Monday, May 19, 2008

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 3

Ok, I'm still miles behind, but I have managed to do some catching up. It took me half the day to figure out how to claim my blog on Technorati and then to add coComments and link the two together (something called a spider???). Haven't a clue what I've managed to do, but I have a coComment button on my toolbar, an account at Technorati and at coComment so I think I've completed the task :) I also joined the Challenge group in Technorati and finally found everyone! :)

I also seem to have completed day 16 - Go Back and Catch Up on Something!
Task = partial completed.

I did comment on a post on internet safety, which happens to be a hot topic with me at present. I have created a PowerPoint presentation that I will be giving tomorrow at my former school on the wonderful virtues of Web 2.0, just ahead of the RCMP who will be giving a presentation on the dangers and woes of the internet and Web 2.0. Hopefully between the two of us, we can create a reasonable amount of knowledge and information for parents and students so they can safely use the wonderful Web 2.0 tools that are available, especially for school.

I think I'm a nervous wreck just thinking about having to do this presentation. I'm not exactly passionate about public speaking, but I have learned a great deal from this activity. I have learned how to create a PowerPoint presentation, how to get a YouTube video to play in it and how to get very stressed out!

But I do have some questions. One of the tasks was to ask a question in a comment, but I am not sure where to ask these questions so I'll put them in my blog and see if they get answered here.
1. I think my RSS reader is not really all that good. It is Wizz RSS 2.1.9 which was an add-on from Firefox. Anyone else using it? Is Google Reader better?
2. How does the coComment work? I have the button on my toolbar, now what???
3. What is the purpose of Technorati?
4. What is a blog roll? Is it something you have instead of a RSS reader or in addition to?
5. Lastly, how do you add the button for RSS to a blog in


Saturday, May 10, 2008

31-Day Blog Challenge

I found this challenge at:
through Michelle Martin's blog, the Bamboo Project. It is a challenge to help us become better bloggers and hopefully bring us out of our own little "groups". There are prizes and activities you must complete daily for the next 31 days. I have completed the first two days without signing up. But I have managed to run into trouble very quickly - I can't figure out how to sign up on the wiki! Actually, that is quite funny, joining a challenge I can't even figure out how to sign up for! Off to a rip-roaring start! lol

The entire reason I actually decided to sign up on the challenge was because my faculty associate, Betty Gilgoff, from Simon Fraser University's (SFU) TLITE (Teaching in a Technological Environment) field studies program was in town today and I finally managed to check out her TLITE website
where she had invited the TLITE students to join this 31-day blogging challenge.

What have I learned so far in my self-audit:
I really found the comment from Gina Trapani's blog " being in someone's living room and joining a conversation" very enlightening. For me it was a great way to think about commenting on blogs and also explained why I find it difficult. I'm not that outgoing and I am both careful and hesitant about joining in conversations with others, most especially with people I don't know. So I almost never comment on blogs.

Of the guidelines she gave, I found make the tone of your message clear, a stand out for me. This has kept me off commenting and, for the longest time, off forums. I had enough trouble with this in emails. I had a real "Yikes!" moment emailing a parent from my class when the tone of the email was untendedly misunderstood in a negative manner. Boy, learned quick from that little error. Discovered that smiley faces can do wonders!

Other things I have learned so far:
1. I can't figure out how to sign up on the challenge wiki! Painful!

2. There is netiquette to blogging. I don't want to be seen as a virtual
"Tom Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah's-couch" type commenter.
3. We tend to stick to our own little communities and that "bridging" between communities is
great for sharing ideas between different professions and/or interest groups.

Day 2
Have I commented on a blog I've never commented on? Only two so far, first Michelle Martin's and the TLITE online. I read the netiquette bit by Gina Trapani after I did the first comment. Hmmm, should have read that first!

Trying to catch up: Tomorrow - figuring out how to get a comment tracking service. Hopefully that goes smoother than signing up on a wiki! :)

And if you are part of The Comment Challenge remember to add the comment08 tag to your post. (I hope I did this right.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Internet Safety

One of the many things I've been learning about lately is internet safety as it is a major concern in schools when teachers start using Web 2.0 tools. I participated in (listened in, actually), an on-line live discussion on this topic in Classroom 2.0.

As a number of teachers are becoming more interested and comfortable using various Web 2.0 tools such as class blogs, wikis, podcasts and voicethreads, safety and privacy issues are becoming a concern. School Districts have filtered out many sites and have programs such as Deep Freeze protecting private on-line information which have caused a certain amount of frustration for teachers attempting to engage their students in this new on-line learningenvironment.

The discussion also commented on the concern parents have about having their children's work, pictures etc posted on class blogs. The issue of educating parents on the use of Web 2.0 tools was discussed. This issues ranged from having workshops on Web 2.0 for parents as many are not on-line using blogs, wikis or podcasts to teachers using school blogs to post information for parents then adding in podcasts that can be downloaded on to iPods and listened to by the parents.

Having discussed the issue of safety and privacy with a co-worker who has had her class use a class blog and has had comments posted to it from various parts of the world, including Australia, I wonder if the activity was worth the effort in terms of the learning outcome that was intended, which is difficult for me to judge because I have not done this yet. She had to set up the blog site, send home/collect several different permission forms, teach students how to blog including the creation and use of passwords and avatars, edit the blogs through her email, I think, all on top of the regular work needing to be done in the life of a classroom teacher. The idea being that seeing their work out in the public realm and having authentic comments back creates a real feeling of ownership/authorship for the students, thereby improving their writing and engaging their interest. I love the entire idea of this type of learning activity, but not having done this yet, it also is very daunting and the worry about the safety of my students is almost overwhelming.

I have an up-coming PowerPoint presentation to give on internet safety to go along with an RCMP presentation to parents on web safety and I would be very interested in the comments from other teachers/parents on the difficulties you've had using Web 2.o tools with your class and parental concerns about the use of Web 2.0 tools in school.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

RSS Figured Out!

Taking Michelle Martin's advice on her reply to my blog, I finally got around to figuring out how to use the RSS reader I added on to Firefox! Every time I add a blog to my reader I "crow"! I actually figured out how to work the thing. There is hope for the technologically challenged! It's called "Fearless", hummed to a Bob Marley tune :)

I have even managed to import feeds and I am currently following The Bamboo Project Blog (my fav), dy/dan (also my fav) and today I added two more, The Faculty Room and The DA Pulse. I'm rather impressed with myself!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Personal Learning Environments

I have been exploring, with a near obsession, the idea of personal learning environments (PLE) and how they may help create a way to synthesize learning, all forms of learning from the very structured, formal learning experiences of a university lecture/class to the very informal learning that happens in every aspect of our lives. I believe informal learning is the largest area of learning and with the growth of Web 2.0 and its tools, informal learning has the potential to make a significant impact on education.

After having read through many blogs and wikis, taking tours of virtual classrooms and landscapes, and taking on-line classes, the information became overwhelming and I reached information overload level. Because I am a writer by nature I found the idea of writing to synthesize what I have learned very appealing. So I braved my fears about writing on-line and created this blog. I also think that if I use this method to organize my thoughts in some semblance of order, I am modelling life long learning for my students.

What's a Personal Learning Environment?
Michele Martin had a very concrete way of stating what a PLE is:
...a PLE is a combination of the formal and informal tools and processes we use to gather information, reflect on it and do something with it, which is what we mean when we talk about learning.

For me, taking a graduate diploma through Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Teaching in a Technological Environment (TLITE) creating my own PLE here to gather information, at least some of it, and to reflect on it is proving to be very helpful. So following Michele Martin's PLE I also divided mine into three areas:

Gathering Information
When I began TLITE I could not put an attachment on an email, I could type basic text and a few little things in Word 2003. That was it. Then came this and my learning curve took a massive leap!

I gathered information in a rapid, rather disorganized way. Our SFU Faculty Associate come to our off-campus site and provided a day of Web 2.0 information which is what started this entire adventure. I explored sites on the wiki she created for the class and became more and more fascinated by what I was learning. I created a account and a Facebook account. I then took several on-line classes with Knowschools, the first being on tagging - using - how lucky was that! Then came a session on Web tools for the classroom, Web Quests (that was over my head) and tools for K - 3 students. Then I hit the overload level and stopped taking classes and needed to process what I had learned. Even with the information overload, I managed to tour Tapped In and created a virtual classroom there. I also created an account in Classroom 2.0 and downloaded Firefox as my web browser. We LOVES Firefox! (Still learning how to use it and all its potential!)

Processing Information
After all the information gathering was done, a significant amount of new learning floating around in my head with no place to land, so I decided to use Cmaps to create a web of what Web 2.0 was to me. That was some weeks ago and I might change that web now, but at the time it consolidated some of what Web 2.0 was. The visual was very helpful. It would be great to put a copy into this blog, but I haven't managed to learn how to do that yet.

Reading other people's blogs on the topic of PLE's was also very helpful. (The next thing on the list to learn is about RSS feeds.) By reading what others are saying about PLE's, it helped gel my own ideas, including how to blog.

Then I jumped into creating a blog. But, once again, I couldn't figure out what I wanted the blog to look like or what it should say about PLE's. Reading blogs by others helped here again. I am finding that writing my ideas/thoughts directly onto the blog might not be the best way for me. I think I need to write them down on paper first, so they are more organized. Looking on this blog entry, it is certainly not something I would hand in to a grad class prof. But then again, it is my PLE and I want it to be informal for now, and informal it certainly is.

I also decided to post on several forums and to join, of all things, Oprah's on-line book club for Eckhart Tolle's book. I wanted to be part of that huge on-line, first of its kind, on-line community. It was been interesting.

What do I want to explore next?
  • 23 Things
  • RSS feeds
  • LiveJournal
  • WordPress
Acting on Learning
Well, the most I've been able to do in the classroom, due to constraints on lab time and the type of position I currently hold, is to do a simple Web Quest with a reading group. The students have thoroughly enjoyed this and the boys stood out and were very engaged, which went along with the topic of our school district's Professional Development Day's Keynote Speaker - Barry MacDonald and his book Boy Smarts.

I also participated in an Elluminate session with the SFU Faculty Associate and created this blog, complete with a Yahoo avatar! Now that was fun. Tomorrow I will present a part of what I've been doing to my cohort group.

I hope to bring an intermediate class to my virtual classroom in the near future.

This is my on-going PLE. I would like invite others to comment about their PLE's, their thoughts on how the Web 2.0 tools and informal learning may alter our ideas of education in the future.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Web 2.0

This blog is my PLE (personal learning environment). It is to document my learning journey through Web 2.0 as it pertains to educational applications.

What is Web 2.0? This slide show provides a good idea of what Web 2.o is.

Web 2.0 has many applications for educators. Several of the services I have been investigating have been WiZiQ and Yugma.
Use WiZiQ's virtual classroom
equipped with live audio-video communication, chat, content sharing, and session recording
capabilities. No download is required since it works with any web browser and on any operating system. It is also free!

Yugma is also similar to WiZiQ, but it can also been used for business purposes. It also had a whiteboard, chat, audio-video communication and session recording capabilities. It was easy to use for the participants, but the session moderators had a little more difficulty getting their sessions up and running.

There are also many tools for educators to use in the classroom. Some of my favorite are webquests
altec tools at
This site has great tools to assist educators such as a rubric creator, a poster template, casa notes and a site to assist with notetaking for report writing.
For literacy you cannot beat

Some great professional development sites for teachers are Classroom 2.0, Tapped In, SCoPe, and the BC Ministry of Education sites.