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.