated technology infrastructure." (p. 188).

Web 2.0 tools and the internet capabilities and applications are creating a fast-paced, changing
global communication network with the potential to enhance or change the current school/educational service delivery model. In this chapter, the authors have compiled some ideas of how these changes might create new schools as well as new teacher, librarian and administrator roles. In fact, one suggestion is that technology will enable communities of learners to 'get together' in ways that may make the physical facilitities unnecessary. This is already happening with distance delivery and online education (this class being a case in point!). Age-related classes would give way to ability groups. The role of the teacher may evolve more into tech coordinator and info facilitator in teaching students how to use tech tools and how to research their topics of choice. ('Knowledge Navigators,' p. 179).
The authors encourage educators to send ideas about how they're using technology in their classes and schools for contributions to their next book. 
(e-mail: gwen_and_lynne@yahoo.com)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chapter 8: Systemic Issues

Chapter 8: Systemic Issues

Systemic issues include digital equity, teaching through technology for English language learners and ESL students and special needs students. Language learning programs are becoming less classroom and whole group instruction-based and more technology, learning-listening center- based. Podcasting is one web 2.0 application that's becoming increasingly popular as a second-language learning tool. According to Solomon and Schrum, the most recent census revealed that while about 70% of Caucasian and Asian-American students have computers and internet access at home, fewer than 40% of Native American, African-American and Hispanic children have computers and internet access at home. This discrepancy is 'the digital divide,' which school districts, cities and communities need to address. Electronic portfolios as one form of assessment is also discussed  at length.

Book Reflection: Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Online Safety and Security

"Protecting children and personal data online is a legal responsibility." (p. 138).

I liked the student awareness survey in this chapter which was developed as part of an internet use awareness program for students. The brief discussion on legal requirements was informative. I know our District has internet compliance and protection programs in place, but wasn't as familiar as I should be with the laws behind these safety measures. The issues of copyright and how to publish student work online through these web 2.0 tools must be considered and worked through with administrators and parents. The issues of blocking are controversial in terms of freedom of speech, yet our children do need protection from predators and unsavory imagery that's on some online sites.  These knotty issues require that teachers, librarians and administrators be absolutely up-to-date on all of the most current policies in their school district(s) and protections that are available.

Book Reflection: Chapter 1

web 2.0: new tools, new schools 
by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum

Chapter 1: 

What struck me most in this discussion about our new world, new web, new skills was the economics of the internet and how it's affecting production and companies on a global scale, largely due to making communication so much easier. Students will need to graduate from schools and universities with current, state of the art skills in technology in order to be competitive in the employment market of today, and certainly within the next decade.  We're already seeing outsourcing of American computer and tech jobs overseas (such as to India).

Week 9: Thing 23

Week 9: Thing 23 - Copyright and Creative Commons

I watched the fair(y)-use copyright video which was a creative presentation to drive the point home. I wonder how long it took Eric Faden and collaborators to produce it?!
I also reviewed the Creative Commons site. I hadn't heard of Creative Commons before, but it
seems like a valid idea to be able to adjust one's copyright status for various works. Although I didn't peruse in-depth, the licensing tools looked accessible and easy to use.

Course summary:
What worked:
Whew! This online course has been a fantastic introduction to interactive Web 2.0 tools.
The course syllabus is well organized and easy to follow. Where there are two or three sub-activities to do under one heading, they seem to be well matched or related. Tuning in to comment on others' blogs is also a good idea. I feel like I've come a long way since my 
first few naked blog entries. I looked at someone else's blog which had some eye-catching
sidebar gadgets and felt envious. Now I not only know how to create a blog, but also how to add some pretty fancy stuff! (Check out my 'Celtic Woman' soundbites! How cool is that?). I also realize that while I've learned a great deal, there's still so much more out there to learn or become more proficient thru the use of these web applications, it's kind of mind boggling.
For example, recently I've been having trouble uploading url's for videos to my blog and some of my gadget's have become broken. I guess that comes with the territory of internet navigation...it's not always smooth sailing and there's a lot of room for operator error.

Thank you, Ann, for the more recent updates on my assignment completion status for the class.
Those were very helpful. 

What didn't work:
I think this course should be at least a 2 credit class offering.  Each of the 23 things required on average about 2-5 hours of online activity. 

Overall, this has been an awesome learning experience. I got off to a late start, but I really liked the self-paced, do it yourself learning environment. I've gotten a lot of ideas to share with my colleagues and use with my students.

Week 9: Thing 22

Week 9: Thing 22 - eBooks and Audio eBooks

I enjoyed browsing the collection on the Guettenberg project (World eBookfair) site.  Isn't there irony in having Plato's words now preserved in such a high tech space? I was lamenting with my sister recently about how I will miss the physical act of holding, folding and opening the newspaper on a daily basis once the paper newspapers disappear into cyberspace. I was pleased to see the 'flip book' formats of some of these digital books. With a click on the page, one can somewhat simulate the experience of turning the pages of a book.  I also enjoyed seeing some of the older texts that were available, especially children's books that looked like....well, books from my childhood! Preserving those dated visual elements offers me some comfort in my old age!
Since this was not a free e.bookfair month, (July 4-August 08 and apparently will be again starting on July 4, 2009), I found little that was actually free on these sites.  For access to downloads on most of them you have to register with a credit card and pay fees of some sort.
Did I miss something here?
Listening to the audio books or clips was also a treat.  Being able to listen to a sample to hear the reader's voice is helpful.  I listened to two versions of the Jabberwocky poem.  The first was
a dramatic reading; the second was by a speaker in Romania whose vocal affect did not convey the verbal drama inherent in that work. The Librivox site and the other site listed in the class syllabus for access to free e-books and audio books are very nice resources.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 9: Thing 21

Week 9: Thing 21 - Podcasts
I found this activity fairly frustrating because of the amount of 'resistance' I encountered in my attempts to navigate through the new world of online podcasting.
For some reason, several links were not working. I could not directly access the Yahoo tutorial on podcasting thru the class link, so I did a google search, and did read a couple tutorials about podcasts. I found the most helpful podcast directories to be the two educational ones because they had clearly delineated categories which made accessing a podcast of personal interest a little easier to find. I could not get to 'podcast.net' as it said the server was unavailable.  I found 'podcastalley' a little cumbersome in trying to locate a podcast to listen to. In many instances, the podcast titles did not readily reveal their topics. 
I did have my 14 year old daughter show me how I can start making my own podcasts using 'garage band' on my Mac laptop.  Watch out world, here I come! 
I located a podcast on hearing loss issues that will be interesting to subscribe to. I was also frustrated that when I tried to subscribe to a couple of podcasts via my google reader account, when I typed in the url given, on google reader, it said they could not be found! I had just listened to them. Obviously there's more of a learning curve here for me to pursue.
In terms of the podcasts themselves, I listened to quite a few, at least to introductory bits. Some are clearly more professionally composed and produced than others.  I liked the ones with clear, crisp audio; the speaker's voice has a lot to do with whether or not I'd want to continue listening.  I also found some with long musical lead-ins to be a bit distracting.....like I wanted them to get to the point--so I could hear the message, not the music (unless it was musical podcast like a radio show). I listened to podcasts from L.A. (English as a Second Language listening practice for ESL learners); Plano, Texas (Brain and Behavior), and one on psychiatry from Australia. I also listened briefly to a podcast on learning Spanish. It was by a native Spanish speaker, and the sound quality was not very good, so I would not opt for one like that if indeed I was trying to improve my Spanish.