Before long, it'll be time to teach a second round of Web 2.0 skills to my computer applications students. I'm learning as I go, fully realizing that the potential for my professional growth comes from both successes and failures along the way. In reflection, here's a quick summary of what I know I want to change or continue using as I head into the new semester.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
One of the first activities I'll continue to have my students do is to create a Google Account. From this one account they get access to GMail, iGoogle, Blogger, and Google Docs and Spreadsheets and so much more. Students usually come in with an email account (though some don't), which is a requirement for setting up a Google Account.
I will continue to use Delicious.com to model social bookmarking. I thought of switching to Diigo.com because I value the idea of being able to highlight and clip notes from web pages. However, I'm not totally convinced that Diigo.com works seamlessly with the browser we primarily use in our school district. Also learned that our district blocks it -- why?? I am still very open to other social bookmarking services that have the power and popularity of Delicious, but with highlighting features. Suggestions anyone?
In retrospect, I'm painfully aware that I need to do some work on how I teach students to do their podcasts. I think I did well teaching the technical side of Audacity and layering soundtracks, but feel I did not do so well helping students construct meaningful content for their podcasts. Though all students had to flesh out a rough draft of their podcast before recording, interviews were often shallow and contrived. Are students more afraid of the mic than I thought? As I listen to their recordings, I get this continual feeling as though they just want to get the interview "over with". Also present in many of their podcasts was the inability to really listen to those they interviewed - to really probe and ask more about what was being said or even unsaid. How to teach these skills will prove interesting.
Students loved Netvibes! We started dubbing it "iGoogle on steroids". The embeddable slideshow offered up by Onetruemedia was also a huge hit as was the online editting power of Splashup.com. Was very proud of students' ability step outside of themselves to create blogs that drew attention to social issues they felt passionate about. In the end, I felt like they really understood that blogging gives them a voice and an authentic audience to converse about ideas that really matter to them and the world.
As far as establishing blogging boundaries and parameters, I feel I did a pretty good job on this first go round, but as I research Internet safety in more depth, I think I'd like to send home some info to parents to get them involved and aware. To focus more on digital citizenship and responsibility, I'd also like to tackle the topic of cyberbullying and see how the students respond to the idea.
Overall, a majority of my students left at the end of the semester with smiles on their faces. I heard comments of "I'm going to miss this class" and "we learned a lot of cool stuff in here" as they walked out. There were those I failed to ignite, as well, so I continue to explore the underlying reasons to see if I can bring change to those things within my control. Wish me luck as I continue to learn and share more with both students and colleagues about these amazing tools!