Category Archives: ECMP 455

My Digital Footprint

footprintIf I was to summarize my journey in this class in one simple phrase I would have to say that this class has been all about the footsteps I am making in the digital world. For many years I had been taking baby steps into this new world, but this I think that this class has really encouraged me to discover new ideas, develop a learning network, and make connections in a way that I would not have on my own. My digital footprint has most definitely grown this semester and I hope that it does not stop growing while I continue taking steps in the digital world.

One of the biggest steps I have made through this course was the realization that my lifelong professional goal will be to be a master learner. And through being a master learner I need to learn how to not integrate technology, but to integrate literacy. I don’t think that we really have to teach kids how to use the technology in general – they know way more about the tools, programs and interactive games than we do anyways – but we teachers need to teach them how to find information online, understand what they are reading, and critically evaluate before deciding if it is true. This is how we will prepare them for their future. Their unknown future. Their future, not ours.

But in order for me to become a master learner I first of all have to discover – who am I? And who am I online? My entire personal learning experience through this class has been all about that – building my digital identity. My screen name is sarahhill05 and I think that this name has really became like a second name for me. I find myself often referring to Alec, Dean, and Kristina as their screen names, and when attending the iT summit conference, on many occasions I did not know who a person was until I was able to relate their real name to their screen name on Twitter.

I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant about forming a digital identity in January – I was nervous about sharing ‘too much’ and have someone steal my real life identity. But now after a bit of experience with building it, I have become quite comfortable with the idea of having a known digital identity. I think I owe it all to Twitter – without it I wouldn’t have been able to build the PLN that I did.  My friend and colleague Kristina feels the same way.  She has done a really nice reflection on it which you should read if you have not done so already.

Since we all know what Twitter is, I won’t get into what it is in this presentation; however, it you want to know more about it then please check out our wikispace page to learn a bit more about it and how to use it in your classroom.

Through Twitter I was not only able to build my PLN, but was able to learn about other people’s latest discoveries and blog posts and post a links to my own blog posts that I have been posting since the start of this class. I think I have close to 40 posts now, which definitely exceeds the limit that I had to meet for this class and shows that I truly enjoyed this assignment and took full advantage of the experience.

With my blog I was able to see that I really did have an audience. Watching my blog stats go up blog-stats1and the spots on my clustr map grow and increase in numbers was proof of that. I was receiving comments, both positive and critical, and I found it really rewarding to realize that people in my professional learning network were actually interested in what I had to say. Some people commented regularly and I would assume that it was because they were notified when I posted a new entry. Someone may have subscribed to my blog! What a complement.

On my blog I posted and reflected on many of the steps I was taking in embracing the tools available online. If you have read my blog at all you would see that I have used Voicethread, different Google Apps, Wordle, Glogster, Vocaroowikispaces, Jing, and much more. The professional growth that I have experienced has definitely left me with a ton of ideas for my classroom next year.

One of the best ideas that I was left with was the idea of communicating with other students via a blog or other form of an e-journal. I communicated a few times with Kelly Hines‘ class in Washington, North Carolina on this blog and received nothing but positive feedback from her about it. Her students loved answering the questions I posted for them and loved seeing the snow when I called them on Skype.

The kids were also able to see me as me – not just who I am online. If these kids were to connect with me again in a few years time they will realize that my real life identity and my digital identity will have changed. Identities are constantly shifting and I expect mine to change immensely even over the course of the next year through the growth I will be experiencing with the support and encouragement from my PLN. In the years to come I will continue to expand my digital footprint. I will continue becoming a master learner – a master learner who will never stop learning.

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Tweet Tweet

twitter-birdSo if you would have asked me a couple of years ago, along with many others in society, if I knew what Twitter was I would have said no. But now, almost everyone has heard of Twitter, uses Twitter, and speaks the Twitter Lingo – from Tweets, to Tweetpic, to TweetDeck, to be TWEEtchable! I am hearing conversations about Twitter almost every day. While driving out to a friend’s place the other day I heard Crash speak about it on the radio and how celebrities and other big names are using it answer the common question – What are you doing? Everyone is using it! When taking a look at the Top Twitter User Ranking and Stats, you will see names such as Obama, Britney Spears, Al Gore, Ashton Kutcher, Jimmy Fallon, and Lance Armstrong all in the top 10. I was surprised that Alec Couros wasn’t in the top 10 – everyone knows that its Alec who is pretty much to thank for Twitters big boom. His name is used in Twitter examples all the time, from interviews on CBC’s Morning Addition to How to Use Twitter pages on the internet. What is one word you think of when you think Twitter – Alec Couros ( 🙂 no lie, I bet some people do think that! Alec Couros is pretty much a celebrity online!). Or maybe you would think Ellen and P. Diddy when asked about Twitter?

Twitter is a fantastic way to develop your PLN and communicate with others. After all, communication is the essense. Why not zoom into the world and find out what others are doing in your social network. Or maybe you are looking for some resources for a lesson in your classroom. Well why not send out a tweet and ask on Twitter? Your answer an much more may come to you instantly (not always the case, but most of the times it isn’t hard to find an answer when you have many people in your network). Twitter is becoming so popular that even Facebook wants to be like it. The homepage on Facebook now looks very similar to a column on Tweetdeck. “Twitter currently controls the most contemporary thought stream humanity has ever seen” so what are you doing about it? Or should I just simply ask “What are you doing?”



Back Chanelling – The Latest Form of Group Discussion

While working on our final ecmp 455 project last night, Kristina and I had an excellent discussion about back channelling and the benefits of allowing it in your classroom. I never knew that there was a specific term for this, but  apparently I have been using it for pretty much my entire school life (minus the years were a) I couldn’t write sentences yet and b) was too afraid to getting caught by the teacher). For almost as long as I can remember I have been chatting during class, mostly about what ever it was that I was learning about. My friends and I would ask each other questions about the content we were learning about and share whatever connection we were making to it in regards to our lives outside of the classroom. In the era of technology students do not pass notes or try and whisper quietly to one another, they send text messages from their cell phones or Facebook messages to one another if on a computer during class. These actions are done silently and do not cause a disruption in the classroom. But is it distracting? Maybe. Is it beneficial? I think so.

Why not use this ‘chat’ as a teaching strategy and a way to enhance the learning that is taking place in your classroom. With cooperative and experiential learning being pushed in today’s classroom then why not allow students to discuss as they are learning. This discussion I am talking about does not involve the teacher stopping her lesson for small group discussions; this discussion is taking place while the teacher is teaching. I would be curious to set up a room at todaysmeet.com and find out what my students are talking about and asking one another in regards to my lesson.

I see this as an assessment tool to not only assess what the students are learning, but assess your teaching of that lesson – Do the students get it? Or do they not get it? There are many benefits to using Twitter, Today’s Meet, or a class blog in your classroom or presentation. Take our chat during our ecmp class; we have side conversations about what is being said, add our own thoughts and feelings, make connections to the lecture, and pose questions that we would like answered. These questions cannot only be answered the the instructor, but by other classmates as well without disrupting the lesson. There is immediate feedback and shows you as the teacher if you are reaching your target of being heard by your students/listeners. The more silent discussion taking place on the side = interesting topic!

Pistachio has a great blog post about backchanelling during presentations (which I have related to classes/lectures) and has listed 8 benefits of the back chanell to the audience:

1. It helps audience members focus

As a presenter, you might be worried that the back-channel will be distracting. The opposite seems to be true.

2. The audience gets more content

People tweeting during your presentation add explanations, elaborations, and useful links related to your content

3. Audience members can get questions answered on the fly

In the past, you might have lent over to you neigbor and said “What did she mean by that?” or you remained confused. Now, audience members don’t have to wait to clarify things they don’t understand. They can tweet their question and another audience member will tweet back with the answer. Audience members who tuned out because they didn’t understand now stay engaged.

4. The audience can participate

The back-channel blurs the line between the presenter and the audience. Now everyone can be an active participant.

5. The audience can innovate

As your presentation sparks ideas, audience members can tweet them and build on each others’ thoughts.

6. You don’t have to be physically present to participate

Not only can you watch a live videostream of the presentation, but you can also tweet or chat with the physically-present participants.

7. You can connect with people

Being at a conference where you know no-one or only a few people can be intimidating. People who know each other cluster together and you can feel out of the action. But if you participate in the back channel, you’ll get to know people virtually, and can then introduce yourself physically at the next break.

8. You can do something else

And lastly, if the speaker is tedious, you can get on and do something productive and no one will know.

It would be interesting to see this work first hand in a setting other than ecmp class with Dean and Alec. Has anyone else given this whole back chanelling idea a try?

The World at Your Finger Tips

Over the course of the past week all I have been able to think about is how much I enjoy the power of the internet. Not only make my research for the papers I am currently writing, but allows me to connect and have conversations with people that I normally would not.  Last week I was able to meet with Kelly Hine’s class for the second time on Skypeblog where I post questions for her students to share their thoughts and ideas and answers.  I have also been commenting on their blog quite often, which I have found really quite enjoyable.  These students are very talented – I couldn’t help but be impressed with the commercials they made from scratch about recycling.  Check out their blog post to see examples of the talent I am referring to. 🙂   I find it facinating that these grade 4 students are being provided the experience to learn about places and communities other than their own (and see the snow with the help of my webcam, they all gasped when they saw how bright it was).   Not only are they connecting with me, they are also connecting with other classes around the United States through Skype and their class blog.  Now how cool is that?
and am really enjoying getting to know her students.  I have set up a

When using the World Wide Web the world at your finger tips!  It is true.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Tonight in class we were given the opportunity to explore using digital videos in the classroom.  I am fairly familiar with iMovie and Movie Maker and am comfortable with using those programs with my students; however, I did not realize that there are so many different types of videos you can make!  Different types of videos include:
– Talking Video Head
– Screen Casts
– Caught on Tape
– The Slide Show
– The Mash Up
– The Edited Movie

Dean also mentioned during his presentation that when having your students shoot videos for an assignment, have a time limit of 3 minutes maximum because videos are far to complex to be any longer than that.

Here is an example of a complex video that was shot very well.  I found this video extremely touching and I just had to share.

Since we were learning about making videos in the class, we were most definitely allowed to try to make one ourselves.  Kristina, Krystal, and I worked together to create a short silent video and ended up having a ton of fun making it.  Here is what my group created!

Skype – the latest classroom tool

Over the course of the past year I have been thoroughly enjoying Skype.  Not only was I able to talk to my friends and family from back home, but was able to save myself a ton of money on my phone bill (long distance calling adds up when you are student with zero income).  Because of the function allowing you to use a webcam, the distance barrier decreases and it makes the conversation a lot more comfortable.  You are not talking to your computer screen anymore, but to someone’s face.  How handy!

I have also become aware of classrooms using Skype as well.  Classrooms use Skype to communicate with other people/schools/classrooms around the world!  Students are able to talk to others and ask questions about themselves, what the weather is like in their city, about the communities they live in, etc.  I think this is a great tool allowing students to get to know the world around us and how diverse it truly is.

I had my first Skype experience with one of the classes I am mentoring this past week.  This meeting consisted of the students asking me a few questions about myself and where I live, and Canada in general.  Their teacher had their webcam working so I was able to see everyone on the computer screen.  Unfortunately, my cam decided to take a coffee break and would not work for me.  The students really wanted to see the snow since many of them had not seen it before and I was disappointed when I was unable to do this.  Of course, I had tested my earlier that morning and had it all set up for my Skype call, but surprise surprise, it wouldn’t work when I wanted it to.  Even though technology is such a helpful tool, it can be a frustrating tool as well.  Maybe this is why a lot of today’s teachers do not feel comfortable enough using technology in their classrooms?

Since my cam would not work, I set my picture settings to an Avator through my webcam program.  So instead of being a white, blonde female, I was a green alien with big eyes.  Oh, and my mouth moved when I talked.  It was kind of cool and the students thought it was pretty funny to be talking to this alien from a far off land (Canada!).

Through Skype, these grade four students will be given the chance to see a little bit of Canada and its weather we all love.  It will also allow them to make a connection to the location of Saskatchewan on the world map and remember where my province is in relation to Canada.  Without this tool, the students would not be able to make such a personnel connection to Canada and maybe not remember too much about it.  It could possibly continue being a ‘far off land’ …

All I can think of is that I sure wish I was still a kid going to elementary school and being provided with the opportunities to become more aware of the people and communities all around me. I think I would have remembered a lot more of the things I had learned about the diverse world we live in. This makes me even more glad to be experiencing these tools as an adult – better late then never! 🙂

Glogster


I have always wanted to give Glogster a try and after seeing a collegues go at it I finally had the motivation to check it out.  I decided to make a page about my recent trip to the Mayan Riviera, Mexico (which by the way was absolutely fabulous!) and include some of the photos I took showing my adventures.

Click here to see my finished result!  It took me about an hour to make, but maybe it would take less time if/when I try it again.

I think Glogster has many advantages and disadvantages to it.

a-and-d2

I am curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts about Glogster – if you like it, how you se it, what age you use it with, etc?