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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blog 3 - K12 Online Conference Reflection

Constructing Digital Commonplace Texts Using Diigo, VoiceThread, VideoAnt, and YouTube Annotations the Classroom

This K12 Online was of interest to me because we just discussed VoiceThread at the last class and I was curious to see how to utilize these tools.  The key benefit to these tools, I believe, is that today’s students are digital natives and we need to think more like them and make a compromise if we want them to succeed.  As teachers, we are limited by the allotted time each day to teach a subject and this enables the discussion to carry over.  I think the use of the term “more bang for your buck” is applicable.  Instead of students not thinking about what was covered in class until the following day, it reiterates the material covered in a format that is on their playing field.  This technology introduces short snippets, but powerful, it is a great way to review new concepts covered in class.  I envision it like tugging on the student’s pant leg to remind them “do not forget this.”   Also, all students have an individual learning style and this allows you a variety of ways to get to them. This is an efficient, cheap remedy to reinforce and keeps the discussion moving (the bang for your buck).  Giving students time to mull over what was discussed the day before does not let the topic go cold.

With Diigo, interactive annotations via comments, stickie notes (if I had a dime for every important stickie note I misplaced throughout the years), is an idea that originated from writers far before technology, who annotated their working copies of their books.  This is an invaluable tool because it helps the reader to get a better understanding of what the author’s intent was (getting inside the mind of Shakespeare or better yet James Joyce’s Ulysses).  It also encourages group discussion in a format that does not intimidate students ( and I would assume it would help with bullying issues).  It allows students to express their opinions and the teacher to have a reasonable level of control over the discussion.  Dialogic interaction is what the presenter called it.

When we reviewed VoiceThread in class I wondered to what potential could I use this.  Now, I think it could be endless.  First, to be a teacher in this new technology age, I think it is no longer about memorizing and regurgitating your lesson plan, but it is about knowing what information to cut and paste as the sum of the parts are far more valuable than the parts themselves.  Teachers’ resources are stretched thin, and using items like this, sharing with your PLN, allows you not to necessarily do all the legwork with the lesson plans (from autonomous to collaborating).  I compare this to when word processors were introduced to offices and repetitive text was placed in a boilerplate format.  You would, of course, have to tweak the information, but you did not have to reinvent the wheel, just adjust the spokes.   There is no shortage of knowledge to teach, we just need to put it in reach of the students.

VideoAnt, only if that was around when MTV came on the air.  Actually, Pop up Video on VH1 is a rudimentary version of this.  I find this a great resource because you can assign videos to watch, guide the students on what items you want them to focus on ... all this in a technology that is cool, fun and neat (maybe groovy) so I think it would keep them more engaged.  You can get their feedback as well and monitor their understanding of the lesson plan.  YouTube Annotations is along the same ideas but you can take your own videos and annotate them.

All these tools have the potential to be invaluable assets in the classroom.  My goal is to become more familiar and comfortable with them so I can maximize their potential in the classroom.  I do not consider myself computer illiterate, but at the same time there is so much out there.  How do I cut through all the fat to get to the meat of it all?  I feel like a kid at the penny candy store with five bucks in my hand, wide eyed, staring at the candy counter not knowing where to begin, but excited!

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