Posted on July 26, 2010 by Ollie Dreon
I’ve been thinking a lot about the new school year that will start in a few weeks. I know that it’s difficult to think of the start of school when it’s beautiful and sunny out, but I thought I’d share five YouTube videos to get everyone inspired for the first day. All of the videos are technology-related and thought-provoking. Feel free to use the videos in your classes, whether you’re teaching in an online or a face-to-face environment.
A Vision of College Students Today
Teaching 21st Century Learners
The Class: Integrating Technology
Did you know 4.0?
Learning to Change, Changing to Learn
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Posted on July 19, 2010 by Ollie Dreon
Last December on the blog, Etherpad was showcased as a great collaborative tool for in-class brainstorming sessions. Etherpad functioned like a word processing document online where users could type simultaneously. I know many people were using Etherpad with their students and were shocked when Google purchased the site and shut it down. There was an immediate backlash across the web where Google was portrayed as some evil monster that gobbled up competitors. In response to this, Google released the Etherpad code as open source which would allow anyone to develop a site similar to Etherpad on their own, which is exactly what happened. Just a few months after Etherpad was shut done, a bunch of Etherpad clones have appeared on the web. Since they’re based on the same original code, the sites look and function almost identically. They also look and function like Etherpad did, which is great news since Etherpad was so easy to use. Be sure to check out the following sites and select one that fits your needs. They can all be used for an impromptu brainstorming session without requiring students to log-in to participate. I’ve also included the original Etherpad tutorial which should help people who want to get started with any of these sites.
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Posted on July 13, 2010 by Ollie Dreon
I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-use, Web-based applications that allow my students to create things. Whether they’re recording podcasts, making videos, or creating scrapbooks, I want my students to author content related to our classroom topics and develop something new to share online. Over the last decade, the Internet has evolved from a place where people found information into a place where almost anyone can participate and create. People often refer to this “new” Internet as Web 2.0. In the Web 1.0 world, Internet users were bombarded with static webpages created by a host of “webmasters” who possessed specialized knowledge and technology that limited access for others to participate. In the Web 2.0 world, the Internet has become more democratized, allowing almost everyone with a computer, smart phone, digital camera or audio recorder to share their work and thoughts with the world. The greatest part is that Web 2.0 technology creates tremendous educational opportunities for our classrooms and for our students. Web 2.0 brought the world wikis, blogs, YouTube and Facebook. It has brought us podcasts, vodcasts, screencasting and Skype. It has created exciting new ways for educators to educate and assess their students.
This week, I want to introduce Animoto, probably one of the easiest Web 2.0 sites available. Animoto allows users to create 30-second music videos for free. With a few clicks, a person can upload videos or photos, write text, select music and finalize their creation. There’s even a free iPhone application where users can make short Animoto videos from the images on their phone. To see how easy it is to use Animoto, be sure to check out the following tutorial.
Now, I understand that some readers may hesitate to use a site that allows students to create music videos. Take a look at a few of the videos that my students created in a digital storytelling class this summer. I think it’s clear that they’re nothing like those Justin Bieber or Jonas Brothers videos that populate television.
Gulf Oil Spill
Images of the Great Depression
Chile Se Levanta
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Posted on July 7, 2010 by Ollie Dreon
We just passed 1,000 visitors to The 8 blog this week and I’m really excited that people are finding this resource beneficial. Looking through the blog posts I’ve done over the last few months, I realized that I haven’t featured one of my favorite Web 2.0 applications: the wiki. When most people hear the word “wiki,” they probably think of Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia. While Wikipedia is probably the most famous of the wiki genre, the word wiki actually refers to a classification of websites that allow joint editing. Think of a wiki as a word document that lives online. Depending on how the wiki creator sets up the site, the wiki can be altered by everyone or only by a select number of people.
Wikis work educationally by allowing students to build off one another and to make new connections as they’re contributing content. For those of you familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, wikis can help to situate students in the higher end of the spectrum (Application, Analysis, Evaluation and Synthesis). We can also look at wikis from a social constructivist standpoint. Learning is not solely based on an individual’s ability to acquire knowledge and skills but also on an ability to participate in a community. Applying this perspective to wiki use, when students use a wiki they participate in and help to develop an online community. By collaborating and communicating with other students in their online community, they contribute to the construction of new knowledge for all participants.
Besides being educationally beneficial to students, wikis also offer features that teachers will find useful. A teacher can track all of the changes made to a wiki so she or he can see which students made alterations to the site. The wiki also stores the entire history of a web page, time-stamping each change that was made over the page’s lifetime. Teachers can modify a wiki so that it sends e-mails out to alert users of any changes that have been made. A wiki also offers multiple layers of use where teachers can identify specific students as viewers, editors, or administrators. Lastly, teachers can make a wiki available for private use to a select group of students or for public use to any visitor to the site. With such a variety of features, a teacher can customize a wiki so that is appropriate to her educational objectives and considers the safety and security of her students at the same time.
While there are many different wiki hosting sites, I use wikispaces. Wikispaces is really easy to use and free. I like wikispaces because they were one of the first sites dedicated to supporting K-12 teachers by providing free wikis and allowing teachers to create usernames for the students without requiring individual email addresses for authentication.
So what can a wiki be used for? I think wikis can be powerful tools for any collaborative project where students can build off of the work from their classmates. If you need some examples, check out this list of classroom wikis that one of my Web 2.0 classes created.
If you’ve never used wikispaces and would like to try one out, check out the following introductory tour.
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