This week I've been taking a Web 2.0 grad class at Harrisburg University. The instructor is Jim Gates of Tipline: Gates' Computer Tips fame. This course is easily the best class I have taken in years. I am learning so many new ways to teach and to learn. My greatest challenge now is to sift through all the resources to find the ones that will work for me and my students.
To help my sifting process here is a list of the top 10 things I learned this week:
10) Pecha Kucha--A great suggestion for presentations: 20 slides, 20 seconds each. This forces the presenter to be prepared and to tell a story to keep the audience happy. Here is an example of a Pecha Kucha presentation by Dan Pink:
9) ePals --I think I like ePals, but I'm still waiting for my student blog site??? I have my profile and email account, but why so long for the blogs? Maybe it's my fault, no, on second thought I can't remember the last time I made a mistake. Early onset senility has its advantages. Anyway, I do like the fact that you can search for classrooms around the world looking to virtually get together. The email and blogs can also be moderated.
8) Creating forms in Google Docs --On the first day of class Jim Gates had us fill out a form with our name, address and years teaching. Instantly we could see the spreadsheet Jim made filled in with our information. We then viewed a scatter plot graph showing the years of teaching experiences for the teachers in class. The coolest part was viewing Google Earth with pins locating where we all lived. Very cool mashup!
7) Live Blogging with Google Docs --It never ceases to amaze me what you can do with Google. Create a Google Docs presentation and you can live blog the thing. Amazing!
6) Thomas Friedman's MIT Milestone Presentation Keynote Address
Fascinating view of how technology is changing our world. Usually, people don't realize what's happening until too late, and then are forced to be reactive to events instead of proactive. Thankfully, Friedman's thesis of the flattening of the world and the forces that are causing this to happen helps to explain the current state we face in the world. This makes what we do as teachers even more important to help keep the U.S. relevant, competitive, and creative.
5) Coveritlive --Being new to live blogging I think I like it. I will need to participate more in live blogging events to be sure I like it, but the ease at which it took to set up an event made me want to give this a try.
4) Embedding UStream into Coveritlive --Now I think I really like Coveritlive! I still need to get a cam (I'm sooo last century), but once I do watch out! Until I get a cam I could still find a UStream and embed it into a Coveritlive session. Again, the ease of embedding UStream in Coveritlive makes me want to at least give it a whirl.
3) Diigo Groups --I love Delicious, but I never knew what to think of Diigo. Actually, I'm still not sure what I think of Diigo, but I now see a feature that I like. Diigo has groups of like minded people who share links, ideas and discussions in a professional network setting. I signed up for the Educators Group, organized by Coolcatteacher Vicki Davis; the Classroom 2.0 Group, organized by Steve Hargadon who formed the Classroom 2.0 Ning Group I already belong to; and the Social Studies Group, organized by Adrea Lawrence who I don't know (virtually speaking).
2) Today, Jim Beeghley of Teaching the Civil War with Technology blog was sitting beside me -- and I didn't realize it. Earlier when we were sharing blog posts I shared one I recently read from Jim's Blog on tagging flickr photos to Delicious. Two hours later he came in to observe the class and he sat next to me, with me, of course, being oblivious of who was sitting next to me. I actually thought Jim was some sort of Harrisburg U administrator. After I found out who he was and introduced myself, I let him know that I was the teacher he blogged about in his post More Uses of Web 2.0 Tools--"Oh, you're Mr. T!" "Yep, I'm Mr. T" Funny how you sort of know someone from reading their blogs, but when you meet them in person it makes the virtual connection real. Very exciting. Can't wait to have Jim come to Hershey and share his love of the Civil War with my students.
1) It's not just about technology. It's about how technology enhances our professional communication, networking, and learning, in order to improve the learning experiences of our students. This may not be something I learned this week, but it is something that was reinforced reinforced.
What a fun and exhausting week!!!