Thursday, December 18, 2008

First Thoughts…

I knew in September that Teaching and Learning in the Connected Classroom was just what I needed. I had just spent the summer in the Plymouth Writing Project’s (PWP) Summer Institute as a first time fellow. It was the greatest experience that I have ever had in developing my teaching skills. As part of the Institute I chose to look at the potential for creating my own Ning for my class. Quickly I was blocked with the notion of having students just shy of the national age requirements. I felt that the enthusiasm I had developed was immediately deflated. However, I never stopped my online discussion about it with peers from around the country. My answers to these technology questions and my pursuit for more opportunities to connect my students would be found in this Plymouth State University course.

Blackboard is such a limited program, so when I found that the course would be using a Ning I felt confident that I chose the correct place to continue my journey. However, I wasn’t expecting to read the projects that I would be undertaking and feel so unknowledgeable.

I first heard the word Skype two summers ago at a teacher workshop during the days before school opened. I knew it was some sort of cheap communication tool, but I gave it little thought as I had no reason to use it—we even joked about how dirty “to Skype someone” sounded. Two and a half years later I am purchasing a web cam and downloading Skype. The anticipation of “officially” using it led me to find the one other person I knew had used it to communicate with her daughter in Australia. I had to give it a test run, of course. It was like unwrapping a stocking gift. Then the big “gift” arrived when I answered the traditional phone ring (as I enjoy toying with settings—sometimes too much) and connected with Jeff in Bangkok. Just imagine! This could be a tool to bring me closer to a teacher from Afghanistan that I met over the summer in Plymouth. It’s not so dirty after all.

Certainly, I have heard of podcasts. However, I really didn’t know what they were. I knew you could get a podcast from CNN Student news, but didn’t really know how. I’m still uncertain. Is what makes a podcast different from a web page the fact that you download it to an Ipod (just last month I purchased my first)? Is it just sound or video too? Is it a news-type release or can it be anything? After talking to Jeff, I understand the content will be my choice; however, the element that makes it different from an item on a web page evades me. I am, none the less, excited about the implications for creating one with my students.

Blogging is another new adventure for me. Yes, I searched for the term and read the complete history of the “blog.” As a result it made the most sense for me to title my blog with the original use “a web log.” This gave me a frame of mind to guide my use of my blog. My husband jokes that it’s just rambling. “Blablablablablog,” he teases. Perhaps after reading this entry you will understand why he may feel that way.

As you can see, I am both challenged and excited about this course. I don’t think I have taken a course that I feel less confident in, and that is just what I need at this juncture of my teaching career.


  1. Jen,

    I'm glad you are a long for the journey. I'll try my best to make it meaningful to you.

    "I don’t think I have taken a course that I feel less confident in"

    I like are pushing yourself, and we know that learning and knowledge are acquired when we get outside our comfort zone. My hope is that you learn to live here during this course. Know that this course is a safe place to be on that edge of not knowing...and if you do not fail at least once at and I are both not pushing hard enough.

    As for podcasts, I suggest you open up iTunes, click on "iTunes Store" then click on "Podcasts" in the left menu. From there search away at anything you might find interesting. Seeing that you have a new iPod anything that you "subscribe" to will be downloaded to your iPod. But you can also listen to them on your computer as well.

    Podcasts are nothing more then audio files or video files (also known as vodcasts) that people create and give away free. Spend some time hear and you can find a wealth of knowledge.

  2. Hey Jen,
    I can tell already that I'm going to enjoy reading your posts (like the writing style!). I'm guessing there is a way to respond to you and not to Jeff's comment, but for now it's all I can figure out. I've never heard of Ning, but I did download Jing last week and what potential it has! I will check out Ning. Enjoy the holiday break!