Monday, April 8, 2013

Chapter 5 -- Using Tools to Support Connected Learning

We are so lucky to have a variety of ways to connect online and that's what this chapter is all about. Have you had a chance to try any (or maybe even all) of the tools mentioned in this chapter? What are some of your favorites? Were there any new ones that you tried that you are going to start using? Are there tools that you are using to connect online that were not mentioned in this chapter? Some of the ways our office stays connected are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs (this blog and Web 2.0 Challenge), and 21st Century Learning Lab podcasts.

11 comments:

  1. Some commented in an earlier post that she had tried many 2.0 tools, such as the list in this question, but didn't connect with most of them. I loved that honesty and so I am going to be honest and share that I don't Facebook - because I just want to go my whole life without doing what so many people are doing, I don't understand the appeal of Pinterest (I need PD on that!), and blogs can be very interesting and even fun but the time required to keep up with even a favorite blog is elusive. Twitter is the perfect self-directed PD for me. The posts are short but highly informative. I get way too many leads to intriguing websites, readings, research, lesson plans, technologies to try, etc. I have a folder full of paths to follow that I discovered through Twitter and when that folder gets too full, I can just take a little time off and Tweet informally to just stay connected.

    I encountered tagging when I read Will Richardson's first edition of Wikis, Blogs, and Podcast and didn't get it then and still don't.

    I guess the good thing is the plethora of options so individuals can find what works for themselves!

    Podcasting works for me and my students. I make podcasts all the time, for anything. I love the archival nature; for example, a former student asked me about subtitles in APA format so I made a podcast for him and then just added it to my Podcast library.

    A great PD class for me would be 2.0 for people who have cherry-picked 2.0 - to fill in gaps and to teach me what I'm overlooking with some of these tools.

    Oh, and new to me and now essential to the way I work is Google Docs! Love the collaborative ease Google Docs affords. I'm teaching it to my seniors next week for their partner Argument Essays. I'm sure I'll make a Podcast about how to use Google Docs :)

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    1. Our school doesn't use Google Docs because we use E-chalk as our online classroom, so the first time I used it was on the presentation last week. I loved it! I want to have my students do a collaborative project about the Civil War- each student add a different battle to the presentation as a way of teaching and learning with each other. It was an option I didn't think I needed, but now I am hooked!

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    2. I am a big fan of google docs...now google drive myself. I started using it several years ago and now it is a part of my everyday life! I use it to collaborate, share progress, and edit curriculum that can be accessed by my aides and teachers.

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  2. It struck me as a read this chapter how overwhelming so many options can be! I think it is important to find something that works well for you and then to become proficient in its use. I use many tools in this chapter: Diigo, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Wiki, and Google Docs.

    For those of you who have not heard Google Reader is shutting down in July. I have switched over to Feedly and I like it so far. Does anyone have other alternatives they would suggest?

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  3. It just amazes me how many ways there are to connect. Some of the ways I use are blogs, Wiki, My Big Campus,and Google docs. I am registared to take a PD on using twitter. I am excited to learn how to use it effectively. A co-worker has just introduced me to Pinterest. I have not had time to get on and use it yet, but it has peaked my interest also.

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  4. This is going to sound like a big Shout Out (Do we still say that?) to eLearning and it should be because I have learned so much from their offerings. It is therefore my biggest tool for staying connected. I started by joining their webinars and got hooked on those. I even feel bad when I can’t attend. I participated in the Digital Learning Month and was thrilled to participate in the Web 2.0 Challenge. Now I have ventured into their Thursday Twitter Chats, although I have a huge learning curve with the tweets. Things like f2f confounded me. By the time I realized that it meant face to face, I had missed half a dozen tweets. Educators love acronyms, but educators in twitter chat rooms…oh my! This may also be due in part to the fact that I do not like to text. I’m calling you on the phone! The book club is yet another tool that supports connected learning.
    I love Grammar Girl podcasts and used to do a workshop where teachers created podcasts using Audacity. The idea was to have students create Grammar Girlesque podcasts for grammar, science vocabulary, historical events, and etc. Teachers also can embed podcasts into their Moodle course for students. Our biggest problem is that we started our 1:1 with YouTube available to students and it became apparent within days that we had to block it. Our students take their laptops home every night. Teachers can show YouTube videos in class, but if they embed them into Moodle, students can’t view them. We used Zamzar to fix this problem, but now Zamzar won’t convert YouTube videos anymore.
    Live Binders and the work others do to organize and curate is amazing. I also use Scoop.it and love how it searches out and finds articles that I want to read. Evernote is my new favorite. Like all educators I am forever finding things I want to use later. I am in a school and I like a bulletin board. I take a picture and it is in Evernote and then I have it available on all of my devices. Dropbox is another must have because I can give others access to files.

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    1. I just made my first bundle on My Big Campus, free if you use Lightspeed to filter your internet- through the DOE. It lets you embed Youtube videos, and the school won't filter it out (and you don't have problems with the video players). I loved this- it's my plan next year to do all units as bundles on MBC.

      I will have to check out Grammar Girl- never heard of it! And I just started exploring Evernote- I have an ipad and kindle but do most of my teaching and technology through my laptop because it's comfortable. What I love about technology is that it can push the envelope- I am a lover of reading books and swore I'd never like E-books, but now I am thrilled to read any way possible, on paper or on screen. Evernote may make me VERY happy- a way to save my highlights from my kindle (I am a highlighter, on paper on on screen).

      Have you tried PDF-escape? I love that for editing PDF files. I want to explore more ways to use it with students in class next year. And Therese, I too take pictures of things I want to remember for use in my class!

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    2. Grammar Girl is available here http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ and they are also on iTunes. She has won many awards, but her style is fun. They are a great example of an educational podcast that can be used to create podcasts for other content areas. These can also be an RSS Feed.

      Love Evernote!

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  5. I don't have much to add this time, although I did think this chapter gave some good information on the various tools. I will be able to pass this on to parents who ask me. In addition to the other tools I mentioned in earlier posts, I tried both Wikis and Ning when they first became popular with varying degrees of success and really did not spend much time with either. I am still searching for another way to connect with my online students since they don't answer the phone; they don't like email; and they are starting not to respond as well to texts as they used to. I was wondering if there were a way Twitter could be used to help with that problem. One new tool I like (just because I use a number of different computers in the course of the day) is Currents. It works somewhat like Dropbox, but it cuts down on searching because it always keeps the current document a person is working with at the top.

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    1. Nancy, I would love to get together with you one day this summer. I'm teaching online, too, and your comment about students not answering the phone is so true! Students do not, as you say, like email. And if students don't respond to texts, we can only guess that the texts were received. My seniors are all about texting - and nothing else! I also want to learn more about one of your posts in which you talked about being at a collaborative, sharing school early in your career and then moving to one that wasn't so much like that. When I taught at New Albany, I was in teacher-heaven because the staff considered themselves a "family" and brought every new teacher under their wings. It was a wonderful place to work and I think I will always miss it. So if you would like to chat one day at Starbucks or somewhere nice for lunch, please let me know via school email :)

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  6. I have used many tools and signed up for many just to totally forget what they were even all about. I am trying to focus on using just a few tools now and learn to use them well. I really like livebinders and have used that for some time, but then got away from using it. I tried dropbox, but found I quckly had many files that were not well organized and I just kept collecting more.

    I love goalbookapp.com. This is free and a priceless tool that allows student goals to be monitored and tracked by a team. I use this every week and almost daily at this point. Check this one out if you are in need of working with a student towards goals as a team.

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