Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WikiSpaces for Teachers

There is a free wikispace for teachers. Teachers can connect with their students and other educators and use their wikispaces to post their lesson plans, create classroom notice boards, etc.



I found the following blog to be very interesting. A first year teacher was up late one night lesson planning when the thought crossed his mind that there were other teachers doing the exact same thing. He created a wikispace to post lesson plans, reproducibles, links and presentations. He hopes that other teachers will create a wikispace so that there will be a virtual library of resources available to educators.


What is a Blog?

A blog is a website where entries are written in chronological order. Blogs typically provide information on a particular topic. I created this blog to discuss Web 2.0 technologies. A blog contains text, links to other blogs and web pages. It can also contain video and images.

A few examples of blogs are...
Video: vblog
Links: linklog
Sketches: sketchblog
Photos: photoblog


Blogs have many educational benefits. A teacher can create a blog and use it as a web page for his/her classroom. Students and teachers can post to the blog and comment on the postings from other classmates. A teacher can use the blog to post assignments and valuable web resources for students to access from home or school.

More Information about Google Docs & Spreadsheets

I found several blogs about Google Docs & Spreadsheets, but I wanted to read reviews about the program from technology experts so I searched the PC Magazine online and found a short article.

Wikipedia also has an in depth definition and even includes a picture of what a Google Doc page would look like to the user.


Google has several blogs that discuss Google Docs including a new feature called Presentations where you can create slide shows. This is a great tool to use in the classroom for lessons and even for Back to School Night presentations for parents.


Another Google Docs & Spreadsheets blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/better-together-docs-spreadsheets.html.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". According to Wikipedia, "RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts". Users can view web pages in an 'automated manner' instead of checking them manually.


Most newspapers have RSS feeds so that you can view articles relating to the your topic of interest. I subscribe to the New York Times Education RSS Feed.


Classroom 2.0: A Social Networking Site for Educators

During my research, I discovered a social networking site for educators who are interested in incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their classrooms. The site is called Classroom 2.0 (http://classroom20.ning.com/). I created an account so that I can use this site to learn more about Web 2.0 technologies for the K-12 classroom teacher. There are forums, blogs, links to Web 2.0 tools, and Groups. Like most social networking sites, you can invite friends to join the network, upload pictures and edit your profile.

In the short time that I have navigated this site, I found useful links to resources for the K-12 classroom teachers. For example, http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listweb20s.html, is a site that links to several Internet resources that offer information on how to incorporate various Web 2.0 products into the classroom.

On of my favorites, is a site created by a man named Brian Benzinger who has compiled and grouped Web 2.0 products that teachers and students can use. Most of the products that he describes are free. On his site you will find Web 2.0 organizers for students (calendars, schedules, grade trackers, etc.) In addition, there are grade books for teachers, note taking products, resume builders, group organizers (clubs, etc.), mathematics teaching tools, learning and research products, media sharing (examples include: Google Video and YouTube) and much more. I find this to be an exceptional resource, especially since I have the desire to continue to use many of these technologies in my classroom.


Social Networking

Social Networking on the web takes place when computers are electronically linked and as a result individuals can form relationships based on common interests, activities and acquaintances. Social Networking services such as MySpace and Facebook are free. Users can create a profile for themselves, upload pictures, create groups, and add friends.


I have an account with both MySpace and Facebook and, in my opinion, Facebook is far more valuable. I feel that MySpace is too open and although you can set your profile to private, there are still facts that are viewable to the public such as your name, age and location. Although MySpace works with law enforcement to identify predators, I still feel a little uneasy with the service and I occasionally get the strange person wanting to be my friend. I do not see any educational purposes for MySpace. The only thing that a student may want to use MySpace for is to locate other students at the same school or to join a group that they are particularly passionate about such as "College Democrats".

Facebook has a lot of applications including: a Visual Bookshelf where you can add your favorite books for your friends to see and borrow, you can grow a virtual garden and have virtual pets, have your horoscope displayed on your page, share recipes, share photos, play games, join networks and much more. I also find this to have more educational aspects than MySpace. For example, you can publish notes from class discussions as well as homework assignments. In order to do this, you must make a Facebook profile that is accessible to all of your students. If your students do not have a Facebook account they will not be able to view your profile. In addition, you can use your classroom Facebook profile as a center for discussion. Students and teachers can post questions or topics for further discussion on the Wall application.


Both of these social networking sites have their downfalls. Privacy is obviously a big concern. If you are a member of these sites, it is imperative that you post appropriate material so that it does not come back and hurt you later. I found an article from USA Today that discussed evasive issues pertaining to these sites. There was one case where a student was denied admission to a school based on the content of his blog. In today's world, it is not safe to assume that the only people viewing your profile are your friends.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

What a great feature that, until now, I knew nothing about and it's free! Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a web-based word processing and spreadsheet program. A user can allow other users to make changes to the documents from their work or personal computers.

A user can use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to create new files or upload existing files from a word processor or spreadsheet file. It is extremely easy to navigate, it's as if you are using your old trusty word processor. I love that I can choose who can access my files. This will be a wonderful feature when collaborating with teammates at work. We can upload our existing files that may include lesson plans and reproducibles. This will allow each of us to edit these documents. An even better feature is that we can all do this at the same time! I would also use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to share my sub plans with my teammates.

My students can use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to submit papers to me. It would be an easy way for me to edit a draft and provide input to my students so that they can make changes from home. I can even upload papers from previous classes to use as examples in the future.

Another great feature about Google Docs & Spreadsheets is that it allows you to organize information in folders and save the documents in your own files on your computer. A user can publish their work as a web page (and control who views the page) and use Google Apps (there is actually an Education Edition!) to publish only within a group. I can use this feature to create a web page accessible only to my students and their parents. I can also publish newsletters this way to save time on copying and distributing.

For more information on the Education Edition of Google Apps you can visit the following web site: http://www.google.com/a/edu/.

I used Google Docs to upload a newsletter that I used in my third grade classroom. I plan to keep this newsletter on Google Docs & Spreadsheets so that I can modify it to meet my needs in Howard County. This newsletter can be found under the Web 2.0 Examples section of my blog.


iTunes is not only for music!

iTunes has a podcasting feature called MobiStories Virtual Picture Books. Kids can play these virtual stories on a Video iPod, cell phone, PSP or DVD. I found that MobiStories is mostly for children ages 2-8. A huge plus about MobiStories is that they are free to download!

If you happen to find a favorite read aloud, this may be a great tool to use in the classroom during snack time or even as a component of a listening center. The stories have excellent story tellers with a variety of sound effects.


You can also access MobiStories through iTunes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

TalkShoe: AudioBlogging

TalkShoe is a Web 2.0/Podcasting site that allows users to participate or host online talk radio shows or talkcasts. If you are not participating in the show, you can still follow it through streaming audio and it can be downloaded once the show is complete. A user must download the TalkShoe software to join in a live Talkcast. If you are a TalkShoe host you will be paid a monthly fee based on the quantity of listeners that your show attracts. Furthermore, users can find your show on TalkShoe, iTunes, and other podcast sites. Users are required to register in order to participate in the talkcasts.

Do you wonder how this podcasting site got it's name? It's obviously a play on the words "talk show", but more specifically it comes from the pronunciation of the word "show" as "shoe" by Ed Sullivan.

So, the question is... what educational benefit does TalkShoe have for students and teachers? In my opinion, TalkShoe is most beneficial to those students and teachers at the college and graduate level. Students at this academic level can meet other students that have the same interests and can find and join a live Talkcast. They have the option of talking, texting or listening along with the show. Students can use this site to hold discussions on educational topics of interest that are being studied in class.

Instructors may find TalkShoe beneficial to hold discussions on various topics covered in class or even use TalkShoe to play the most recent or past lectures. The instructor may choose not to host the show, but instead search for previously recorded shows that cover the topics from classroom discussions. This would allow students to learn other perspectives and participate in these sessions. On the other hand, an instructor may host a Talkcast to discuss the content from class in a setting where students would be able to provide their own ideas and beliefs on a certain topic as well as what they have learned. It is literally a venue for audioblogging!


What is Podcasting?

According to Wikipedia, a Podcast is a digital media file located at a specific web feed address. It is a type of webcast. People can subscribe to this address and each time new files are available in the podcast, they will download automatically to that person's computer. The material on a podcast is pre-recorded so that people can view it on their own time. A podcaster's website can also contain content that can be downloaded or streamed. A unique feature of a podcaster's website is that it has the ability to be subscribed to and it will automatically send the information to the user's computer.


While searching for information on podcasting, I came across a podcasting news site where one can find podcasting directories; including, topical podcast directories (topics range from church to real estate), video podcasting directories, RSS directories, as well as various international podcasting directories.


This will be my first year in Howard County where Mac computers are the norm. Through my research, I have discovered a program on the Mac under iLife Applications called GarageBand where students and teachers can record, produce and publish their own podcasts! I am excited to use this feature on my Mac and publish my podcast on the Internet using iWeb.


Monday, July 16, 2007


Welcome to my blog! I created this blog to fulfill a course requirement for ET 630 at Loyola College in Maryland. I will use this blog to post information about Web 2.0 and how to use this technology in the classroom.