Monday, July 28, 2008

Week 9, Thing 23, Copyright, Creative Commons, and Final Reflections

When I was watching "A Fair(y) Use Tale" my kids came in to see what it was.  They both watched the whole thing and thought it was entertaining.  That's an endorsement in and of itself.  I could see using it to reinforce what I've already taught about copyright.  I had heard about Creative Commons, but had never poked around their site before.  It was good to have the opportunity to so. 
I had heard about many of the Web 2.0 applications that this class explored before.  But I didn't have the time to dig into them and find out anything more that superficial familiarity.  There were a few bad links that the RAW 2.0 team fixed when I (or someone else) let them know. There were also a couple of typos that I viewed as giving this course a human touch.  I especially liked the reference to "communters" using audiobooks.  I had visions of bus riders communing together on their way to and from work.  I liked doing the class in the summer when I could devote lots of time to exploring and clicking around and never really getting anything done.  On the down side, I found the online format to not be my first choice in learning.  I felt like I was writing my blog entries in a void most of the time.  Thank you Ann for all your responses, but was hoping for more feedback from others too.  This class has me thinking about technology differently and how I can and should use it in my library to engage my students.           

Chapter 1 “New World, New Web, New Skills” from Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum

Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools by Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum
One of the main purposes of our education system is to prepare students for the working world. The Web has changed how, when, and where people work. The skills that our students need to succeed in many careers have changed to include new technology that schools in other countries are embracing in a more meaningful way. Businesses can use this to employ people around the world (through a few different time zones) to be working around the clock. Employees in other countries are many times willing to work for far less than U.S. employees. If students in our country are going to be able to compete, our education system needs to not just change what we teach, but how we teach.
Teachers need to not only know that new technology is out there, but must be comfortable enough to use it. Teachers need to be well trained and supported to be able to teach 21st century technology skills. Teachers need to give assignments that are project based and require students to use information from multiple disciplines, but also all levels of Blooms taxonomy. The specific technology tools used are less important than the content that is being taught through technology.
Regardless of what a student does after high school, all students must have these 21st century technology skills to be successful in the work place. Students will need to have greater global, financial, and civic literacy than in the past because of their interconnectedness with people from all over the world. They will need to be self-directed, creative, and able to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Students today use technology comfortably and effectively. It is the education systems job now to use those tools to prepare students to be effective employees in a worldwide job market.

Chapter 7 “Online Safety and Security”

My district has adopted iSafe to teach students about Internet safety and security. I use the curriculum for 3rd - 6th grades in collaboration with the technology teacher. This year we will be getting a new tech teacher and I’ll have to find out if that person will be willing to continue this joint unit between the library and technology. We cover copyright (the music teacher also does a lesson on this), personal safety online, ethical behavior, and social networking, as well as other things that students bring forward.
I need to review my school’s AUP. With all the new Web 2.0 tools that I have learned about in this class, there are some applications that I want to use with my students. I need to find out if these uses are allowed in our AUP. If they are not, our AUP needs to be reviewed.
Most parents expect that their child(ren) will learn Internet safety at school, and although parents want to do what they can to ensure their child(ren) are safe online, many don’t know how.
I like some of the alternatives that are listed at the end of this chapter if my school wants to start using Web 2.0 tools, but can’t (because of being blocked) or doesn’t want to be open to the entire Internet.

Chapter 8 “Systemic Issues”

The fastest growing student population is limited English proficient (LEP) students. This is expected to continue for at least 15 more years. Teachers in some schools are already using technology to help students acquire English language skills. Some Web 2.0 tools could include: blogging – where students could practice reading and writing, and podcasting – some teachers are already using this technology in various ways, I think the most interesting is developing “interactive story mazes” (similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series.)
Some students with special needs are already using technology so that they can participate in the school environment. Web 2.0 tools can be used to reinforce skills as well as help students with IEPs. There are also numerous podcasts available to parents/guardians of special needs students.
Last year I saw and got to play (for about 5 minutes) with one of the “$100 laptops”. The laptop was part of the One Laptop per Child program. Many of these laptops are going to third world nations, but some of these machines are going to destinations in the U.S. These laptops are sturdy, simple to navigate, and do not require wired broadband to access the Web, instead they use satellite connections. Computers and wireless connections have been put into some low-income communities to help bridge the digital divide.
Assessment can take place in many forms using Web 2.0 technology. Projects and/or activities can be done using Web 2.0 tools so that others can review and comment on the piece. My school does portfolios, and I found the information about electronic portfolios to be interesting. I don’t know if we could have all of the student’s entire portfolios online, but some portions could be. The advantage of this would be that people that can’t make it to a portfolio share either because they are working, live too far away, illness, or whatever can still be a part of the portfolio process.

Chapter 9 “New Schools”

Our students are already immersed in technology. Our educational system is not keeping up with the rapidly changing world and the role that technology plays in it. If schools can’t teach what students need in a way that suits students learning styles, schools become irrelevant. The world is changing, our students are changing, and our schools need to follow suit. This chapter is all about possibly ways to make that change happen.

Education software could be written that is interactive like Amazon and eBay. It could track each students learning style, and knowledge base to suggest sites and activities to learn a lesson.

Teachers can use Web 2.0 tools to keep all stakeholders (students, parents, staff, community members…) up to date on what’s happening in the classroom and school. Librarians using this information to make and maintain a curriculum map. Parts of this are being done already. In my school many teachers send their weekly newsletter to parents via email, one teacher sent a daily email to all parents in her class of what happened that day. This year I want to be on those email lists to see what each class is studying.

In the same way that textbooks are sometimes not used, the same can be said for software. Our administrators and curriculum committees need to acknowledge that not all students are the same, and so the same teaching materials will not be effective for all students. The same can be said for Web 2.0 based learning. The key difference though is that through the connectedness of Web 2.0, students can learn what they need to even if they didn’t learn it to mastery the first time. If students had access to the Web, learning can take place not only in school, but when the student is ready, even if it is outside of the regular school day.

Professional development is key to making these changes happen. Teachers need to not only learn what the tools are, but how to incorporate them into their classroom (library, gym, school, etc.) This class is an example of how professional development can be accomplished online. Even after the “for credit” class is over, the content will still be up on the Web for others to access.

For all students to be able to compete in the technology-based environment that they are growing up in, they must have access to broadband. I was surprised to see that in a 2007 study by the federal government, “42% of households have either no computer or a computer with no Internet connection.” These students are at a serious disadvantage.

How to pay for Internet access is another issue. Periodically, there are rumblings that Web sites that provide a lot of content should pay more. Some fear that this will leave small sites at lower speeds that will then result in fewer site hits. In the past few months some companies have started to charge more for users that access the Internet more. In my opinion, this is a step backward.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Week 9, Thing 22, eBooks and Audio eBooks

I went to World eBook Fair and found it easy to use. I searched for a few titles and found some and not others. I browsed some of the collections and liked that. Since the covers were pictured, it was kind of like looking through a library or book store. I was interested to see that there are books available in some of the languages my students speak, specifically Brazilian Portuguese but couldn't find a way to search for just children's titles in that collection. Personally, I liked the catalog of music scores for when one of my kids are looking for music. Even though I liked some of the things I found, I still can't get past not liking to read on my computer. Maybe some of the new technology like Kindle is easier, but what I've seen so far I haven't been impressed with.
I've played around with audio eBooks for over a year now. Last year I taught the 4th, 5th and 6th graders how to use ListenAlaska. I even had a few portable CD players that I checked out to students that needed the extra support of listening to the book and following along with the print copy. This worked well for an ELL student and a couple kids whose reading was way below proficient.
I went to LibriVox and found I couldn't search for children's titles like I wanted to. The Best Places to Get Free Books site was fun and had some of the same sites listed that I had already visited and used.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Week 9, Thing 21, Podcasts

I had heard of podcasting, and even have a subscription to a podcast that my son started with adult help. He was 7 when they started the weekly show, and it ran for a couple of years. They don't do the show as regularly any more, but it's still set up for when one is posted. So I had an iTunes account that is used for lots of stuff in our house. But for this "thing" I was searching for something library related. What I found was that there are lots of things out there, but the descriptions I was finding weren't what I really needed. I had to listen to a lot of stuff before I found one that I really liked. I found bookwink. It's a podcast of children's books that are related to a theme (best friends, dragons, avalanches, etc.) But what makes this podcast even better is that there's a website that has more titles. Bookwink's mission is to inspire kids in grade 3 through grade 8 to read, so all the titles are meant for that age range.

My school does "Explorations" every other month. It's like an intensive where teachers teach a single topic for one day. I've done volcanoes, rocketry, Harry Potter and dinosaurs, to name a few. Kids sign up for an "Exploration" of their choice. As a teacher it means that I get kids from multiple classes and various grades. I'm thinking that I could do an "Exploration" on podcasting. I'm very excited about this!