Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Year of the Rat! I've been out of touch with my blogging as so much has happened. I finally submitted my first assignment at 3:40 am before the due date, and now it's time to start the second one which is due this week. I would have liked to start on it yesterday which was our second snow day, but had to prepare tests for my three courses instead. Sometimes work gets in the way of this course! I made a list of topics for this blog but now I don't understand my shorthand! I see I made a note to mention Jane Ross's Grade 5 classroom blog. Jane teaches in Jakarta and I am amazed at the content she continually changes. I asked her how she keeps the blog up and how she finds time for the students to blog. Also, there was some 'interesting' content on one of her student's blogs. Jane advises that she does work from home as well as school, and that her students are all online at home. That's interesting to me as my friend says that here in St Catharines, students only get one hour a week in the computer lab and they can't ask that they keep up a blog at home as some students don't have internet access! Jane says that blogs are motivational and that "My students are glued to their screens and I don't have behavior problems. I have problems with other stuff like plagiarism." On her FET 8611 blog, she has Wilbur - a virtual pet. She writes "This is how to get kids interested in blogging. Tools enhance site stickiness. Go on pat Wilbur too much and see what happens." I'd like to see if we can put anything like that into our Angel blog which I haven't started with the students yet. I had found some inappropriate content of one of the student's blogs. Jane advised that came from the free chat box that can be inserted into a blog. As she says, anyone can post anything and that's one of the dangers of having that feature available. I've learned through Jane and from all of my readings that it is important for parents to monitor their kids' time on the computer and they and the schools must have some internet protocol rules in place. But how do you really do that? Parents are too busy, they're at work, they're not as tech savvy as their kids.

Teraview has been quite the learning curve. Speaking of Teraview - I gave the students the same training manual as I used and it was interesting to see how they learn and interpret so differently than I do. They look at every picture and noticed a discrepancy in PIN number that I didn't. It must have to do with the fact that I know what the end product should be but it was a wake-up call for me to ensure my training materials are clear. I'm still working on Angel by myself although our pilot group is supposed to have a f2f meeting soon which I am looking forward to.

I'm working on setting up a folder for each student's private discussion forum and student blog and was hoping I wouldn't have to do it 26 times. I learned how to copy content but it doesn't work from home, much like the Groupwise email behaves differently at home than in the college. Also, Angel behaves differently with Firefox than IE. I find that frustrating.

One of my colleagues posted a kG site about Zotero a couple of weeks ago so I've downloaded it and hope to update my references, as I am not good at keeping them current. Speaking of keeping track of things - Josh Catone wrote an article about Social Media Fatigue. It expresses the frustration of keeping track of our usernames, passwords and accounts for all the networks we join. Since I started this course, I've signed up for so many accounts and I've lost track of them until I receive an email - for example, I'm glad I receive the Elluminate and Innovate newsletters as they remind me to log in.

Although I've been too busy to post, I do think about it every day. I find when when I don't know where to start - I begin with checking into twitter. My twitter friends keep me up to date on new and interesting/educational sites/blogs such as Shareski's podcast about the use of cell phones as a learning tool or Liz B. Davis's screencast explanation of Web 2.0 applications. Also love the idea of using Google Forms for class collaboration. Tom Barrett has some great ideas and suggests using it for staff responses. We sure could have used something like that when our Angel pilot project group of six was trying to arrange a mutually convenient time for our first f2f meeting!

Good news! I visited Disability Services this week to find out how we could make the lab more user friendly for one of my visually impaired students. The problem is that changing the monitor to High Contrast doesn't have any affect on the various legal software we're using. Hopefully by loading Zoom Text, (a magnification and reading software), on one of the PCs, may be the solution to our problem. More on that in the weeks to come.

On a personal note - since the last time I wrote, we've had two big snow storms and the college was closed on both of those days, Don has arrived, the house is finished but the furniture is still somewhere at sea!

1 comment:

Jane Ross said...

Hi Janet,
The way around it is to regularly check the kids blogs. I check about twice a week. Thanks for tipping me off about Alizka. She was so embarrassed about what her blog had written on it. My main worry is that my students will follow up people who leave comments on their blog. I have to talk about this constantly to warn my students. I have an AUP that is signed by parents and students before starting blogging. Parents are aware as I am always talking about this in newsletters etc. The Internet is wide open. It's like leaving your kids alone at an inner city bus terminal - anyone might walk past, even criminals. Internet safety is so important. Disney has some great games to help kids become aware.