This blog is designed to give educators some background and tools for incorporating blogging into their curriculum.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've Moved to Wordpress

Hi, All

For a while now I have been running two blogs, this one (the original Bloggucation) and Wordpress (Bloggucation 2). For a time, I had an idea that they would be somewhat different. This one would be my repository for resources for teachers and Wordpress would be my platform for personal reflections.

Well....needless to say, maintaining two blogs (let alone one) has been too time consuming and there has been too much duplication.

So, I have consolidated the two into one. Bloggucation 2.

Check it out at http://bloggucation.wordpress.com/

All content from this blog has been moved to the new.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Facebook 4 Parents

It's been a while since my last post, but I've been compiling a vast array of resources that will be beneficial to both teachers and parents. One presentation I have prepared involves a bit of information on Facebook (from a parent's perspective). This presentation lets parent's know the benefits and dangers of Facebook and what their teens should know about the social networking platform,

The key to understanding Facebook is understanding its Privacy Settings. These settings explained below in a great video from SophosLabs on YouTube and will be explained further in the next post. I will also be posting a Facebook presentation from a teacher's perspective as well.

Please feel free to comments and add anything new you may know or discover. After all, "...knowing is half the battle!"

Facebook 4 Parents Presentation

Facebook Privacy Settings: What you need to know....

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Help Me Out: Practical Applications for Web 2.0 Apps in Education

I have a vision - to compile a comprehensive list of Web 2.0 tools (wait...it doesn't stop there). I want to create a practical resource database of Web 2.0 tools (lesson ideas, lesson plans, practical teaching ideas). I don't want to stop at saying "Try this" - I want to be able to say, "Try this, by doing this, this, and this to achieve this outcome". Will you help me?

Please help me by completing the following form
(hosted by Google Docs):
http://bit.ly/5wY1l3


There are literally thousands (and likely more) Web 2.0 applications that can be used (and should be used) in education. I am compiling a list of applications and I would like to include at least one practical education use for each. If successful, I would like to compile a collaborative digital resource, to which you will all contribute, in an effort to provide educators with a useful tool to engage students and enhance their learning experience.

(Examples: Blogging (Wordpress, Blogger, EduBlogs, etc.), Twitter, Wikis (Wikispaces, PBWorks), YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, iPhones / iTouches (Know any cool apps to use? How do you use them?), Evernote, GoogleDocs (that's what this form is created on!), Other Google Apps (Calendars, Sites), Polleverywhere, Audacity, etc., etc.) The list goes on, and on, and on, and on.........

Often, educators are provided with the names of Web 2.0 type tools and their locations. They get an idea of what the tool does, but are often not provided with any practical feedback / direction for how the tool can actually be used in a classroom setting or any other learning environment. I am hoping that this project will bridge that all important gap so that we can get more and more educators on board with the digital world of education.

Thank you for your participation. I'll let you know where it goes.

Please help me by completing the following form
(hosted by Google Docs):
http://bit.ly/5wY1l3

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Google Goggles - Visual Search Engine & Education



I was surfing the net today and discovered a completely new and cool application from Google called Google Goggles. Google Goggles is a visual search engine that, currently, works in conjunction with the Android phone platform. Essentially, the app. works with the phones camera to capture visual information that can then be read by Google's various applications (i.e. Search, Maps, Earth). The application will return information to the user based on the picture or video that is provided.

An article by Barbara Krasnoff from Computerword.com (Dec. 8, 2009)
Google's latest lab experiment lets you send it photos for identification

An article by MG Siegler from techcrunch.com (Dec. 7, 2009)
Search by Sight with Google Goggles

Google Goggles Visual Search Demo


I can't help but be excited about the implications this has for teaching and student learning. Imagine what this type of technology could do for an English Language Learner, or for students with learning disabilities. Scavenger hunts on field trips just got a whole lot more exciting. Imagine what dynamic research projects could be designed.

With the advent of online learning, students are no longer limited (or constrained) to their desks, textbooks, notepads, and paper. Entire courses can be completed without ever touching pen to paper.

Imagine.....

Imagine a student sitting on the bus, working on their Marketing course online. They see an ad in the bus that shows a happy couple running on the beach in front of a hotel. The student could hold up their phone, scan the image, and determine where the hotel in the photo is. The quality of the advertisement could then be analyzed as the visual search application brings back results on airfare, hotel accommodations, and local sights. The student could then email all of that information back to themselves and/or post directly to their online project. Ahhh, I get excited just thinking about it!

The benefits of this technology for engaging students has no limits. The interconnected nature of today's teenager is not a secret and the research is abundant. Today's students need something more. This application not only replaces the need for books, but it takes knowledge to places that static pages never could. If social networking contributes to the "genetic" make-up of Web 2.0, does visual search technology represent the cusp of 3.0?

Visual search technology is still in its infancy (still in beta testing), but imagine what the future holds. What do you think? How could this be used in education?

I can't wait to try it out!
Check out more on Google Goggles at the Google webpage - CLICK HERE.

UPDATE (Dec. 11th, 2009)
Google Goggle Demonstration

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Virtual Classroom via Google


As IT Consultant, one of the topics I receive the most questions about is how to create a website to post lessons, assignments, homework, and other such communications to students and parents. The one thing I want to stress right off the bat before going any further with this post is that creating a website as an extension of your classroom is easy! Do not be afraid! The other thing that I would like to stress is that it is not overly time consuming. At first, put as much time into it as you can. Over time, you can add more and more elements as your comfort level allows.

What would you like your website to do for you and your students?

Be sure to come up with a plan as to what exactly you would like your site to do. For instance, do you want to post daily updates about what happened in class? Would you like to post homework and assignments? Would you like to include links to downloadable files (such as assignment sheets and rubrics)? Would you like to include video as a reminder or extension of class lessons? Would you like to include mp3 files of the book/story you are currently reading in class? Would you like to link to your or other blogs? Would you like to link a calendar to your site that lays out your entire unit and class events? If you answered yes to any (or all) of the questions above, then I am here to tell you that Google Sites has exactly what you need. I have found Google Sites to be both easy to use, and versatile - a dynamic extension of my classroom and of my teaching style. A class website is the best way to keep students and parents informed and up to date.



How to use Google Sites

Google Sites is *very* easy to use and is completely web-based.
Here is an example of one that I set up for my Media Studies class (EMS3O) - CLICK HERE. I wanted the students (and their parents) to have a place to go to review class materials, check for homework, participate in enrichment activities, and engage in other relevant course topics.

The fact that Google Apps. are fully integrated with each other provides you with a versatile platform to embed calendars, video, audio, blogs, downloads, and the like all in one area.



Follow these step-by-step instructions and by the time you are done, you will have a web-site with which you can extend your classroom into the digital world.

Let me know what you think. Share some ideas here about what you find works and what is valuable to your particular teaching style and class dynamic.

Check out The Google Channel for more Useful Tutorials.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Information Technology and the Supervisory Officer

Welcome to today's session on Information Technology and the Supervisory Officer. Three workshops have been prepared for you, each one featuring a 21st century outlook to education in a Web 2.0 world. Today's generation of student is often referred to as the digital native; they have grown up in a constantly evolving digital society. In turn, the tools of the digital generation provide new perspectives on both teaching and learning. The web-based world is a true collaborative environment where students can express themselves and be heard by vast audiences. Today, we will be looking at: Digital and Visual Literacy through the use of Bitstrips for Schools; Web-based Literacy and Numeracy Programs; and social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which have provided a powerful forum for student expression and voice.


Your Digital Agenda

Digital Literacy: Bitstrips for Schools





Bitstrips for Schools is an educational and safe web based program empowering students to create and collaborate on comic strips. Teachers can create engaging assignments in interactive and collaborative comic strips. Bitstrips for Schools is a great media literacy educational application. Create avatars and comic strips like students and see how this application can be an effective use of technology in the classroom. Learn what to look for in a differentiated instruction classroom using this technology application.

What are Bitstrips?

Bitstrips for Schools is an online comic strip / cartoon / graphic novel creator ideal for reading, writing and media literacy. This tool allows the imagination to run wild with easy-to-use graphic tools at your fingertips! Imagine, create and publish online!

There is an integrated student / class management system that simplifies the sharing of ideas within a classroom.

--Resources/Handouts---

Technological Applications (.pdf file)
Bitstrips for Schools - How to sign up (.pdf file)


Classroom 2.0: Web-based Literacy and Numeracy Programs







This session will introduce a variety of web-based tools and programs to assist teachers and students to acquire literacy and numeracy skills. Reference to differentiating instruction, providing on-going assessment and feedback, and other high-yield classroom strategies will be addressed.

Google Docs in Plain English
Google Docs: A Love Letter (really shows collaborative nature)

Let's Collaborate!


--Resources/Handouts--


Web URLs

Destination Learning - Reading & Math (Login HERE)
Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Gizmos
Blogging (Google Blogger)
Collaborative Documents (Google Docs)
Clips
Knowledge Ontario Research Databases


Blogging in the Classroom

Click Here for the Blogging in Education PowerPoint (Adobe Breeze Presentation)
Blogging Information and Resources (Blog Post)

A Grade 8 Reading Blog Example (Elementary Blog Posts w/ embedded assessments)

Music Copyright Assignment (EMS3O - with student discussion )
Celebrity Worship Assignment (with student discussion)

Engagement of Male Students
(Video Blogging [vlog] Example - Grade 11)
Masculinity in Hip Hop from a Female student's perspective (Grade 11)


SMART Boards

A blog on using Electronic Whiteboards in the classroom (Blog Forum)
SMART Boards and Differentiated Instruction (.pdf file)

Social Networking and Student Voice


During this session, participants will be exposed to several of the most popular Social Networking sites including: Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. This session will involve: hands on experience with these sites, discussion around the potential for learning and possible implications of these sites, examples of how students are gaining a voice through these sites, and a demonstration of how school boards are tapping into their potential. Along with this, participants will also have the opportunity to explore several "gadgets" that are currently being used in education.








Tell us what you think...
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to the World of Blogging in Education!

Hello and welcome to my blog about blogging.
What better forum to discuss blogging in education than on a blog? Seriously?!

Anyway, thank you for your interest in blogging in education and how it can enhance both your classroom and the learning of your students.

I first started adding blogging to my EMS3O Media Studies curriculum about 4 years ago. Prior to that, my culminating task for the course had been the construction of a media literacy magazine. The students would reflect upon course materials throughout the semester, research them, write about them, and continually add upon them - a living portfolio of sorts. I would only assess the material on an ongoing basis with the understanding that it would not be evaluated for grades until the end of the course. In this way, the students could regularly adapt and revise their material to reflect their ongoing learning and understanding.

As more and more magazines fell to the power of the Internet and other digital media, I felt that it was also time for me to stop having students "publish" magazines as a culminating project. I felt that this would better reflect the realities of print media in the 21st century and would give me less to carry home. After all, thirty 20 page magazines are heavy. Also, why not save paper? Why use the student's ink? Plus, many actually took their magazines to Staples to have them printed. At $1.00 a page - that can get expensive.

The concept of blogging was perfect. When I read the magazines, I could only assess the student's writing and research skills (as this was not a technical nor an art course, I was not too concerned about stylistic layout). Traditionally acceptable, yet seemingly not enough in today's increasingly digital world. Plus, if I wanted to verify information, I had to go to the computer to do so. This way, I am already there. The student would reference all material used, images included, at the bottom of their post, and all I had to do was click the URL to see where they got their information. This way, I could follow their thought and research process as well. The inclusion of images just wasn't cutting it for me either - the "lick and stick", "cut and paste" methodology that students often employ was becoming frustrating. Why shouldn't the students embed video clips from YouTube and mp3 songs? Why shouldn't I teach them the proper way to use images on the Internet?



Upon further research, I found that adolescents make up a large part of the community of bloggers. Perseus Development Corporation, for instance, found that 51.5 percent of all blogs are developed and maintained by ages 13–19 [1]. A similar study found that 40.4 percent of blog authors are under the age 20 [2].

Blogging is classified as social networking. A 2007 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Survery found that:
  • 55% of online teens have created a personal profile online, and 55% have used social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.
  • 66% of teens who have created a profile say that their profile is not visible to all internet users. They limit access to their profiles.
  • 48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often; 26% visit once a day, 22% visit several times a day. [3]
In total:
  • 85% of teens ages 12-17 engage at least occasionally in some form of electronic personal communication, which includes text messaging, sending email or instant messages, or posting comments on social networking sites. [3]
This is their world! How could I use that?



Then, the obvious came to me. The concept of writing for a teacher is artificial! When writing solely for evaluation, the exercise seems mundane, almost punitive. With blogs, the writing is live for the world, accessible for all. That's realism. That's relevance. The student's work would no longer be contained to the classroom - it would extend beyond it and integrate other components from the web of which it was a part. Students could use their social networking skills in a new educational forum. By posting to their blog, and linking it to others, the students could read and comment on each other's work. This is peer editing and collaborative learning at its best. Plus, I could access, assess, and work with those students digitally wherever I could find Internet access - and they with me.

Also, since blog posts are archived, students could go back and look at their own and their peer's past work. This allows "reflection and metacognitive analysis that was previously much more cumbersome." [4] And, as Will Richardson points out in his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, blogs "give [students] the opportunity to share in writing the ideas they may be too shy to speak. Everyone has a voice in the conversation, and all ideas, even the instructor's, are given equal presentation in the blog. As students participate, they also take ownership of the space, and depending on how teachers frame that participation, this can lead to a greater sense of participation. " [4]

In a 2008 article based on a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project entitled "Writing, Technology and Teens", teenagers polled were asked what encouraged them to write. Of the responses, two of them are quite telling: "Teen 1: Well, if I knew that other people were going to read what I wrote and react to what I was writing then I would make it better and I would want to do the best that I could at it; Teen 2: I write differently when, if I have to say a speech or something in front of my class I write differently than I would than if I was writing it for my teacher . . . [because of] pressure from your peers . . . you wouldn’t write the same thing." [5] While you can restrict the readership of blogs if you so wish, and you may wish to do so for younger bloggers, older bloggers can be given a forum that gives their writing a feeling of authenticity. Relevance is key to the teenage learner.

Further, by posting their ideas to the Internet, the blogging student is adding their opinion to the database of others that can be accessed and used by others. The next great idea just might come from one of your students. Further, as an English teacher (and perhaps the last bastion of book literacy), I do not see literacy as book/literature specific. I see all types of literacy - digital literacy is, perhaps, for me at the forefront. Teenagers have grown up with technology their entire lives, but that doesn't mean that they understand it or know how to access it and apply it correctly. As educators, I believe that it is our job to be familiar with these technologies so that we can help our students navigate, utilize, and understand them properly and productively. Communicating and writing for a 21st century audience is what will make them successful in their future endeavours.

Lets teach our students how to be collaborative, creative, and literate.

Let's teach them technical skills, writing skills, and media literacy skills.

Let's teach them how to assess themselves and each other.

Let's teach them how to be digital, and global citizens.

Let's teach them how to be citizen journalists.

Let's teach them how to be analytical and critical.

Let's teach them how to blog!
Better yet, why not let some of them teach you?

References

[1] Henning, J., 2003. The Blogging Iceberg: Of 4.12 Million Weblogs, Most Little Seen and Quickly Abandoned. Braintree, Mass.: Perseus Development Corp.

[2] Herring, S.C, L.A. Scheidt, S. Bonus, and E. Wright, 2004. "Bridging the gap: A genre analysis of weblogs," Paper presented at the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS–37). Los Alamitos, Calif.

[3] Lenhart, Amanda. “Social Networking Websites and Teens,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 7, 2007.
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2007/Social-Networking-Websites-and-Teens.aspx

[4] Richardson, Will. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts. California, 2006.

[5] Lenhart, Amanda. “Writing, Technology and Teens,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, April 24, 2008.
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Writing-Technology-and-Teens.aspx

Unknown artist. “Blogs.” May 19, 2009. Online image. Governance Matters. 17 October 2009.
http://blogs.worldbank.org/files/governance/image/blog%20board.jpg
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