Archive for July, 2009

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Multimedia Sharing – way cool and fun!

July 30, 2009

Oh how I have loved this topic.  What more could I ask for, I have been stimulated beyond belief the last couple of days.  The images, the pictures, the music, the creativity…wow!

The first item I tried was voice thread.  It was very easy to sign up.  Just enter all of your information and you are off an running.  The VoiceThread that I made up was a nutrition item.  The first slide I am pretending to be a student going over the nutritional information of a daily meal plan.  Thank you to NutrionData for the nutritional information.   In the second slide, I am giving some thoughts on VoiceThread.

You can see my VoiceThread @ http://voicethread.com/share/571575/

I think VoiceThread could be a valuable tool in the classroom.  It could be used as a teaching tool.  Teachers could develop their own threads to share content with students.  The benefit to this is that students could listen to the material at a later date for studying or refreshing purposes.  The comment feature allows students to interact with the teacher and with each other.  This increased interaction between teacher and student and student and student is very beneficial.  Students can be more social and speak or type their mind about curricular topics.  They may not feel comfortable doing so in a classroom setting.  This gives them more freedom to say what they want to say without the fear of the physical audience that is normally present in the classroom, but is far away on other computers when commenting on threads.  According to Ferriter as cited by Weir (2008), more students participate in a more active way because they feel a sense of safety because they can take their time before answering a question and posting it online.  I really believe that VoiceThread would be a phenomenal way to have special needs students share their voices on classroom discussions.  As I have mentioned before.  The posting of student work online is very rewarding for students and parents alike.  Having work posted online allows for the student to have an audience, a source of comments, and a sense of accomplishment.  Work posted online allows the parents to be more involved in the schooling of their child, which is a benefit.

There is so much that can be done in the classroom using VoiceThread.  In reasearching, I found an article by Brenda Dyck.  Dyck (2008) give a variety of suggestions using VoiceThread.  See http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck023.shtml for specific documents.

I came across a VoiceThread about the future classroom and what it might look like.  Here is the VoiceThread – http://voicethread.com/share/42094/.  There was fabulous discussion about approaches to teaching using technology.  This is a fabulous example of how teachers could use VoiceThread amongst themselves to have great debate while engaging in shared learning (an online professional learning community, if you will).

The next item that I practiced with was Animoto.  As you may have seen from my previous post, I made a quick volleyball tryout video.  I was amazed by how easy it was.  By simply uploading the pictures I want to be displayed, changing the orientation, if necessary, and selecting the focal slides, I can make a pretty snazzy video in a very short time.  The only other task I needed to complete was the selecting of a piece of music, either from my computer or from the Animoto provided directory that has music arranged by genre type.  I was impressed with the numerous selections available.  The quality of the music is first rate as well.  It is not some synthesized 80’s music.  Obviously the school could use the site to make some cool welcoming videos or pep rally presentations.  For students, they could use Animoto to highlight events related to a certain topic.  For example, students could take pictures from the internet about a current event (an election, a natural disaster, a sporting event, a cultural event, etc.).  The images along with slides that can have words, the students could make very exciting and educational videos.  Teachers could have assignments to go along with the Animoto creations to further the learning taking place.

On a bit of a side note, Animoto has created Animoto for educators.  By signing up with Animoto and with the promise of sharing what you are doing with Animoto, teachers and their students are given education accounts that allow them to create full movies as opposed to the short movies that a basic account allows.  It is good to see that private businesses are seeing the value of their product in a K-12 setting and not charging an abhorrent price for it.

McPherson (p. 74, 2008) states, “[Animoto] enables visual, aural, and textual learners to quickly create and communicate complex new and powerful stories and messages of a multimodal nature.”  Students are visual learners, part of the MTV age and respond to visual and aural stimulus.  They are engaged by a quick tempo and moving pictures.  Teachers are wise to incorporate this type of technology into their classrooms to assist in engaging students in the classroom.

As teachers, we need to work to gain as much knowledge regarding multimedia tools that are available online.  The tools are becoming much more intuitive and easy to use.  Using this technology does not have a technology barrier to use.  The barrier is determining effective ways to use this in the classroom.  There are numerous blogs, TeacherTube, and YouTube videos that will assist in generating ideas for implementation of multimedia applications into the classroom.

***I did not get an opportunity to write about a newer application called Glogster.  I will try to write a short snippet about it, but not before the blog deadline.***

References:

Dyck, B. (2008). Brenda’s blog, VoiceThred in 2008. Education World. Retrieved July 29, 2009 from http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck023.shtml

McPherson, K. (2008). Mashing literacy. Teacher Librarian, 35(5), pg. 73 – 75.  Retrieved July 30, 2009 from Proquest Education Journals.

Weir, L. (2008). VoiceThread extends the classroom with interactive multimedia albums. Edutopia. Retrieved July 30, 2009 from http://www.edutopia.org/voicethread-interactive-multimedia-albums

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Domo Arigato, it’s Animoto

July 30, 2009

This is my first attempt at Animoto. Actually, it is my second attempt, I made some minor modifications to the first one and re-posted it. I will discuss my thoughts on it in more detail in my next post.I was able to embed the video to my blog with the help of Vodpod, a super cool utility.Please read future post on multimedia sharing.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Domo Arigato, it’s Animoto", posted with vodpod

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VoiceThread for Educators

July 29, 2009

A VoiceThread I found.  Take a look.

http://voicethread.com/share/3352/

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A Wiki Waa Waa

July 27, 2009

This blog will be realtively free of words for this posting.  In learning about wikis, I decided to make one.

Please follow the link to the wiki.

Dan

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The Virtual Library

July 23, 2009

Modern libraryCole is a 13 year old boy who just loves hockey.  He plays hockey in the winter, ball hockey in the summer, takes power skating camps, always watches the Oilers and usually another game or two a week, and plays street hockey with his buddies any chance he gets.

Mrs. Quincy is the grade 8 language arts teacher at Holy Cross School and has asked her class to write a fictional piece of work, but include really strong descriptions of the characters, the world they live in, and the activities they participate in.  Cole decides that he is going to write a story about an NHL lockout where replacement players are used and the trials and tribulations of one team of misfits who can’t seem to get along on or off the ice.  At lunch that day, Cole heads to the library to see what sort of information he can find.

From the computer, Cole is able to see the books that are available in his school that are related to hockey.  He is also able to see the books available at other schools in his school division.  One of the books that Cole wants to take out is at his school, but he was able to request that it be sent to his school, with some help from the school librarian.

Also included in Cole’s search for hockey related content is Webpath Express Results.  These results are Internet sites that have been selected by librarians for their appropriateness for school aged children. On the National Hockey League, the results produced 11 pages that would be perfect background information for his story.

The Virtual Library

The virtual library is the digitization of services that previously existed physically in the traditional library.  This digitization has advantages and disadvantages.  As identified in the Wikipedia article on digital libraries, advantages include the fact that digital information takes up very little room.  Instead of books taking up shelves and shelves of information, servers take up a much smaller amount of space and can hold massive amounts of information.   As I am very aware with the schedule I keep, it is wonderful to be able to work at all hours of the day or night.  Being able to access information from the library at any time makes it possible for me to work on coursework outside of regular library hours.  Digital versions of an article allow for multiple individuals work to research the article at the same time.  For instructors of courses, this means not having to put information on reserve for students.  The students can access it from the internet without having to get the item from a library reserve room and read it or photocopy it at the library.  With items being digitized, there is more ways to search them.  This is the power of electronic searching.  If there is a title, a phrase, a reference within a text, it is search-able and can more readily be found. Non-electronic searching limited how a document could be cataloged and found.  It is now easier to get more results when searching.  This requires the user to have better skills and be able to weed out less useful results.

The change in how information is discovered occurred as a result of the physical space change, but also as a change in how teacher librarians were sharing information.  The TL skill set has changed as well.  The TL is an “uber responsive educator” that is able to make it happen (Koechlin and Zwaan, 2008).  The students themselves need to have a certain skill set as well.  If these skills are deficient, aid of a teacher librarian will be required.  According to Fitzgerald and Galloway (2001) the following comprises the skills required:

  1. A reasonable level of technology literacy to access and manipulate the system
  2. At least a minimal amount of domain knowledge in order to choose a database
  3. Ability to search using a database
  4. Ability to interpret search results and problem solve in order to refine searches
  5. Ability to assess the relevance of articles
  6. Ability to critically assess the quality of  information
  7. Ability to reconcile all of the information and make a judgment on the usefulness of the search items.

What I like

There has been much discussion on our e-class site and in blogs about student safety in an on-line environment.  With the creation of virtual libraries there is the gentle pushing of students towards resources that have been judged to be safe by experts (teachers / librarians).  I do not think that this push should take away the fact that students need to be able to critically view data that is presented to them if they were to perform their research themselves in more traditional means.  The Internet biggest fault is the perceived dangers that exist.  Having a virtual library is a fabulous way to alleviate some of the concerns that would exist regarding students using the Internet.

More on what I would do with a Virtual Library in the next post…

References:

Fitzgerald, M.A. and Galloway, C. (2001). Helping students use virtual libraries effectively. Teacher Librarian, 29(1). p. 8. Retrieved July 22, 2009 from CBCA Education.

Koechlin, C. and Zwaan, S. (2008). Everyone wins: Differentiation in the school library. Teacher Librarian, 35(5). p. 8. Retrieved July 22, 2009 from CBCA Education.


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The Virtual Library – a story in desperation

July 23, 2009

Collaborative approach to librarianismWhen registration for spring first became available, I was sure to register for the course.  I then changed Masters programs and was not fully sure that I would be able to take the class.  Because of this, I decided to stay registered in the class, but did not purchase the textbook as I wanted to hear what my advisor said regarding the class.  As the course approached, I finally had an opportunity to sit down with my advisor in the latter part of June and she informed me that EDES 501 would be an excellent option course.

I said to myself, “Time to get the textbook.”

When I went to Amazon.ca and purchased the text, I was informed that the text would not arrive for a few weeks, well into the course.  What was I to do?

I decided to get onto the Internet.  My first stop was the University of Alberta library system.  From here, using the online catalog, I found out that the book was currently out, and had one person next in line to take it out.  I added my name to the list and carried on looking for the book.  My next stop was the Strathcona County Library website.  From here I looked through the catalog online.  The book was not in the catalog, but I did link to the Alberta Library Online.  From here, I was able to request an InterLibrary loan of the book.  I received an e-mail back the next day that stated, “This title is too new to borrow on Interlibrary Loan”.  I then checked Edmonton Public Library, but they did not have the book in their catalog.

Before the Internet, I would have had to physically go to each of these libraries and check to see if each one had the book available.  Now I am able to do all of this searching right from the comfort of my own home with the use of my computer.

Searching a catalog is just one of the uses of a virtual library, however.  From these library websites, I am able to:

  • Search databases for scholarly and non-scholarly work such as articles from academic journals, magazines, and trade documents.
  • Read items that have digital versions
  • Research how to reference / cite resources in my academic work
  • Ask A Librarian

These are wonderful features that would not be available if there was not a virtual library set up.

In the end, I was able to get the text from the U of A libraries and keep it until just before my copy arrived from Amazon.  This was definitely a close call.  See my next blog where I discuss the academics of virtual libraries and their use in schools.

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Pirate Radio for the 21st Century

July 20, 2009

In 1990, Christian Slater starred in the movie Pump Up the Volume.  The film tells a tale of Mark Hunter and his radio personality Hard Harry.  Mark has recently moved to Arizona and is shy in his new surroundings.  Mark’s parents give him the gift of a short-wave radio.  With his new technology, Mark begins his own radio show.  Mark uses his technology to speak his mind on topics of importance to him.

I contend that podcasting is the Pirate Radio of the 21st century.

Flanagan and Calandra (2005, p. 21) state, that podcasting “may be a cost-effective way to deliver instruction…”  The authors are very much correct.  For a relatively small amount of money, and individual can easily make podcast.

What is a podcast?

According to Wikipedia, podcasting is series of audio files that are released on a  regular basis and are available for download.  Where podcasts differ from regular audio file downloads is that a podcast can be retrieved using a podcatcher due to web syndication.

Gathering podcasts

I decided to use the Apple product iTunes to catch podcasts that were of interest to me.  One iTunes was open, I simply click on the podcast icon within the program and I was sent to the iTunes store.

Apple iTunes Podcast Home

Apple iTunes Podcast Home

Under ‘Categories’ select ‘Education’ and further refine the search under ‘More Education’ by selecting ‘K-12′, “Educational Technology’, ‘Higher Education’, ‘Language Courses’ or ‘Training’.

When clicking on one of the categories a list of featured podcasts becomes available and is displayed through the use of icons representing each podcasts.  After clicking on an icon a description of the podcast is given and a ‘subscribe’ link is displayed.  By clicking on the ‘subscribe’ link, the podcast is added to the podcast library within iTunes.  iTunes gives the user the option of automatically checking for updates and downloading them if there are new episodes.

Podcast Gallery in iTunes

Podcast Gallery in iTunes

I chose to browse and subscribe to tech related podcasts in the K-12 category and the Educational Technology category.

This is a great way for me to get personal professional development.  Once I sync my iPod with iTunes, I will be able to play these podcasts in my car or while I am doing other work.

I can listen, can I create?

As I introduced this posting with, I believe that the podcast is the 21st century pirate radio.  The podcast is a forum for adolescents to share their thoughts.  Educationally, this means that teachers can have their students create a podcast to show their learning, thoughts, and opinions on curricular topics.  I decided I would post some information for my audience.

Below is my first podcast.

http://dancoles.podomatic.com/

The Process

The path to taking over the airwaves is not an easy one.  I watched the YouTube video A Podcast Tutorial [Podcasting 101] and Integrating Podcasting Into Your Classroom to get a few tips and hints.

After watching the videos, I downloaded Audacity and its related plugins.  I never did download the extras other than the MP3 encoder.  When I tried to install the plugin software, my computer kept getting an error.

The first thing I did because I thought it would be fun is find some intro and outro music.  The music I used was found at http://www.ccmixter.org.  It is called Broken Poems Beat and is a piece of work of Evrim Sen.  Lamb and Johnson (2007)  suggest the use of music and sound effects to add to the podcast and attract more users.  I struggled to find sound effects that would be appropriate for the topic.  This is something I will need to try and incorporate into any future podcasts.

I thought of a name for the podcast – Techno Babble for Educators and started babbling.  I wrote out the text that I was going to say for the first couple of sections and then just tried to wing it.  When I podcasted with no script the “ahhs” and “umms” seemed to creep into my speech.  I think that I would improve in the unscripted reading with more practice at it.  I would hope that eventually, the script would not be a necessity.

After recording all of the segments in Audacity, I used Podomatic to host the podcast.  This process was fairly easy.  I did struggle with how other people were going to download the file, however.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t fairly easy.  I uploaded the wrong file (not a problem with the website, just me) the first time and decided to try PodBean instead.  I found that for both sites, Podomatic and PodBean, there is a substantial wait.

Practical Uses

I could definitely see this type of technology being used in my classroom.  I think that as a class we could create an audio science reference resource.  Students would work as a team to develop information on a topic and then create a podcast of the information.  All of the topics could then be added together to create a larger resource.  Students who are absent for extended periods of time could access the information and use it as a way to keep up to date with the information.  In mathematics, students sometimes have difficulty writing out their reasoning behind a word problem.  By podcasting, the student could simply talk through the issue and would gain a better understanding of the content that you are dealing with.  Borsheim, Merritt, and Reed (2008) suggest that students creating podcasts are more involved in the process and are more willing to participate in the project.

Challenges

There is definitely some challenges to this type of activity.  I think the technological aspect of the process could be daunting for some students.  I had issues getting the podcast uploaded and embedded into my WordPress blog.

The process is time consuming.  It would not be feasible to ask students to complete this type of project in a small amount of time.  The students would need a few days to develop content and record the material as well as edit it so that it sounds just right.

Conclusion

I found the podcast process to be enjoyable even though it was time consuming.  As students develop their ability to create podcasts their creativity and skill will flourish and they will soon be producing high quality bodies of work.

References

Borsheim, C., Merritt, K., and Reed, D. (2008). Beyond technology for technology sake: Advancing multiliteracies in the twenty-first century. The Clearing House, 82(2), p. 87 – 90. Retrieved July 20, 2009 from CBCA database.

Flanagan, B. and Calandra, B. (2005). Podcasting in the classroom. Learning and Leading with Technology, 33(3), 20-23.  Retrieved July 19, 2009 from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/1e/1d/f3.pdf.

Lamb, A. and Johnson, L. (2007). Podcasting in the school library, part 1: Integrating podcasts and vodcasts into teaching and learning, Teacher Librarian, 34(3), p. 54-57. Retrieved July 19, 2009 from CBCA database.