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.

Advertisements
 

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.

 

The Wacky, Wacky World of Wikis April 17, 2010

An assignment for IT 780 (Seminar in Instructional Technology) was to create a group of 2-3 classmates and put together a wiki.  I have created a few wikis in the past so this was not a daunting task. 

Watch the below video, Wikis in Plain English from Commoncraft.  (This is one of my all time favorite videos.)

I joined two other IT 780 students, Donna Parker and Madelon Gruich.  We decided to create a wiki about places to visit in San Diego since Donna and I were going to attend the NBEA (National Business Education Association) conference which was held this year in San Diego.   Donna and Madelon created the wiki together using the free wiki software, Wet Paint and then invited me to participate.  They created some of the main categories such as Area Attractions, Sports, Dining, Night Life, Lodging and Transportation.  I then created a main category for Shopping (my favorite activity). 

Putting information into the wiki and creating new pages was fun and easy.  I came up with several types of shopping experiences to explore including, mall shopping, boutique shopping, outlet shopping and shopping in Mexico.  I added pictures of the various shopping facilities and the things one could purchase.  I also included a video about the adventure of shopping in Tijuana, Mexico.  Adding these things was also quite easy. 

 I use a wiki to assist in teaching my face-to-face classes as well.  I mainly use the wiki as an alternative to Blackboard since my students would have  to pay if I had decided to use the Blackboard learning management system.  I use the wiki to have class discussion and analyze cases for management classes.  I also use it to communicate and post class materials.    It was not until I completed the Destination San Diego wiki that I realized the true power of the wiki is in collaboration.  It allows many different people to modify and add content.  This only makes it better the more people who contribute and come up with innovative ideas and content.  For example, in the Destination San Diego wiki I contributed information and pictures of the great trolley system after being in San Diego and riding the trolley.  It was a great deal for $5.00 all day and the route was expansive.  The wiki allowed me to add this valuable information.  I also had the opportunity to add some content and photos from my trip to the San Diego Zoo after someone else had created the page for the zoo.  The power of a wiki is most evident from looking at Wikipedia, the largest wiki in the world.  Such a wealth of information on every subject imaginable continues to expanded and improved every day. 

 Click the link below to visit our wiki, Destination San Diego.  Add something if you would like, after all that is the idea of the wiki!!!

Destination San Diego Wiki