Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reflections Post

As most of you may be aware, I have been participating in one of the best courses that Plymouth State University, or any other university, could offer on networked learning. The course, taught by Jeff Utecht and Kim Tufts, was Teaching and Learning in the Networked Classroom. What a great opportunity it was to push you to the next level of comfort in the digital age! Just imagine a course that actually encourages (OK, requires) the use of the tools rather than preaching the implications the tools have upon your teaching. My learning will never be the same.

What an invaluable, yes-invaluable, tool the Google Reader is! I am capable of designing my own learning opportunities and they are delivered daily to my Reader. Can you imagine to potentials this offers our students? As connectors, we become the portal to learning opportunities that permit our students to extend beyond the offered studies of our courses.

I am looking forward to the use of Skype in my class as a tool to connect my students to other students around the world. Now I have the tools and connections to make this happen. First hand knowledge and group work on real-life issues is just what our students need.

Although this has been my first experience with blogging, it certainly will not be my last. I just hope that others keep in touch, and I actually get feed back. That feedback, that audience component is vital to me. It is certainly something that I want to work more with.

This course work was accessed through a wiki page. I learned about Wikis over the summer and was excited about using it with my students; however, I ran into age issues. Nonetheless, with parental permission, I was able to establish a wiki page for the Winter Wellness activity that I offered. I had mixed success with the work here, as it was a creative writing focus and many of my students were simply unwilling to engage their efforts in writing. I hope to begin a wiki for my students in the spring as part of their English course work.

Podcasts. Another first for me. I made one. I would have to say it wasn't "me" or perhaps a better way to say that is it wasn't my voice, my personality. This takes time and confidence--two things I need to work on. However, my weakness didn't stop me from requiring my students to try it as well. We have just begun the recordings on the limited number of computers and mics we have. Next comes the editing and possible posting. (I really need to work on encouraging our tech guy to establish teacher maintained websites from our weak, weak school page.) I have a long way to go, but I have found some schools around the world that do a great job posting their students' podcasts. (I have even dabbled in digital video projects in reading class. Some of my students have posted theirs on YouTube. Pretty impressive work.)

Although I have learned a great deal through my work during this semester, I think that my recommendation for other teachers that may or may not be taking this course is to jump in feet first and make technology happen within your classroom. With all the free Web2.0 tools, you have all that you need. The other teachers will see the value of technology in the classroom; the students will enjoy it and many will flourish. Some of your hardest to reach students may become your student connectors to technology. It has happened in my classroom, and it will happen in yours.

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