Trevor Kew's Learning 2.011


Tools (click for links):

- Flickr -- photo storage and better resource than Google Images. Creative Commons searches are available (which means that photographs can be correctly cited).
- Picnik -- a photo editing web tool useful for making things like blog headers, etc.
- Creative Commons -- an attempt to regulate the use of online material (such as photos), giving creators credit for their creations.
- Prezi -- Online Presentations -- great for the Oral Presentation in G11.
- SoundCloud = Voicethread? -- these seemed quite similar from what people were saying. A great resource for practicing the IBDP Individual Oral Commentary and getting peer feedback directly on your voicethread.
- GoogleDocs -- collective note-taking and curriculum documentation aside, this could also be used as a place for:
1) moderation of tasks for busy teachers who don't have time to meet;
2) peer editing of essays/stories/etc.;
3) collaborative writing of a story or essay (although this is nothing all that new...just another way to do it);
4) assessment by a teacher/feedback...paperless (although I don't want to do this because I don't want to grade exclusively on my computer and especially not while connected to the
Internet). Another alternative is to give the kids feedback on paper and get them to type the feedback into GoogleDocs (which would make them actually look at it, perhaps!).
- Dropbox -- probably a much better way to receive assignments than email. I also think turnitin.com could be used for this purpose, maybe?
- ManageBack (includes assessment?) -- used to manage CAS too - linked to turnitin.com (one-stop shop) -- this seemed pretty awesome, I've got to say. It integrated the work, the assessment and even the reporting all into one place. The gentleman who showed it to us was very positive about the level of integration it offered in terms of task, feedback, assessment and reporting. Needs to be purchased by the school.
- PiratePad = GoogleDocs (China) -- Google Docs don't work in China!
- archive.org - history of virtually every website ever created
- altavista.com - type link: before any website to view what sites are linked to it. This is great for investigating the reliability of websites such as the Tree Octopus or the MLK website (which is actually owned by white supremacists).
- visuwords.com - a great graphical thesaurus/dictionary (everyone knows which words we'll all type in first).


Immediately Useful Ideas

- use GoogleDocs for moderation (as it is hard to arrange meetings)
- use GoogleDocs for peer editing and collaborative writing (using Insert Comments)
- using GDocs for Assessment - consolidates all students' work on your computer. If, like me, you don't want to assess on a computer (or a GoogleDoc), have the students input your comments/correction into the GoogleDoc themselves. This could assist in the setup of online portfolios/E-portfolios.
- writing a picture book with another school (or two?) -- Art/English Department. This mimics the actual picture book production process (where authors/illustrators work independently of one another).
- sending essays or creative writing to students in another school (via GDocs or email) for peer editing (via Tracked Comments) - this also mimics the actual editorial process.
- editing Wikipedia or Wikitravel for Japan (field studies?)
- on Shelfari, you can create bookshelves to put on your blog that follow a single topic or common theme (via using the Tags feature).

Contacts

See this page for contacts (English/SS): http://engsslearning2.wikispaces.com/Jabiz


Reflection

I must admit that I began this conference feeling quite skeptical about the over-emphasis on technology in classrooms. It also felt like a lot of the presentations focused on why we should use technology rather than how to integrate it into classrooms as a practical and time-efficient tool. While I understand that it is important to convince teachers that tech is an important component to education, I think at times teachers are simply told we are old-fashioned and are not given enough credit for having a critical approach to the integration of new technologies. For this reason, I felt that the best sessions of the Learning 2.011 Conference focused on practical tools and how to use them (though at times this was done a bit quickly or was too scattered to follow) or allowed teachers to share their very real concerns about their own classrooms, as well as their various approaches to addressing those concerns. I also noticed that, like a new class, it took a while for people at the conference to gel and feel comfortable. The second day definitely felt more productive.

As always with conferences, however, the most valuable thing I've come away with is a sense of camaraderie. Many other teachers are struggling with the whys and hows of how to integrate technology into their lessons and so more than any tip or contact or tech tool, this sense of collective struggle did somehow provide me with a much-needed professional push. Although it may just be schadenfreude, I am reassured by the struggles of fellow professionals. I've found the same at the children's writing conferences I attend, surrounded by other writiers. My father says the same about law conferences, despite being surrounded by lawyers. Same job, same boat, (same iceberg).

My grandfather, a civil engineer, kept one of the most immaculate tool sheds I've ever seen. "A place for everything and everything in its place" was his mantra. It is no different with today's digital technology. For example, the collaborative aspect of the Internet is very powerful, but it can also be powerfully distracting (as cited in this Guardian article, Cory Doctorow calls the Internet "an ecosystem of interruption technologies"). When writing fiction or an essay, for example, I believe that the Internet is usually not conducive to the sustained thought (and perhaps, depth of thought) required to achieve those tasks. Other tasks, such as making notes collectively, do work much better when using tools like GoogleDocs. Makes me think of Grand-dad's garage. He wouldn't use a buzz-saw when he needed a bolt-cutter. I just wish my tool-shed was as organized as his.