Thursday, April 23, 2009

Curse you Twitter!

I'm supposed to be writing up my Master's project right now, but just had to take a few minutes to share my morning lurk around Twitter. First of all, I normally do not allow myself the time to get on Twitter in the morning because I find myself struggling to pull myself away; there is just so much good stuff there. Today is a good explanation of why I don't do Twitter in the morning; 30 minutes on Twitter turned into another hour of exploring (and I only scratched the surface of most of it).

Twitter itself is not the problem. I posted one Tweet this morning; a re-Tweet of a colleague's Tweet and sent one direct message to the same colleague. The problem is I can't resist opening links that look interesting to me; here's what I found this morning.

@shelleydeck suggested I check out a site that is a check list for Foundational Digital Literacy skills - http://tommarch.com/files/ict.htm.
@jackiegerstein suggested a site that encourages communities and groups to host their own Ted Talks - http://www.ted.com/tedx.
@AngelaMaiers suggested a site that professes to be a place for professional development for teachers and librarians. She sold it as "a great resource for tech and literay" - http://eduscapes.com/tap/index.htm.
And I can't remember who Tweeted this one out - http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Tools+at+a+glance.

I also read a blog from @wfryer that gave me an interesting idea as a way to run a public meeting -http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2009/04/23/advice-and-wisdom-on-school-public-relations/.

In just 30 minutes of reading microblogs on Twitter; I have more professional resources collected than I collected from an entire school year last year before I heard of Twitter!

Now Twitter I'm turning you off and turning back to my work; curse you for being so useful!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reflecting on EC&I 831

video
Part 5: Reflections on EC&I 831


EC&I 831 (cool video at this link) has surpassed my wildest dreams for a class. With non-traditional assignments and self-directed learning, it has opened a world to me that has allowed me to grow professionally and spawned a desire to learn more. It has made me into a 21st century teacher and learner! I have created a personal learning network that is a true professional learning community and I have opened a world far richer than any library can provide. My learning has been so great that I can’t possibly summarize it all in text. I began by trying to summarize my thoughts about the class using MindMeister. This grew into an idea to make a video to summarize my thoughts using a SmartBoard, a tool I had never used before. The quality of the video I made though was not the greatest as I worked on it alone and still have much to learn about making a quality video. I also had problems uploading it due to its length which I actually now consider a blessing as I decided not to use it and accept the fact that the 3 hours I put into making it and trying to download it taught me about Smart Boads and the importance of setting up properly when producing a video. I elected instead to make a series of Jing videos to summarize my learnings in the class. These can be viewed by visiting Stephen King's E-Portfolio.

I decided to submit an E-portfolio as my major digital project for the EC&I 831 class with Dr. Alec Couros for several reasons. It is a compilation of my learning over the last three months, as well as, a venue to house 2 of the 3 parts of my project. The first part is actually a Moodle Class, Career Ed. 7, that I created to use with a group of Grade 7 students I teach. Part 2 is a Wikispace that I have created for the benefit of the staff of La Loche Community School; it includes scheduling, important dates, and numerous links that teachers will find beneficial. It is not complete; it is a space that will continue to be developed and improved upon. The next phase of the site will be to develop teacher video tutorials using Jing for school programs like MAT (mark and attendance program). Finally, the third part of the project was to learn about WordPress for the purpose of teaching e-portfolios to High School students. I decided that to make the experience meaningful I would make my own portfolio; this WordPress blog pulls together the other parts of my major digital project and it includes aspects of almost all of my learning through the EC&I 831 class.

I hope those who visit my major digital project find at least one thing in it that they can learn from; it was my pleasure sharing my thoughts and learnings with you. And the next time I blog, it will be done entirely on the belief that I am not being evaluated and simply because I had something to share. Thanks to all who have helped me get to this point!

The more I know; the less I know! (ProCon.Org)




Confucius said, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." This is a concept that has rolled around in my brain for years, although I never said it so succinctly. When I was in my third year of University, I remember realizing that the more I know the less I know because there is so much more to learn that I still do not know! Make sense?

I'm not even supposed to be working on this blog because I'm trying to finish off my obligations for the EC&I 831 class that I am taking, but I stumbled across a site as I was browsing through some of my the unread blogs in my Goggle Reader account that really illustrated the point above. I visited the blog, Free Technology For Teachers, and specifically a blog titled, "ProCon -Helping Students Evaluate Controversial Topics." It looks like it would be a good tool for students engaged in researching controversial topics in school. However, it is a site that illustrates just how much there is that I do not know; I'd never heard of it before this morning and now I'm writing about it. I've never used the site and would have to take some time navigating around it to know its full capabilities, but because I do not teach a lot I doubt I will use it. However, I do think there are teachers who could use the site and so I'm sharing my latest discovery yet again!

The sad part is I have over 300 unread blogs in my Reader account; how many more gems have I missed because of time? I guess though in a way this is the power of EC&I 831; it forced my to learn a lot, but in doing so made me realize there is so much more that I do not know! Nevertheless, it has given me the tools to learn more and independently. I am a better educator as a result!


I have attached two images (click on them to make them larger) above for those interested in ProCon.org; might be enough information there to get you to have a look for yourself.




Source of Confucius Quote: Inspirational and Motivational Quotes @ http://quotations.about.com/cs/inspirationquotes/a/Knowledge4.htm

Friday, April 10, 2009

Major Digital Project - the end of the beginning!

My Major Digital Project for EC&I 831 is an E-portfolio. It is a compilation of my learning over the last three months, as well as, a venue to house 2 of the 3 main parts of my project. The first part is actually a Moodle Class, Career Ed. 7, that I created to use with a group of Grade 7 students I teach. Part 2 is a Wikispace that I have created for the benefit of the staff of La Loche Community School; it includes scheduling, important dates, and numerous links that teachers will find beneficial. It is not complete; it is a space that will continue to be developed and improved upon. The next phase of the site will be to develop teacher video tutorials using Jing for school programs like MAT (mark and attendance program). Finally, the third part of the project was to learn about WordPress for the purpose of teaching e-portfolios to High School students. I decided that to make the experience meaningful, I would make my own portfolio; this WordPress blog pulls together the main parts of my major digital project and it includes aspects of almost all of my learning through the EC&I 831 class. I hope you enjoy your visit and please feel free to leave me your comments; I really appreciate feedback!

My Major Digital Project is now nearing completion, at least as far as evaluation is concerned, and I am ready to share it with my colleagues and the world. I just have one piece left to add (my final thoughts on the class) and I hope to have it in place either today or tomorrow.

If you would like to see what I've been working on over the last three months, you can visit the site by clicking on the link here. You can also hear more about it by watching the YouTube video below that I produced using Jing Pro.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is it me or is my memory getting better?

I wish my memory was getting better! I'm happy if I can remember what I had for breakfast at the end of each day. But I'm not really speaking of my memory today; I'm more interested in talking computer memory and our ability to handle vast amounts of data. Today, I have a shoe box full of 3.5 diskettes filled with information from my days in the classroom in the early 90's. Some are marked and some are mystery disks that I have to find a portable disk drive to view because the new computers just don't need them anymore. Most of them have not been viewed for more than a decade! I haven't taken the bold step to throw them away yet, however, with my latest purchase I just might. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My first home computer was the beautiful, MacIntosh Classic, with an astonishing 40 MBs of memory on the hard drive! I was in heaven as I had the option of saving on the hard drive and backing up with 3.5" disks. I never imagined that I would ever need more computer. And with a printer, my purchase of the classic only set me back $2200 (tax included). It still works today and I refuse to get rid of it because it has files on it that I no longer have access to with the technology I possess.

My current work computer is an Inspiron 9400 with 120GB of memory and I never dreamed that I would need that much memory. I refer to it as my portable filing cabinet! Sound familiar? Well I've been making noises in my office that I NEED a better machine. It needs to be faster.

Well, I recently got back from a quick medical trip to Saskatoon with a short stop at London Drugs to purchase a portable hard drive. This is my second drive. My first drive was a Maxtor 80GB drive and about 10 days ago, it informed my (rather rudely I thought) that it was full! How could that be? I was only backing up documents and music and pictures; oh yeah, and video clips, but could it really be that much stuff?

My new drive is even more beautiful than the last; it has a small plastic stand and it compliments the silver of my Inspiron in a way that makes me think they were meant to be together! It is an iomega 500GB Prestige Desktop Hard Drive; I can't imagine that .... no forget that thought. The salesman almost had me with the terabite model, but I resisted the temptation.

I'm now reflecting on the changes that have occurred in less than two decades. I entered the teaching profession in a time when gestetners were still in use and I did not know anyone, but my technologically gifted and rich oil industry employed brother who even owned a computer. Few teachers knew how to make the Apple IIe's do their magic. Today, we are in an age where we are storing tremendous amounts of information on our computers, largely because of digital photography, digital video and digital music, but we are also in a time when we can store the information we need on servers accessible through the world wide web. I wonder if the day is coming when our own personal need for memory on our business machines will decline as we gain trust in storing and retrieving information from the internet. Three months ago I would have thought no way; today, I see the possibility and from experience I know the things I know are constantly in a state of change and if it is possible, it will happen.

Nevertheless, we are not at the point yet, and I know I will have a terabite one day soon. I won't have a choice.