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Let’s Reflect

As I look back over the last 8 weeks, I am surprised by how much I have learned about Web 2.0 tools and how to evaluate and use them. I have many years of experience using online tools, and already advise others in their use in my role as a Technology Coach. I already had a firm grasp of what kind of tools were available online and how to find and access them. Even so, it is important to remember that needs change, and tools change, and it is always worth revisiting programs when assessing current needs.

The most relevant tools I have come across are actually the rubrics for assessing online tools. I have already begun to evaluate the tools already in use at my school, and am identifying new web tools that might suit our needs better. I must confess that in the past I was often dazzled by a new technology and found ways to use it because I liked it – with varying success. Sometimes a program can be really cool but not meet the needs of the students or mesh well with the current curriculum. Over the last eight weeks of evaluating all these online tools, I realized that matching the tools to the needs via a rubric made it easier to look past the “cool” factor to see if the tools were a good fit based on needs and goals. We already use Learning by Design in our school to build our lessons based on rubrics, so it seems a natural extension to use rubrics to evaluate how well online tools will meet our needs in fulfilling the educational goals we have already determined. As a result, I already have plans to replace or augment some of the tools we already use.

One tool that I had visited in the past and didn’t feel particularly drawn to was VoiceThread. After using it as a collaboration tool and evaluating it based on our current educational needs, I will now be implementing VoiceThread in my Technology curriculum this fall. I will also share these rubrics with my faculty and encourage them to look for web 2.0 tools based on their curricular needs and goals.

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Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools Review

Collaboration is more than just working with others. Today’s jobs often require people to work together on projects that are too complex for any one individual. People need to be able to discuss issues, solve problems, and create products by combining individual skills and working productively as a team.

For students to be successful, they need to learn these skills in school. Fortunately, there are many Web 2.0 tools that can help students learn how to collaborate effectively. It can be difficult to narrow the field of choices, but Microsoft Partners in Learning has published a rubric for determining the quality of web-based collaboration tools. Continue reading “Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools Review”

Coding – It’s for Everyone!

I came across this video recently on Code.org that really struck a chord with me. I shared this video with my 5th grade Technology class on the last full day of school to spark a discussion of why coding is so important. The video features some high-profile names including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. In it, they point out how they all got started with simple code – making a computer ask how old you are, or doing simple math calculations. They acknowledge that coding can be intimidating, just like any new task you haven’t learned how to do yet. I asked my class to raise their hands if they used a device every day and every single hand went up. I then asked them to keep their hands up if they knew how any of the games/apps/software that they used worked. All the hands went down. I asked them why they should know how these things work, and the answers ranged from, “Being able to fix them when things go wrong” to “so we can keep creating cool games and apps.” Continue reading “Coding – It’s for Everyone!”

What is a PLC and Why Should Teachers Engage in Them?

A personal (or professional) learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators connected online mainly through social media who share resources and ideas in order to improve their skills and outcomes. A PLC can be energizing when you’re in a rut, can be a source of instant information when you’re stuck, and can be a sounding board when you’re not sure about what you are planning. Nowadays, a PLC should also include a teacher’s coworkers, and Technology Coaches need to leverage these communities to create authentic learning environments for professional development so teachers can learn the way they are expected to teach. Continue reading “What is a PLC and Why Should Teachers Engage in Them?”

BYOD and Mobile Technologies

Peter DeWitt, a former principal and current Educational Technologist, points out that “Students don’t come to school saying, “Hey, I think I’ll use technology today!” They just use it because it’s like an appendage that they grew up with.” My job is to make sure they know how to use it responsibly and effectively. “Today’s instructors, if not already familiar with the digital language of their students, must learn it to maximize learning and access to learning.” (Corbeil & Corbeil, 2007). There are so many devices available to students that it is important that we make sure students know how to use these tools responsibly and for more than just playing games or chatting with friends.

Many feel that to that end, it is worth exploring Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Programs in education, since students can bring and use the devices they are already savvy with. I’m not  entirely on board with BYOD, however, since “some students will be able to bring the latest smartphones or laptops to school, whereas other youngsters will be able to access only older devices with limited…capabilities.” (Maloy et. al., 2017, p. 303). Not only that, but teachers will also have to be exceptionally tech literate in order to utilize many different devices successfully. Continue reading “BYOD and Mobile Technologies”

Podcasting with Audacity & Sound Cloud

Audacity is a sound editor that can be downloaded for free. It is very easy to use and there are many tutorials available online that make the process of getting started painless. I prefer audacity to other sound editors because it is not only free, but it doesn’t have advertising  or limited functionality, making it ideal for classroom use.

Of course, making the audio file is just the first step. A hosting site is necessary for sharing a podcast. I prefer Sound Cloud because its free services are ample for my weekly podcast. Many hosting sites charge a fee, or their free services severely restrict the number and size of the audio files you can upload. Both Audacity and Sound Cloud are easily accessible on any device. Continue reading “Podcasting with Audacity & Sound Cloud”

Technology in Education & Web 2.0 Tools

Technology and Web 2.0 tools are getting easier to find and use every day as new tools become available in a rapidly growing and changing internet environment. Technology isn’t something that students have to think about to use, they just do. The current generation has never known a world without smartphones and the internet. Think about education from their perspective. Students today don’t see the need for using physical resources such as dictionaries and encyclopedias when they have access to the entire internet. They can find the answer to any question they can think to ask often in mere seconds. Continue reading “Technology in Education & Web 2.0 Tools”

Project Management using Microsoft Teams, Planner, & OneNote

I have long used Microsoft OneNote for personal project management, and could see the potential for larger scale project management particularly with the Teacher collaborative Notebook in  OneNote for Education . In November, 2016, however, Microsoft took project management to a whole new level when the company introduced Teams and Planner to their Office 365 stable of products.

Since my school utilizes a Microsoft environment, it made sense to give the new Teams a try, so I have recently started using Teams to coordinate trainings, resources, and inter-disciplinary projects with my Middle School teachers. The result has been a project management dream. I have used other project management tools in the past, but the ease of access, coordination, and communication in Teams, which integrates email, schedule, planner, and a OneNote collaborative notebook all in one easy to access place, surpasses them all. I plan to continue using Teams since it is the first planning and project management tool that all my teachers have readily adopted.

Teams can be accessed from any device by anyone with an Office365 account. To get the most out of the project planning tools, however, I recommend accessing your Teams through Planner. Continue reading “Project Management using Microsoft Teams, Planner, & OneNote”

Netiquette Reflection

Netiquette, or behavior on the Internet, is a hot topic these days, what with the rise in cyber-bullying and the continued degeneration of common courtesy online. In an article titled, “Top 12 Be-Attitudes of Netiquette for Academicians” (2011), Ronald Berk lays out 12 behaviors that I would venture that everyone on the internet, not just academicians, would do well to adopt.

Berk’s 12 Be-Attitudes are as follows:

  1. Be sure to use appropriate professional language.
  2. Be careful to use proper grammar and spelling.
  3. Be brief and precise in the “subject” line.
  4. Be honest and truthful.
  5. Be respectful of copyrights.
  6. Be sure to use an appropriate signature line.
  7. Be responsive to requests in a timely fashion.
  8. Be cautious about when to click “reply to all.”
  9. Be thoughtful to not use all caps or all lower case.
  10. Be respectful to not flame.
  11. Be considerate to not multi-post, cross-post, off-topic post, or hijack a discussion thread.
  12. Be careful to not forward inappropriate jokes, cartoons, photos, chain letters, spam, etc.

Continue reading “Netiquette Reflection”

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