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Yes, and finally, “Beam me up, Scotty”

“On the twelfth week of this course, Doctor B. said to me:

12 Feeds to Google…
11 Tweets per hashtag…
10 Facebook Friends…
9 Shelfari books…
8 Animotos…
7 Prezi mashups…
6 Flickr albums…
5 Wi..ki wri..ters…
4 Podcasters…
3 Bookmarked sites…
2 Youtube vids…

And post it all to your blog, please.”

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“Then all the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
You’ll go down in HISTORY!”

Highlights of the course

 “It’s like I’ve actually opened my eyes!”
I wrote this note over two months ago on my course outline.  I have gone from an occasional sender of emails to a budding “expert” on Web tools, at least among my family, friends and colleagues.  It is not often a Bridget Jones remakes herself into a Captain Kirk (or even somewhat “Spock-like!”) in such a short time!  Understandably, the knowledge I have now is just a tip of the web iceberg, but it is a start.  Having some experience opens the door to willingness to try other, unfamiliar tools.

“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…”

…and the web tools I cannot live without:

  • Diigo, my library of resources.  Any time I find something I could use personally or professionally, I now have a place to store it where it can be easily accessed!

    My Diigo page

  • Blogging – both my own and the professional and personal interest bloggers I follow with my igoogle RSS feed, which links me to the blogs I follow
  • Wikis – already put into practice twice in the past two months, wikis have shown a new way to collaborate!

“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way…”

The leap from learning to practice:
Recently, after exploring several sites, I launched my English class’s website.  (Full documentation of this voyage can be found on my last post.)  The early adopters have been busy post-ers and comment-ers.  I overheard one student say “This is better than Facebook!”.  My conclusion is that he has too many unknown “friends” on Facebook and doesn’t feel personally connected to their comments, nor wants to comment on walls of those he doesn’t know.  While our class site is still in its infancy, he knows who they are (most have shared their “alias” with each other) and feels safe sharing about his literary experiences. 

This past week, my Drama Club decided to write a short play for our Christmas assembly.  Several student writers attended our “creative” meeting, each armed with pen and paper.  As one student attempted to write everything onto one script, I suggested we use a wiki.  In less than ten minutes, I had established a site, a user name for each student writer and had given a brief tutorial.  I posted a link to Common Craft’s “Wikis in Plain English” on the wiki site and sent them home armed only with the web site address and their own logon information.  Several hours later I checked in on the wiki.  I almost cried tears of joy at how they were using the site.  It was a serious AH HA moment!

Drama Club Wiki (Script)

Over the past two days, the amount of collaborative creative writing on the wiki is amazing and the respect they are showing to each other is inspiring.  I added a bit of stage direction and some comments.  A student decided that we would all have our own ink colour, so she added that.  They each compliment the changes the others have made and each respect the final editing from the main student writer…I am astounded at how quickly they adapted to this new-to-them tool.

Drama Club Wiki (Comments)

In comparison, when I had a Professional development session last month with several other teachers, I created a wiki for that.  I have since checked back in and found that no teacher has added to the wiki.  It is very interesting at how quick the students were to embrace new technology, but not surprising!  Our students are the digital natives. 

These two simple examples of putting the web tools into practice have been the best moments in this course.  That, and the realization that the only way to move is forward into the realm of further technology and the excitement that idea brings has made this a positive learning experience.

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 “Oh the weather outside is frightful…”

Challenges

This course has been such a positive experience, for the most part, that I do not want to dwell on anything that seems negative.  Besides a sore wrist, there were only a few areas that posed challenges:  
  • The required text – while informative and easy to read, the Richardson text is somewhat out of date.  The benefit of assigning it was the readability of his discussions and an in-depth look at the basics of the web tools and the benefits of each tool.  Also, it did force me to be responsible for my own research for up-to-date technology.
  • Some frustration with selected tools – Podcasting and Twitter caused me some headaches and wasted time.  I am very much in favour of “live presentations” in the classroom, so podcasting is not a tool I would choose to use often, nor could I get it to work well for me.  Twitter is another tool that I wish I liked more.  Perhaps my reluctance to learn more about this technology was that I truly don’t see the benefits of using it myself.  Unless I buy into the reason for using it, the time spent on getting familiar with the tool doesn’t seem well spent.  Another important cause could be that I do not own a handheld piece of technology that would make accessing Twitter easier.
    I will not rule out ever using these tools, they were just the two that caused me the most frustration in the course.
  • Scared I will lose the technological gains – can we just keep taking this course (or ones related to it) for the rest of the TLDL credits?  My TL told me she cannot remember anything from her coursework…I am afraid to become the same way.  My goal is to continue using the ones I am most comfortable with on a regular basis, while keeping up with my igoogle blog feeds to keep on top of the technological changes that continue to happen.
  • Sad to lose my persona “The Web Wanderer” – I have quite enjoyed writing as the somewhat ditzy Web Wanderer.  It has been challenging writing as a pilot of a spaceship and maintaining her “voice” for almost a dozen long posts.  I did lose her for a bit, when I was time-challenged, but was happy to find her again in my final post.  I will miss that native from planet Chardonnay.  Luckily, I have saved a bottle of her home planet’s finest with which to toast her demise. 

    "The Web Wanderer"

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!”

********************************************************

 

"Winter Wonderland" on Planet Chardonnay

 

“Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a [TECH] song,
As we go along,

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

Future Plans

Continuation of the class blog is a goal.  My concern about the blog was highlighted in my last post:  those students who are experienced with the immediate posting of comments and status on Facebook will get frustrated with the “wait-time” they must endure with our class blog.  My eventual plan is to relinquish control (!!!) over the editing of posts and comments, with my role becoming an occasional “check in” moderator and evaluator.  I also want to encourage the idea of embedding video and audio into their blogs.  These things may happen in time, after we have firmly established posting etiquette.

I would like to give all of my students a taste of blogging, as well as a chance to use a wiki.  In each class, I intend on posing a group question / project to create wiki use.  Each wiki will created beforehand (good use of my Christmas break!) to allow quick access.

My students will also benefit from my expanded use of Youtube and Teacher Tube.  By exploring more visual presentations and using my Diigo site to bookmark these videos, students will appreciate another form of information presentation. 

In addition to my students, I intend to enable my own children to become more comfortable with creating and posting videos to Youtube.  I am tired with them being a passive audience, so with a little guidance from me, they will become creators.  If this works with my own children, my students will benefit as I enable and encourage them to use video.

I know that whatever direction I steer my children and my students to, they will quickly surpass my own learning.  Soon, they will be teaching me.  THAT is a scary position…when the educator gives up their “control” of how the students learn.  I came across a great post that challenges educators to do just that:  http://edtechideas.com/2010/11/24/relinquishing-control/.

Keith Ferrel’s (2010) advice is so timely – letting the students’ knowledge of the tools direct the way they choose to show their learning.  “As teachers, it is often difficult to make a shift from forced learning (teacher delivered content) to student directed learning. I challenge you to just take one lesson; one activity; one afternoon and flip the way you’ve always done it in the past. Take a leap of faith, and relinquish control. See how you feel. Discover how your students feel. Feel the learning.”   

Thanks to the readings I have done for this course and the explorations I have completed, I do feel up to the challenge.  Scared but exhilarated, knowing this is the future direction education must have.

I do have one personal goal: To become competent in downloading music onto our family’s iPod.  You would think I could figure that out now…

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“Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fa la la la la la, la la la la.” 

What I will share with other teachers / TLs

I hope to be given the opportunity to share the success I have had with wikis and blogging with the rest of my staff.  I am lucky to work with a TL who is comfortable with the idea of starting a library blog with me.  We will set up the blog together and work on posting and maintaining the comments from followers.

I am not shy in sharing my new knowledge; in fact, I may have to be restrained…

Sharing with the staff

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“Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe, 
Help to make the season bright.” 

What I learned from others

The eclass discussions have been beneficial.  From comparing reactions to recent articles in the Globe and Mail to helpful hints on “How To…”, I have appreciated the feedback from the many other TLs and aspiring TLs in the course.  Just this past week, my school’s TL asked if I could post a question regarding a new technology my school district is looking into buying.  The responses from my classmates will help guide our purchases.

Thankfully, we also have our “coffee talk” area as well.  That is one thing I miss about not attending actual classes – the social chatting that accompanies it.  This section of our discussions has been a lot of fun and allows a bit more of our “non-professional personas” to have a voice!

I will miss the “chatter” and the positive comments we write for each other in response to shared ideas in eclass and in response to blog posts.

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“We wish you a Merry Christmas; 
We wish you a Merry Christmas; 
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin; 
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.”


“I am now a member of Web 2.0”
(Final Reflections)

 For years I have sat back and pooh-poohed the idea of using the internet in the classroom.  It took me a long time to use Facebook.  I couldn’t add an attachment to my emails.  Why?  Fear of the unknown. 

The beauty of this course was that I was forced to come to terms with those fears.  I had to get over the worry of messing up (because it is inevitable that I would) or not completely understanding how something works (I don’t really know how my car works but I still drive it) and just try it out. 

I began the course with a teeny-tiny bit of web knowledge…I was comfortable with email, had used Facebook for a few months and had used a blog (strictly as a holding site for assignments) for a previous course.  This course pushed my limits of comfort, and in fact helped me find which areas I need to become more familiar with.  It is not a matter of choosing to use technology in the classroom or the school, it is how and which tools to use.  Looking at Roger’s “Innovation Adoption Curve”, I thought I was a “laggard” in web-based tool, in comparison to others in my classes and with blog reading.  In my school, I believe that now I am one of the “Early Adopters”.  Huh, how did that happen?

Roger's Adoption Curve

 

In three short months I have progressed from a hesitant user of technology to a champion of the use of web tools in the classroom.  I am not an “expert”, but my confidence in my ability to use the tools has expanded exponentially.  I am not afraid to try new things and won’t write off those tools that I didn’t find easy success with but instead will keep trying to figure them out.  No longer do I send the computer store flyer directly to the recycling bin…I read it!

My favourite blogger Will Richardson (2010) says it succinctly:

 “We may not feel comfortable in a world filled with technology. We may not like the way it’s changing things and, even more, how fast it’s changing things. We may not like the way it pushes against much of what we’ve been doing in schools for eons. But our kids don’t have a choice. And if we’re going to fulfill our roles as teachers in our kids lives, neither do we.”

Here’s to fulfilling that role.

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References

Ferrel, K. (2010). Relinquishing control. http://edtechideas.com/2010/11/24/relinquishing-control/

McLeod, S. (2010) Are we edubloggers too harsh on our kids’ teachers? http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2010/09/are-we-edubloggers-too-harsh-on-our-kids-teachers.html

Richardson, W. (2010). No choice. http://weblogg-ed.com/2010/no-choice/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnIy8FDw5LU (Thanks blondehootie, it is perfect!)

2 comments

  1. […] “Beam me up, Scotty…” […]


  2. Very nice. Can I share your 12 Weeks of Christmas with the listserv?

    Jenn



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