Tuesday, January 27, 2009

921-Session 2

Welcome back!

Let's start by reading a powerful blog entry on today's techsavy students. It can get a little heavy at times, but spend some time exploring the links there. It is eye-opening information (even if at two years old) that all educators should read.

I hope that after that you don't feel too overwhelmed with all of the references and links I included this week. Your first assignment, Deliverable #1, is due before next Tuesday morning (2/3/09). The details are in the syllabus and summarized here:

Deliverable #1 will be to sign up for your own blog (I see that some of you already have). You don't have to create anything fancy. (A person could lose track of time playing with all the details.) Save the 'add a gadget' part for later this semester.

Setting up a Blogger account will also change how you comment on our class blog. Instead of choosing 'anonymous' you will instead type in your Blogger user name. If you already have a Google account (either gmail, gdocs..... ) then you can use the same user name and password b/c the companies are interconnected.

You may access the wisdom of those that have taken this class before you here. And also from las Summer's participants here.

Also, some invaluable resources you should also start to check out are the tutorial links along the left side of this page. They'll walk you through a lot of what you need. Great for the visual learners out there. And lastly don't forget to tell us all your new blog address in your posting for this week. As they come in I'll post links to them in the margin with past participants.

By now, most of you are getting more comfortable navigating our class blog. You will spend the bulk of this session being exposed to the multitude of possibilities for using blogs in education. Unfortunately, it seems that some school systems use filtering systems that block access to many blogs, but where there is a will there is a way. You can't stop the evolution of technology, so for every blogging service that is blocked I'm sure there will be ten others to take its place. We are told that the rationale for blocking access is to protect the children, but I see examples every week of our students using inventiveness and ingenuity to circumvent filters. The kids are more savvy at this than us. I've seen students use proxy servers, foreign country websites, and different languages just to check out their MySpace and Facebook accounts at school. Also, every new cell phone now has the ability to access the Internet, so very soon the students won't even have filters to slow them down.

Blogs are popping up everywhere. Just check out the Providence Journal's website: http://www.projo.com/blogs/ and count how many different blogs are available there. I also have 29 high school students this semester taking 'virtual' classes at a vitual high school. They come to the library for their scheduled period and nearly every one of these classes has a blogging component. Check it out: http://www.govhs.org/

Tomorrow I'd like you to take an informal survey of your students and ask them about their online journal or blog use. (They may call it something different, but the most prevalent are MySpace or FaceBook) Obviously the older the students--the higher the percentage of use---but if your survey shows you results similar to mine, then you will be very surprised at the usage statistics. More then 95 % of my students here at the high school use some sort of online journal. The new trend is moving toward Facebook.com. And that number appears to be increasing all the time. Blogs won't always work for "every discipline--every day," but when you begin to grasp the versatility of their usage you will see that they can be a powerful communication tool. And if such a large percentage of our population is using a certain kind of technology then it is surely in our best interest as educators to become well versed in it. Watch this video on Web 2.0. It might be a little deeper than we, as educators, need to reach, but it gives us some perspective.

An example of how the power of participation can be harnessed within a single course comes from David Wiley at Utah State University. In the fall of 2004, Wiley taught a graduate seminar, “Understanding Online Interaction.” He describes what happened when his students were required to share their coursework publicly:
Because my goal as a teacher is to bring my students into full legitimate
participation in the community of instructional technologists as quickly as
possible, all student writing was done on public blogs. The writing students did
in the first few weeks was interesting but average. In the fourth week, however,
I posted a list of links to all the student blogs and mentioned the list on my
own blog. I also encouraged the students to start reading one another's writing.
The difference in the writing that next week was startling. Each student wrote
significantly more than they had previously. Each piece was more thoughtful.
Students commented on each other's writing and interlinked their pieces to show
related or contradicting thoughts. Then one of the student assignments was
commented on and linked to from a very prominent blogger. Many people read the
student blogs and subscribed to some of them. When these outside comments showed
up, indicating that the students really were plugging into the international
community's discourse, the quality of the writing improved again. The power of
peer review had been brought to bear on the assignments. Full Article

Now"blog away!!"
Dave Fontaine
PS--If you have trouble downloading this week's session from the link above then use this as a backup.  Once there just search for edc921 and find the appropriate session.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome to EDC921 !!!


This is our class blog. It will serve as our discussion forum, connection to each other, and the main webpage you will be accessing. If this is your first visit, then please first read the entry below this (titled, 'Practice Session') and follow the instructions there then return to this one.

Early this semester I will give you a detailed lesson on blogs and their use in the classroom, but for now you only need to know a few things.

This forum can be viewed by anyone, but will only allow the participants of edc921 to interact with it. When you would like to respond to someone or comment upon a session, just click on the 'comment' link below each of my postings and choose the 'anonymous' button under 'choose an identity'; and

In the left-hand margin you will see links to individual lessons (accessible every Tuesday).

If you need to contact me then please email me at DaveFontaine1@gmail.com.

This blog, in addition to its use as an interactive communication tool, will also be where you can access and download your weekly sessions. The presentation links to the left will be accessible on a week-to-week basis (Tuesdays). When attempting to download always choose 'save' rather than 'open.' The syllabus is also linked there. Google has a free service that allows you to just upload any Word document and with one additional click it gets published online with its own URL. The course syllabus is an example, and we'll practice with this tool before the semester is over.

One more aspect that will be unique about this course is that I support a completely collaborative teaching philosophy. Following that mindset, I will keep your assignments, comments, and reflections viewable and accessible to future participants of this course. The 'goal' is for future participants to gain from the collective knowledge of your experiences, use what you have done, and incorporate new ideas into their classroom.

The bonus for you, of course, is that this information will also always be accessible for you. This way, in the future, many semesters from now, you may revisit this site and benefit from the ideas of all participants. In this way---YOU will gain from all the 'learning speedbumps' of those that have come before you--even though they are not currently enrolled in this course. You may also read last semester's participants' profiles here and older ones here.

Before we go any further I would like each of you to practice using this forum and introduce yourself. We will be spending the semester together, so it is important to learn as much about each other as possible. Click on the 'comment' link below this posting, then you may click the 'anonymous' button and write a few paragraphs about yourself. (If you are feeling bold you may sign up for a Blogger account now and use the 'user name' that you create when you 'comment' rather than choosing 'anonymous.')

Please include:
-your name
-email address (so that you may contact each other directly if needed),
-your educational background,
-teaching history,
-current teaching position with location, and lastly
-what you hope to come away with when this semester is over, along with any additional information about you that you wish to share.

After you have finished posting this profile, come back to this page and click on the 'Session 1' link (in the left-hand margin), download it, and view it. When you are finished with the session please click on the 'comment' link again and add any comments, insights, or reflections you have for Session 1.

Sometimes it takes a little while to get the hang of using this forum. I have taken this into consideration by reducing the workload of the first session. Its primary goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page and skill level before we sink our teeth into the meat of this course. Everything here is protected by Creative Commons. This means that you have complete authority to download, save, share, and use all of the lessons in your classroom, but are prohibited from any commercial uses.

You will notice that each slide of the PowerPoint presentation has the narration transcribed in the 'notes section' of each slide. This is because we have teachers from around the world (China, Alaska, California...) taking this course. (And they may need help understanding my "Ro-diland" accent) but more importantly, it allows you to take these slides and use them in your own classroom.

Good luck this semester! I look forward to working and collaborating with you.

Dave Fontaine

PS-If you are running into trouble viewing our first session you may also access it here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Practice Session

Welcome to EDC921---"Using Blogs And Wikis to Foster Literacy."

Throughout these 13 weeks we will be covering a vast amount of information.

New sessions will be posted once a week (by the end of business on Tuesday). Please keep in mind that there are new developments and trends in online information every day, therefore we may have to be flexible when interpreting the syllabus. This may mean some modifications, changes and condensing of information.

To ensure that we are covering the most current skills, I will be assimilating and collating information right up until the moment I post a session. This means that each session's link (over in the left-hand margin) will not be accessible until its respective Tuesday. Even so, there may be times when a cited link is dead. If that is the case, I will try to keep saved copies of all the information. Just email me and I will forward the data to you.

During the first few sessions we will be covering foundational skills. This is to ensure that we all have the basic essentials ‘down pat’. Once this is covered, we will pick up the pace and begin to delve into the mechanics, nuances, and meat of our course.

To ensure continuous accessibility to the information within these presentations I suggest you immediately download, and save the sessions, to your computer. I cannot emphasize this enough. Along the left-hand margin, there will be a link for each session. When you click on this link you may be prompted to 'save' or 'open' the session.

Always ‘save’ it to your desktop. Previous participants have found it easiest to organize if they create a folder and store all the sessions in one place. Another option would be to right-click on the link and choose, 'save target as.'

Saving’ the sessions will decrease problems relating to your bandwidth. Also, although it may take a while for a presentation to download (up to 10 min. or more depending upon the speed of your connection) it will be much easier to toggle between a PowerPoint and the Internet if you have it saved to your hard drive. Weekly sessions will also become portable if you save them to a thumb drive.

Additionally, you will need to have access to a computer that has PowerPoint version ’97 or above to view the presentations. If you cannot hear the sound on them it is possible that the “wave” element of your volume is either on ‘mute’ or not turned up enough.

Please remember that we are all teachers, and that this is a collaborative course. So, as you post your reflections and comments we will all be responding to you. Therefore, timely responses are imperative. After you have posted your weekly assignment, make an effort to return again later to read and comment about other participants’ assignments.

Once again remember that we are all perpetual learners; constantly growing. I hope to learn as much from you---as you will from me.

Now I would like you to try a practice download. Tuesday evening I will update this page with information about our first session. Along the left-hand margin you will see the words "PRACTICE SESSION." Please try to download this session to your computer, strictly following the directions above.

Once you have been successful with this process, please also download the syllabus. There is only one required, purchasable text: ISBN 1-4129-2767-6

You may order it from most online book sellers. Until then you may want to read it online (not ideal), but here is the link: Wikis, Blogs, and Podcasts

If you run into problems, please review the directions again. It is not uncommon for participants to 'stumble' a little getting used to this forum.

If you run into any trouble after that, then please feel free to email me or call.

Thank you,

Dave Fontaine
Internet Librarian and Information Specialist, NBCT