Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Journal #8

Communicating and Networking with Websites, Blogs, Wikis, and More

Focus Question: How can teachers use a website or blog to improve teaching and learning?
I chose to elaborate on this focus question because ironically I am in college and have interacted with teachers through blogs (wink wink)! I have found it very interesting as well as intriguing to work with professors/ other students via online. I imagine that being an educator via online has its acquired etiquette and I wanted to find out just that!
With the exponential growth of technology, teachers are now producing "home-grown" websites or blogs to reach and teach students. Teachers generally build one of two kinds of online sites:
  1. Teacher/classroom website incorporates who you are as a educator and including information about your classes and work done by your students. A classroom website is primarily devoted to the activities of your classroom, it differs from the teacher website by giving more attention to work of the students than to the work of the teacher.
  2. Teacher Blog serves as an online journal where you post information and ideas related to your teaching strategies. Blogs can also be a site for online interactions between teachers and students, allowing communication to be at its finest. " Students can comment on items posted. Teachers can post questions and ask students to respond. Students can also read other students' comments" (Risinger, 2006)
Differences between Websites and Blogs: One major distinction between the two is the  ease of site creation and management. Blog technology is designed to offer a direct route to maintaining a constantly updated site. It offers many resources that appear whenever the blog opens: a calendar, active links to other websites, an archive of past blog postings, a podcasting list, a place to publish student work,and an online discussion forum.
Another difference is a blogger's ability to interject a personal voice by sharing information and opinions in an informal style. While websites can also feature personal voice, they have tended to utilize the formal tone of news reports.
Teachers typically have three options for creating their own blog or website:
  1. Do-it-yourself (Website and Blog-Building Software) software's such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage enable teachers to build personal websites that range in personal preferences.
  2. Commercially Available Template commercially available website or blog builder such as, TaskStream, Go Daddy, or eBlogger that allow users to create many features and function, although programs such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage provide more variety. Commercially available programs have the added feature of being password protected while offering you a ready-made publication portal for your site on the Internet.
  3. Open Source Software course management system for educators such as Moodle that provides email, online discussion boards, instant messaging, and discussion forums for school districts and classrooms. Open source programs generally are not password protected, which may be a drawback to use in schools.
Communicating with your students needs to be done tactfully as well as providing an educational purpose. There are three basic types of education-related blogs:
  1. "Official face" blogs serve as formal information centers for schools. some of these organizational blogs include contributions by teachers and students.
  2. Single-purpose blogs address one subject area within a school, such as science or language arts.
  3. Active learning blogs involve students and teachers in conversations around parts of the curriculum (Harris, 2006).
Tech Tool Link: Moodle
As previously discussed, Moodle is online course management system for educators. Moodle offers several differenet administrative functions including grade record keeping and posting,selective content releases, and various filtering options. This system is free of charge and easily manageable. There were no distractions on the site, very straight forward with several links to various webpages with different information. I never thought so many online resources were available for educators and students, I can not wait to start trying these abundant resources out!

Chapter Summary & Connection:
I seem to say this every chapter, but I mean it this time, this chapter was by far the most interesting to read and most resourceful to me as a student/teacher! This chapter offered advice as well as instruction to creating your own Wikitext, blogs and websites. One thing I wouldn't mind investigating in the chapter would be Digital image scanner, a tool that will assist you greatly in creating your blogs.
Maloy, Robert W. "Chapter 8/ Communicating and Networking with Websites,Blogs,Wikis, and More." Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2011. 208-38. Print

Journal #7

Problem Solving and Inquiry Learning with Software and Web Tools

Focus Question: What are the standard software applications found on most computers today and what open source software alternatives are there?
As technology continues to advance, it is important that we stay in touch and up-to-date on all software updates and resources. As educators, it is vital that we know what is going on with any software update because we are responsible for the growth of education and molding of incorporating technology within the lesson. Understanding what all this means can seem like a foreign concept, which is why I am going to elaborate on this subject.
You have heard the terms harware and software, but what exactly does that mean? Hardware" refers to the basic machinery and circuitry of a computer" while software is the "term for computer instructions, a collection of codes that tell a computer's hardware to perform specific functions". Meaning hardware and software are compatible with each other. The two together make computer technologies work properly.
There are two main types of software. System software, which is responsible for the overall functioning and control of a computer. System software includes the operating system, network operating system, database managers, and TP monitor. Application software, performs specific functions in specialized ways to produce a variety of services, including, word processing, databases, spreadsheets, slides and presentations, Internet browsing, email, movie making, or DVD burning, ect.  You are probably most familiar with the commerical names: Microsft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe, Photoshop, Norton Antivirus, and so on.
Standard Software Applications- Indespensable tools that we rely on heavily to preform tasks with ease. Most likely your personal or school computer has the following standard software applications:
  • Word Processing enables writers to enter data into a word processing document. These text-based documents have replaced the idea of typewriters by allowing users to create digital documents that can be drafted, edited, and shared electronically.
  • Electronic databases are data-organizing programs that allow information to be entered, passed, and retrieved. Many teachers use electronic databases to manage their grading systems and other academic records.
  • Spreadsheets are documents designed like paper ledgers in which you can place numerical values in horizontal and vertical columns. Because the document is digital, spreadsheet software will calculate data based on formulas that users enter into the software.
  • Web-browsing software allows access to favorite websites or search for information online. Popular Web-browsing softwares include; Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox.
  • Communications software enables users to write or talk to other users by email, instant messaging, Internet chat, and other programs.
  • Presentation software such as PowerPoint, gives computer users many creative ways to construct digitial slideshows and other displays to incorporate text, sound, voice, and pictures.
  • Antivirus software scans the computer for dangerous programs that deliberatly interfere with its operation. a virus can be spread when one computer communicates with another computer. Antivirus software is an essential tool to protect your computer againt the constant threat of these potentally dangerous programs.
  • Specialized software allows users to do functions at a high degree of specialty. Such as Dreamweaver, a popular Web-authoring program.
It is important to know what open source software alternatives are available when educating students. Open source software is "open" for the public to use, copy, and recreate, for little or no cost. In the open source community, individuals and organizations deliberately make the source codes available free to users and software developers with the idea that new and improved applications will emerge. Linux is a widely used open source operating system. Some technology educators consider open source software to be safer to run on computers because it is more secure in terms of privacy.
Some open-source alternatives include;
 Operating Sytem
  • Linux
  • FreeBSD
Integrated applicatons package
  • OpenOffice
  Web browser
  • Mozilla Firefox
Word processing
  • OpenOffice Writer
Presentation graphics
  • OpenOffice Impress
  • Xess Spreadsheet
Electronic mail
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Mozilla Camino
  • Eudora
Instant messaging
  • Gaim Instant Messanger
  • Jabber
Image editing
  • GIMP Image Editor
Tech Tool Link: Scratch
This Website draws you in by the colorful, fun look it promotes. Scratch allows students to create their own games, stories, and art while providing the support and interaction to other users. Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group and the MIT lab. The idea of this website is to learn important mathematical and computional ideas while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. I think this website is an awesome resource for educators to look into because lets face it, kids like games!
Chapter Summary & Connection
This chapter consits of the different types of computer softwares available to the public and also how educators can use these different sytem softwares to help teach their students. I was interested in reading more about presentation software, an application that enables computer users to construct digital presentation, because I find that as a current student and future educator, presentations will be a essential part of my everyday life. After reading this chapter, my mind is filled with creative future ideas for my classroom and I guarentee I will be incorpating games to involve my students in the lesson.
Verock-O'Lougin, Ruth-Ellen, Sharon A. Edwards, A, and Beverly Park Woolf. "Chapter 7/ Problem Solving and Inquiry Learning with Software and Web Tools." Transforming Learning with New Technologies. By Robert W. Maloy. N.p.: Allyn & Bacon, n.d. 176+. Print.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Journal #6

Teaching with Educational Websites and Other Online Resources

Focus Question- How are information management technologies such as bookmarking, social bookmarking, and information alerts useful to teachers?
Educators have several responsibilities to uphold and organize. Teachers of earlier generations used file folders, notebooks, and other types of paper organizing systems to maintain order, but this type of system is inefficient because they become too large, depend on constant refiling of material used, new material must be continually copied and stored. Simply put, managing paper flow becomes hugely time consuming (teachers don't have much spare time). This is why new generation teachers are provided with information management technologies such as bookmarking, social bookmarking, and information alerts.
Bookmarking(Bookmarks)-  Offers teachers an easier way to locate information and organize it effectively using computers and the Web. Bookmarking refers to the capacity of computers through Web browsers to remember the website addresses that you visit most frequently. Bookmarks allow you to electronically catalog and access Web pages with just one simple command. With the help of Bookmarking, teachers are able to focus more time on teaching then searching. For teachers,  locating and bookmarking Web resources is just part of information management. The next step involves learning how to use Web Resources with students while teaching.
Social Bookmarking- Expands the concept of individual bookmarking from one user to a community of users on many computers. One individual's favorite "bookmark" sites become available on a public site where they can be accessed and added to by others interested in the same topics. By posting your bookmark on a social bookmarking site, you provide other users of that site with access to your resource. In return, you get access to all the resources that everyone else has posted on the site. The advantages for teachers are immense because you are becoming  apart of a community of users who are continually identifying their own structure of resources about key areas of school curriculum. Online tools such as Delicious, Backflip, and Connotea are useful social bookmarking tools for teachers.  Bookmarking services for teacher-student interactions are provided. Such as, Portaportal and Filamentality which allow teachers to bookmark a group of Web sites in a secure space for use by students.
Information Alerts- An electronic notice that new information about a topic has just become available in some electronic publication format. Information Alerts provide busy teachers with a convenient system of announcements about new information online.Google Alerts, a free service for Google accounts, is one type of information alert. For information alerts using Google, you enter a keyword and the Google search engine automatically sends you an email whenever there are new results for your term. Using Google Alerts saves a great amount of time for teachers. Rather than searching yourself, Google does the job for you, generating five types of alerts: news, Web, blog, group, and comprehensive. Another source of information alerts is called ProQuest, which offers search options (e-library), dealing with current issues in society (SIRS), and reports on different countries from a cultural and historical perspective (CultureGrams). The EdITLib Education Information Technology Library also provides email alerts for teachers interested in technology-related topics. This fee-based service will notify you whenever peer-reviewed papers and articles on topics you select are published in one of AACE's journals. RSS feeds are another way for teachers to access information they need for curriculum and instruction. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a term for Web content that is being frequently updated. To read RSS feed reader you will need a RSS feed reader or news aggregator.
Tech Tool Link: GoodReads
GoodReads is a interaction website that requires you to sign up free of cost in order to participate. This website offers several genres of books and allows you to see what is the "Top Ten" most read books are. I like that this website is interactive so you can see what books your friends have read and what they recommend. Choosing a good book can be difficult, and with the help of GoodReads finding a book I will like won't be nearly as difficult. I think this Web site is more for personal pleasure than educationally focused.  I do think students and teachers would find this Web site resourceful if they need to find a book online or are looking for an appropriate book.
Chapter Summary & Connection

Chapter 6 was by far the most resourceful to me personally.  I loved how it offered useful information about Bookmarking and Information Alerts. I will use this today as a college student and continue to use as a educator. Saving time on searching so I can focus  my energy on learning and teaching is a gift from the teaching gods!Being currently enrolled in online classes I was curious to learn more about WebQuests and virtual field trips. WebQuests are virtual journeys where students can visit a group of preselected websites in order to explore academic topics by accessing online digital text, pictures, audio, and video. While Virtual field trips allow teachers and students to visit places around the world as part of their academic studies!
Maloy, Robert W. "Chapter 6/ Engaging Learners with Digital Tools." Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston: Pearson, 2014. N. pag. Print.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Journal #5

Researching and Evaluating Internet Information

Focus Question: How can teachers and students thoughtfully evaluate online information resources, including the online encyclopedia Wikipedia?
This focus question struck my interest not only because I am interested in becoming a future educator but also because I am currently a student. Every day we use the internet for multiple uses, may it be for directions, email, search engines, social networks, ect. Interent safety is a crucial issue in today's world which is why it is important to know how to thoughtfully evaluate information on the web.
As I had mentioned before, interenet safety is a crucial, dangerous issue in today's world. Researchers Nicholas C. Burbules and Thomas A. Callister, Jr., state that "Different kinds of information problems plague the Internet" They have  categorizing such "troublesome content" under four terms beginning with the letter M:
  • Misinformation- Information that is "false, out of date, or incomplete in a misleading way"(Burbules & Callister,2000, p.96).  This type of information is everywhere on the Internet, but may be hard to identify. "Disinformation" is a particular type of misinformation where "knowingly false or malicious information" is posted online, often from unknown or unidentified authors, in an attempt to discredit individuals or organizations.
  • Malinformation- is what reasonable people might consider "bad" or harmful information and includes "sexual images or material, potentially dangerous or damaging information, political views from militant fringe groups, and so on"(Burbules & Callister,2000, p.98).
  • Messed-up information- Information that is "poorly organized and presented" such as long lists of data without synthesis or context, Web pages marked by "gratuitous logos or other graphics that distract or clutter,"or discussion boards and blogs that feature text rambling on without a clear focus or topic (Burbules & Callister, 2000, p.100). There may be so much messed-up information about a topic that a reader is overwhelmed by the data and unable to make sense of it.
  • Mostly useless information- Information that focuses on the trivial, the mundane, the eccentric. of course, what seems useless to one person may be vitally important to another.
By being able to identify "mis," "mal," "messed-up," and "most useless" information, people and organizations resort to one of the following informaton management and control strategies: censorship, filters, partitions, labeling, or critical reading. Each approach has important implications for both teachers and students.
  1. Censorship- Meaning that material labeled offensive is banned from a school. But banning material is a repeating slippery slope. Standards of what is inappropriate or indecent shift over time, and in a society dedicated to freedom of speech and expression,a legitimate concern exists whenever a single person or organization has the power to decide what to censor.
  2. Filtering software-  Software required in schools recieving federal funds by the Childeren's Internet Protection Act of 2000, attempts to block material from computers by identifying certain objectionable key words or phrases. "There is no way to prevent determined youth from finding their way to inapropriate material if they are pooling their skills and sharing things they find with one another".
  3. Partitions- Like fitering, "restrict access only through pages that are themselves lists of approved sites" (Burbules & Callister, 2000, p. 110). Teachers might partition material by using a Web-based bookmarking tool to place material for student use in a restricted online space. However, they wonder about the accountability of the people deciding what to allow in and what to rule out.
  4. Labels- Classifications in a system similar to the ratings used by movie companies, telephone and satelittle providers, video game makers, and other manufacturers of products and services for children. Labeling systems attempt to identify for consumers a stanard of safe material for children. Such systems have been less than successful in restricting access to poor material, and they do not educate children and adolescents about what represents good material.
  5. Critical reading- Different approach that teaches children, adolescents, and adults how to read online material and decide for themselves its usefulness or appropriatness (Sutton, 2005). Burbules and Callister refer to critical reading as "hyperreading" or "giving students the tools to identify, criticize, and resist what is dangerous and undesirable on the Internet" (2000, p.114). Some schools may include critical viewing skills in the curriculum so students become aware of the influences of media images on citizens. Critical reading incorporates both critical thinking and critical viewing to teach students about " selecting, evaluating, and questioning information" from the web (Burbules & Callister, 2000, p.82). Developing critical reading skills is a key information to literacy and is vially important to students' understanding about how to use and contribute to online resources, such as Wikipedia, our next topic in this chaper.
Wikipedia: Online Encyclopedia
In design, anyone can submit an entry to wikipedia by adding a new listing or revising an existing one. A core staff or 1,000 volunteers evaluate each entry and decide what material gets posted online. The idea of this website is that high levels of accuracy and informativeness will emerege from the interchange of ideas and information generated by multiple contributors. Wikipedia claims to make the presentation of knowledge an open and participatory process by inviting everyone online to be part of the writing. Many people, librarians and teachers among them, distrust Wikipedia because recognized experts do not serve as referees of the  knowledge selection process. Their reservation is that without such editoral control, the trustworthiness of the database cannot be real. Teachers in every subject area can have productive discussions with students about that merits and shortcomings of Wikiperdia. Consider the following criteria for evaluating web resources provided by the Association of College and Reseatch Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Associations; accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and converage (Kapoun, 1998).
Accuracy- refers to the overall reliability of the information on the site by providing a clear description of who authored the site and for what purposes.
Authority- indicates the credentials of the author or authors as well as the nature of the site itself.
Objectivity- tests whether the information on the site is fair and nonbiased, including being entirely or largely free of advertising.
Currency- means that the site is up-to-date with recent information and updates are clearly indicated.
Coverage- suggests that the information on the site can be viewed easily without difficulties.
Tech Tool Link: LibriVox
This website offers free audio recordings of published books in the pubic domain. These materials are read aloud into digital audio files by volunteers and then available to the general public of the web.  As a future teacher and a current student, having the option to listen to a recorded section or entire required book makes my life that much easier. I am able to pause, rewind, and fast forward the recordings as I take notes.  I like the option to easily volunteer and participate in the recordings, which allows us to get involved in our world. Below is a video that provides you wtih step-by-step directions for a first time LibriVox recorder!
Chapter Summary & Connection:

I really enjoyed this information- packed full chapter! I was able to clearly identify how to evaluate a website and verify the appropriatness of the information provided. I was pleased to hear of the different methods used by schools to promote internet safety. I peronally would like to trust the critical reading strategy, but I find that the partitions would be the more benefical resource. One issue I want to continue to learn about is, IT FITness. IT FITness is a when students are being able to evaulate, learn about, and use new information technologies both personally and professionally. Students learn not only technical skills but also develop technology-informed mindsets and engage real-world activies and accomplishments. I think IT FITness should be added to the curriculum in order to better prepare our students for the new technology advanced world.
Maloy, Robert W. "Chapter 5/ Engaging Learners with Digital Tools." Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston: Pearson, 2014. N. pag. Print.