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Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

City Refraction, City Reflection
Image by lrargerich via Flickr

Here lies Heather Kennedy-Plant’s final required blog post for the Summer 2009 EDES 501 course through the Faculty of Education at the Universityof Alberta.  The post focuses on the mission given to me and my classmates just six short weeks ago and contains reflections and recommendations for moving forward with bringing innovation with technology into our classrooms. 

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action ~ Peter F Drucker

It is now time to reflect 

Our course mission for the blog assignments was to undertake an independent inquiry exploring Web 2.0 tools.  Through the blogging assignments we had the opportunity to discover, experiment with, and reflect on these new technologies and their use in teaching and learning.  Our proff and facilitator, Jennifer Branch, both taught and learned with us over this past six weeks! 

Thank you Jenn!

Thanks for the wonderful collaborative approach that you started us off with! The welcome discussion in eClass is a must keep assignment for this course. The written feedback and tips you provided when you graded each blog assignment and our discussion groups helped me find my way.  I started to find my “voice” as I took each of your tips into consideration for subsequent blogs. 

In the beginning of the course, I tried to read about what makes a good blog because I had not really discovered that for myself yet.  The assignment at the beginning of the course to search and find blogs that we checked in on over the course was an excellent idea!  I started thinking about what it was that was made me return to the blogs I enjoyed visiting more than once, and several times reflected upon why I kept going back to several and never returned to others.  Before the class I had not frequented any blogs.  If there was one tip for future students in this course that I could pass along it is to frequently view and consider what they like about the blogs that keep their attention and draw them back.  For any future blogs that I might create I will be asking myself for each and every post, why would someone want to come back and visit me again? 

I am sure that future students will continue to be like our class and many may never have exposure to many of these tools until they start this course.  I had never paid attention to blogs until we were assigned to and I know that was the case for several of my classmates too.  Copyblogger is an exceptional how to site and I wished I had come across earlier in the course!  I am sure that it was a resource recommended in either our eClass links, the trailfire links for our class but it didn’t come to my attention until a classmate brought it up in an eClass discussion, several weeks into the class.  Perhaps this is for the best though because I did find my own style and now I can use the points from Copyblogger to improve my blogging but they are not my only considerations for how I blog. 

I am not sure yet when I will next blog but I am not adverse to the thought of it and I will definitely keep up with most of the other tools that I am coming to have a rich understanding about and will use them for either work and/or for personal interest.  I plan to get back to Picasa, which I happened upon for my blog about photosharing and I am eager to use videos as discussion starters for ethics and business etiquette training, which I blogged about in my videosharing blog.   

Social bookmarking will be very useful for organizing all of the superb resources that are online for career counselling purposes and my other work related topics of interest.  I also enjoyed creating a podcast and believe this tool has great potential for marketing our program and/or for putting together lessons or tutorials.   

With virtual libraries open 24/7 I know that our students have access at all times to a vast array of resources.  I am confident that I will continue to benefit from the many services available from our online libraries.   

Wikis are an exceptional tool for collaborative learning.  I love the idea of living knowledge that I conjure up when I realize that Wiki’s are always changing and improving and the content improves as more people contribute, and the community continually grows stronger which creates “a powerful, positive cycle!”  

I found one of the most fun tools while researching for my blog on multimedia mashups. It is animoto and it is sure to be used by me lots more in the future, as I bought the subscription and am curious to see how they further develop this most excellent tool. 

There is no doubt that I will continue with facebook which visitors to my blog on social networking are sure to quickly realize.  I love it for my personal use and see many benefits to using the group capabilities for student groups.  It is also a tool which we can use to educate our students about the power of social networking and also about privacy, safety and digital identity.  Twitter certainly grabbed my attention and although I do not think I will bring it into my work anytime soon, I will keep up with the tool and do not have a difficult time seeing its potential.  Blogs, Blogging for PD, and RSS were all topics covered in my August 9th post and I will return on a regular basis to my RSS feed to catch up on the latest news on a wide range of topics.   

Thank you classmates!

Now that I have reflected upon the core topics of my assigned blogs, I would like to reflect upon the discoveries of my classmates and a few key things that jumped from their blog posts to capture my interest, further my understanding and engaged me with the topics, in even greater detail.  Thank you to every classmate for your welcoming introductions, your eClass discussions and eClass “coffee talk” and for the major efforts you each put into your blogs.  I found that even though we were examining the same topics I was able to learn something new from every single one of your blog posts.  Every contribution was and is important and when I consider bringing any of these tools over time into my work, I will return to your past blogs for insights, thank you all!   

The workload has at times been gruelling, as those of us who are at our dashboards instead of our backyards, and at our computers, and frequenting our “in class” eClass discussion groups, can truly understand.  We have just accomplished an utterly mind-blogging (yes, intended play on words), amount of research, writing, and collaboration! 

Classmates: I continually learned from your unique perspectives on the very same topics I was blogging about!  What we did in this short six weeks is truly amazing and epitomizes the collaborative possibilities of blogs and class web portals! 

You all rock and your blogs are all HOT! And I would like to wrap up my reflections by thanking each one of my classmates personally and individually now.  In alphabetical order, (by last name, with the last name removed) here are my amazing, dazzling, mind-blogging classmate’s blogs and a brief note about just some of the gems that they shared on their blogs that I feel are worthy of remembering: 

  • Dan introduced me to “torrents” when we engaged in a discussion on his blog post about photo sharing, where the topic of plagiarism was introduced into the discussion and the topic served as the spring board for my blog about using YouTube videos for teaching ethics.  Thanks Dan!
  • Ruth engaged me with her positive eClass discussions and took the initiative to arrange an in person meeting when she was passing through Edmonton on her way back home to Saskatchewan.  Luckily, I was able to make it to the High Level Diner, as was our classmate Gerta. It was a great experience to meet in person and discuss our class.  The sense of camaraderie was heightened when I learned that all three of us were finding that this course, although great, is intense and very time consuming.  Ruth has energetically approached and grasped twitter and even discussed artistic ways to play with twitter.  I will be sure to check out twitpic and the rest of Ruth’s list in the future. Thanks Ruth! 
  • Gerta was also in attendance at our breakfast meeting with Ruth and it was a great experience to meet in person and discuss our class.  Two videos that Gerta discovered and shared in her blog on the topic of twitter really caught my interest and so I shared them in my vodpod.  One was just plain fun and the other had entertainment value but also is a great teaching aid for my work – it is the how to lose your job in 140 characters video and you can access it from my vodpod or in my blog. It is a great teaching aid for lessons focused on personal identity and online persona. Thanks Gerta!
  • Shirley shared an anecdote in her blog about twitter that resonated with me.  “The larger issue in this application however, is to not to confuse information with authentic communication. Or as my gifted administrator friend said to me, “remember that our most effective teaching still comes face-to-face, palm-to-palm, and in the safe and caring schools we have all worked so hard to create.” This is a message that I will continue to remember because I agree that face-to-face is when I best get to really know my students. Thanks Shirley! 
  • Debbie titled her blog The Reluctant Blogger.  She provides a critical analysis of web 2.0 tools and in her blogs she seeks to consider if these tools are appropriate or useful for educators to implement and she approaches many of her blogs from both a pro and a con side for each topic.  Her conclusion on her blog on the topic of social networking shows that even though she may be believe she is a “reluctant blogger” she is willing to consider using technology in her classes, “One thing I have to seriously consider are the potential benefits to using social networking tools that students may already be comfortable with before I make any decisions to dismiss or try out a new tool. Will teaching on their turf motivate them to be more actively engaged in the learning process?”  The question Debbie asks is an appropriate one for all educators to keep in mind, and I believe that it is important to keep up to date with the technologies that our students are engaged with and when and if appropriate we should reach and teach on their turf. Thanks Debbie!
  • Tara has an exceptional ability to break down information to provide her audience with guidance in a step-by-step manner.  She is also early with most of her assignments and so when I was still researching for the topic of RSS and I was ecstatic that she too had the same problem as me, information overload, and she had already devised a 5 step RSS plan for success to help sort through her 1000 + feeds.  I liked her advice so much that I shared her tips in my post on the topic of blogs and RSS and I am happy to accept advice on how to manage my information in a meaningful way and thought my audience would like the advice too. Thanks Tara! 
  • Carol shared some great ideas about professional development through online collaboration and her ideas set me thinking of the idea of actually “getting to know” and work with people even when we are divided by distance as a very real and potential use of Web 2.0.  It is something that I foresee as beneficial for our staff and ultimately, when we share and build upon best practices, it will also benefit students. This video that Carol shared speaks to the potential of creating conversations online for mass innovation and is based on a book by Charles Leadbeater, ‘We Think’ explores the potential of the latest developments of the internet . Thank you Carol! 
  • Lori reminded me of the term that was on the tip of my tongue but I couldn’t recall from our guest speaker eClass with Mack Male.  She commented about Mack’s visit and mentioned continuous partial attention in her blog about twitter.  Lori wrote, “It was interesting to hear Mack D. Male agree that his best approach to accomplishment is continuous partial attention; i.e., multitasking. That is a clear statement on how many of our students function.”  The concept intrigued me too and I am happy that Lori remembered and shared it in her blog.  I was intrigued by and would like to look into the concept further in the future.  It would be interesting to know if there is research on the topic and I wonder if we can educate ourselves about how this concept works, how it can be optimized, if it can be taught, and to gain a deeper understanding of the concept.  Thanks Lori!

Thanks classmates!  You all rock and your blogs are hot!

Thanks again Professor Jenn for the learning opportunities!

Thanks Joanne for the great trailfire links!

Thanks Mack for your exceptional guest appearance!

Thanks Will Richardson for the text and the ongoing wisdom shared in your blog!  As you note in your text: Blogs are hot! (2008, p. 20). 

As you can see from my classmates contributions, this exploration into Web 2.0 has truly been a collaborative adventure.  But this is not the end, it is the beginning.  As we set off with new knowledge and understanding we will need to promote these new technologies and bring innovation into our classrooms. 

We’re never done learning technology.  We can’t truly learn in isolation and we’re not ever settled in our roles as collaborator and teacher… We must know how to select, adopt, and promote new technologies… to a place of prominence as innovative models for teaching and learning in our schools.”(Brooks, 2008, p. 14)

I believe that technology alone will not enable us to be better educators and we must have good, sound, teaching practices and then we can use the tools to enhance our teaching.   As well, just adding a tool for the sake of demonstrating that we can now use the tool is not an adequate enough reason to rush into using any new technology.  I have discovered many great uses of Web 2.0 tools and shared them in my prior blogs but it will take some further planning before I am ready to implement these valuable tools.  I need to come up with sound rationale for each tools use, and when I do come back to each tool and begin planning for its use, I will start my plans by considering David Jakes list of tips for making IT stick that I have included below. 

David Jakes, in a conference keynote presentation, described the “characteristics of school culture that are required for an innovation to become seamless and transparent.”  In other words, to become “sticky.” Here are his thoughts:

Making IT Stick

  • There must be a high degree of organizational readiness for the innovation.
  • The innovation must have multiple entry points for a spectrum of usership; each of these entry points must support effective use by teachers and students.
  • The innovation must clearly address an instructional need, with benefits for both teacher and student.
  • The innovation must add value to an instructional process.
  • There must be visible and tangible results indicating that the innovation improves student learning.
  • The technology has been taken out of the technology or innovation.
  • The teacher has become a confident, active, and visible user; use becomes seamless and transparent. (cited in Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p.22) 

In addition to Jakes making it stick tips, Solomon & Schrum (2007) ask several key questions that can move Web 2.0 integration plans ahead:

At what point will new tools and new methods catch on enough in schools to reach the tipping point? What forces are pushing school change? From this vantage point, it looks like the confluence of having new tools (both pedagogical and technological), the future economic need, the access to bandwidth, and tech-savvy students are driving change. 

If you are an educator and you need one more reason to bring about change by bringing Web 2.0 innovations to your class or school, I highly recommend this following video that shows us how much students exist in the digital age so that teachers can understand their need to get up to speed with the technologies at hand.  I discovered the video on my classmate Debbie’s blog – good find and thanks for the share Debbie! 

Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?  The above video presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching. Please see http://t4.jordandistrict.org/payatten… to learn how you can become a better teacher. 

We as educators can effect change and lead the way as change agents

What will make change happen? Gladwell (2002) identifies three factors necessary for change to occur: exceptional people who drive  change by their own habits, stickiness or memorable qualities of the ideas that move others to act, and the power of context, which includes the skillful use of groups and the power of communities. (cited in Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p.22)” 

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ~ Alvin Toffler

With over 35,000 words written in 38 posts, I would say I have come a long way in an extremely short period of time, towards driving change through my own habits.  I have played, learned, created and came to understand many of the most useful Web 2.0 tools.  I look forward to keeping up with them and also to discovering new tools along the way.  It has been a very busy six weeks for me and I have been challenged and at times, sleep deprived, but I am eager to declare that the mission has been accomplished! 

I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and share this final video with you to ring out the old and welcome the new!  I wish you all happy Web 2.0 adventures!  I leave you now with a little Auld Lang Syne, to ring out the old and rush in the new.

Best to you all from me!

 ~:) Heather Kennedy-Plant, the curly-haired co-op coordinator!

 

References

Brooks, L. K. (2008).  “Old school” meet school library 2.0:  Bump your media program into an innovative model for teaching and learning.  Library Media Connection, 26(7), 14-16. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=31853628&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Lombardi, M. (2007). Authentic learning for the 21st century: An overview. Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3009.pdf

Richardson, W. (2008). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (Second Edition.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Solomon, G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. 

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A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.

Image via Wikipedia

Just yesterday I was having a tough time thinking about how I can bring all this new information I have to my colleagues and was also trying to think about which “just one tool” I would narrow down to share with them.  I thought about how much I enjoyed the collaboration with my classmates, professor, and guest speaker in our live online class and it got me thinking that this is where we need to head, as I mentioned in my earlier post today we use Blackboard/uLearn and so I set out on a mission to consider how we might integrate online conferencing into our work.  It also made sense as a starting point because we will have an opportunity to participate in a virtual conference together this fall with colleagues from across Canada, so they will be able to see firsthand the benefits of such a great tool.

So since I was last here, I set off to find out if we might be able use a virtual classroom to conference with our students.  

The Virtual Classroom is a Collaboration Tool that allows Instructors and Students to participate in real time lessons and discussions and also view archives of previous Collaboration sessions. The main area of the Virtual Classroom includes all of the functions available to users. From this area Instructors can manage the session through the system controls, interact with participants, and use the Whiteboard to post content, open Web pages, and draw. The Instructor has the ability to control access and functionality for other participants in the session.”

My goal was to come up with how we could implement using this new technology into our program and to consider how I might be able to get the ball rolling so that we can begin showcasing this technology in our program.  I usually take a “just jump-in” approach with new learning about new technologies and have done so in this case too and hope that I can convince my colleagues that we should use this approach for online conferencing with our students – let’s jump in!

This morning I was already speaking about some very applicable uses for this technology in my post, so I needed to ensure that we can actually use online live conferencing and I set off to see what I could find.  For there is not much reason for me to go further, if I get all excited about implementing a new technology and in my haste I engage my colleagues only to discover I have found a tool that we cannot access for some reason.  Especially given that my primary approach to sell my colleagues on starting with this tool is about just how easy it is to use.  The main objective to using this tool though is to add value to our students experience in our program. 

I started looking at our intranet and went to the link on teaching services where I am very happy to report, I found that our faculty does support live online collaboration.  There on the list of resources available to us, I found a link to Elluminate – Web Conferencing and upon further reading I discovered that we can use University’s virtual classroom application; the very same one that our Web 2.0 course just used.  It can be used not only for class, but also if you need to hold a virtual meeting, online office hours or mini-conferences or information sessions, for our entire cooperative education student body to enable them to collaborate with each other and with us at the university, even if they are out on their work experience placements.

I also came across the information on our faculty’s online course management system, which I mentioned is Blackboard and see that it is described in more detail than I imagined.

The School of Business maintains an online course management system (cms) known as “uLearn” which is used for all School of Business courses.  uLearn runs using Blackboard which is currently the most popular CMS worldwide.  Blackboard offers a variety of online tools that enhance the learning experience for students including announcements, course calendar, discussion boards, online assignment submission, exams, communication and much more…”

My investigations have been going far better than I ever anticipated! The current tools that we have in our course module for potential use in uLearn are a calendar, announcements, tasks, view grades and an ability to send email.  Since I believe my colleagues will adapt quickly to the benefits of using Elluminate I can briefly think about what we else is available within our uLearn cms so that when uses come up in conversation with my colleagues, I will be prepared to provide a list of potential, additional options.   else is already readily available for our potential use.  I found that our faculty’s online knowledge base has a separate link for uLearn/Blackboard.

I am beginning to rapidly notice that our office does not utilize uLearn to anywhere near its full potential and I have a fair idea that my colleagues, like I was, are not aware of the diverse Web 2.0 tools that we can bring right into our course modules, such as Wikis and Blogs.  This simple find, is how I will be able to share all of my new knowledge with my colleagues!  This, as my classmate Lori might say, is my eureka moment!  I had no idea that there were any tools outside of those that show in our course, never mind the full list of potential tools that are supported by our faculty.  We now have a have a well-rounded menu of available tools right at our fingertips and the technical support that comes with using them through the online course platform offered by our faculty. This course has shown me that there are endless ways to use Web 2.0 and now I am finding that some are way closer to home than I ever imagined!

WOW! Our online classroom platform has the potential to create an exceptional mashup and will keep me and my colleagues busy looking further into all the potential it offers.  Before today I had no idea that we can add a wiki to our course, or that we have the ability to add a blog.  These two finds alone are enough to start discussing with my colleagues how to really get the technology integrated into our courses. Eureka!  We can start with  live online conferencing, then wikis, then blogs, then

 

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Here is my blog assignment: Explore multimedia sharing / mashup sites – and VoiceThread or Animoto.  

What is multimedia? What is a mashup? Heard of VoiceThread or Animoto?  Sound simple?  I thought not!

If you are like me, you may also not have heard of these terms in the context of Web 2.0.  I had heard of multimedia for classrooms through my work at the University over the past ten years and thought of an overhead projector and VCR or DVD machine, when I first glanced at the topic for this assignment. 

As for mashups, I instantly thought of music mashups and examples such as,

 The 1999 Eminem album The Slim Shady LP with a cappella vocals from the track “My Name Is” combined with the music of many other artists, including “Back in Black” by AC/DC, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.”

I needed to rethink a few things and it has taken me a great effort, over several days, but I believe I am now ready to attempt to share my considerations on the topics of multimedia and mashups, and I will then move onto considering Voicethread and Animoto in the latter portion of this blog.  Join me and let’s learn what all this new lingo is about. 

What is a mashup?  Wikipedia has several mashup definitions but the one that is particularly important to consider for this Web 2.0 discussion is the wiki page titled, Mashup (web application hybrid).  This wiki distinguishes mashups that are created for use in terms of web development and it delineates a mashup as it is often used in a Web 2.0 context:

A mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data. An example of a mashup is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct Web service that was not originally provided by either source.”

If we are bringing Web 2.0 tools together to exhibit on our blogs, are we mashing? Who will mash the web?  We will!  We do!  

Thinking out loud: If you are you using a widget or embedding content from outside of your blog?  Then aren’t you creating a mashup? 

I believe, if we are blogging about Web 2.0 tools, we are likely making a mashup!  If we are bringing new applications into our blogs then we are likely mashing (making a mashup).  I am sure this may be seen as a stretch of the definition but if wikipedia’s definition of a music mashup is “a song or composition created by blending two or more songs” and mashup web applications occur by “creating a new and distinct” service that was not provided by either service when they were stand alone services, then I think we might just be doing a whole lot of mashing in our blogs, and in our social networks.  My blog is no longer just a stand alone application that exhibits my writing but it also shows off my blog tags with the addition of a tagging widget in my sidebar that is updated when I make each post.  When I am creating my blog at home I have an add-on, Zemanta, that recommends articles, tags, and other content as I create my blog.  I never really paid attention to it before now and only used it for the it’s feature of automatically generating additional resources at the end of each blog.  For this blog, I see there are mashup articles and so I have marked two that seem related to this topic and you should find the links to them in my blogpost; one is titled, “Mashups are groovy baby” and the other is “Best New Mashups: Guardian, Pandora, and Android.”

In the Web 2.0 realm then, I will define a mashup as a “composition created by blending two or more”  web tools, such as a blog with and some other online service, such as Zemanta and declare that when I am blogging and using another Web 2.0 tool/service with, in, on or through my blog, then I must be mashing and creating something new and distinct?  If my logic is not faulty, my classmates are mashing too becuase each one of them has some form of add-on that they have introduced into their blogs.  Their blogs, like mine, began as stand alone entities.  Most everyone who blogs is mashing.  We are all mashing the web! 

 Blog on, and mashup, fellow blogger mashers!

Next: what is multimedia? And what the heck is multimedia sharing?

It is what we are already doing in our blogs and in this course.  When we combine different forms of media and content we are defining multimedia!  We are combining content and looking at different forms of media.  Wikipedia defines multimedia as,

media and content that uses a combination of different content forms. The term [multimedia] can be used as a noun (a medium with multiple content forms) or as an adjective describing a medium as having multiple content forms. The term is used in contrast to media which only use traditional forms of printed or hand-produced material. Multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms.” 

Multimedia is what we are combining and bringing into our blogs. If you are blogging, I would bet you are using multimedia.

From Wikipedia here are some examples of individual content forms that might be combined in multimedia: 

Wikipedia’s definition of how multimedia usage is occurring in education is that

In Education, multimedia is used to produce computer-based trainingcourses (popularly called CBTs) and reference books like encyclopedia and almanacs. A CBT lets the user go through a series of presentations, text about a particular topic, and associated illustrations in various information formats. Edutainment is an informal term used to describe combining education with entertainment, especially multimedia entertainment.  Learning theory in the past decade has expanded dramatically because of the introduction of multimedia. Several lines of research have evolved (e.g. Cognitive load, Multimedia learning, and the list goes on). The possibilities for learning and instruction are nearly endless.”

What we are already creating and discussing multimedia  in our blogs and as I argued above, our blogs are also a mashup.  We are not just moving beyond “traditional” forms of hand produced media but we are moving beyond one medium when we provide links to follow, content that has or is taken up in multiple forms of media, and content that can be interacted with by people.  We are using multimedia and we mashups. 

We are mashing.

We are using multimedia,  just see my embedded videos below.  

We are actively creating Web 2.0! 

We are the web! 

We are multimedia mashing! 

Silly? Profound?  I say no; after all we are sharing, collaborating and mashing up the web!  Let’s move forward together and continue the positive relationship and knowledge building – let’s mash on!

When looking for research or resources on the topic of multimedia sharing I was not very successful in finding much material, and when I searched instead on the topic of multimedia and education most of the material was quite dated.  For instance, I found a site titled Suite 101 that has a list of “latest articles” on multimedia education with the most recent article listed being from 2005 and the discussions on this site are even more dated. I did come across one site that looks rather fruitful: an extensive resource list of multimedia resources for educators and students can be found at the Utah Education Network website.  This lengthy list of resources for use in multimedia presentations includes sections covering, multiple media, sounds, pictures, video, music and more.  The site also has several links to online powerpoint tutorials and I even found a link to thousands of free powerpoint presentations, on hundreds of topics for educators. I took a look at the free powerpoints on miscellaneous business topics and found that there are topics included that I might be able to examine when it comes time to review our Cooperative Education seminars and workshop topics, such as the presentation on the topic of networking. 

With one lucky multimedia sharing find, I decided to turn to the next segment of the assignment and started exploring both VoiceThread and Animoto to decide on the direction for the remainder of my blog.

We had a choice to explore Voicethread or Animoto and I started by taking a closer look at both.  VoiceThread is billed on its homepage as a “powerful new way to talk about and share your images, documents, and videos” and all you really need to get started using this Web 2.0 technology is to visit the site’s tutorial, What’s a Voice Thread Anyway.  The tutorial is a great link to this multimedia gem and it provides a very good overview of this easy to use program.  For practical examples from a post-secondary context, visit the Voicethread 4 Education wiki’s College page where you will find voicethreads that were created by students in distance learning, college courses, as part of an icebreaking activity to have the members of the course introduce themselves.  The VoiceThread webpage for higher education solutions suggests several uses for this tool, “Whether it’s Distance Learning or adjunct coursework, a VoiceThread allows educators to use a single tool to host secure conversations around almost any type of media, whether it’s videos, documents, images, or presentations. Present course materials within a rich, online environment that fosters a warmer and more engaging dialogue around ideas and concepts.”

It has been a pleasure considering and becoming familiar with Animoto.  

Brought to you by film & TV producers, Animoto turns your images into exquisite video pieces in just minutes.  You won’t believe it til you try it. Fast, easy, and free to sign up (from the homepage, http://animoto.com/).”

The application is gracefully simple to use and produces amazing results.  It has expertly created and packaged tools that make my picture slideshows look exceptionally professional, and with the ability to add music the application brings my amateur photography to life by turning photos into an action video – I love Animoto! Creating a video was quite simple and if you have photos stored somewhere online or on your computer, you can likely have a video up just as quickly as I did.  I used pictures from a facebook folder for 3 of the videos and pictures from my hardrive for another.

Animoto guides you along the way step-by-step and like so many of these web 2.0 technologies there is really no need for me to need to guide you or give you a detailed “how to” tutorial and instead I will give you my examples and set you loose!  Have fun and I am confident that you will master these programs in no time!  If you do want a quick tour and tutorial there is an Animoto tutorial on SchoolTube.

I created four videos so far, and posted them all to my YouTube channel (another Web 2.0 first for me – I now have a video channel, wild!).  I have also gone ahead and embedded two of the videos here for you so that you can readily see the possibilities:

This Animoto created video is compiled of photos I took around the University of Alberta campus when it was in full bloom.  I titled it, Take a walk in spring on campus, and used the export function in the toolbox to send it to my YouTube channel.  

Another video that I created is from images that I captured just this past May in Florence, when I had some free time to explore Tuscany before attending archaeological field school to take part in graduate coursework with the University of Alberta’s Cortona project and I explored Tuscany in my free time.

 

Florence is a must see location on any tour of Tuscany! Taste the gelato, mingle in the market crowds and enjoy the magnificent Italian arts and culture that surround you!

You can also view two other videos if you have the time, both are also only around 30 seconds in length each, Ossaia La Tufa  in the heart of Tuscany Italy is the place to be for all things archaeology! The Cortona field school through the University of Alberta rocks – dig it!  Florence, just the start of my time features more Florence moments.  

The Animoto toolbox allows you to share by multiple methods, including sharing your videos to your wordpress blog, facebook, twitter and more.  From the toolbox you can also edit or remix your video and I am thankful for this option since I made a spelling error in one of my first videos but was able to go in and edit the text before finalizing again and sharing to YouTube.  Not only can you edit but you can remix your professional looking Animoto videos until you are happy with your masterpiece. The toolbox export feature is great as is the sharing feature. You can post online, Youtube it, and share in multiple other ways.  There is an option to create a greeting card in your toolbox although currently the only choice, at least in the free account, is to make a Father’s Day greeting card, so I cannot really make further comment on this tool, it is too early to make a card for my father or husband; I would likely forget all about it by next June.  When preparing for a family wedding last summer, there was a powerpoint slideshow put together from pictures of the bride’s and groom’s childhood and at that time I was immensely impressed with how well it worked but now that I have discovered Animoto, going back to slideshows would be like returning to communicating with a fax machine after becoming proficient with email.  For personal use, there is no going back, I am an Animoto fan and supporter! 

Brisco (2009) included Animoto in the School Library Journal’s list of the 2008-2009 10 Best digital resources.  Brisco noted that with so many innovative products on the market this year it was a difficult task to narrow the list to the top 10 and here is why Brisco chose Animoto:

Animoto may have single-handedly resuscitated the art of booktalking. It allows users to quickly mix book-cover images, photos, text, and music to create a 30-second online video that will definitely grab the attention of most middle or high school students. Aside from the obvious uses of Animoto to create interest in books, library programs, or activities, this program can also be easily used with students without requiring instructors to have any previous experience with video-production software. While the cost is extremely low for individual accounts (free for a short 30-second video or $30 for a yearlong subscription, allowing for more creative expression and longer videos), educators can utilize the program free by creating classroom accounts, if they also provide Animoto creators with input into how the product is being used by their students. As one of the more eye-catching and easy-to-use programs available in this remixed 2.0 world, this is a definite must-have, must-share tool for every school librarian’s toolkit. (Reviewed July 2008, p. 64.)” 

A Learning & Leading with Technology article (2008) also raves about this recently created new Web 2.0 tool, and describes Animoto for Education as:

A new video-production tool just tor teachers.  It’s designed to allow K-12 teachers unlimited access to Animoto’s standard and premium services, including online tools to quickly and easily create exciting, dynamic videos for the classroom. The program is designed to “think” like an actual director and editor. It is designed to analyze and combine images and music with the same post-production techniques used in TV and film. Teachers can upload their images, pick a song, and Animoto produces the video in minutes (p. 45)”

In regards to how I might use Animoto for work, I can imagine using 30 second Animoto videos to include in power-point presentations.  They would be ideal for enhancing any power point presentation and could add both a professional and engaging dimension to any work related presentation.  With the easy and free access they could also be used as a tool for engaging students.  We could challenge students to create and submit either short promotional clips either about their workplace or about general Co-op topics that we could highlight in our presentations, seminars, workshops and of course, online.  One of the main limits I see with the free version of Animoto is that taking this tool much further forward for presentations seems very limited with only a minor ability to include text it would be difficult to bring much depth into presentations but that may not be the case in the Animoto for Education version or the Animoto Business versionand you could always include screenshots and turn them into jpeg’s for loading in place of photographs and hope that the mix comes out legible – hey, if it doesn’t at least you can remix until you find something you are happy with.  As well, in looking at the case studies there is also no capacity for introducing audio other than music for the videos.  

My Animoto account will be active for another 183 days and at that time or anytime before, I can purchase an all-access Pass, 1-year Subscription $30 which will allow me to create unlimited full-length video creations for one full year.  Once I am done my Master’s degree this summer, and work settles down after the beginning of fall term, I can see myself subscribing to explore the full potential of this program.  As mentioned, there is also the Animoto for Educationversion and I have completed the application for that access and eagerly wait for their response, after all I support their statement that with Animoto, “It takes just minutes to create a video which can bring your lessons to life.”  I will be sure to let you know the outcome and will also share about any costs that might be associated.

For a tool that can capture the attention of an audience, Animoto is a sure fired winner and once you have your students attention you can proceed to the meat of your message; you will have a captive audience!

References

Brisco, Shonda. School Library Journal, 10 Best Digital Resources. Jun2009, Vol. 55 Issue 6, pp. 36-37, (AN 41042200). Retrieved from Academic Search Complete July 29, 2009.

Learning & Leading with Technology, What’s New.  Nov2008, Vol. 36 Issue 3, p44-46, 3p, 8 color; (AN 35428095).  Retrieved from, Database: Education Research Complete July 29, 2009.

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Tasty travel, edible ethics, and career advice with a cherry on top – it’s easy and simply Del.icio.us to get hooked on social bookmarking.  Bookmarking and tagging are such great ways to get and stay organized in our online world and with Del.icio.us you are sure to be coming back for seconds!

WordPress has a widget for sharing del.icio.us bookmarks and you can add the widget to your sidebar on your blog to share your saved bookmarks with everyone who visits your blog. The widget allows you to enter a title and you then add your del.icio.us login in a field and choose the number of links you would like to have displayed when a user goes from your blog to your del.icio.us account.  When a visitor opens up your bookmarks, your favorite tags that you list in the bottom field of your widget are available for your visitors to see and they can find all of your bookmarks and other tags with just a few clicks of the mouse.   You can see my widget sidebar at the top of the right column of my blog –  click on the link and you will be directed to my bookmarks and tags. I have chosen to highlight multiple tags to share which fit well with my current interests. 

For a complete guide to using the WordPress Del.icio.us widget watch the video below.  The support area in my blog contains great advice on all of the available widgets on WordPress and on several support topics they even have videos and categorize this section of their support area as WordPress TV.  The entire video catalogue is available online at WordPress TV

Some of my current favourite tags include travel, ethics, career advice and co-op.  Career advice and co-op are constant topics of interest because they are integral to my work.  Ethics is a new favourite topic as I research how we might integrate this topic into our curriculum. Travel is a favourite subject of mine both personally and professionally.  I provide advice on working abroad to students and have tagged several URLs where I regularly direct my students to research topics such as visas, country profiles and the culture of their preferred destinations abroad. 

I also have an international travel bug myself and because I just recently returned from a trip abroad to Italy, where I completed an archeological field school for three weeks in May, and I have used the travel tag to capture some of my favourite links that I used when planning my trip, such as Hotels.ca where you can book hotels around the globe but pay in Canadian currency, using your Canadian credit card.  I booked my hotels for my trip to Italy both from Canada and while in Italy and did not need to worry about exchange rates and hidden costs, the price I saw was the price I paid and my room was reserved and paid in advance. 

When I was planning my trip, I came across several locations that I did not have the fortune to make it to and by bookmarking I can come back and view these for future travel planning, in months or even years down the road.  For instance, I did not make it to Cinque Terre, and likely will not be heading there in the near future but it is one of my favourite Unesco World Heritage Sites, of which there are 890 sites in total, and I am sure that I will learn more about this destination and plan to travel there someday.  Bookmarking is great for travel sharing too.  There were so many great places I did make it to, such as Florence and Cortona, and not only would I love to return someday, I am also very happy to be able to recommend my tried and true destinations to potential travelers.  To nurture my travel dreams in the meantime, I receive an email newsletter from Travellerspoint and I have bookmarked their website to share with any of my likeminded friends who might join my bookmarking network because they too have caught the travel bug.

Sharing your bookmarks in this way makes the act of bookmarking fall within the realm of Web 2.0 technology, as it takes bookmarking to a social level where it can become a social activity.  You are no longer just saving favorites, like you did in the old Web 1.0 days, on your computer’s browser for only that computer’s users but you can now save, store, and share your favourites online adn access them from any computer with internet access.   You can also make your bookmarks public and can even create networks to share bookmarks. 

Another very popular social bookmarking site is Digg.  It is a news related site that offers community members an opportunity to share bookmarks and blogs.  All members of the community can rate stories with either a thumbs up thus, “digging” a story or with a thumbs down and thus, “bury” a story.  Highly “dugg” stories rise to the top and become part of the Popular Stories which are listed on the main page.

A final bookmarking site that I looked into seems to come up often in the bookmarking literature, it is StumbleUpon.  Although I only briefly took a look at it the concept seems appealing if you like to learn as you go and discover or “stumble upon” like pages that are similar to past topics you have visited.  You must download a plug-in browser that enables you to bookmark and rate your chosen websites. Relevant pages can be found by clicking on the “Stumble” button which gets added on to your browser toolbar with the download.  Given more time, I think this would be a fun site to further explore and though I do not really see how it might relate to sharing for my work purposes it does seem interesting.   

I would have liked to explore other social bookmarking sites in further detail but I only briefly investigated about five other than the ones mentioned above to ensure that I wasn’t missing something major.  Lund, Hammond, Flack, and Hannay (2005) noted a few years ago that “As these services have matured and grown more popular, they have added extra features such as ratings and comments on bookmarks, the ability to import and export bookmarks from browsers, emailing of bookmarks, web annotation, and groups or other social network features.”  This remains true today and not only do most bookmark sharing sites have a full complement of features there are many sites to choose from too.  I believe that my appetite for social bookmarking and the features I choose to top my plate with has been fulfilled and I am now addicted and dedicated to Del.icio.us. The features in my chosen bookmarking site are very well suited to sharing for my work purposes and I can imagine creating an account specifically for resources related to topics for our students, for example, cooperative education, career advice, business news, and working abroad, to name but a few.  I could then invite colleagues and students to join the network and we can collaborate on building our very own online resource site.

What interests you?  Who would you want to share your favourite online places with?  You know from my blog that I am a fan of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, if this interests you too consider a trip to my bookmarks to visit my travel tag, and explore my Unesco links in my Del.icio.us bookmarks. If you find any of my topics are also of interest to you, feel free to join my network and we can build and share our favourite links together.

Many friends and family members have shared with me how they loose hours on video sharing sites like YouTube and although I easily understand, I have not been lost there often.  However, I do find that time just seems to escape me when I start playing around with Del.icio.us.  I believe that once I am finished my course and have time to spend organizing and categorizing all that I love on the www that I also will have the potential to loose sections of my free time, in large chunks with this tool and similar tools.  Just starting with a few favorite topics that I frequently research online got me spending hours online and I imagine as I learn to fully use the site to its fullest potential, it is likely to become my favorite tool this summer! 

Want to read a wee bit more about social bookmarking before you decide where to begin? Visit the following link to read an article that provides brief descriptors for 125 social bookmarking sites (the link is also saved at my bookmarking site if you need to find it in the future, just join my network and view my tag titled bookmarking, http://www.searchenginejournal.com/125-social-bookmarking-sites-importance-of-user-generated-tags-votes-and-links/6066/.

 References

Lund, B., Hammond, T. Flack, M., and Hannay, T.. In: D-Lib Magazine 11, Nr. 4, 2005, Retrieved July 14, 2009.

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Blogs, and for that matter Web 2.0 tools in general, are becoming the newest medium for communities to communicate and collaborate and my goal through the next six weeks will be to consider how other post-secondary programs are already utilizing these tools for promoting their programs and for enhancing student learning.  

To consider how cooperative education (co-op) programs are benefiting from Web 2.0 I will not only see what my colleagues around the globe already have up and running but I will consider how we might utilize Web 2.0 to promote our program, communicate with our stakeholders, engage students in learning and development and also use these tools for personal and professional development.

I have been able to view many career education related blogs thus far and will choose my favorites to follow over the upcoming posts.  To date, some of my findings of interest have been captured in the sidebar links in the right hand column of my blog and I have also begun to bookmark several others that are of interest.  For example, you can see the 10 DO’s and 10 DON’T’s of interviews are two career advice links which are saved and examples such as these can foster future consideration on how we deliver and provide our career advice to our students. 

I have also come across a couple of post-secondary co-op (also referred to as work integrated learning) programs that are utilizing blogs and other web 2.0 applications.  Simon Fraser University in British Columbia http://www.sfu.ca/wil/has blogs for their work integrated learning (WIL) programs and has even created a facebook/online mascot, W-I-L, and a twitter feed to engage students.  I am confident that I will learn more about SFU’s use of Web 2.0 by exploring what they have to offer online and I will consider the direction they are taking in several upcoming blogs.  

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council Exchange http://www.altcexchange.edu.au/resources/alp/1201 is an exchange community who shares various work integrated learning resources and I have just found out about their collaborative work through my research for this blog while seeking blogs that are of interest to me. I have become one of the newest members of this exchange and I plan to learn more and blog about the exchange in future posts.  Their site explains that “the Exchange is an online professional networking site which enables members to contribute, collaborate, and share knowledge about innovative teaching and learning practices in higher education with like-minded professionals” and with the work and resources already available on several education topics that are of interest to my work, I know that I will have lots to consider from their already active contributions on the exchange. 

As noted by Tim O’Reilly, the transition to Web 2.0 is forming “a movement from the web being a static means of one-way, mass communication to an interactive, personal communication medium” (cited in Johnson, 2006, p. 24) and as I explore other post-secondary blogs I see that staff and students are already using these transformative technologies in formal and informal ways. Several questions are already forming for me and will guide my future considerations, such as how will we consider who should be the driver of the use of web 2.0 tools? Where, when and how might we use Web 2.0, i.e. in seminars, workshops, in open cyber-space, while students are on work placements, to recruit, to reflect, for assignments, as an option…? Can we engage students to lead the use of these new technologies or should the drive come from the academic program side?

I suspect that a collaborative effort which remains an in progress, living work and which is able to grow, develop, adapt, and change, will be effective.  As long as we discover and formulate what essential guidelines will lead to ethical, respectful, purposeful, and meaningful communication then we can begin to seriously consider how we move forward to implementing these newest forms of technology for our program.  I look forward to considering further how we might have students and staff communicating to guide the path into the future use of these technologies. 

What must it have been like to transition to the use of electricity, the phone, the fax, email, cell phones, the world wide web…? Can you recall the time before your transition to a “new technology” and can you now imagine living without that technology?  Considerations of new and upcoming technologies are not an option they are a must.  Change is the only constant and the only constant is change (for actual, full quote see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Heraclitus).  

Welcome to our next transition, Web 2.0 here we come! ~:) 

Reference
Johnson, D. (2006). Blogging and the media specialist. Learning and Leading with Technology, 33(6), 24-25.

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