Thursday, November 19, 2009

Technology is Changing but Teaching is Constant

The principal, in one of the buildings in which I work, recently approached me with research he had found.  He initiated a discussion regarding engaged instruction.  I was so pleased to see administration taking an interest in this topic.  He was expressing that he felt technology could be used to intro a new enthusiasm to old topics. 

We understand that we must teach the required New York State Standards.  We do not believe in teaching to the test.  And yet, we need students to learn at a certain level in order to perform well on Standardized tests.  The question is how do we get students motivated to learn.  Not every student walks through the door with intrinsic desires to learn.  Some will need more motivation and stimulation.  Reciting of facts is not enough.  We need to assist students in building deep understandings of material and then applying those understandings. Technology may change but good, solid teaching remains a constant.  A f2f (face to face) experience led to a phone call (once considered amazing technology) which sparked discussion about using computers, video, podcasting, vodcasting, and more to teach more effectively and efficiently. Harnessing the best of modern advances to better assist us in providing old fashioned seasoned, well planned out instruction.

I appreciate the enthusiasm with which this concept was presented to me.  I look forward to working on this project to better serve the needs of both our students and our faculty.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Podcasting vs. Audioblogging

A lot of technology terms get thrown around these days.  Many are synonyms many are nuances of terms.  First we developed digital audio (capturing sound waves on a computer), then multiple file formats (ways of saving the audio), then web hosting (method of saving the sound wave on the Internet), then RSS (method of finding sound waves posted on the Internet) and of course ipods and mp3 players (devices to download audio files onto for use later).  Now the techie civilization gets involved and we have words like podcast, audiocast, vodcast, vcast, sound clip.  Then with the advance of technology people find ways to express themselves.  We develop websites, blogs, youtube videos, digital storytelling, and more.  Then combination occurs.  Why not make blogs (written expressions) that contain overlaying audio that people could download to listen to at a later time? This created some to start audioblogging.

What is audioblogging? Exposition on a topic of choice to express one's feelings with a few images either graphic or textual with an overlay of audio. 

I had a great conversation with two fellow teachers today.  They were discussing the desire to make their instruction more interactive with the students.  Notice I did not write for the students.  They were trying to think of ways to make learning more engaging.  I think the progression through the various terms of web delivered audio for education needs to begin slowly.

One of the teachers and I discussed simple podcasting.  Having recordings made.  Uploaded.  Collected. Downloaded.  Personally I think this is where to begin to become more familiar with the tools.  But as with all technology advances, we find easier ways to move further.  I think a great project would be to begin with eventually developing vocabulary vodcasts.  Giving the students the opportunity to choose a term surrounding a theme.  Then define the term in concise writing.  Create an image to accompany the term (draw it or find it on the web in copyright cleared locations).  Record the student defining their term.  Overlay the audio to a slide show displaying the term, definition, and graphic.  A series of these (one from each student) would create a fabulous review that could be downloaded and played over and over again on computers, ipods or mp3 players with video capabilities. 

I always marvel how a small conversation can spark such a large idea.  Have you tried podcasting with your students?  What has worked for you and your students?  And equally I would love to know have your students had success from listening to content delivered via podcast or vodcast?  Please feel free to comment here to share what you have learned so that we may learn from you.  Happy podcasting!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Point-and-Click Vs. Click and Point

Today while listening to Scott Meech discuss an idealistic view of technology education I noticed a Freudian slip. He meant to say "point and click" but said "click and point".  I believe this was unintentional.  But it raised the question in my mind, is there value to asking teachers to think "Click and Point" instead.

First, what is traditional "Point and Click"?  According to Netlingo (a great online dictionary of technology terms) "point-and-click: A commonly heard phrase used to describe the act of putting your mouse arrow (or cursor) onto a menu button, for example, and then clicking on that selection to activate a program or utility."
My understanding is these are the simple routine tasks we complete that take little effort or thought processes.  We simply find what we want, point our mouse to it, and click the mouse button.

But now the question is raised, is this an efficient and valuable use of time and resources?

Perhaps it would be more productive to ponder the phrase "Click and Point".  My way of looking at this would be visit websites (urls), click your mouse, and then point out the value contained on the page display or the lack there of, as may be the case.  I find this concept interesting.  Perhaps it is better to encourage teachers to coach students in becoming better thinkers, analyzers, and evaluators.  A website's displayed content may have intrinsic information readily available as words, images, multimedia, etc.  But isn't the true value in the excitement of finding greater value that creates higher order thinking experiences.  You can view a page and give it little consideration.  Or you can view someone's post (be it a static page or blog) and begin discussion, interpretation, integration, and many other nouns that pertain to classroom knowledge acquisition.

Thank you, Mr. Meech, for a thought provoking presentation this afternoon.  I encourage respectful comments.  Let me know if you agree or disagree with my opinion by leaving a comment.  If you attended Tech Forum Northeast '09, I hope you found a thread or two to take home and weave into a larger fabric of technology integration in school.  I will try my best to bring the threads I gathered back to my district and assist teachers in weaving them together and through their current curriculum covers.

Blog Begins

Thank you for visiting my blog.  After attending Tech Forum Northeast 09 today, I have decided to create a professional blog.  I use several web 2.0 tools in my own personal development but perhaps it is time to embrace them for my personal professional development as well.  For this reason, I have started this blog to chronicle my own PLN.

I hope to compile interesting resources I find here for others to peruse.  Additionally I will blog about my own professional opinions.  I encourage polite comments.  Feel free to agree or disagree.  But please let's agree to be respectful.  Hopefully this blog will serve as a record of my own professional growth.

Who am I to blog? I am an Instructional Technology Facilitator in a local school district in Westchester, NY.  My nickname is Neene, hence the Blog title.  I assist the teachers in creating an integrated approach to utilizing technology to address curriculum concerns.  Constantly I am asked how to utilize a component of technology.  Finally we are beginning to shift our focus to meeting curriculum standards and using technology to better address those concerns rather than just using technology for the sake of technology.  It is my optimistic wish that I may present content that some may find enlightening, engaging, or encouraging using this blog format.