Monday, August 20, 2007


I have been very impressed with all of the Web2.0 tools we have learned about. I am anxious to try them out with my students. One of the projects I want to try is a collaborative project with email pen pals. One component that I think is very important is actual face -to-face interaction. While I want to capitalize on my students' inherent interest in Web2.0 tools, personal interaction while using the computer is important. I have enjoyed taking this course. I was apprehensive about taking my first on-line course, but is has gone well. While Jeff has been very helpful, and I have gotten to know some new people, I miss the personal interaction of a regular face-to-face course. Just as we want students to interact during science experiments and in-class projects. I think interaction WHILE using the computer is very important. To me it is like the difference between just turning on a video for students and stopping the video at points for discussion. Just my 2 cents on interaction.

Final Thoughts

This course has been a most rewarding experience. Star Trek went where no man had gone before. This course has taken me to places I have never been before. I went from not knowing about blogs to blogging regularly. I helped create a wiki – an on-line collaborative project with Michael. That project was an excellent review of what I have learned. The most helpful aspect of this course was its hands-on nature. Students learn best by doing, and so do adults. Most aspects of this course were hands-on. The readings were also very supportive of what we were doing. Richardson was very concrete and helpful understanding the hows and whys. Siemens was also helpful to look at things in a different way, though was less practical. Of the tools we have talked about, the first tools I want to try using are podcasts and blogs. I am anxious to share what I have learned with the staff at our school. Thank you Jeff for all of your guidance and thank you classmates for sharing – a large part of the learning. I feel prepared to go back to the classroom this fall and implement what I have learned. Thank you-

One-to-One Options

Both Naomi and Michael have listed several options, some of which may not make it into US public schools, but might be options for schools in other countries. I want to talk about some other, less sophisticated options. The first is thin clients. There are some in our district who are in favor of, and those who are against, thin clients for the labs. I see the potential of thin clients to start implementing 1:1 use. Since expense is a major issue for starting 1:1 use, thin clients created from older PCs that have been replaced might be a less expensive alternative. Another hardware possibility is something we have used in our classrooms on a limited basis for students who have difficulties with handwriting. We have used Alphasmarts. There are certain excellent uses for these machines which allow word-processing to be easily transferred to a computer for printing. These machines are of course very limited and are a far cry from Web 2.0 applications. I have found that keyboarding skills are very important and maybe are as important as the hardware. Too much time can be wasted when students are spending much time trying to type a few sentences. Our school starts keyboarding skills in first grade which definitely not too early. The other option to start is a laptop cart which I have talked about in another post. While none of these options may lead to the ideal 1:1 situation, they may be an inexpensive option to at least get computers in students’ hands on a limited basis.

One Computer for Every Student - Experience

My only direct experience that is close to one-to-one computer use in the classroom is when I have brought the laptop cart into the classroom (4th grade). I would have to say there is a completely different feel in the classroom. Students stay very focused on what they are doing. Student interaction among students pertains to what they are doing. There is something even more “special” about us using them because not many classroom teachers use the laptops though that is changing. More teachers are getting out of the comfortable box and using them. A part of using the laptops is going over how to handle the computers from carrying them safely, to not touching the LCD screens. I will say that there are 2 factors to consider with 1-to-1 use if the computers are laptops. The first factor is power. Batteries only last so long without a charge. Either there would be a time limit on use, or the room could be set up to accommodate power strips. The other concern is the time involved in getting the computers set up and starting them up/shutting down. A one hour session often does not produce one hour of use. The goal of one-to-one is a lofty goal, but is one which may not come to fruition in many schools for some time to come.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blogs Everywhere

It is amazing how many places I have noticed blogs and other Web2.0 tools popping up after taking this course. I was channel surfing late at night and landed on CSpan. There was coverage of the yearly KOS Blogger Convention. I am not pushing a certain party (registered independent), but it was an interesting use of blogging. I didn’t even know this group existed. Here is another article about it. There was an advertisement for a person who is blogging about building a house on HGTV. She blogs each day about the progress she makes. I think there was also some contest connected with it. Another recent example was an introduction to new Apple software – ILife 08. There are components that were touted as being Web2.0. There are some features that are at least friendly to Web2.0. IPhoto and have new features that are awesome, as well as IMovie. There are direct links to and Youtube to post your video from IMovie. has some new powerful features, but still has the $100 cost. Again all of this points out to me how far I have come in understanding at least the rudiments of Web2.0 from where I was a month ago.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

RSS is an SOS

Using the Google Reader RSS has been a good experience. It is becoming as second nature as it is to check email. I like a point Pam refers to in a blog post about knowing where to find knowledge. The RSS is certainly one method to navigate your way to knowledge. One question I have is about number. Do most of the free sources allow high enough numbers for whole classes/schools to assign each student their own? One issue that keeps coming to my mind is security. There are probably many posts/websites out there that I wouldn’t want my fourth graders to read. I would think the same applies to high school. How can you monitor/screen what students are seeing?

Personal Learning Network

A member of our state board of education is a strong advocate of individual learning plans for each student. While this is laudable, it seems a daunting, larger-than-life task. It would be somewhat similar to IEPs students have for special education. I personally can’t envision a classroom teacher creating, reading, and revising written plans for 25 students. The board has adopted a follow-the-child initiative. There are certain skills students need to develop and demonstrate, and there is a base of information that students should master. While there has been too much emphasis placed on the later in the past, and information is even more “soft” today, there are certain facts that students need to learn. I see the personalization or individualizing of a student’s learning coming in to play in the way skills and information is addressed. I could lecture about Colonial New Hampshire. I could also have students research information about the topic, work on a collaborative wiki, and make blog posts written as a colonist. The lecture does not allow for individualization (or interest for that matter). Web2.0 takes the personal learning aspect and can be one way to make it more connected (network). Reading groups can be cold or lively. Cooperative learning groups can be exciting ways for students to connect/network. Web2.0 tools offer a new and additional manner for this connectedness to occur.

Projected Project

Michael and I have worked together on a project that highlights the use of Web 2.0 tools in education. It is meant to be an overview for those instructors just starting out with using these tools. It actually served as a terrific review for me of the material we have focused on during this course. I feel so much more comfortable with these tools now. Prior to this course I only had a vague sense of what a blog or podcast was. Wiki was not in my vocabulary. Now I have co-authored a wiki that explains what these tools are and how they can be used in the classroom. While I have thought of many ways I might employ these tools, I keep thinking about my email pen pals turning into working partners. This project has served as a good model and has been a way for me to experience what I might ask students to do. Michael and I each took three sections on which to work. We made suggestions and changes to each other’s work. We then worked together compiling the remaining section. We used email for most of our communication with each other, while students could use the comments section of the wiki. They could also use Skype, or something like Elluminate. While the project seemed daunting at first, it went well and was fun to work on.


Assessment is a hot topic in these days of accountability. It is important and there has been a shift in the methods of assessment. This should be reflected in the way that students’ use of Web 2.0 tools is assessed. At the elementary level I would expect students to be involved with the assessment. Students could pick a blog post, wiki edit/contribution, or collaborative project component and evaluate it using a rubric. The student could then choose an entry, maybe the same one, for the teacher to read and evaluate based on a rubric. A number requirement could also be part of the assessment. The number and focus of posts is part of our assessment for this course and is mentioned in Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts (pg. 49). In New Hampshire there is a new state expectation (not mandate) for all districts to implement e-portfolios from K-12. At our school students are collecting artifacts and completing self-evaluations. Fourth graders are pulling the portfolio together and it is saved and sent to the middle school. A few blog posts, wiki projects, or podcasts could and should be part of these portfolios. Imagine a high school senior hearing a podcast created in second, fourth and eight grades. The same growth could be demonstrated in the level of their blog post throughout the years.

Illuminating Elluminate

I thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Elluminate. There are many features that could be useful for all level of students. At the elementary level I could see using the voice/typing ability to allow students in another school to communicate with my own class. In the past I have had students be email pen pals with students in another state. This would be an awesome next level. To take it further I love the ability to view and share files. A collaborative project with the penpal would work well in a Wiki. Elluminate would again take it to a different level. Being able to communicate and share files would be an awesome combination. The features seem easy to use, and being an administrator would allow a good degree of security. Students would love to use the applause and related features. Instant feedback is awesome. The cost involved might be a roadblock at first. I would like to check out other related free programs. I believe that someone said Elluminate has a 3 person free level. Is that correct?

VLE and Me

VLE- It was a most interesting experience taking a trip through Second Life. Jeff, thanks for sharing a magic carpet with me. It was an amazing tour. It was surprisingly easy to think of the animated characters as people. When we were “sitting” together it really seemed as though we were sitting together. The interesting thing is that the main way to communicate was typing text. I would think that using actual voices would make it even more interesting. I was surprised at how many areas are related to education. I could see students "getting into" this, particularly at the high school level. While Second Life was truly amazing, I don’t see it as something I would have elementary school students use individually. I would definitely see benefits to something like Elluminate which I will talk about in another post.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I thought time flew when just using the Internet. Blogging and the other new tools add even more time to staying connected and using the Internet. The RSS tool makes it easier to follow blogs and certainly reduces time spent on following them. Tis nice to both give and receive - comments that is. I would think that students would be very excited to receive comments. It must be equal to a college student receiving mail or a care package. As I go about my daily routines (read the newspaper, watch TV etc.) I am seeing more references to blogs. As Pam said in one of her blogs, a whole new world has been opened up.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Apple and Blogger

I learned something new this morning about Blogger and Apple. When I put my podcast on a blog post I wanted to create a direct link. I thought there must be a link button somewhere, but search as I might I could not find one. I right clicked on the words and created a link, but it did not work when I checked it. Thank you Jeff for the tip on how to create a direct link. There is a button for it, but not when you are using Apple’s Safari. I decided to try Firefox and sure enough there were all of the options I was missing in Safari like bold etc. My guess is that some of those glitches will be worked out over time as Apple gains more market share and there are more Apple users.

Two Peas in a Pod

My daughter and I had fun making the podcast together. We used Garage Band on our IMac computer. Garage Band makes it very simple to create a podcast. When you first open Garage Band one of the options is to create a new podcast. After a click you are ready to create. It sets you up with voice tracks and music/sound effects tracks. It was quite simple to record our voices – just click the record button. We then went through the lists of music and sound effects and dragged some up. It was easy to shorten a track – with Apple it is apple T and then delete the newly divided section. Before I sent the file to Podomatic, I exported the file to ITunes. In doing that formattingit shrank the file size significantly. Katie is quite impressed with hearing her voice over the internet. We did type out our script as we thought of it so parts sound a bit robotic - mostly my parts. Katie was an anchor for her school video news so she has a good announcing voice with lots of inflection by now. I would make that part of the lesson for students. I am curious what percentage of the time teachers have their students read a “script” rather than just improvise for podcasts. ????

Penpal Podcast

For several years now students in my class have had pen pals. My sister teaches in Pennsylvania – 450 miles way. Students write email letters to each other and then at the end of the year by writing a regular letter on paper and can exchange email addresses and postal addresses so they may remain pen pals. Students only use first names over the internet for security. Podcasts now seem like a natural extension of this activity. Students could record a brief podcast that might include a greeting and some information about themselves. I would not allow students toinclude a picture for security. For that matter, students could use a blog or wiki together. They might just share information about themselves, but they could also do projects together. If both classes have a common subject such as planets or states they could research information, share ideas, and even collaborate on a report/project together. Both classes could complete community service projects and then blog about their experiences. I feel like I am starting to think more out of the box for uses of these tools. Permission would be essential, though I already get parents’ permission before initiating email pen pals.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

David's Podcast

My older daughter and I created a Podcast. It is meant to be a sample of what I could do with my class. It would be an audio news cast of what was happening in our classroom. I created it using garage band which was not difficult. I then exported it to ITunes which shrank the file size from over 20 mb to under 2 mb. I then used Podmatic to post it. Thanks Jeff for the suggestion of Podmatic. It is an easy-to-use free service. The link below will take you to the Podcast. Enjoy-
Click HERE for the podcast


Well I am burning the midnight oil while watching The Tonight Show. Michael Moore, the film maker was on and was talking about his new movie Sicko. He talked about how someone was assessed a bill of $66,000 from an insurance company. A video on UTube that mentioned Moore was what helped get the bill changed to $500. Moore knows how to use the media, which now includes the networked community. People are looking out for other people and are truly creating a community. You Tube videos also were the source of the questions for a recent Democratic debate. It allowed “common everyday” people to participate in the debate. Again, proof of connectivism, as is the degree to which teens stay connected with text messages, My Sapce etc. Just today I was on the internet looking for reviews of vacuum cleaners. On one of the sights there was a blog about vacuum cleaners. Now that blog has become a part of my vocabulary, blogs seem to be popping up everywhere.
PS: I just looked on the internet to check on the spelling of “Sicko”.” It took me to Michael Moore’s page. There, among other things, were blogs.
(I am trying out the label for this post.)

Friday, July 20, 2007


Siemans talks about making sure what we do in school has a relevance. I try to relate to students how what we are learning might relate to them now or later in life. Last summer I participated in a state summer institute on ITC literacy and e-portfolios. Part of our mission was to create sample school guidelines, assessments and portfolios. We used part of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills for the ICT Literacy component. To do this we worked collaboratively in groups face-to-face and later, after the institute, using Moodle. We were able to add to our work, comment on those changes, and eventually agree on a finished sample. In the past I have had students do research on planets, or ocean plants/animals. I wonder if students could do this using networked learning by either being able to add notes/information to an individual’s notes, or to work together as a class on several planets/animals. As a student finds pertinent information or has ideas, she/he could add it directly. Would this work better in the form of a wiki or blog? Maybe a blog if one student is working on one item, and wiki if the class is working on several items together.??
e-portfolios are a way that can add to the relevance of work. This could possibly be a more collabative project as well.

Metacognition and Changing Change

I have always included this statement when teaching science: “Scientists think.” I agree with Siemans that information/knowledge is not static. I had not heard of the terms hard/soft knowledge, but it makes sense. I agree Pluto is a good example. It is now not considered a planet because of a shift in definition (which was arrived at collectively). It could very easily “become” a planet again in the near future. I also like his idea that new knowledge (technology) “…does not wash away previous knowledge, but rather is the fertile top layers of soil.” Pluto is still there and is still larger than asteroids (planetoids), and can be considered a moon. All of our readings refer to Wikipedia as an outstanding example of collaborative work of knowledge. I love the idea in Richardson of having a district or school wiki that becomes a way to share and exchange lesson plans and ideas. One teacher could add ideas to another’s lesson. The adding and changing would be a major difference from just a repository of lessons.
One other thought on libraries relates to Siemans’ thought on how it’s more important to know where and who more than what and why. What did we do before the internet? I don’t think any one person should be expected to know it all. We should be working collaboratively (connectivism).

Go to School 2

When our technology teacher comes back from vacation I will be contacting her about School 2.0, and the Karl Fisch video. She is not only receptive to new ideas, but is on our district’s technology oversight committee. I am thinking that as I work toward a cert. as a technology teacher, I should sit in on some of their meetings. The Fisch viedeo, School 2.0, for 21st century and our readings in Siemans seem to dovetail nicely. As I looked over School 2.0 and some of your comments, I thought about how many libraries haven’t changed much, just like many classrooms. Libraries/media centers should be a hub for just that- media. Paper books are just one important component to that mix. The only major media exposure students receive from the library is learning how to search, mainly using the electronic card catalog. I teach at the elementary level. Do you think that libraries at higher levels have changed more to incorporate new areas of technology? We still seem to be compartmentalized in many ways. Art happens in art class. Technology happens in the lab. Books happen in the library. There have been changes. The computer lab can come in to the classroom. In our school’s model, the technology teacher is a collaborative partner with the teacher. Together we work on projects. It is very far from a “drop off” special. It is funny how slow schools, and teachers, can be in accepting new ideas. Siemans talks about how we printed hard copies of our first emails, and how movies/videos were first thought to be inferior, and now they are an art form. Politics are certainly accepting and utilizing blogs and wikis readily. Richardson makes this point which was recently reinforced by a NPR story on the same topic. Apparently the democratic candidates are headed in this direction to a greater degree than republicans. What a way to end!

Quickie Wikis and Blogs

Well, I certainly have a better understanding of wikis and blogs. Though they are different, they make much more sense to me to think of them as quick ways to make a web page. I remember my apprehension about first using the internet. It is now second nature to use it. I remember how cumbersome it was to make my first home web page. Last week I created my first blog in a few minutes. I need to strive to have as little apprehension about new technology as my students have. Richardson talks about how the read/write web may/will make the differences between teacher and learner more acute. I even see this with cell phones. Teenagers know their way through all of the menus, while some of us are happy to be able to dial. Emailing and text messaging are considered as fun (and necessary) communications with friends, compared to my youth of “having” to write letters. Another point from Richardson that I find interesting is that wikis, while meaning quick, also have this component: “To write in a wiki is to write in a living organism.” I think this component will emerge for us as this course continues. I am slightly encouraged that I may not be too far behind the times. My MS Word dictionary doesn’t recognize the words wiki and blog. Yes, they just turned red.

Friday, July 13, 2007

First Time

Here it is, my first blog. I have updated my personal information. I will make more posts later. I am getting my feet wet right now.