Monday, February 23, 2009

Still learning!

I've been strangly silent this last week, but with good reasons. First of all, I spent three days on the road for a total of 19 hours of driving; my only thoughts were couldn't Scotty beam me from La Loche to Regina and then back! And then I was having a great time exploring tools I have always wanted to learn, but used "the lack of time" as an excuse to avoid; I've learned some, but I also lost some momentum with blogging.

I am pleased to announce major progress in my experimenting with Moodle (photo shows some of the work). I can now insert video and pictures, I can change the background, and I have a good working knowledge of the basics of Moodle; I actually think I have enough knowledge now that I could create an online class. I have also started a small professional learning community of teachers in my school interested in becoming moodlers! We are meeting on Tuesdays; today, we took a major step towards understanding ways to enroll a student. If all continues to go well, I might even be able to "teach" a class with it as early as Thursday. Not too bad for a week of asking myself, "What does this icon do?"

I also had a session with staff interested in learning more about technology last Thursday; seven of us met and I introduced the others to Google Docs. It was refreshing to talk about something we can do and use to be more effective teachers; I actually felt like I was a teacher leader instead of being the person to react to the crisis of the day. And the staff involved gave me faith that many of us in the profession are still learners! I'm thinking about exploring Twitter on Thursday.

I have also begun to play with making movies using Jing. It is actually quite simple except for one small problem; the free version of JING saves the movie files as a shock wave flash which you cannot import into moviemaker. All is not lost though as a visit to Twitter gave me several possible conversion programs that I can try that are free; I also got a response from Dr. Couros and he recommends purchasing Jing Pro for $15 for a year as it will save the file as a mpeg allowing a user an easier time with editing. Unfortunately, I have tried several different free programs and I have been frustrated time and again. Yet, the positive is that by sending a tweet I had 6 different people attempt to come to my aid. It is amazing that there are that many people out there that are anxious to help with no expectation for something in return. This network of people is as close to a utopian world as I have seen; people are positive, helpful, appreciative, and kind. It is a world I am now a part of because I want to be not because I have to be for an assignment. In fact, I'm not really sure what is evaluated and what is not being evaluated; it actually does not matter because I am getting something out of the experience and I am learning continuously.

For example, when I tweeted out that I was looking for a program that would convert shock wave flash videos to mpegs, @plind suggested It did not do what I wanted it to, but I learned if I wanted to convert a gif image to a jpeg I could with Zamzar. Zamzar does many conversions and I suggest if you are trying to convert a file that you try it first; it may save you a lot of time. I would also suggest that if you haven't used twitter to solve a problem, try it; there are a lot of helpful people willing to share.


Alec Couros said...

I'm excited by this, Stephen. I know already that you will continue to learn about technology in education well beyond the duration of this course ... and that's what it's all about. Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

I am hugely impressed with your resourceful persistance. I have been wanting to try jing and it is helpful to read your experience. But I especially inspired by your teacher leader experience. Great work. Would love to know more about how you got your teacher group together and how you presentes Docs.

Anonymous said...

I can sense the tecnological passion in the things you try and what you are learning. After reading your blog I have to wonder is the stuff we can download for free really that great for the purposes that we need them? All I know is that we cannot get discouraged and to keep trying different things...that's how we learn!!!

Kim said...

It sounds to me that your concerns about making staff interested in technology is no longer a concern because you are leading by example and people who are interested and willing to learn are following. It's really not about forcing people to do and try things that they are not ready for or interested in. It's about providing leadership and support for those who have a shared passion and interest. As for doing things for credit, I agree with you as I have really not done anything for this whole Master's course for credit (although I'm glad it worked out and I have had my work credited!) because it's about more than a mark. It's about learning and being excited by what you learn. If only we could get away from assessments for students to empower them to learn what they are passionate about regardless of curriculum, assessment or grades.

Kate Klingensmith said...

Don't you just love how this works?! You found my blog, now I've landed on yours - and I'm definitely going to be paying attention because you seem to have a knack for finding cool tools and I love your enthusiasm and encouragement! Thanks for a new, great way to keep up!

jackie said...

Wow Stephen! I really enjoy following your blogs! You have gone above and beyond with your on-line learning. Have you thought about doing a presentation on technology at the NATA conference? I think you should consider sharing your expertise with other schools. I don't have any knowledge about moodle but after reading your blog I am going to find out what it is. Thank-You

Cheryl Morin said...

You've given me reason not to forget about Twitter. Up until I read your last post, I thought I had no spare time for Twitter. I can see that perhaps it might save me some frustration and give me more of a direction. Do you really just post a question and anyone answers?
P.S. My laptop means more to me now than ever. I even need more RAM!!lol