Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, March 11, 2011
I am amazed at the breadth and volume of technology in K-12 even. It does make me a little nervous to have so many little faces in full view to anyone….I even found myself being reluctant to include photos of my grown daughters in the tiny Flickr slide show I embedded (did it really work, properly? ) in our class wiki.
I pondered the various photo sharing activities in Terry Smith’s site (http://www.smithclass.org/) an found that I like the idea of project-based learning, and think that would be where I would begin photo sharing in my classroom.
For my Environmental Biology class this spring, my students worked on a several-week project called Sense of Place where they “adopted” a site and then made observations and connections to course content and presented this to the class. I wish I had required it to be more photo-heavy; I think I really missed an opportunity. I did have more than one student tell me they did not have a camera. What to do about that?
Other project-based projects could be along this same line: adopt-an-organism, -metabolic pathway, -organ system, -ecosystem, etc. I think it would be fun and very enlightening. Students would be required to include a certain proportion of their own photos and be careful to demonstrate their understanding of copyright and fair use guidelines. I have already considered this using a poster-making program, but haven’t tried that yet either! Maybe they could be combined.
One of my textbooks includes Google Earth links in each chapter. I like the idea of presenting slide shows/presentations using Google Earth, and want to become proficient in this. Recently, I am thinking more and more globally and want to project the importance of this for my students.
My two proposed photo-sharing activities are project-based adopt-a-something slide shows and instructor-generated Google Earth slide shows.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The target audience for Bebo appears to be those who wished to “Blog Early, Blog Often”, the parent phrase for the acronym. The site appeal to Facebook types who dislike “applications.” It at least started out as very popular in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia
The site was started and owned by Michael and Xochi Birch from 2005 to 2008 when AOL purchased it. Then, in 2010, AOL sold Bebo to Criterion Capital Partners. The 2010 sale was due to decreasing numbers of new users. It is, however, still operating.
Some Reasons for Popularity
Some elements of its popularity include access to Bebo Books where subscribers can upload chapters of books, opportunities to convert Authors or Bands to Groups, and accessing updates to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other services, through Bebo, It also offers adding quizzes to profiles.
It appears the main competitors were and are Facebook and Twitter, but Bebo is being improved to compete more effectively.
My SNS Future
I do have a Facebook account that I really intend to improve and expand. I would not switch to Bebo or another SNS, since my family is connected to Facebook. I struggle with able to follow through with keeping my Facebook current and interesting. I have been found by people that I like and did not know were “still around.” Even some long lost friends of my brothers found them through my Facebook page (and my subsequent response).
I used the Boyd, Ellison article and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bebo. Accessed March 4, 2011) for help answering these questions.
More than one point from Steve Hargadon is compelling. For instance, as I read Point Number 1, “You don't really know which social networking sites you create will take off or succeed” I thought then, well, but he asks us in Point Number 5 to “focus.” Point Number 1 also includes Clay Shirkey’s reminder that “failure is free”, but I do not think failure is free in for beginning biology students.
So that said, I will focus on a Point #4, “A network must fulfill some compelling need.” If in the classroom, students must see and appreciate the benefit to them for participating. I also think that expectations should be clearly outlined (rubric?) so they do understand the focus is on a different kind of informational exchange that is probably more formal than what they experience in their personal social networks. This is one of my personal emphases over the years – professional-ish (not necessarily polished, but polite, complete, thoughtful) class work.
But back to the perceived need to students of participating fully and well, I think the network must relate clearly to the course objectives. As Hargadon states, “They have to have a reason to come that is compelling, that solves a problem for them, or offers them the ability to do something they have really wanted to do that was much harder before.” Underlying this thought is the assumption that the student (in my case for this example) is motivated to learn.
I have been thinking a lot about student motivation lately, and that is another big topic, but I think I would have to start with the “compelling need” being points earned for good participation and a passing grade in the class.
Late, I know…But the good thing is that this week (after the due date for the assignment) I saw some opportunities that were not evident before.
For every exam (face to face, hybrid and 100% online) , I offer students the opportunity to send me their answers to short essay questions on the study guide. I give them a set and then choose a subset to have on the exam. Usually in a class of 20-24 students, about 3 choose to take me up on this. It mostly blows me away, since, who wouldn’t want help on this? :- ) The students who ask for help are usually the ones who already understand the material pretty well, and that leaves the rest who might mostly give vague or incomplete answers. I would offer a wiki for study guide interaction between students and expect them to contribute their own insights and special details on materials, perhaps adding methods for learning concepts. I think that examples of using complete sentences (required and often neglected by some) and good complete work would be very beneficial to all.
Another place for a wiki would be for field trip reports. On my field trip last week, most students submitted their reports prematurely. It seemed like they just wanted to get it finished, but were not very careful about quality. I think that requiring interaction on the wiki would give them good practice, help completing species lists (for example), and get more out of the experience. Each would be helped by the whole and I could learn more about the students and their individual grasp of the information. I would expect that students would share basic information (data like map coordinates) but contribute a unique component (drawing, explanation, link, video, photo).
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I felt defensive about the author’s views on this. He begins with a list of student- generated attributes of online learning (work around busy schedule, courses more challenging, etc.). And then proposes that online learning is “old wine in a new bottle that’s being motivated more by economics and convenience than good or better design” and then he wonders, “what those online students have learned more or better than the ones who took the course in a classroom.I have problems with his statements. First, calling instructional method and content “old wine” is an insult. What we as instructors provide to our students has been crafted with care with the student’s success in mind. It does not have to culminate in their being ambassadors to the world. The success in completing course requirements can in itself be such a reward for a student that she or he can then open up to more learning and independent thinking and these requirements do (because we care and are effective teachers ) offer many ways for students to demonstrate their “intelligences”. Who is he criticizing in this blog? No one I know.
Richardson describes the last 10 years in education in the US as unchanging. He writes that “With a very few well documented exceptions, it’s a planned, linear, for the most part standardized process, one that allows everyone to recognize what being “educated” means at the end of the day.” I take exception to this. He is making a big generalization that discounts the creativity and progressive teaching/learning happening in, yes, public school classrooms! He suggests that this inferior method is “…narrative most of us share, at least those of us who didn’t drop out or choose homeschooling as our option. “ This implies to me that somehow these options are preferred! Homeschooling has both positive, negative, and neutral effects on students as most of us know.
I think comparing what Finns are planning for the future of education with the US trajectory could be a stretch. Richardson asks, “Why aren’t more of us here in the States not seeing these trends and their impact on education more clearly?” I think it is directly related to unwillingness for the “education people” in the US to admit we can learn something from other countries and a feeling of general financial insecurity. In times like this, a fear of change can prevail.