Journalistic Webquest

March 28, 2013

Students International Report

Image from of Wikipedia commons

For my ETAD470 class, I had the opportunity to create a webquest, which you can find linked above. It was quite an experience, at times enjoyable and frustrating, but always informative. Let me break down my experiences into those three categories: the enjoyable, the frustrating, and the informative.

Enjoyable

I found the Google Sites is a very easy to use tool for creating websites. To have a site generate the template, be easy to use, host my information, and be free is wonderful. That being said, I have a knack for understanding software so that may have helped.

Wikipedia commons was a great resource to use for images. They are free to use, which is nice, but of particular interest is the type of images you can get through it. Seems to me like Wikipedia itself uses wiki-commons as a resource for their own articles. As such, the images are great “example” images; images that exemplify or symbolize certain topics. So, if you need images to act as symbols or icon for certain concepts, like I did with my webquest, wiki-commons is a great resource.

Frustrating

For me, the main frustrations was finding online examples for the kind of work I wanted the students to create as part of the webquest, particularly podcasts and videos. Most podcasts made by students are either behind pay-walls or are dead links. I was lucky to have the one example that I found. Same with videos; the one I found was made by university students but the format fit what the student would in my webquest. Honestly, my criteria were rather specific: news report from high school students in video/audio.

Informative

What I learned most from this process was how much work actually goes into a webquest. Honestly, I think I bit off a little more than I could chew. While I was able to create a webquest that allowed freedom of topic and freedom of assessment, that was at the cost of assessment and project focus. If I were to do it again, I would make the webquest much more specific in outcome and, thus, more specific in instruction and evaluation.

While I am confident that I could do this webquest with a class, another teacher doing the webquest would need to have a sound grasp of the knowledge and guiding principals I used in order to succeed with it. If they were to look at this webquest, and they or their students didn’t already have the necessary skills, they would be turned off.

Conclusion

I am proud of the webquest that I made, despite the flaws I know it has. The main things I learned from this are that I will be using Google sites a lot more in the future and that I know how to make a better webquest. Though arduous at times, creating an engaging webquest was actually a quite enjoyable experience. I could see myself doing these a lot more in the future.

GIMP Animations

March 22, 2013

Here is my final video about using the GIMP. Several people I talked to said they were quite looking forward to learning about using the GIMP for animations, so here it is.

Now, while I have received some praise for my GIMP instructional videos, I don’t even come close to covering everything. So, if you would like to know more about the GIMP, visit Top 10 Beginner Videos for using the GIMP, or perhaps 25 GIMP Video Tutorials.

Also, here is the link to the comic I talk about in my video: Angus McLeod’s World War Two Simple Version. Though crass at times, it is an interesting way to demonstrate the events of the second world war and would make a great animation.

And finally, here you can find a sample gif I made using the GIMP, to show what some one with my minimal level of expertise can do.

Using the GIMP again

March 15, 2013

I have my next GIMP instruction video up for viewing. This time, I tackle blurring faces and editing people and objects out of images. If enough people are interested, I can also show how to make animations for my next video.

If you want to jump to specific parts of the video:

  • Blurring Faces, 0:30
  • Removing People/Objects, 3:00

Feel free to drop my any feedback on the video or anything in particular that I should cover next.

At the request of some of my colleagues at the college of education, I’ve made a simple video showing some of the things you can do with the GIMP, the same program I used to create this infographic.

Here is a table of contents for my video. These links will take you to a specific section of my video. Useful if you want to revisit certain instructions or skip the introduction.

EDIT: (Let me know if this table of contents is actually working on your computer, as it does not seem to be for me.)

Feel free to leave any comments or criticisms about my video. Or, if there are certain tasks you would like me to demonstrate with the GIMP, feel free to post some suggestions. I was quite pleased with how easy it was to make this screen cast and I’d be happy to make more in the future.

My First Infographic

March 5, 2013

social media infographic john lintott

As promised, here is my infographic on social media in the classroom. Feel free to comment of any aspect of it. It is my first attempt at an infographic, so I would appreciate whatever comments you can provide.

To view it best, you’ll need follow this link.

Created by Caroline Madigan for opensource.com

Though I made this blog for my educational technology class, I now have a reason to use it to help me in another class as well. For my education administration class, one of my projects I have chosen to do is create an infographic regarding the use of social media in the classroom. This blog will function as a great place to share the resources and ideas I have so far and eventually host my infographic itself. If you are not sure just what an infographic is, this infographic of infographics is a good example.

Essentially, my infographic is going to address what the current state of student’s involvement with social media is, what are schools doing about social media in the classroom, and what can or should be done with social media in the classroom.

Collecting online resources for his project has been easy thanks to diigo. I have been able to bookmark any online resources I come across on any computer (whether a computer in a campus lab, my laptop, or on my PC at home) and then I can access them all in a single online location. Now, while I could simply provide access for readers of this blog to also read my diigo account, I am still learning how to use it properly. So, I’ll just post the resources I have in this post.

Now, without further ado:

What is the current state of social media in the classroom?

I plan to have a list of positive statistics as well as negative ones, showing the full range of how students are using or experiencing social media. The resources I have so far for this include internetsafety101, the 2012 Nielson Social Media Report, and Social Media in Business. My goal with this section will be to demonstrate how ubiquitous social media usage is. While the focus will be on student usage, but I’ll also bring in some facts relating to the use of social media in the workforce (which should provide foreshadowing for the last section on what should be done with social media in the classroom).

What are schools doing about social media in the classroom.

This section is a little trickier, as it is harder to find data for this, and it seems like it would be less quantifiable and thus less applicable for the infographic format. What I plan to do is look at the negative aspects of students using social media (distraction in the classroom, cyber-bullying, internet addiction) and the simplistic or “not-necessarily-the-best” ways teachers can avoid these challenges, mostly through banning social media. Resources include this infographic on internet addiction and this learndash infographic.

What can or should be done with social media in the classroom.

I have some clear ideas for this section, as it pertains to many of the principals that are being addressed in my educational technology class. I hope my readers don’t mind, but I am keeping this section a secret until my infographic goes up. Also, I’m not finished this section enough to discuss it. I hope I have been able to intrigue my readers enough to generate some hype for when my infographic is posted.

I will upload my infographic Tuesday, March 5th. In the mean time, feel free to comment on my process or resources I have. I’m always looking for new ideas to implement and I would appreciate the feedback.

Using Google Docs

February 15, 2013

Google Doc 2

Recently, for my educational technology class, I worked with a group to create an Acceptable Use Policy for a hypothetical school. The purpose of the assignment was to create an AUP that addresses the topics we discussed in class and to present it with Google Docs. During the process of creating this AUP, I deepened my understanding of the topics we were discussing in class (social media in a school setting, cyber-bullying, educational use of personal media devices, etc.), and, what I found most useful, I got a greater grasp of how to use Google Docs. Seeing how well my group and I were able to use Google Docs for our project, I started thinking about ways that I could use it with my future students and how it could facilitate learning for them.

Apart from all the things listed when you do a search for “reasons to use Google Docs“, collaboration and accountability are the main reasons that I personally found quite useful while working on my AUP project and make me excited to use Google Doc with my students.

Collaboration. It is a single document that all my group members had access to all the time, even simultaneously. Though simultaneous work could get a little awkward (with text moving while you are trying to type) it was easy to get used to. The main advantage I found was that we could edit the document at our own leisure. Since the document can be accessed online, and I practically live online, it was effortless to insert ideas when they came to me. The comment feature was also useful for collaboration, as it allowed us to offer suggestions or ask for advice before editing. As a teacher, I could defiantly see the use of that comment feature, for adding feedback and getting student responses.

Accountability. From what I experienced, Google Docs encourages accountability in two ways. First, all group members know what they have added and can directly see if some one isn’t pulling their weight. In my group, we colour coded our additions, which gave a visual representation of who was putting what where. It was easy to create headings with group member names next to them to assign responsibilities, which basically what my group did. However, the most powerful accountability tool in Google Docs is the feature that allows you to view revisions. It says who did what and when, meaning that a teacher could look at the revision history to check that all members contributed equally. Now, if the group was at a single computer, with one member logged in while the rest made suggestions, that would unfairly skew the revisions to imply one person did all the work. Still, as long as a teacher keeps that in mind, the revision history can be another tool to check for accountability.

When I have the opportunity to use Google Docs in the classroom, there are two things I plan to do first. To start, I would need to make sure that the project or utility that I am using Google Docs for is appropriate and doable. To that end, I have found Google Docs in the Classroom, by Melanie Wiscount, and 37 Interesting Ways to use Google Docs in the Classroom, by Tom Barrett, to outline some of the things you can do with Google Docs. After I have some idea, the next thing I would do, and I think this would be the most important, is to have the students experiment with Google Docs. I would create an engaging assignment that’s main purpose is to give them practice with using Google Docs, perhaps even have them report useful and frustrating features that they discovered in the process. The two resources I mentioned actually have suggestions for using Google Docs as an ice-breaker activity, which also allows student to learn to use the program.

Through there are some flaws with Google Docs that still make word processors and similar programs necessary, the only thing I regret most was that I didn’t use Google Docs sooner.

Sad Face

There is some one I know that is an early childhood educator and she works at a wonderful centre. The workers there are very talented and devoted to the children in their care and the centre itself has many supports for low income families and children with exceptionalities. And yet, some of the stories she brings back at the end of the day, about how some children are treating each other, are truly heartbreaking.

It might be hard to think that bullying can start before children can even open their own juice box, but bullying can be observed in a preschool setting. Toddlers as young as two can be both the victims and the instigators of bullying. Seeing bullying occur at such a young age really highlights how important it is to correct such behaviour early on, by both correcting the behaviour of the instigator and empowering the victim.

There are useful articles regarding what to do about preschool bullying at education.com and What to Expect, but these particular ones provide advice mainly for parents. The frustrating part is that parents are sometimes the problem. There is one child in particular at the centre I referenced that has been neglected to the point where he internalizes all outside behaviour: he is almost completely unempowered. He is easily dissuaded by his peers, often sits alone, and will not defend himself (either verbally or physically) when being subjected to abuse by his peers. Not that it is his peer’s fault; as children, they are still learning to behave socially. But in this child’s case, he is completely defenseless. His family is low income and already struggling with his younger sibling, who is very high needs and possesses some exceptionalities. As a result, due to a lack of time, energy, and interest, he is relegated to the background. They do not concern themselves with his emotional needs because he does not speak out for himself; an inversion of the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” His basic needs are being met (he is fed, he is clothed, and he is physically safe) but what of his emotional needs?

Child Neglect: A Guide for Prevention, Assessment and Intervention has a comprehensive look and the myriad things to do for at risk or neglected children. In this particular case, the educator I mentioned is taking two specific strategies to do what she can to help this child.

Create a Bond. She is going out of her way to show him that, at least at the centre, he is not part of the background. Part of the reason that he is so defenseless is that he has so little self worth. She strives to create a bond with him and show him that he is worth spending time with. By creating a bond, it promotes his self worth and will help him understand that he is deserving of being treated well by others.

Empower Him. When the situations arise, she encourages him to speak out on his own behalf. One of her concerns is that he seems to think he will get in trouble if he defends himself. She tells him, and models for him, socially correct ways to defend himself, letting him know that he is allowed to stand up for himself in this way. This will help him understand what he needs to do to be treated well by others.

While her actual strategies are more involved, I condensed what she does into those simple terms. Also, the actual situation is more complex than what is posted in this blog; I intentionally left several details out for the sake of anonymity. Regardless, looking back at my own internship, I feel that I could have been more helpful to a handful of my students if I had kept these two basic strategies in mind.

Knowing what she does, I’m quite proud of the work and dedication she puts forth at her centre. My last post was a video about teacher’s that inspired me. I feel that I should have mentioned her as one of those teachers.

Introductory Video

February 1, 2013

I’ve made an introductory video so that everyone can see why I am in education, and who inspired me to be a teacher. I am both very proud and horribly embarrassed with my video. Regardless, what I mention in the video holds significance with me. I hope I’ve been able to get across what education means to me. If not, it’s my first video and I can only get better from here.

I’ve also added this video to my About section. Feel free to post any comments about teachers that have inspired you, questions about how I made the video, or why I am so awkward in my video.

Fight Censorship

Growing up, many of us got to listen to the music of our parents, typically if we liked it or not. For some that was The Beatles or KISS, but for me, my dad would burn out our speakers with Frank Zappa. If you could only learn one thing about Frank Zappa, it should be that he was a musician who would not abide censorship. It is was this stance on free speech that made him my dad’s musical idol, and contributed to my stance on censorship today. Though Frank died before the internet really got off it’s feet, I know we’d have each others back when it comes to internet censorship in schools.

I’m of the opinion that internet filters are, at best, a band-aid for censorship: they don’t really solve the problem, just cover it up. In some cases they actually make things worse. Try doing a book review on The Hunger Games when games is a blocked word. One of our main jobs as educators is to prepare students for their own independence, and filtering internet access, when the internet has become practically omnipresent in society, is doing them a disservice. I believe that students need to be educated in media literacy, and promoting that while imposing filters makes us look like hypocrites. I’ve seen grade 9 students make a dramatization about the SOPA protests, so I know that students are aware of these issues. Now, I know that filters are a reality in many schools, and I can’t necessarily change that nor, in some cases, would I want to. However, I maintain that we should be encouraging students to understand how to make their own responsible decisions, not making those decisions for them.

You might be saying “John, you’re quick to criticize and yet you don’t offer any solutions. Maybe you should get your head out of the clouds and figure out what to do instead of what not to do.” I have two responses for that: 1) you tone is a little too aggressive, and 2) check out MediaSmarts. It is a Canadian collection of resources for students, teachers, and parents about media and digital issues. It gives us some of those tools the we as educators need to help students become digital citizens. If you have any other ideas for resources, online or otherwise, feel free to post them in the comments. More tools are always better.

Now, I wanted to end with a quote from Frank Zappa, but as he was a rock musician who loved free speech, many of his quotes are not wholly appropriate for an education blog. Provided your computer has not filtered Wikipedia, feel free to peruse some of his sayings here, at your own discretion. However, I will leave you with this quote, as it is similar to what I may be saying about my own children some day:

“I have four children, and I want them to grow up in a country that has a working First Amendment.”

Well said, Frank.