This semester has been especially challenging with my teaching three consecutive 70 minute courses three days a week. I have found it quite difficult to make a smooth transition from the past 35-years of teaching in 50 minute blocks. In the past I have often had an hour between classes for regrouping, reflection, meeting with students and gathering my thoughts. I have missed very much the usual abundance of in person quality time with my student assistants. whichg is vital to my happiness.
We have often had to coordinate their work efforts for me via electronic communication. I am most fortunate to have highly skilled, patient, playful student research assistants who can respond to a hurried, fly-by query from me "learn how to use Movenote and report back to me its potential value"with a quality response like this. Thank you for your most able and cheerful support!
Here is their preliminary assessment of this learning tool which just came to my attention. I can see this "cool" tool quickly earning a place on the Jane Hart learning tool list.
I have much for which to be thankful.
This past week I have been "studying" the excellent online lessons posted by Jane Hart about blogging. One consequence is that I have experimented changing the look of my posts here. I'm not sure that I agree with Jane that it is important to keep a blog "dynamic" by changing its appearances, but in so doing I can better get a sense of what this TypePad blogging tool can and cannot do.
Motivated by Jane's lessons I have begun investigating the relative strengths and weaknesses FOR ME and FOR MY PURPOSES of WordPress, Edublogs, Blogger, and Tumblr. I definitely plan to incorporate blogging as a component into my "Virtual European Immersion Course" (let me know if you are interested in more about this). However, I think I can adequately address that need with the integrated blogging tool which is part of the Social Network software i am using there (Ning).
I initially made a number of half-hearted attempts at blogging about six years ago but didn't seriously start using blogging tools until I was awarded an opportunity to become an online "community blogger" for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was during that year that I discovered the seminal work of my "virtual" mentor the indefatigable, never seems to sleep Jane Hart. I was also blessed to have a supportive editor who gave me free license to explore Web 2.0 tools and to write about whatever i cared to. Given that freedom to explore I rediscovered the joys and challenges of writing. The following year I was given the opportunity to teach a semester-long course on Web 2.0 learning tools to 25 college freshmen and blogging was a tool I introduced to them.
I blog when I feel I have something to say that might be of interest to others. I have an interest in life-long learning and in sharing what I learn. I have no particular interest in having a large number of followers, but I welcome feedback and, as time allows, I will acknowledge it. I've "met" a large number of interesting individuals in the past few years who have enriched my life and informed my teaching and learning. Let's learn together.
Robin the Newf – My Canine Confidante
Recently Jane Hart has extended an interesting professional development challenge. Make a resolution to find out how to use 10 new tools this year and write a monthly blog post describing one's experiences with the tools.Though I have been a persistent dillettante of her Top 100 Tools for Learning Lists for the past six years, this semester I have a unique opportunity (and a block of dedicated time) to focus on mastery of a subset of these tools. Hence, I accept and welcome the "challenge!" Thanks for the 'incentive", Jane!
Over the next 15 weeks six of my students and I will be working on a project to create a "virtual European immersion cultural experience course." Among the resources we will be drawing upon are
- Jane Hart's Social Learning Handbook (and selective updated material I shall master as a function of my joining the Top 100 Tools Club)
- Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson's The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching
- Laurence Peters' Global Education: Using Technology to Bring the World to Your Students
- Michelle Pacansky-Brock's Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies and
- Deltina Hay's A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization: Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web
The broad categories of tools I hope to master with my students are
Ambitious? Yes. Overly ambitious —time will tell but I am blessed with an unusually talented group of students with whom I have worked for years and who each have received a brand new Ipad to support their creation of this new course.
We welcome feedback and ideas.
Several years ago I pontificated the value of my using Twitter. At that time I came to the conclusion that Twitter was not a useful tool for me. Much of my current thinking
has benefitted from my reading or rereading several books (listed
below), my having participated in Carroll Technology Fellows group discussions,
and my developing with six student research assistants a new course ("Pioneering Virtual European Immersion
Experiences"). I also have found value in revisiting some resources I discovered such as this classic tutorial by the consummate visionary, teacher, and proselytizer, Jane Hart.
Books that have shaped my thinking:
- Michelle Pakansky-Brock's Best Pracices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. She writes well and thoughtfully, recognizes the limits of technology tools and offers a well-reasoned set of criteria for deciding which tools to integrate into the classroom. She is definitely someone I find value in "following"—so I do!
Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson's The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching. This book provides a useful decision matrix for choosing among and using the "right" technology teaching tool. As a result of having studies this book, I now have a better understanding of some situations where Twitter can be helpful to me in my teaching and scholarship.
- Deltina Hay's A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization. This book, though not written by a a teacher or for teachers, provides a very pragmatic guide to maximizing the benefits of Web 2.0 tools. I found the CD of links particulary instructive.
- Paul McFedries' twitter Tips, Tricks, and Tweets. Though somewhat outdated, this book successfully provided me with helpful, lucid details on mastering features of Twitter of which I was totally unaware.
Now if I can only divine my message to Pope Benedict XVI to 140 characters or less.
Just finished reading Susan Manning's and Kevin E. Johnson's (2011) book "The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching". Interesting to juxtapose this against the seminal 2008 work by Jane Hart that first focused my interest in bringing technology tools into the classroom. I'll use the Manning and Johnson decision matrix to help me decide which tools to use in the Virtual Cross-cultural Immersion Experience my students and i are designing.