Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

Final Refelections on IT 860… July 23, 2010

I can’t believe the semester is coming to an end.  It went very fast, I think due to the magnitude and variety of things learned.  I think the course was designed very well with maximum exposure to Web 2.0 tools.  In addition to the tools that projects were completed for, the exposure to a new social network, Mixxt was also valuable.  Since Ning began charging this month, the class social network was changed.  I like Ning better, but  Mixxt proved to be good, free alternative. 

I liked the assignments dealing with the Web 2.0 tools the best and getting the hands-on exposure.  I was disappointed when ScreenToaster became unavailable, but I think it just went to show that there are many other choices and one has to remain flexible.  My favorite project was Second Life which probably comes as no surprise to anyone.  I have been a resident of SL for over two years and enjoy its many features.  It is a great tool for teaching and learning and I hope to be able to teach a complete class in this virtual world someday. 

I also appreciated the interaction between class members as well as with our instructors, Drs. Yuen and Mark.  I think they both did a great job making this class not just another online class, but one that felt inclusive and had a sense of community.  Most online classes are so cold, impersonal and one-dimensional.  It was fun meeting for training as a class in Second Life and seeing everyone’s avatars.  It truly did feel like we were meeting in person in a classroom. 

The class did make me realize how many great, useful Web 2.0 tools are available for free.  The problem is trying to determine which ones are useful and then how to integrate them into teaching.  This class really helped me sort this out.  I am going to try to use Twitter and Voice Thread in my classes during the upcoming year.  I have already integrated and used a personally designed Website, YouTube videos, Wikis and social networks (Ning) and the students were very receptive.  I am always looking for ways to improve my course content and increase student engagement and courses such as IT 860 definitely help!!!

 

Second LIfe? I Don’t Even Have Time for a First Life!!!

As part of IT 860 we learned about Second Life and how it can be used for education and learning.  I have been a resident of Second Life for about 2.5 years and I am so amazed by the potential impact on education.  Second Life is a 3-D virtual community imagined and created by its residents. It has a real economy, property ownership, and avatars (powered by people) that engage in many interactions and activities.  This is my avatar Crystal Zhangsun:

 

Our assignment for this part of the course was to participate in a symposium showcasing our research.  We were assigned an alcove area on the Golden Eagle1 Island where we put up 5 slides explaining and outlining our research.  Participants were then invited to come and walk around and ask questions.  Our alcove (see picture below) was set up with our photograph where participants could click and get a bio and they could click the title slide on our podium and get a handout.  We were not sure how the symposium would go or if anyone would come.  We were pleased that we had over 50 participants who attended, looked at the alcoves and asked questions.  It was fun to talk to the various people who came by.  They were all very encouraging and supportive of what we were doing.

 

I think the symposium provided one example of the uses of Second Life in education.  It is a great venue for sharing ideas and learning from each other.  I spoke to a teacher from France which is pretty amazing.  Classes and workshops can be designed that encourage collaboration and participation by students in a global context.  Students can meet and interact with students and teachers around the world without ever having to travel.   I can also see Second Life being used to as a way to conduct online classes.  It does create a sense of presence and community that one would not get from Blackboard.  I think SL teaching as opposed to the Blackboard environment has the following advantages:

  • Appeal to today’s visual students
  • Collaboration between campuses, disciplines, students/nonstudents
  • Distributed learning
  • Authenticity
  • Sense of Presence and connectedness
  • Social Networking w/ global reach

 

Needless to say, this was favorite assignment.  I think Dr. Mark did an outstanding job preparing the alcoves, uploading all the materials and training everyone (of course I may be a little biased…).

 

Voice Thread – a Great Community Tool July 21, 2010

Out of all the assignments and Web 2.0 tools studied so far in IT 860, I thought this one had the most potential. I had never used Voice Thread before and was not quite sure as to what to expect. Voice Thread is a digital story telling program an article I read referred to it as a “group audio blog”. Voice thread allows users to upload PowerPoint presentation, pictures and videos and narrate this content by adding audio comments or text comments. Others are then invited to the Voice Thread where they can see and hear the content and also add comments through voice, text or doodling on the image. The required assignment involved uploading at least 10 slides from a presentation and adding voice to them through the comment feature. It was quite easy to do. The only problem I had was that my PowerPoint slides lost some of their formatting in the conversion process. Some of my text became larger and some text moved on my slide. I had to keep going back and changing my slide so that it would look right after Voice Thread converted it. Other than this “glitch” it was fine. I did my presentation on a project I did my Organizational Behavior class this summer. I found the narration to go smoothly. It was fun to listen to and read the various comments left my classmates on my slides. It was also interesting to listen to their presentation and leave comments for them. We have a class with very diverse interests. The URL to my Voice Thread is:

 http://voicethread.com/share/1240739

I think there is a lot of potential for educators using this Web 2.0 tool. The Voice Thread site itself has a Library section with many examples of things teachers can do with this technology. Most of the examples were geared toward the K-12 group, but there were a few examples of use in higher education. I am designing my Introduction to Human Resource class to be online in spring of 2011 and could see where I can use Voice Thread. I am trying to come up with ways to make the online class more personal rather than the strict use of a course management system such as Blackboard. Since I won’t be seeing my students face-to-face I want to give them a sense of who I am and share some of the experience I have had in the Human Resource field. This would be a great means to do this. I can narrate a PowerPoint and ask questions and have them comment. I could show a short video and get their reactions to the content. As I design the course I think I can come up with several unique ways to integrate into my class to gain a sense of presence and community. Overall I think this is one the best tools and look forward to using it soon.

 

I Made a Drop Using Drop.io

Filed under: file sharing,Second Life,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 5:25 pm
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I had never heard of Drop.io before I completed an assignment about how it is used.  Drop.io is an online private sharing and real-time collaboration service that is designed to be simple. It allows users to create ‘drops’ that are used for uploading and sharing documents, images, video, audio, and other digital content.  Drop.io does not require users to create accounts and set up passwords.  Users can’t search on Drop.io for content.   I was initially surprised to read that Drop.io was named one of Time Magazine‘s 50 Best Websites of 2009.  After learning more about Drop.io and trying out some of the features I was no longer surprised that it made the best Website list. It is a simple concept based on users dropping files which include documents, images, videos and audio files.

I created a drop on the Drop.io Website.  Drop.io generates an email address, a phone number to leave recorded messages and a phone number for conference calls.  The assignment was to create an audio file using the phone number generated by Drop.io.  I did an audio tutorial on the “social side” of Second Life and specifically how to find and attend events in music venues.  The following is my URL:

http://drop.io/it860project 

So in essence I created a podcast.  What an easy way to create a podcast after doing it the traditional way.  Sharing the URL of the drop allows others to listen to the podcast and then they can call the generated phone number and leave an audio file as well.  It was very interesting to listen to everyone’s podcast.

I think Drop.io is a great tool for educators.  I can store files online and have my students access them here from any computer.  Each drop has a limit of 100mb, but users can create multiple drops all for free.  I can leave audio messages for students about assignments coming up or changes in our schedule.  I could have students create podcasts and share them with each other.  I also think it would be a great tool for group collaboration.  Group members could add files to the initial drop and leave messages for each other.  I think Drop.io is an innovative tool with many uses that I hope to discover as I integrate it into my collection of Web 2.0 tools.

 

I Have a Video on YouTube!!!

 

  

I learned a lot about screencasting as a Web 2.0 tool including how it could be used for education.  This assignment required that a tutorial be constructed using ScreenToaster, a Web 2.0 tool for creating a screencast and then be uploaded onto YouTube where it could be viewed and shared.  I always wanted to learn how to use Camtasia, a software screencasting program that is quite expensive.  Camtasia was the package used by educators before all the free Web 2.0 applications became available.   In looking at the resource material provided I was surprised at how many free Web 2.0 tools are available for screencasting.  I had used Jing in a previous class and found it to be very easy to use; however, there is a five minute limit on the free version.  Other than that I did not experience with others tools.  The assignment was supposed to use ScreenToaster.  The day I went to do my project, ScreenToaster was down.  It was later discovered that they were converting it to paid product and would no longer be free.  This is the downside of using free Web 2.0 tools in addition to there usually being some restrictions on the free version of the tool.  I decided to complete the project using ScreenCastle.  There really was not much to learn about this tool as it so easy.  I did my screencast on setting up a network using Ning.  I simply pressed a button and starting talking and moved from screen to screen.  The next part was to upload the screencast to YouTube.  I already had a YouTube account so it just a matter of uploading the video.  YouTube takes care of file conversion and everything else.  All in all the process was very easy.  Here is my video:

There are many educational uses for this tool.  It allows teachers and instructors to create tutorials for students.  For example, I used to teach Microsoft Office and definitely could have used it to demonstrate various Excel, Word and Access features for my students.  Most students have the same issues with aspects like formulas so it makes sense to produce a video and have students watch it.  The video can also be placed on a Website, blog or Wiki for students to access.  I think this is a great tool that is so easy for any teacher or instructor to use and sharing on YouTube is a piece of cake!!!

 

Scribd (I am Published!!!)

Filed under: file sharing,Instructional Technology Program,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 1:55 pm
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I had no idea how the assignment concerning the use of Scribd or Yudu would turn out.  I had never used either of these Web 2.0 tools.  I choose to learn more about Scribd.  The concept of Scribd is so simple.  It is to documents what YouTube is to video.  It also contains features of several other Web 2.0 tools such as the ability to follow what others are publishing and the ability to be interactive.  It is a place for users to publish their documents and share with the internet community.  These documents can consist of PDF files, Word documents, PowerPoint spreadsheets and just about anything.  The first step was to establish an account with Scribd.  This was relatively easy to do allowing the user to build a public profile.  I think it would be helpful to put the type of research or research interests one has as it allows others with similar interests to share ideas and content. The URL of my Scribd account is:

http://www.scribd.com/christine_mark

Scribd allows a user to upload documents as well as search for documents uploaded by other users.  There is an “Explore” tab that allows users to look through documents by category.  The categories and content is quite extensive.

I can see this being used in education, especially in the research area.  If I am doing research on a topic along with another person or group of persons, we can use this tool to upload different materials for analysis such as PowerPoint presentations and other documents.  I also present at several different conferences during the year and can see how I could use Scribd to post any handout materials I would normally make copies of and pass out at my sessions.  This allows participants to decide if they want the materials rather than wasting paper and my having to carry them all over the country.  Also, when a person goes to Scribd to get my materials they can also see what other documents I uploaded and look at them as well.  I think it a great way to share interests.  I could also see students using this tool to upload their papers and research and then read each others and make comments about them.  It would also be fun for students to see how many people access their documents since Scridb displays these statistics.

All in all, I think this is a great tool for collaboration and accessing documents other people upload.  I can see using this in the future!!!

 

The “Social” Implications of Social Bookmarking July 17, 2010

Filed under: PhD,social bookmarking,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 2:42 pm
Tags: , ,

As part of my class, IT 860, Emerging Technology, I learned about Diigo bookmarking.  Diigo which stands for the “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff,” has been around since 2006.  Diigo is a Social bookmarking website which allows users to bookmark, highlight and tag web-pages.

I did not know much about social bookmarking before this assignment.  I read many articles and viewed some videos.  The Common Craft video was especially helpful.  Here it is:

I signed up for an account with Diigo and joined the group for my class.  I then audited my toolbar to include an icon for Diigo so that when I found something I wanted to keep I could easily bookmark it.  I found Diigo to be extremely easy to use and understand.   I bookmarked several articles which may help with my research for my paper in this class.  Here is the URL for my Diigo library: 

http://www.diigo.com/user/christinemark

The reason this is called “Social” Bookmarking is that people can share their bookmarks.  We all spend inordinate amounts of time sifting through the billions of web pages available and to be able to get a complete list of bookmarks that are of interest is valuable.  There are many uses in education.  I for one can see using it when doing research.  For instance, I am researching the use of social networks in the corporate recruiting process.  I know a colleague is doing research on organizations using social networks as a means of checking applicant’s backgrounds.  Even though our exact niche area is different, many of the same resources would apply to each area.  So if we share our bookmarks we may find pertinent resources we would not have otherwise found. 

I believe social bookmarking could also be used by students for group projects or anything requiring collaboration.  This is a great way for students to share information and learn from each other.  Diigo allows users to highlight and leave sticky notes on pages.  This allows other students to read the comments and add comments of their own to the web pages. 

I think, above all, the main advantage of social bookmarking is that the bookmarks are kept on the Web so they can be accessed from any computer or Smartphone.  This allows users to tag, highlight and annotate pages from any location.