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Flickr

Image Citation: League of Women Voters. Retrieved October 10, 2012.

From:     http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwvc/6841868647/

Flickr can be a great classroom tool for the educator. What a great way for students to share creative work through photos. As a high school online social science instructor, I believe I could use Flickr to have students in my U.S. History class create a photo journal on local historical sites. As we go through the election process, students in my American Government class could follow the election using photos of the Romney and Obama in action. They easily could create something like: ” A Day in the Life of a Presidential Candidate”.

The great part of Flickr is that you can share photos amongst a group. The instructor can limit access to the group and build that sharing function through putting classes into specific groups. This is probably the best feature of Flickr, you can keep these groups private and only share photos when you want. Another possibility of using Flickr is to find a class beyond your state or country to work with in the exchange of photos. You could easily work with other people on projects.

A real interesting project for any social science class would be the creation of a virtual field trip for students. This is really cool, since there really is no money in the budget for real field trips. Flickr allows the potential for the teacher and students to create these visual field trips. Imagine traveling to your favorite historical spot or museum without leaving your classroom.

Flickr is one of those Web 2.0 technologies that every teacher needs to become aware of and try to utilize with their classes.

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Wikis

Wikis are a great tool for the classroom teacher. If you are thinking about a project that will having students collaborating, then a Wiki is for you. The idea behind a Wiki is to research and build information on your subject matter. As a social science teacher, I am excited by using a Wiki in class. Here is an example how one teacher used a Wiki to set up course expectations: http://nobilis.nobles.edu/tcl/doku.php?id=courses:history:us_history:us_history_daccord:us_history_daccord_07_08.

The idea that as an instructor I can have students work together to research and build a Wiki is very exciting, because I see the potential to shift learning from being teacher centered to student centered. Wikis are a great example of how Web 2.0 technologies can be used to enhance and support student learning. Here is an example of a well known educational Wiki: http://www.flatclassroomproject.org/.

Flat Classroom looks to promote learning by eliminating barriers to collaboration in education globally. The project looks to bring students from around the global together. A Wiki is a great tool for students who are seperated by distance (like in an online class). In the case of Flat Classroom, you have children (students) in the U. S. working with students in Asia through the use of a Wiki. I think this is amazing! Literally, there is no borders for your class. Ther World is truely open.

I have just worked on my first Wiki for class. The most challenging part of this was planning for what we wanted on the Wiki. My partner is on the east coast and I am on the west coast. We were able to get around this through posting and email. I thought we worked well together.

I also gained a respect for Wikipedia this week. I think students and instructors need to verify sources on any research they do. Wikipedia seems to have pretty accurate information. I think all teachers should be teachng research skills and  how to use Web 2.0. This includes how to use Wikipedia and what is valid or not.

If you have not tried Wikipedia or Wikis….well, get on over to the Wiki site and sign up for your own class Wiki!

Who will lead the 21st Century classroom-summary.

Change is never easy and today we are seeing a push away from what some may see as traditional education in the United States to one that could be drastically different in the future. This is especially true at the high school and higher education levels. Some of you have made some great points in your comments, such as:

Change is a big part of education, especially when it comes to technology. I have seen teachers who are willing to change textbooks, but not willing to include Web 2.0 technology”. – Marc

Many instructors will be uncomfortable with this change, and those of us willing to bring the technology into the classroom will have to push them to understand the value of this change and the benefits they may see. We will have to lead by example.

I am struggling with the integration of technology in my classroom. On one hand, I love to wow my students, but when something goes wrong and the technology fails, it is very discouraging”.  – Dawn

Those of us leading this change are ahead of our colleagues and in lots of instances ahead of our institution or district in the integration of technology. This is the reason we need to collaborate with each other and bring in the Web 2.0 technology. The net itself through the use of RSS allows us to follow and find out the latest information. Not only may we have to lead at our site, but we may have to lead at the district level too.

“I know it is not easy for me to step outside of the comfort zone…I like routines”.- Kelly

Leaders must break their own comfort zone in order to lead. Realize that we all have a comfort zone and will not move forward if we get stuck in it. Education is about what is best for the students, not the teacher.  Site leaders should be aware of the needs of the teachers, but it is their job to move the group forward and take them out of this comfort zone.

“The AP talked about what a positive impact having the computers in student’s hands was having throughout the school”. – Clair

This is a great example of how students can become engaged because we are using tools that they are using on a daily basis. Web 2.0 is something they are comfortable with and certainly needs to be used by teachers to engage them at all levels. Mobile and tablet technology is increasingly in use in our school systems and is part of this change in education.

Final Thoughts

As most of you know, you are leading this disruption in education. You are in this class because you are using or hoping to use more Web 2.0 technology in your classroom. As an educator, you understand the value of learning and making yourself better at what you do. Some of those that we work with will resist this change, but it is in our best interest and the interest of our students to evolve and move forward. I would challenge you to find a way to lead in your school setting. You can set the pace for others to follow or you can sit back and ignore what is happening. I know that those who are in leadership positions will set those standards and have a voice. Those that sit back and resist this change will continue to struggle with reaching students and eventually will only fall out of favor with instructional leaders at the school site. This change may be slowly creeping up on you or can be coming at you full force at this point, but reality is it coming. It is predicted that by 2019, over fifty percent of high school students will have an online class. I find this change to be positive and exciting, and for someone who has been teaching for over twenty years……refreshing. Congrats to all who have chosen to move forward and lead!

The Power of Social Bookmarking- Have a Plan?

Social bookmarking is a great tool to share information within a professional group. Although, I do not have a twitter account; I am looking to set one up to follow some of the leading bloggers on technology in education. One way that I see the potential for social bookmarking is with Diigo. Currently, I am on our school sites leadership team and we have been discussing topics from technology in the classroom to developing a school wide grading policy. This means there are emails and links to everything you can think of. Often this is confusing and lots of information gets lost. So my plan would be to create a leadership group using Diigo. Here are the steps I would use to get the group to use Diigo.

1.  Since our Vice Principal is really the facilitator of this information, I would actually help her set up an account and a group.

2. At one of the leadership meetings, demostrate how Diigo could work.

3. Have the group start sharing bookmarks with each other.

This would be a great way to share information that we all are bringing to these issues, but we seem to lose or forget. We need information organization and this would absolutely help us share. Eventually, the group could expand to the staff and we could make this school wide.

I personally have signed up for two groups at this time on Diigo: Diigo in Education, and Web 2.0 tools for teachers. This seems like an easy way to access information on these topics, and I am excited to see that I can use Diigo to filter information I like to read and stay on top of.

Netvibes

Netvibes is great for managing information you need quickly through feeds.

Here is my link:

http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?preconfig=01a847e62c39665d688838c533781726

Learning via RSS

The internet can be overwhelming at times with all the information that is available out there. Who has time to process all this information. Today, we ask students to process this information at a rapid pace and as instructors have little time to surf the net along with all our daily duties. So, how do you solve this problem? How about using an RSS search to collect the information you would like and need to see. This is a powerful tool that allows us to get to the information we need. You can customize your search on Google and just get information on “Educational Technology” if you want. Instead of going out and searching the topic, just sit back and let the topic come to you.

Obviously, every online instructor will want to make sure that their students know how to use RSS to help them filter  information on the net. I know as a high school instructor that the students are very aware of using the net, but I have not seen many who utilize RSS and the potential to link information together for the puropose of research. You can link weblogs, do a news group search, follow other blogs, and set up your custom news site. This is a great tool and one that can help to make students much more successful in learning how to process and shrink the amount of information they go through on a given day.

RSS is a must teach section in any online or classroom setting.

Who will lead the 21st century classroom?

The way we teach is changing, but some of us don’t know it or care to be a part of it. Teachers today are teaching lessons that don’t engage students because they are stuck in their old school ways of doing things. Education is slow to change or reinvent itself when needed. In order to bring about change within our educational system to 21st century learning, we will need to have site leaders (principals) willing to push change and foster environments that take advantage of and enhance student technology skills. I would recommend that all instructional leaders read Michael Fullan’s “Leading in a Culture of Change”. In this book he identifies how educational leaders need to be leaders in  pushing disruption in the educational environment in order to bring about change. Those of us in online teaching are experiencing this disruption first hand and must be willing to be leaders through this process of  change.

I would suggest the best way to start to lead at your school site in the integration of technology would be to focus on small changes that will impact teaching at the site. Here is a great place to start if you are looking for Web 2.0 tools that you can bring into the classroom: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=3467.

If you are not the site leader, than you will have to sit down with your site leader and identify the ways that Web 2.0 can bring about positive teaching changes that can have an impact on student learning. Your principal has to be on board. Luckily, I have a site leader who is open to change; although he has multiple tasks and does not want to be the force behind this change. One thing that I have been able to do is inform the staff of some of the things that I am trying to do with our online program and share some of the things that I have found that teachers can use in the classroom such as http://popplet.com/. I used Popplet in my World History class so that students could connect people, places, and events. What a great tool. PowerPoint is another great tool that students use, but are becoming bored with. Well, how about using a Prezi instead? http://prezi.com/. These were simple things that I could introduce that teachers were excited to use and try and there are many more you can find on the net.

One thing that I believe we need to understand is just how much of a change is coming in the area of education and the world of online learning. A favorite book of mine on that change that I would encourage you to read is the World is Open by Curtis Bonk. He also has a great website/blog to go along with the book that will open your eyes to all the free content that is out there for instructors and students: http://worldisopen.com/. This blog is on the top of list of blogs that I follow. I was amazed at the potential of online learning after reading this book and I am still amazed at the change that is and will be coming in education as we transition to a more flexible and student oriented teaching and learning environment for our students. Will you be a leader in this change or will you follow. I choose to be a leader.