Tag Archives: Advanecments in Technology

Playing Around In The Virtual World

Ever since our class last week about Second Life and Teen Second life, I haven’t been very busy trying to understand it. I was very excited to create an account on Second Life and enter the virtual world. I figured why not try something new! I love the Sims game and from what I could tell during class and from listening others speak about it, SL was just like an interactive, realistic version of it. So I downloaded second life (during class time, I apologize hehe) and believe it or not, waited until after class to try it out. I created my avatar and chose the tutorial room. This was where I became frustrated. The first thing I did was walk around the room to practice walking and flying. This was not difficult at all, but there was not exactly any step by step instructions to tell me about how things work. People were trying to talk to me in the chat after walking up to me and since I wasn’t there to meet people, I was a little irritated by this. I just wanted to figure out what the exactly I was doing.

So after wandering around a little I decided that I wanted to change my appearance and outfit. I found the change appearance option under the ‘Edit’ tool bar and was completely overwhelmed by how many options I had to choose from. I could change anything about my face, my hair, my body, my skin color, my height, and my outfit. After about half an hour I still couldn’t decide what I liked so I just decided to leave it as I had it right at that moment and do some more exploring. I found the map of different places I could go and decided that I wanted to leave the tutorial and find a few places that were mentioned in class. But I had no idea how to find them and I had no idea how to switch locations. It looked a lot easier to navigate in class.

Since my first experience was leaving me feeling frustrated I decided to leave it and come back to it another day. I decided to try it out again a couple of days later, but still experienced the feelings of confusion and frustration that I had had on my first attempted. It was then that I decided that SL just wasn’t for me and that I would stick with the Sims. Maybe I made this judgement too soon, but without someone walking me through it I just do not have the time and the patience to explore it and understand it on my own. I think it would be very time consuming until learning how it works.

However, I think that what Erik, Garnet, and Marcel are doing with it with their grade 8s is really neat. They are using Teen Second Life (TSL) to become familiar with and explore the many different cultures that are found around the world.

In this unit students will explore the cultures of people around the world through seven common cultural patterns: economic, political, kinship, artistic, religious, educational, and recreation and play. The activities are designed to help students develop an understanding of how cultures are defined and acquire respect for cultural diversity. They will learn that all cultures have similarities, and they will come to value the differences among cultures for the richness and variety they bring to our world and way of life.

TSL is very similar to SL; however, only people between the ages of 13 and 17 can take part. Adults are allowed to join but they have to have some ties to educational institution, have completed a CRC and are limited to staying on the island that was created for Regina Public Schools. If you are interested in more information about this, please see their website to learn more about their engaging project.

Even though I decided that SL isn’t for me, maybe using TSL would be a different way for me to connect with more of my students if I was to teach an older grade (a new way of differentiated instruction?). I couldn’t see myself using this tool with young students. And maybe with a little more practice and someone to walk me through SL to show me how exactly it works, I would be able to decide that SL really is for me. But for now, I will just stick with The Sims.

Here are some websites that I found interesting and helpful:
http://secondlife.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life
http://teen.secondlife.com/
http://erikvandusen.wordpress.com/
http://garnett-gleim-rps.blogspot.com/
http://web.rbe.sk.ca/support/

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iT Summit Conference Voice Thread

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I decided to try something new and reflect on my experience at the iT Summit Conference via a Voicethread.  For some reason I can not get it to embed into my blog post, but please click here to listen to what I learned about E-merging Learning.

E-merging Learning Day One

I have to admit that I was pretty tired after learning all that I did today at the IT-Summit Conference, but my brain was quite content after feeding on the knowledge about literacies, SMART technologies, open networking, and how schools are in a serious need for a change. Here are some of the key points and my learning from a few of the sessions that I attended today.

Reading Across a Dozen Literacies – Jamie Mckenzie

– When talking about literacy in class, find common words and categories to allow interconnection to take place             – Education focuses only enhancing reading and mathematical numeracy; this is not the best thing because students should be good at all literacies
– Students need to embrace complexity; our job as a teacher is to take simple minds and have them question complex issues
– Good ideas form over weeks and thoughts need to be shaken off balance in order for a good idea to be thought of  -Researching should be more than just scooping and smooshing
– Research should involve one’s own ideas – comprehending > considering > wandering > wondering > pondering (all interchangeable)
-Visual Thesaurus (www.visualthesaurus.com) is a great visual diagram of one’s wandering thoughts
-People have lost their ability of natural and environmental literacy/the ability to ‘read’ signs in nature and the environment
– Because of this, people today grab onto complex scientific situations and make simple decisions
Explore possibilities – be open-minded

Integrating SMARTboards Into What You Are Already Doing – Melissa Gavel

– When working with technology, expect the unexpected and plan accordingly
– A board is just a tool – use other tools also i.e.) SMART Senteo, digital cameras, laptops, projectors, etc.
– You need your own board in your own classroom to fully embrace the interactive experiences available; does not work best if students have to go to another room to use it or if it is transportable
– Senteo Clicker: gives students who don’t volunteer answers a voice; all can answer anonymously and not have to raise their hands; give the same clicker to a student every time and the clicker will save the information/data
– Senteo Clickers involve many forms of answers: multiple choice, true/false, yes/no
– Smarttech.com has slides/lessons/etc available for you to use
– Include as many students up at the board as possible and have the rest of the students working on the same sheet at their desks
– Discussion at the board = power of collaborative learning; can see lots of light bulbs going off
– Students never get bored of the board; it seems like a fun game in their eyes even after years of using it

Be Kind Rewind – Clarence Fischer

– Society is changing so how can classrooms/education change to keep up with it?
– Are kids different today?
– It is your role as an educator to find out what is interesting to your students and incorporate that into your lessons/classroom
– Students know all about having access to the world because of society; therefore, why take that away from then when in the classroom
– 20% of Canadians are on Facebook
– 85% of people born after 1980 are on a social networking site of some sort
– Classrooms can be a snooze to some kids because they are used to getting a lot of stuff from lots of places at different times of the day – realize this and make adaptations!
– We have kids ‘power down’ in class when they are not really used to this
– Allow electronic devices (laptops, ipods, etc) in your classroom to promote open mindedness and save your school division a pile of money
– Digital Native vs Digital Immigrant does not always mean young people vs old people – can be vice versa
– Tools don’t really costs anything anymore; software is free online
– Facebook and blogging will probably be dead and done in less than 5 years due to the constant change in societies

So now what? How do we support the chance of society in our classrooms?
1. Classrooms should be considered studios – kids work when its best for them, expanded time and space, lots going on at the same time
2. Teacher = Network Administrator – connect students with knowledge and help them navigate through to the information you know they need

– School = preparation for life, but what if school = life?
– Networks = Power = Schools=Community=GLOBAL
– Audiences drive but communities drop in – Collaboration with others provides motivation for students to find their voice
– We want kids learning together and thinking together long term
– Students need choices to show what they know; use a variety of tools and students will learn what they are good at – Students need to see rules out front in order to successfully meet the goals and objectives
– We are responsible to teach kids in a way that is meaningful to them
– Be aware and make choices for the benefits of your classroom – change needs to happen slowly but fast enough to make it happen
– Technology will not transform your classroom but will make it more authentic and engaging – more opportunities to reach more students and for them to make connections

I was not exaggerating when I said my brain was full – I learned SO MUCH today! I cannot help but look forward to all of my learning in tomorrow’s sessions!

The evolution of the web on the mobile medium is completely inevitable… I’m looking to Generation Y. They’re the mobile generation and they’re going to be the guardians of the web in the coming decades.  -James Pearce

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! 🙂

So what does it all mean?

This ‘Did You Know?’ video really gets me thinking every time I watch it.  And every time I watch it, something catches my eye and causes me to stop and reflect about how the stat applies to my own life.  I didn’t realize that we are preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t know are problems yet. But when thinking back to when I was young, there wasn’t any experts running information sessions on how to use Google effectively.  And speaking of Google, I was shocked to find out  that there are 31 billion searches on Google every month.  That’s crazy!

And then there is the fact that that number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the total population of the planet.  This isn’t as hard to believe as I thought because I roughly send 30 – 40 texts alone and that will be nothing compared to some people.

What about that the amount of new technical information is doubling every year.  For students starting a four year technical degree, this means that the first half of what they learned in their first yer of study will be outdated by their third year of study.  Does this mean that by the time I start teaching next year, I will need a new computer and an overhead projector will be becoming extinct.

The fact that by 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain makes me a little nervous.  Will a computer take over the entire world and run the show just like in the movies?

So what does this all mean?