HippoCampus

Today while I was looking for some developmental math tutorials, I stumbled upon hippocampus.org. HippoCampus delivers high-quality academic instructional videos and exercises for students in middle school and high school. I was very impressed. The math tutorials I watched not only were high quality, the videos also linked the content to real world applications. So these videos are equally suitable for adults. You can’t embed the content and share the videos among other instructors without a license, but you can use them free with your students. Those students who sign up can create playlists, customize the site according to the subject and textbooks, etc.

For more information, see hippocampus.org.

  • PULL content from HippoCampus or across the web into custom Playlists
  • CUSTOMIZE the site to your subject and textbook
  • ADD a textbook correlation if your textbook isn’t in the current list
  • SHARE your customized HippoCampus site and Playlists with your students

Study of Student-Generated Podcasts

The Educational Value of Student Generated Podcasts

Nie, M., Cashmore, A., & Cane, C. (2008) The educational value of student generated podcasts. Paper, ALT-C 2008 Research Proceedings pp. 15-26.

This article reports on a study of using student-created podcasts developed by a group of medical students. The study showed that “podcasting can empower learners and help them become more active and independent learners, and how student-developed podcasts can promote engagement and motivation for learning, improve cognitive learning and develop transferable team-working skills among student producers.” (p.15)

Student-generated podcasts help students learn through reflection and analyzing ideas and expressing these ideas in a professional oral presentation. If worked in teams, podcasting offers the potential for collaborative learning, and shared ownership of ideas and reflection.

Students in this study found that student-generated podcasts as a means to disseminate and generate knowledge. Podcasts enhanced their understanding of the topic. Because the students needed to research their topic in order to produce the podcast, their knowledge was expanded on the chosen topic and new information linked to their previous knowledge. As the podcast would be published, students felt pushed to do more research, especially current research. The research required them to link more of their knowledge and to disseminate the information so that non specialists would understand the content. Students also found podcast creation, motivating, interesting, and were appreciative of learning a new technical skill.

In addition, the learners who listened to the podcasts, were interested in the podcasts generated by their peers, found the podcasts engaging and motivating, and expressed interest in listening to peer instruction for more of their coursework.

RSS

A web feed, sometimes called news feed or a syndicated feed, is data that is used to collect frequently updated content. A popular web feed is RSS, which means Really Simple Syndication. (Atom is another web feed.) Web feeds, or RSS, works like this. Content distributors, like blogs, wikis, magazines, news sources, podcasts, etc. syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Web feeds that are of interest to the end user are collected in one spot, using an aggregator, sometimes called an RSS reader or feed reader. The reader can be web-based, mail based, desktop based, or mobile based. A popular aggregator is Google Reader, although there are many others. Aggregator typed in a search engine will reveal many choices of readers.

The user subscribes to a feed by entering into the reader the feed’s URI or by clicking a feed icon, (which is usually an orange box with sound waves) in a web browser. This action initiates the subscription process, the user need only follow the directions. After the user has subscribed to the feed, the RSS reader will check the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new feeds and will download any updates. The reader also provides an interface in which the user can monitor and read the feeds.
The advantages to a RSS feeds are many. A RSS feed allows users subscribe to websites that the user has an interest, thereby avoiding the manual process of logging into each site and finding out if there is something of interest to read. The RSS feed allows more content from more sources to be read in a shorter period of time, thereby streamlining research and learning. According to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), literacy in the 21st Century states that a literate student must be able to “manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.” (NCTE, 2008) RSS helps with this skill.

Another advantage of the RSS feed is that RSS is not sent via e-mail (unless sent to an e-mail aggregrator, of course.) This means that it is free of email problems such as spam, viruses, and phishing. Also should the user decide not to continue with the feed, the user simply unsubscribes to the feed and does not have the problems associated with trying to unsubscribe to e-mail lists. (Mason & Rennie, 2008).

The educational learning theory, connectivism, theorizes central learning is accomplished through ideas that are supported by social and personal networks and is interconnected through engagement in experiential tasks. Connectivism synthesizes salient features and elements of several educational, social and technological theories and concepts. Connectivism views the teacher as having the role of a mediator and learning is the process of creating connections between nodes to form a network. “A key idea is that learning starts with the connections that students make with one another, as opposed to with a fixed body of content. RSS, and more broadly, the concept of content syndication, have the potential to support complex, many-to-many connections in line with this philosophy.” (Lee, Miler, & Newnham, 2008, p. 316).

Possible uses of RSS include personal learning environments in which students manage their own learning. Instead of using learning management systems which are controlled by the institutions, students select content based on their needs. Rather than being packaged for them, content is created and distributed, remixed and reused by syndication or RSS feeds. This allows more student control whereas the learner aggregates a diverse range of content for their own learning and encourages the student to follow new trends and developments, a skill students will need in their professional lives. This key benefit fosters learning from sources other than the university, encouraging learning from a wider range of experts. (Lee et. al).

Other possible uses of RSS is for cooperative and social learning. RSS helps build social networks and communities. (Learners also may reduce the complexity of materials by using the aggregators to organize the content.) RSS affords students the technology to move and mix information, encouraging learners to view information from a new perspective, fostering critical thinking skills.

Reference
Lee, M. J. W., Miller, C. & Newnham, L. (2008) RSS and content syndication in higher education: Subscribing to a new model of teaching and learning. Educational Media International, 45(4). doi: 10.1080/09523980802573255

Mason, R. & Rennie, F. (2008). E-learning and Social networking handbook: Resources for higher education. New York: Routledge.

NCTE Position Statement (2008) 21st century curriculum and assessment framework.
Retrieved from: http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentframework

Learning to use RSS Feeds

I have been using RSS feeds on a limited basis for a couple of years now. I forgot to even mention it in my thread but I have about two years worth of French words from “French Word of the Day.” And I am a big Apple fan so I keep up all things Apple. Plus, Higher Ed jobs is a feed I watch pretty closely.

Even though feeds weren’t very new to me, before this class I always sent the feed to my email or to Firefox. But now I also upload to Google reader. It depends on where I am physically as to which feed I read.

Anyway,I did subscribe to several more feeds to align more with instructional technology. If I find a feed is a waste of time, I just delete it. But most of the time, I find something here or there in the feed that justifies the full mailbox. I probably delete 90% of the articles, but the 10% is worth the trouble.

I especially liked this discussion because most of my classmates gave links to their feeds and some of them seem really neat. Some of the feeds I checked out already and other feeds I have on my list to try. Most feeds are light reading. If I don’t have a journal article handy, I read a feed before bed. Seems crazy. But it is much more fun to read the information if I am doing it without a grade.

Using the Blog to Enhance Learning: Practical Applications

A large number of students today come to higher education with understandings and expectations of technology aligned with Web 2.0. Over eighty percent of Americans, ages 18–24 use social networking sites. (Smith, Rainie & Zickuhr, 2011) And surveys have shown that spending time on social networking is not always what we would think. And as it turns out, a study soon be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that students who “frequently shared links on Facebook or checked the site to see what friends were up to tend to have higher grades.” (Ruiz, October 21, 2011)

Many colleges and universities are requiring laptops of all students, some universities even providing pre-loaded laptops. Students expect to utilize these laptops and Web 2.0 skills in their courses. (Orr, Sherony, & Steinhaus, 2008) Studies have shown that blogs have educational value in the classroom. (Churchill, 2011) About one in ten internet users contribute to a blog; one in three internet users read blogs. (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010 ) Therefore, a weblog is a viable social networking tool to introduce into the pedagogy of a course.

Blogs, or web logs, are useful to enhance teaching with a generation of students who are already using the internet and social networking. Blogs are usually free and easy to use. (Some blogs, such as WordPress, will remove the advertisements for a small fee.) There are no sophisticated skills required to set up a blog. In fact, most students are already familiar with blogs. Due to ease of use, even older students that initially have difficulties with the blog soon overcome these issues. (Churchhill, 2011) Blogs work well with other Web 2.0 skills and can include graphics, video, and hyperlinks. Most can accommodate RSS feeds, Flickr, Twitter, and uTube, among others. Therefore, blogs may be used in many constructivist activities and is useful in almost any classroom.

For educators, blogs require a minimum effort to create and maintain. The anytime- anywhere nature of the blog makes it easy for teachers to give fast feedback and display information for students to read before coming to class. An educator may store handouts on his/her blog and post reminders of upcoming assignments. The weblog is also useful for tracking participation. It not only is a forum for the shy to speak up, but also a system of giving everyone a chance to contribute. Opening and keeping track of student’s blogs is streamlined by using a RSS feed to directly collect the posts into a wiki or aggregator. In addition, each student’s weblog may be grouped together into a mini “blogosphere” by connecting the blogs with hyperlinks.

When appropriately managed by the educator or other facilitator, the blog supports teaching and student centered learning. A blog is a convenient tool for students to journal their learning processes. Because the blogs are archived, the postings are easily reviewed for progress as well as represent knowledge learned. Plus, the web based nature of the blog makes them easily accessible to peers for commentary. Over time, blog authors may form networks of conversations in the blogosphere and further learn from each other.

One of the most effective ways of achieving content goals and developing creative thinking skills is to find ways to engage students outside of the classroom. The blog may be used by students to discuss assignments, review peer work, and share results. A report by Daniel Churchill (2011)stated that students felt that the aspects of blogging that contributed most to their learning was the assessing and reading of other student’s blogs. Bloggers find that the environment in a blog creates a sense of community. A student publishes their writing in a blog for all the public to see. The blog fosters a sense of pride and gives a student a sense of worth as the blog is a platform for the blogger to have their opinions recognized.

A blog enhances the use of constructivist teaching philosophies by supplementing traditional activities with student involvement with the course material. Without the time constraints of the classroom, blogs give the student more time to improve their writing and reflect on the task given. Peer pressure is removed and students more reticent can speak up within the blog.

Utilizing blogs in the classroom is beneficial to teachers as well as students. By reading blogs, an instructor can see what students know and fill in the gaps. (Paulus, Payne, & Jahns, 2009) A problem of the classroom is focusing too much time on the mechanics and precious time on the conceptual understanding of the material. Students profess a lack of knowledge or preparedness as a reason for not participating in the classroom. (Mandernach, 2006) While reading can be effective in preparing students for class prior to the discussion, it is hard to enforce. Therefore, a large amount of class time is spent reviewing basic concepts rather than deeper discussion and critique. A blog can help shift the basic concepts out of class using a social adaptation of just-in-time teaching developed by Jude Higdon and Chad Topez (2009).

Just-in-time teaching utilizing blogs works like this. Every student has a blog and the instructor has a single digital location like a wiki or a RSS reader where the posts are aggregated. The evening before every class, students post on their blog the answer to the two questions below. The questions are not changed with content of the class and are not discipline specific.

[1.] What is the most difficult part of the material we will discuss in tomorrow’s class?

[2.] What is the most interesting part of the material or how does the material connect to something you have learned…?
(Higdon & Topaz, 2009)

The day of the class the educator reads the answers to the questions and adjusts class time to address the areas identified by the students as problem areas. The rest of the class is spent on higher learning. If the assignment is graded, students will likely do the assignment and supplying a rubric is helpful to obtain useful responses. (Higdon & Topaz, 2009) It should only take a few minutes to go over the posts; however, if the class is large and a teaching assistant is unavailable, it is possible to sample the responses as long as the students are unaware the posts are not being graded.

Another framework in which blogs can contribute to learning is the What, So What, and What Now technique developed by Gregory Gifford. (2010). This system uses blogs by requiring students to ask these three questions to enhance reflection and critical thinking.

What?   The student address the facts without judgement or interpretation.

So What? Students interpret meanings, describe emotions, state the impact and why they came to that conclusion.

Now What?   The student considers the big picture and the broader implications.

This study showed that bloggers using this method of reflection more consistently meet the objectives of the assignment than students that were simply given questions provided by the instructor. (Gifford, 2010)

There are some drawbacks to blogging in course work. Unless the instructor plays a key role, the blog may be superfluous. Students participate better when they are graded and are provided detailed requirements and expectations from the blogs. (Churchill, 2011) It may take practice for students to understand how to think critically. For high quality discussions, the instructor needs to be present to model the dialogue between the students and to provide feedback. (Churchill, 2011)

Some students may have privacy concerns using a blog. They may be uncomfortable with their thought in a forum where anyone can read them. Some may feel that their thoughts are silly, or not good enough. (Churchill, 2011) If this is an issue, the blog may be made private so that a user has to log in in order for the post to be accessed.

Used correctly, social networking does not need to be a distraction to learning. Rather than discouraging student from using a technology that they engage with daily, the instructor can leverage this technology to deepen comprehension, reinforce retention, and create a broader virtual classroom.

Reference

Churchill, D. (2011). Web 2.0 in education: A study of the explorative use of blogs with a postgraduate class. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(2) 149-158. Routledge

Gifford, G.T. (2010, Winter) A modern technology in the leadership classroom: Using blogs for critical thinking development. Journal of Leadership Education, 9(1).

Higdon, J. & Topaz, C. (2009, Spring) Blogs and wikis as instructional tools: A social software adaptation of just-in-time teaching. College Teaching, 57(2). Washington, DC: Heldref Publications.

Lenhart A., Purcell, K., Smith, A. & Zickuhr, K. (Feb 3, 2010) Social Media and Young Adults. Pew Internet. Retrieved from: http://pewinternet.org/topics/Blogs.aspx

Mandernach, B.J. (2006). Thinking critically about critical thinking: Integrating online tools to promote critical thinking. Insight 1.

Orr, C., Sherony, B., & Steinhaus, C. (2008, June). Student perceptions of the value of a university laptop program. College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal.vol 4,(6).

Paulus, T. M., Payne, R. L., & Jahna, L. (2009, Spring). “Am I making sense here?” What blogging reveals about undergraduate student understanding. Journal of Interactive Online Learning Vol 8(1) ISSN: 1541:4914

Ruiz, R.R. (October 21, 2011) Facebook’s impact on student grades. The New York Times.
Retrieved from: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/fbook-grades/

Smith, A., Rainie, L., & Zickuhr, K. (Jul 19, 2011) College students and technology. Pew Internet Retrieved from
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/College-students-and-technology/Report.aspx

Colleges that Require Laptops Should Provide Them

As computers have became a common tool for students to function effectively in the classroom and to be productive in their personal lives, it should not be surprising that these students come to college with the expectation of anytime, anywhere computer access. Studies have found that most college students believe the computer to be an asset to their learning. (Lauricella, & Kay, 2010). There are some significant strengths to requiring laptops in the classroom. Access to laptops opens doors for designing more student centered and constructivist lessons, and less lectures. (Dunleavy, Dexter, & Heinecke, 2007) A study at MIT found laptops to be especially useful in large lecture halls where extended lectures are usually the norm. The study “examined the students’ perceptions of the studio classes, characterized their learning, and evaluated whether and how the studio style classes with the use of wireless laptop computers facilitate active learning in large lecture halls. “ (Barak, Lipson, & Lerman, 2006, p. 245). What they found was wireless laptop computers enabled the integration of lectures with hands on learning. Laptops used by students were superior to the traditional computer lab, and that their study was in line with other studies that support laptops in the classroom. (Barak et al., 2006) Like desktop computers, laptops have the educational advantages of facilitating student learning through problem solving, collaborating with other students, and researching. However, laptops have the added advantage of being portable so that coursework started in class can be finished at home, or in the library, or away from the university.

Therefore, many colleges have moved from computer labs to requiring laptops of all students. However, laptops should not only be used by students and faculty in universities, they should be purchased by the universities for the students and faculty, fully loaded with the appropriate software and hardware. Although the university may find it prudent to offer a couple of different packages (graphic design departments tend to utilize Macs) (Orr, Sherony, & Steinhaus, 2008), the laptop otherwise should be identical, loaded with standard software thereby meeting the requirements of the course, regardless of the major. This is beneficial because even if the student switches majors, he or she will still have access to programs required. In addition, a wide choice of computer applications gives students the opportunity to explore software they may not have purchased on their own.

An advantage of providing loaded laptops to every student is that it levels the playing field. Some studies suggest laptops provide students with more access to resources and learning opportunities. (Penue, 2006). Every student, regardless of their income will have the same opportunities to own and use a laptop without the inconveniences of checking one out of the library or working in a lab. Most universities that require laptops, like the University of North Carolina, provide grants for those in need (Carolina Computing Initiative). Other universities incorporate laptops as part of the tuition so that if financial aid is needed, it will be covered. However, for schools that do not offer assistance, laptops are expensive and without funds for the disadvantaged, some students may have problems purchasing a laptop and all necessary software.

Another reason the university should provide and purchase the laptops is that by purchasing in large quantities, universities are able to purchase laptops at substantial discounts. But a drawback of providing computers is the fact that 88% of all university students already own a laptop and 90% of these laptops are under a year old. (Lindquist & Powers, 2010) However, as more universities are requiring a loaded laptop purchased from the school, this statistic may be reduced as students may wait until college to purchase the new computer. Parents, at least, seem to appreciate the ease of purchasing a laptop that has already been chosen for the student. (Lindquist & Powers, 2010)

A further advantage of the laptop computer purchased for the students is that every student having the same computer and software means that there are less variables for support. For laptops to be successful in the classroom, technical support (and reliable internet connection) is imperative. It will be easier for the help desks to troubleshoot laptops as well as make it easier for students to help each other with technical problems if all the software and hardware is the same. Plus, faculty will more likely use the laptops if they are familiar with the same technologies the students are using. (Penue, 2006)

According to researchers, (Lindquist, et al., 2010 and Barak et al., 2006 ) there are disadvantages of using laptops in the class room. The MIT study found that 12% of the students used the laptops during classroom time to do social activities, such as checking e-mail and social networking sites. An article in the Washington Post interviewed David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown, who surveyed his classes after six weeks of lectures—laptop free. Eighty percent said they were more involved in the class discussion with the laptops put away, and 95% percent admitted using the laptop for activities other than class work. However other educators feel that it is up to the professor to engage the students. After all, if the class is not engaging, surfing the net is not much different than doodling or reading a book hidden from the teacher’s eyes. (deVise, 2010)

A bigger problem than laptops being utilized for activities other than class work, is laptops that are not effectively used at all. Students perceive that a requirement to purchase a laptop means that the laptops will be used in almost all classes. However, changing courses to accommodate technology takes time and commitment. Not only must there be professional development classes given by the university, but there has to be a willingness of the teacher to make the change. Many college professors are old enough not to have used technology as a tool for their own education and many use technologies offered by laptops and computers. Studies have shown that many teachers primarily use laptops for word processing, productivity, and research. (Dunleavy et al., 2007) North Michigan University surveyed students on using laptops in 2000 and 2005. Significant differences were found indicating that student perceptions of the usefulness, price, and quality of the computer increased from 2000 to 2005. However, if the laptops are not utilized in the classroom then the students do not see laptops as a justifiable expense. (Orr et al., 2008)

Important to the discussion of whether laptops should be required in universities is how well faculty will be trained to utilize the technology effectively. Studies have shown that many teachers primarily use laptops for word processing, productivity, and research. Therefore, teachers will need professional development to embrace the technology laptops have to offer. (Dunleavy et al., 2007) Beginning a laptop program without helping professors find a way to integrate the technology is not prudent. Teachers who see technology as an effective tool are more likely to use laptops. (And teachers who are concerned that students will use the equipment for unauthorized activity will use the laptops less often.) Therefore, universities must find ways to be sure the faculty is on board before embarking on a campus wide laptop program. “Some of the professional development that is targeted to help teachers become more “student-centered” in their teaching has been especially effective in transforming instruction in laptop classrooms.” (Penue, 2006, p. 338)

Teachers that believe that technology will support their curriculum are more likely to use it. (Penue, 2006). In addition, although professors may need help with the technology themselves, what was more critical was that they get help integrating the technology into their curriculum. In the past, most computer use has been to duplicate lecture styles with little change on how teacher’s teach. However, as teachers are trained and see what students are able to do, they are less reluctant to assign more complex projects.

A laptop is a tool, and like any tool, its effectiveness is contingent upon the how the tool is used. The presence of a technological tool is not sufficient for enhanced learning. Although difficult to measure, computer skills are imperative for the 21st century workplace. In order for technology to make a difference, however, students must be able to use the computers and programs at home or in the dorms (Penue, 2006). If they take the laptops with them to class, projects started in the classroom may be continued elsewhere. However, there must be adequate technical support and on-site repair, plus reliable internet connections available 224/7. Teachers must be trained not only in the technology itself, but understand how the technology integrates into their curriculum, with professional development classes that show the teachers how to utilize the laptops for active learning.

References

Barak, M., Lipson, A., & Lerman, S. (2006, Spring). Wireless laptops as means for promoting active learning in large lecture halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Vol 38(3). ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education).

CCI, Carolina computing initiative. Retrieved from http://cci.unc.edu/about/index.htm

Dunleavy, M., Dexter, S. & Heinecke, W.F. (2007). What added value does a 1:1 student to laptop ratio bring to technology-supported teaching and learning? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23, 440–452. Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Lauricella, S., & Kay, R. (2010). Assessing laptop use in higher education classrooms: The laptop effectiveness scale (LES). Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. vol 26(2).

Lindquist, E. & Powers, P. (2010, May 23). Some UW-Stout students would prefer to buy own laptops. The Leader-Telegram (McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)
Retrieved from http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2010/05/23/4803833.htm

Orr, C., Sherony, B., & Steinhaus, C. (2008, June). Student perceptions of the value of a university laptop program. College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal.vol 4,(6).

Penue, W. R. (2006). Implementation and effects of one-to-one computing initiatives: A research synthesis. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. vol 38(3). ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education).

de Vise, D. (2010, March 9). Wide web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/08/AR2010030804915.html

Technology Integration & 21st Century Skills

I learned from the technology discussion in my Computer Applications Class that teachers in K-12 have a hard time integrating technology in their classrooms. Surprising to me was that the many of the software programs and websites are not allowed in the schools, which make it difficult for teachers to be creative. The students in this class are predisposed to technology. But it makes it easier for me to understand why so many of my non-geek peers are so against it–they don’t know enough to even have an opinion–except because it isn’t allowed in the schools, it must not be safe. What everyone at the school seems to forget that these same children go home and work on computers and are often on the same programs that are prohibited at school.

I also learned that this class as many inspiring and creative teachers. I would be honored to have any of them teach my child. Their schools are lucky to have them. They understand the importance of technology yet understand that technology is just the tool.

My background is publishing so my keyboard is practically glued to my fingers. I thought I was technology savvy, but what this discussion also taught me was that I don’t know hardly anything. I never even heard of a clicker, or a smart board, or a webquest, etc.

I picked up an idea from Theresa Mackanos about making movie trailers instead of book reports! I think that is a wonderful idea.

Since I’m not actually a teacher, I often didn’t have something to say. Had I been at a party, I probably would have slipped out, but because it isn’t awkward to stand quietly by and listen, I learned a lot from my classmates.

The Art of Blogging

This week as I was working on a project in my Researching Current Issues in Technology Class, I became more familiar with Blogging as a teaching tool. I am using this blog to teach myself. Learning by doing is a constructivist principle. “The key to understanding constructivism like in the belief that people learn by actively trying to make sense of information and experiences….They construct knowledge through their interactions with people and their activities in the physical world.” (Tiene, D., & Ingram, A., 2001) By writing this blog, I am learning by actively doing.

I’ve been reading some of my RSS feeds on the subject of blogging but the book I am enjoying most is called Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. (Richardson, W., 2010) I read the book back in August but I am re-reading it now, trying to get more out of it. Most of my material fro this blog comes from this powerful book.

“We write not just to communicate, but to connect to others who can potentially teach us more.” (Richardson, et al., p28) Blogging is by it’s very nature a constructivist tool. Another principle of constructivism is that people learn by interacting with other people. And blogging is nothing, if not a social tool. A blog isn’t a journal however. A blog is reflective and complex; it is written for a large audience, therefore must be written with the audience in mind. Readers have the opportunity to comment in a blog, which may create a dialogue and an opportunity for increased learning.

A blog is more like an editorial in a newspaper, where the writer is seeking relevance in the issue. The blogger is editor, writer, and researcher. It is natural to be more careful with thoughts and grammar when the writer knows it will be published for millions to see.

Blogging is much different than writing a paper that only a teacher will read, or a journal kept hidden away in a drawer. A journal leans more to personal thoughts and decisions. The authors put it this way. “Writing stops; blogging continues.”(Richardson, et al., p30)

A really good blogger is someone who reads as much as writes. By reading articles, a blogger is reading critically for ideas to write about.  Bloggers “must be able to find connections and articulate the relevance of those connections.”(Richardson, et al., p32) This is higher learning written down.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Tiene, D., & Ingram, A. (2001). Exploring Current Issues in Educational Technology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Captivate!

This week I am learning a new software program called Adobe Captivate. I’m learning this software for two reasons.

  1. I see it as a skill listed in the “want ads” for instructional technologists.
  2. I am doing learning it so that I can do a project for my Computer Applications in Education Class, Student Choice 1.

For this project I am supposed to find and evaluate educational software that is available for purchase and convince my boss to purchase it. Then I am supposed to learn two techniques and show I know how to do them. Since I have never used or heard of this program before this week, showing two new techniques shouldn’t be too difficult.

What I plan to do is to make a slide show of projects I created in my Visual Design class (taken last summer). In my slide show I want to encourage those who have not taken the class to take it.

When this project is finished, I will provide a link so it can be viewed from here.

Concept Mapping

A concept map is an information graphic which illustrates concepts and the relationship between the concepts in a hierarchial manner. The concepts are represented within containers and the relationship is expressed by lines connecting the concepts. The lines include a propostion or statement. The proposition is usually a verb.

I think the concept map is very much like an outline, except better, because a concept map makes allowances for cross-links and multiple connections between thoughts and ideas. Concept maps are also better for learning than mind mapping because mind mapping is not structured with different levels of specificity.

Concept maps are often used by teachers to assess the knowledge of the students, before and after the subject matter is taught. The maps are can by used by students not only to brainstorm ideas, but to organize thoughts in succinctly. An added plus is that once the concept map is developed, it is a wonderful tool to use as a study aid.

How to Make a Concept Map

Concept maps can of course be made with pencil and paper, no technology involved. However, one of the nice things about using a computer to produce a concept map is the ability to easily move and rearrange the concepts. Drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator and word processing programs like Microsoft Word can produce concept maps. However, an application developed specifically for creating concept maps might be a better choice as they are simple to learn and use.