Friday, May 1, 2009

Posting #10--My Vision

Taking ETEC 524 has made a huge difference in my education. Unfortunately, this is my last semester to be taking technology courses, and I really feel like I’ve just begun to learn what I’ve been reading and hearing about for two years. I so wish I had taken this class early in my master’s program. The thing that has made the biggest impact on me is having face-to-face sessions with a great instructor and really nice and helpful classmates. Actually working through the technology skills development sessions was an effective way to learn and work through “snags”. It was even relaxing and fun (words I haven’t often used to describe my technology classes).

As a result of this class I feel that I am ready to begin using technology in my library setting. I plan to begin a blog in which my patrons can express their views about books they read and plan to use PowerPoint more for teaching library skills on my new projector. I am excited about using Moviemaker to create virtual field trips to show in the library. I also plan to become more of a change agent at my school by teaching our teachers about many of the applications I’ve become acquainted with.

My “aha” moments came during the semester when I experienced creating wikis and blogs and PowerPoints and even an ePortfolio. I feel so accomplished to know how to communicate using Skype and keep my bookmarks organized and accessible on Delicious. I enjoyed explaining to my teenage son and husband what RSS feeds are and to my adult daughter how to create a wiki for our family camping trip over spring break.

I don’t know if I will continue my blog, at least as it is now. I don’t really know what it will be like to be through with my degree and just working. Maybe I’ll have time for it…. I do want to carry on a blog at school for the students, though.

This course has been a wonderful experience—lots of work, but lots of useful and exciting learning, as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blog Posting #9—My Vision

Integration of technology into the curriculum is currently in the infancy stage at my school. Not only do we lack sufficient computers and other tools, but our students have not yet had a keyboarding class. For this reason, I will have to carefully consider how to begin harnessing technology in a practical and beneficial way. One application to which I was introduced in another class this semester is Voicethreads. Using it, students and teachers can respond to a graphic or video using only their voices. I think it would be a highly motivating introduction for students who haven’t really communicated through technology before. I could use it in the library to get students to comment on different books. The book jacket could be displayed on the Voicethread and then students could make their comments into the microphone. Their recorded comment would be heard when their photo was clicked.

Another technology I would like to see our students learn is PowerPoint. This would require very little keyboarding while still providing a new and exciting way for them to communicate new knowledge to their classmates and teachers. Students could help create PowerPoints in the library to announce school news on the monitor that sits at the checkout counter. They could also create PowerPoints in their other classes to report findings from research. I know this isn’t anything new or exciting to most of you! We are just really behind, and I know that learning PowerPoint would be most exciting to our students.

Both Voicethreads and PowerPoint lend themselves to the Constructivist model of learning and require students to think critically. I’m looking forward to having more time next year to devote to helping teachers learn these skills in hopes that they’ll, in turn, teach their students.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Overcoming Technology Fears

The following are my worst fears regarding implementing and integrating technology:

· That I will fail to use the knowledge I’ve gained both personally and to teach our faculty
· That the teachers at my school will refuse to learn new technology skills from me
· That our school will continue to put technology on a low priority level resulting in the lack of funds budgeted and the lack of qualified personnel hired
· That I will be inadequate in being a change-agent for our school

I will try to overcome my fears by bravely pursuing my goals. I will continue to practice and learn more about technology. Besides investigating on my own, I will look for workshops to attend and continue my education in this area. I will work diligently to education influential people in my school and district and will look for alternate funding sources.

And here are my best hopes!

· That I will be a change-agent in our school
· That more funds will be allocated for purchasing the equipment needed to implement technology integration in our school
· That I will effectively teach our faculty in a way that will seem non-threatening and “do-able”
· That I will be able to communicate the importance of technology implementation and integration to my principal
· That students will be motivated through technology integration to put more effort and enthusiasm into their projects
· That students will gain skills and knowledge in the area a technology
· That students will think on a higher level through projects designed with technology

Ways I will use technology for personal empowerment:

I will use technology to improve the offerings of the library in which I work. Through it I will improve efficiency and will enrich the lessons I teach. I will also use it to display my “worth” to my administrators. On a personal note, I will probably create a personal blog and perhaps begin making photo books of special family occasions.

Ways skills I’ve learned in this class contributed to realizing my hopes:

The skills I’ve learned in this class will definitely help me meet my goals. I have gained confidence as I’ve learned to apply technology in new ways. Learning new skills such as how to create blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds in a non-threatening environment has boosted my confidence greatly. Dr. McElhany has been sensitive in gauging the knowledge and confidence levels of those of us in the class and has adjusted her lessons and assignments to best meet our needs.

Changes I will make regarding my continued investigation and implementation of technology in the future:

One change I will make is that I will increase the time I have to “play” because I will soon be finished with my master’s degree and will have more time for “fun.” I really think that I will be more relaxed and able to learn when I’m out from under the pressure of assignments and classes. At least now, I know what I need to go back and fully learn!

Another change I hope to make is that I will design more projects for my students and will teach the teachers so that we can collaborate in planning, implementing, and evaluating projects for their classes.

I have been a poster child for those who “fear” technology. I’m not a mechanical or technical person and this set of courses has been far outside my comfort zone. Even though it didn’t come easily, I am so proud of the new knowledge and skills I have and am slowly becoming friends with computers and all that is possible through them. Thank you to all my teachers, family, and classmates who have helped bring me along!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Online Learning - The Student, Blog Post #7

Would I Make a Good Online Student?

To tell you the truth, I think it’s a little late for this…. After having successfully completed most of my online classes for my LIS major, I’m going to have to conclude that I’m a good fit for this type of distance education. The information we read in this lesson and the assessments we took did confirm this conclusion, however. Some of my observations about myself as an online student are:

· I am willing to accept the fact that online courses require more work (which they do)
· I am okay with the amount and type of feedback given by instructors (although I would prefer more)
· I have adequate reading skills to keep up with online coursework.
· I am very motivated to get my work in on time.
· I am fine with figuring out instructions on my own (but really appreciate it when instructors communicate them clearly)
· I enjoy online discussions with peers and instructors
· I’m okay with not having face-to-face contact with the instructor (but really like it when we do)
· I’m a visual learner (thank goodness for that)
· I’m highly motivated
· I have plenty of social ties in my life and don’t require more through classes
· I have adequate computer skills for the coursework (this wasn’t so true when I began my classes—I’ve had a lot to learn in the process)

Virtual Schools for K-12

I homeschooled my older children for eleven years and have some thoughts on this one. I think this can be successful if there is a parent (or substitute parent) close by to oversee the process. The educational part can be extremely strong through distance education. I even have a nephew who is an assistant district attorney in California who didn’t even go to a traditional law school. It was done totally virtually! He’s very bright and professional.

My Philosophy

Virtual schools are a way for technology to enlarge the educational opportunities of students in many different arenas. I’m a 53 year old working on a master’s degree, and I know many young and intermediate children working through their own online courses. Through technology we are all receiving the instruction we need for the appropriate coursework we’re involved with. It’s really amazing to think of the opportunity this provides, not only to middle class Americans, but also to people all over the world who may not otherwise have this chance.

Online Learning - Facilitating Interaction Online, Blog Post #6

My first online course was a shocking experience! It was a May-mini with Dr. Espinoza and was a definite crash-course in learning to interact in an online learning environment. (Did any of the rest of you have this as your first class?) Since that time, I have completed eight other online courses. Most of the instructors have done a good job at including each of the three types of interaction deemed necessary for a successful experience in distance education. I have never felt like a passive learner and have been totally engaged in discussion with the instructor and with fellow students.

Learner-Learner interaction has been a major part of all but one of my courses. I have enjoyed discussions with other students and have found it necessary to actually rely on them for direction at times. I have also made several friends and met several face-to-face at professional events.

Learner-Content interaction has also played a major part in my online education experience. Instructors have provided textbooks and online resources in the form articles, websites, and tutorials. Dr. McElhany made a very valid point when she mentioned the content that we can receive from our classmates. I have a plethora of great websites, ideas, and resources that I’ve gotten from my classmates.

Learner-Instructor interaction has probably been the area that I have been less satisfied with. Maybe I’m just comparing it too much to traditional education in a face-to-face environment, but I miss the interaction with an instructor. It’s been really refreshing to have two classes this semester that meet in the traditional sense. It has helped provide the “counsel, support, and encouragement” that Mr. Moore mentions in his article. Another complaint I have is that I have often worked really hard on an assignment and then the instructor just gave me a number grade with no comments and without the benefit of seeing my papers “marked up” in any way. This has seemed very flat and anticlimatical—not nearly as fulfilling as getting real feedback from a “real person.”

I believe that effective interaction between students, content, and instructor is key to successful online education programs. Without it instructors cannot pass on information to their students (what Mr. Moore calls a “defining characteristic of learning”) and cannot bridge the gap that the term “distance” implies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Desktop Publishing & Movie Maker, Blog Post #5

I’d first like to discuss how Desktop Publishing can be used to make my job easier and more effective. When I need to communicate with students, teachers, administrators, and parents, this amazing software tool enables me to do so with speed and in professional quality. When publications look exciting and interesting, readers are more likely to be excited and interested in the subject matter. Some of the ways I can use Desktop Publishing are:

· Make creative bookmarks to pass out to my library patrons
· Advertize special programs with eye-catching signs and flyers
· Send enticing invitations to award parties
· Produce professional-quality awards for reading programs
· Create fun forms for my K-Kids organization
· Make my own business cards

Programs such as Movie Maker and Digital Photostory can be used to enhance lessons. Pictures, music and videos can be easily combined to make a film on any subject. I envision making a short video about our local Audie Murphy Museum. Better yet, students could work alongside me, and they could learn technology and local history in a constructivist setting. This past fall I hosted an Audie Murphy family night at our school and found out that many of the students had not been to visit the museum. I would like to work with the museum staff to put together a virtual tour to inspire the students to want to visit the museum and learn more about our local, and World War II, history. Along the same line, I would like to create a movie or Photostory highlighting other local historic sites. Both of these are products that wouldn’t be available for purchase or download, and could only be produced locally.

These web applications align well with my vision and definition for educational technology, in that I would be designing, developing and utilizing processes and resources for teaching and learning.

I believe that use of this sort of technology is become more and more popular in our visual society. This is probably due to the vast amount of visual media available to us through television, movies, video games, computers, etc. As educators we need to keep in step and even lead in the trend toward the use of images and sound in our methods and media.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Web 2.0 Technologies, Blog Post #4

From what I have learned so far, Web 2.0 technologies offer many interesting and innovative means to enrich the education of today’s students. I believe they have the ability to encourage and motivate our students, to provide them with needed information and resources, and to prepare them for the future which will surely include more and more of these types of applications.

My school offers almost none of this type of instruction. One teacher uses an occasional webquest and many students use Wikipedia in the course of research. That’s really all I’m aware of them using! Imagine the excitement of our population getting to see their work published through a wiki, a blog, or through digital storytelling. I believe they would try to produce a superior product and would be eager to show others their accomplishments.

I also think the teachers would be excited to learn about applications that could ease their workload. Using RSS feeds and social bookmarking are two applications I want to introduce to our teachers.

The future looks bright to me when I think about Web 2.0 technologies and schools. It will take time because of finances and faculty training for this to become a reality on my campus, but I believe we will get there.

The wiki I developed is a forum for students to add a page on which to tell others about their favorite book. Since I’m in a library, I thought it would be an interesting place for students to go when they need help finding a “good book.” I really plan to use it this year and am excited about it!