Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Summative Project

Here is my summative project incorporating the major functions of the internet that further education and teaching.  There were many things to learn, but that is always the case.  There are many great assets that have been uncovered during this class that will prove very valuable.  I hope this assists in sharing with others as the information did for me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alec Couros

Once again we were party to an informative and entertaining video conference by one of the Couros brothers.  This particular talk had similar content but gave different insight into the extent and uses of social media and the ever increasing benefits it offers both teachers and students.  Alec ran us through many different sites that were of interest and also about the community and how quickly things actually transpire online.  We were given a few interesting examples that arrived through flickr over the westcast weekend.  During a seminar a call was put out for photographs of different weather and pictures from all over and they were automatically uploaded to flickr.  It was an incredible display how within no time people from all over had not only seen the call, but partcipated in answering.

I was impressed by how closely related both George and Alec's ideas on ICT connected.  They both felt that with proper safeguards there should be no fear in teachers having their students participate in online social networks.  I understand that there is still that fear amongst others in education in exposing students to the internet, but the faster we keep moving the more impractical these fears become.  Just as schools are responsible for teaching math and science, they should also be responsible for teaching students good citizenship both online and offline.  This is the case especially now because we are in that period where some schools are taking this initiative, while others are still holding back.  The quicker we accept that schools have n important role to play in this modelling, the better for everyone.

This was good chat and it once again expressed the immensity of uses of how we as teachers can use the internet.  I look forward to expanding my "friends" as I get deeper into teaching and creating my network.

Plagiarism and the Internet - A Beautiful Marriage?

Here is another article that may be of interest.  A German minister has just been found to have taken large parts of his Doctoral thesis directly from sources without citing them.  This brings to the forefront the debate about the internet and plagiarism once again.  This article is a decent read if you have the time.  There are some interesting programs out there for plagiarism checks that universities are now using that I was previously unfamiliar with.  Good thing we are almost done, and BU hasn't gotten wise just yet......I kid I kid.

Plagiarism: The Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V boom

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Great Web 2.0 Application - Wordle

Please feel free to click on the word below to connect with this site:

Some of you may have encountered this site before, but for those of you who haven't you may be asking the questoin "so what does 'wordle' do?"  This is where I would use positive commentary and utter "good question you lad/lass" basically it is a website that generates word clouds from whatever text you input.  Within these clouds there is greater size and repitition given to those words that appear more frequently in the source text.  You can change your wordle clouds with font and colour however you want.  The only issue this site has is that you cannot save them as a .jpeg, .gif or any other format.  The only options you have are to print them or save them to the wordle gallery.  It isn't a major inconvenience, but does mean that you do not have your own soft copy.

One great strategy in using this application is in teaching your students inference.  You can find the text of a book, or chapter, or article and then show them a word cloud and have them try to guess what that text was about.  From the words you can try and have them gather clues and try to infer what a story may be about.  It would help them in honing in on key words and using their creativity in figuring out what the contents of the text is going to be.  From there you can read the story and see how close the students were and whether they agree with the word cloud that was generated.  It also promotes critical thinking skills in evaluating what is important.  Give it a try, it is an interesting and useful tool.

Web Based Courses - Manitoba Education

The Manitoba WCB site has many different disciplines offered.  It runs the entire gamut from all kinds of math, science, and ELA courses to computer science, drafting, French, phys.ed and social studies.  Many different grade levels are offered, but not every subject is complete on the grade offerings.  I decided to explore the phys.ed course because it is something that I have yet to explore as an option in my Ed degree.  Change it up a bit.

Surfing through this material the information is broken down into sections and then further broken down into lessons, as one would expect.  There is a lot of text present that gives the instruction which seems like a fairly traditional approach, considering this is a new concept of using the internet to offer courses.  One would naturally suspect that in creating this type of instruction many different modes of web 2.0 instruction would have been used.  At the very least the use of videos, or downloadable powerpoint slides.  With this particular course the main focus was on the health aspect of phys.ed.  There was not much of any instruction that pertained towards physical activity, although students are required to log what activity they do maintain for this course.

The course seemed well thought out and did not seem daunting.  Sometimes at the beginning of a class when the outline is handed out there is a bit of a panic on how to balance or juggle everything with all of the assignments, but this did seemed manageable and balanced without being daunting or intimidating.  Almost like they were aware of that stress factor when making the site.  A concern of mine is that using courses of this nature does take a motivated and mature attitude towards learning by a student.  They are more accountable for their work and their instruction.  So it isn't for everyone, and the way that the online information is not varied might even make it more of a challenge for some learners who think they are able to handle this manner of conducting a course.  As with most things, I'm sure there is still a lot of tweaking to be done to make this site and these courses even better.  Who knows maybe this blog will help with that, lofty goals.

Does the Internet Make Us Smarter or Dumber?

Those were interesting articles and it is a conversation that I am sure will be debated for a long time.  There has become a huge reliance factor on the internet which means that in certain instances it has become a crutch and means that we are not forced to retain information for ourselves because it acts as a massive data bank that we can recall with a few strokes of a keyboard.  Obviously, with the search engines like google we are also able to extract more precise information with those few stroes, rather than having to thrift through thousands of pages of information.  As an example of this, try to think of 15 movies that Tom Cruise has been in.  I would think that most Scientologists could probably muster out 10 to 12 movies (I should mention we will count all Mission Impossible movies as one disaster, not three separate incidents) but for most of us it would be tough to gather enough to make a full fifteen responses unless you were a huge fan.  If we really wanted to know what movies he had been in what would our first instinct be now days?  Well it would mostly likely be Wikipedia or IMDb.  We might sit there and grind out a few moments trying to think of more movies, but when it came down to it we would turn to the internet.  It is tough to think of how we would have gotten up to date instant information like that prior to the internet.  It would have been a much more exhaustive search.  Maybe we would've just made ourselves more cognizant of all information, however trivial.  But now we can allow information to pass right through us because of our confidence in being able to use the internet as our new memory bank.

I realize this doesn't make us dumb, but it doesn't help in making us look intelligent either.  That is one part of the arugment.  The other side is that the overwhelming wealth of information on the internet has granted us the ability to connect with so many different strands of thought and knowledge that it is expanded our world beyond anything we could have thought of a couple of decades ago.  The stuff that children are informed of today is so far advanced and worldly than almost anything I was exposed to in even high school.  It is a truly incredible change.  This has definitely created a better informed group of youngsters, and a more socially conscious group of citizens.  It could be a debate of semantics, but to say the internet makes us dumb or smart is difficult to measure.  I think that a better way it could be stated would be that it has to ability to make us dependent and at the same time is has the ability to make us much better informed.  At the same time it can engage different perspectives of learning, it can also make us passive in actually absorbing that information because we know we can always access it.  Each one of these attributes has the capacity to make someone 'dumb' or 'smart' depending on their disposition, but as a broad statement I think they are much too harsh.  When it comes down to it, there is no question the internet is so much more beneficial to mankind because the internet can shift perspectives, and you do not need to memorize facts in order to have that shift.  You just need a stimulus that creates a feeling, which many times we now get from the information we gather online. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ohhhh Animoto

This sweet production is so scintillating you will think you were there.  Although, in my haste I proceeded to publish a typo so please forgive that egregious crime near the end.  My only excuse was that I was up all night in the studio [rumpus room] producing this Oscar nominated short, and could barely focus by the end.  Such is the life of the prodigious in the film industry.

Click below for your ticket of teleportation: