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New Workshops @ the Berrien RESA

Finally got around to getting some workshops scheduled for this fall.  You can see all technology workshops being offered at the Berrien RESA right here.

In October I’ll be leading a new class trying to cover some of the many, many web 2.0 tools that can easily be used by educators.  Connecting & Collaborating with Web Tools starts on October 13 and will last six weeks.  During each of those weeks, we’ll focus on a different category of tool and explore ways in which those types of tools can be used to help students gain understanding and learn by being connected not only to pertinent resources but pertinent people (for example, other students) as well.

It’s kind of unfortunate to have to divide those tools into categories, because the differences between some of them is very blurry.  But, I needed to be able to chunk the information into a week’s worth of content, so I was forced to make some choices.  Here’s how I broke down:

  • Week 1:  Get Organized…kind of speaks for itself.
  • Week 2:  Be Productive…this one too.
  • Week 3:  Look What I Did…publishing and photo sharing.
  • Week 4:  Talk to Me…communication tools.
  • Week 5:  It’s Showtime…video and animation creation.
  • Week 6:  I’ve Got People…social networks and communities.
  • I’m really looking forward to this class…one reason being that participants will have such a variety of activities to choose from.  Nobody’s experience will be like that of another.  The sharing of projects in the discussion forum should really open everyone’s eyes!

    Oh…one more thing…just received confirmation that Connecting & Collaborating with Web Tools has been approved for 6.0 SB-CEUs as well as 2 graduate credits.  That can be helpful.  :-)

    NECC Session…Moodle Magic: Tricks for Enhanced Course Design

    This first BYOL session was turning away participants half an hour before it started…

    NECC Program Description

    MoodleMichelle Moore has always done a great job presenting about Moodle.  Today’s session, focusing on design and layout of courses, should really have some great tips and suggestions.  As she is starting, I see that the way Janine and I have designed our professional development courses follows her suggestions closely.  Here are some tips…some are Moodle tips and some fall into basic web design.

    • Don’t write too much in Moodle’s topic heading…just a few words.  The topic heading shows up in the navigation menus, so if there are several sentences it clogs up the navigation.
    • Use Headings instead of simply making the font bigger…it helps with accessibility.
    • Separate content by adding labels and indenting items.
    • Consistency is important!

    Michelle highlighted a course module called Book.  Book is like creating a web page, but breaks the page up over several screens.  Navigation is built in, you can search the text, and there’s a print feature.  Pretty cool!  I’ll have to install that on our server.  She went through the process of creating a book…very easy.

    Many teachers post PowerPoint presentations…Michelle suggested that the PowerPoint be converted to a Flash file.  That alleviates the problem of students needing PP or downloading the file, or something else that might be a problem.

    Here’s another sweet module…Audio Recorder.  The Audio Recorder acts like an assignment.  Students record up to 4 minutes of audio right in Moodle and then the teacher can review that just as if it were another type of assignment.

    Another potential module…SPDC Portfolio.

    As people ask questions, Michelle has begun to wander away from the topic.  I know that’s very easy to do, I’ve done it myself during presentations.  However, now it’s kind of becoming a Moodle free-for-all.  That’s the way it goes!  The session was very well received.  Obviously, I took away a few nuggets as well.  That Book module looks really good…and recording audio right in Moodle?  Wow!

    • Our last online class of the year begins next Monday, April 14.  Creating WebQuests helps participants develop and create their own WebQuest to use in their curriculum.  WebQuests help focus student activities and thinking while using the Internet and make great activities for utilizing your classroom technology.  Participants can earn 2 graduate credit hours or 6 SB-CEUs.  To register call Jo Urias at 471-7725 ext. 149.
    • Now that Spring Break is over thoughts turn to summer…and the Summer Olympics.  Track the progress of the Olympic Torch as it travels from Olympia, Greece to China using Google Earth or Google Maps.
    • I know there are a lot of you with interactive whiteboards.  Read The Whiteboard Blog for ideas, resources, and activities to make the most use of your hardware.
    • Here’s another site in the artsy/creative/exploration category…viscosity.  Students can create their own modern art.

    Chem Is Try…

    Weekly Web Wonders

    Wind, Lemonade, and Gamequarium…

    One of these days these posts may become more informative than just links, but I guess we’ll go with what we’ve got!

    • Go swimming in the Gamequarium for tons of learning games covering the entire curriculum up to grade 6.
    • What are your young students going to do in the lab?  Check out these Kindergarten Literacy and Math activities from Internet4Classroooms.
    • Do you ever keep track of information? (That’s sarcasm you’re hearing.)  Check out Track-n-Graph…”Track-n-Graph is a FREE web-based service for friends, family, and co-workers to track and graph information.”  Hey, that sounds good!
    • I’m sure you remember the old favorite, Lemonade Stand…well it’s still alive with this web-based economy lesson.
    • For those of you that teach about energy, the environment, or just want to put together a cool project take a look at KidWind.

    Upcoming tech PD…plus a bonus

    Weekly Web Wonders

    I’m not sure this counts as a true Weekly Web Wonders. My barrel is pretty low and I don’t have many gems to share. I do, however, want to share our workshop schedule for next semester. You can take a closer look at each by visiting our online PD Catalog.

    You should see some fliers around right after the New Year, but here’s the preview…

    • The Media Specialties series is designed specifically for media specialists who want to add knowledge and skills to their technology toolbox.
      • Media Specialties: Connecting with Web 2.0 Tools
        January 17, 2008
      • Media Specialties: Internet Safety
        February 14, 2008
      • Media Specialties: Writing with Blogs & Wikis
        March 20, 2008
      • Media Specialties: Making RSS Work for You
        April 17, 2008
      • Media Specialties: Online Learning
        May 15, 2008
    • Creating “Online Learning Experiences”
      February 7, 2008
    • Podcasting…Talking to the World
      February 26, 2008
    • Pooped out on PowerPoint
      March 13, 2008
    • MiniJazz: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing
      Multiple sessions
    • ASK: Author and Expert Literature-Based Interviews
      January 22, 2008
    • Online Classes
      • Planning Interactive Curriculum Connections
        January 14 – February 8 OR April 14 – May 9
      • Internet in the Curriculum
        January 14 – February 22
      • Technology in the Early Elementary Classroom
        January 28 – March 20
      • The Blogs that Bind
        February 4 – February 29
        Kid to Kid Videoconference Connections
        February 11 – March 21
        Techno-Charged Project Based Learning
        February 18 – March 28
      • Creating WebQuests
        April 14 – May 23

    SciVeeAlright, you made it to the bottom and here’s your reward: SciVee is a video sharing site, like YouTube, for sharing scientific or science-related videos. From their site: “Created for scientists, by scientists, SciVee moves science beyond the printed word and lecture theater taking advantage of the internet as a communication medium where scientists young and old have a place and a voice.” Lots of cool demonstrations and more!

    Catching up with your students…

    I’ve read and heard a lot of conversations lately that are focused on how teachers are becoming more and more curious about how “new” sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and others could be used for educational purposes. The thought is that since kids are using these sites so much, maybe it’s time educators take advantage of the opportunity for teaching and learning. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

    “Join them?” you might say, “Join them in what? What exactly could I, the teacher, do on one of those sites?” (It’s important to read the “those sites” very disdainfully.) Most of these online activities involve creating and sharing content so it could be as simple as leaving comments on a blog or as complex as a full-blown character analysis or the sharing of a student-created video. Besides sharing, though, is the idea of belonging to a group, or community, of online citizens. That’s the social part of social networking.

    NingSince MySpace and YouTube and others are blocked at many schools, educators have been looking for other possibilities. Two that I’ve seen tossed around quite a bit are Ning and imbee. Both of these sites allow users to create their own social network, label it private, and allow only approved users access to what’s inside. Ning would appeal to older students while Imbee has features that younger students would enjoy.

    imbeeNing allows personal pages, discussion forums, photos, videos, groups, friends…hey that sounds a lot like that black sheep, MySpace, and it’s all controlled by the teacher. To see what a Ning site looks like, check out Classroom 2.0, a network of teachers exploring the use of these new technology tools. Like Ning, imbee allows the uploading of photos and videos, blog posts, etc., but presents it in a more kid-friendly format. Outsiders aren’t able to get in to see what an Imbee sight looks like (that’s the point), but take a lot at this special information they have for teachers.

    This is what kids are doing online in their free time…it’s worth exploring these tools to see how they might engage students both during and after school.

    Time to crank it up…

    OK, summer is rapidly coming to a close so it’s time to kick myself back into the swing of things. Taking a lot of time off in the summer is kind of like staying in shape. It’s easy to get out of shape, just stop exercising and eat anything you want. It’s more difficult, however, to get back into shape once you’ve fallen off the wagon. That’s kind of the way I feel having returned to work after hanging around in South Haven and the Smokies.

    Over the last couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook (I’ll go ahead and link them even though they’re blocked at school.) and how they have the potential to be dangerous or at least disruptive to the lives of our students. However, there’s been somewhat of a shift away by some folks who see not just the problems, but the potential that social networking sites have to offer.

    Most recently, the National School Board Association published a report entitled Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking, recommending that schools

    Consider using social networking for staff communications and professional development.

    as well as to

    Find ways to harness the educational value of social networking.

    That’s an about face for many! Some organizations have already begun the shift. Here are a couple that have set up their own sites and invited people to the party. Check them out!

    MACULThe Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning created MACUL Space last spring to help members stay up to date and connected with each other. It’s a great place for technology using teachers to get together from around the state to share ideas, etc. MACUL Space uses a site called Ning…you could set up your own Ning site for your classroom!

    I just ran across the Inspired Learning Community yesterday. It’s from Inspiration, oneInspiration of my favorite learning applications. Once you’re there you can “Find and share ideas about visual learning, Inspiration®, InspireData™ and Kidspiration®.” Hey, that sounds pretty good. The conversation is starting off slowly, but the site is new this summer, so perhaps it will pick up once the school year gets going.

    New Tools from CCC

    These resources come from presentations at the Connecting & Collaborating Conference I attended last Friday in Holland. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there to explore!

    • Jamglue is an online audio mixer. Record and upload your own audio to create a mix of your own for multimedia projects etc.
    • I mentioned Zoho Writer back in January…it’s an online word processor just like Word, except you can work from anywhere since it’s online. Well add to that a whole list of other online apps like spreadsheets, presentations, planner, and more with the Zoho Office Suite.
    • scrapblog1.jpgYou can make your own digital scrapbook with Scrapblog. It’s very easy and the results are awesome!
    • These two whiteboard applications are a blast. Imagination Cubed and skrbl allow you to collaborate online using a whiteboard-like interface. Again…simple and easy!
    • Webnote is a page that you can quickly, uh, add notes to. Quickly create a page and add sticky-like boxes and put in your notes. They’ll stay online for you forever.

    The Case for Michigan’s Online Learning Mandate

    This seemed to slip by, so I wanted to bring up this opinion piece written by Bruce Umpstead (Director of Educational Technology & Data Coordination) and Barb Fardell (Manager, Office of Educational Technology & Data Coordination) from the Michigan Department of Education. The Case for Michigan’s Online Learning Mandate seeks to, as its title implies, justify the state of Michigan requiring an online learning experience for high school graduates. It’s pretty short, but should provide an official answer for those saying, “Why?”

    Here’s a quote:

    It requires both learners and educators to adapt and adopt new technologies and skills that will make them more successful long after the particular online experience has ended.

    The key stakeholders to this adaptation are educators, not students. As the article states, “Our kids are connected, and technology is now a part of their lives.” It’s going to be up to innovative and flexible teachers to convince students that this technology is going to be useful for their education.


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