Monday, April 19, 2010

Podcasting, Webcasting, and Coursecasting

Podcasting, webcasting, and coursecasting have become quite popular on college campuses, and hopefully the craze picks up at the K-12 end soon. These course enhancements can be something as simple as an audio file or as detailed as a video production. These are quite useful tools to help students study or review lectures or presentations from class. They also benefit those that are absent or those of us in distance courses that can't always attend synchronous learning engagements. iPods have shown efficiency in my classroom by recording student reading fluency. Instead of reading in the classroom, they record on an iPod in a quiet place and I listen and grade later. It's pretty helpful for struggling readers too shy to read in front of classmates. I have also put powerpoint presentations or audio files on them to help students with tests. They are allowed to choose from a variety of resources in the classroom to aid them (cheat sheets, textbook, iPods) and hopefully improve their test scores. I also put this into effect for practicality reasons. How often are we in a position where we can't look up how to do something? I provide this sense of reality to my students and hope they take me up on the offer.

I, however, struggle with listening to just a podcast. I need video. I need visual stimulation. I attribute it to an undiagnosed case of ADHD. So video podcasts are the way for me. I also prefer to make these since I am typically making podcasts for math class. I could verbally tell students how to solve problems, but most need to see math visually.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Educational Blogging

When I hear the the word blog, I think of a diary or the livejournal I secretly kept in high school. It wasn't until two years ago that I recognized blogs being an educational tool appropriate for elementary school. I had a revolution and realized that blogs were an excellent way for students to publish and reflect on content knowledge. This could prove to me that they knew the information (or unfortunately didn't). It was a great way to engage students and their parents with material at home or at the library. At minimum, it would encourage them to work on material after school hours or during free time at school. Sadly, I was never able to implement this in my classroom but our science teacher was. Things would start out great at the beginning of the year, but it was difficult to maintain throughout the school year and students couldn't be penalized for not doing the work if it was assigned for homework since not all students have the internet. It became apparent that students were engaged for awhile because it was new and it was technology. However, the novelty wore off, the teacher became disengaged, and the blog postings went to Hell. Instead of reading about science content, I was reading about which Harry Potter character my students were or about the Reds team. I haven't looked back at blogging since that disappointing day, but writing my own blog has given me a fresh look and encouraged me to reexamine my feelings towards educational blogging.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mobile, Wireless, and Ubiquitous Learning

With mobile and wireless capabilities, learning is truly ubiquitous, granted everyone has access. The forums this week posed the question of using mobile technologies to take the place of calamity days for schools, something that I have discussed in detail with my classes. Most are interested in mobile learning (mainly via laptop) but not all have access to computers or internet. Until it is true that everyone has access to these technologies, I don't think K-12 schools can require online learning due to expense and it is doubtful that schools will be providing these technologies for students. Ohio's "online calamity day" sounds much more glamorous than it really is. I envisioned skype sessions, youtube vidoes, or at the minimum a discussion forum. This is far from the case and reading the proposed bill was quite disheartening. Lessons must be turned in for calamity days in September, and most calamity days are not used until December. This means the lessons will not be in sync with the content of the class, but hopefully will lead to more "big picture" lessons. It is a step in the right direction, Ohio, but not the giant one I was hoping for.