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Web 2.0 Introduction & Workshop: Lumberton, TX

I’ve updated my introduction to Web 2.0 handout and wanted to share it here. Feel free to download, modify, and use it as you see fit.

Web 2.0 Handout 2010

TCEA 2010 Presentation Links

What’s New in Web 2.0?

Presentation Links List

Death By PowerPoint (Presentation)

Slideshare
Slideboom
Authorstream
Google Docs
iSpring Free

Sliderocket
Glogster
Animoto
Prezi
Ahead
Scrapblog
Voicethread
GoAnimate
Xtranormal
Xtimeline
Timeglider
Sketchcast
Photopeach
Dipity
Showbeyond

Session Discussion Wall (I will try to address any questions as soon as possible!)

Too Much to Moodle to Ignore?

As an advocate of free, online Web 2.0 tools, I have spent a great deal of time and effort in reading and Moodleresearching, trying to keep up with the latest, greatest sites for my teachers or presentation attendees to use to transform their curriculums into the 21st century. I must admit that I’ve been neglectful of some other areas of technology, not so much because I failed to see their importance, but rather that the read/write Web has simply captured my imagination. One particular tool that I wish to gain a greater familiarity with is Moodle. Moodle is a learning management system (LMS), defined by Leonard Greenberg as “a high-level, strategic solution for planning, delivering and managing all learning events within an organization.” (2002) Among other things, Moodle is a powerful tool for creating online content and e-learning opportunities.  It has become an amazing force in the education world. It is a free, open-source tool that is putting a serious dent in the sales of for-profit tools in the field, especially in the current economic climate.

Miguel Guhlin is one of the foremost advocates of Moodle in education in the state of Texas today. In his blog and numerous trade publications, Miguel offers insights into implentation of Moodle, its applications, and justifications for its use. In an article written for the magazine On Cue and cross-posted in his blog this week, Miguel gives a good, general overview of the tool and some suggestions for its implementation. One thing that caught my eye was that  “Moodle comes replete with blogs, forums, RSS feeds, wikis and more that enable it to be seen as an “absolute good” that opens the door, that enables powerful ideas to slay the fears our IMHO – slay the fears that leaders hold.” I’ve been told many, many times that schools cannot utilize the tools I’ve shared because of restrictive filtering policies, so if Moodle is a step to overcoming this, I’m definitely listening.

Moodle Tools

Miguel does a great job going into more detail on some of the applications of Moodle in education, but I’ll summarize briefly what he describes.

  • Online learning environments. Users can create and utilize online groups, such as literature circles, create online quizzes and other instructional resources, build wikis for group collaboration, display student work, keep writing journals, develop online lessons, and more.
  • District/campus communications. Leaders can create book studies, disseminate news, engage staff in discussions using online forums, etc. All of this can be created in a private setting, accessible only to invited members.
  • Supporting district initiatives. Moodle’s discussion forums, questionnaires, and synchronous tools (Such as a Dimdim module!) help schools and districts implement initiatives in a manner that is on-going and as needed, rather than the typical isolated and infrequent way that it too often is presented.
  • Professional development. Moodle has the ability to make professional learning opportunities an anytime, anywhere affair. Teachers can login, take a course, complete a questionnaire, share a lesson plan, and earn needed professional development credits, such as ESL or G/T hours. All of this accomplished in a format that is both cost-effective (no transportation expenses) and fits into already busy schedules.

Breaking Down Barriers

Miguel also offers some helpful tips for overcoming administrative hesitation in implementing Moodle (and Web 2.0 tools) in schools:

  • Take the time to list the reasons you need the tools.
  • Share the reasons with administrators.
  • Create a petition and enlist the support of like-minded educators.
  • Explain the need for a person to be the administrator of the computers on which the tools will be used and volunteer to be that person.
  • Cultivate a relationship with the people in “power” over technology and access to resources.

I would add to this list:

  • Do your research. Administrators generally love data. Be able to support your ideas with evidence.
  • Educate the leaders at the top of the hierarchy. Show what other schools are doing. Teach them the tools and encourage them to try them out. I know from experience how powerful this can be.
  • Emphasize the cost-effectiveness of your ideas. The tools are free, but will require some costs in terms of servers, support, etc. Regardless, they are certainly more efficient than many pay-for-use tools.
  • If those in charge are reluctant, emphasize the ability to create resources whose use and access is totally controlled by the school/district.

Want More Information?

I plan to be experimenting with the tool in the coming months, and I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences here. In the meantime, if anyone is curious enough, you can learn a great deal through Miguel’s writings on his blog and elsewhere. I’ve also found him to be very willing to offer insights and answer questions through Twitter (http://twitter.com/mguhlin). Additionally, Moodle has a very active community of users, and you can tap into this community through the Moodle forums at http://moodle.org/login/index.php.

TCEA 2009: What’s New in Web 2.0?

Doing two sessions this year at TCEA. The first one was this morning, and we (co-worker Jon Norris, geeky aunt, Connie Tubbs, and myself) shared the basics of setting up and using the Nintendo Wiimote as an interactive whiteboard. This afternoon, the session will be on Web 2.0. I did this session at TCEA last year, and it is one of my favorite topics. This year has given me a great deal of trouble, though, as I try to narrow down a list of several hundred of my favorite sites to about 25, in order to be able to let folks out in under 5 hours. Here is the list I have compiled, tentatively (I still have a couple of hours!), of the sites I will be sharing. Actually, the sites preceded by an asterisk are the first priority sites. The others may not make the cut, especially if time runs short. If I have neglected to include any of your favorite, new Web 2.0 sites, please share them with me!

Student/Organization Tools

*http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ (Tool for creating to-do lists, reminders, more; access via phone, work offline, use with Google calendar and iGoogle, and more.)

http://notestar.4teachers.org/ (Online note-taking tool from the creators of Rubistar; teacher and student features.)

http://www.mynoteit.com/ (Versatile, social note-taking and organization tool.)

*http://evernote.com/ (Very useful note-taking and organization tool; write notes, upload images, send text/pics from phones, clip websites, more.)

Filesharing/Collaboration

*http://drop.io/ (Very easy filesharing tool; share via web, email, phone, etc.)

http://collab.io/ (Simple tool for creating collaborative, online work spaces using participant emails.)

*http://www.remobo.com/ (Create private, virtual networks between computers.)

http://usend.io/ (Send files up to 100mb via email.)

http://www.fileshaker.com/ (Free online file storage up to 10 gigs.)

http://www.docstoc.com/ (Online document sharing with the ability to tag documents for search engine recognition and embed documents into websites.)

https://www.yugma.com/ (Free desktop sharing tool for up to 20 participants.)

Mind-mapping

*http://www.mindmeister.com/ (Create and share mind maps online.)

*http://www.mywebspiration.com (Online version of the popular Inspiration software; great tool for collaborative brainstorming, planning, more.)

Bookmarks

http://www.bookmarkg.com/ (Fairly simple and straightforward social bookmarking site.)

*http://www.diigo.com (Social bookmarking site with lots of great features, including ability to mark up sites, share with groups, friends, etc.)

Videoconferencing

http://www.palbee.com/index.aspx# (Free video-conferencing tool.)

*http://mebeam.com/ (Probably the easiest, most basic video-conference site on the web; create a room and invite friends.)

Video

*http://www.viddler.com/ (Shared videos plus ability to leave time-specific comments, tags.)

http://keepvid.com/ (Useful tool lets you download videos in multiple formats from a variety of sites.)

*http://www.selfcast.com (Create live streaming video channels; chat with viewers.)

*http://www.mogulus.com/ (Create live broadcasts with lots of extras, such as embedded images, text, etc.)

*http://qik.com/ (Live video streaming from a wide variety of phone models)

*http://www.stickam.com (Live video streaming, video chat for up to 12 participants, slideshow and music sharing, plus mobile streaming for some Nokia phones)

Images

*http://www.snapily.com/ (Create photo prints that are 3-dimensional or display motion.)

http://photosynth.net/Default.aspx (Cool tool from Microsoft creates fantastic panoramic images from multiple pictures.)

*http://animoto.com/ (Create beautifully animated slideshows, complete with musical accompaniment; free full version for educators.)

*http://pixelpipe.com/ (Allows users to upload images to many sites through one portal.)

http://280slides.com/ (Create/share multimedia slideshows, upload existing PowerPoint shows, search for images/videos while working in the site.)

Office Apps

*http://sliderocket.com/ (Flash-based, online slideshow creation tool.)

http://www.slideboom.com/ (Slideshow sharing site)

Website Creation/Wikis

*http://www.weebly.com/ (Great, free website creation tool; features standard and blog pages, drag-and-drop interface, more.)

RSS

*http://www.tabbloid.com/ (Use RSS feeds to create a printable, pdf newsletter.)

Miscellaneous

*http://www.verbalearn.com/ (Students create custom vocabulary study lists and mp3 files.)

http://www.weblin.com/index.php

*http://forvo.com/ (Site that is attempting to create audio files with pronunciations of all of the words in the world in their native tongues.)

http://www.popfly.com/ (Free online game and mashup creation tool from Microsoft.)

*http://cloudo.com/ (Cloud computing platform; access files from any web-connected computer.)

*http://tikatok.com/ (Student book writing and illustrating tool; students can order hard or soft copies for about $20.)

http://fo.reca.st/surveys/home (Create embeddable surveys, complete with multimedia elements.)

*http://mystudiyo.com/ (Create interactive, embeddable quizzes; include graphics, video, images.)

*http://www.flowgram.com/ (Exciting tool for creating interactive presentations incorporating images, audio, video, and PowerPoint.)

*http://www.thebroth.com (Collaboratively create works of art, chatting with collaborators as you work.)

*http://www.bookglutton.com/ (Site where users read shared materials and participate in discussions; users can upload own content, too.)

SMS/Microblogging

*http://www.yammer.com/ (Create private, corporate microblogging networks.)

*http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/socialmedia/edutwitter.html (List of educators using Twitter)

Blogs

http://www.backtype.com/

*http://posterous.com (Create a blog using email messages. Include images, video, links, more. Can also be used for groups, simply by adding members’ email addresses.)

Website Tools

http://embedit.in/ (Allows users to embed documents, videos, and text files in web pages.)

Dwight’s Google Apps Link

http://www.birdville.k12.tx.us/instruct_tech/googleapps.html (List of some great applications by Google.)

Presentation Video

Facilitating Lifelong Learning by Teachers: The PLN

We in education are fond of using the phrase “lifelong learners” as a primary goal for our students. Certainly, if such a goal is truly worthwhile for our students, it would logically be worthwhile for us, as well. Much of the learning that educators engage in is based upon traditionally presented staff development opportunities, usually selected by administrators. Much rarer is the self-initiated type of learning that might be characterized as the “teacher-scholar” model. I would assert that this type of learning is actually the most beneficial, as it will be focused on the educator’s own needs and those of his/her own students. The challenge is in the creation of an atmosphere that encourages such independence. Certainly, creating the time needed to practice such learning is difficult, and there is a need to provide guidance, showing teachers how to locate and evaluate resources, and how to critically apply new knowledge in their classroom practices.

Internet visualizationOne of the greatest benefits of social web technologies for me and thousands of other educators has been the ability to build powerful personal learning networks, or PLNs. These are groups of educators, consutants, researchers, and visionaries whose ideas and input help one another grow professionally by asking questions, prompting discussions, sharing resources, etc. Much of what I have learned and put into practice in terms of technology has come as a direct result of the interactions with my own PLN, accompanied with independent research and the input of my talented co-workers.

The question of how best to creat a PLN is certainly a wide-open one, and there are perhaps as many answers as there are individuals. However, I would suggest a few tools that facilitate connected learning as a means to begin.

  1. Blogs. Blogs are powerful tools for creating PLNs. As a tool for self-expression, they allow a user to share ideas or ask questions of a global audience. The types of responses a blog generates depends largely upon the types of questions or concepts shared. However, it also depends heavily on becoming an active member of the blogging community as a reader/responder. The new blogger should seek out blogs that address similar topics to their own, read as many as they can, and offer inciteful responses or ask questions that extend discussions. Blog response forms include the ability to link to a responder’s own blog. Very often, a thoughtful reply will cause a reader to click through to the linked blog, generating traffic and adding new members to the blogger’s PLN. To locate relevant blogs, a search tool such as Technorati or Google’s Blog Search can be used. Additionally, most blogs contain a blogroll, a list of recommended and related blogs, which can be very helpful in locating outstanding resources. Utilize RSS readers, such as Google Reader or Bloglines, to help keep readings manageable and organized.
  2. Professional networks. A wide variety of professional networks exist that focus on various educational subjects. Facebook, the social networking site, has many groups focused on education, and these groups can be easily found through a simple search. Facebook groups often engage in online discussions of topics or issues of interest, host online events, or arrange live meetings. Ning has numerous groups focused on educational issues. One of the largest is the Classroom 2.0 group, which has grown to over 15,000 members. Members share resources, blog posts, discussion forums, participate in online events, and more. If a Ning group does not exist that meets an educator’s needs, it is a very simple process to create one of their own, focused on their own goals, and to invite other professionals to participate in the PLN.
  3. SharingShared bookmarks. Participating in onling bookmarking communities has provided me with literally hundreds of useful sites, online articles, new blogs, and more. Two sites I have used are Delicious and Diigo. Diigo has become my personal favorite, as it has tools that easily facilitate the creation of and participation in groups. I have discovered and shared resources as a part of local, state, and global groups using Diigo.
  4. Twitter. I’ve certainly addressed the usefulness of Twitter before. Twitter is a microblogging platform that is used for everything from documenting/sharing the relatively insignificant details of daily life to finding answers to questions posed to broad audiences to sharing valuable resources. The usefulness of Twitter can be enhanced through the use of Tweetdeck on other, similar tools, which go beyond sharing or reading updates to the creation of groups, which allows messages or questions to be sent to specific Twitter followers.

George Siemens, the creator of the theory of learning called Connectivism, has identified several key trends in learning as it is occuring today that are important for teachers to consider, not only for their students, but for themselves:

  • Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.
  • Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.
  • Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.
  • Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.
  • The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.
  • Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
  • Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).

Wired brainI highlighted terms that are particularly relevent to the use of technology tools to create PLNs. Siemens also proposes that learning involves making connections (networks), accessing a “diversity of opinions,” knowing where to find information, and being able to ensure that information is current. If, indeed, these ideas are the way of the present and immediate futures for our students, then they should also be the applied ideals for our own, professional learning. It does require a dramatic paradigm shift, from the traditional practice of absorbing knowledge that is force-fed by school administrators, knowledge that is often well-founded in research but not necessarily applicable to all recipients. It also requires a new level of personal responsibility and effort. Fortunately, technology offers many useful tools to facilitate this type of learning efficiently. By utilizing these tools, I would assert that the rewards for both the student and the educator are greater, and both will remain better-equipped for the future that is evolving before us.

What say ye?

Reflections on A Year of Change

The school year will be drawing to a close on Thursday. As we meet as an Instructional Technology team tomorrow, I feel it is important to evaluate where we have been, where we are now, and where we hope to go in the future. The year began with high expectations for teacher learning, student learning, and personal growth. Some hopes have been fulfilled beyond my expectations, others have either been proven to be mistakes or are still in their developmental stages. Now, as I look back on the year that was, I will be better able to see the places I want to go in the next year and beyond.

Web 2.0

Blogging

Blogs have established for themselves a firm foothold in our district, although perhaps not in the exact ways I had envisioned yet. Teachers have embraced the tool at numerous campuses, using them as a form of homepage which allows for not only the sharing of information, media, resources, etc., but as a channel of communication between themselves and parents. They are also using them as discussion starters and extensions of classroom learning. Administrators are doing some exciting things with blogs, as well, including professional reflection, sharing school news, facilitating campus book studies, and working with parents to help them best keep informed and play an active role in their children’s education. Co-workers are using blogs to share ideas on topics from digital storytelling to free resources. Students are only just beginning to use the tool of blogging, however, something I would have expected to have been more deeply rooted by now. One of the best examples of a student blog being used as I would have envisioned in our district is the Talented Texans blog of a fourth grade teacher in the district. Here, students have written for a global audience, attracting over 1,000 visitors this year alone. Authors have paid visits to the site. Students read and respond to the writing of their peers. Another good example of student blogging has been the use of a class blog to summarize the day’s learning. Despite these and a few other examples, however, blogs have not been embraced as I would have expected as a tool for student publishing and creativity.

Blogging

Wikis

Wikis have also become a tool that is quickly growing in terms of adoption within our district. Administrators are using wikis to facilitate discussions and share resources. Within our department, for example, wikis have been created to do tasks ranging from keeping minutes of meetings, discussing books being read, and planning district training events. As with blogs, a few teachers have begun using wikis as classroom resources, taking the place of the established teacher websites. They have made the switch to take advantage of a rich set of features, discussion capabilities, and the ability to allow student-created content. On two of our middle school campuses, students are using wikis to record the progress of student projects.

Podcasts

iPodPodcasting has to rank as the Web 2.0 tool which has caught on most enthusiastically in the district. Teachers and students have created audio and video podcasts. Students have performed simulated newscasts, documentaries, readers theater, and more. Several campuses have begun using podcasts as a means to share daily announcements with parents and the community.

RSS/XML

As I entered the 2007-2008 school year, this was one of the tools that I was convinced merited a great deal of attention. I posted here my thoughts and questions as to the most effective means to share this tool with not only our students and faculty, but with parents, who could use the tool to more efficiently keep tabs on the blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. that their schools were creating. Unfortunately, the training in this area has been entirely focused on teachers and administrators, meaning it is still an area which will need to be addressed in the coming year.

Social Networks

While our district has not made extensive use of social networking, I was able to create a small community of educators focusing on Web 2.0 tools using Ning. The group was originally intended as a means for the Instructional Technology department and a handful of teachers in the district to share resources, discuss applications, ask questions, etc. While it is still a fairly small community, Web Tools in Education has grown to 51 members, with a fairly large percentage coming from outside the district. One project next year will involve using social networking as a classroom tool for students and teachers to collaborate and share.

Other Tools

Several other tools have had an impact, if not as widespread, as blogs, wikis, etc. Digital storytelling sites, including the picture blogging site Scrapblog and Voicethread, have been used by teachers and students in the district this year. Sketchcast, a site which allows users to record video of mouse-controlled sketches and audio narration, has been used by one middle school teacher and her students, in particular, to create tutorials for her class wiki. TeacherTube and YouTube have provided not only useful resources for class content, but the means for sharing student and teacher created video, as well. A small number of teachers have also signed on with the micro-blogging site Twitter.

What’s Next?

Web 2.0 has certainly begun to establish itself as an important tool in our district. The variety of applications, the continuing increase in the availability of computers and Internet connections inside and outside of schools, the low (usually free) associated costs, and the real-world relevance of the tools make them attractive to students, teachers, and administrators. Much work remains to be done, however. First, many more opportunities must be available for our teachers to learn about the read/write web. Administrators will have the opportunity to participate in workshops this summer, and classes will need to be offered at the district and campus levels. Additionally, tools such as microphones and video cameras are being purchased by the district and campuses, and teachers will need training on not only how to use these devices, but on effective means to enrich their curriculums with them. One of the barriers to widespread implementation in our district has been the need for students to have email accounts. This has been especially problematic at the elementary level. We are in the process of creating student accounts for all district students, using a filtered, monitored system. Training will need to be provided to both teachers and students on its use. In a standardized test-driven climate, a concerted effort, already underway, will need to continue that will educate administrators and teachers on ways that using Web 2.0 tools can not only engage students, but actually improve student achievement. They will have to see evidence that desired test results can and do accompany using the tools of Web 2.0 in relevant, meaningful, well-planned ways.

To this end, on a personal level, I will have to work harder to not only provide guidance to my campuses, but to stay abreast of the tools as they are created, and to envision possible applications for them in the classroom. As I dive headlong into a doctoral program, this will be even tougher (as my lack of blog posts as of late indicates). I believe this reinforces the importance of the community of teachers/learners that Web 2.0 has given me. It has given me access to the thoughts and ideas of like-minded educators around the globe, and I will be leaning on that to an even greater degree in the coming year.

All things considered, it has been an exciting, change-filled year. I liken it, however, to eating a salty snack–you can’t eat just one and long for the next. I am filled with anticipation for the next year and the things that will happen with the students of our district, as the world of Web 2.0 opens the doors to countless new opportunities for learning and growth for them!

Educator Internet Use

I used the Google Documents survey tool to create a brief survey over the use of Internet tools by educators in our district. Seventy teachers responded. The survey turned out as expected, generally, with a few surprises. Some of the results:

Time spent online away from work:

  • 31% <2 hours
  • 37% 2-5 hours
  • 16% 5-10 hours
  • 16% >10 hours

(This was encouraging to me, as it is clear that they are spending quite a bit of time online, more than I would have guessed. The key is to be able to take advantage of this, by getting them interested in visiting and using sites that will enrich their instruction and help them grow as teachers.)

Types of sites being visited (percent of respondents who regularly visit each type of site):

  • News (84%)
  • Educational/Informational (76%)
  • Entertainment (41%)
  • Video (26%)
  • Medical (26%)
  • Blogs (26%)
  • Photo editing/sharing (23%)
  • Games (20%)
  • Wikis (17%)
  • Social networks (13%)
  • Other (40%)

(Teachers appear to primarily use the Internet for information gathering, rather than content creation or socializing, although it was a pleasant surprise that fully 1/4 of respondents spend regular time on Web 2.0 sites, such as blogs and social networks.)

Specific sites visited (percent of respondents who have visited each site at any time–top 10 listed only):

  • Google (91%)
  • Yahoo! (90%)
  • YouTube (76%)
  • Wikipedia (64%)
  • MySpace (50%)
  • Blogger (37%)
  • Facebook (33%)
  • Wikispaces (30%)
  • Edublogs (29%)
  • TeacherTube (24%)

(Again, there appears to be a heavy emphasis on locating/consuming information. Some sites that garnered almost no responses include Twitter (3%), Digg (3%), Bloglines (3%), and StumbleUpon (2%).)

Active participation (percent of users with active, contributing accounts at each site):

  • Yahoo! (49%)
  • Google (41%)
  • MySpace (20%)
  • Facebook (14%)
  • Blogger (11%)
  • Edublogs (10%)
  • YouTube (10%)
  • Wikipedia (6%)
  • Wikispaces (6%)
  • Wet Paint (6%)

(Assuming that the affirmative responses for the Google and Yahoo! accounts are primarily email or IM, the evidence again seems to show clearly that very few educators here are creating any content. It is encouraging to see as many social network users as the survey indicates. StumbleUpon, WordPress, and Twitter each were blanked in this category.)

The final question changed directions a bit, as I wanted to get a little feel for the resources being used in actual instruction. The percent of each tool that educators have at some point used in their instruction:

  • Photo/video sites (50%)
  • Online bookmarks (27%–I’m very dubious about this one, given the fact that 1% responded that they had a del.icio.us account. I believe the question was misunderstood.)
  • Blogs (24%)
  • Podcasts (24%)
  • Wikis (23%)
  • RSS/XML readers (9%)

I’d be interested in any feedback I could receive regarding the results of the survey and what they mean. My first reaction is that I need to be doing more to facilitate creative use of Internet tools. Far too little creative content is being created and shared by the students in our district. Any other thoughts?

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