Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Example of a Technology Infused Lesson

Here is my example of technology integration using a project on global warming. I welcome comments, concerns or additions.

Topic: Global Warming

1. Create a feed aggregator page. Subscribe to feeds on the topic. You can subscribe to blogs, news feeds and searches. (igoogle, pageflakes, google reader)
2.  Gather a number of resources and bookmark. (dilicious, diigo

3.  Organize your facts on a Group wiki. (wikispaces, pbwiki)
4.  Develop questions to ask an expert in the field. Organize these questions on a wiki and ask the expert to respond. You could also organize a video conference with this expert. (wikispaces, skype)
5.  Find blogs on the topic. Review postings and comment on ones of interest.
6. Develop your own blog on the topic. Post your opinions and ideas. Ask for feedback. Share your blog with the individuals who's blog you read. (blogger, wordpress)
7.  Organize your research into a final outcome. You could create a multimedia presentation, website, wiki, video or presentation. (ms photostory, movie maker, wikispaces)
8. Publish your final outcome for others to comment on.  (Voicethread, teacher tube, you tube, school tube)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Middle School Technology Literacy Curriculum

What is the ideal middle school technology literacy curriculum? What is the perfect course structure? Should their be a formal computer applications class at all? Should the technology program be totally infused into the content areas? If we select that method do we need a formal lab or should we be looking at laptops and netbooks?

I am currently working on a middle school curriculum for a 6, 7, and 8'th grade computer course. These are the questions I have been asking myself. What should be the role of the computer applications teacher. Should the primary focus be on developing fundamental skills using various applications? Should the focus be totally on content area using the available technology were applicable? Should the computer applications teacher be instructing the students on how to use tools like photostory, movie maker, powerpoint, wikis and blogs so that when a classroom teacher infuses them they do not have to teach the basics? If we do not have formal lessons on double spacing text, creating a table, editing a  picture, were will the students learn it? These are not the things they are doing at home. In many cases the classroom teacher are not knowledgeable themselves to spend class time teaching these mini lessons. The frustration of having to show "the simple things" causes these teachers to not want to utilize the technology.

My current opinion is that we still need to teach the fundamentals of applications. However, in a computer applications class we can develop project based lessons that culminate with the creation of a final project. Within this project exists a series of mini-lessons that will address the basics of each application. There also will arise a series of 'teachable moments" that can be the most valuable moments in a lesson.

An example that i am providing is the project of creating a digital story/documentary on a global issue using MS photostory 3. This project addresses a few of the cccs in our state. It is interdisciplinary and is authentic and relevant.  The outcome will be a video presentation. Within this project are a series of mini-lessons.

1. File and folder management - where to save your images, project and documents and how to retrieve them on a network.
2. Internet Searching - How to find the info you are looking for, searching strategies, image searches, sources.
3. Information Literacy- How to validate sources of information. Blogs, wikipedia, databases etc..How to cite online sources.
4. Working with pictures- How to select appropriate image resolution, how to save an image, copyright, creative commons, image manipulation in photoshop or other software.
5. Writing and Storyboarding - How to organize a script. Planning your story.
6. Creating of you Multimedia Project Using MS Photostory. -Narration, transitions, music.
7. Publishing your work and commenting on the work of others. - Peer review. Collaboration with a school in another part of the world. Possibly a school who is a victim of your global issue. Discussion through a wiki.

This is one example of how the "computer class" can remain a relevant course and a valuable addition to a school.  By working on the fundamentals of the tools in this class, the students are entering their core content classes with the knowledge necessary to utilize these tools as an alternative assessment. A content area teacher can offer students the option of creating a multimedia presentation, website, wiki, blog or podcast as an assessment of their understanding. The necessity to spend time teaching these skills in the classroom should not exist.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moodle Vs. Sharepoint

I have started to research the benefits of Moodle vs. Sharepoint. I have a couple of needs that I would like to address. I first want to provide an opportunity for teachers in my middle and high school to be able to extend their classroom beyond the 4 walls of their room. I would like to introduce tools such as blogs, wiki's, multimedia etc.. Moodle seems to be my best option for setting up these virtual courses. It is a perfect solution to have all of these tools centralized in one place. It seems easy to use and simple to setup. The best part is that it is free.  I have worked with moodle briefly on my own professional development site.

My second goal is to provide an intranet portal for our high school. Currently faculty members receive numerous emails throughout the day. These emails include: daily attendance lists, lists of students attending field trips, lunch menus etc.. Many times we receive two or three revisions of each memo. What I would like to do is to create an intranet webpage to host all of this information. Through windows group policy we could make this page the Internet explorer home page for all staff members.

Based on my research to date it appears that Sharepoint will work best for this problem. Our district currently has a license for sharepoint server 2003. This is the full version of sharepoint. There is a free version of sharepoint called sharepoint services that is available on any windows 2003 server. Although it does not have all of the features on the full version. The free version would most likely be a good enough solution for the project.

Sharepoint appears to manage announcements and document distribution/revisions very well. It is also LDAP compatible. This should allow all authenticated users in the school to not have to log in. It is fully integrated with active directory. 

Moodle does not appear to organize an intranet start page as well as Sharepoint. I have found that everything is based on courses. Once you create a course you have the ability to do everything that I require. I am concerned about staff having to click too deep to get what they need. I want to make it simple to retrieve the information they require. 

Sharepoint does not appear to organize the class materials as well as Moodle. I have not found an option for gradebooks or quizzes. Moodle also appears to organizes the class sites in a much more user friendly manner.

There was a discussion on this same topic on Classroom 2.0.

I welcome input from everyone regarding this comparison. My current decision is to use both. I will use Moodle for courses and sharepoint to manage information and documents sent to faculty members.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wikipedia - The debate

Wikipedia is the number one resource that students cite when conducting research. It usually is one of the top 10 search results for most topics researched by students. Because wikipedia can be edited by anyone most teachers question the accuracy of the data. In most cases, faculty members will not accept or recommend wikipedia as a primary source.

While I am in agreement that not all of the information is accurate I have found that most is. I like to utilize wikipedia when conducting research. I find that complex topics are explained in an easy to read format. I typically site information from wikipedia in my professional development classes. I also use it to understand more complex IT information that i need to know for my network admin responsibilities.  I think it is a great place to start. I do agree that all information found on wikipedia needs to be checked and double checked for accuracy. It should not be your primary or only source.

The greatest resource on Wikipedia is the references. At the bottom of all entries is a references section. There it cites all the sources of information used to create the entry. These references are an excellent place to continue your research. This is a much more refined and effective method for finding sources then going through thousands of google search results.