Kudos to another wonderful guided tour to new web tools. It was amazing and I thank you for putting it together for us.
1. My favorite discovery has to be GoView screencasts. I have wanted to do that for so long and thought it was much more complicated than it turned out to be. I just wish I had my school software so that I could have created a bunch of them before school started. I also like Bookr to create concept books for K and PreK, but will not post the actual books, just the links, on my blog in the future as they are slow to load. Animoto is also a favorite and I will most likely end up with a paid version when school starts so that I can make longer films. Oh, and Tinychat also looks like it has great interview potential.
2. Last year's program got me started and fired up. This program further assisted my learning goals. I am now following three more blog posts in my Google Reader which I discovered along the way. I have learned to do screencasts so that I can clarify learning for students and teachers at school. I have sticky notes full of new learning to pursue as days go by, lists of software to download at school, and new assignments to propose to teachers when we collaborate. Plus second life stories to make people laugh.
3. I was surprised by Twitter. I had looked at it last year and though it was kind of a waste of time. Now I have a much better idea of how and when to use it, and how it's changing the world. And I have a burning desire for an iPhone now which I didn't have before which isn't going over well with my husband! I was also surprised by how much more confidence I have in just trying things out, and not panicking when I'm not sure how to do something. Last year I was not a big fan of Wikipedia, and now I have given in and allow the students to use it for certain applications, and I often check there for things I don't understand, like deep web, but I really like makeuseof, which I didn't know before. I will definitely go there in the future.
4. I think it would have been better if I had gone in for face-to-face when I got to Second Life. It was not intuitive for me, so I think it's great you included times to meet face-to-face this year . Maybe there would have been some iPhones around to play with as well. Mostly it's about giving us just the right information, but not too much, so we really have to do it ourselves and make it ours. I think you have just the right balance here. Please do another one next year if you can.
First, some framework: I work with elementary students in a highly filtered environment, so many of the fun things I am learning here will not be accessible to my students. That's why Rhonda's Reflections blog on digital literacy resonated with me. Access is an important roadblock for us with so many sites blocked. And yet, it is so important to have access to teach.
Next, something to look into: Deep_web resources:"As much as I love Google, to depend entirely on Google is akin to our total dependence on Microsoft in the late 1980's and most of the 1990's. I believe that variety and diversity is an important part of the Internet. I have as an objective of mine to integrate more deep web resources into my classroom and teaching. " Vicki Davis in her Cool Cat Teacher blog on interview with Robert McLaughlin. That is probably for middle and/or high school students, but for me as a teacher as well to look into.
Finally, the lessons I teach: I did see the Digiteen project by Westwood schools on Woogi World which we like as well. It does a good job explaining safety, passwords, what to do if you run into something you don't like, etc... The kids like it,and our IT people are comfortable with it so we have access. I also use lessons from CyberBee on plagiarism, fair use, citations, web site evalutations, and Big 6model research. I also have students get their Internet drivers license from pbs kids. usually as a review of etiquette lessons. I have the both sets of the ISTE standards posted above my desk to keep me on task when I am creating lessons in the library, as well as AASL's info literacy standards. Every year I try to incorporate more standards as I collaborate with teachers on different projects during the year, but I am doing fewer "library lessons" as time goes on, so some of this gets abbreviated and/or integrated into the projects. I am trying to find a scaffolded approach from grades 2-5 so that we just keep building on skill sets each year.
Talk about a steep learning curve! My first day of Second Life (5 hours!) was spent downloading, creating my avatar, trying to figure out why I had two sets of hair on my head, learning to walk without walking through walls, learning to chat, learning to teleport, and trying to be just the right amount of friendly without giving the wrong impression. I was VERY uncomfortable with the degree of eroticism all around and I sincerely hope that the teen area is less overt. I did find some amazingly helpful people and a Tolkien exhibit at Imagination Island. That's a pic of my avatar looking at hobbit holes. I could even check out a children's book which appealed to me as a librarian. It's in my inventory now.
My second day (another 5 hours!), I explored Info Island (very quiet place to try things without an audience and with reference librarian on duty to help), Ivory Tower of Prims (great tutorials on how to build which I will try out later, too many annoying people at the sandbox there), and ISTE Island (where I learned about many educational groups). I joined a virtual group (ISTE, since I'm already a RL member) and made note of its coming SL events, socials and speakers. The RL conference is in session this week, but I couldn't find a way to follow it virtually in SL. There will be a speaker on July 7th I intend to go back to hear. From an avatar standpoint, I have started to beef up my profile since I was told by several that it was very sparse. I added interests, slurl's for the places I'd been, and Married with Children for personal. That seemed to help.
My third day I visited a tornado generator on Tornado Island(fabulous, but I couldn't find quite the right way to get sucked up into the tornado which is possible), The Great Wall of China (amazing), The Alamo (pretty good), The Statue of Liberty (just so-so), and The Empire State Building (couldn't get inside). You really need a guide to SL places who know the ins and outs. I saw some tourist agencies but don't want to pay yet. I also visited my first freebie place, very sleazy, with rude people, lots of shoving. I need to find a better one if I'm going to stay because I want to find some animations to help me move better and look more natural, or smile or something.
In terms of educational use, I am an elementary teacher-librarian. To be frank, I probably won't use it in my library. Youtube has some videos of sl places and events that might be better than actually going there with students. You just don't know who will be there. Plus the lag time would make it difficult to keep interest in younger students. I found myself having to be very patient with uploading time. I think the only place I visited that my students and I would have enjoyed seeing together was the Tornado and that's already on youtube. There is probably more value for students 13 years and up for learning in a peer environment.
From a professional education standpoint, I think I will enjoy my speaker next week and look forward to seeing if chat is allowed (or backchanneling backchat) or not. I think virtual conferencing is much cheaper than going there. Plus I would like to explore other areas, like Rome or Egypt, marine or space environments, and just chat with other educators, so I will be going back.
Slideshare is a huge boost to my professional development because of its amazing archives. There are so many presentations shared there, and I like the Slidecast audio feature and look forward to trying it out when I get back to school. authorSTREAM'slive presentation application is a huge benefit for distance learning since there is a chat feature for discussion, as well as Skype capability. I really tried to like 280 slides because of its potential for students, or even for teachers creating PowerPoints away from home. It doesn't feel intuitive for me, because of my Office background, but I'm sure my students will learn it quickly and easily without the necessity for relearning. I do not like the fact that you can't seem to upload existing presentations, unless I am missing something.
I like these three the best so far, and each has its "best used for" potential. When I uploaded the same presentation to two different sites, I found this one from Slideshare went very quickly. But I did have to register.
Both presentations were just fine, with all the exterior links working, but only the Slideshare presentation kept all the original colors. On the other hand, the authorSTREAM allowed me to change my title, while the other used the title from my upload.