Friday, June 3, 2011

That’s a Wrap Folks(onomies)!

It’s time for the final blog posting and I am somewhat daunted. How can I sum up my learning experiences over the past ten weeks in a single post? And then I realised, I don’t need too. Just take a look back through my blog (scroll right back down to the bottom). As you read through the postings, check out the videos and gawk at the images, what do you notice? That’s right, a journey. I’ll be honest, day one of the blog I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t know what sort of approach to take. Thoughts running through my mind: Should I inject humour into an educational blog? Do I need to use formal language? How on earth do I embed a video?!? 
Week 1, my blog posting was brief and let’s be honest, a little bland. No video, links, images or colour, simple text and not much of it. Week 10, and wow, the results couldn’t be further apart if you tried. It is like one of those Danoz Direct Ads on morning television; the before and the after shot. I am quite proud of what I have been able to do. When Mark showed us the blogs from last year I thought, Wow. Tag Clouds, Wordle images, videos, Vokis and Storybirds. And yet, somehow, I have managed to create every single one of those tool AND embed them onto my blog (a feat in itself). 

Things I have tried to do over semester:
•    Make the blog page my own. Almost everyone was using blogger; however, I did not want my page to look like standard template. I have tried to individualise it by playing with the background, changing the font type, adding gadgets, and injecting my own voice into the page.

•    Making it fun! The focus for this blog was on e-learning, and I have found ways to make the content more interesting to read then just writing text.

•    Injecting my own voice. Initially, I struggled with this as I did not know which direction to take. However I decided that by being a little more informal, this would personalise the blog and make it fun and engaging for others to read.

The advantages of blogging were that I could get feedback from my peers, who would usually question me; ask me to clarify; or correct my spelling and grammar (thanks to Geoff). I can see myself using blogs in the classroom. Firstly, they are so easy to set up and personalise. Secondly, the educational benefits are unlimited. Students could use it to improve their writing skills; their spelling abilities; their editing skills. From a teacher perspective, I could see exactly what the students had learnt if they were writing a reflective blog; and provide instant feedback on their work. 

The main drawbacks of this experience were that I always wanted to write so much about the whole area we had covered the previous week. Long, rambling posts are boring for readers. I had to be succinct and concise. Secondly, trying to comment on everyone’s posts and keep up with what is happening online was bordering on information overload. I chose to focus on a few, and then check in on the rest from time to time.

Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and will continue to make postings on this blog. I am glad that I have an example of a Web 2.0 tool that I can use to impress (hopefully!) future employers. I may even start up my own blog (subject matter to be decided) and I hope you will all continue to read it, enjoy it and provide me with feedback. Thanks for all your comments. After all, a blog is not really a blog if it is not being received by readers out there on the web.

Everybody Wants A Second Life!

Wow. That is all I can say. The future of e-learning, the Web and technology in general is headed for big things. And scarily enough, the wheels are already in motion. Some of the technologies of the ‘future’ are actually technologies we already use today. Take for example the discussion that was had in today’s lecture about the virtual world Second Life. I had no idea it existed. It was created in 2003. That is nine years ago! I am not too sure what I was doing nine years ago, but it was not creating an avatar to roam the streets and other realms of Second Life. 

Needless to say, Second Life got me excited. And now the novelty has worn off, I can see the potential educational benefits. Students in your class can each create an avatar (or you could create one avatar to represent the class) and off you pop, into a virtual world that allows you to see the world and the many things it has to offer.  I loved the example Mark gave in class. Your class can visit museums in Germany with replica real works of art. What an opportunity Second Life presents- to visit places that no school excursion can take you. 

Have you heard the fate of the standard desktop computer as we know it? Gone. Yes, that is right. What will remain is a screen monitor, but the secret to this computer won’t be in the motherboard, the RAM and all that nerdy stuff. Everything you will need will be stored online. In addition to that, the computer will be like our second brain. Again, I use an example Mark gave us from the lecture. 

Using Web 1.0 (which contained a general, basic search function that provided limited information) one could plan a holiday by typing some words in a search engine, for example ‘Sydney’, and the results would be stock standard –websites about Sydney, where it was, what it looked like. You would still need to visit a travel agent or an airline to book. 

Enter Web 2.0. This is where we are currently at, and to my mind, I think it is pretty great. It is all about the social sharing. Want to book a trip to Thailand? Visit Trip Advisor for reviews about the hotel, book tickets for flights online, ask friends on Facebook about good restaurants to eat at. I know you can do these things (and more) because I have done them myself when planning a holiday.

Now it’s time for Web 3.0 to make its grand entrance (in the not too distant future mind you). No need to visit a search engines looking for cheap deals on hotels and flights. Simply ask the computer “Where will I go on my next holiday?” And your question (and prayers) shall be answered. 

Is your mind blown yet? Mine certainly is. The question is this: if a computer can do all that to help you plan your next holiday, what can it do for education?

M-Learning is a big area set to take off in the future. What is it exactly, I hear you ask? It is a focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices, such as iTouches, iPad and android phones.

Another key term I find particular useful is that of Augmented Reality. According to Wikipedia (2011), AR is “a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics”. This key term is what programs, like Junaio, are based upon. Programs such as Junaio use a combination of geo-location and visual recognition technology. Check out the video from the iPad 2. Your mind will truly be blown!

Cool technologies of the future (and present):

·         Moblogging. Stands for Mobile Blogging (See what they did there?) You are a teacher into technology. Your enthusiasm for technology is as such that you have set up a class blog. Your students and you are out on an excursion. Using their mobile phone devices, they are taking photos of the location you are visiting. Instead of getting back to school, collating the photos and presenting them on a wall in your classrooms, students are simply uploading them directly to their blogs. Facebook has a similar function. Try it today, certainly saves on the paper.

·         Junaio. The summary from the webpage pretty much sums it up: “Tag the real world. Junaio allows you to create, explore and share information in a completely new way using augmented reality”.

·         It is as if my computer is reading me already. I open up my Internet browser and there I find a link from Google, “Art Museumsof the World”. Eerily similar to the example I have from Second Life. Check it out now, and extremely educational for an art or history context. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Voki Time!

Finally, after all this time, I have created a Voki. Extremely easy to do and again, a resource that has great educational value. This is an example from my Wiki which centres on the theme of Space Exploration! Check it out now.

Words Words Everywhere!

Here is my first attempt at creating a Wordle. Very simple and extremely easy to do. This one comes from my last blog posting, obviously the key themes centre around information overload and the associated technologies and tools.
I will most definitely by using this resource in the classroom during my next prac. I believe Wordle has many educational benefits, as I outlined in my previous blog.    Happy Wordle-ing!