Reflections on the class "Web-Based Multimedia" and "Intro to Teaching with Digital Tools"

Ning!

In this module, specifically the Richardson chapter 9 reading assignment, I learned about nigs! This is very exciting to me because in this class I learned that it is really important to incorporate social network sites in the classroom so student can learn how to use them effectively and responsibly.  However, I have been very torn on the idea of using facebook in the classroom for a variety of reasons. 1) I think it would be very difficult to get all the parents onboard and there will be some parents that would not allow their students to participate. 2) Some students might be actively avoiding facebook because of bullying issues. 3) In the students minds facebook is very far removed from class and I think it would be difficult to have them in a class mindset on facebook.

Then I read about ning and it answered all my problems. As a teacher you can create your own ning for your own students or collaborate with other teachers to make a bigger network.  It does not have the name “facebook” that inspires a knee-jerk reaction from parents and administrators. Comments can be monitored and deleted to prevent bullying. With a facebook group the student would still need to create a facebook accounts that could be targeted by other students.  Finally since it is a little different from facebook the students would probably have an easier time getting into an academic mindset. However, it is similar enough that the skills they learn can be transfered to facebook and other social networking sites.

I am very happy to have found out about nings and could see myself using them in a future class.

This module was focused on new technologies for teaching and learning.  I am looking forward to using some of these technologies in my future classroom. What stuck out to me the most right now is teachertube.  I can think of many ways to use teacher tube in a biology classroom in conjunction with a smartboard. Half of biology consists of students learning about animals they have never seen and have no experience with.  Currently I’m tutoring two students who are going though that section right now any they keep asking me, what _____ looks like? How do they move? Where do they live? All questions that can be easily answered with a video. Luckly my students i’m tutoring have access to the internet so I was able to pull up videos on youtube to show them.  (below is a video I showed of a cuddle fish changing color).  This is very powerful because the students are able to glean much more information from a quick video than from reading a description.

Another bit of technology I think would be very helpful in my future biology class is the ability to make videos.  I thought it would be very useful for pre-lab demonstrations so the students can see what they are supposed to be doing. Traditionally it would be the teacher with a couple volunteers doing them demo with a crowd of kids and half of them might not be able to see well. Instead the teacher could make the video ahead of time and play it on a smart board so every student can see an up close and clear version of the demo.  The video could also be paused and replayed if there are questions where you can’t do that in real life.

Finally I sill have some reservations about technology in the classroom.  Many people talk about how it is very motivating for the students because they want to use the smartboard or what ever it is. My concern is two-fold one is that teachers will use it as a crutch and not try to make the lessons themselves more intrinsically motivating. Then when the novelty wears off or if there is something wrong with the technology then all thats left is a non-engaging lesson.  Secondly, I worry that some of the more motivating technologies like cameras and smartboards are more distracting and students are not taking away anything from the lesson, instead, all the remember is “i got to use the smartboard it was so fun.” I think a way to avoid these pitfalls might be that whenever I am using a piece of technology I ask myself “why am I using this, does this further the lesson goals.” If the answer is no then I need to either not use the technology or alter the lesson.

After listening to Dr. Bolings interview and videos it made me think about how to use facebook in the classroom.  I must admit I’m still very suspicious of using facebook because it is so informal.  I think the students would have a hard time getting into an academic mindset when they are one a webpage that is used primarily for socialization.  I also still have concerns about cyber bullying and the control measures to prevent it (approving posts before they get published) seems like a lot of overhead work for the teacher who should be trying to minimize that so they can put more effort into lesson design.  I know I’m not the only person who has these concerns and I think that you can make a better case to parents and school administrators if a site similar to, but different from facebook was used.  That way they could get the benefit of the community and social networking without the baggage of facebook.  Because it is a different site it might help students adjust to the idea that this would be a more formal atmosphere where they need to be more academically mindful about what they are saying.

She also introduced another website which I think is great. It is called animoto, and it allows students to create videos easily and the final product looks finished and professional.  I can see students having fun and being really motivated to create videos about their group projects to present to the rest of the class.  Dr. Boling uses this website to create videos for dogs that are in high kill shelters in NYC to try to find them homes.  A couple of the videos she posted actually made me cry, but that is mostly because I have a dog that was once in a high kill shelter so I can’t help but see his face on all the pictures of the dogs.  The other thing that got be about the videos is she got pictures and videos of the dogs looking happy, to me that was sadder than the “sad puppy” aspca commercials I’ve seen, because they just don’t understand and they are so happy that someone is there to see them!

Save a NYC Shelter Dog Today.

First Reflection Post

When I think about the reading and the discussions in the class so far I can’t help but be surprised about all the way the tools that I already knew about can be used in an educational way.

Some are more obvious, for example Wikis can be used as a great work space for the students to work together online to create a resource for all the students.  Richardson went into great detail on how wikis can be used in school. They can link to other sited from the wiki to show where they are getting their information from or to show where the reader can find more information. Others surprised me, flikr and other photo sharing sites in particular was mentioned in chapter 2 of the Schrum and Levin. I never thought that a photo sharing site could be useful to a classroom in anyway until they mentioned documenting field trips. It made me think about the class I’m observing this semester because they are going to the American Natural History Museum tomorrow.  Using flikr the teachers could let the students explore the hall they like take pictures of what they found interesting, take notes then as an assignment they could create a sideshow with a voice over explaining what they are seeing.

Finally, when I was reading the Richardson chapter on blogs, I did get nervous at the idea of every student creating their own blog.  Unfortunately, blogs can be a very easy place for kids to bully each other and in my experience people seem more willing to bully online than offline. From a management perspective keeping track comments on all the students blogs all the time would be very difficult for the teacher, but it would also be necessary if the teacher is requiting the students to make a blog.  It might be better to have a class blog where each day a different student can post something but there is only one blog and the teachers account has admin power and the students only have users. This way the teacher can make sure everyone is being respectful. Once management issues are taken care of then blogs are a great way for the student to use what they have learned can connect it with the outside world.

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