bubbl.us Brainstorm On Using Web 2.0 to Enhance Learning

Here is a link to a brainstorm I created using bubbl.us (what’s wrong with putting an in there, seriously?) I tried to embed it within an <iframe> tag, but WordPress won’t let me apparently.

http://bubbl.us/view/a67af/13bd4a/68X7lBFG3P5YM/

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Module 4

Orbic Orange

On Pods, Vods, and Casts

I have been subscribing to podcasts for quite a few years. In particular, the inimitable Doctor Karl on triple j, and the Great Moments in Science podcasts. I had subscribed for a while to the amusing Rocketboom vodcast, but gave up on it because I didn’t have a good connection to the Internet at home at the time. It was also a bit pointless. But, there are a great number of very useful podcasts out there. The French École was one I used to learn a bit of French. I also currently listen to the 6 ACT Conversations podcast from RMIT University, particularly the 6 or so episodes on mindfulness.

I use iTunes to subscribe to podcasts. I think it is pretty much the only software I’ve used to do so. This is because I started listening to podcasts on an iPod, which must be used with iTunes. I like the software, and I think it has great library management features. It is easy to use and is unobtrusive.

In the classroom, I see a usefulness for pod- and vodcasts, I have often thought about getting my Year 8 science class to listen to some episodes of Dr Karl’s Great Moments in Science, because they are informative and are produced in such a way as to be easily accessible for young listeners. A transcript could be acquired and transformed into a cloze passage, which the students could fill in as they listen to the podcast. This I must try before the year is out. I just have to find an episode that I can link with the curriculum.

Module 3

Same But Different

On Google Docs

I have heard a lot about Google Docs over the years, especially as being touted as the Microsoft Office Killer. I hardly use Microsoft Office, because I use iWork on a Macbook Pro most of the time. I am however familiar with Office and Google have obviously tried to make their UI familiar to Office users. Which is probably fair enough, and makes it easier to use. I found that I could create a document and insert images and tables with ease, and without having to go to help, or watch the video tutorials. I really like the cut down, minimal feature set, and the way that accessing resources on the web is integrated right into the dialog boxes and such. I like the collaboration capabilities, especially if one’s organisation is set up properly to use Google Docs. I would be a bit hesitant of trusting Google Docs with highly sensitive information, say student files etc., but for just creating basic worksheets, and for sharing them with colleagues it would be really beneficial.

I am not sure that Google Docs would be greatly beneficial in the classroom, because the current systems for word processing or spreadsheeting are adequate and work well. An advantage Google Docs has is the ability to run in any web browser on any computer capable of running a web browser, and that is connected to the Internet. This makes it easier for students (and staff) to work on stuff at home, if they need or want to.

I will not, I don’t think, switch any time soon to Google Docs over my Mac and iWork, which is really simple to use. It is also needless to say a lot more powerful and feature-rich than the online equivalent. However, as technology advances, the gap between the two platforms will diminish. At the present, sharing is accomplished through the use of a shared network drive, but my school is implementing moodle for the purposes of collaboration. Perhaps we could look at Google Docs as well.

Module 2 Learning Experiences

Sunlight on a Stormy Afternoon

On Thinking as I Type

I found that as I typed the previous post my thinking—about blogging in particular—changed and new possibilities emerged. I am still somewhat skeptical about Twitter, and think it is a bit gimmicky. I will however still give it a go and possibly even get the Twitter app for my phone, taking the instant access to information to the ultimate level. I will definitely try to get some of my classes using blogs, and will try to make it relevant and interesting for them.

On Openness

I think openness to new things is good, and being a lover of technology, and a teacher, I would benefit from taking a bit more of an interest in what is out there. I fear for our communities and families however, and really hope that the generation of Digital Natives are taught what it means to be in a community, and how to do it. I suppose that part of that now is learning to be, as a Digital Immigrant, a part of the wider international community, and part of the world that the young people of today find so alluring.

Reflections on Twitter and Blogging in the Classroom

It's a long way to the Top

On Twitter

Here I am at the end of the day, doing my first post for Module 2. One of the activities in Module 2 is an optional joining of Twitter. I have always resisted even looking at twitter or thinking about getting an account for a couple of reasons:

  1. I have never been able to make sense of the so-called conversations on twitter. To me they are presented in a one-sided format, that makes it difficult to read or to follow.
  2. I assume that your average person who tweets is going to do so about pointless things just because he or she can; tweeting for tweeting’s sake. 1It’s as though the cyber world is a really big hole that people feel the need to fill with information. I guess that is what Web 2 is. Give someone a twitter and they will tweet. What about the real world—is it really a desert?
  3. I don’t like the idea that someone who is washing their left foot would feel the need to share the fact with the rest of the world by a quick 140-character message. This is a frivolous example, and hopefully is not something someone would tweet about.
  4. I don’t see why we need such up-to-date information about random, pointless, things (see assumption above). I am sure that there are many really informative tweets shooting around the web; at least I hope there are. Up to date information that I would love to access would tell me when my train is late, and when it will get to my station.

However, I think I might give it a go, and see what all the fuss is about. I don’t think I’ll use it much. I am stumped as to how I would use it in the classroom; I can imagine disciplining a student by tweeting to them: ‘Those symbols are not appropriate at this school. Please see me after class.’

On Blogs in the Classroom

My initial thoughts about using blogs in the classroom are met with a bit of curiosity. I think that it depends on the students, and how the teacher presents it. I am not sure how useful it would be, other than as some form of diary or journal, or as something to learn how to do in itself. Maybe that’s all blogs are good for.

I can see that as a diary or journal—which is essentially what a blog is, right?—blogs could have some use in most subjects, especially English or Visual Arts, or any of the other subjects where some long project is undertaken and reflected on.

I think that blogs would be useful also in the sharing of information (not plagiarism), and as a tool to facilitate discussion—online and off. I cannot help suspecting that students wouldn’t be able to help copying others’ work, so perhaps blog content should not be used for assessment. I also would hope that students and teacher discuss their blogging and commenting in class so that the skill of debating and getting across one’s idea is nurtured.

So, I think that with the appropriate guidelines and directions from the teacher, students could benefit from blogging, as long as it is backed up in the classroom.