Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

IT 644 Final Reflections on Another Great Dr. Yuen Course November 27, 2010

Well, I can’t believe another semester has come to an end.  This semester went very fast.  IT 644 proved for me to be a typical Dr. Yuen class.  By typical, I mean that it provided exposure to many things that I had never heard of and challenged my technical skills to figure things out.  As usual, my mind was working throughout the course thinking, “How can I use this in my classes?”  Many of the tools and ideas learned have a definite place in teaching and learning.  From my perspective the most valuable tool we learned was Prezi.  What a great alternative to the standard, usually boring, PowerPoint.  Prezi is a great tool for instructors who want to spice up their lectures.  It is also a great tool for students, allowing them to present information in a fun and creative way.  Just don’t flip too fast you will become dizzy!!!

With some of the tools I had to wonder how I would ever use them in my classes.  In particular I thought Fuzzwich and Video Toolbox were not so useful.  These were my least favorite tools although I could envision teachers with younger children possibly using these.   The problem with all the available Web 2.0 tools is that there are so many and each one may do something that would be of value in the classroom.  I think IT 644 did a great job of sorting through a large selection of these tools and pointing out the value of them and how they could be used in teaching and learning. 

I liked the design of the class.  The use of Mixxt, a social network, went a long way in bringing the class closer.  I liked how our projects were posted on the Mixxt network and then we could look at other class members’ projects.  This was a great way to get to know the other class members and to establish a relationship beyond merely seeing them in a classroom.  Also getting further ideas on how to use the various tools by seeing how each person integrated them into their various projects.

 

I am always looking for new things to integrate into my classes, especially my online classes.  IT 644 provided me with a lot of ideas and things I would like to try.  I think definitely Dropbox, Audacity, Prezi, Showbeyond and video editing would be great tools to make an online class more interesting and engaging to students.  I am looking forward to integrating these tools as well  continuing to look for new and innovative tools in the future.

 

Showbeyond and Beyond… November 26, 2010

Showbeyond is a multimedia slidecast creator and a way of sharing stories with others.  ShowBeyond was started by two friends who wanted to provide a way for people to create and share stories.  With Showbeyond, it is easy to grab images, and then add sound and text to create multimedia stories. Then you can share your stories with friends or post to blogs and social networking sites. 

The program was very easy to use.  First a user has to create an account.  Once an account has been created the user can upload up to twenty four images to use to create a slidecast.  Text can be added to the images to tell the story and then a soundtrack can be added.  For my Showbeyond I used pictures I took in January, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to work at Tulane University. While in New Orleans I had the opportunity to tour the many neighborhoods which were devastated by Katrina.  I will never forget how it felt standing there.  It was actually quite surreal.   ShowBeyond was such a great way for me to showcase these photos and tell my story about coming to New Orleans after Katrina.  I added a soundtrack to my Showbeyond, which was Aaron Neville signing Louisiana 1927, an awesome song that goes along with the photos so well.  Click below to view my Showbeyond, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, January 2006:

view?sid=42eafe6907280d626399bce6704c2f9f

 

Showbeyond can also be used to do podcasting with slides, use of photos from online photo sharing sites, change the duration of each slide, and share stories either publicly or privately.  This is a great, flexible software package that is very easy to learn and use.  The implications for learning and teaching are immense.  There are many examples of how teachers, especially in the lower grades are using this as a way for students to write stories or give information about places, historical events, etc.  I think it would fun for the students to see their work online and be able to invite their family and friends to view it as well.  The only drawback I could see is that each Showbeyond is limited to twenty four images.  For longer presentations you could use more than one Showbeyond and have part 1, part 2, etc.  I can see using it for teaching in the same manner I would use a PowerPoint.  This would especially be a good tool for an online class.

 

Jing – a Great Screen Capture Program

Filed under: online teaching,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 8:57 am
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I used Jing to create a screen capture.  Jing is free Web 2.0 tool designed by TechSmith, the same company that sells Camtasia, the popular, powerful screen capturing tool.  Users have to sign up for a Jing account to use the screencasting software.  There is a free and premium version.  Both versions limit videos to five minutes.  For $14.95 per year users can purchase Jing Pro.  With Jing Pro, you can upload straight to YouTube and Facebook with just a click. Plus, Jing uses the MPEG-4 AVC video format, which works seamlessly with other video sharing sites.

Jing takes a picture or video of the user’s computer screen and then uploads it to the Web or a computer.  A URL is automatically created and then can be shared with others to view the file.  Jing is compatible with Windows and Mac.

I choose to demonstrate how students access Blackboard and my website.  This proved to be timely as I teach BA 100, Introduction to Business which is taught the second eight weeks of the semester.  The class was just starting and I needed a way of communicating how a student could access the course materials and post to a discussion forum.  I demonstrated using Jing how a student would sign into Blackboard and then once in Blackboard how to access the course website to review the course syllabus and course materials.  I also demonstrated how a student would open the first discussion requiring them to write and post their bio.  This short demo proved to be very helpful to my BA 100 students as most of them had never used Blackboard and it did help them navigate through Blackboard as well as the course website.  The video was then posted on Screencast.com for sharing and easy access.  Click the below link to view and hear my Jing on Screencast.com:

http://www.screencast.com/users/ChrisMark/playlists/New%20Playlist

Screencast.com is also owned and run by TechSmith.  Screencast.com is a great site where videos, images and documents can be uploaded and then shared.  You can even embed images and objects and can be viewed in any format such as WMV, flash, QuickTime, etc.   The free version includes 2 GB of storage and 2 GB monthly bandwidth and more is needed it can be purchased. 

I found these tools to be extremely easy to use and a great way to put together a demo video for students in a very short period of time.  This is a great tool when teaching online as a video shows so much detail about how to do something than an email trying to describe it in words.  I definitely plan on using these tools in my teaching in the future.

 

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.

 

Final Thought on IT 780 May 1, 2010

I can’t believe the semester is over.  So much has happened in the last few months.  IT 780 was a very good experience for me both personally and professionally.  Personally it was a valuable experience that I will not forget.  The opportunity to meet so many other people with a similar interest in technology and teaching was wonderful.  I had the opportunity to socialize with some of the other students in my class.  We went out to dinner which proved to be a great opportunity to get to know each other and our interests in education.  I also had the opportunity to attend and present at two conferences during the semester where some of my fellow students were also attending.  This was a great opportunity to further get to know them and we supported each other in what we were doing. 

This class also helped me professionally by introducing me to so many great Web 2.0 tools.  By learning the advantages of this technology and its uses for education and learning I was able to integrate these tools into my classes immediately.  I am using a Wiki in my Human Resource Management class.  We have discussion of cases, communication, etc.  I also incorporated the social network Ning into a new class I am teaching, Introduction to Business.  The Ning is a wonderful tool that has allowed my class to have discussions, work together in groups and stay connected.  The class also helped me professionally as far as developing new ways to communicate and stay connected.  For instance, this blog contains a great variety of information that I can share with my colleagues and students.  I intend to continue adding things to my blog for a long time to come.  The class also allowed me to see many different tools and techniques that I never knew existed.  The only problem is there is not enough time in the day to check out all that is available. 

I am sure this will end up being one of the classes that I look back at and say I learned a lot and am actually using and applying what I learned to be a better teacher!!!